Private bills are designed for the particular interest or benefit of any individual or group of individuals and usually provide for exemptions from the application of the law. The procedures for private bills are therefore substantially different from those that govern public bills. For example, specific notice, petition and fee requirements apply, “parliamentary agents” are involved and special records and lists must be kept. Although invoked regularly in the past, the Standing Orders setting out these procedures are now rarely used. As a result, the narrative for this chapter does not include individual commentaries or historical summaries; instead, the Standing Orders it contains have all been considered together, without exhaustive historical references.
Standing Orders 129 to 147 inclusive are a series of rules dealing with private legislation.  They specify certain requirements which must be met by all parties interested in securing or in opposing the passage of such legislation through the House of Commons.
Private bills are distinguishable from public bills in many respects, among which are their intent, content and method of passage. By definition, the purpose or intent of a private bill is to confer upon one or more persons or body of persons special powers or benefits, or to exclude one or more persons or body of persons from the general application of the law. Private bills relate directly to the affairs of a private person or of corporate bodies and not to matters of general public policy or to the community at large. They pass largely through the same stages as public bills but must originate by petition and are subject to special rules in both Houses of Parliament. Judicial as well as legislative functions are entrusted to committees to which all petitions and bills of a private nature are referred, with a view to protecting all the interests involved in the proposed legislation.  The intent of the legislation and the contents of the bill determine whether the Standing Orders dealing with private legislation should apply  and, upon this distinction, the passage of the legislation follows a strictly regulated path during its consideration by the House.
The necessity for private legislation has diminished dramatically since Confederation because of changes in the general law.  However, the rules pertaining to private legislation were changed only rarely.  Such rules as are in force are applied strictly to each private bill and specify requirements concerning the presentation of petitions, notice to the public, conformity between the petition and the bill based on the petition, procedure during committee deliberations and payment of fees and charges. The Standing Orders specifically provide mechanisms to ensure that all persons who might be affected by the proposed legislation are aware of the intent of the promoters of the bill, have due notice of its nature and thus will have every opportunity to present themselves to dispute its passage, if desired. 
The Standing Orders allow for individuals to be recognized as agents, employed in promoting or opposing some private bill or petition, to conduct proceedings before the House and its committees on private bills. Such parliamentary agents operate with the express authority of the Speaker, must strictly observe the rules, orders and practices of Parliament and, in cases of misconduct, can be prohibited from participating in the proceedings. The parliamentary agents must pay a $25 fee each session and must be recognized as promoting or opposing a private bill or petition during that session in order to be registered in that capacity (Standing Order 146).
The person or persons who intend to apply to Parliament for the passage of a private bill are required to give published notice of their intentions in the Canada Gazette, and, in particular cases specified in the rules, a notice must be sent to certain officials by mail and published in leading newspapers (Standing Order 130). The rule regarding such notice requirements is required to be published in the Canada Gazette under the authority of the Clerk of the House once at the beginning of a session. Thereafter, the Clerk is to publish weekly in the Canada Gazette a notice  referring to the previous publication of the aforementioned rule (Standing Order 129).
The petitioners are further responsible for establishing, by statutory declaration sent to the Clerk, proof that such notices were published (Standing Order 130(3)).
The promoters of the bill are required to deposit with the Clerk of the House not later than the first day of each session a copy of the bill, in either English or French, and the required payment for the cost of translating and printing the bill (Standing Order 134(1)). The bill is examined and revised by the Examiner of Private Bills to ensure that specific requirements as to the correct form of private bills are met (Standing Order 136).
From the time of the deposit of the bill with the Clerk of the House, an official record, available to the public, is kept of general information pertaining to the parties applying for the bill or to their agent, to the fees paid and to the proceedings on the bill (Standing Order 144).\
Unlike public bills, which can be introduced on a motion for leave following 48-hours’ notice or upon motion for a committee to prepare and bring them in, a private bill can be introduced only on petition (Standing Order 135(1)). According to a principle established in England in 1832 and subsequently observed by the Canadian Parliament, a person cannot petition Parliament directly but must do so through a Senator or Member of the House of Commons. Thus, only a Member of the House has the authority to act as a sponsor for the bill during its passage in the House, although Canadian practice has also recognized that Ministers of the Crown should not initiate or promote such legislation.  Nonetheless, a bill affecting private interests may be introduced as a public bill if it is a matter of public policy (i.e., it may be introduced without a petition). 
Petitions for private bills may be filed in the House at any time during a session.  The petition must conform to rules regarding its form, content, the number of signatures on the prayer sheet, and endorsement by the sponsoring Member (Standing Order 131(2), (3) and (4)). The petition is presented to the House by a Member filing it with the Clerk of the House at any time during the sitting (Standing Order 131(1)).
On the day following the filing of a petition for a private bill, the Clerk of Petitions tables a report on whether or not the petition meets the requirements as to form. If the petition is reported upon favourably, it is deemed to be read and received. No debate is permitted on this report, but, if required, the petition may be read by the Clerk (Standing Order 131(5), (6)).
When the petition is deemed received by the House, it is then considered by the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills (Standing Order 133(2)), who tables a report on whether or not the petition has met the stringent notice requirements specified in Standing Order 130.  In the instance of a petition for a bill seeking the incorporation of a railway or the extension of railway or canal lines, the promoters must have previously deposited with the Examiner a relevant map or plan (Standing Order 133(4)).
If the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills reports that the notice was insufficient or otherwise defective or reports that there is some doubt, the petition and the Report of the Examiner are considered (without special reference) by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which then reports to the House on whether the notice requirements have been met.  If the Committee deems the notice is insufficient or otherwise defective, it is to recommend to the House a suitable course of action (Standing Order 133(2)).
