The time allocation rule allows for
specific lengths of time to be set aside for the consideration of one or more
stages of a public bill. The term “time allocation” suggests primarily the idea of time
management, but the government may use a motion to allocate time as a
guillotine. In fact, although the rule permits the government to negotiate with
opposition parties on the adoption of a timetable for the consideration of a
bill at one or more stages (including the consideration of Senate amendments), it also allows the government to impose strict limits on the time
for debate. This is why time allocation is often confused with closure. While
it has become the most frequently used mechanism for curtailing debate, time allocation remains a means of bringing the parties together to
negotiate an acceptable distribution of the time of the House.
Like closure, the time allocation rule came
about in the aftermath of a controversy. During the Pipeline Debate of 1956, closure was the only rule the government could use to advance its
legislation. Closure had come to be perceived as somewhat inflexible for the
demands of a modern parliamentary democracy and inadequate as a tool with which
to conduct the business of the House. Deliberations began, in the House and in
committees, with a view to identifying ways in which the time of the House
could be allotted for the consideration of specific items of legislation and
for the planning of the session’s work, something the closure rule could not
provide, since the process of giving notice, moving the motion and voting on it
had to be repeated at every stage of a given bill.
Throughout the period of successive
minority governments in the 1960s, the House attempted, unsuccessfully, to
establish a procedural mechanism which would have formally structured the time
of the House in order to facilitate the efficient conduct of debate. Members
recognized that the amount and complexity of House business was increasing and
that measures were necessary to ensure that business would be dispatched within
a reasonable amount of time. Throughout these years, the House agreed to establish a number of
special committees charged with considering the procedures of the House and
making suggestions to expedite public business.
From the outset, the committees examined
proposals that would allow for cooperation among parties. In the Tenth Report
of the Special Committee on Procedure and Organization, presented to the House
in 1964, reference was made to the difficulty of reaching all‑party
agreement on a proposal to deal with the fundamental question of the allocation
of time. Committee members wrote that they would “continue to explore this
basic question”, but they did not report further on the matter.
Early in the following session, the
government took the initiative by moving a motion, which, among other
proposals, addressed the issue of time allocation. The motion called for a new
Standing Order establishing a House Business Committee comprised of a
representative of each party of the House. Upon the request of a Minister, the
Business Committee would consider and, if agreement were reached, would
recommend, in a report to the House within three sitting days, an allocation of
time for the specific item of business or stage of the matter referred to it. A
motion could then be presented without notice by a Minister for concurrence in
the report, to be decided without debate or amendment. If, however, the
Business Committee were unable to reach unanimous agreement or if it failed to
report within the prescribed period, a Minister could then give notice during
Routine Proceedings that, at the next sitting of the House, he or she would
move a motion allocating the time for the item of business or the stage.
The motion was debated in the House for 12
days and, throughout the debate, specific concerns were expressed with
respect to the Business Committee proposal. The proposal was thus separated
from the main motion and referred to a special committee for further study. The special committee recommended another version of the time
allocation proposal in its report to the House. The report was concurred in and
a provisional rule, referred to as Standing Order 15‑A, was adopted. It was invoked on only three occasions from 1965 to 1968, but it
became clear that the opposition parties were dissatisfied with it and frequent
points of order were raised on how to interpret some of its provisions. In
1967, for example, the Speaker ruled that oral notice was sufficient for the purpose
of the time allocation rule and that such a notice did not have to appear on
the Notice Paper.
When the Twenty‑Eighth Parliament
assembled in September 1968, the House decided that Provisional Standing
Order 15‑A would no longer be in effect. A
special procedure committee was established shortly thereafter to consider, among other things, the issue of time allocation. In
its Fourth Report, the Committee recommended a new rule on time allocation. However, on December 20, 1968, the House agreed again to refer
the issue to the new Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization for
further consideration. Tensions continued between the government and the opposition as to
the balance to be achieved between debating at length and perceived curtailment
brought about by the provisional rules.
It was not until 1969, after debate that lasted 12 sitting days was curtailed by a motion
of closure, that the House adopted a report
recommending a measure for allocation of time, a forerunner to the present
rule. In its simplest form, the newly adopted Standing Order envisaged
three options under which a time allotment order could be made, ranging from
agreement between all parties to the government acting alone after negotiation
had failed to rally the support of any other party.
