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Chapter XV — Private Bills

Notices (Standing Orders [ 129130 ])
Petition (Standing Orders [ 131132133 ])
Fees and Charges (Standing Order [ 134 ])
Introduction and Readings (Standing Orders [ 135136137138139140141142143 ])
Record and Lists (Standing Orders [ 144145 ])
Parliamentary Agent (Standing Order [ 146 ])
Application of Standing Orders (Standing Order [ 147 ])
Commentary — Standing Orders 129 to 147

Introduction

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or historical summaries; instead, the Standing Orders it contains have all been considered together, without exhaustive historical references.

Notices

Standing Order 129
Publication of Standing Order.
129.
At the beginning of a session, the Clerk of the House shall publish in the Canada Gazette the Standing Order respecting notices of intended applications for private bills. Thereafter, the Clerk of the House shall publish weekly in the Canada Gazette a notice referring to the previous publication of the aforementioned Standing Order.
Standing Order 130
Publication of notices.
130.
(1)
All applications to Parliament for private bills, of any nature whatsoever, shall be advertised by a notice published in the Canada Gazette; such notice shall clearly and distinctly state the nature and objects of the application, and shall be signed by or on behalf of the applicants, with the address of the party signing the same; and when the application is for an Act of incorporation, the name of the proposed company shall be stated in the notice. If the works of any company (incorporated, or to be incorporated) are to be declared to be for the general advantage of Canada, such intention shall be specifically mentioned in the notice; and the applicants shall cause a copy of such notice to be sent by registered letter to the clerk of each county or municipality which may be specially affected by the construction or operation of such works, and also to the secretary of the province in which such works are, or may be located. Every such notice sent by registered letter shall be mailed in time to reach its destination not later than two weeks before the consideration of the proposed bill by the committee to which it may be referred; and proof of compliance with this requirement by the applicants shall be established by statutory declaration.
Additional notice.
 
(2)
In addition to the notice in the Canada Gazette aforesaid, a similar notice shall also be published in some leading newspaper as follows:
In case of incorporation.
 
 
(a)
when the application is for an Act to incorporate:
Railway or canal company.
 
 
 
(i)
a railway or canal company: in the principal city, town or village in each county or district, through which the proposed railway or canal is to be constructed;
Telegraph or telephone company.
 
 
 
(ii)
a telegraph or telephone company: in the principal city or town in each province or territory in which the company proposes to operate;
Construction of works. Exclusive rights.
 
 
 
(iii)
a company for the construction of any works which in their construction or operation might specially affect the particular locality; or obtaining any exclusive rights or privileges; or for doing any matter or thing which in its operation would affect the rights or property of others: in the particular locality or localities in which the business, rights or property of other persons or corporations may be affected by the proposed Act; and
Banking, insurance, trust, loan company or industrial company.
 
 
 
(iv)
a banking company; an insurance company; a trust company; a loan company; or an industrial company without any exclusive powers: in the Canada Gazette only.
In case of amending Act.
 
 
(b)
when the application is for the purpose of amending an existing Act:
Extension of railway.
 
 
 
(i)
for an extension of any line of railway, or of any canal; or for the construction of branches thereto: in the place where the head office of the company is situated, and in the principal city, town or village in each county or district through which such extension or branch is to be constructed;
Extension of time.
 
 
 
(ii)
for an extension of time for the construction or completion of any line of railway or of any branch or extension thereof, or of any canal, or of any telegraph or telephone line, or of any other works already authorized: at the place where the head office of the company is situated and in the principal city or town of the districts affected; and
Continuation of charter.
 
 
 
(iii)
for the continuation of a charter or for an extension of the powers of the company (when not involving the granting of any exclusive rights) or for the increase or reduction of the capital stock of any company; or for increasing or altering its bonding or other borrowing powers; or for any amendment which would in any way affect the rights or interests of the shareholders or bondholders or creditors of the company: in the place where the head office of the company is situated or authorized to be.
Exclusive rights.
 
 
(c)
when the application is for the purpose of obtaining for any person or existing corporation any exclusive rights or privileges or the power to do any matter or thing which in its operation would affect the rights or property of others: in the particular locality or localities in which the business, rights or property of others may be specially affected by the proposed Act.
Duration of notice.
 
