Motion to Suspend Certain Standing Orders
In relation to any business that the government considers urgent, the House may suspend certain Standing Orders in connection with that business, but only under well-defined conditions.146 At any time when the Speaker is in the Chair, a motion may be moved by a Minister to suspend the Standing Orders respecting notice requirements or the hours and days of sitting.
In moving the motion, the Minister gives reasons for the urgency of the situation.147 After the motion is seconded, the Speaker immediately proposes the question to the House. In doing so, the Speaker may allow up to one hour of uninterrupted debate, in which case the business then before the House is put aside temporarily and a “special” debate on the motion takes place.148 If no Member rises, the Speaker will put the question immediately.149
Rules of Debate
Debate on such motions lasts not more than one hour and may not be interrupted or adjourned by any other proceeding or order of the House.150 Members may speak only once and for no longer than 10 minutes.151 Speeches may be followed by a five-minute period for questions and comments.152 Amendments are not permitted unless proposed by a Minister other than the mover.153
Termination of Debate
When the debate is completed or after one hour, whichever is earlier, the Speaker puts the question on the motion and in doing so must ask those Members opposed to the motion to rise.154 If 10 or more Members rise to object, the motion is deemed withdrawn;155 otherwise, the motion is adopted156 and becomes an order of the House governing only the proceedings specified in the motion.157
Such motions have seldom been proposed. In 1991, a motion was proposed to suspend the Standing Orders related to the hours of sitting of the House in order for the House to sit three evenings until 10:00 p.m. to complete all stages of an item of back-to-work legislation. After debate, the motion was withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object.158 In 1992, a motion to waive the 48 hours’ notice requirement for the report stage of a bill to provide for referendums on the Constitution was adopted.159 In March 1995, a motion requesting a waiver of the 48 hours’ notice requirement for introduction of a bill to end a work stoppage and setting the hours of sitting to debate the bill was put to the House and adopted without debate.160 Later that same month, a similar motion was debated and deemed withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object.161 In June 1999, a motion proposing that the House continue sitting to consider a bill and suspend the notice requirements of a closure motion was debated and deemed withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object.162 In 2007, a motion was proposed during Private Members’ Business Hour on a Friday that the House sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment to continue consideration of a bill to implement certain budget provisions. The motion was deemed withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object.163 In June 2016, a motion was proposed during Routine Proceedings authorizing a Minister to move, without notice, a motion relating to Senate amendments to a bill. After debate, the motion was adopted.164