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Chapter VIII — Motions

Standing Orders [ 54555656.156.2575859606162636465666767.1 ]

Introduction

To bring a proposal before the House with a view to obtaining a decision on it, a motion is necessary. Notice of the motion is required, although this requirement varies according to the type of motion; indeed, many motions are specifically exempted from notice. All motions must be in writing, however, and once proposed to the House by the Speaker, may be withdrawn only by unanimous consent. Most motions are open to debate, although several, including many of those for which no notice is required, are not.

Standing Order 54
When notice required.
54.
(1)
Forty-eight hours’ notice shall be given of a motion for leave to present a bill, resolution or address, for the appointment of any committee, for placing a question on the Order Paper or for the consideration of any notice of motion made pursuant to Standing Order 124; but this rule shall not apply to bills after their introduction, or to private bills, or to the times of meeting or adjournment of the House. Such notice shall be laid on the Table, or filed with the Clerk, before 6:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. on a Friday) and be printed in the Notice Paper of that day, except as provided in section (2) of this Standing Order. Any notice filed with the Clerk pursuant to this Standing Order shall thereupon be deemed to have been laid on the Table in that sitting.
Notice during adjournment periods.
 
(2)
On any sitting day on which the House adjourns pursuant to Standing Order 28(2), the time specified pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order for the filing with the Clerk of any notice shall not apply. Any such notice may be filed with the Clerk no later than 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the next sitting of the House and shall be printed in the Notice Paper to be published for that sitting.

Commentary — Standing Order 54

A prerequisite for discussing or raising almost any substantive or independent matter in the House is that advance notice be given so that other Members and the House as a whole do not have to deal with a question unexpectedly. According to Standing Order 54(1), the amount of notice required in most cases is 48 hours. [1] This applies to motions for leave to present a bill or resolution or for an address, motions for the appointment of any committee, the placing of questions on the Order Paper, and the consideration of any notice of motion made in accordance with Standing Order 124. (The type of notice of motion referred to in Standing Order 124 is for a motion moved by a Minister not to adopt a resolution revoking a regulation.) Other exceptions to the 48-hour rule include motions regarding Senate amendments to bills, motions opposing estimates during the business of Supply (except in the period ending June 23), and report stage amendments for bills that have received second reading, all of which require only 24 hours’ notice. [2] Matters of privilege, superseding motions [3] and motions touching on the times (hours) of meeting or adjournment of the House [4] require no notice at all. A further example of motions requiring no notice are those to adjourn the House (pursuant to Standing Order 60) when proposed as a substantive motion. Similarly, once introduced, bills require no further notice for their several stages (except for motions to amend a bill at report stage and for consideration of Senate amendments), while closure, time allocation and private bills all have their own unique notice requirements. [5] As well, motions are sometimes made or matters raised without notice either as part of the accepted practice of the House (the Thursday business question for example) [6] or with the unanimous consent of the House. [7]

The notices required under Standing Order 54 must be in writing and are to be provided simply by being tabled (given to the Clerk) before 6:00 p.m. during a sitting of the House (2:00 p.m. on Fridays). Administratively, however, they can be sent directly to the Journals Branch, much in the same way as a petition is filed (see Standing Order 36), again before 6:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. on Fridays).

Once tabled or filed, each notice is examined for any irregularities by the Clerk (under the Speaker’s authority) who, in consultation with the sponsoring Member, may amend it in form and content. [8] It is then inserted in its appropriate place in the Notice Paper. [9] If Members have met the deadline, the notice is effective for the sitting day on which it is submitted and appears in the following day’s Notice Paper. In the case of a 48-hour notice requirement, the item is transferred to the Order Paper the day after it appears in the Notice Paper. [10] Members may give notice for the following Monday on a Friday, the minimum notice period elapsing over the weekend. [11] If the notice is submitted after the deadline, it becomes effective for the following sitting of the House.

On the last sitting day prior to an adjournment period, the regular notice deadlines do not apply. Pursuant to section (2), notice for that day may be filed any time up to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the next scheduled sitting of the House. The notice will appear on both the Notice Paper and the Order Paper for that sitting.

Because a notice remains under the sponsoring Member’s control until the House is seized with it, it may easily be withdrawn. To do so, the Member may either request in writing that the Clerk withdraw it, [12] or may rise in the House to withdraw the notice orally. [13] A new notice is required in order to materially amend a previous one. [14]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 54

Section (1) of this Standing Order on notice requirements has changed little since its introduction in 1867. At Confederation, the same matters as today required 48-hours’ written notice except notices of motions regarding delegated legislation, which made the list in 1986. [15] Other more specific requirements, such as the 24-hours’ notice needed for motions relating to Senate amendments, or the oral notice requirement for closure for instance, came much later. In 1982, the then Standing Order 43, which explicitly allowed Members to move motions without notice in cases of urgency, was eliminated (see Historical Summary to Standing Order 31), although the House has since continued to waive the usual notice requirements in certain cases. [16]

From 1867 to 1927, notices had to be tabled no later than 5:00 p.m. on any sitting day (including Fridays), although it was common practice both to accept filed notices as though they had been tabled and to accept them up to 6:00 p.m. [17] Eventually, in 1927, the 6:00 p.m. time was codified in the Standing Order. [18] It was modified to 5:00 p.m. for Fridays only in 1968. [19] In 1987, the notice deadline for Fridays was set at 3:00 p.m. if notice was given at the Table and 5:00 p.m. if notice was filed with the Clerk. [20] This also marked the first time the practice of filing (rather than tabling) notices was codified. In 1989, the notice deadline for Mondays was pushed back to 7:00 p.m. to coincide with longer sitting hours on Monday, [21] but it was set back to 6:00 p.m. in 1991. [22] At the same time, the notice period for Fridays was fixed at 2:00 p.m., regardless of whether the notice was filed or tabled.

Until 1995, there were no special provisions regarding the notice deadline before an extended adjournment of the House. [23] This is hardly surprising as, until 1982, there was no fixed parliamentary calendar, and it was only in 1991 that the concept of regular break weeks was instituted (see Standing Order 28). Therefore, the regular notice deadline on the last sitting day before an adjournment period still applied and any notices submitted during the break would be effective only on the first sitting day the House returned. Recognizing that this could create difficulties for Members, a committee recommended that notices be accepted up to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the House returns, which led to the inclusion of section (2). [24]

It has been a longstanding practice that Members must sign any notices submitted as authentication of their intentions. The Chair has ruled that notices sent by facsimile cannot be accepted as they do not bear an original signature. [25] However, following the recommendations of two committees, a system was put in place in 2005 to allow Members to submit notices electronically via a secure web site. [26] On numerous occasions since Confederation there have been attempts to raise matters or move motions without the required notice, but the Chair has been very strict in applying the requirements of the rule. [27]

Standing Order 55
Notice of business during prorogation or adjournment. Special Order Paper.
55.
(1)
In the period prior to the first session of a Parliament, during a prorogation or when the House stands adjourned, and the government has represented to the Speaker that any government measure or measures should have immediate consideration by the House, the Speaker shall cause a notice of any such measure or measures to be published on a special Order Paper and the same shall be circulated prior to the opening or the resumption of such session. The publication and circulation of such notice shall meet the requirements of Standing Order 54.
When Speaker unable to act.
 
(2)
In the event of the Speaker being unable to act owing to illness or other cause, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his or her stead for the purposes of this order. In the unavoidable absence of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker or when the Office of Speaker is vacant, the Clerk of the House shall have the authority to act for the purposes of this Standing Order.

