House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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5. Parliamentary Procedure

The Relationship Between Procedural Sources

Within parliamentary procedure, a distinction is made between those procedures the House may alter alone, and those it may not. Procedural provisions contained in the Constitution Act and in various statutes cannot be modified by the House acting independently. A change to the constitutional provisions affecting any part of the House must be made in accordance with the amending formulae contained in the Constitution Act, 1982 and requires, at a minimum, the passage of an Act of Parliament. [95]  Similarly, only Parliament may enact or amend a statutory provision which affects House procedure. Therefore, where the written constitution applies in relation to the House, it takes priority over statutory provisions applicable to the House. Statutory provisions, in turn, may not be set aside in favour of rules or orders made by the House alone. The same reasoning applies to standing, sessional and special orders, which necessarily override practices and precedents, always provided that such orders must be interpreted not in isolation but in the context of their past application. Where there are no express rules or orders, the House turns to its own jurisprudence, as interpreted by the Speaker, who examines the Journals and Debates of the House to determine which rulings of past Speakers and which practices and precedents should be applied. In situations not provided for by the practices and precedents of the House, the Standing Orders permit the Speaker to have recourse to the practices and precedents of other jurisdictions, both in and outside Canada, so far as they may be applicable. [96]  More and more, the Speaker and procedural advisors are looking to the practices of the provinces, the United Kingdom and those countries possessing Westminster-style Parliaments, particularly Australia, India and New Zealand.

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