Time allocation motions moved with the agreement of all parties were put
immediately, without debate or amendment. Those called with the agreement of a
majority of parties or no opposition parties could, however, be amended, and
they could also be debated for up to two hours, at which point all questions
necessary to dispose of the motions were to be put by the Chair.
Members of the opposition later expressed
dissatisfaction with the interpretation of this Standing Order. The fact that negotiations were to be held between parties, thus
excluding independent Members, was also raised.
In November 1975, the President of the
Privy Council indicated his intention to bring proposals with implications for
time allocation before the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization. Although it did not report to the House, the Committee created a
subcommittee on the use of time which, among other items, reviewed and proposed
alternative text to the Standing Order on time allocation.
The wording of the Standing Order adopted
in 1969 continued to cause procedural concerns. A position paper on parliamentary
reform, tabled by the government in November 1979, noted the ambiguity in the
wording and proposed that it be rewritten.
Over the years, the issue has been
clarified by Speaker’s rulings. In December 1978,
after a point of order was raised, Speaker Jerome ruled that a time allocation
motion could be moved covering both report and third reading stages, even
though third reading had not yet been reached.
In March 1983, Speaker Sauvé confirmed
that notice of intention to move a time allocation motion could be given at any
time during the sitting. In October of the same year, she ruled that the division bells
ringing for a dilatory motion moved during the two‑hour
allotment provided in the Standing Orders for consideration of a time
allocation motion should be interrupted when the two hours had elapsed. The
Chair must then put every question necessary to dispose of the motion to
allocate time, first disposing of any dilatory motions that might have been
moved in the meantime.
As of May 1985, a new practice
developed whereby time allocation motions were moved and debated following
written government notices of motions under Government Orders. To fulfil the
requirements of the Standing Order, this written notice was in addition to the
oral notice of intention to move such a motion. The new practice was confirmed
by Speaker Bosley as an acceptable way of proceeding.
In June 1987, amendments were adopted
to provide that time allocation motions, after only oral notice, would be moved
under Government Orders rather than under “Motions” during Routine Proceedings,
as had been the practice. The revisions also provided that debate on the item
of business under consideration at the time the motion was moved would be
In August 1988, Speaker Fraser ruled
that an oral notice of a time allocation motion need only be a notice of
intention and not a notice of the text of the motion. In the same ruling, the
Speaker further stated that the initiative of announcing any agreements (or
lack thereof) to allot time rested with a Minister, who had to be a party to
any such agreements.
In 1991, following a further change to the
Standing Order, the motion for time allocation moved with or without the
agreement of a majority of parties ceased to be a subject of debate or
The House returned to a debate of sorts when,
in October 2001, it adopted a new Standing Order providing for a 30‑minute questions and answers period when a
time allocation motion was moved without the agreement of any of the opposition
parties. During this 30‑minute period, questions would be directed to the
Minister sponsoring the item of business under debate (or to the Minister acting
on his or her behalf), in order “to promote ministerial accountability and to
require the Government to justify its use of these extraordinary measures”.
The time allocation rule is divided into
three distinct sections. Each section specifies the conditions applying to the
allocation of time, depending on the degree of support among the
representatives of the recognized parties
in the House.
Parties Agree: The first section of the rule envisages agreement among
the representatives of all the recognized parties in the House to allocate time
to the proceedings at any or all stages of a public bill. No notice is required. In
proposing the motion, a Minister first states that such an agreement has been
and then sets out the terms of the agreement, specifying the number of days or
hours of debate to be allocated.
The Speaker then puts the question to the House, which is decided without
debate or amendment.
of Parties Agree: The second section of the rule envisages agreement
among a majority of the representatives of the recognized parties in the House. In
these circumstances, the government must be a party to any agreement reached. The motion may not
cover more than one stage of the legislative process. It may, however, apply
both to report stage and third reading, if it is consistent with the rule
requiring a separate day for debate at third reading when a bill has been
debated or amended at report stage.