Commentary — Standing Order 55

It can happen that before a session begins, or during an adjournment, the government may wish the House to give immediate consideration to a matter or to several matters for which notice would have to be tabled in the House (see also Standing Order 28(3)). If such an intention has been communicated to the Speaker, the Chair must then ensure that a notice of this intended action is published in a Special Order Paper which is then circulated to all Members at least 48 hours before the session either begins or resumes. [1]

If the Speaker is ill or otherwise unable to arrange that a Special Order Paper be published and circulated, the responsibility falls to the Deputy Speaker. If there is no Speaker or Deputy Speaker (or both are absent), the Clerk assumes the task.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 55

When the House was recalled in August 1966 to consider the effects of a work stoppage by the country’s railway workers, no formal notice could be given that back-to-work legislation would be introduced, as the House had previously stood adjourned. As a result, the Prime Minister was obliged to seek unanimous consent to obtain leave from the House to introduce a bill in this regard. After an extensive discussion during which some Members threatened to withhold their consent, the House unanimously agreed to allow the introduction of the legislation. [2]

Perhaps as a result of this episode, in 1968, the House adopted the text of Standing Order 55, which obliges the Speaker to publish and circulate a Special Order Paper when the House stands prorogued or adjourned, and the government wishes a matter requiring notice to be considered when the House reopens. [3] The procedure was followed for the first time in 1971 when, by having a Special Order Paper distributed, the government was able to introduce an employment support measure on the first day back after a summer recess. [4] Special Order Papers were also printed and circulated in 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1987. [5] In each case the action was taken while the House was adjourned.

Since 1990, there has been a marked increase in the use of Special Order Papers. In fact, three appeared in 1991 alone. While most were published while the House stood adjourned, [6] on one occasion a Special Order Paper was published while the House was prorogued (in 1996), [7] and on two occasions, one was published before the first sitting of a new Parliament (in 1997 and in 2004). [8] The notice provisions during an extended adjournment of the House were changed in 1995 to allow Members to give notice of items up until a few days before the House returns (see Standing Order 54). Therefore, the need for Special Order Papers is now limited to circumstances where the regular notice deadlines cannot be met, or to situations, such as recalls of the House or the opening of a new session, where no Order Paper would otherwise appear.

A Special Order Paper contains only the notices submitted pursuant to this Standing Order. All other items appear in the Order Paper when it resumes its regular publication.

The two sections of this Standing Order have not been amended since their introduction in 1968.

Standing Order 56
Government notices of motions.
56.
(1)
After notice pursuant to Standing Order 54, a government notice of motion shall be put on the Order Paper as an order of the day under Government Orders.
Motion to go into Committee of the Whole decided without debate.
 
(2)
Proposed motions under Government Orders for the House to go into a Committee of the Whole at the next sitting of the House when put from the Chair shall be decided without debate or amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 56

On the date for which notice has been given, government notices of motions are placed under Government Orders and can be called as any other Government Order in such sequence as the government determines, at any time the House is considering government business.

Any government motion seeking to have the House resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole on the next sittting day is put without debate or amendment. A motion for the House to go into Committee of the Whole for a take-note debate is also decided without debate or amendment, though under the provisions of a different rule (see Standing Order 53.1).

Historical Summary — Standing Order 56

Although Standing Order 56 was adopted as a new rule only in 1955, it incorporates certain older practices. Since 1927, a government motion for the House to go into a Committee of the Whole at the next sitting had been non-debatable. Also, at that time, the Standing Order on debatable motions was amended to exempt from debate government notices of motion for the House to go into Committee at a later date. [1] The new rule adopted in 1955 reasserted this practice and further stipulated that any such motion was also not amendable. [2]

The 1955 Standing Order also allowed any other government notice of motion to be transferred to government orders automatically when called from the Chair during Routine Proceedings. [3] Formerly, these government notices of motion had been considered outside of Routine Proceedings as a separate item of business which could be called when and if that category were reached. [4] In addition, such notices were debatable. By being included as a routine proceeding, government notices of motion could be called daily and, as the rule made clear, were no longer subject to debate since they were transferred immediately to Government Orders once called by the Speaker.

This Standing Order remained unchanged until 1987, when it was substantially revised. [5] A government notice of motion is no longer called under a separate heading in Routine Proceedings; rather, it is put under Government Orders on the date for which notice has been given. As a Government Order, it becomes an order of the day, similar to any other government business ordered for consideration by the House.

Government motions for the House to go into Committee of the Whole at the next sitting are also considered under Government Orders. As in the original 1955 rule, the motion remains neither debatable nor amendable.

Standing Order 56.1
When unanimous consent denied, routine motion by Minister.
56.1.
(1)
(a)
In relation to any routine motion for the presentation of which unanimous consent is required and has been denied, a Minister of the Crown may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker propose the said question to the House.
(b)
For the purposes of this Standing Order, “routine motion” shall be understood to mean any motion, made upon Routine Proceedings, which may be required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishing of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment.
Question put forthwith.
 
(2)
The question on any such motion shall be put forthwith, without debate or amendment.
Objection by twenty-five or more Members.
 
(3)
When the Speaker puts the question on such a motion, he or she shall ask those who object to rise in their places. If twenty-five or more Members then rise, the motion shall be deemed to have been withdrawn; otherwise, the motion shall have been adopted.

Commentary — Standing Order 56.1

There are two Standing Orders which explicitly refer to the use of unanimous consent, Standing Order 64 and Standing Order 56.1. Standing Order 64 states that a Member who has moved a motion may withdraw the same only by unanimous consent. [1] Standing Order 56.1 also addresses the use of unanimous consent, but within a particular set of circumstances.

This rule allows the House to consider any routine motion for which written notice has not been provided and whose presentation requires, but has not been granted, unanimous consent. The rule specifically defines “routine motion” as one which may be required for “the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishing of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meetings or adjournment.”

When consent has previously been denied for the moving of such a motion, a Minister may rise under the rubric “Motions” during Routine Proceedings to request that the Speaker propose the question to the House. [2] Pursuant to part (2) of the Standing Order, the question is not subject to debate or amendment and is put forthwith. Pursuant to part (3) of the Standing Order, when the Chair puts the question, he or she asks those who object to rise in their places. If twenty-five or more Members then rise, the motion is deemed withdrawn; [3] otherwise, the motion is adopted. [4]

The rule is silent as to restrictions or time frames when the original request seeking unanimous consent to propose the question has to be put. Thus, in some cases the original request has been made, for example, three sitting days previously, [5] two sitting days previously, [6] one sitting day previously, [7] prior to Routine Proceedings on the same day, [8] and during Routine Proceedings on the same day. [9] Although the rule is clear that only a Cabinet Minister can invoke Standing Order 56.1, it does not require that a Cabinet Minister make the original request for unanimous consent to move the motion. [10] Nor does the rule prohibit more than one attempt to obtain unanimous consent to move the desired motion, prior to invoking Standing Order 56.1. [11] Furthermore, there is no limit on how often the government can resort to this rule during a sitting. [12]

The Speaker specifically ruled that this Standing Order was not intended to be used for the disposition of a bill at various stages, nor for bills that fell outside the range of those contemplated in Standing Order 71 (i.e. bills advanced on urgent or extraordinary occasions). He further indicated that it was never envisaged that the Standing Order would be used to override decisions which the House had taken by unanimous consent, nor could it be used as a substitute for decisions which the House itself ought to make on substantive matters. [13] The Speaker ruled that the Standing Order cannot be used to concur in a striking committee report. [14] The Speaker has allowed a motion to be moved pursuant to this Standing Order which provided a specific date and time for a division on second reading of two government bills. [15]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 56.1

This Standing Order was included in a group of amendments adopted, following debate and the moving of a closure motion, on April 11, 1991. [16] Since that time, motions proposed pursuant to this Standing Order have fixed the hours of sitting of the House, [17] dealt with the adjournment of the House and the management of its business, [18] and authorized certain committees to travel. [19]

Since the adoption of the Standing Order, however, Members have objected in a number of instances that the rule was being used for purposes never intended, and differed on the critical issue of what constituted a “routine” motion. [20] Speakers Parent and Milliken both urged the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the appropriate use of this Standing Order in this respect. [21]

In responding to points of order in June 2001, October 2002 and May 2005,  [22] Speaker Milliken clarified certain aspects of the Standing Order, as reflected in the final paragraph of the Commentary above.

Standing Order 56.2
Motion concerning committee travel. Question put during Routine Proceedings.
56.2.
(1)
In relation to any routine motion concerning the power of committees to adjourn from place to place placed on notice by a Minister of the Crown, the question on the motion shall be put forthwith at the expiry of the notice period, without debate or amendment, during Routine Proceedings.
Objection by ten or more Members.
 
