House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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21. Private Members’ Business

If the private member is to count for anything, there must be a relationship between what the private member and the institution of Parliament can do and what the electorate thinks or expects can be done.

Third Report of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House
(McGrath Committee), June 1985, p. 2


rivate Members” are generally defined as Members of the House of Commons who are not part of the Ministry. [1]  While there is no rule specifically excluding Parliamentary Secretaries from this designation, the practice is for them to abstain from sponsoring items under Private Members’ Business. [2]  In general, Presiding Officers of the House have also abstained from sponsoring or pursuing private Members’ bills or motions. [3] 

Each sitting day, one hour is set aside for Private Members’ Business, that is, for the consideration of bills and motions presented and sponsored by private Members. Private Members may use the time allotted for the consideration of Private Members’ Business to put forth their own legislative and policy proposals, and express their views on a variety of issues. [4]  Private Members’ proposals can take the form of a bill (either public or private), a motion, or a notice of motion for the production of papers.

A private Member’s bill is the text of a legislative initiative sponsored by a private Member. Based on private Members’ own ideas and drafted with the aid of legislative counsel, such bills are brought forward by the sponsoring Member. Like government bills, private Members’ bills become statutes once they receive Royal Assent. [5] Most private Members’ bills are public bills originating in the Commons, but some public bills, and occasionally private bills, sponsored by private Members come to the Commons from the Senate. [6]

A private Member’s motion typically proposes that the House declare its opinion on some topic or that the House order a certain course of action to be taken, either by the House itself, or by one of its committees or officers.

A notice of motion for the production of papers is a request that the government compile or produce certain papers or documents and table them in the House. [7]

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