Replies to written questions may be presented each sitting day during Routine Proceedings under the rubric “Questions on the Order Paper”. A Member, usually the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader, rises to announce the numbers of the questions being answered that day.
The Parliamentary Secretary may answer written questions in one of several ways:
If no questions are to be answered on a particular day, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader requests that all questions be allowed to stand and retain their place on the Order Paper.
The guidelines that apply to the form and content of written questions also apply to the answers provided by the Government. The Government may, in responding to a written question, indicate to the House that it cannot supply an answer. On occasion, the Government has supplied supplementary replies to questions already answered.
There is no provision in the rules for the Speaker to review the adequacy of Government responses to written questions.
The failure of the Government to respond to a written question within the requested 45 days is automatically referred to a standing committee, which must consider the lack of a Government response within five sitting days.
Alternatively, the Member who put the question may give notice that he or she wishes to “transfer the question for debate” and may then raise the subject matter during the Adjournment Proceedings held at the end of each sitting day except Fridays. The order referring to a committee the matter of the failure of the Government to respond is then dropped.