(3)
All such notices, whether inserted in the Canada Gazette or in a newspaper, shall be published at least once a week for a period of four consecutive weeks; and when originating in the Province of Quebec or in the Province of Manitoba shall be published in English in an English newspaper and in French in a French newspaper, and in both languages in the Canada Gazette, and if there is no newspaper in a locality where a notice is required to be given, such notice shall be given in the next nearest locality wherein a newspaper is published; and proof of the due publication of notice shall be established in each case by statutory declaration; and all such declarations shall be sent to the Clerk of the House endorsed “Private Bill Notice”.

Petition

Standing Order 131
Petition filed with Clerk of the House.
131.
(1)
A petition for a private bill may be presented by a Member at any time during the sitting of the House by filing the same with the Clerk of the House.
Members answerable.
 
(2)
Members presenting petitions for private bills shall be answerable that such petitions do not contain impertinent or improper matter.
Member’s signature.
 
(3)
Every Member presenting a petition for a private bill shall sign his or her name on the back thereof.
Signatures of petitioners.
 
(4)
Petitions for private bills may be either written or printed; provided always that when there are three or more petitioners the signatures of at least three petitioners shall be subscribed on the sheet containing the prayer of the petition.
Report of Clerk of Petitions.
 
(5)
On the next day following the presentation of a petition for a private bill, the Clerk of the House shall lay upon the Table the report of the Clerk of Petitions thereon and such report shall be printed in the Journals. Every petition so reported upon, not containing matter in breach of the privileges of this House and which, according to the Standing Orders or practice of this House, can be received, shall then be deemed to be read and received.
No debate on report. Petition may be read.
 
(6)
No debate shall be permitted on the report but a petition referred to therein may be read by the Clerk of the House at the Table, if required.
Standing Order 132
 
132.
Deleted (June 10, 1994).
Standing Order 133
Examiner of petitions for private bills.
133.
(1)
The Chief Clerk of Private Bills shall be the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills.
Report to the House.
 
(2)
Petitions for private bills, when received by the House, are to be taken into consideration by the Examiner who shall report to the House in each case the extent to which the requirements of the Standing Orders regarding notice have been complied with; and in every case where the notice is reported by the Examiner to have been insufficient or otherwise defective, or if the Examiner reports that there is any doubt as to the sufficiency of the notice as published, the petition, together with the report of the Examiner thereon, shall be taken into consideration, without special reference, by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which shall report to the House as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the notice, and where the notice is deemed insufficient or otherwise defective, shall recommend to the House the course to be taken in consequence of such deficiency or other defect.
Private bills from Senate.
 
(3)
All private bills from the Senate (not being based on a petition which has already been so reported on) shall be first taken into consideration and reported on by the Examiner of Petitions, and when necessary by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in like manner, after the first reading of such bills, and before their consideration by any other legislative committee.
Map or plan with petition.
 
(4)
No petition praying for the incorporation of a railway company, or of a canal company, or for an extension of the line of any existing or authorized railway or canal, or for the construction of branches thereto, shall be considered by the Examiner, or by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, until there has been filed with the said Examiner a map or plan, showing the proposed location of the works, and each county, township, municipality or district through which the proposed railway or canal, or any branch or extension thereof, is to be constructed.

Fees and Charges

Standing Order 134
Time limited for depositing bill. Printing and translation cost.
134.
(1)
Any person desiring to obtain any private bill shall deposit with the Clerk of the House not later than the first day of each session, a copy of such bill in the English or French language, with a sum sufficient to pay for translating and printing the same; the translation to be done by the officers of the House, and the printing by the Department of Public Printing.
Cost of printing the Act.
 
(2)
After the second reading of a bill, and before its consideration by the committee to which it is referred, the applicant shall in every case pay the cost of printing the Act in the Statutes, and a fee of five hundred dollars.
Other charges.
 
