Private Members’ Business

Each sitting day, one hour is set aside for Private Members’ Business,360 that is, for the consideration of bills and motions presented and sponsored by Members of the House of Commons who are not Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries.361 This hour commences at 11:00 a.m. on Mondays, 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 1:30 p.m. on Fridays.362

Cancellation of Private Members’ Business

Consideration of Private Members’ Business may be cancelled or not take place on certain occasions, namely:

  • on any day the House proceeds to elect a Speaker;363
  • on any day designated for the presentation of the budget speech if it is scheduled to take place before Private Members’ Business;364
  • on any day when an emergency debate takes place before Private Members’ Business;365
  • on any day when a Minister of the Crown moves a motion on a matter the government considers to be of an urgent nature, and that debate takes place in the time normally provided for Private Members’ Business;366
  • on the last allotted day of the supply period ending June 23, unless it is a Monday, when Private Members’ Business takes place at the beginning of the sitting;367
  • on any day when a question of privilege is being considered by the House and that debate continues during the period normally reserved for Private Members’ Business;368 and
  • on any day prior to the establishment of the order of precedence.369

Because Members must be aware of when particular items are expected to be called for consideration, the Standing Orders require the Speaker to ensure that Members are given at least 24 hours’ notice of which item is to be considered during Private Members’ Business on the next sitting day.370 This notification must be published in the Notice Paper.

A Member whose motion or bill is scheduled for consideration during Private Members’ Business and who is unable to be present that day to move the motion may notify the Speaker in writing 48 hours in advance. The Speaker has the authority to arrange an exchange with another item on the order of precedence with the permission of the Members involved, and Private Members’ Business proceeds as usual.371 Should such an exchange be impossible, Private Members’ Business does not take place that day and the House continues with the business previously before it.372 Should this occur on a Monday, the House would then begin consideration of Government Orders at 11:00 a.m. instead of at noon.373

However, when Private Members’ Business is reached, should a Member not be present to move his or her scheduled item when called and not have given the required notice, then Private Members’ Business is cancelled for that day.374 On Mondays, the sitting is suspended until noon, at which time the House commences with Government Orders.375 On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the House moves on to the Adjournment Proceedings. When this occurs on a Friday, the Speaker adjourns the House.376

Finally, Private Members’ Business may be delayed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to allow the House to continue with Routine Proceedings until the completion of “Introduction of Government Bills”.377

Delays and Interruptions

Private Members’ Business may be delayed or interrupted for a number of reasons. Should this occur, the debate on the item of business would be extended or rescheduled to another time.378 For example, if consideration of Private Members’ Business is delayed because of a recorded division,379 by the moving of a time allocation motion,380 by a ministerial statement,381 by Royal Assent,382 or due to an emergency alarm,383 then Private Members’ Business is extended by a corresponding amount of time.384 If the delay or interruption extends 30 minutes or more beyond the ordinary ending of Private Members’ Business, the Speaker will postpone consideration of the item of business to a future sitting and the House will move on to the next item on the daily program.385 The rescheduled debate takes place within 10 sitting days, but no more than one adjournment period as provided in the House calendar may intervene in the rescheduling of the debate. The rescheduled business is considered during an additional Private Members’ Hour, which is added to the daily schedule of the House, usually at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment. Twenty-four hours’ notice is given.386