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House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

House of Commons Procedure and Practice - 21. Private Members' Business - List for the Consideration of Private Members' Business and the Order of Precedence

 

Government bills and motions are called for debate in the order that the government chooses. However, items of Private Members’ Business are called according to their place in the Order of Precedence. Only those items in the Order of Precedence may be considered during Private Members’ Hour.[95] The order in which Members may place an item in the Order of Precedence for debate is based on their position on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business, the list of the names of Members constituted by a random draw at the beginning of the first session of a parliament and, as required, during the course of a parliament.

*   Draw for the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business

At the beginning of the first session of a parliament, the names of all Members are drawn to establish a List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business. The draw is organized by the Clerk of the House and is conducted by the Speaker who is assisted by one of the other Presiding Officers of the House. At least 48 hours before a draw is to be held, the Clerk of the House notifies Members of the date, time and place of the draw.[96] Members or their staff may attend the draw, though their presence is not required. The draw itself is not a formal proceeding of the House; therefore, no entry is made in that day’s Journals.

All Members’ names are placed on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business, whether they have submitted an item of Private Members’ Business or not. Since the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries are ineligible to take part in Private Members’ Business, on being drawn, their names are placed in a separate category at the bottom of the List, where they remain as long as they hold office. If, over the course of the Parliament, a Member ceases to hold one of those offices, then their name is added at the bottom of the List of Eligible Members. When more than one Member becomes eligible on the same day, their names are added in the order in which they were drawn when the List was established. When, as a result of by-elections, two or more new Members are added to the List on the same day, the order in which their names appear is determined by a draw done by one of the Presiding Officers and organized by the Private Members’ Business Office. These are the only modifications permitted to the List.[97]

Subsequent Draws

If, during the course of a parliament, fewer than 15 eligible names remain on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business, another draw of Members’ names is held to establish a new List.[98] This draw is held in the same manner and under the same provisions as the first draw of a new parliament.

*   Creation of the Order of Precedence

At the beginning of a parliament, the Order of Precedence is established by transferring to it the names of the first 30 eligible Members on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business. In order to have their names transferred to the Order of Precedence, each Member must have an eligible item on the Order Paper or Notice Paper. On the 20th sitting day following the draw, the first 30 Members on the List who have introduced a bill or given notice of a motion on the Notice Paper constitute the Order of Precedence. A Member must have at least one of the following items in order to be placed in the Order of Precedence: a bill that has already been introduced and given first reading; a motion that has been placed on notice; or a motion for the production of papers that has been transferred for debate. A Member who does not have at least one of the above items at the time his or her name is ready to be transferred to the Order of Precedence is dropped from the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business.[99] The Member will be eligible again only once the List is exhausted or, if re‑elected, at the beginning of the next parliament.

When a Member whose name has been placed in the Order of Precedence has only one eligible item standing in his or her name on the Order Paper or Notice Paper, that item is automatically placed in the Order of Precedence.

When a Member whose name has been placed in the Order of Precedence has more than one eligible item standing in his or her name on the Order Paper or Notice Paper, the Member must choose which one of these items is to be placed in the Order of Precedence. On behalf of the Clerk of the House, the Private Members’ Business Office contacts the Member, providing to the Member a list of the items. The Member has until the ordinary time of adjournment, on the second sitting day after his or her name has been added to the Order of Precedence, to inform the Private Members’ Business Office in writing of the item chosen. If the Member fails to indicate a choice, then the first bill that he or she introduced in the House is deemed to have been chosen and is placed in the Order of Precedence. When there are no bills standing in the name of the Member, the first motion standing in his or her name will be selected or, if required, the first Notice of Motion (Papers).[100] The items added to the Order of Precedence are then published in the Order Paper.

Private bills and Senate public bills which have been ordered for a second reading in the House and placed at the bottom of the Order of Precedence are not considered to occupy any of the 30 positions in the Order of Precedence when it is initially established. However, they are considered to occupy positions in the Order of Precedence for the purposes of any subsequent replenishment.

Replenishment of the Order of Precedence

The Order of Precedence may not contain more than 30 motions and public bills originating in the House at the second reading stage, nor fewer than 15 items. When a decision is reached on an item (with the exception of the adoption of the motion to concur in a bill as reported from a committee), it subsequently disappears from the Order Paper. Non-votable items of Private Members’ Business are also dropped from the Order Paper after debate on them is concluded. Thus the original number of 30 items is gradually reduced as the session progresses. The Standing Orders provide that, when necessary, the Clerk of the House shall replenish the Order of Precedence by adding the names of the next 15 Members on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business. This is done when there are 15 items remaining in the Order of Precedence.[101] Again, Members must have an eligible item in order to be added to the Order of Precedence or else their name is dropped from the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business. When a replenishment takes place, the same provisions as for the creation of the Order of Precedence apply.

