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Pre-Study of House of Commons Bills by Senate Committees

1970 to Date

The Rules of the Senate allow the Senate to examine the subject matter of a bill before the bill has been passed by the House of Commons. The bill must have been given first reading in the House of Commons but not yet been passed by it and, therefore, not introduced in the Senate.

The procedure allows the subject matter of the bill to be referred to a Senate committee for a general review of the principle and policy of the bill (i.e., its subject matter). The committee does not undertake a clause-by-clause review during pre-study consideration.

The bill must still come to the Senate to pass through three readings after it has been adopted by the House of Commons before it can receive Royal Assent.

Our compilation of bills reviewed in pre-study dates back to the early 1970s when the practice became common, although incidents of pre-study may have occurred prior to the 1970s. The June 1991 amendment of the Rules of the Senate formalised the practice by specifically addressing pre-study (see Rules of the Senate, 10-11 (1)).