The Business of Supply
The business of supply is the process by which the government asks Parliament to appropriate the funds required to meet its financial obligations and to implement programs already approved by Parliament. The Crown, acting on the advice of its responsible Ministers, transmits to the House of Commons the government’s projected annual expenditures, or “estimates”, for parliamentary scrutiny and approval. The House of Commons has sole authority to grant the “supplies” needed to satisfy the government’s demands. All financial legislation (which includes all government expenditures) must originate in the House of Commons.104 Once supply is granted, the government can draw on the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet its financial obligations.105
The supply procedures established in 1867 remained basically unchanged for the first 100 years following Confederation. Deriving from a long-standing rule of the British House of Commons,106 the business of supply was considered in a Committee of the Whole House, called the Committee of Supply.107
From Confederation to 1968
Prior to 1968, the supply proceedings consisted of the process of entering into Committee of Supply and the study of the annual estimates or government spending proposals in Committee of Supply. Before the Committee of Supply could begin its work, the Finance Minister had to table the estimates along with the message from the Governor General signifying the recommendation of the Crown.108 The Minister then moved that the message and recommendation, together with the estimates, be referred to the Committee of Supply.109
When the Order of the Day was read for the House to resolve itself into the Committee of Supply,110 the motion “That the Speaker do now leave the chair” was proposed to the House.111 This initiated the first phase of the supply proceedings; it was an opportunity for Members to debate and, if they chose, amend the motion that the Speaker leave the chair. The rules pertaining to relevance were relaxed and Members used amendments to the motion as the mechanism to raise their issues and debate them in the House. In addition, the opposition could use the threat of delaying supply to obtain concessions from the executive. The practice of allowing every description of amendment to be moved,112 coupled with great latitude permitted in the debate and the lack of time limits, reflected the ancient tenet of parliamentary government which held that the Crown should respond to the grievances of the people before the people granted supply.113
Once having agreed to the motion for the Speaker to leave the chair, the House was then sitting as the Committee of Supply. Each estimate was considered as a separate resolution or motion “that a certain sum be granted to Her Majesty for …”. Amendments to the motion were permitted and no time limits were placed on the debate. If decided in the affirmative, the resolutions were reported to the House for its concurrence. Reports from the Committee of Supply were usually not received or taken up by the House on the same day they were reported, but were ordered to be received at a subsequent sitting of the House. Upon reporting, the Committee requested leave “to sit again”, without which permission the Committee of Supply, as an entity, would have ceased to exist.114
When the Order of the Day was read to report the resolutions approved in Committee, a formal motion for their first reading was proposed. The motion was purely a formality and was never debated or amended. If the House agreed, each resolution was then read separately a second time, after which the Speaker put the question for concurrence. Both the debate and any amendment had to be relevant to the proposed resolution.115
When all the estimates had passed through the Committee of Supply, the Minister of Finance would move a motion for the House to resolve into the Committee of Ways and Means to consider resolutions to authorize the necessary withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.116 Again, each sum was proposed as a separate resolution, considered and, if agreed to, reported to the House. Once the resolutions had been read a second time, they formed the basis for the appropriation or supply bill, which set aside (or appropriated) from the Consolidated Revenue Fund the amounts required to fund the programs and activities approved in the estimates. Supply bills were often introduced and passed through two or more legislative stages in a single day.117 Once it had been passed by the House, the supply bill was sent to the Senate where it was given three readings and passed before being returned to the House.
The debate on the motion “That the Speaker do now leave the chair” often resulted in supply being considered very late in the session, and often late at night. Consequently, by the time the estimates were actually discussed in the Committee, they tended to be given relatively short examination, provoking frequent criticism of the lack of effective parliamentary oversight of government expenditure.118
In 1913, the Standing Orders of the House of Commons were modified; henceforth, when the order for the House to go into the Committee of Supply was called on Thursday and Friday, the motion “That the Speaker do now leave the chair” would be deemed adopted without question put.119 This change represented the first encroachment on the Members’ previously unfettered right to air grievances before considering the government’s financial requirements. The effect of the adoption of the change was that, from 1913 to 1955, only 132 amendments to the motion were moved, while, in the period 1867 to 1913, 271 amendments were moved. By guaranteeing the government at least two days a week on which its financial requirements could be taken up by the House, the new rule introduced the first real constraint on the opposition’s capacity to delay supply. There were no further modifications until 1927,120 when the House agreed to allow a subamendment to the motion for the Speaker to leave the chair to go into the Committee of Supply or the Committee of Ways and Means when the motion was proposed on a day other than a Thursday or Friday.121
Opinion soon began to differ as to whether estimates should continue to be considered in a Committee of the Whole or be referred to a standing committee.122 In 1955, the House agreed to establish a Special Committee on Estimates.123 Initially, the Committee lacked the authority to send for persons, papers and records; however, changes to the Standing Orders in 1958 gave the Committee the necessary powers.124
Additional changes, approved provisionally in 1967, made it possible for standing committees to examine the estimates and limited to four the number of occasions in any session on which the House could debate the motion to go into the Committee of Supply or the Committee of Ways and Means.125 A maximum of 30 days in each session was allocated for the consideration of the business of supply.126
Supply Proceedings Since 1968
In 1968, changes were recommended by the Special Committee on Procedure. The Committee had described supply procedures as “time-consuming, repetitive and archaic”, claiming they did not permit an effective scrutiny of the estimates, did not provide the House with the means of organizing meaningful debate on pre-arranged subjects, failed to preserve effective parliamentary control over expenditures and failed to guarantee an expeditious decision on appropriation bills. The Committee found that the traditional supply procedures were irrelevant to the realities of government in the present day.127 The House agreed to alter substantially its financial procedures.128 The Committee of Supply was abolished, along with the Committee of Ways and Means, and all estimates would be referred to standing committees before they were taken up in the House. Under the revised rules, the main estimates would be tabled and referred on or before March 1 of each year. Committees were required to report back the estimates, or would be deemed to have reported them back, no later than May 31.129
The House agreed to establish, at the beginning of each session, a continuing order for the consideration of supply on the House agenda under Government Orders.130 Unlike the order for the House to go into the Committee of Supply, which lapsed once the committee had reported the estimates back to the House, the continuing order remains on the agenda as an item of Government Orders and may be taken up at any time at the government’s discretion.
