Private Members’ motions are used to introduce a wide range of issues and are framed either as resolutions or as orders, depending on their intent. Motions attempting to make a declaration of opinion or purpose, without ordering or requiring a particular course of action, are considered resolutions.
These are typically motions that suggest that the Government initiate a certain measure and are generally phrased as follows: “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should consider ...” The Government is not bound to adopt a specific policy or course of action as a result of the adoption of such a resolution since the House is only stating an opinion or making a declaration of purpose.
Motions, the object of which is to give a direction to committees, Members or officers of the House or to regulate House proceedings, are considered orders once adopted by the House.
Members who are not Ministers cannot put forward a motion containing provisions to either raise revenue or spend funds, unless the motion is worded in terms that merely suggest such a course of action to the Government. Such a motion is normally phrased so as to ask the Government to “consider the advisability of ...”
A Member may choose to move a motion proposing the expenditure of public funds as an alternative to a bill that might require a royal recommendation, provided that the terms of the motion only suggest that the Government follow this course of action without ordering or requiring it to do so.
A Member must provide at least 48 hours’ notice of his or her intention to move a motion. Notice of a private Member’s motion appears on the Notice Paper for the date on which notice is given and is transferred afterwards to the list of “Private Members’ Business—Items Outside the Order of Precedence”, which is published in the electronic version of the Order Paper. When a Member’s name is placed in the Order of Precedence, he or she may select any item standing in his or her name from the list of Items Outside the Order of Precedence.
A Member who wishes to support a motion already appearing on the Notice Paper or Order Paper may second that motion by indicating in writing to the Clerk of the House his or her desire to do so. A motion may have up to 20 seconders. The names of these seconders are listed with the motion on the Order Paper. Once the motion has been proposed to the House, no additional names may be appended. The Member who seconds the motion in the House need not be one of the seconders listed on the Order Paper.
It should be noted that the number of seconders for an item of Private Members’ Business has no bearing on whether an item will be deemed non-votable, or on the placement of the item on the Order of Precedence.
If a Member submits notice of a motion that the Speaker judges to be substantially the same as an item already submitted, the Speaker has the discretionary power to refuse the more recent notice. The Member sponsoring the motion is informed accordingly and the motion is returned to him or her.