Again, no notice is required, and it is not necessary for debate on the stage or
stages specified in the time allocation to have begun. Prior to moving the
motion, the Minister states that a majority of party representatives have
agreed to a proposed allocation of time.
The motion specifies how many days or hours are to be allocated.
Agreement: The third section of the rule permits the government to
propose an allocation of time unilaterally.
In this case, an oral notice of intention to move the motion is required. The motion can
only propose the allocation of time for one stage of the legislative process,
that being the stage then under consideration. However, the motion can cover
both report stage and third reading, provided it is consistent with the rule
which requires a separate day for third reading when a bill has been debated or
amended at report stage.
The amount of time allocated for any stage may not be less than one sitting
Oral notice is required when the government
wishes to propose its own timetable in the absence of any time allocation
agreement among representatives from all or a majority of the recognized
parties. The notice may be given only after debate has begun on the stage of
the bill to which the time allocation motion is to apply. It must be given by a Minister, from his or her place in the House, any time during the course of the sitting.
The notice in question is to state that
agreement could not be reached under the other provisions of the rule and that
the government therefore intends to propose a motion to allocate time in
respect of a particular stage of a particular bill.
The notice need only express the intention of the government; it need not
include the wording of the time allocation motion to follow. The time allocation motion can then be moved, by the Minister who
gave notice of the motion or by another Minister, at any future sitting of the House, even several days or weeks later. In the meantime, the House may freely debate the bill. Once given, a notice of time allocation may
be withdrawn; similarly, notice may be given without a motion being moved
The wording of a motion for time allocation
must be specific as to the terms of the allocation of time. In most cases, time
is allocated in terms of sitting days or hours; however, on at least one
occasion, time was allocated in increments of less than one hour per stage of
the affected bill.
In all cases, a motion for time allocation must be moved by a Minister in the
House, and is neither debatable nor amendable.
In cases when there is agreement among the representatives
of all parties, the motion has normally been moved under “Motions” during
Routine Proceedings. In circumstances when a majority agree on the allocation
of time, or when no agreement has been reached, the motion is moved under
Government Orders. Debate on any item of business interrupted by the moving of
a motion for time allocation is deemed adjourned.
When the time allocation motion is moved
with the agreement of all or a majority of the recognized
parties, the question is put on
the motion as soon as it is moved. However, if it is
moved without any agreement, the House first holds a questions and answers
period not exceeding 30 minutes for Members to ask questions of the
Minister responsible for the item subject to the motion or of the Minister
acting on his or her behalf. At the conclusion of the period provided, or when
no other Member wishes to speak, the Speaker puts the question on the time
If the motion for time allocation carries,
debate at the stage or stages of the bill in question then becomes subject to
the time limits imposed by the motion. The normal rules of debate continue to apply.
The day on which the time allocation motion
is adopted may also be counted as one sitting day for that purpose, provided
the motion is moved and adopted at the beginning of Government Orders and the
bill is taken up immediately.
The bill may also be taken up at a future sitting of the House.
At the expiry of the time allocated for a
given stage, any proceedings before the House are interrupted, and the Chair
puts every question necessary for the disposal of the bill at that stage. If a
recorded division is demanded, the bells summoning the Members will ring for
not longer than 15 minutes.
Recorded divisions on bills under time allocation are not ordinarily deferred,
though deferrals may take place by special order, by automatic
deferral of the vote pursuant to rules of the House, or by agreement of
the Whips of all recognized parties.
When debate concludes prior to the end of the allotted time, if a recorded
division is demanded, the bells will ring for not more than 30 minutes and
the vote may be deferred by either the Chief Government Whip or the Chief
During a sitting subject to a time
allocation motion, Private Members’ Business and Adjournment Proceedings are
held, where applicable. If a motion is moved without the agreement of the
opposition parties, if it is related to a bill, if it is moved and carried at
the beginning of Government Orders and if the order for the said bill is then
called and debated for the remainder of the sitting day, then the period of
time set aside for Government Orders is extended by a period of time equal to
the time taken for the questions and answers period. Private Members’ Business and Adjournment Proceedings are delayed
At times, objections have been raised as to
the circumstances in which agreement was reached or to the nature of the
consultations undertaken by the government. As with closure, the Speaker has
ruled that the Chair possesses no discretionary authority to refuse to put a
motion of time allocation if all the procedural exigencies have been observed.