(3)
The following charges shall also be levied and paid in addition to the foregoing:
(a)
when any Standing Order of the House is suspended in reference to a bill or the petition therefor, for each such suspension … $100
(b)
when a bill is presented in the House after the eighth week of the session and not later than the twelfth week … $100
(c)
when a bill is presented in the House after the twelfth week of the session … $200
(d)
when the proposed capital stock of a company does not exceed $250,000 … $100
(e)
when the proposed capital stock of a company is over $250,000 and does not exceed $500,000 … $200
(f)
when the proposed capital stock of a company is over $500,000 and does not exceed $750,000 … $300
(g)
when the proposed capital stock of a company is over $750,000 and does not exceed $1,000,000 … $400
(h)
when the proposed capital stock of a company is over $1,000,000 and does not exceed $1,500,000 … $600
(i)
when the proposed capital stock of a company is over $1,500,000 and does not exceed $2,000,000 … $800
(j)
for every additional million dollars or fractional part thereof … $200
Capital increased.
 
(4)
When a bill increases the capital stock of an existing company, the additional charge shall be according to the foregoing tariff, upon the amount of the increase only.
Borrowing powers increased.
 
(5)
(a)
When a bill increases or involves an increase in the borrowing powers of a company without any increase in the capital stock, the additional charge shall be $300.
Increase of capital and borrowing powers.
 
 
(b)
When a bill increases both the capital stock and the borrowing powers of a company, the additional charge shall be made upon both.
Bill stands until charges are paid.
 
(6)
If any increase in the amount of the proposed capital stock or borrowing powers of a company be made at any stage of a bill, such bill shall not be advanced to the next stage until the charges consequent upon such change have been paid.
Interpretation.
 
(7)
In this Standing Order the term “proposed capital stock” includes any increase thereto provided for in the bill; and where power is taken in a bill to increase at any time the amount of the proposed capital stock, the additional charge shall be levied on the maximum amount of such proposed increase which shall be stated in the bill.
Additional charges apply to Senate bills.
 
(8)
The additional charges provided for in this Standing Order shall also apply to private bills originating in the Senate; provided, however, that if a petition for any such bill has been filed with this House, the additional charges made under paragraphs (b) or (c) of section (3) shall not be levied thereon.
Collection of fees.
 
(9)
The Chief Clerk of Private Bills shall prepare and send to the promoter or parliamentary agent in charge of every private bill a statement of fees and charges payable under this Standing Order, and shall collect all such fees and charges and deposit the same with the accountant of the House and shall send a copy of each such deposit slip to the Clerk of the House.

Introduction and Readings

Standing Order 135
Private bills introduced on petition.
135.
(1)
All private bills are introduced on petition, and after such petition has been favourably reported upon by the Examiner of Petitions or by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, such bills shall be laid upon the Table of the House by the Clerk, and shall be deemed to have been read a first time and ordered to be printed, and to have been ordered for a second reading when so laid upon the Table, and so recorded in the Journals.
Senate bills deemed read a first time.
 
(2)
When the Speaker informs the House that any private bill has been brought from the Senate, the bill shall be deemed to have been read a first time and ordered for a second reading and reference to a legislative committee at the next sitting of the House and so recorded in the Journals.
Standing Order 136
Examiner of private bills.
136.
(1)
The Chief Clerk of Private Bills shall be the Examiner of Private Bills, and, as such, shall examine and revise all private bills before they are printed, for the purpose of insuring uniformity where possible and of seeing that they are drawn in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House respecting private bills.
Model bill.
 
(2)
Every bill for an Act of incorporation, where a form of model bill has been adopted, shall be drawn in accordance with a model bill (copies of model bills may be obtained from the Clerk of the House). Any provisions contained in any such bill which are not in accord with the model bill shall be inserted between brackets or underlined, and shall be so printed.
Amending bill.
 
(3)
Where a private bill amends any section, subsection or paragraph of an existing Act, such section, subsection or paragraph shall be repealed in the text of the bill and re-enacted as proposed to be amended, the new matter being indicated by underlining; and the section, subsection or paragraph which is to be so repealed, or so much thereof as is essential, shall be printed in the right-hand page opposite such section, subsection or paragraph.
When a repeal is involved.
 
(4)
When a private bill repeals an existing section, subsection, or other minor division of a section, that section, subsection or division, or so much thereof as is essential, shall be printed opposite the clause.
Explanatory note where necessary.
 