The new rules divided the parliamentary calendar into three periods, during which 25 days would be allotted to the business of supply. Five allotted days were set aside in the supply period ending December 10, seven days in the period ending March 26 and an additional 13 days in the period ending June 30. Opposition or supply motions could be moved only by Members in opposition to the government and could be related to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada.131
In addition, the new rules stipulated that, in any period, the opposition could ask that up to two of its allotted day motions be brought to a vote and that these could be designated as votes of non-confidence in the government. Since the requirement that the executive retain the confidence of the House is a matter of convention, many questioned why votable opposition motions should be termed “no-confidence” motions.132 In March 1975, the Standing Orders were provisionally modified so that votes on opposition motions would no longer, ipso facto, be considered an expression of confidence in the government.133 The provisional rules lapsed at the beginning of the following session and the term “no-confidence” found its way back into the 1977 version of the Standing Orders. Amendments to the Standing Orders in June 1985 again removed the non-confidence provision from the rules on opposition motions.134
In February 1986, provision was made for the Leader of the Opposition to extend the committee consideration of the main estimates of one department or agency beyond the May 31 deadline, for a period not exceeding 10 further sitting days.135 In addition, the new rules set aside the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 30 to debate the motion to concur in the main estimates, instead of the usual opposition motion, and extended the sitting hours on that day until 10:00 p.m. Effective June 8, 1987, the distribution of allotted days was changed to six in the supply period ending December 10, nine days in the period ending March 26 and 10 days were allotted in the period ending June 30.136
In 1991, the end date for that period was changed to June 23 and, as a result of a reduction of the number of sittings days in the year, the total number of allotted days over a year was reduced from 25 to 20.137 As well, the maximum number of votable motions in each of the supply periods was reduced from four to three.138 Provision was also made to increase or decrease the number of allotted days in a supply period in relation to the total number of sitting days in the period,139 to limit the number of allotted days falling on Wednesday and Friday,140 and to provide that, concurrent with consideration of the main estimates for the current fiscal year, each standing committee was authorized to consider and report on the future expenditure priorities for the subsequent fiscal year of the department and agencies for which it was responsible.141
In June 1998, the total number of supply days was increased from 20 to 21, with seven to be held in each of the three supply periods. Another amendment provided that a total of 14 opposition motions could be votable in the course of a year, with no limit on the number of votable motions in each period. Finally, there was a major change with respect to the last supply day in June. The House would now debate an opposition motion until 6:30 p.m. on that day, then proceed to consider the estimates. If the opposition motion was votable, the rule provided that any division would be deferred until 10:00 p.m.142
In October 2001, the House adopted major amendments to the Standing Orders.143 First, the amendments provided that henceforth the main and supplementary estimates would be deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees following their tabling in the House, as opposed to referral by a votable motion.144 The amendments then provided that consideration of some of the main estimates could take place in the House itself in a Committee of the Whole. The new rule provided that the Leader of the Opposition could consult with the leaders of other opposition parties and, not later than May 1, could then select the main estimates of two named departments or agencies to be considered in Committee of the Whole for a period not exceeding five hours. Such consideration would take place at the conclusion of Adjournment Proceedings on the appointed day, or at the conclusion of Private Members’ Business on a Friday.145
A third amendment provided that written notice of an opposition motion would be filed not later than one hour prior to the opening of the sitting on the day preceding the allotted day. Following the prayer, the Speaker would read the text of the motion to be proposed on the allotted day, and indicate whether the motion would come to a vote.146 A final change provided that amendments to supply day motions could be moved, if found to be otherwise in order, only with the consent of the mover of the motion.147
In May 2002, the House revised its list of standing committees, splitting the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations into two separate committees.148 The new Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates was given a wide-ranging mandate including, among other matters: the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation of the central departments and agencies, together with their operational and expenditure plans; the review of estimates for programs delivered by more than one department or agency; the review of the effectiveness and management of activities relating to the use of new and emerging information and communication technologies by the government; and the review of and report on the process for considering the estimates and supply, including the format and content of estimates documents prepared by the government.149 Furthermore, the Committee was empowered under the Standing Orders to amend votes that had been referred to other standing committees, in coordination with them,150 namely, those relating to federal departments and central agencies, to the government’s use of new and emerging information and communication technologies, and to specific operational and expenditure items across all government departments and agencies.
In September 2003, further amendments to the Standing Orders were adopted with respect to supply proceedings.151 First, the number of hours devoted to consideration of the main estimates of the two named departments or agencies in Committee of the Whole was decreased from five hours to four hours.152 Second, time limits were set with respect to speeches and questions during such consideration. Each Member was restricted to no more than 15 minutes, of which a maximum of 10 minutes could be for debate. The Member, when recognized, could use the 15-minute period for both a speech and for posing questions to the Minister of the Crown or a Parliamentary Secretary acting on the Minister’s behalf. When the Member was recognized, he or she was to indicate how the 15-minute period was to be apportioned.153 Finally, provision was made for written notice of an opposition motion to be filed with the Clerk of the House during an adjournment of the House when the first or second sitting day following such an adjournment was designated as an allotted day. This notice was to be filed by the Thursday prior to the return of the House.154
In February 2005, as part of a group of Standing Order amendments, the House agreed, by unanimous consent, to increase the number of allotted days in the supply period ending June 23 from seven to eight days, thus increasing the total number of allotted days to 22.155 Notice for opposition motions was set at 48 hours, rather than one hour before the opening of the previous sitting.156 At the same time, all opposition motions were made votable, rather than a specific number per year, unless the sponsor of such a motion designated it as non-votable.157
In June 2017, the House agreed to modify provisionally Standing Order 81 to change the timing of the main estimates to include budget items from the most recent budget presentation. Accordingly, for the remainder of the Forty-Second Parliament, the tabling deadline was changed from March 1 to April 16. To ensure that departments and agencies had sufficient spending authority until such time as the main estimates were approved, “interim estimates” were also introduced provisionally. These interim estimates will be tabled, deemed referred to a standing committee or committees and considered during the supply period ending March 26. They will be based on a fraction of the current year’s estimates, rather than a fraction of the upcoming main estimates.158
The Continuing Order for Supply
In the Speech from the Throne, which begins each new session of Parliament, the Governor General traditionally advises Members of the House of Commons that they will be asked to appropriate (approve the spending of) the funds required to carry on the services and payments authorized by Parliament.159
Among its first items of business after the Speech from the Throne, the House considers a motion usually proposed by the Minister serving as President of the Treasury Board, “That the business of supply be considered at the next sitting of the House”.160 By long-established practice, the motion is not debatable and is traditionally decided without dissent. Once agreed to, the motion is an order of the House to add the business of supply on the Order Paper for the remainder of the session.161 This process has the effect of establishing a continuing order of the day for the purposes of considering supply, which enables the government to call supply on any sitting day, within the framework laid out in the Standing Orders.
