House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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19. Committees of the Whole House

Presiding Officers

A Committee of the Whole is not chaired by the Speaker. Instead, it is chaired by the Chairman of Committees of the Whole. In his or her absence, the Chair is taken by the Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole, or the Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole; alternatively, the Speaker may call upon any Member to chair the proceedings in a Committee of the Whole. [44] 


At the beginning of each Parliament, the House selects from among its Members a Chairman of Committees of the Whole who also acts as Deputy Speaker in the absence of the Speaker. [45]  The selection of the Chairman of Committees of the Whole proceeds as follows: a Member, usually the Prime Minister, moves that a particular Member of the House be selected Chairman of Committees of the Whole, the Member proposed usually coming from the government side of the House. [46]  The motion is moved following the Speaker’s report to the House on the Speech from the Throne and is often agreed to without discussion or dissent. [47] The Member selected acts in that capacity until the end of the Parliament, unless a vacancy arises during the course of the Parliament, at which time a successor is chosen. [48]  A Deputy Chairman and an Assistant Deputy Chairman may also be selected in the same manner as the Chairman, except that their terms of office are effective only for the session in which they are chosen. [49] 


The Standing Orders empower the Chairman of Committees of the Whole to maintain order and decorum in the Committee just as the Speaker does in the House and to decide questions of order. [50]  However, the Chairman does not possess the authority to name a Member and order him or her to withdraw from the Chamber for the remainder of the day. That power can only be exercised by the Speaker in the House upon receiving a report from the Chairman of Committees of the Whole. [51]  Both the Deputy Chairman and the Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole have the same powers as the Chairman. [52] 

Appeals to the Chairman’s Rulings

Members may appeal a ruling of the Chairman of Committees of the Whole to the Speaker. [53]  (Rulings of the Speaker ceased to be subject to an appeal to the House in 1965. [54] ) After the Chairman has made a ruling, a Member may rise on a point of order and appeal the ruling to the Speaker. [55]  Such an appeal is not subject to debate. The Chairman immediately leaves the Chair at the Table, the Mace is placed back on the Table, and the Speaker resumes the Chair. (In the absence of the Speaker, the Chairman may take the Chair and decide the appeal to his or her own ruling. [56] ) The Chairman stands in front of the Speaker’s Chair and reports the incident and the ruling which has been appealed to the Speaker. [57]  The Speaker may hear from other Members on the matter before ruling. [58] 

As with all Speaker’s rulings, after it has been delivered by the Speaker, there is no appeal and no discussion is allowed. [59]  Only on rare occasions has a Chairman’s ruling been overturned. [60]  Since the Committee has not risen and reported progress, as soon as the appeal proceedings have been completed, the Speaker leaves the Chair, the Mace is removed from the Table and the Committee of the Whole resumes its deliberations. [61] 

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