(2)
When the Speaker puts the question on such a motion, he or she shall ask those who object to rise in their places. If ten or more Members then rise, the motion shall be deemed to have been withdrawn; otherwise, the motion shall have been adopted.

Commentary — Standing Order 56.2

When considering an Order of Reference, it may be necessary for a committee to meet outside the precincts of Parliament. A committee may travel only if such travel has been authorized by the House and, in the case of standing committees, if funds for the travel have been approved by the Liaison Committee. [1] In some instances, requests to travel have been sought by unanimous consent, [2] through a committee report, [3] or using the procedures provided for in Standing Order 56.1. [4]

Standing Order 56.2 provides for a distinct process with respect to the power of a committee to “adjourn from place to place”; in other words, to undertake travel to assist with its various studies. It enumerates a number of requirements. First, it indicates the motion itself must be a “routine” motion. Notice of the motion is to be given in the name of a Cabinet Minister. The Standing Order further provides that after the notice period (which is 48 hours pursuant to Standing Order 54) has expired, the question on the motion is to be put forthwith. The motion is not subject to debate or amendment, and it is put during Routine Proceedings, under “Motions”.

Pursuant to part (2) of the Standing Order, when the Speaker puts the question, he or she will ask those who object to rise in their places. If ten or more Members then rise, the motion shall be deemed withdrawn. Otherwise, the motion is deemed adopted. This Standing Order has never been invoked.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 56.2

This Standing Order was adopted in October 2001, following a recommendation by the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House. [5] The Committee had found it unacceptable that the procedural motions authorizing committee travel (which were usually sought by unanimous consent) could be “derailed by one disgruntled or recalcitrant Member”, and proposed that only if ten or more Members rose to object would the motion be deemed to have been withdrawn; otherwise it would be deemed adopted. [6]

The Committee proposed that such motions would be votable, but not debatable, and there would be no discretion in moving the motion:  it would be required to be moved at the first opportunity following the expiry of the notice period. [7]

The Standing Order came into effect on October 15, 2001, but has never been invoked. [8]

Standing Order 57
Closure. Notice required. Time limit on speeches. All questions put at 8 p.m.
57.
Immediately before the Order of the Day for resuming an adjourned debate is called, or if the House be in Committee of the Whole, any Minister of the Crown who, standing in his or her place, shall have given notice at a previous sitting of his or her intention so to do, may move that the debate shall not be further adjourned, or that the further consideration of any resolution or resolutions, clause or clauses, section or sections, preamble or preambles, title or titles, shall be the first business of the Committee, and shall not further be postponed; and in either case such question shall be decided without debate or amendment; and if the same shall be resolved in the affirmative, no Member shall thereafter speak more than once, or longer than twenty minutes in any such adjourned debate; or, if in Committee, on any such resolution, clause, section, preamble or title; and if such adjourned debate or postponed consideration shall not have been resumed or concluded before 8:00 p.m., no Member shall rise to speak after that hour, but all such questions as must be decided in order to conclude such adjourned debate or postponed consideration, shall be decided forthwith.

Commentary — Standing Order 57

Standing Order 57 provides the government with a procedural device to force a decision by the House on any matter currently under debate. The motion to invoke closure of a question can be proposed by a Minister of the Crown after oral notice has been given at least one sitting previously. Debate on the item must have begun. [1] The Standing Order is not specific on when an oral notice has to be given and consequently it has been given, for example, both when there has been a question before the House and when there has not. In the former case, notice should normally be relevant to the question, as for example, when notice was given by the Minister while speaking in Committee of the Whole; [2] while the Minister was moving the daily adjournment of the debate on the Address in Reply; [3] and during debate on the motion that was the object of closure. [4] It has also happened that notice has been given while the House was considering an unrelated matter. [5] Notice has also been given when there was no question before the House. [6] One notice has been given to cover multiple items. [7] The closure motion is moved just before the House resumes consideration of the order of the day to which closure will apply. If that order is a Government Order, it is called in the sequence the government wishes during the consideration of government business. [8]

The closure motion is neither debatable nor amendable. However, pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, once the closure motion has been proposed, Members may address brief questions to the Minister sponsoring the item (or to the Minister acting on his or her behalf). The said Minister may make a corresponding reply. The exchange can last for a maximum of thirty minutes. [9] If a recorded division on the motion is demanded, the bells calling in the Members can ring for a maximum of 30 minutes, by virtue of Standing Order 45(4). If closure is adopted, Members entitled to speak on the closured business, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, are limited to 20 minutes each and can speak only once during the entire debate being closured. Pursuant to Standing Order 43(1), these 20-minute speeches are subject to the question-and-comment period. [10] All questions necessary to dispose of the closured business [11] will be put no later than 8:00 p.m., or as soon as possible thereafter, to allow any Member who might have been recognized before 8:00 p.m. to finish speaking. [12] No Member shall be given the floor after 8:00 p.m. to debate the question. [13] When the Speaker interrupts at 8:00 p.m., or shortly thereafter, any bells summoning Members to a recorded division to dispose of the question or questions will sound for 15 minutes only, by virtue of Standing Order 45(3). If the debate on the closured business concludes before 8:00 p.m., the bells for any recorded division will sound for 30 minutes, pursuant to Standing Order 45(5)(a), but only to 8:00 p.m. [14]

The closure rule was originally intended for use as much in Committee of the Whole and the former Committee of Supply as in the House itself. In Committee of the Whole, closure can be applied to the particulars of a bill, such as the title, preamble, or clauses, singly or in groups as the circumstances warrant. [15] The limited use of Committee of the Whole in modern practice has substantially reduced the use of closure there. The closure rule, however, has no application to the other committees of the House — standing, legislative, special or joint.

The normal Adjournment Proceedings are suspended when closure has been moved on an item. [16] However, any Private Members’ Business which might have been scheduled is still taken up, pursuant to Standing Order 99.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 57

Since its introduction in 1913, [17] and application in Committee of the Whole during consideration of the Naval Aid bill in 1913, [18] closure has been applied less than fifty times. Eleven applications occurred between 1913 and 1932. [19] Closure was not moved again from 1932 until 1956, and the antagonism toward the rule remains most closely linked to the Pipeline Debate of that year. In an attempt to secure legislation to finance the construction of a gas pipeline from western Canada to the east, the government used closure four times within a month during the resolution, second reading, Committee of the Whole and third reading stages of Bill No. 298, An Act to establish the Northern Ontario Pipe Line Crown Corporation. [20]

Closure was moved in 1964 on a motion for concurrence in a committee report on the subject of a distinctive Canadian flag; [21] in 1969, on a motion for concurrence in a committee report on suggested changes to the standing orders; [22] in 1980, on a motion to create a Special Joint Committee on the Constitution; [23] in 1981, on a motion for the summer adjournment; [24] and in 1987, on a motion concerning capital punishment. [25] In June 1988, closure was moved on a motion touching on extended hours throughout the summer months. [26]

The Thirty-Fourth Parliament (December 1988 to September 1993) saw a marked increase in the number of times closure was moved, specifically on fifteen occasions. In December 1988, closure was moved on a motion respecting the hours of sitting and the business of the House, [27] and on the second reading, Committee of the Whole and third reading stages of Bill C–2, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States of America. [28] Closure was then moved on the second reading stage of three government bills in June 1989, and on the second reading stage of a government bill in each of October, November and December of 1989, as well as February 1990. [29] The government then moved closure on a motion to concur in Senate amendments to a government bill in March 1990, [30] for third reading of a government bill in March 1990, [31] to amend the Standing Orders in April 1991, [32] and for the re-instatement of certain bills onto the Order Paper at the beginning of the Third Session of the Thirty-Fourth Parliament in May 1991. [33]

Closure was moved on five occasions in the Thirty-Fifth Parliament (January 1994 to April 1997). [34] The first instance was on a motion to consider Senate amendments to a government bill in June 1995. The imposition of closure then followed on four motions, specifically a motion for the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society in December 1995, to re-instate certain bills and to provide for amendments to the supply process (for the calendar year 1996) in March 1996, to refer a matter of privilege to a committee in March 1996, and for the appointment of the Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole in October 1996.

