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Standing Committees

Standing committees are permanent committees established pursuant to Standing Order 104. Standing committees continue to exist for the whole Parliament, unlike other types of committees that are created on an ad hoc basis to study a very specific issue.

Standing committees are provided with permanent mandates under the Standing Orders. Matters that are routinely referred to standing committees by the House for examination include:

Other matters that may be referred to Standing Committees by the House for examination include:

The House may also refer specific subjects to committees for study by adopting a motion to that effect. In addition to the subject matter of the study, the order of reference may also contain conditions that the committee must comply with in carrying out the study or additional powers that the committee may require for that purpose.

The majority of standing committees are established to oversee a government department or departments as set out in Standing Order 108(2). These committees are charged with the review of the relevant statute law, departmental operations and expenditures, and the effectiveness of the policies and programs of the department. The House adjusts the number and responsibilities of standing committees to reflect changes in the structure of government administration.

Certain standing committees, including standing joint committees, are accorded specific mandates to initiate studies in well-defined areas of responsibility outlined in Standing Orders 108(3) and (4).

A number of committees have permanent orders of reference that give rise to subject matter studies having a particular effect. For example, the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations may present reports that initiate a procedure leading to the revocation of government regulations. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs reports to the House on the items of Private Members’ Business that have been designated as non-votable.

In addition, the House may refer questions arising out of a complaint of a breach of privilege to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The Committee will then conduct an inquiry, calling for whatever witnesses and papers it deems necessary. As with matters related to privilege that occur in any other committee, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has no power itself to deal with the matter directly by imposing sanctions of any kind. At the conclusion of its study, the Committee reports to the House, indicating whether, in its opinion, the complaint of a breach of privilege was well founded. The Committee also stipulates what, if any, action it feels to be appropriate.

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