To introduce a public bill, a Member must give 48 hours’ written notice and then, by motion, obtain leave to introduce the bill. This is granted automatically, and the motion is deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put, pursuant to Standing Order 68(2).
The Speaker then proposes the motion for first reading and, pursuant to Standing Order 69(1), the motion is deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put. The Speaker then asks: “When shall the bill be read a second time?” and the Members answer, “At the next sitting of the House.” This formality allows the bill to be placed on the Order Paper for second reading under the heading “Government Orders” or “Private Members’ Business”.
The purpose of first reading is to allow the bill to be introduced so that it may be printed and distributed to all Members. Passage of the motion for first reading simply means that the House agrees to the introduction of the bill without any commitment beyond the fact that it should be made generally available for the information of Parliament and the public. It is at this stage that a specific number is assigned to the bill.
Senate bills have already been printed when they are sent to the House of Commons. Accordingly, the request for leave to introduce a Senate bill in the House of Commons is not required. The motion for first reading is deemed carried without debate, amendment or question put, pursuant to Standing Order 69(2). Senate bills then pass through the same stages as House of Commons bills.