In the Thirty-Sixth Parliament (September 1997 to October 2000), closure was moved on two items, specifically on a motion respecting the hours of sitting and disposition of a government bill in March 1999, and on a motion to consider Senate amendments to a government bill in June 1999. [35]

Closure was then moved on four motions in the Thirty-Seventh Parliament (January 2001 to May 2004): [36]  to amend the Standing Orders with respect to report stage motions in February 2001; to provide for committee business and the re-instatement of government bills onto the Order Paper and for the re-establishment of a special committee at the beginning of the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament in October 2002; to urge the government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in December 2002; and to provide for the re-instatement of government bills at the beginning of the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament in February 2004.

As of June 2005, closure has been moved once in the Thirty-Eighth Parliament, to provide for the House to sit past the usual time for the summer adjournment according to the parliamentary calendar. [37]

Despite the notoriety attached to closure, the vagueness of the wording of the text and Members’ dissatisfaction with it, the rule has been modified on only three occasions since its adoption; in each case the modification pertained to the time for putting the question. Originally, the time for putting all questions necessary to dispose of the closured motion was fixed for 2:00 a.m. In 1955, the time was moved back one hour, to 1:00 a.m., in order to conform with the change made to the ordinary time of adjournment. [38] The time was then moved back to 11:00 p.m. in April 1991 [39] and, finally, to 8:00 p.m. in October 2001. [40]

The rule, however, has been the subject of scrutiny and discussion on numerous occasions. In December 1957, the government placed a notice of motion on the Order Paper to repeal the closure rule, but the motion was never debated. [41] In July 1960, the Prime Minister expressed the hope that the Special Committee on Procedure would consider removing closure from the rules, [42] but the Committee never acted on that matter. In March 1962, another special committee was set up to consider the procedures of the House and, in particular, the desirability of repealing the closure rule; [43] it did not report on this issue. The Throne Speech in September 1962 indicated the House would be asked to abolish closure, but this also was not acted upon. [44] During the Thirtieth Parliament in September 1976, a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization recommended in its report on the use of time that a new Standing Order based on the U.K. closure rule be adopted, [45] but this was never recommended to the House.

In April 1993, again citing the U.K. procedures, the Standing Committee on House Management recommended that the Speaker be given the responsibility and authority to determine whether there had been a reasonable opportunity for debate before closure was moved on an item. [46] This report was not debated nor concurred in. However, in October 2001, the House did agree to the adoption of a new Standing Order (Standing Order 67.1) which would affect both time allocation and closure. Through the adoption of the Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House, henceforth a 30-minute question-and-answer period would be held following the moving of either a closure or time allocation motion on a bill. During this 30-minute period, questions would be directed to the Minister (or to the Minister acting on his or her behalf) sponsoring the bill under debate. The purpose of the new Standing Order, according to the Report, was “to promote ministerial accountability and to require the Government to justify its use of these extraordinary measures”. [47] Members continue, however, to express their dislike of this rule, even attempting from time to time to remove it from the Standing Orders. [48]

Aside from technical changes and the new Standing Order 67.1, most features of Standing Order 57 remain as first adopted. The notice requirements, for example, are still the same. Oral notice is given by a Minister at least one sitting prior to when the closure motion is to be moved. There are instances when notice of closure was given after several days of debate, [49] while at other times, notice was given on the first day of debate. [50] Although there is no requirement to give notice more than once, a Minister has provided notice over several days so as to avoid any objection that notice had not been given at the previous sitting. [51] Although notice may be given, there is no obligation to actually move the motion. [52]

The sporadic use of closure since 1956 can be accounted for by several factors aside from its unsavoury reputation. In general, changes to House practices have reduced the possible need for closure and have added alternative measures. Although it was moved only once to the Address Debate and only once on Supply, rule changes to the applicable Standing Orders have eliminated altogether the need to invoke closure in these matters. The Address and Budget Debates and Supply are all considered according to a timetable established in the Standing Orders, as are Private Members’ Business items. [53] Even more important, since 1969, debate on public bills has been subject to possible time allocation orders. The rules regarding time allocation were themselves passed by the House under closure. [54] In addition, time limits now exist for debate on motions moved by a Minister for a committee to prepare and bring in a bill, for debate on borrowing authority bills, for debate on motions to concur in committee reports, and for debate on motions to refer bills to committee before second reading. [55]

In interpreting the closure rule, Speakers have been consistently hampered by the vagueness of the wording and have clearly stated that the subject is not without uncertainty and pitfalls. [56] Yet Speakers have also firmly refused to interfere with the application of closure. In 1969, 1987, and 1990 the Speakers were urged to use discretionary authority to refuse to put the closure motion to the House. [57] In each case, the Speaker indicated that the Standing Order had been properly applied and the Chair had no authority to interfere procedurally with the process. [58]

Standing Order 58
Privileged motions.
58.
When a question is under debate, no motion is received unless to amend it; to postpone it to a day certain; for the previous question; for reading the Orders of the Day; for proceeding to another order; to adjourn the debate; to continue or extend a sitting of the House; or for the adjournment of the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 58

During debate on a question, the motions listed in this Standing Order may be moved. [1] Once moved, such motions take precedence and hence supersede the question then under debate. None of these motions require notice. They cannot be conditional, nor may they be moved by a Member rising on a point of order. [2] Motions to amend and for the previous question are debatable, but other superseding motions are not.

The effects of the motions outlined in this Standing Order, if carried or defeated, are as follows. A motion to amend, if carried, immediately amends the original motion under debate, which is then (barring other amendments or further debate) put to the House as amended; if defeated, the amendment is of course lost, and the original motion under debate is then (again barring other amendments or further debate) put to the House. A motion to postpone the main question to a day certain, if carried, has that stated effect; i.e., the main question is put over until a certain day; if defeated, debate continues on the original question. A motion for the previous question, if carried, results in an immediate vote on the main motion; if defeated, the main motion is superseded and is dropped from the Order Paper. (Because a motion for the previous question is debatable but not itself amendable, it effectively precludes all amendments to the main motion until it is disposed of.) A motion for reading the Orders of the Day, if agreed to, supersedes the main question previously being debated, which question is consequently dropped from the Order Paper; if defeated, debate continues on the main motion. A motion to proceed to another order, if carried, supersedes the question then under debate, which is then dropped from the Order Paper; if defeated, debate on the original motion continues. (In 1956, the Chair ruled that when the House is considering Government Orders, this particular motion may not be moved by a private Member, but only by a member of the government. [3]) A motion to proceed to another order has also been interpreted to allow the House to proceed to another item of business; i.e., to move from one rubric or item of Routine Proceedings to another, even though no substantive motion is before the House. [4] A motion to adjourn the debate or to adjourn the House, if carried, has that effect. However, the original motion is not dropped from the agenda of House business; rather, it is simply put over until the next sitting day, when it may be taken up again (see Standing Order 41). Should the motion to adjourn be defeated, debate on the original question carries on. The procedures involved in a motion to continue or extend a sitting of the House are outlined in Standing Order 26.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 58

When this rule was adopted by the House in 1906, Sir Wilfrid Laurier explained:  “This is a condensation of several rules which are not printed except in the textbooks but which are introduced into the rules of the House now.” [5] It remained unchanged until 1965 when motions to extend the sitting of the House were added. [6] For consistency with other rule changes, the Standing Order was again amended in 1968 so that motions to “continue” the sitting of the House also became acceptable in this category. [7] There are countless examples throughout Canadian parliamentary history of these motions being proposed. [8]

Standing Order 59
Motion to read Orders of the Day.
59.
A motion for reading the Orders of the Day shall have preference to any motion before the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 59

When the House adopts a motion to “proceed to the Orders of the Day” or “that the Orders of the Day be now read”, such a motion supersedes any question then before the House; business moves forward from whatever is then under consideration, skipping over any other matters on the agenda, to the Orders of the Day. The motion may be moved by any Member before the House has reached the Orders of the Day; however, once it has reached this juncture, the motion is a nullity. [1] The motion cannot be moved later to revert to the Orders of the Day.

