When a report is presented in the House, a standing or special committee may request that the government table a comprehensive response to it within 120 days, in conformity with Standing Order 109. The committee may request a response either to the whole report or to one or more parts. The request for a partial response does not prevent the government from responding to the entire report. Speakers have consistently declined to define “comprehensive” in this context, maintaining that the nature of the response must be left to the discretion of the government.
When the House is sitting, the response may be tabled by a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary during Routine Proceedings under the rubric “Tabling of Documents” or filed with the Clerk as provided for by Standing Order 32(1). When the House is adjourned, the response may be filed with the Clerk, or the Minister may wait until the House resumes sitting to table it. The Speaker has ruled that a request for a government response survives a prorogation in the same manner as orders for the production of papers. However, the request lapses upon dissolution of Parliament. Committees have renewed a request for a government response by presenting a report to that effect in the subsequent Parliament.
The Standing Orders do not provide for any sanction should the government fail to comply with the request for a response.