The business of supply consists of the consideration of motions:
- to concur in interim supply;
- to concur in main and supplementary estimates;
- to restore or reinstate any item in the estimates;
- to introduce or pass at all stages any bill or bills based on the estimates; and
- to be proposed by the opposition on allotted days.162
In any calendar year, 22 days are set aside under the Standing Orders for consideration of the business of supply and on these days supply has precedence over all other government business.163 The business of supply can be divided into a general debate phase and a legislative phase. The general debate phase is taken up with the consideration of opposition motions proposed on allotted days.164 During the legislative phase, the House considers and votes on the government’s proposed annual spending plans (the main and supplementary estimates)165 and the legislation (appropriation bills) needed to authorize all consequential withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
General Debate Phase
The setting aside of a specified number of sitting days on which the opposition chooses the subject of debate derives from the tradition which holds that Parliament does not grant supply until the opposition has had an opportunity to demonstrate why it should be refused. Of the 22 days allocated in each annual supply cycle for the House to consider the business of supply, seven days are allotted during the period ending December 10, seven during the period ending March 26 and eight during the period ending June 23.166 Of these 22 days, no more than one-fifth may fall on a Wednesday and no more than one-fifth on a Friday (the shortest sitting days of the week).167 The 22 days are designated as “allotted days”. On each of these days, the House will debate an opposition motion.168
The normal supply cycle can be disrupted by an extended adjournment, a prorogation or a dissolution. In these cases, the number of opposition days in each supply period may be increased or decreased.169 If the number of sitting days in any supply period is fewer than the number prescribed under the House of Commons calendar, the number of allotted days in that period will be reduced by an amount proportional to the number of sitting days the House stood adjourned. The Speaker will determine and announce to the House the reduction in the number of allotted days for that period.170 Conversely, should the House sit more than the prescribed number of sitting days, the total number of allotted days will be increased by one day for every five additional days the House sits,171 excluding the days when the House meets solely for the purpose of granting Royal Assent to a bill, pursuant to Standing Order 28(4). The House may also decide that any unused days from the six days allotted to the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, or from the four days allotted to the budget debate, be added to the number of allotted days in the supply period in which they would have been taken up.172
If, in the supply period ending June 23, concurrence is sought in supplementary estimates for the previous fiscal year, a further three sitting days will be allocated in that period for the consideration of a motion to concur in those estimates and for the passage at all stages of the related supply bill.173 On occasion, changes have been made, with the consent of the House, to the length of a supply period or to the number of allotted days. For example, the House has agreed to extend the length of a supply period,174 to add supply days,175 to combine the supply days for two periods,176 to eliminate one supply day177 and to transfer unused supply days from one period to the next.178 The House has also agreed that an allotted day in one supply period be deemed disposed of and one additional allotted day be designated in the subsequent supply period.179
Designating an Allotted Day
The government designates the days allotted to the consideration of the business of supply. The established practice is for a Minister of the Crown, usually the Government House Leader, to rise in the House and designate a subsequent sitting day as an allotted day;180 allotted days may also be designated during the “Thursday Statement” on the House business for the following week.181 Furthermore, the Government House Leader may send a letter to the Speaker designating a subsequent day as an allotted day.182 However, the date so designated is not binding on the government and, like the scheduling of any other government order, may be revised at any time.183 The announcement is made orally by a Minister, usually the Government House Leader, during a sitting184 or through a letter to the Speaker saying that a designated day will no longer be an allotted day.185 If the government fails to designate the prescribed number of allotted days, the remaining days in that period will be designated by default.186 When the sitting on a day designated as an allotted day ends before the House has reached Orders of the Day, the allotted day has not commenced and, therefore, the sitting does not count as one of the days designated for the consideration of an opposition motion.187 On the other hand, once the order for supply has been called, an allotted day is deemed completed if, subsequently, the proceedings are superseded.188 If, on a given designated day, all supply business is exhausted, any other government order can be called.189
Opposition motions have precedence over all government supply motions on allotted days.190 However, on the last allotted day for the period ending June 23, at not later than 6:30 p.m., the Speaker interrupts the proceedings on the opposition motion and puts, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion. Any recorded division requested is deferred to the end of the supply proceedings on that day, but not later than 10:00 p.m. Meanwhile, the House proceeds to consider a motion or motions to concur in the main estimates.191
Members in opposition to the government may propose motions for debate on any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada;192 that is, they may express approval or condemnation of the government and government policy. The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on supply days and, unless the motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (i.e., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument), the Chair does not intervene.193
Concurrence motions on standing committee reports based on estimates may be considered under business of supply on an allotted day.194 This is equally true for concurrence motions on standing committee reports relating to the expenditure plans and priorities of a government department or agency.195
Before an opposition motion can be taken up on an allotted day, a 48-hour written notice of the motion must be given.196 The notice must be filed before 6:00 p.m. during a sitting of the House, or before 2:00 p.m. on a Friday. The notice is effective for the sitting day on which it is submitted and appears on the following day’s Notice Paper. The item is transferred to the Order Paper the day after it appears on the Notice Paper.197
A Member may put an opposition motion on notice even though an allotted day has not yet been designated.198 However, a decision by the government not to proceed with a designated allotted day is not in itself a reason for the Chair to remove a notice of an opposition motion from the Order Paper and Notice Paper.199 It can remain on the Order Paper until it is proceeded with later or withdrawn by its sponsor or the sponsor’s House Leader. Only the sponsor or House Leader can have the motion removed, and the consent of the House to do so is not required.200
Speaker’s Power to Select
The Standing Orders are silent on the method of apportioning allotted days between the parties, when two or more recognized parties form the opposition. Although the government designates which days shall be used for the business of supply, the opposition parties decide among themselves which party will sponsor the motion.201 The distribution has reflected the proportion of seats each recognized party occupies in the Chamber. It is not the purview of the Official Opposition to determine unilaterally who can propose a motion on an allotted day.202 Notices of more than one motion may be given by one or several opposition parties.203 Where notice of two or more opposition motions appears on the Order Paper for consideration on an allotted day and there is no agreement among the opposition parties as to which shall be taken up, the Speaker must decide which motion shall be given precedence.204 In deciding, the Speaker is not obliged to give any reason for his or her choice. However, most Speakers usually give a short explanation for their decision, once again usually, but not necessarily, based on: the representation of the parties in the House; the distribution of sponsorship to date; fair play towards small parties; the date of notice; the sponsor of the motion; the subject matter; whether or not the motion is votable; and what has happened, by agreement among the parties, in the preceding supply periods.205