The motion itself belongs to the class of “superseding” motions which, although independent in form, traditionally may be moved without notice during debate on questions which they seek to set aside. Once moved, the motion under Standing Order 59 is put from the Chair immediately without debate or amendment, [2] and if agreed to, has the double effect of superseding the business that may be then under discussion and of causing the House to proceed to the Orders of the Day. Any previous business thus superseded is dropped from the Order Paper, although on motion without notice it may be re-ordered for consideration again.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 59

This Standing Order, derived from an earlier British rule, has been used frequently throughout successive Parliaments, and although its wording has not changed since Confederation, it has been the object of several interpretations. The most consistent issue raised in regard to the motion this Standing Order allows has been whether it may be moved at any time (before Orders of the Day), or whether it can be moved only when debate on another motion is currently underway.

Precedents vary. In 1956, the Speaker ruled that there must be a motion before the House before a motion to proceed to the Orders of the Day can be entertained; [3] a similar ruling was rendered ten years later. [4] In 1970, the Speaker accepted the motion moved during Question Period, [5] and in 1983, the motion moved during Routine Proceedings under “Petitions” was similarly accepted. [6] In February 1987, the Speaker put the question on the motion moved at the commencement of the sitting. [7] The following day, a Member’s right to move such a motion when there was nothing before the House was the object of a point of order. [8] The weight of recent precedents favours the admissibility of motions to proceed to the Orders of the Day, if moved before Orders of the Day, whether or not debate on another motion is currently in progress. [9]

Standing Order 60
Motion to adjourn.
60.
A motion to adjourn, unless otherwise prohibited in these Standing Orders, shall always be in order, but no second motion to the same effect shall be made until some intermediate proceeding has taken place.

Commentary — Standing Order 60

The right of any Member to move “That this House do now adjourn” at any time during the proceedings is restricted by explicit conditions in the Standing Orders and by certain restraints established by precedent. Examples of when the motion is prohibited elsewhere in the Standing Orders are during the election of the Speaker (Standing Order 2(3)) and during debate on a matter the government considers urgent (Standing Order 53(3)(d)). Furthermore, Standing Order 25 provides that when any business “shall be continued, forthwith disposed of, or concluded in any sitting, the House shall not be adjourned before such proceedings have been completed except pursuant to a motion to adjourn proposed by a Minister of the Crown”. Thus, for example, a motion to adjourn the House (except when moved by a Minister) is out of order during debate on a motion that is the object of closure or time allocation pursuant to Standing Orders 57 and 78 respectively, [1] when a motion to extend the sitting has been adopted pursuant to Standing Order 26, [2] or at certain stages during the consideration of the business of Supply, pursuant to Standing Order 81(17) and (18). However, motions to adjourn have been accepted on days designated for resumed debate on a motion to concur in a committee report. [3] Finally, Standing Order 60 states that an “intermediate proceeding” must take place between any two motions to adjourn. [4]

In addition, when the House is already considering a motion to adjourn, another such motion cannot be moved. Thus, such motions are out of order during an emergency debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 and during the Adjournment Proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 38.

Precedents have also established certain restrictions on a motion to adjourn the House. A motion “that this House stand adjourned till six o’clock today” was ruled out of order since, when a condition is attached to a motion to adjourn the House, it is no longer the type of motion envisaged by Standing Order 60; it becomes a regular substantive motion requiring notice. [5]

If a motion to adjourn the House is agreed to, the House immediately adjourns until the next sitting day, and any business then before it is superseded. If such business is an Order of the Day, it remains on the Order Paper, and can be taken up again on the following sitting day. [6] A motion to adjourn the House is, in this case, a superseding motion. When no question is before the House, it may be moved as a substantive motion, but in both cases this Standing Order permits the motion to be moved without notice. Various arguments have been made that the motion ought not to be permitted unless the House is debating another question previously put from the Chair. [7] Nonetheless, as with motions under Standing Order 59, the weight of recent precedents clearly favours the admissibility of motions to adjourn the House when no other motion is being considered. [8]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 60

From Confederation until 1906, the Standing Orders imposed virtually no restrictions on a Member’s right to move the adjournment of the House at any time, given an intermediate proceeding between two such motions. Members could move the motion for any reason:  as a motion on its own, simply to adjourn; as an excuse to speak again on a matter they wished to add to a debate; as a reason to introduce urgent business for consideration; and often as a purely dilatory tactic. Furthermore, the motion was debatable. As such, the procedure for moving to adjourn was liable to frequent abuse, a fact which eventually led the government in 1906 to propose an amendment to the Standing Orders (subsequently adopted by the House) that allowed for a motion to adjourn at any time, “except when made for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance”. [9] The procedures for what are now known as emergency debates were thus separated, and subsequently developed on their own, quite distinct from regular motions to adjourn. [10]

A further limitation on the potential abuse of a Member’s right to move an adjournment motion at any time was applied in 1913, when the House amended the Standing Orders to make the motion non-debatable. [11] Once it had been moved, the Speaker was obliged, if the motion was found in order, to put it forthwith, thus prohibiting any comment or debate.

The Standing Order was amended once more in 1968. [12] As a consequence of amendments to other Standing Orders which prohibited motions to adjourn at certain times, the 1906 condition on the admissibility of the motion was expanded to include all new 1968 restrictions. Presently, a motion to adjourn is always in order, “unless otherwise prohibited…” and, as usual, if an intermediate proceeding has occurred between two such motions.

Standing Order 61
The previous question.
61.
(1)
The previous question, until it is decided, shall preclude all amendment of the main question, and shall be in the following words, “That this question be now put”.
Original question to be put.
 
(2)
If the previous question be resolved in the affirmative, the original question is to be put forthwith without any amendment or debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 61

Standing Order 61 deals with a specific superseding motion, the previous question. The first part of the rule states the established form of the motion. It also indicates a consequence of its application to the main question:  no further amendment is possible to the main question while the previous question remains unresolved.

Section (2) states what happens if the previous question is adopted: the main question must be decided immediately, without the possibility of further debate or amendment.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 61

The Standing Order on the previous question has remained unchanged since its adoption in 1867. The form of the previous question “That the question be now put” is based on the original British version. [1] It is a superseding motion pre-empting the main question before the House. Its use is intended to achieve one of two possible objectives:  either to prevent any amendment to the main question and force a direct vote on it, or to delay a vote on the main question by prolonging debate. If the previous question is adopted, the main question must be decided immediately; if it is negatived, the main question is dropped from the Order Paper, but can be revived. [2]

The previous question can be applied to most debatable motions, sponsored by the government or a private Member; it can be used on the reading stages of bills or on resolutions. [3] The previous question cannot be proposed while an amendment to the main question is still being considered, but once the main question itself is again before the House, amended or not, the previous question can be moved. While the previous question is debatable, it is not amendable. [4] It can, however, be withdrawn by unanimous consent. [5]

The previous question can also be superseded by a motion to adjourn the House or the debate. [6] In either case, both the previous question and the main question are retained on the Order Paper. It is also possible to move closure on the previous question and, in cases where the previous question is used to prolong debate on a public bill, time allocation is available to curtail debate. [7]

The previous question has been used sporadically in the Canadian House of Commons. There are only four instances recorded of its use in the nineteenth century. [8] In the late 1920s, 1940s and early 1950s, it was used fairly regularly, but was not used at all between 1964 and 1983. [9] Since the mid-1980s, it has been used much more frequently. [10] In the majority of recent cases, the previous question was applied to a reading stage of a government bill, [11] though it has also been applied to government motions, [12] motions during Routine Proceedings [13] and to a reading stage of a private Member’s bill. [14]

Standing Order 62
Motion that Member “be now heard”.
62.
When two or more Members rise to speak, the Speaker calls upon the Member who first rose in his or her place; but a motion may be made that any Member who has risen “be now heard”, or “do now speak”, which motion shall be forthwith put without debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 62

