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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Issue 1 - First and Second Reports


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament has the honour to table its

FIRST REPORT

Pursuant to Rule 104, your Committee reports that the expenses incurred by the Committee during the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament were as follows:

Professional & Other Services    $ 11,809
Witness Expenses        2,250
Total    $ 14,059

Your Committee's First Report, which was tabled in the Senate on October 26, 2004, included an updated version of the Rules of the Senate dated October 2004.

The Second Report of your Committee was the report pursuant to Rule 104 of the Senate of the expenses incurred by the Committee during the Third Session of the 37th Parliament. The Report was tabled in the Senate on October 26, 2004.

Your Committee's Third Report recommended the adoption of a Conflict of Interest Code for Senators. It was the culmination of many months of work by members of your Committee. The Report was presented in the Senate on May 11, 2005, and was adopted by the Senate on May 18, 2005.

Your Committee's Fourth Report, which was presented in the Senate on June 9, 2005, recommended an amendment to Rule 96 the Rules of the Senate to the effect that a committee not be allowed to dispense with clause-by-clause consideration of a bill except with leave of its members present. The Report was agreed to by the Senate on June 14, 2005.

The Fifth Report of your Committee, which was presented in the Senate on June 29, 2005, concerned the numbering of bills in the Senate. It was adopted by the Senate, without debate, on June 30, 2005.

Your Committee's Sixth Report included the tabling of the October 2005 version of the Rules of the Senate. It was tabled in the Senate on October 18, 2005.

Your Committee tabled its Seventh Report, dealing with the participation of Senators via telephone and videoconference at committee meetings on November 22, 2005. This report was not debated or adopted by the Senate.

Respectfully submitted,


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Pursuant to rule 86(1)(f)(i), your Committee is pleased to report as follows:

The User Fees Act, S.C. 2004, c. 6, received Royal Assent on March 31, 2004. It originated as a private Member's bill in the House of Commons. The purpose of the Act is provide a consultation process with stakeholders before the introduction of new user fees, or the increase or extension of existing user fees, followed by parliamentary approval.

The Act requires Ministers to cause proposals to be tabled in each House of Parliament. Each proposal that is tabled is deemed referred to the ``appropriate standing committee'' of each House. The committee may submit a report containing recommendations regarding the proposal. If after 20 sitting days, no report has been tabled by the committee, it is deemed to have recommended the approval of the proposal. The Senate and House of Commons may pass a resolution approving, rejecting or amending the recommendation made by the committee.

The wording of the User Fees Act is more consistent with the procedures of the House of Commons, with its pre- determined ``appropriate standing committees,'' which mirror government departments and agencies. In the Senate, however, committees are organized more along policy lines, and, in any event, generally require a specific order of reference from the chamber with respect to any study that they undertake.

Given the tight timeframe envisaged by the Act for reviewing proposals — 20 sitting days — your Committee believes that it is important that they be referred to a committee without delay. We are recommending an amendment to the Rules of the Senate to facilitate this. It is your Committee's hope and expectation that there will be consultations between the leadership of the two sides prior to any tabling of a proposal so as to expedite the process and ensure that the Senate carries out its responsibilities under the Act in a meaningful way.

Your Committee recommends that the Rules of the Senate be amended by adding after subsection (3) of Rule 28 the following:

28 (3.1) When the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate tables a document proposing a user fee, it is deemed referred, without debate or a vote, to the select committee designated in the Senate for the purpose by the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate following consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

(3.2) If the select committee does not report within twenty sitting days, the committee is deemed to have recommended approval of the user fee.

Respectfully submitted,

CONSIGLIO DI NINO

Chair