(5)
A brief explanatory note giving the reasons for any clause of an unusual nature or which differs from the model bill clauses or standard clauses shall be printed opposite the clause in the bill.
Standing Order 137
Map or plan with bill.
137.
No bill for the incorporation of a railway or canal company, or for authorizing the construction of branch lines or extensions of existing lines of railways or of canals, or for changing the route of the railway or of the canal of any company already incorporated, shall be considered by a legislative committee, until there has been filed with the committee, at least one week before the consideration of the bill, a map or plan drawn upon a scale of not less than half an inch to the mile, showing the location upon which it is intended to construct the proposed work, and showing also the lines of existing or authorized works of a similar character within, or in any way affecting the district, or any part thereof, which the proposed work is intended to serve; and such map or plan shall be signed by the engineer or other person making same.
Standing Order 138
Bills confirming agreements.
138.
When any bill for confirming any agreement is presented to the House, a true copy of such agreement must be attached to it.
Standing Order 139
Instruction to committees in certain cases.
139.
That it be an instruction to all committees on private bills, in the event of promoters not being ready to proceed with their measures when the same have been twice called on two separate occasions for consideration by the committee, that such measures shall be reported back to the House forthwith, together with a statement of the facts and with the recommendation that such bills be withdrawn.
Standing Order 140
Suspension of rules.
140.
No motion for the suspension or modification of any provision of the Standing Orders applying to private bills or to petitions for private bills shall be entertained by the House until after reference is made to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and a report made thereon by the Committee and, in its report, the Committee shall state the grounds for recommending such suspension or modification.
Standing Order 141
Bills and petitions referred to committee.
141.
(1)
Every private bill, when read a second time stands referred to a legislative committee, and all petitions for or against the bills are considered as referred to the same committee.
Notice of sitting of committee.
 
(2)
(a)
No committee on any private bill originating in this House is to consider the same until after one week’s notice of the sitting of such committee has been first affixed in the lobby; nor, in the case of any such bill originating in the Senate, until after twenty-four hours’ like notice.
Notice to be appended to Journals.
 
 
(b)
On the day of the posting of any bill under this section, the Clerk of the House shall cause a notice of such posting to be appended to the Journals.
Voting in committee. Chair votes.
 
(3)
All questions before committees on private bills are decided by a majority of voices including the voice of the Chair; and whenever the voices are equal, the Chair has a second or casting vote.
Provision not covered by notice.
 
(4)
It is the duty of the committee to which any private bill may be referred by the House, to call the attention of the House specially to any provisions inserted in such bill that do not appear to have been contemplated in the notice or petition for the same, as reported upon by the Examiner of Petitions or by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs; and any private bill so reported shall not be placed on the Order Paper for consideration until a report has been made by the Examiner as to the sufficiency or otherwise of the notice to cover such provisions.
All bills to be reported.
 
(5)
The committee to which a private bill may have been referred shall report the same to the House in every case.
When preamble not proven.
 
(6)
When the committee on any private bill reports to the House that they have made any material change in the preamble of a bill, the reasons for making such change shall be stated in their report; and if they report that the preamble of a bill has not been proved to their satisfaction, they  must also state the grounds upon which they have arrived at such a decision; and no bill, the preamble of which has been reported as not proven shall be placed upon the Orders of the Day unless by Special Order of the House.
Chair to sign bills and to initial amendments.
 
(7)
The Chair of the committee shall sign with his or her name at length a printed copy of the bill, and shall also sign with the initials of his or her name, the preamble and the various sections of the bill and also any amendments which may be made or clauses added in committee; and another copy of the bill with the amendments, if any, written thereon shall be prepared by the Clerk of the committee, who shall sign the bill with his or her name at length and shall also sign with the initials of his or her name the preamble and the various sections adopted by the committee, and any amendments which may have been made thereto, and shall file the same with the Clerk of the House or attach it to the report of the committee.
Reprinting of bills when amended.
 
(8)
Private bills amended by any committee may be reprinted by order of such committee; or after being reported, and before consideration in the House, may be reprinted in whole or in part as the Clerk of the House may direct; and the cost of such reprinting shall, in either case, be added to the cost of the first printing of the bill and be payable by the promoter of the same.
Standing Order 142
Notice of amendments.
142.
No important amendment may be proposed to any private bill in the House unless one day’s notice of the same has been given.
Standing Order 143
Amendments by the Senate.
143.
When any private bill is returned from the Senate with amendments, the same not being merely verbal or unimportant, such amendments are, previous to the second reading, referred to the committee to which such bill was originally referred.

