The House produces many documents for the use of its Members, their staff and the public. These documents enable all interested parties to follow parliamentary business; they also provide a permanent record of debate, decisions made, and information about business due to come before the House and its committees. All House publications are published simultaneously in both official languages and are made available electronically on the Parliament of Canada website at www.parl.gc.ca. Some publications are also available in hard copy.
Based on the handwritten “Scroll”—the notes and records kept by the Clerk of the House and other Table Officers during a sitting—the Journals are the official record of House decisions and other transactions such as petitions presented, documents tabled, etc.
The unedited Journals for each sitting are usually available later that evening. Revised compilations are printed on a weekly basis.
The House of Commons Debates, more commonly known as “Hansard”, is the complete—edited, revised, and corrected—report of proceedings that take place in the House and in Committees of the Whole.
The Debates are produced directly from an audio recording of the proceedings as well as information provided by Debates staff stationed on the floor of the Chamber.
The Debates are available in both official languages the next day.
The Order Paper and Notice Paper is a two-part document published each day the House sits. Each section of the Order Paper and Notice Paper has many divisions and subdivisions, encompassing all the categories of business for which notice must be given or that can be brought before the House on a given day.
The Order Paper is the complete and authoritative agenda of all items of business that may be considered by the House of Commons.
The Notice Paper contains all items for which notice has been given. In order not to take the House by surprise, notice is required before most substantive matters may be raised for consideration by the House. Items on the Notice Paper typically move to the Order Paper once the required notice period has expired.
The Order Paper and Notice Paper is published for each sitting day by the Journals Branch, and the printed version is distributed in the morning in the Chamber. The electronic version is usually made available on the Parliament of Canada website the previous evening.
The Projected Order of Business is a simplified, unofficial daily agenda that indicates the likely order of business, including scheduled divisions (votes), for a particular sitting day. It is published for each sitting of the House and is usually available on the Parliament of Canada website the previous evening.
The Projected Order of Business is based on information provided by the Government House Leader’s office and others and is subject to change without notice. It notes the length of time Members may speak on each item and provides a projection of business for subsequent days.
The Status of House Business provides a concise history of all business before the House since the beginning of the session. It is updated daily on the Parliament of Canada website.
Bills are proposed laws, published and circulated under the authority of the Speaker.
Bills may be reprinted at various stages of the legislative process if significant changes are made to them.
Government public bills are drafted by the Justice Department, while the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel usually draft private Members’ bills.
The House of Commons publishes a number of official documents to advise Members, special interest groups, the media and the public about the work of its committees:
- Notices of Meeting—Committee clerks send out notices of committee meetings to Members based on instructions from each committee, under the direction of the Chair. Notices include information about the subject matter to be discussed, the time and place of the meetings, and a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear.
- Minutes of Proceedings—Minutes of Proceedings are a formal record, prepared by the clerk of the committee, of all decisions made by the committee (similar to the Journals in the House).
- Evidence—Committee Evidence is a transcript of the proceedings of all public meetings of a committee (similar to Debates in the House).
- Reports to the House—Reports are the means by which committees make their views and recommendations known to the House. Once they have been formally presented to the House, they are published on the Parliament of Canada website and are sometimes available in printed format as well.
Comprehensive indexes to the Debates and the Journals of the House of Commons, as well as Committees' Evidence are kept up to date throughout the session and are available on the Parliament of Canada website. With the Publication Search tool, searches can be performed using keywords. The indexes to the Debates and the Journals are also printed in bound volumes at the end of each session, and are available at the Library of Parliament.
For more information on the indexes to parliamentary publications, please contact the Information Management Unit (Parliamentary Publications) at the following coordinates:
- Telephone: 613-992-8976
- Fax: 613-990-9496
- E-mail: email@example.com
House of Commons Procedure and Practice,Second Edition, 2009