There are two main categories of bills: public bills and private bills. Public bills deal with questions of national interest. Private bills grant powers, special rights or exemptions to a person or persons, including corporations.
Public bills initiated by a Minister are referred to as “government bills”, while those initiated by private Members are called “Private Members’ bills”.
A government bill is a legislative initiative that a Minister of the Crown submits to Parliament to be approved, and possibly amended, before becoming law. Bills for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or for taxation may be initiated only by the government in the Commons. Government bills relate to matters of public interest and may include financial provisions.
Important types of financial bills initiated by the government include:
Private Members’ bills are initiated by Members who are not in Cabinet. These bills may not include financial provisions unless the Member has sought and been granted a royal recommendation, a situation that occurs very rarely. Most private Members’ bills are initiated in the House of Commons, but some originate in the Senate. Debate on private Members’ bills takes place during the daily hour set aside for “Private Members’ Business”.
The purpose of a private bill is to exempt a person or group of persons, including a corporation, from the application of a statute. It may not be introduced by a Minister, and must be based on a petition signed by those interested in promoting it.
Most private bills are introduced in the Senate, but occasionally they are introduced in the House of Commons. Private bills before the House are dealt with as Private Members’ Business.