The Speaker has stated that the wording of the rule does not define the nature
of the consultations which are to be held by the Minister and representatives
of the other parties, and has further ruled that the Chair has no authority to
determine whether or not consultation took place nor what constitutes
consultation among the representatives of the parties.
 Standing Order 78.
 See, for example, Journals, November 28, 1996,
p. 930. In 2003, following receipt of a message from the Senate noting
that the Senate had divided a bill, Speaker Milliken ruled that, as the House of
Commons was required to respond to the other House in order for the bill to
proceed further, the message was an integral part of the legislative process,
specifically the Senate amendments stage, during which time allocation motions
may be moved (Journals, December 4, 2002, p. 258;
February 14, 2003, p. 419; Debates, April 7, 2003,
pp. 5182‑6; April 10, 2003, pp. 5363‑4).
 To understand how time allocation came to be used as a time
management tool in the House, see Pelletier, Y.Y.J., “Silencing Parliamentary
Democracy or Effective Time Management?: Time Allocation in the House of
Commons”, Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 23, No. 4, Winter 2000‑01,
 For further information on this debate, see the part of the section
on closure in this chapter entitled “Historical Perspective”. Between
May 15 and June 5, 1956, the government used closure at all stages of
the legislative process as it was then: resolution (Debates,
May 15, 1956, p. 3895); second reading (Debates,
May 22, 1956, p. 4165); Committee of the Whole (Debates,
May 31, 1956, p. 4498); and third reading (Debates,
June 5, 1956, p. 4689).
 As comments from that period suggest, Members were eager to see the
time of the House used more efficiently. See, for example, Debates,
May 9, 1960, pp. 3685, 3692; January 18, 1961,
p. 1169; March 26, 1962, pp. 2162‑6. Furthermore, the
obligation to move a motion of closure for every one of the legislative stages
through which a bill must pass was highlighted by the Chair in a ruling on an
opposition motion that would have expedited the passage of four government
bills simultaneously by skipping a number of stages in the legislative process
(Order Paper and Notice Paper, March 21, 2007, pp. III‑IV;
Debates, March 21, 2007, pp. 7729‑35; March 29, 2007,
 See comments by Finance Minister Donald Fleming (Debates,
May 9, 1960, pp. 3685, 3687); by Opposition Leader Lester B. Pearson
and Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) Leader Hazen Argue (Debates,
January 18, 1961, pp. 1169‑70); by Opposition Leader John G. Diefenbaker
(Debates, October 23, 1963, pp. 3925‑31) and by Stanley
Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre) (Debates, May 20, 1965,
 Motions to appoint the special committees were adopted on
May 9, 1960 (Journals, p. 434); January 18, 1961 (Journals,
p. 163); March 26, 1962 (Journals, p. 277);
October 23, 1963 (Journals, p. 482); March 9, 1964 (Journals,
pp. 76‑7); January 25, 1967 (Journals, pp. 1227‑8);
May 8, 1967 (Journals, p. 12).
 Journals, August 19, 1964, p. 633.
 Journals, May 19, 1965, pp. 128‑9.
 Journals, May, 19‑21, 25‑27, 1965;
June 1‑4, 7, 8, 1965.
June 8, 1965, pp. 210‑1.
June 11, 1965, pp. 219‑23.
 Speaker Lamoureux noted that the Provisional Standing Order “not
only dispenses with the requirement for 48 hours’ notice with respect to a
motion for time allocation; it also renders inoperative the ordinary machinery
for putting a notice on the order paper” (Debates,
April 20, 1967, pp. 15120‑1).
 Journals, September 20, 1968, p. 58.
 Journals, September 24, 1968, p. 68
 Journals, December 6, 1968, pp. 439‑40.
 Journals, December 20, 1968, p. 579.