All opposition motions considered on allotted days may be brought to a vote, unless the sponsor of such a motion informs the Clerk in writing that he or she wants the item designated non-votable.206 Opposition motions on allotted days have occasionally been agreed to by the House.207
Proceedings on an Opposition Motion
Proceedings on non-votable opposition motions expire at the conclusion of the debate or at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.208 However, a motion can be moved to extend the sitting beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.209 If the debate on the opposition motion concludes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders, the House may then consider other items of supply (opposition motions first) and, following that, any other government order.210 In the case of votable motions, the Speaker will interrupt the debate 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders and proceed to put, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion.211
On supply days, a recorded division on a votable opposition motion may be deferred by the Chief Government Whip or the Chief Opposition Whip, even if the Speaker interrupted proceedings and the bells are scheduled to ring only for a maximum of 15 minutes.212 In addition, if the motion was sponsored by a Member of a recognized party other than the Official Opposition, the recorded division may also be deferred at the request of the Whip of that party.213 However, recorded divisions on votable opposition motions on the last allotted day in a supply period cannot be deferred.214 The only exception is that on the last supply day in the period ending June 23, the vote on an opposition motion is deferred to later that same sitting, after the House has considered motions relating to the main estimates.215 Recorded divisions on opposition motions are automatically deferred from a Friday to a Monday if Friday is not the last allotted day in the supply period.216
The proceedings on a votable opposition motion may continue for more than one allotted day;217 usually, such proceedings have taken place over two consecutive sitting days where both have been designated together as allotted days.218 The duration of such proceedings must be stated in the notice respecting the day or days set aside.219
The mover of the motion, who is a Member of the opposition, speaks first on a supply day. No Member may speak for more than 20 minutes; a 10-minute period is also provided after each speech to allow other Members to ask questions and make brief comments.220 It is often the case that two Members of the same party will agree to share the 20 minutes, with each speaker receiving 10 minutes for the debate and five minutes for questions and comments.221 Moreover, Members may speak only once. On allotted days, the party of the opposition Member sponsoring the motion may be recognized more frequently on debate than otherwise might be warranted, given their relative numbers in the House.
Only one amendment and one subamendment are permitted to opposition motions considered on an allotted day.222 Amendments which have the effect of providing the basis for an entirely different debate are not in order.223 When a party has been allocated an allotted day and a subject has been proposed for debate by way of an opposition motion, the day should not be taken away by way of an amendment.224 The House has consented, despite the rules, to allow amendments which had been ruled inadmissible by the Chair.225 The House has also permitted an amendment to be withdrawn and replaced with another.226 Since 2001, an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the mover of the motion, the purpose being to prevent other political parties from changing the content of the debate (and any future decision of the House) during an opposition day.227 For the same reason, a subamendment cannot be moved to an opposition motion without the consent of the mover of the motion.
The main estimates provide a breakdown by department and program of planned government spending for the upcoming fiscal year. The estimates are expressed as a series of votes, or resolutions, which summarize the estimated financial requirements in a particular expenditure category, such as operations, capital or grants.228 The votes are expressed in dollar amounts, the total of which, once agreed to, should satisfy all the budgetary requirements of a department or agency in that category, with the exception of any expenditures provided for under other statutory authority. Each budgetary item, or vote, has two essential components: an amount of money and a destination (a description of what the money will be used for). Should the government wish to change the approved amount or destination of a vote, it must do so either by way of a supplementary estimate or by way of new or amending legislation.
The main estimates are presented in three parts. Part I, the Government Expenditure Plan, gives an overview of the government’s projected total expenditures for the new fiscal year, and summarizes the budgetary and statutory expenditures for all government departments and agencies for the same period. It also contains an introductory section, which explains the different kinds of votes229 and other elements making up the estimates, as well as any changes to the content with respect to that found in previous fiscal years.230 Part II, the Main Estimates, outlines spending according to departments, agencies and programs and contains the proposed wording of the conditions governing spending which Parliament will be asked to approve.231 This information directly supports the schedule of the related appropriation act. Statutory items are expenditures which have been authorized by legislation other than appropriation acts (i.e., programs which have been provided with a continuing authority to spend and which do not require an annual appropriation from Parliament) and they are included for information purposes only.232 Part I is combined with Part II in the volume known as the “Blue Book,” because of its blue cover.233
The form and content of the main estimates have been modified on only five occasions since Confederation: in 1938, 1970, 1981, 1997, and, most recently, in 2013.234 In each instance, the impetus behind the reforms was a desire to improve the quality and utility of the information provided to Members of Parliament. In 1938, the Minister of Finance included in the estimates, for the first time, a breakdown of departmental operating costs by function.235 Still greater precision was introduced in 1970, when departmental expenditures were linked to programs and activities. An explanatory foreword clarifying the technical terms used was added and, for the first time, the Blue Book was printed in bilingual format.236
As the scope of the federal government widened and government operations grew increasingly complex, compressing all government expenditure information into a single document became more and more impractical. In 1981, following a comprehensive review of financial management and accountability in the federal government, two new documents were introduced. The old Blue Book became known as Part II, Estimates, and a new Part I and Part III were added.237 Part I provided an overview of federal spending, along with information about planned future activities which could not be included along with the annual appropriations and statutory spending set down in the Blue Book. Part II continued to list in detail the resources that individual departments and agencies required for the upcoming year. Finally, Part III, the Departmental Expenditure Plan, was a collection of separate books each providing additional details about the programs and activities of a single department or agency. The first Part IIIs were tabled with the 1982–83 main estimates.238
In Chapter 6 of the 1992 Annual Report to Parliament, the Auditor General addressed the issue of departmental reporting. It was noted that much of the government’s financial activity was not expressed as spending and, for this reason, was not included in the information Members of Parliament used when considering and approving supply.239 In the view of the Auditor General, information to Parliament should include a description of the organization’s mission, its major lines of business, the way it is structured, the instruments it uses, its strategic targets and objectives for achieving the mission, as well as performance reports on the extent to which these objectives have been met.240
In 1997, the House of Commons passed a motion to split what was known as Part III of the main estimates into two documents. Each department or agency would now present a Report on Plans and Priorities and a Departmental Performance Report. The motion also required all departments and agencies to table these reports, on a pilot basis for the 1997–98 fiscal year, for consideration by the appropriate committees.241 Beginning in the following fiscal year, the Part IIIs were permanently replaced by the two documents, the Report on Plans and Priorities to be tabled on or before March 31 and the Performance Report to be tabled in the fall.
