I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on May 21, 2013 by the hon. House leader of the official opposition regarding the admissibility of Government Business No. 17, a motion to provide for the extension of sitting hours and the conduct of extended proceedings.
I would like to thank the opposition House leader for having raised this issue and the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his intervention.
The opposition House leader claimed that this motion was “contrary to the rules and privileges of Parliament”, including Standing Order 27(1), which specifically allows for extended sittings during the last 10 sitting days in June, and therefore that the Speaker should, pursuant to Standing Order 13, find this motion out of order.
In response, the government House leader cited pages 257 and 258 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, to demonstrate that the House may deviate from the Standing Orders for a limited period of time by adopting special orders, which can be done by way of a government motion decided by a majority vote.
As Members know, the House frequently extends its sitting hours in the month of June, prior to its summer recess. The opposition House leader is correct in stating that, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), the House can extend its sitting hours for the last 10 sitting days in June, prior to its summer recess. This has been done on a number of occasions. However, it is also true that that particular Standing Order does not limit the ability of the House to alter its sitting hours on days other than those in June prescribed by Standing Order 27(1). Should the House wish to extend its sittings at times outside that specific period, it would need to do so either by way of a motion decided by a majority vote of the House, or by unanimous consent.
Both of these methods have been used from time to time. I would refer members to footnote 113 on page 404 of O’Brien and Bosc for examples of this type of motion that have been adopted in the past.
A review of past examples also shows that, while motions related to sittings and proceedings are frequently moved under the rubric “Motions” during routine proceedings, such motions have also been moved under government orders. As cited in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 454:
The Chair has consistently ruled that the Government House Leader should be the one to introduce any motion pertaining to the arrangement of House business, and that the motion may be considered under “Motions” or under Government Orders, depending on where the Minister giving notice has decided to place it.
Therefore, the Chair can find no evidence that either the rules or the privileges of the House have been breached and so I find Government Motion No. 17 to be in order.
I thank all members for their attention in this matter.