Questions Not Responded to Within 45 Days
While the rules of the House do not oblige the Government to reply to a written question within 45 calendar days, pursuant to Standing Order 39(5)(b), the matter of the failure to reply is automatically referred to a standing committee. The individual Member asking the question is responsible for determining to which standing committee the matter will be referred.
The Chair of the committee must convene a meeting within five sitting days of the referral so that the committee can address the issue of the Government’s failure to respond to the question. The committee decides how it will proceed. It may:
- choose to do nothing more with the question and not report to the House;
- write a letter to the department(s) in question expressing concern about the lack of response within the 45-day timeframe;
- decide not to take any action based upon information that the Government response will soon be scheduled to be tabled in the House;
- call upon witnesses, such as senior departmental officials if the question involves only one department, or, in the case of a more complex question, call upon the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader, who is responsible for coordinating the tabling of answers; and/or
- report to the House and make recommendations on ways to improve the departmental or agency response process.
Alternatively, Members may rise in the House during Routine Proceedings under the rubric “Questions on the Order Paper” to give notice of their intention to have the subject matter of the question transferred to the Adjournment Proceedings. The order referring to a committee the matter of the failure of the Government to respond is then dropped.