The Departmental Plans describe the mandate, mission and strategic objectives for each department and agency (excluding Crown corporations). They provide detailed information about the business line structure, expected results and performance-measurement strategy, as well as related resource requirements over a three-year period.242 The reports are tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board on behalf of the Ministers responsible, generally shortly after the main estimates and, since the beginning of the Forty-Second Parliament, they are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees.243 House standing committees may study and report on the future expenditure plans and priorities of the departments and agencies whose estimates they are considering.244
The Departmental Results are individual departmental and agency accounts of achievements measured against expected results as set out in their Departmental Plans.245 Covering the most recently completed fiscal year, Departmental Results are tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board on behalf of the Ministers responsible and considered referred to the appropriate standing committees.246 The Speaker tables the House of Commons’ Part III equivalent, including a Strategic Plan, setting out the House Administration’s objectives and commitments to Members over a defined period, and an annual Report to Canadians, summarizing Members’ parliamentary activities over the year and reporting on the Administration’s results and commitments in support of Members and the institution.247
Changes to the presentation of the estimates in 2013 were the result of the government working in conjunction with a number of House committees over the past several years.248 The improvements sought to enhance parliamentary reporting through a series of reforms aimed at providing parliamentarians with simpler, more integrated information along with useful context and analysis.249
The main estimates for an incoming fiscal year must be referred to the standing committees on or before March 1 of the expiring fiscal year.250 The estimates are presented by a Minister of the Crown, normally the President of the Treasury Board, and are accompanied by a recommendation from the Governor General, which the Speaker reads aloud in the House.251 The main estimates are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees as soon as they are tabled.252
Since the fiscal year begins on April 1 and the normal supply cycle provides for the House to decide on main estimates only in June, the government would appear to be without funds for the interim three months. For this reason, the House authorizes an advance on the funds requested in the main estimates to cover the needs of the public service from the start of the new fiscal year to the date on which the appropriation act based on the main estimates of that year is passed. This is known as interim supply, a spending authority made available to the government pending approval of the main estimates.253
The government must give 48-hours’ notice of a motion setting out in detail the sums of money it will require, expressed in twelfths of the amounts to be voted in the main estimates.254 Most are three-twelfths of the total amount, corresponding to the three-month hiatus between the beginning of the new fiscal year and the final passage of the main estimates, but the government may request more.255 The motion for interim supply is considered by the House on the last allotted day of the period ending March 26. Concurrence in the motion is followed by the consideration and passage at all stages of an appropriation bill based on interim supply and authorizing the prescribed withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.256 The granting of interim supply does not necessarily constitute immediate House approval for the programs to which it applies in the main estimates. However, during the examination of the main estimates, neither the House nor its committees can reduce a vote to an amount less than the amount already granted in interim supply.
Following provisional changes to Standing Order 81 in June 2017, and for the remainder of the Forty-Second Parliament, interim supply will be replaced with interim estimates, which will be treated in the same manner as other sets of estimates, including being referred to committee. They will be based on a fraction of the current year’s estimates, rather than a fraction of the upcoming main estimates and will be tabled in the supply period ending March 26, while the motion to concur in interim estimates will be considered by the House on the last allotted day of the same period. Concurrence in the motion will be followed by the consideration and passage at all stages of the corresponding appropriation bill.257
Should the amounts voted under the main estimates prove insufficient, or should new funding or a reallocation of funds between already authorized budgetary items be required during a fiscal year, the government may ask Parliament to approve additional expenditures or the reallocations that it sets out in supplementary estimates. The government may introduce as many sets of supplementary estimates in a year as it deems necessary, although recently the practice has been to submit only two or three requests.