Standing Order 62 grants the Speaker the authority to call upon the Member who rises first to speak, when two or more Members have indicated, by rising in their places, their desire to be recognized. It further provides that a Member may, by seeking the floor on a point of order, [1] move that a Member other than the one recognized by the Speaker, but who had also risen, be given the floor. Such a motion may not be moved if the Member recognized by the Speaker has already begun to speak. The motion, if found to be in order, is put forthwith without debate. [2]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 62

A Standing Order granting the Chair the authority to recognize a particular Member when two or more Members rise simultaneously has been in effect since 1867 and also formed part of the rules of the various legislative assemblies prior to Confederation. [3]

The 1867 rule read that when two or more Members rose to speak, the Speaker was to call upon the Member who first rose in his place. However, the rule also provided that a motion could be made that any Member who had risen could be heard. [4] The text of the rule remained unchanged until 1906, when an amendment provided that, if moved, the motion would be put forthwith and decided without debate. [5]

In the early years after Confederation, when Members rose simultaneously, either one Member would give way to the other [6] or the Speaker’s decision was accepted without question. [7] In April 1913, a motion was agreed to that a Member other than the Member recognized by the Speaker be heard. [8] While discussing the rationale behind the moving of the motion, reference was made to the fact that the rule had never been applied in Canada and the motion had never been voted on until that time. [9]

In practice, the Standing Order covers two circumstances and has been interpreted accordingly by the Chair occupants. In the first instance where two or more Members rose simultaneously, the Standing Order directed the Chair to recognize one of the Members. After making this selection, the Speaker would often explain or justify the choice. Among the principles on which the Chair based its decision was a desire to recognize Members on alternate sides of the question, a desire to extend a courtesy to one of the recognized party leaders and a desire to alternate between the various parties in the House. [10] Frequently, these decisions were accepted without question. [11]

In the second instance, Members would call the attention of the Chair to the Standing Order to seek recognition of another Member and, in some cases, would then propose the applicable motion. Members frequently justified their actions by stating that a certain Member had risen frequently and not been recognized, that a Member appeared to be having “difficulty” catching the Speaker’s eye, or that a representative of a particular party or an independent Member had not been recognized. [12]

The Chair, in ruling on the procedural acceptability of the motion, has refused to put it, among other reasons, [13] if the result of an affirmative vote would close the debate then underway; [14] if the Member named in the motion had not originally risen to be recognized; [15] if the motion would interrupt the speech of a Member who legitimately had the floor; [16] or if the motion was moved a second time after a motion that a Member be heard was negatived or agreed to without the recognized speaker having completed the speech. [17] In addition, the motion cannot be moved if no Member has yet been recognized, [18] if the House has adopted a motion specifying the speaking order to be followed during a debate, [19] if the Member named in the motion has already spoken, [20] or during the question-and-comment period. [21] Finally, the Chair has ruled that, if the time provided for debate expires before the House has voted on the motion that a Member be heard, the motion lapses.  [22]

Standing Order 63
Motion to refer a question to committee.
63.
A motion to refer a bill, resolution or any question to any standing, special or legislative committee or to a Committee of the Whole, shall preclude all amendment of the main question.

Commentary — Standing Order 63

This Standing Order adds one further type of motion to the list of motions admissible when a question is under debate, as specified in Standing Order 58. The motion itself does not require notice and once moved, is put from the Chair without debate or amendment. As such, it supersedes the question under debate at the time. If the motion is negatived, debate on the original question resumes; if agreed to, the question previously before the House is superseded, and the bill, resolution or question then stands referred to the committee specified in the motion.

A bill referred to a committee in this manner, however, has not automatically passed a reading stage, and to continue in the legislative process must return to the stage where it left off. [1] Superseded business is dropped from the Order Paper but may be reinstated either by motion or by concurrence in a committee report, if the report provides for its reinstatement.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 63

Because the effect of the motion allowed for in Standing Order 63 can be achieved by other means, the Standing Order has rarely been used, although it has existed in approximately the same form since Confederation. In 1927, then Rule 45 was revised, following recommendations of a special committee. The original rule stated:  “A motion to commit a bill or question, until decided, shall preclude all amendment of the main question.” In its report to the House, the committee expressed its view that

the expression “to commit” is too technical and the words “to refer a bill, resolution or any question to the Committees of the Whole, or any Standing or Special Committee” are more easily understood and should be used in this rule. [2]

A further change to the text of this Standing Order to include reference to newly created legislative committees was agreed to in 1985 [3] and the Standing Order has remained in its present form since then.

The clearest precedent which demonstrates the procedural operations of this Standing Order occurred in 1930 during debate in the House on a proposed resolution, and an amendment thereto, concerning War Pensions. [4]

Standing Order 64
Unanimous consent required to withdraw motion.
64.
A Member who has made a motion may withdraw the same only by the unanimous consent of the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 64

Any motion, once moved, becomes the property of the House. This Standing Order states that the Member who originally moved a motion may request that it be withdrawn, [1] and that the request must be agreed to by all Members present. No formal vote is taken; hence, no comment or debate is permitted, either by the Member making the request [2] or by any other. If any Member objects, or rises to speak to the original motion, the Speaker deems that unanimous consent to the request for withdrawal has been withheld. Conversely, if no dissenting voice is raised, the Speaker declares the motion withdrawn, and an entry to that effect appears in the Journals. Any motion thus withdrawn may be proposed again at a later date. [3]

The Standing Order applies in the same way to an amendment and a subamendment, which can be withdrawn only by unanimous consent following a request to do so. [4] Similarly, a Member wishing to withdraw his or her motion, amendment or subamendment and to alter or replace it with another must request and obtain unanimous consent to do so. [5] Finally, no motion (or amendment) may be withdrawn if an amendment (or subamendment) to it is before the House. [6]

There are several other provisions in the Standing Orders that provide for the automatic withdrawal of a motion in specific situations, often if more than a certain number of Members object to its presentation. [7]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 64

The wording of this Standing Order remained unchanged from Confederation until 1955. During that time, its operation occasioned no remarkable procedural rulings or precedents, other than those which served to refine or clarify its application. For example, in 1873 Sir John A. Macdonald raised a point of order to the effect that the wording of a motion offered to the House was not in exact accordance with that of the previous notice, and the motion was consequently altered. [8] In 1941, the Speaker ruled that a withdrawn amendment may be proposed at a future time. [9]

In 1955, a Select Committee established to consider amending the Standing Orders proposed to clarify the wording of then Standing Order 53, but no change in practice was proposed. The House adopted the suggestion in the same year, [10] and the wording has remained unchanged since then.

Standing Order 65
Motions to be in writing and seconded. Read in both languages.
65.
All motions shall be in writing, and seconded, before being debated or put from the Chair. When a motion is seconded, it shall be read in English and in French by the Speaker, if he or she be familiar with both languages; if not, the Speaker shall read the motion in one language and direct the Clerk of the Table to read it in the other, before debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 65

The provision that a motion be in writing assures that if the motion is in order, the Speaker proposes it to the House in the exact terms of the mover. [1] This provision applies to all motions, whether or not they require notice, as well as to amendments and subamendments, both in the House and its committees.

When notice has previously been given, the provision is automatically met, since the text of the motion appears in writing on the Order Paper. [2] In all other instances, the Speaker must receive a written copy of the motion before proposing it to the House prior to debate. [3]

All motions in the House require a seconder; [4] if none is found, the Speaker will not propose the question to the House, and “no entry appears in the [Journals] as the House is not in possession of it.” [5] Government motions, which may be moved only by a Minister, may be seconded by any Member. [6]

The provision that all motions be read in their entirety is now regularly relaxed, particularly for lengthy motions. In these cases, the Speaker will usually read the first phrases and then ask, “Shall I dispense [with reading the entire text]?”, to which the response from Members is almost always affirmative. [7] The provision that all motions be read in both languages is also regularly relaxed, given the bilingual nature of the House and the existence of simultaneous interpretation. [8]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 65

The use of both official languages in Canada’s federal legislature received the sanction of custom and law even before Confederation. Parts of Standing Order 65 were in force at the First Session of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada in 1792, which resolved that “no motion should be debated or put to the House, unless it was first read in English and French.” [9] Because Mr. Panet, then the Speaker, was not bilingual, “it was subsequently resolved that [in such cases] he should read in either of the two languages …, while the reading in the other language should be by the Clerk or his Deputy at the Table.” [10] The present Standing Order was adopted in 1867 and has remained unchanged since.

