The Order Paper and Notice Paper is a two-part document: The Order Paper is the complete and authoritative agenda of all items of business that may be considered by the House of Commons. The Notice Paper contains all items for which notice has been given. Together, these documents contain virtually all items of business that are before the House or that may be brought before the House.
The Order Paper and Notice Paper is published each sitting day, and printed copies are distributed in the morning in the Chamber. The electronic version is usually made available on the House of Commons website the previous evening.
In order not to take Members of the House by surprise, the rules of the House require notice to be given before most substantive items can be raised for consideration. Notices given or deemed given on a particular day are printed in that day’s Notice Paper and transferred to the Order Paper after the applicable notice period has elapsed.
The notice period for most items is 48 hours. Forty-eight hours’ notice means that notice must be given two days before the day the matter can be raised.
The usual way to give notice is for the Member or Minister who will be sponsoring the item of business to be dealt with (whether a bill, a resolution or other motion, or a written question) to send a written, signed notice to the Journals Branch. Such notices must be submitted in writing before 6:00 p.m. on any sitting day Monday to Thursday or on the last Thursday of any adjournment period and before 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Members may also submit notices to the Journals Branch electronically using a secure website. The notice is then placed on the Notice Paper distributed the next sitting day.
When the document is next printed, the notice is transferred from the Notice Paper to the Order Paper. The four most notable exceptions to this 48-hour notice provision are explained below:
Items placed on notice are listed under the appropriate subheadings as follows:
The Order Paper is the complete and authoritative agenda of the House of Commons, and unanimous consent is required to consider business not listed on it.
The Order Paper contains items for which an order of the House has been made. For example, after a bill is read a first time, the Speaker asks when it shall be read again and the usual reply is “At the next sitting of the House.” An order for the second reading of the bill is then placed on the Order Paper for the next sitting day so that the bill may, in principle, be taken up at that time. In addition, many items are on the Order Paper not because the House has adopted an order, but because the Standing Orders stipulate that they are to be placed there after the notice period has elapsed.
The Order Paper is divided into two sections in the printed version: Order of Business and Orders of the Day (which is further divided into Government Orders and Private Members’ Business). A third section for Questions is published in the electronic version on the House of Commons website.
(See the Order Paper and Notice Paper on the House of Commons website.)