 Third Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and
Organization, presented to the House on June 20, 1969 (Journals,
pp. 1211‑2) and concurred in on July 24, 1969 (Journals,
 On December 1, 1971, points of order were raised regarding the
wording and interpretation of Standing Order 78(3). Speaker Lamoureux ruled, in
particular, that it was regular to move a time allocation motion for the
disposal of proceedings for the stage being considered by the House (Journals,
 In 1971, Speaker Lamoureux ruled that, in essence, independent
Members would not receive the recognition accorded to Members represented by a
party spokesperson, according to the wording of Standing Order 78(1) (Journals,
December 30, 1971, pp. 1013‑4).
 Debates, November 13, 1975, p. 9022.
 Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, Minutes of
Proceedings and Evidence, September 30, 1976, Issue
No. 20, pp. 59‑63.
 See “Position Paper: The Reform of Parliament”, pp. 21‑2,
tabled in the House on November 23, 1979 (Journals, p. 260).
 Debates, December 20, 1978, pp. 2317‑20.
 Debates, March 7, 1983, pp. 23510‑1.
 Debates, October 26, 1983, pp. 28357‑8.
 Debates, May 16, 1985, pp. 4821‑2.
 Journals, June 3, 1987, pp. 1026‑7.
 Debates, August 15, 1988, pp. 18309‑11;
August 16, 1988, pp. 18352‑5, 18380‑1. In another ruling,
the Speaker reiterated that it was the prerogative of the government and its Ministers
to move any motion pertaining to the agenda of business before the House, such
as time allocation. The reminder was required after the opposition gave notice
of a motion to expedite the passage of four government bills simultaneously by
deeming them adopted at all remaining stages. The Speaker ruled the motion out
of order, while saying that he saw certain similarities between this opposition
motion and the standard closure and time allocation motions (Order Paper and
Notice Paper, March 21, 2007, pp. III‑IV; Debates,
March 21, 2007, pp. 7729‑35; March 29, 2007, pp. 8136‑8).
 Journals, April 11, 1991, pp. 2915‑6.
 Standing Order 67.1(1). This rule also deals with closure moved
pursuant to Standing Order 57. First Report of the Special Committee on the
Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 24,
presented to the House on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465)
and concurred in on October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3)
following the adoption of a Special Order (Journals, October 3, 2001,
 First Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement
of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 23, presented to the House
on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465) and concurred in on
October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3) following the
adoption of a Special Order (Journals, October 3, 2001, p. 685).
The idea was put forward initially in the Thirty‑First Report of the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on
May 17, 2000 (Journals, pp. 1721‑2). The report
was, however, neither debated nor concurred in.
 For a procedural definition of a recognized party, see
Chapter 1, “Parliamentary Institutions”. See also Journals,
December 30, 1971, pp. 1013‑4; Debates, April 2,
1993, p. 18052.
 Standing Order 78(1).
 See, for example, Debates, March 15, 1995,
 There are times when, rather than resorting to the written rule,
party representatives agree on an allocation of time, which the House then
adopts by unanimous consent. See, for example Journals, October 26,
1978, pp. 69‑70 (timetable for the consideration of a bill,
including number of committee meetings, instruction to amend, and committee
reporting deadline); March 10, 1987, p. 568 (agreement to
complete consideration of two bills at all stages); March 20, 1992,
p. 1192 (agreement to consider all stages of a bill); Journals,
June 20, 2006, p. 316 (agreement to complete consideration of a
bill at report stage and third reading within a specific timeframe).
 Standing Order 78(2).
 Debates, August 16, 1988, pp. 18380‑1.
On this occasion the two parties in opposition contended that an agreement had
been reached pursuant to the rule, to which the government was not a party;
however, the Chair ruled that the initiative of announcing any agreement or
lack thereof is clearly with the government (i.e., a Minister), who must be
party to any agreement and whose support is signified by his or her rising
under the terms of the Standing Order.
 Standing Order 76.1(10).
 Standing Order 78(2)(a). See, for example, Journals,
June 21, 1994, pp. 633‑7, when no less than four motions were
moved and adopted to allocate time in respect to four bills. See also Journals,
June 23, 2005, pp. 981‑2.
 Standing Order 78(3).
 Debates, December 1, 1971, pp. 10050‑1.
 Standing Order 76.1(10).