Standing Order 66
When transferred to Government Orders.
66.
(1)
When a debate on any motion, except a motion for the concurrence in a report of a standing or special committee, made after the start of the sitting (after 2:00 p.m. on Mondays and after 11:00 a.m. on Fridays) and prior to the reading of an Order of the Day is adjourned or interrupted, the order for resumption of the debate shall be transferred to and considered under Government Orders.
Debate on concurrence in a committee report.
 
(2)
(a)
the motion shall again be considered on a day designated by the government after consultation with the House Leaders of the other parties, but in any case not later than the tenth sitting day after the interruption;
(b)
debate on the motion shall be resumed at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on the day designated pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section and shall not be further interrupted or adjourned; and
(c)
when no Member rises to speak or after three hours of debate, whichever is earlier, the Speaker shall put all questions necessary to dispose of the motion, provided that, if a recorded division is requested on the motion considered on a day designated pursuant to paragraph (a) of this Standing Order, it shall stand deferred to an appointed time on the next Wednesday, no later than the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on that day.
 
 
(3)
Not more than one motion for the concurrence in a report from a standing or special committee may be moved on any sitting day.

Commentary — Standing Order 66

This Standing Order deals with the subsequent disposition of any motion made between the start of a sitting (or after 2:00 p.m. on Mondays or 11:00 a.m. on Fridays) and the calling of the Orders of the Day, if such motion is adjourned or interrupted. In essence, the debatable motions allowed between these times are those moved during Routine Proceedings; for the most part, those relating to the business of the House or to concur in any committee report. [1] The debate may be interrupted, for example by Statements by Members or by Private Members’ Business, or adjourned, either by motion or by the ordinary hour of daily adjournment being reached.

For all motions made during Routine Proceedings, except motions for concurrence in a committee report, section (1) of this Standing Order provides that if debate is interrupted or adjourned, it may be resumed at a future sitting of the House. In such a case, the order is transferred to and considered under Government Orders which, pursuant to Standing Order 40(2), are considered in the sequence the government determines.

Section (2) deals with debate on motions for concurrence in a committee report. If debate is interrupted or adjourned, the motion is not transferred to Government Orders. Instead, it is transferred to the heading “Concurrence in Committee Reports” and debate resumes at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on a day designated by the government, after consultations with the other parties. The day designated for the resumption of debate may not be more than ten sitting days after debate was interrupted or adjourned. A member of the government usually rises in the House to announce the designation. [2] If no day has been designated, debate is automatically scheduled for the tenth sitting day. [3]

After a total of three hours of debate [4] (from both the initial debate and the resumed debate), or when no Member rises to speak, whichever comes first, the Speaker puts the question on the motion. If a recorded division is requested on a day of resumed debate, it is automatically deferred to the following Wednesday, to a time not later than the end of Government Orders. In cases where there is no interruption or adjournment, a recorded division may be held immediately or deferred pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 45.

This Standing Order applies only to debates that are interrupted or adjourned and not to those superseded by another motion, such as a motion to proceed to the Orders of the Day, for example. In those cases, the item under consideration disappears from the Order Paper, whether a concurrence motion or any other routine motion. [5]

Section (3) provides that only one motion for concurrence in a committee report may be moved on any sitting day. When two or more Members rise to move a concurrence motion on the same day, the Speaker puts the motion which was submitted on notice first. [6]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 66

Prior to 1965, resumed debate on motions moved during Routine Proceedings took place under that heading on the next sitting day. On several occasions, motions to concur in committee reports were debated at length over a number of days, thus preventing the House from considering any further items on the Order Paper.

In May 1965, Prime Minister Pearson introduced two separate resolutions suggesting wide-ranging procedural changes, among which was the addition of a new Standing Order to transfer adjourned or interrupted debate on motions moved during Routine Proceedings to Government Orders. The explanation for such a change was given as follows:

[This] will prevent continued debate on a motion from depriving the House of the opportunity for a Question Period or for other Routine Proceedings. This change will prevent repetition of the situation where the Question Period was missed for an extended period while the Flag Committee report was being considered. [7]

During debate on the proposals, some Members expressed reservations that if such motions were transferred to Government Orders, the Standing Order then in force which allowed the government to call its business in any order it chose would not ensure that these transferred motions would subsequently ever be called. [8] As a result, the House adopted amendments to the original proposals, two of which affected the operation of this Standing Order (then Standing Order 43). The first specified that the order for resumption of debate on any transferred motion shall be “the first Order under Government Orders.” The second provided that Government Orders may be called in any sequence the government wishes, “except as provided in Standing Order 43 …”. [9] In this way the Standing Orders obliged the government to call resumed debate on adjourned or interrupted motions as the first item under Government Orders on the next sitting day.

The requirement that the government call such transferred orders before all others under Government Orders was questioned three years later by another Special Committee on Procedure in the House. In its Third Report, tabled on December 6, 1968, the Committee commented as follows:

…under the provisional rule the government is obliged to call such an item of business before any other government order… Your Committee believes that this restriction… should be removed…. [10]

In its Fifth Report, tabled the same day, the Committee proposed an amendment to change this requirement. [11] On December 20, 1968, the House concurred in the report, [12] thus allowing the government to call such business in the order it chooses without the former restriction.

The text of the present Standing Order 66(1) was again revised in 1982 to take into account a rearrangement of the times for House business. [13] Similar changes were made in 1986, 1987 and 1989, once again to take into account a rearrangement of the times for House business. The original Standing Order read:  “when a debate on any motion made after 2:00 o’clock p.m….”, but was revised in 1986, when Routine Proceedings were moved to the mornings, to read:  “when a debate on any motion made prior to the reading of an Order of the Day…” [14] Another revision occurred in June 1987, when Government Orders were scheduled both before and after Routine Proceedings on Fridays. [15] In 1989, Routine Proceedings were moved to later in the day on Mondays, necessitating another change. [16]

Until sections (2) and (3) were provisionally added in 2005, [17] there was no distinction between motions for concurrence in a committee report and other routine motions. In fact, the transfer provisions of section (1) were applied almost exclusively to concurrence motions. [18] As if to confirm the fears expressed in 1965, the government rarely resumed debate on a motion first proposed by a private Member during Routine Proceedings. [19] The Chair ruled that as long as the Government Order stood on the Order Paper, other Members were precluded from moving a similar concurrence motion. [20] Members often expressed frustration that the House was not given the opportunity to pronounce itself on these motions. [21] In order to ensure that these motions would come to a vote, the House adopted section (2). In so doing, the House returned to the philosophy of the original 1965 Standing Order, making it mandatory that debate resume in relatively short order, but in this case adding a definite limit on the length of the debate. Section (3), added at the same time, limited the number of such motions that could be moved in one sitting. In addition, debate was to be resumed at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment, rather than taking time away from Government Orders.

