House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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Motion to Suspend Certain Standing Orders

In relation to any business that the government considers to be urgent, the House may suspend certain Standing Orders in connection with that business, but only under well-defined conditions. [126]  Specifically, a motion may be moved by a Minister, at any time when the Speaker is in the Chair, to suspend the Standing Orders respecting notice requirements and the times of sitting. In moving the motion, the Minister gives reasons for the urgency of the situation. After the motion is seconded, the Speaker immediately proposes the question. 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. If no Member rises, the Speaker will put the question immediately. [127] 

Initiating Debate

In moving the motion to suspend the Standing Orders, the Minister must inform the House of the reasons for the urgency of such a motion. [128]  Once the motion is duly moved and seconded, the Speaker proposes the motion to the House. [129] 

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 After debate, the motion was withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object. [130]  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. [131]  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. [132]  Later that same month, a similar motion was debated and deemed withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object. [133]  In June 1999, a motion proposing that the House continue sitting to consider a bill and to suspend the notice requirements of a closure motion was debated and deemed withdrawn when more than 10 Members rose to object. [134] 

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. [135]  Members may speak only once and for no longer than 10 minutes. [136]  Amendments are not permitted unless proposed by a Minister other than the mover. [137] 

Termination of Debate

When the debate is completed or after one hour, as the case may be, the Speaker puts the question on the motion and, in doing so, must ask those Members opposed to the motion to rise. [138]  If 10 or more Members rise to object, the motion is deemed withdrawn; [139]  otherwise, the motion is adopted [140]  and becomes an Order of the House governing only the proceedings specified in the motion. [141] 

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