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SMIP Committee Report

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HOUSE OF COMMONS
OTTAWA, CANADA
K1A 0A6




The Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons has the honour to present its

 

FIRST REPORT

 

Pursuant to its Order of Reference from the House of Commons dated November 28, 2002, the Committee has considered the subject of Private Members’ Business, and has agreed to recommend the following new procedures:

 

1.      At the beginning of a Parliament, there shall be a draw of the names of all Members of the House to determine the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business – the draw will include the names of all Members, including members of Cabinet, Parliamentary Secretaries, Chair occupants etc.

 

2.      The names of Members who are ineligible shall be automatically dropped to the bottom of the List. The names of Members who subsequently become eligible, or who are elected in by-elections, shall be added to the List, provided that their order shall be determined by a draw if more than one Member becomes eligible on the day.

 

3.      The List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business shall continue for the duration of the Parliament, and shall continue from session to session, notwithstanding prorogation. (After the first List is exhausted, a new draw of all Members will be held.)

 

4.      Eligible Members will retain the right to present as many motions and introduce as many bills as they wish, as is currently the case.

 

5.      At the beginning of a Parliament, an Order of Precedence of 30 items will be established based on the order of names appearing on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business. Thereafter, it will be replenished whenever the number of remaining items in the Order of Precedence falls below 15.

 

6.      In order to be able to obtain a spot on the Order of Precedence, a Member must have an item on the Notice Paper the day before the date on which the Order of Precedence is established or replenished. At least 24 hours’ notice will be given to enable Members to get items on the Notice Paper.

 

7.      If a Member has more than one item on the Notice Paper, he or she must advise the Clerk of Private Members’ Business of the item to be placed on the Order of Precedence; in default of which, the first item standing in the Member’s name shall be deemed selected.

 

8.      The existing Sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will be continued: its membership shall consist of one Member from each recognized opposition party, two from the Government party, and a chair from the Government.

 

9.      Forthwith after the establishment or replenishment of the Order of Precedence, the Sub-committee shall meet to consider the items that have been placed on the Order of Precedence to determine whether they should be declared non-votable (allowing sufficient time for an appeal to the House).

 

10.      The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall develop a list of criteria for making items of Private Members` Business non-votable, and shall table a copy in the House for information purposes.

 

11.     Unless a Member opts to have his or her item non-votable, all items on the Order of Precedence shall be votable, provided that the Sub-committee may decide, by majority vote, that an item on the Order of Precedenceshall not be votable, in which case its report shall briefly set out its reasons.

 

12.      Where the Sub-committee votes to make an item non-votable, it shall forthwith table this report with the clerk of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and within five sitting days of such tabling by the Sub-committee, the sponsor shall have a right to provide written arguments and to appear before the Committee to explain why the item should be votable. The Committee shall then vote on whether to adopt the Sub-committee report that the item not be votable, and if the report is adopted it shall be forthwith tabled in the House of Commons.

 

13.      In the event that the Committee tables a report not to make an item votable, the sponsoring Member will have the right to appeal to the House. The appeal (a motion that the item be votable) must be in writing and signed by the sponsor and five Members representing at least four of the recognized parties in the House. The appeal must be tabled with the Speaker within five sitting days of the presentation of the report from the Committee. The Speaker, after certifying the appeal is in compliance with the Standing Orders, will cause a vote by secret ballot to be held of all Members of the House. There will be a period of time (48 hours) for Members to fill out their ballots, and deposit them in the ballot boxes placed on the Table (subject to verification, identification safeguards). A simple majority of those voting will make the item votable.

 

14.      A maximum of two hours of debate will be allotted to all votable items; after the first hour of debate, the item shall go to the bottom of the Order of Precedence. One hour of debate will be available for non-votable items.

 

15.      Private Members’ bills originating in the Senate shall be immediately placed on the Order of Precedence upon introduction and first reading in the House. All such bills will be votable unless the Sub-committee decides that a similar matter has been voted on by the House in the same Parliament. A Member of Parliament sponsoring a Senate bill will not use his/her spot on the List.

 

16.      Members have the right to request exchanges within the Order of Precedence (i.e. switch their position via the Private Members` Business Office).

 

17.      There shall be a Private Members’ Hour every sitting day.

 

18.      The new procedure for Private Members’ Business could be adopted on a provisional basis beginning on March 17, 2003, until the earlier of one year or until the end of the 2nd session of the 37th Parliament, as follows:

 

a) No further draw will be held under the current provisions of the Standing Orders, but a draw will be held to establish the List for the Consideration of Private Members Business pursuant to the Provisional Standing Orders on Tuesday, March 18, 2003;

 

b) The proceedings on the items now on the order of precedence will continue under the current Standing Orders until all those items have been disposed of by the House at their current stage. The subsequent stages of all items now on the order of precedence will be governed by the Provisional Standing Orders;

 

c) The  Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall table in the House no later than March 28, 2003 the list of criteria for making items of Private Members` Business non-votable pursuant to Standing Order 91.1 of the Provisional Standing Orders;

 

d) Proceedings on all items placed on the order of precedence under the Provisional Standing Orders shall begin four sitting days after the Sub-Committee on Private Members` Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has completed its consideration (no later than April 7, 2003) of the items placed on the Order of Precedence to determine whether they should be declared non-votable;

 

e) The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall review the new procedures after one year of their coming into force and report any changes recommended to them to the House;

 

f) During the transition period and the subsequent trial period, the Speaker shall be encouraged to take all reasonable measures to facilitate this pilot project. Pursuant to Standing Order 94. (1)(a), the Speaker has responsibility for ensuring the orderly conduct of Private Members’ Business;

 

g) In order to promote the exchange of views during debate on items of Private Members’ Business that will come to a vote, the Standing Orders be amended to permit the mover of a motion to speak for up to fifteen minutes, followed by a period of five minutes for questions and comments and to speak again for a period of up to five minutes at the conclusion of the debate;

 

h) Standing Order 68. (4)(b) and (7)(b) shall be suspended for the duration of the provisional period.

 

We request the Clerk of the House of Commons to draft the necessary changes to the Standing Orders to reflect these recommendations, and will be reporting these to the House in due course.

A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings (Meeting No. 5) is tabled.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Bob Kilger, M.P.
Chair