In the months following the addition of sections (2) and (3), many motions for concurrence in committee reports were moved. [22] In almost all of the cases where debate was adjourned or interrupted, the House agreed to dispense with the resumed debate. [23] In May 2005, the Speaker was asked on three occasions to rule on the admissibility of amendments to concurrence motions, which sought to refer reports back to committee with instructions to amend it. [24]

Standing Order 67
Debatable motions.
67.
(1)
The following motions are debatable:
Every motion:
(a)
standing on the order of proceedings for the day, except as otherwise provided in these Standing Orders;
(b)
for the concurrence in a report of a standing or special committee;
(c)
for the previous question;
(d)
for the second reading and reference of a bill to a standing, special or legislative committee or to a Committee of the Whole House;
(e)
for the consideration of any amendment to be proposed at the report stage of any bill reported from any standing, special or legislative committee;
(f)
for the third reading and passage of a bill;
(g)
for the consideration of Senate amendments to House of Commons bills;
(h)
for a conference with the Senate;
(i)
for the adjournment of the House when made for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration;
(j)
for the consideration of a Ways and Means Order (Budget);
(k)
for the consideration of any motion under the order for the consideration of the Business of Supply;
(l)
for the adoption in Committee of the Whole of the motion, clause, section, preamble or title under consideration;
(m)
for the appointment of a committee;
(n)
for reference to a committee of any report or return laid on the Table of the House;
(o)
for the suspension of any Standing Order unless otherwise provided; and
(p)
such other motion, made upon Routine Proceedings, as may be required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the appointment or conduct of its officers, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the correctness of its records, the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment.
Motions not debatable.
 
(2)
All other motions, unless otherwise provided in these Standing Orders, shall be decided without debate or amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 67

Standing Order 67 enumerates a list of motions considered debatable and specifies that all others are to be decided without debate or amendment.

Because of the clarity of the rule in prohibiting debate unless the relevant type of motion is listed, very few decisions have been necessary by the Chair. For clarity, however, it is worth noting that subsection (a) refers to any motion of which notice has been given, or any order of the day (with the exceptions as provided in other Standing Orders). Subsection (p) refers to motions taken up under the heading “Motions” during Routine Proceedings. With reference to subsection (p), the Chair has consistently ruled that all motions referring to the arrangement of the business of the House should be introduced by the Government House Leader. [1] Certain routine motions are not subject to debate or amendment, such as motions moved under Standing Order 56.1, motions relating to committee travel moved under Standing Order 56.2, or motions relating to the appointment of officers under Standing Order 111.1.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 67

The original version of Standing Order 67 was adopted as an amendment to Rule 17 in April 1913. [2] In moving the adoption of the new text, the Prime Minister claimed that the object of this particular amendment was to give full opportunity of debate upon every substantial motion that brought into question the propriety of passing any bill, measure or vote and to provide that motions which ought to be regarded as purely formal would no longer be debatable. [3] Combined with two other measures, the amendments were adopted only after heated debate. [4]

Previous to 1913, the rules indicated a number of matters that were decided without debate, among which were motions that a certain Member be now heard, appeals regarding a Speaker’s decision on a point of order, and motions that a Member have leave to move the adjournment of the House to discuss an urgent matter. [5] The practice until that point was that all motions were debatable unless some rule or parliamentary usage existed to the contrary. The 1913 changes specified that all motions were to be decided without debate or amendment unless specifically recognized as debatable in the text of the rule. [6]

The rule remained unchanged until March 1927, when a special procedure committee recommended that additional motions, such as those for the second reading of a bill, for conferences with the Senate and for the appointment of a committee, should be specified in the Standing Order. [7] At the same time, the committee felt it necessary to give a few examples of the routine motions that would come under that order. [8]

In July 1955, as a result of changes to other Standing Orders, subsection (a) of the rule was revised to include the words “except as otherwise provided in these standing orders.” [9] However, in December 1968, major revisions were made to the Standing Order to take into account the decisions on abolishing the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means, referring bills to Standing and Special Committees, and the new revised report stage. [10] These changes were reflected in the text of Standing Order 67, which has remained unchanged since 1968, with the exception of the reference to “legislative” committees added in June 1985. [11]

Standing Order 67.1
Questions on motion for closure or time allocation.
67.1.
(1)
(a)
When a motion has been proposed pursuant to Standing Order 57 or 78(3), there shall be a period of not more than thirty minutes during which time Members may put brief questions to the Minister responsible for the item which has been subject to the motion pursuant to Standing Order 57 or 78(3), or to the Minister acting on behalf of the Minister sponsoring the item, and the said Minister may make a corresponding reply.
(b)
At the conclusion of the period provided pursuant to paragraph (a) of this Standing Order, the Speaker shall put the question on the motion moved pursuant to Standing Order 57 or 78(3), as the case may be.
Extension of sitting.
 
(2)
If a motion pursuant to this section regarding any bill is moved and carried at the beginning of Government Orders on any day and if the order for the said bill is then called and debated for the remainder of the sitting day, the length of that debate shall be deemed to be one sitting day provided that a period of time equal to the time taken for the proceedings pursuant to paragraph (1) of this section shall be added to the time provided for Government Orders in the afternoon of the day on which the said proceedings took place. Private Members’ Business, where applicable, and the ordinary time of daily adjournment shall be delayed accordingly, notwithstanding Standing Orders 24, 30 and 38 or any Order made pursuant to Standing Order 27.

Commentary — Standing Order 67.1

Standing Order 67.1(1)(a) provides that when a motion to invoke closure (either on a motion or on a stage of a bill) pursuant to Standing Order 57 or a motion to invoke time allocation (on a stage of a bill) pursuant to Standing Order 78(3) is moved, before the question is actually put, a period not exceeding 30 minutes will be available to Members to ask questions of the Minister responsible for the item or of a Minister acting on his or her behalf. The said Minister may make a corresponding reply. Standing Order 67.1(1)(b) then provides that, following this period of questioning, the Speaker shall interrupt and put the closure or time allocation motion to a vote.

Standing Order 67.1(2) then provides for a number of procedural scenarios following the adoption of the closure or time allocation motion, if the motion applies to a bill. Specifically, if the motion is moved and carried at the beginning of Government Orders on any day and if the bill is then called and debated for the remainder of that sitting day, the length of that debate shall be deemed to be one sitting day. Second, if the above conditions prevail, a period of time equal to the time taken for the questioning shall be added to the time provided for Government Orders on that same day. Finally, this section of the Standing Order then provides that Private Members’ Business (where applicable) and the ordinary time of daily adjournment shall be delayed accordingly. This delay would take place notwithstanding the provisions of current Standing Orders 24 (daily adjournment), 30 (daily program), and 38 (adjournment proceedings), and of any Order made pursuant to Standing Order 27 (extension of sitting hours in June).

Historical Summary — Standing Order 67.1

Since the adoption of the closure rule (current Standing Order 57) in 1913, the motion for closure has never been subject to debate or amendment. [1] With respect to the time allocation rule, except in the instance where there was all-party agreement (current Standing Order 78(1)), the motions for time allocation, moved pursuant to Standing Order 78(2) or 78(3), have been subject to a maximum two-hour debate and possible amendment. This two-hour debate was in effect from the initial adoption of the rule in 1969 until the deletion of that provision as part of a group of Standing Order amendments adopted in April 1991. [2] Since May 1991 when the new Standing Orders came into effect, both closure and time allocation motions were decided without debate.

In October 2001, the House agreed to the recommendations of the First Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, that a 30-minute question-and-answer period would be held, following the moving of either a closure motion moved pursuant to Standing Order 57 or a time allocation motion moved pursuant to Standing Order 78(3), but prior to the question on either of these motions actually being put. [3]

During this 30-minute period, questions would be directed to the Minister (or to a Minister acting on his or her behalf) sponsoring the item under debate. The purpose of the new Standing Order, according to the text of the Report, was “to promote ministerial accountability and to require the Government to justify its use of these extraordinary measures.” The text of the new Standing Order was silent on how the 30-minute period should be conducted, but the Committee expressed “full confidence in the Speaker’s ability to monitor interventions and to exercise judgment in the selection of questions.” [4]

This Standing Order has been invoked on 13 occasions since it was adopted. On nine occasions, it was invoked with respect to time allocation being moved on bills, [5] and on four occasions with respect to closure being moved on government motions. [6]

On each of these 13 occasions, the full 30-minute question-and-answer period has been used and the motion eventually decided by a recorded division. The only question of privilege or point of order raised on the interpretation of this Standing Order, other than those concerning the time per question and reply, occurred in March 2002. A Member rose on a point of order to object that a Minister other than the Minister responsible for the bill was going to respond to questions. The Chair ruled that the wording of the Standing Order allowed a Minister “acting on behalf of the Minister sponsoring the item” to reply to the question. [7]

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