Record and Lists

Standing Order 144
Record of private bills.
144.
A record shall be kept in the private bills office of the name, description, and place of residence of the parties applying for a private bill or of their agent, the amount of fees paid, and all the proceedings thereon, from the time of the deposit of the bill with the Clerk of the House to the passage of the bill; such record to specify briefly each proceeding in the House or in any committee to which the bill or the petition may be referred, and the day on which the committee is appointed to sit; such record shall be open to public inspection during office hours.
Standing Order 145
List of bills posted in lobbies.
145.
(1)
Lists of all private bills which have been referred to any committee shall be prepared daily by the Chief Clerk of Private Bills, specifying the committee to which each bill has been referred and the date on or after which the bill may be considered by such committee, and shall cause the same to be hung up in the lobby.
Publication of committee meetings.
 
(2)
A list of committee meetings shall be prepared from time to time as arranged, by the Chief Clerk of Private Bills, stating the day and hour of each such meeting, and the room in which it is to be held, which list shall be hung up in the lobby on the day previous to that on which the meeting is to be held.

Parliamentary Agent

Standing Order 146
Authority conferred by the Speaker.
146.
(1)
No person shall act as parliamentary agent conducting proceedings before the House of Commons or its committees without the express sanction and authority of the Speaker, and all such agents shall be personally responsible to the House and to the Speaker, for the observance of the rules, orders and practice of Parliament and rules prescribed by the Speaker, and also for the payment of all fees and charges.
List of agents.
 
(2)
A list of such persons shall be kept by the Chief Clerk of Private Bills and a copy filed with the Clerk of the House.
Fee per session.
 
(3)
No person shall be allowed to be registered as a parliamentary agent during any session unless he or she has paid a fee of twenty-five dollars for such session and is actually employed in promoting or opposing some private bill or petition pending in Parliament during that session.
Liability of agents.
 
(4)
Any parliamentary agent who wilfully acts in violation of the Standing Orders and practice of Parliament, or of any rules to be prescribed by the Speaker, or who wilfully misconducts himself or herself in prosecuting any proceedings before Parliament, shall be liable to an absolute or temporary prohibition to practice as a parliamentary agent, at the pleasure of the Speaker; provided, that upon the application of such agent, the Speaker shall state in writing the ground for such prohibition.

Application of Standing Orders

Standing Order 147
Standing Orders apply to private bills.
147.
Except as herein otherwise provided, the Standing Orders relating to public bills shall apply to private bills.

Commentary — Standing Orders 129 to 147

  1. Introduction

    Standing Orders 129 to 147 inclusive are a series of rules dealing with private legislation. [1] 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. [2] The intent of the legislation and the contents of the bill determine whether the Standing Orders dealing with private legislation should apply [3] 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. [4] However, the rules pertaining to private legislation were changed only rarely. [5] 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. [6]

    (a) Private Bills Originating in the House of Commons

    Parliamentary Agents

    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).

    Necessity of a Public Notice by Applicants

    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 [7] 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)).

    Restrictions on Depositing of Bill and Payment for Translation and Printing

    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).

    Record of Proceedings

    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).\

    Necessity of a Petition

    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. [8] 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). [9]

    Restrictions on Presentation of Petitions

    Petitions for private bills may be filed in the House at any time during a session. [10] 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)).

    Report of Clerk of Petitions and by Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills

    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. [11] 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. [12] 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).

    Second Reading

    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)). [13] Following second reading, the bill is referred to a legislative committee (Standing Order 141(1)).

    Payment of Fees and Charges

    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).

    Notice of Committee Hearings and Other Requirements

    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).

    Consideration by the Committee

    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. [14] 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)).

    Report to the House

    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)).

    Report Stage and Third Reading

    In a manner similar to public bills, a private bill can be considered at the report stage, [15] 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.

    Consideration of Senate Amendments

    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).

    (b) Private Bills Originating in the Senate

    First Reading and Order for Second Reading

    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. [16] In recent years, the majority of private bills have been introduced in the Senate. [17] 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)).

    Second Reading

    The procedure for the second reading of a private bill originating in the Senate is the same as for bills originating in the House.

    Consideration by the Committee, Report Stage and Third Reading

    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)). [18]

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