How A Bill Becomes Law in New Brunswick – Part III of IV
Part III of IV – The Stages of a Public Bill
STAGES OF A PUBLIC BILL
Before a Bill becomes law, it goes through the following stages:
A Minister of the Crown is requested by his department to introduce legislation with respect to a specific area of their responsibilities. A draft of the Bill is prepared by the staff of the Department of Justice. The draft Bill is then presented by the Minister to his colleagues in cabinet and caucus and subject to their approval is forwarded to the Queen’s Printer for printing. Copies of the Bill are prepared by the Queen’s Printer and delivered to the Minister.
A Private Member’s Public Bill is drafted by the member with the assistance of the staff of the Legislative Assembly and does not have to be presented to the member’s caucus or to the executive. The member wishing to introduce the Bill forwards the Bill to the Queen’s Printer for printing and the copies are returned directly to the member by the Queen’s Printer.
INTRODUCTION AND FIRST READING
The Minister or private member then introduces the Bill to the Legislative Assembly on motion “that a Bill entitled . . . . . . be now read a first time”. The member introducing the Bill may give a brief explanation on the provisions of the Bill. No debate or amendment is permitted at this stage.
When a Bill is read a first time, it stands ordered for second reading at the next sitting of the House. The Bill cannot be read a second time until it has been printed and copies have been deposited with the Clerk of the House and distributed to the members who can acquaint themselves with its content.
Second reading is considered the most important stage in the passage of a Bill. At this stage, the principle and object of the Bill are debated and either accepted or rejected. Debate at this stage is general and addresses the Bill as a whole. If a Bill passes second reading in the House, it is referred for a more detailed study to the Committee of the Whole House or to another legislative committee designated by the sponsor of the Bill.
When a Bill is referred to the Committee of the Whole, the House itself is the Committee. When the House resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole, the Speaker leaves the chair and the Deputy Speaker or one of the members acts as Chairman and the Minister responsible for the Bill is the witness. The Minister answers questions on the details of the Bill. Departmental advisors can accompany the Minister into the Chamber to give technical advice, but they cannot speak. Members can speak on any clause of the Bill being studied, ask any number of questions and can propose amendments to any clauses of the Bill. Amendments in Committee must be in keeping with the principle of the Bill as agreed to at second reading in the House. After the Committee has completed its consideration of the Bill, it orders that the Bill be reported to the House.
In its report, the Committee may recommend the Bill favourably to the House with or without amendments. If no amendments are offered, the Bill is reported by the Committee as being agreed to.
THIRD READING AND PASSAGE
The motion at this stage is “that the Bill be now read a third time.” As in second reading, during third reading the debate is confined to the contents of the Bill as a whole.
When a Bill has been read a third time, the further question is then put by the Speaker: “This Bill having had three separate readings, is it the pleasure of the House that it does now pass?” This is carried, and the Bill is then ready for Royal Assent.
The Constitution Act states that the approval of the Crown, signified by Royal Assent, is required for any bill to become law after passage by the House.
After third reading the Bill stands on the Order and Notice Paper for Royal Assent. The Lieutenant-Governor attends a session of the Legislative Assembly and gives Royal Assent to the Bill.
The ceremony of Royal Assent consists of the reading by the Clerk Assistant of the titles of the Bills to be approved. The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly on behalf of the Crown’s representative then announces the Royal Assent in the following words:
In Her Majesty’s name, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor assents to these Bills, enacting the same and ordering them to be enrolled.
It is at this stage that the Bill becomes law.
Normally a Bill comes into force on the day of Assent unless otherwise provided in the Bill itself.
Provision is sometimes made for the Bill to come into force on a certain day or a day fixed by Proclamation. Public Bills are usually subject to proclamation. Some Bills are proclaimed forthwith, others are proclaimed on a specific day and still others are to be proclaimed and must receive the date of proclamation from the Executive Council.