 Written notice of a motion for the allocation of time is acceptable
when given in addition to oral notice. See Speaker Bosley's ruling, Debates,
May 16, 1985, pp. 4821‑2.
 Debates, April 2, 1990, pp. 10102‑3;
April 3, 1990, p. 10124.
 Standing Order 78(3). The Speaker has ruled that oral notice of an
intention to move a motion for time allocation is not covered by the rule
pertaining to notice (Standing Order 54(1)) and that 48 hours’ written notice
is therefore not required (Journals, December 1, 1971,
 See, for example, Debates, March 7, 1983, p. 23511
(during Routine Proceedings); October 19, 1983, pp. 28127‑9
(immediately after Oral Questions); June 3, 1988, p. 16127‑8
(during Government Orders).
 Standing Order 78(3). See, for example, Debates, June 11, 2007,
 See Speaker Fraser's ruling, Debates, August 16, 1988,
 See, for example, Journals, October 30, 1985,
p. 1164; November 4, 1985, p. 1184; April 26, 2002,
p. 1351; June 10, 2002, p. 1495.
 A notice of time allocation was given on October 19, 1983
on a government bill. The House continued debating the bill on October 20
and 24, and it was not until October 26 that the government finally moved
the motion (Journals, October 19, 1983, p. 6322; October 20, 1983,
p. 6328; October 24, 1983, p. 6336; October 26, 1983,
pp. 6350‑3). For a more recent example, see Journals,
February 14, 2003, p. 419 (notice); April 7, 2003, p. 660
(debate); May 6, 2003, pp. 739‑40 (motion moved).
 In this case, 0.1 hour was allocated to the report stage and 0.25
hour to third reading (all‑party agreement) (Journals,
April 2, 1993, pp. 2791‑2).
 Standing Order 78.
 Standing Order 78(2)(a) and (3)(a).
 On several occasions, a motion to adjourn the House has been ruled
out of order, pursuant to Standing Order 25, because the proceedings were
subject to a time allocation motion. See, for example, Journals,
December 6, 1999, pp. 273‑4; Debates, December 13, 1999,
pp. 2743‑6; Journals, February 22, 2000, pp. 941‑2;
Debates, February 25, 2000, pp. 4046‑7. In the last
case, the government had scheduled one of its own bills for debate at the
beginning of the sitting. Later in the day, during Routine Proceedings, a
Member moved concurrence in a committee report under “Motions”; during this
debate, another Member sought to move the adjournment of the House.
 Standing Order 78(2)(b) and (3)(b).
 For example, consideration of Bill C‑85, Canagrex Act,
was resumed several months after a time allocation motion for both report stage
and third reading had been adopted by the House (Journals,
December 13, 1982, p. 5458 (notice of time allocation given);
December 16, 1982, pp. 5470‑1 (time allocation motion
adopted); June 7, 1983, pp. 5972‑87 (report stage);
June 13, 1983, pp. 6000‑2 (third reading)).
 Standing Order 45(3).
 See, for example, Journals, June 3, 2002,
pp. 1457‑8, 1460.
 Standing Order 45(6)(a). In addition to some exceptions,
this rule states that if a division is demanded on a Friday on any debatable
motion, the division is deferred until the ordinary hour of daily adjournment
on the next sitting day. See, for example, Journals, November 27, 1992,
p. 2252; December 1, 1995, p. 2199; March 12, 1999,
 Standing Order 45(7).
 Standing Order 45(5). See, for example, Journals,
November 29, 1996, p. 939.
 Standing Order 67.1(2). See, for example, Debates, October 7, 2003,
pp. 8249, 8254‑5, 8295.
 See, for example, Journals, June 10, 2003, pp. 884‑900.
 Debates, April 4, 1990, pp. 10183‑5;
December 9, 1992, pp. 14917‑23; March 31, 1993,
pp. 17854‑62; February 13, 2001, pp. 569‑76;
March 1, 2001, pp. 1415‑6; June 3, 2002,
 Debates, June 6, 1988, pp. 16139, 16142‑9;
August 16, 1988, pp. 18380‑1; March 29, 1990,
pp. 9916‑7; October 1, 1990, p. 13622.