*   Withdrawal of Items

If a Member no longer wishes to proceed with a notice of motion which is in the list of “Private Members’ Business―Items Outside the Order of Precedence” or a bill which has not yet been given first reading, and thus does not wish to see the item placed in the Order of Precedence, he or she may request to have the item withdrawn from the Order Paper by notifying the Clerk of the House in writing. If a Member wishes to withdraw a bill which has been given first reading, he or she must seek the unanimous consent of the House to do so since, having been ordered for a second reading by the House, the bill is then in the possession of the House and only the House can take a further decision on it.[102]

Since the Order of Precedence is established by the Standing Orders, a Member wishing to withdraw any item which has been placed in the Order of Precedence must first seek the unanimous consent of the House.[103]

*   Status of Items Not Chosen

The existence of the Order of Precedence does not prohibit private Members from giving notice of items of business they wish to initiate.[104] On the day for which notice is given (or, in the case of public bills originating in the House, on the day for which the House has ordered second reading consideration), such items are included in the list of “Private Members’ Business―Items Outside the Order of Precedence” which may be consulted at the Table in the Chamber or on the electronic version of the Order Paper. Until and unless these items are chosen for inclusion in the Order of Precedence, they are not numbered sequentially as are items in the Order of Precedence. Unless chosen in a subsequent replenishment, items outside the Order of Precedence do not receive consideration during Private Members’ Business.[105]

*   Items Automatically Placed in the Order of Precedence

Certain items of Private Members’ Business are placed automatically at the bottom of the Order of Precedence regardless of the number of items already on it.[106] These items include:

*       orders for consideration of subsequent stages of a bill already debated during Private Members’ Business (including bills reported back or deemed to have been reported back from committees);[107]

*       private Members’ public bills originating in the Senate as well as any such bills that were included in the Order of Precedence in a previous session and that have been reinstated in the current session;[108]

*       orders for consideration of Senate amendments to bills;[109] and

*       all stages of a private bill.[110]

Thus, it is possible for the total number of items in the Order of Precedence to exceed 30 since this number applies only to motions and to public bills originating in the Commons at second reading.



[95] Standing Order 87(5). The House may choose, by unanimous consent, to adopt or to allow debate and possibly even a vote on an item which has not been chosen to be in the Order of Precedence. See, for example, Debates, June 18, 1987, pp. 7345‑7; April 7, 2000, pp. 5841‑2; May 17, 2000, p. 6985; April 19, 2002, p. 10608; June 12, 2003, p. 7181; October 21, 2003, pp. 8521‑3; November 5, 2003, p. 9196; October 26, 2004, pp. 807‑8; December 2, 2004, p. 2167.

[96] Standing Order 87(1)(a)(i) and (3).

[97] Standing Order 87(1)(a)(ii) and (iii).

[98] Standing Order 87(3).

[99] Standing Order 87(1)(b) and (c).

[100] Standing Order 87(1)(b) and (c).

[101] Standing Order 87(2).

[102] See, for example, Debates, March 12, 1997, p. 8957; March 11, 1999, p. 12715; April 7, 2000, p. 5842; September 28, 2000, p. 8776; February 23, 2005, p. 3878; April 20, 2005, pp. 5335‑6; May 17, 2005, p. 6043; October 3, 2005, p. 8335; June 6, 2007, pp. 10212‑3. On one occasion, by unanimous consent of the House, a Member withdrew a bill standing on the Order Paper in his name and immediately introduced another modified version of the bill (Journals, February 23, 2005, p. 472, Debates, p. 3878).

[103] See, for example, Journals, September 21, 2000, p. 1936; November 20, 2001, p. 836; November 21, 2002, p. 215; April 10, 2003, p. 680; September 16, 2003, p. 971; February 3, 2004, p. 11; May 5, 2005, p. 709; March 21, 2007, p. 1123; November 30, 2007, p. 241. By unanimous consent of the House, Members have withdrawn motions standing in the Order of Precedence and replaced them with other motions (Journals, May 5, 1994, p. 430; May 29, 2002, p. 1443). By unanimous consent, a Member’s motion was withdrawn from the Order of Precedence and substituted with a motion standing in another Member’s name (Journals, October 2, 1995, p. 1972). On another occasion, by unanimous consent, a Member’s motion was withdrawn from the Order of Precedence and the House adopted a motion to the same effect (Journals, February 24, 2004, p. 119).

[104] Standing Order 87(4).

[105] Standing Order 87(5).

[106] Standing Order 89.

[107] Standing Orders 97.1 and 98(1).

[108] Standing Orders 86.2 and 89. For examples of Senate bills reinstated, see Journals, February 13, 2004, p. 77; November 30, 2007, p. 242; December 5, 2007, p. 264; December 12, 2007, p. 302.

[109] For an example of Senate amendments to a private Member’s public bill originating in the House and its placement in the Order of Precedence, see Journals, April 16, 1997, pp. 1479‑80 (message from the Senate) and Order Paper and Notice Paper, April 17, 1997, pp. 27, xxxi.

[110] For an example of the placement of a private bill in the Order of Precedence, see Journals, December 7, 2006, p. 885 (message from the Senate) and Order Paper and Notice Paper, December 8, 2006, p. 29.

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