Private Members’ Motions

Private Members’ motions are used to introduce a wide range of issues and are framed either as orders or resolutions, depending on their intent.85 Motions attempting to make a declaration of opinion or purpose, without ordering or requiring a particular course of action, are considered resolutions.86 Hence, such motions which simply suggest that the government initiate a certain measure 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.87 This is in contrast to those motions whose object is to give a direction to committees, Members or officers of the House, or to regulate House proceedings, and as such, are considered orders once adopted by the House.88

No private Member’s motion can contain provisions for either raising revenue or spending funds, unless it is worded in terms which only suggest that course of action to the government. As an alternative to a bill which might require a royal recommendation obtainable only by a Minister, a private Member may choose to move a motion proposing the expenditure of public funds, provided that the terms of the motion only suggest this course of action to the government without ordering or requiring it to do so.89 Such a motion is normally phrased to ask the government to “consider the advisability of …”.


Private Members must provide at least 48-hours’ notice of their intention to move a motion.90 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 may be consulted in the electronic version of the Order Paper. The sponsoring Member can move the motion only if the item has been placed in the order of precedence. When a Member on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business is about to be eligible to bring forward an item of Private Members’ Business for debate, if that item is to be a motion, then in order to be placed in the order of precedence when it is created or replenished, the motion must be placed on notice no later than the day on which the order of precedence is created or replenished.91

Similar Items

If a Member submits notice of a motion which the Speaker judges to be substantially the same as an item already submitted, the Speaker has the power to refuse the most recent notice, to so inform the Member sponsoring it and to return the motion to the Member.92


A Member who wishes to support a motion already appearing on the Order Paper may second that motion by indicating in writing to the Clerk of the House his or her desire to do so.93 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.94 The Member who seconds the motion in the House need not be one of the seconders listed on the Order Paper.