If the Examiner of Petitions or the Committee reports that the notice requirements have been met, the relevant bill is laid upon the Table by the Clerk of the House, deemed read a first time, ordered to be printed and ordered for second reading (Standing Order 135(1)). If the bill is for the purpose of confirming any agreement, a verified copy of such agreement must be attached (Standing Order 138).
The order for second reading of each private bill is placed at the bottom of the order of precedence for Private Members’ Business (Standing Order 89), and debate takes place during the time provided for Private Members’ Business (Standing Order 30(6)).
The Standing Orders relating to public bills apply equally to private bills, unless specific provision is made otherwise (Standing Order 147). Accordingly, all amendment is precluded until the committee stage (Standing Order 73), and the motion for second reading is debatable (Standing Order 67(1)(d)).  Following second reading, the bill is referred to a legislative committee (Standing Order 141(1)).
After second reading and before the bill can be considered by the committee, certain fees and charges must be paid by the applicant. Specifically, a fee of $500, a sum sufficient to pay for the cost of printing the Act in the statutes and other charges (i.e., capital stock charges) levied according to the text of the bill or connected with the proceedings on the bill, must be deposited with the “accountant” of the House and a deposit slip remitted to the Clerk of the House. The Chief Clerk of Private Bills will have previously prepared a statement of the fees and charges payable and have sent it to the promoter or parliamentary agent (Standing Order 134).
Lists of all private bills referred to committee, specifying the committee and dates on or after which the bills can be considered, and lists of all committee meetings must be posted (Standing Order 145). Such notice is also required to be appended to the Journals (Standing Order 141(2)(b)).
A committee studying a private bill which has originated in the House cannot begin consideration until notice of the meeting has been posted for at least one week (Standing Order 141(2)(a)). In the case of a private bill pertaining to the incorporation of or works planned by railway or canal companies, the committee must also have had within its possession for at least one week prior to the first meeting a copy of the map or plan of construction signed by the engineer or person who drew such map (Standing Order 137).
All petitions for or against the private bill being considered are referred to the committee (Standing Order 141(1)).
Procedure in committees studying private bills differs in many respects from that in committees considering public bills. The private bill committee is specifically charged with determining whether or not all the provisions of the bill were indicated in the notice or petition for the bill (Standing Order 141(4)). Further, the committee is charged with reporting whether or not the preamble of the bill is “proved” to their satisfaction (Standing Order 141(6)).
As with public bills, the committee reviews the bill clause by clause and amendments may be moved.  Unlike the procedure in committees studying public bills, the committee chair votes on all matters before the committee and, in the event of a tie, casts a second and deciding vote (Standing Order 141(3)).
The committee must report the bill back to the House (Standing Order 141(5)). Furthermore, in the event of the promoters not proceeding with the bill on two separate occasions in committee, the committee is instructed to report the bill back to the House with a recommendation that it be withdrawn (Standing Order 139). If material changes have been made to the preamble, the committee is obliged to state the reasons for having made the changes (Standing Order 141(6)). The committee is also obliged to state the grounds upon which a preamble was found “not proved” (Standing Order 141(6)).
The Chair signs the printed copy of the bill, and initials the preamble, all clauses and all amendments adopted by the committee. A second copy of the bill is prepared, signed by the clerk of the committee and filed with the Clerk of the House or attached to the report (Standing Order 141(7)).
The committee or the Clerk of the House can also order a reprint of the bill at this stage, the cost to be borne by the promoters (Standing Order 141(8)).
When presenting the report to the House, the Chair may give a succinct explanation of its contents (Standing Order 35).
If a committee reports that provisions have been inserted in the bill which were not contemplated in the notice or the petition, the private bill cannot be placed on the Order Paper for consideration until an Examiner’s Report indicates the notice requirements have been met (Standing Order 141(4)). If a committee reports that the preamble has been found “not proved”, the bill cannot be placed on the Order Paper except by special order of the House (Standing Order 141(6)).
In a manner similar to public bills, a private bill can be considered at the report stage,  if necessary. One day’s notice of all amendments to the bill must be given at this stage of proceedings (Standing Order 142). Debate on report stage and third reading is governed by the Standing Orders relating to Private Members’ Business. Following third reading, the bill is sent to the Senate for its consideration.
Should the bill be amended by the Senate during its consideration, and should the amendments be substantive as opposed to “merely verbal or unimportant”, the amendments are to be referred to the committee which originally studied the bill prior to such amendments being read a second time in the House (Standing Order 143). The order for consideration of these amendments is placed on the Order Paper at the bottom of the order of precedence for Private Members’ Business (Standing Order 89).
Although the Standing Orders do not require petitioners for private bills to table petitions in both the Senate and the House of Commons, this has generally been done.  In recent years, the majority of private bills have been introduced in the Senate.  Upon receipt of a message from the Senate seeking the concurrence of the House in the passage of a private bill, the bill is automatically deemed to have been read a first time and ordered for second reading and reference to a legislative committee at the next sitting (Standing Order 135(2)). It is placed for consideration at this stage at the bottom of the order of precedence (Standing Order 89).
The capital stock charges levied by the House also apply to private bills originating in the Senate, as well as certain of the additional charges (Standing Order 134(8)).
In the case of a private bill originating in the Senate for which no petition has been received nor reported on, the study of whether the requirements of the Standing Orders regarding notice have been complied with is automatically referred to the Examiner of Petitions and, if necessary, to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, after first reading and before the bill’s consideration by a legislative committee (Standing Order 133(3)).
The procedure for the second reading of a private bill originating in the Senate is the same as for bills originating in the House.
The procedure for these stages remains the same as for a private bill originating in the House (Standing Order 147), with the exception that a committee studying a private bill originating in the Senate cannot begin consideration until at least 24-hours’ notice has been given of the meeting (Standing Order 141(2)(a)).