House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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14. The Curtailment of Debate

“Routine Motion” by a Minister

If, at any time during a sitting of the House, unanimous consent is denied for the presentation of a “routine motion”, a Minister may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker put the motion. [132]  For that purpose, a “routine motion” refers to motions which may be required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishment of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment. [133]  The motion, which is neither debatable nor amendable, is immediately put to the House by the Speaker. If 25 Members or more oppose the motion, it is deemed withdrawn; [134]  otherwise, it is adopted. [135] 

While it appeared at first that the range of motions to which this process could be used would be limited, over the years the rule has been used to extend a sitting in order to sit on the weekend; [136]  to extend the sitting to consider Government Orders; [137]  to deal with a specific motion under Government Business; [138]  to pass a government bill at all stages; [139]  to establish the length of speeches during a “take note” debate; [140]  and to attempt to rescind an Order of the House. [141]  There is no limit on how often the government can resort to this rule during one sitting.

Adopted in 1991, [142]  this procedure was relatively unused until the Thirty-Sixth Parliament (1997- ). [143]  Prior to its adoption, it was argued that the new proposed rule would have a negative impact on Members’ ability to debate government motions and “override unanimous consent”. [144]  On April 9, 1991, Speaker Fraser, while pointing out that the range of motions to which the proposed procedure would apply was very limited, also suggested that the new Standing Order was to be understood as another procedurally acceptable mechanism for limiting debate: “There are certain similarities also between the proposal and existing Standing Order 78 respecting time allocation in that both use a ladder-like type of approach depending upon the extent of agreement forthcoming to securing the right to propose the motion”. [145] 

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