The supplementary estimates are tabled as a document in the same form as Part II of the main estimates. However, instead of being expressed as summary votes (i.e., where a vote summarizes all the anticipated disbursements in a particular expenditure category), each supplementary estimate or vote relates to a specific program or financial transaction. The information provided in the supplementary estimates will become a schedule in the subsequent appropriation act authorizing the prescribed withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
As with the main estimates, each set of supplementary estimates is normally presented by the President of the Treasury Board and is accompanied by a recommendation from the Governor General, which the Speaker also reads aloud in the House.258 Supplementary estimates are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees immediately after their tabling in the House.259 The supplementary estimates must be reported back, or are deemed to have been reported back, not later than three sitting days before the final sitting, or the last alloted day, of the supply period in which they were tabled.260
Final Supplementary Estimates
Where concurrence in final supplementary estimates cannot be obtained before March 31 of the fiscal year to which they relate, the Standing Orders provide for approval to be sought in the next supply period, which is the first supply period of the subsequent fiscal year. In such cases, three days will be added to the supply period ending not later than June 23 to consider the motion that the House concur in those final estimates for the previous fiscal year and to pass at all stages any bill based thereon.261
Supplementary estimates often include what are known as “one dollar items”, which seek an alteration in the existing allocation of funds as authorized in the main estimates. The purpose of a dollar item is not to seek new or additional money, but rather to spend money already authorized for a different purpose within a single department or agency. Since estimates are budgetary items, they must have a dollar value. However, because no new funds are requested, the one dollar is merely a symbolic amount. Dollar items may be used to transfer funds from one program to another;262 to write off debts;263 to adjust loan guarantees;264 to authorize grants;265 to amend enabling legislation;266 or to amend previous appropriation acts.267
The inclusion of one dollar items in the estimates cannot be used to legislate (i.e., to obtain new legislative authority which would otherwise require separate enabling legislation through the regular legislative process, outside the supply procedure).268
Prior to 1968, supply procedures afforded ample opportunity for the House to debate individual items in the estimates. Those of a legislative nature (virtually always one dollar items) were regularly included in appropriation acts.269 However, this practice was not accepted readily by the House and Members questioned the regularity of these items.270 The 1968 changes to the rules governing supply, which provided for the abolition of the Committee of Supply and the reference of estimates to standing committees for detailed study, had the effect of reducing significantly the time allocated for the House to consider the supplementary estimates (where most dollar items are found). Moreover, the supplementary estimates were often tabled fairly late in the supply period, allowing relatively little time for committee consideration. As a result, soon after the 1968 changes, the Speaker was called on increasingly to decide questions concerning the admissibility of dollar items.271 The rulings by Speakers of the House have clarified what is and what is not procedurally acceptable in regard to dollar items.
Speakers have often indicated that Members should take the initiative in bringing to the attention of the Chair any procedural irregularities with regard to the estimates.272 They have also repeatedly asked that Members raise questions about the procedural acceptability of estimates as early as possible so that the Chair has time to give due consideration to these questions.273
The Chair has maintained that estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent (those clearly intended to amend existing legislation) should come to the House by way of an amending bill.274 Speaker Jerome stated in a ruling:
… it is my view that the government receives from Parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by Parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item in my opinion ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.275
He also said in a further ruling:
… supply ought to be confined strictly to the process for which it was intended; that is to say, for the purpose of putting forward by the government the estimate of money it needs, and then in turn voting by the House of that money to the government … legislation and legislated changes in substance are not intended to be part of supply, but rather ought to be part of the legislative process in the regular way which requires three readings, committee stage, and, in other words, ample opportunity for Members to participate in debate and amendment.276
Consideration of Estimates in Committee
When the estimates are tabled in the House, they are deemed referred to standing committees for consideration.277 When a committee decides to consider estimates, each budgetary item, or vote, is called, proposed and debated as a distinct motion. A vote can be agreed to (the budget item is approved), reduced278 (but, as the case may be, no lower than the amount already approved in interim supply) or negatived279 (the budget item is not approved).280 Calling a vote is the mechanism by which the committee opens debate on the program expenditures to which that vote pertains. Committees considering estimates may invite witnesses to appear; these typically include the Minister, departmental or agency officials, and interested individuals or groups.
The discussion on Vote 1 (generally departmental administration or operations) in the main estimates is traditionally wide ranging. Typically, questions on departmental policy are directed to the responsible Minister; questions of a more technical or administrative nature may be referred through the Minister to departmental officials. Chairs have generally exercised considerable latitude in the nature of the questioning permitted on estimates.281
A committee may not increase the amount of a vote, change the destination of a grant or change the destination or purpose of a subsidy, as this would exceed the terms of the royal recommendation and infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown.282 A committee may move to reduce a vote by an amount equal to that set aside in the estimates for a program or activity to which the committee is opposed.283 Members cannot propose a motion to reduce a vote by its full amount; the procedure is simply to vote against the question as to whether the vote shall carry.
Statutory expenditures are provided for on an ongoing basis by way of legislation other than the appropriation act and are identified in the main estimates for information purposes only.284 Motions or recommendations respecting statutory expenditures listed in the main estimates are not allowed, although questions requesting information are acceptable. Statutory items may be modified only by way of amending legislation.
Report to the House
A committee is under no obligation to report the estimates back to the House; however, in the case of main estimates, committees that do not report are deemed to have done so on May 31 and, in the case of supplementary estimates, are deemed to have done so on the third sitting day before the last allotted day or the last sitting day in the supply period.285 Where a committee chooses to report on the estimates, the Chair, or any member of the committee acting on behalf of the Chair, rises during Routine Proceedings, when the Speaker calls “Presenting Reports from Committees”, for the purpose of presenting the report.
The rules provide for one exception to the May 31 reporting deadline for main estimates. The Leader of the Opposition may give, not later than the third sitting day prior to May 31, notice of a motion to extend the committee consideration of the main estimates of a named department or agency.286 The motion is deemed adopted when called under “Motions” during Routine Proceedings on the last sitting day prior to May 31 and the sponsor is not required to be present in the Chamber.287 Adoption of the motion allows the committee to continue its consideration of main estimates for that department or agency and to delay the presentation of its report for up to 10 sitting days, but not later than the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on the sitting day immediately preceding the final allotted day in the supply period.288 If the committee has not reported by this time, it is deemed to have done so. Where the committee chooses to report, the Chair, or any member of the committee acting on behalf of the Chair, may rise on a point of order, at any time prior to the reporting deadline and the House will revert immediately to “Presenting Reports from Committees” for the purpose of receiving the report.289
The report of a committee on estimates ought to correspond both in its form and as to its substance with the authority with which the committee is invested.290 As specific items in the estimates have been referred to the committee by the House, specific items in the estimates (as agreed to, reduced or negatived) should be reported back to the House. In making other substantive recommendations, the committee is clearly going beyond the scope of its order of reference, which was to deal solely with the estimates items.291 The Speaker has expressed strong reservations regarding the inclusion of substantive recommendations in committee reports on estimates.292 A standing committee wishing to make substantive recommendations respecting the estimates which it has considered may do so under its permanent authority to study and report on any matter relating to the mandate, management and operation of the departments or agencies it oversees.293 A motion to concur in a committee report on estimates can be considered only on an allotted day as part of the business of supply.294
A committee may also report on the expenditure plans and priorities for future fiscal years of the departments and agencies whose main estimates are before the committee for consideration.295 Such reports must be presented to the House not later than the last sitting day in June, as provided for in the House of Commons calendar, and any concurrence motion can be considered by the House only on an allotted day.296
Consideration of Main Estimates in Committee of the Whole
Since 2001, the Standing Orders have allowed for the consideration of specific votes in the main estimates in Committee of the Whole.297 Each year, under this rule, the Leader of the Opposition is permitted to select, in consultation with the leaders of the other opposition parties, the main estimates of no more than two departments or agencies for consideration in Committee of the Whole for up to four hours. Not later than May 1, the Leader of the Opposition must in this respect give 48-hours’ notice of a motion to refer to Committee of the Whole the consideration of the main estimates of the selected departments or agencies;298 the motion is deemed adopted at the end of the notice period and the estimates in question are deemed withdrawn from the standing committees to which they had initially been referred.299 The estimates are considered on a day appointed by the government, but not later than May 31, at the conclusion of the Adjournment Proceedings or, if taken up on a Friday, at the conclusion of Private Members’ Business.300 When the estimates are to be considered following the Adjournment Proceedings, the motion to adjourn is deemed withdrawn.301
During the debate, the Chair is guided by the rules of Committee of the Whole and may exercise discretion and flexibility in applying them.302 No Member will be recognized for more than 15 minutes at a time; Members may not give a speech for more than 10 minutes within that period. The 15 minutes may be used both for speeches and for posing questions to the Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary acting on behalf of the Minister. When the Member is recognized, he or she shall indicate how the 15 minutes are to be apportioned.303 Members may speak more than once; they need not be in their own seat to be recognized and they must have unanimous consent to split their time.304
At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Committee rises, the estimates are deemed reported and the House immediately adjourns to the next sitting day. According to current practices in the House, decisions on the main estimates continue to be made on the last allotted day.305
Concurrence in Estimates
The estimates, as reported or deemed reported by the standing committees or Committees of the Whole, must be concurred in by the House in order for the government to introduce the appropriation bill authorizing the necessary withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Any motions to concur in estimates are proposed on the final allotted day of a supply period, once the proceedings related to an opposition motion are completed. In a normal supply cycle, concurrence motions would be considered as follows:306
- On the last allotted day in the supply period ending December 10, a motion or motions to concur in supplementary estimates would be considered, if any were tabled by the government during the period.307
- On the last allotted day in the supply period ending March 26, a motion or motions to concur in supplementary estimates would be considered first, if any were tabled by the government during the period, followed by a motion to concur in interim supply for the next fiscal year.308
- On the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 23, a motion or motions to concur in the main estimates would be considered first, followed by a motion or motions to concur in final supplementary estimates relating to the preceding fiscal year and a motion or motions to concur in supplementary estimates for the current fiscal year, if any were tabled by the government during the period.309
A motion to concur in the main or supplementary estimates is a motion to concur in the estimates as reported or deemed reported by the standing committees or Committees of the Whole. The government, usually through the President of the Treasury Board, will give 48-hours’ written notice of a motion or motions to concur in the estimates.310 Should a committee have reduced or negatived a vote or votes in those estimates, the government may move that they be restored or reinstated.311 Forty-eight hours’ written notice is also required for any motion to restore or reinstate estimates which have been reduced or negatived in committee.312
Furthermore, any Member may give notice to oppose any item in the estimates before the House; such items are then referred to as opposed items in the estimates. The notice period for opposed items is 24 hours in the supply periods ending December 10 and March 26, and 48 hours in the supply period ending June 23.313 Members give notice of opposed items to express opposition to the total amount of a vote314 or to a specified portion of that amount.315 A notice to oppose an item in the estimates is not a motion.316 Because the government may propose in one motion the concurrence in all the votes in the estimates,317 the notice to oppose an item is rather a mechanism by which Members force the government to propose a separate motion for the concurrence in each vote that is the subject of total or partial opposition.318 The wording of the general concurrence motion is then changed to exclude those votes.319 On two occasions, Members who had filed notices of opposed items in the estimates chose not to proceed with their notices. Thus, the separate motions were not put to the House and the votes that had been opposed were reintegrated in the general concurrence motion.320 On another occasion, the House ordered, by unanimous consent, that the supplementary estimates be amended and that the supply motions and the bill to be based thereon be altered accordingly.321
On the last allotted day of each supply period, once the proceedings on the opposition motion are completed, motions to restore or reinstate votes in the estimates are considered first, followed by motions to concur in each of the votes for which a notice of opposition has been given, and the motion to concur in the remaining unopposed votes.322 The House then proceeds to the appropriation bill based on those estimates. For these purposes, the House may sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.323
In principle, all the motions are debatable and amendable.324 However, in practice, on the last allotted day in each of the supply periods ending December 10 and March 26, the debate on the opposition motion, which has precedence over all government motions to dispose of the business of supply, continues throughout the day and is interrupted by the Speaker at 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders. At that time, all the motions, starting with the opposition motion, are decided in sequence without further debate or amendment.325
On the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 23, unless previously disposed of, at 6:30 p.m., the Speaker interrupts the proceedings on the opposition motion. If the opposition motion is not a motion that must come to a vote, proceedings on the motion expire at the conclusion of the debate and the House proceeds to consider a motion or motions relating to the main estimates.326 If the opposition motion is a motion that must come to a vote, the Speaker must put forthwith and without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the proceedings and any recorded division requested is automatically deferred to the end of the consideration of a motion or motions relating to the main estimates.327 At 10:00 p.m., the Speaker must interrupt any proceedings then before the House, proceed first to the taking of any deferred division or divisions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion, as the case may be, and subsequently put forthwith, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion or motions relating to the main estimates.328 Immediately thereafter, the Speaker must put successively and without debate every question necessary to dispose of any business relating to the final estimates for the preceding fiscal year or for any supplementary estimates, the restoration or reinstatement of any vote in the final or supplementary estimates, or any opposed item in the final or supplementary estimates.329
The Supply Bill or Appropriation Act
Concurrence in the estimates or in interim supply is an order of the House to bring in an appropriation bill or bills giving effect to the spending authority (amounts and their destinations) that the House has approved.330 Once adopted, the legislation will authorize the government to withdraw from the Consolidated Revenue Fund amounts up to, but not exceeding, the amounts set out in the estimates for the purposes specified in the votes.331
Supply bills must be based on the estimates or interim supply as concurred in by the House.332 They bear the standard title, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, (year).333 They begin with a preamble which cites both the message from the Governor General recommending the estimates to the House, and the purpose of the estimates, which is “to defray certain expenses of the public service of Canada, not otherwise provided for” for a specified fiscal year. The Chair has cautioned that an appropriation act gives authority only for a single fiscal year and is therefore not appropriate for expenditure which is meant to continue for a longer period, or indefinitely.334 On one occasion, Speaker Parent expressed strong reservations about the reference to two fiscal years in the long title of a supply bill.335 He qualified the reference as “not needed” and “misleading”. Although a separate statute may grant a government agency legislative authority to carry the unexpended balance of money appropriated for a fiscal year over to the end of the following fiscal year, the appropriation itself is and must be for one fiscal year only and not be referred to as a multi-year appropriation.336
The destinations and the amounts attributable to each spending item, or vote, are set out in the schedules attached to each bill. These provide the governing conditions under which expenditures may be made. The schedules are organized alphabetically, by department or agency, in both the English and French versions of the bill.337
Supply bills are considered on the last allotted day in each supply period, at the end of the day, after the Speaker has interrupted the proceedings on the opposition motion or the main estimates, as the case may be, in order for the House to go through all the remaining steps to complete the business of supply for the period. At that time, the House must proceed through all the motions related to the estimates, the interim supply and the supply bills without further debate or amendments.338 As all bills are printed and made available once they have received first reading, Members would not normally be made aware of the content of the supply bills until late in the day, at a time when the proceedings are dealt with expeditiously in the House. To compensate for this lack of time, the practice established in recent years is to allow for an early distribution of the draft copy of the bills to Members at the beginning of the supply proceedings on that day. The House invariably gives its consent to that special arrangement.339
Like all public bills, supply bills are read a second time, considered in committee, and read a third time before going to the Senate.340 Because concurrence in the estimates or in interim supply is an order of the House to bring in the appropriation bill, first reading proceeds forthwith, without the formality of introduction, and a motion is proposed that it be read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole.341
Although theoretically a supply bill is debatable and therefore amendable at all stages after first reading, it generally passes without debate or amendment on the last allotted day.342 However, if time for debate were to remain on that day, and debate were to occur at the second and third reading stages of the bill, speeches would be limited to 20 minutes, followed by a period not exceeding 10 minutes for questions and comments.343 In a Committee of the Whole, the bill is considered clause by clause and then reported back to the House.344 It is at the Committee of the Whole stage that a Member of the opposition usually seeks assurance from the President of the Treasury Board that the supply bill is in its usual form.345 Bills reported from a Committee of the Whole are immediately considered at report stage and disposed of without debate or amendment.346 Once the bill has been read the third time, it is forwarded to the Senate, where it must be given a further three readings before receiving Royal Assent and becoming law.
Normally, bills which have passed in both Houses of Parliament are held by the Clerk of the Parliaments (the Clerk of the Senate) until the Governor General (or a deputy) grants them Royal Assent. However, because the granting of supply is a prerogative of the House of Commons, supply bills are always returned to the House and taken by its Speaker to the Senate Chamber to receive Royal Assent. In a traditional ceremony, the Speaker, as spokesperson for the House, assembles with Members from the House of Commons at the Bar of the Senate Chamber. The Speaker addresses the Crown’s representative, saying:
May it please Your Excellency (Honour347): The Commons of Canada have voted Supplies required to enable the Government to defray certain expenses of the public service. In the name of the Commons, I present to Your Excellency (Honour) the following Bill: (title), To which Bill I humbly request Your Excellency’s (Honour’s) Assent.
The Speaker presents the bill to the Clerk of the Senate who reads out the title of the bill, to which the Governor General (or his or her deputy) nods consent. The Royal Assent is then pronounced by the Clerk of the Senate in the following words:
In Her Majesty’s name, (the Honourable the Deputy to) His/Her Excellency the Governor General thanks His/Her Loyal Subjects, accepts their benevolence, and assents to this Bill.
The Journals of the House of Commons carry the text of the Speaker’s address, together with the response from the Crown’s representative in granting Assent, and the title of the bill.348
When no traditional ceremony is held, the Journals of the House of Commons carry the text of the Speaker’s message that Royal Assent has been granted by a written declaration to one or more supply bills.349
Deviations from The Supply Cycle
From time to time, circumstances may require a deviation from the normal supply process and cycle. For example, because of an unscheduled adjournment or a prorogation or dissolution of Parliament, the main estimates might not be tabled and referred to standing committees before the March 1 deadline, or the interim supply or the main estimates might not be concurred in by the June 23 deadline. In those cases, the Standing Order provisions relating to the business of supply (such as those respecting the timetable for the tabling of estimates, their reference to standing committees and their return to the House, the concurrence motions and the appropriation bills) no longer apply.
Such situations may be dealt with by temporarily suspending the relevant Standing Orders. There may be an arrangement worked out between the government and the opposition parties to finalize supply as expeditiously as possible. Typically, this involves adopting a special order350 which, depending on the situation, may address the following matters: the length of the supply period;351 the number of allotted days in the period;352 the frequency and distribution of supply days;353 the notice period for opposition motions, motions to concur in interim supply, main estimates and supplementary estimates; motions to restore or reinstate any item and notices to oppose any item in the estimates;354 committee referral and the reporting date for main or supplementary estimates;355 the date of concurrence in the estimates;356 and the debating time allotted to the appropriation bill.357
When the government feels that there is a matter of urgency and it cannot wait until the end of a supply period, it may use its own time to consider the estimates. The Standing Orders specifically provide a mechanism in the event of an emergency where a motion to concur in the estimates and the subsequent appropriation bill may be taken under Government Orders and not on days allotted for supply.358 The concurrence motion and the bill are then treated like any other item of government business and are therefore debatable. There is no automatic time limit on the debate and the days used for that purpose are not considered as allotted days and may not be deducted from the number of days allocated to the business of supply.359 Apart from these two exceptions, the rules respecting the consideration of supply under Government Orders are the same as those governing proceedings on any allotted day.360