In order to bring a substantive proposal before the House, a notice of motion must generally be given. This is to provide Members and the House with some prior warning so that they are not called upon to consider a matter unexpectedly.
In most cases, notices of motion are required to be submitted in writing and printed in the Notice Paper. Generally, the written notices of motions are for substantive motions—self-contained motions that are not dependent on any other question before the House. There are also provisions for notices of motion to be given orally during a sitting of the House. Some types of motions, such as dilatory motions, do not require any notice.
Depending on the type of motion and who is moving it, the notice period can vary from one hour to two weeks. It is also possible to have more than one notice relating to the same subject (with the exception of items of Private Members’ Business); but once one of the motions is moved and the House makes a decision on it, any discussion or decision on the other(s) is precluded.
Written notice is required for most substantive motions. When the House is sitting, a Member giving notice must either present it to a Table Officer in the Chamber or submit it to the Journals Branch before 6:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday or before 2:00 p.m. on Friday, for the notice to be effective on that sitting day. The item will then appear in the Notice Paper on the next sitting day. During adjournment periods, notice may be filed with the Clerk at any time up to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the next scheduled sitting of the House. If the daily deadline for giving notice is not met, the notice becomes effective at the following sitting of the House.
Members must sign any notices they are submitting for the Notice Paper in order to prevent the unauthorized use of their names and as authentication of their intentions. A notice sent by facsimile or electronic mail will be taken as an indication of a Member’s intentions. In order to be included in the Notice Paper, however, it must be followed up, before the deadline, by the official notice bearing the Member’s original signature. Members may also submit notices of items electronically, through a secure website accessible only to Members of Parliament. This service enables Members or authorized staff to securely file notices for the Notice Paper in electronic format. Doing so is equivalent to presenting a signed item to the Journals Branch.
The procedural staff of the Journals Branch will consult with the sponsoring Member when modifications to the text of the motion are needed in order to make it procedurally conform to the rules and practices of the House. The notice is inserted under the appropriate heading in the Notice Paper. If several notices in the same category are received, they are inserted in the Notice Paper in the order in which they are received.
As long as a motion has not been proposed to the House, it remains a notice of motion and the sponsor may withdraw it unilaterally, without seeking the consent of the House. To do so, the Member either requests in writing that the Clerk withdraw it or rises in the House to withdraw the notice orally. The item is then removed from the Notice Paper or the Order Paper. Notices have also been removed from the Order Paper and Notice Paper on the Speaker’s initiative, following the death or resignation of the sponsoring Member.
A motion or notice of motion is considered to be in the possession of the House under the following conditions:
In such a case, a motion or notice of motion cannot be removed from the Order Paper unless the House so decides.
As a general rule, there are no notice requirements for subsidiary motions, which are dependent on other business of the House, or for privileged motions, such as amendments or superseding motions. Other motions are also exempt from notice requirements, as a result either of practice or of a specific Standing Order. Examples of motions that do not require notice include motions for second or third reading of a bill, motions to adjourn the House, and motions from the government to suspend the rules to deal with an urgent matter.
The length of the notice period varies depending on the type of motion. Most notices appear in the Notice Paper; however, others may be given to the Speaker in writing or given to the House orally. A 48-hour notice period applies in most cases; other notice period requirements range from one hour to one week.
The 48 hours’ notice requirement refers to the publication of the notice once in the Notice Paper and its transfer the next day to the Order Paper. Therefore, the time elapsed between receipt of the notice in the Journals Branch and the moving of the motion may actually be less than 48 hours. For example, a Member may give notice at 6:00 p.m. on a Tuesday and be free as early as 10:00 a.m. on Thursday to proceed with his or her motion. A Member giving notice of a motion on a Friday before 2:00 p.m. may propose the motion to the House on the following Monday, the notice period having elapsed over the weekend.
Forty-eight hours’ written notice is required for:
Some items of business require a notice period of 24 hours. Like the 48 hours’ notice, the 24-hour notice requirement does not always involve an elapsed 24 hours. A notice filed at 6:00 p.m. on Monday may be taken up at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. If the notice is given orally at any time during a sitting of the House, the motion may be taken up on the next sitting day.
Twenty-four hours’ written notice is required for:
Twenty-four hours’ oral notice is required for:
One week’s written notice is required for the meeting of any committee considering a private bill originating in the House of Commons.
There are two situations in which Members must provide at least one hour’s written notice to the Speaker: