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House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

 
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The will of the House is ascertained by means of a vote. Once debate on a motion has concluded, the Speaker puts the question and the House pronounces itself on the motion.[253] A simple majority of the Members present and voting is required to adopt or defeat a question. The Constitution Act, 1867 provides that:

Questions arising in the House of Commons shall be decided by a Majority of Voices other than that of the Speaker, and when the Voices are equal, but not otherwise, the Speaker shall have a Vote.[254]

A decision on a motion before the House can be made with no dissenting voices, in which case the motion is adopted and no division is taken.[255] When there are dissenting voices, a vote (or division) is taken. This can be either a voice vote or a recorded vote[256] where the House is called upon to divide into the “yeas” and the “nays”.[257]

*   Termination of Debate

When debate on a motion appears to be finished (i.e., when no Member rises to be recognized for debate), the Speaker asks if the House is ready for the question―that is, if the House is ready to come to a decision. If no Member rises to speak, the Speaker puts the question to the House for a decision.

Some Standing Orders provide for deadlines within which the Speaker can or must proceed with the putting of the question on specific matters, unless debate on the motion has already collapsed or unless there is no provision for debate. For instance:

*       motions to extend the sitting hours during the last 10 sitting days in June;[258]

*       subamendments, amendments and the main motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne;[259]

*       motions for closure and closured motions;[260]

*       when the motion for the previous question is adopted, the question on the main motion must be put immediately without debate or amendment;[261]

*       motions for time allocation in the absence of agreement among the parties;[262]

*       votable opposition motions;[263]

*       opposition motions and supply motions on the last allotted day of each supply period;[264]

*       the main Budget motion and any amendment or subamendment;[265]

*       votable items of Private Members’ Business;[266] and

*       motions for the production of papers.[267]

In addition, special orders may also contain provisions for the Speaker to put a question at a specific time.

*   Putting the Question

When the House appears ready to proceed to a decision, the Speaker will ask, “Is the House ready for the question?” If no Member rises to speak, the Speaker is then satisfied that the debate has concluded and puts the question to dispose of the motion. If debate terminates pursuant to a predetermined deadline, the Speaker interrupts the proceedings to put the question, in accordance with the terms of the Standing Order or the special order.

“Putting the question” means that the Speaker reads the main motion, followed by any proposed amendment or subamendment in order.[268] The Speaker then asks, “Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?” In the absence of any dissenting voice, he or she will declare the motion carried; in this way, a question can be decided without resorting to a vote. If the Speaker hears a dissenting voice, he or she may first verify whether the House wishes to have the motion declared carried or “negatived” simply “on division”. Alternatively, the Speaker will proceed to conduct a voice vote and then, if it is demanded, a recorded vote (see Figure 12.3, Putting the Question).

When a motion, an amendment, and a subamendment have been proposed, the question is put first on the subamendment:

*       if the subamendment is negatived, debate may then resume on the amendment, another subamendment may be moved and debated, or the question is put on the amendment;

*       if the subamendment is adopted, debate may then resume on the amendment as amended, another subamendment may be moved and debated, or the question is put on the amendment as amended.

The question is then put on the amendment (or the amendment as amended):

*       if the amendment (or the amendment as amended) is negatived, debate may then resume on the main motion and a new amendment and subamendment may be moved and debated, or the question is put on the main motion;

*       if the amendment (or the amendment as amended) is adopted, debate may then resume on the main motion as amended, and a new amendment and subamendment may be moved and debated, or the question is put on the main motion as amended.

When all subamendments and amendments are disposed of and debate on the main motion (or the main motion as amended) concludes, the question is put on the main motion.

 

Image depicting, in a series of boxes linked by lines, all of the steps required for the House to take a decision. It begins with debate concluding, follows with the Speaker putting the question, lists options for voice votes or recorded divisions, and ends with the Speaker announcing the results of the vote.

On Division

Members who do not wish a motion to be carried or lost unanimously, but who do not want a voice vote or a recorded division, may indicate their position by simply stating “on division” after the Speaker has asked if it is the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion. The Speaker will then declare the motion carried or negatived on division.

Voice Vote

When it is obvious that the House wishes to divide on the question (i.e., dissent is expressed when the Speaker asks if it is the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion), the Speaker will take a voice vote. He or she will ask for the decision of the House by saying, “All those in favour of the motion will please say ‘yea’”; and then, “All those opposed will please say ‘nay’”. The Speaker listens to both responses, judges the voices and the sense of the House, and states his or her opinion as to the result: “In my opinion, the yeas (nays) have it”. If there is no objection, the Speaker then declares the motion carried or negatived, as the case may be; however, if five or more Members (including any Members already on their feet) rise to signal a demand for a recorded vote, the Speaker will say, “Call in the Members” (or, if the vote is automatically deferred pursuant to a Standing Order or special order of the House, the Speaker will announce the date and time at which the deferred recorded division will take place).[269] If fewer than five Members rise, the Speaker concludes that the initial assessment is correct and declares the motion carried or negatived on division. It sometimes happens that, after the yeas and nays have been called, Members have said “on division” to indicate that the question was not decided unanimously, without resorting to a recorded vote.[270]

Requirement to Vote

There is no rule requiring a Member to vote.[271] A Member may abstain from voting simply by remaining seated during the vote. Such abstentions are of an unofficial status and are not recorded although, on occasion, Members have risen following a vote to offer an explanation as to why they had abstained,[272] or how they would have voted had they been present when the question was put.[273]

Private Interest

No Member is entitled to take part in debate or to vote on any question in which he or she has a private interest (formerly referred to as a “direct pecuniary interest”), and any vote subsequently determined to have been cast in these circumstances would be disallowed.[274] For a Member to be disqualified from voting, the monetary interest in question must be direct and personal. A Member’s personal interests would not be challenged on questions of public policy, which have a broad application. Even voting a pay increase to Members themselves does not amount to a case of direct monetary interest because it applies to all Members, rather than just one, or to certain Members but not to others.[275]

When a Member has a private interest in a question, he or she must disclose the general nature of the interest to the Clerk of the House and then abstain from voting.[276] If the Member becomes aware of the conflict of interest after the vote, the disclosure is recorded in the Journals and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is notified.[277] If a Member’s vote is questioned after the fact, it is the practice to accept his or her word.[278] If the House wishes to pursue the issue, notice must first be given of a substantive motion to disallow a Member’s vote.[279] While several Members have voluntarily abstained from voting, or have had their votes questioned, no Member’s vote has ever been disallowed on grounds of direct monetary interest.

In a question of privilege raised in 2008, objections were raised to a finding of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that the naming of a Member as a defendant in a libel suit was tantamount to that Member’s having a private interest.[280] The Commissioner had understood the term “liability”, as used in the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons (Appendix to the Standing Orders), to include the sort of contingent liability to which the defendant in a libel suit is exposed. To remove any ambiguity which might lend itself to this interpretation, the House amended the relevant section of the Code and referred the Inquiry Report back to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for reconsideration in light of the amendment.[281] This led to a further report of the Commissioner reversing the finding of private interest.[282]

*   Recorded Divisions

Once the Speaker has ordered that the Members be called in for a recorded vote, the division bells are rung and the party Whips assemble their Members. The Sergeant‑at‑Arms is responsible for ensuring that the division bells are rung in all the buildings of the Parliamentary Precinct.[283] While the division bells ring, a Presiding Officer remains in the Chair waiting for the Members to assemble for the vote. During this period, the proceedings of the House are effectively suspended; debate has ceased, and no Member can be recognized by the Chair for whatever reason. A point of order raised in 2007 led to a decision by the House to modify the Standing Orders to require committees to suspend their meetings to enable Members to participate in recorded divisions when summoned by the division bells, unless the Members of a particular committee unanimously agree that it continue to sit.[284]

Length of Bells

Depending on the type of motion being debated and the conditions surrounding the taking of the vote, division bells can ring for a maximum of either 15 or 30 minutes:[285]

*       15‑minute bells—Whenever the Speaker is required by the rules or pursuant to a special order to interrupt the proceedings in order to put a question or questions at a specific time and a recorded division has been requested, the division bells are rung for not more than 15 minutes;[286]

*       30‑minute bells—The bells calling in the Members for a vote on a non‑debatable motion or for an unscheduled vote on a debatable motion are rung for not more than 30 minutes.[287]

For example, the bells ring for 15 minutes for votes scheduled to be taken during the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and during the Budget debate and at the conclusion of debate on a motion subject to a time allocation order. The bells would also ring for up to 15 minutes for recorded divisions demanded on opposition motions on supply days. If two or more recorded divisions are to be held successively without intervening debate, the division bells are sounded only once to call in the Members.[288]

Appearance of the Whips

When they conclude that their respective Members are ready to vote, the Whips of the government and of the Official Opposition make a ceremonial return to the House, and the ringing of the bells ceases. The Whips enter the Chamber together, proceed up the aisle toward the Chair, bow to the Speaker and to each other and resume their seats. This convention provides a signal to the Speaker that the House is ready to proceed with the vote. Once the Whips have taken their seats, the Speaker calls the House to order and immediately puts the question.

The party Whips may return to the Chamber before the bells are due to stop ringing. On occasion, this has occurred with the prior knowledge and consent of the House;[289] at other times, the vote was taken before the bells had rung for the maximum period of time and Members voiced their objection by raising points of order.[290] The Speaker has ruled that the Standing Orders stipulate only that the bells ring for “not more than” 15 or 30 minutes, as the case may be, and that it is therefore possible for the division bells to ring for a shorter period of time.[291] In one case, a 15‑minute bell lasted 30 minutes pending the arrival of the Whips and this became the subject of a point of order. On that occasion, the Chair stated that the House should maintain the delicate balance which respects the spirit of the Standing Orders with regard to the designated time of division bells, without infringing upon the traditional role of the Whips.[292] On occasion, a vote has been taken although one of the Whips had not appeared after the bells rang for the maximum prescribed length of time.[293] In most cases, the Government Whip re‑entered the Chamber while the Opposition Whip, as an act of protest, remained outside the Chamber (sometimes with the entire caucus).

The Speaker has also ruled that it is within the authority of the Chair to intervene during the ringing of division bells should the terms of the motion for which a recorded division has been demanded become inoperable or moot. For example, if a motion to adjourn the House, to adjourn the debate or to proceed to Orders of the Day has been moved and a recorded division demanded but not taken by the ordinary hour of daily adjournment, then the Speaker may order the bells silenced and adjourn the House since those motions are inoperable beyond the ordinary hour of adjournment.[294]

Deferred Divisions

When the Speaker has not interrupted debate pursuant to a Standing Order or special order, a recorded division on a debatable motion, if demanded, need not be held immediately; it may be deferred to a later time pursuant to various provisions in the Standing Orders or by a special order of the House.

A recorded division on a debatable motion (usually a government motion since the rules make specific provision for the deferral of recorded divisions on most other debatable motions) may be deferred to a designated time at the request either of the Chief Government Whip or of the Chief Opposition Whip.[295] One of the Whips may approach the Speaker, after the question has been put and while the division bells are ringing, to ask that the vote be deferred. The Speaker orders the ringing of the bells stopped and then informs the House that the recorded vote is deferred until the time requested by the Whip―later in the same sitting or to a specific time not later than the ordinary hour of adjournment on the next sitting day that is not a Friday.[296] If the two Whips request the deferral of a vote to different times, the Speaker makes the final decision.[297]

Alternatively, after a recorded division has been demanded and the division bells are ringing, the Chief Government Whip may, with the agreement of the Whips of all of the recognized parties, approach the Chair and ask the Speaker to defer the division to an agreed‑upon date and time that may even be beyond the ordinary hour of adjournment on the next sitting day.[298] If the vote is on an item of Private Members’ Business, the item’s sponsor must also agree. Recorded divisions already deferred to a specific date and time may be further deferred to any other date and time.

Recorded divisions on debatable motions demanded on a Friday are automatically deferred until the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on the next sitting day; similarly, when on Thursday, a recorded division is deferred to Friday, it is automatically further deferred to the next sitting day—usually the following Monday—at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.[299]

On supply days, a recorded division on a votable opposition motion by a Member of a recognized party other than the Official Opposition may also be deferred at the request of the Whip of that party.[300] However, recorded divisions on votable opposition motions on the last allotted day in a supply period cannot be deferred,[301] except with the agreement of the Whips of all recognized parties.[302] Recorded divisions on opposition motions are deferred from a Friday to a Monday if Friday is not the last allotted day in the supply period.[303] On one occasion, the House made an exception and adopted a Special Order providing for the deferral of divisions on the business of supply on the last allotted day in the supply period which was a Friday.[304]

During the report stage of a bill, recorded divisions on motions in amendment may be deferred at the Speaker’s discretion, from sitting to sitting if necessary.[305] When all report stage motions have been considered, the House then proceeds to the taking of the deferred divisions; either the Chief Government Whip or Chief Opposition Whip may further defer the vote to a time no later than the ordinary hour of adjournment on the next sitting day. On Friday only, a recorded division on the motion to concur in a bill at report stage, while being a non‑debatable motion, is nonetheless automatically deferred.[306]

At the end of the time provided for the consideration of a votable item of Private Members’ Business, if debate is concluded prior to the time provided by the Standing Orders, or if the item under consideration is a non-debatable motion for concurrence in a bill at report stage, a recorded division, if requested, is deemed deferred to the next Wednesday, immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business.[307] It may be further deferred with the consent of the sponsor. A recorded division on a bill which is under a time allocation order may be deferred by the Chief Government Whip or the Chief Opposition Whip only if debate collapses prior to the time set out in the time allocation order.

The rules of the House restrict the further deferral of a deferred division,[308] except with the agreement of the Whips of all the recognized parties.[309] After the deferral of a vote, the House continues with the business before it.[310]

When the time arrives to take one or more deferred divisions, the Speaker interrupts the proceedings at the time set down in the Standing Orders or ordered by the House, informs the House that the deferred vote or votes will now be held, and orders that the Members be called in. The division bells are rung for not more than 15 minutes.[311] Once the Whips have appeared, the Speaker proceeds immediately to put the question. When there are several votes to be taken, the House may first agree to the sequence in which they will be taken; otherwise, the questions are put in the order in which they came before the House and were deferred.[312]

In recent practice, a large percentage of recorded divisions are deferred, tending to be clustered and taken seriatim on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the end of the time provided for Government Orders, immediately prior to Private Members’ Business, at the end of Oral Questions, or at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.[313]

*   Calling the Vote and Announcing the Results

When the Whips have returned to the Chamber and the division bells have stopped ringing, the Speaker rises, calls the House to order and reads the question to the House, adding, “The question is on the main motion (or on the amendment or subamendment). All those in favour of the motion (or of the amendment or subamendment) will please rise”. The “yeas” are recorded first. As each Member rises and bows to the Speaker, his or her name is called by the Table Officers recording the votes. Members resume their seats after casting their votes. When all of the “yeas” have voted, the Speaker says, “All those opposed to the motion (or to the amendment or subamendment) will please rise”. The “nay” votes are cast in the same manner as the “yea” votes.

A recorded division may be conducted in one of two ways: as a party vote or as a row‑by‑row vote. Generally, a recorded division on an item of government business is conducted as a party vote,[314] and a recorded division on an item of Private Members’ Business is conducted as a row‑by‑row vote.

Conducting a Party Vote

In conducting a party vote, Members’ votes are taken by party, in order relative to each party’s strength in the House and in rows according to the party seating arrangements, starting with the party leaders. If a Member wishes to vote contrary to his or her party, the Member must rise when the “yeas” (or “nays”, as the case may be) are called.

Conducting a Row-by-Row Vote

The calling of a recorded division row-by-row does not proceed by party but rather by the seating rows in the Chamber.[315] In conducting a row-by-row vote, the Speaker first calls for the “yeas”. Members in the first row to the right of the Speaker and who are in favour of a motion are requested to rise. After the Table Officers call their names, starting with the Member closest to the Chair, Members resume their seats. Members in the second row who are in favour of the motion then rise. After all Members to the right of the Chair who are in favour of the motion have risen and voted, Members to the left of the Chair who are in favour rise to vote in rows regardless of party affiliation. The same procedure is followed with respect to those who oppose the motion (the “nays”).

When a recorded division is taken on an item of Private Members’ Business, the vote of the Member sponsoring the bill or motion is recorded first, if he or she is present, followed by the votes of the other Members on the same side of the House, starting with the back row, who are in favour of the bill or motion and then the Members on the other side of the House, starting with the back row, who are in favour of the item. “Nay” votes are recorded in the same order.[316] Should the sponsor of a private Member’s bill disagree with a motion moved by another Member to amend the bill at report stage or to amend the motion for third reading, the sponsor of the motion, rather than the sponsor of the bill, would vote first.[317]

Free Votes

There are no rules or Standing Orders defining a “free vote” in the House of Commons nor is there any requirement that free votes be identified as such in the Journals. Simply defined, a free vote takes place when a party decides that, on a particular issue, its Members are not required to vote along party lines, or that the issue is not a matter of party policy and its Members may vote as they choose. A free vote may be allowed by one or more parties or it may be allowed by all parties.[318] When all parties agree to a free vote, the recorded division may be called as a row‑by‑row vote or in the normal manner of a party vote. The decisions taken by the parties (as to whether or not a matter should be decided in a free vote) are not issues on which the Speaker can be asked to rule.

In the Canadian system of responsible government, free votes have a special relationship to the confidence convention. The principle underlying this convention is simply that the government must enjoy the support of the majority of Members of the House of Commons and be responsible for its actions to this elected body. The confidence convention holds that where a motion does not contain an explicitly worded condemnation of the government, or where the government has not declared a particular vote to be a question of confidence, or where there is no implicit vote of non‑confidence (such as in a motion to adopt the Budget, the Address in Reply or the granting of supply), then the government is at liberty to interpret the result of the vote in any manner it wishes.[319] Consequently, when under such conditions the government declares that it will treat a matter as a free vote, the convention holds that the defeat of the item does not amount to a vote of non‑confidence in the government.[320]

It is not clear when the first free vote was held in the House of Commons; however, since the 1946 free vote on milk subsidies,[321] there have been several free votes on government business. For example, free votes were held on the issues of the selection of a national flag,[322] capital punishment,[323] abortion,[324] the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,[325] constitutional amendments,[326] and same-sex marriage.[327]

Announcing the Results

Regardless of how a recorded vote is conducted, the results are always announced in the same way. When the votes have been recorded and the “yeas” and “nays” counted, the Clerk rises and reports the result of the vote to the Speaker. The Speaker then declares the motion (or amendment) carried or negatived.

The Clerk of the House is responsible for taking and recording all votes. The Clerk sits at the head of the Table in preparation for a vote. A Table Officer stands to the right of the Clerk, facing the House, ready to call out the names of the Members as they rise and vote. Other Table Officers sit on either side of the Clerk recording the number of Members voting “yea” or “nay”. Any discrepancy between the tallies must be reconciled before the result of the vote is announced to the Chair by the Clerk.

During a recorded division, if the Speaker’s attention is drawn to the fact that the sum of the votes and the number of Members present who did not vote (including the Speaker) do not total at least twenty, then the question remains undecided; the usual quorum procedure is then triggered.[328] If no objection is raised at the time the result of the vote is read to the House, the Speaker simply confirms the result and business proceeds as though there were a quorum.[329]

Application of Results to Votes Held Successively

Where Members are prepared to vote on more than one question, the House proceeds immediately to the next question after the taking of the first vote.[330] This usually comes about as a consequence of deferring votes to a particular time.[331] In recent years, a practice was revived whereby the results of one vote are applied to others.[332] Normally, the Chief Government Whip will request the unanimous consent of the House to have the results of one vote applied directly—or on occasion in reverse—to subsequent divisions and recorded separately.[333] The Whips of the other parties and Members without party affiliation usually rise to indicate their agreement. The Speaker then declares the motions as being either carried or negatived. This procedure has resulted in an appreciable saving of the time of the House.

Since the beginning of the Thirty‑Fifth Parliament (1994‑97), another practice which has developed often occurs in concert with applied voting when there are several motions to vote on at one sitting. Following a recorded division which establishes the Members who are present and how they voted, the Chief Government Whip will rise to request that unanimous consent be given to record the names of Members who voted on the previous motion as having voted on the next motion with government Members being recorded under the “yeas” or “nays”. The Whips of the other parties then rise and declare how their parties wish to be recorded as having voted for the motion;[334] finally, Members without party affiliation indicate how they wish to be recorded. Any Member wishing to vote differently from his or her party may rise on a point of order to indicate this. Once the new voting pattern has been tabulated by the Table Officers, the Clerk rises and reports the results to the Speaker who then declares the motion carried or negatived. Again, this procedure has resulted in appreciable savings of the time of the House.

Pairing of Members

Pairing is the arranging, by the party Whips, for two Members, one of them from the governing party and the other from one of the opposition parties,[335] to agree to abstain from voting on a particular occasion in order to permit one or both to be absent from the House. Their votes are thus effectively neutralized and the relative strength of their parties in the House is maintained.[336] Until 1991, pairing enjoyed no official recognition and was considered a private arrangement between Members.[337]

In 1991, these arrangements were somewhat formalized. The Standing Orders now provide for the establishment of a Register of Paired Members which is kept at the Table.[338] To indicate that they will not take part in any recorded divisions on a particular date, Members have their names entered together in the Register by their respective Whips. Independent Members enter their own names. The names of Members so paired are published in the Debates and in the Journals immediately following the entry for any recorded division held on that day.[339]

The Standing Orders are silent on the question of a broken pair, which occurs when a paired Member votes. As Speaker Fraser noted in 1992, notwithstanding the newly formalized way of arranging pairs, agreements to pair remain private arrangements between Members and not matters in which the Speaker or the House can legitimately intervene.[340] Members who inadvertently vote when paired must seek the unanimous consent of the House if they wish to rescind their votes.

The Casting Vote

The Speaker may not participate in the debates of the House; but in the event of a tied vote (“an equality of voices”), the Speaker exercises a deciding or casting vote.[341] When doing so, the Speaker may briefly explain his or her reasons for voting in a given manner. The reasons are then entered in the Journals. For further information, see Chapter 7, “The Speaker and Other Presiding Officers of the House”.

Decorum During the Taking of a Vote

When Members have been called in for a division, no further debate is permitted.[342] From the time the Speaker begins to put the question until the results of the vote are announced, Members are not to enter, leave or cross the House, nor may they make any noise or disturbance.[343]

Members must be in their assigned seats in the Chamber and have heard the motion read in order for their votes to be recorded.[344] Any Member entering the Chamber while the question is being put or after it has been put cannot have his or her vote counted.[345] Members must remain seated until the result is announced by the Clerk.[346] Members’ votes have been questioned because they left the Chamber immediately after voting and before the results of the vote were announced, or because they did not remain seated throughout the process.[347] However, if a Member’s presence is disputed and the Member in question asserts that he or she was present when the motion was read, convention prescribes that the House accept the Member’s word.[348]

When breaches of decorum have been drawn to the attention of the Chair, the Speaker has reminded Members of the need for order in the House while votes are being taken.[349] When there is disorder in the galleries during a division, the Speaker may interrupt the proceedings until the galleries have been cleared, and then continue with the taking of the vote.[350]

Points of Order and Questions of Privilege

Although the Standing Orders do not expressly forbid the raising of points of order and questions of privilege during divisions, the general practice has been to proceed with the vote and to hear its result before bringing forward any points of order or questions of privilege.[351] There have been occasions on which Members have attempted to bring some matter to the attention of the Speaker in the course of a vote (after the Members have been called in and before the result is declared), and the Chair has declined to interrupt the voting process in order to hear the point of order or question of privilege.[352] More recently, however, points of order related to the recording of the vote were heard and addressed during the voting process.[353] Immediately after the announcement of the result of a vote, Members who were unable to be present in the Chamber for the vote sometimes rise on a point of order to explain how they would have voted had they been present.[354]

Corrections in a Vote

A vote once taken and recorded stands as a decision of the House; a Member’s vote cannot be changed. However, Members have risen after a vote to indicate an error or to request a change because they inadvertently voted contrary to their intentions or voted when paired. In some instances, a vote was changed;[355] in others, the request was denied.[356]

A Member whose name has been missed or called incorrectly may correct the error either before the result of the vote is announced, if the error is noted at the time the vote is taken, or as soon thereafter as the error is noted.[357] If the correction is made after the Journals are published, a corrigendum appears in the Journals of the next sitting.

A Decision Once Made Must Stand

A decision once made cannot be questioned again but must stand as the judgement of the House.[358] Thus, for example, if a bill or motion is rejected, it cannot be revived in the same session, although there is no bar to a motion similar in intent to one already negatived, but with sufficient variance to constitute a new question.[359] This is to prevent the time of the House being used in the discussion of motions of the same nature with the possibility of contradictory decisions being arrived at in the course of the same session. It is not in order for Members to “reflect” upon (i.e., to reconsider or go back upon) votes of the House, and when this has occurred, the Chair has been quick to call attention to it.[360] Members have also occasionally called attention to the rule.[361]

The House may reopen discussion on an earlier decision (i.e., a resolution or an order of the House) only if its intention is to revoke it;[362] this requires notice of a motion to rescind the resolution or discharge the order, as the case may be.[363] This allows the House to reconsider an earlier resolution or order and, if the original resolution or order is in fact rescinded or discharged, the way is then clear for the House to make a second decision on the same question. A number of instances of orders of the House discharged have concerned arrangements made by the House for the scheduling of its sittings,[364] or for the withdrawal of bills and motions.[365]

The Issue of Electronic Voting

Proposals to install a system for electronic voting in the Chamber have been made over the years with a view to improving the management of the time of the House.[366] In 1985, the Second Report of the McGrath Committee recommended computerized electronic voting, but the matter was not taken up by the House.[367] In 1995, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, noting that the practices of deferring several votes to the same day and time, and of applying results of votes, had “greatly speeded up the voting process”, recommended that the House not proceed at that time to a system of electronic voting.[368] In 1997, the Committee briefly returned to consideration of the question of electronic voting, but did not report to the House.[369] In 2003, a special committee endorsed the principle of electronic voting in the Chamber and recommended in two of its reports to the House that the necessary electronic infrastructure be installed in the Chamber during the summer of 2004.[370] While the greater part of this infrastructure was installed as recommended, no further action has been taken in respect of electronic voting.

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[253] Some types of motions do not result in a vote; debate on these motions expires at the end of the time provided without the Speaker putting the question. For example, non‑votable opposition motions on supply days (Standing Order 81(19)), and non‑votable items of Private Members’ Business (Standing Order 96(1)). A take-note debate (Standing Order 53.1) consists of debate in a Committee of the Whole during which the Committee “takes note” of a particular subject. At the conclusion of four hours’ debate, or when no Member rises in debate, whichever occurs first, the Committee rises without reporting and the House adjourns.

[254] R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5, s. 49.

[255] Although no longer used, motions have been recorded as being adopted by the House nemine contradicente, that is, without dissenting voice. From 1867 to 1909 and from 1916 to 1917, the Journals routinely used the term for entries related to the election of the Speaker. See, for example, Journals, November 6, 1867, p. 2; January 12, 1916, p. 6. This term was also used in the Debates for entries relating to the Speaker beginning in 1891 until 1980. See Debates, April 29, 1891, col. 3; April 14, 1980, p. 2. See also Journals for November 21, 1979, where it is recorded that the House agreed nemine contradicente to a resolution respecting former Prime Minister Trudeau (p. 244).

[256] Standing Order 45(1). When selecting a Speaker, the House makes its choice by secret ballot (Standing Order 4). For further information, see Chapter 7, “The Speaker and Other Presiding Officers of the House”.

[257] In the British House of Commons, a division entails a physical separation into two lobbies of those voting for a question (yeas) and those voting against it (nays). See May, 23rd ed., pp. 405‑6.

[258] Standing Order 27(2). For further information, see Chapter 9, “Sittings of the House”.

[259] Standing Order 50(5), (6) and (7). For further information, see Chapter 15, “Special Debates”.

[260] Standing Orders 57 and 67.1. See also Journals, December 14, 1964, p. 1000. For further information on the closure rule, see Chapter 14, “The Curtailment of Debate”.

[261] Standing Order 61.

[262] Standing Orders 67.1 and 78. For further information, see Chapter 14, “The Curtailment of Debate”.

[263] Standing Order 81(16)(c).

[264] Standing Order 81(17) and (18). For further information, see Chapter 18, “Financial Procedures”.

[265] Standing Order 84(4), (5) and (6). For further information, see Chapter 18, “Financial Procedures”.

[266] Standing Orders 93 and 98(4). For further information, see Chapter 21, “Private Members’ Business”.

[267] Standing Order 97(2). For further information, see Chapter 21, “Private Members’ Business”.

[268] The Speaker will reread the question after Members have been summoned for a recorded division.

[269] Standing Order 45(1). When a question arose as to whether or not Members rising to request a recorded division were required to do so from their assigned places in the House, the Deputy Speaker stated that the rule does not impose such a requirement (Debates, June 23, 1992, p. 12686). See also Debates, January 30, 2003, p. 2926.

[270] See, for example, Debates, March 22, 2005, p. 4473.

[271] During the first 60 years following Confederation, Members were required to vote if they were in the House during a division (Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 381). In 1928, Speaker Lemieux ruled first that Members must vote and then later amended his decision, indicating that not to vote was acceptable (Debates, March 27, 1928, p. 1755; May 26, 1928, p. 3420; February 19, 1929, pp. 266‑7). In 1931, a committee was set up to consider the question of voting, but made no recommendations regarding compulsory voting (Debates, June 26, 1931, pp. 3076‑7). In 1944, a procedure committee proposed that voting be made obligatory and explicit in the Standing Orders, but the House did not concur in the committee’s report (Journals, March 3, 1944, p. 149). In subsequent years, the Chair stated that there was no obligation for Members to vote. See, for example, Debates, September 28, 1945, p. 541; June 24, 1963, pp. 1522‑3; March 26, 1965, p. 12857.

[272] See, for example, Debates, December 5, 1990, p. 16325 (act of protest); February 24, 1993, p. 16425 (chairing the legislative committee to which a bill was being referred).

[273] See, for example, Debates, November 4, 1997, p. 1557.

[274] This principle is derived from British practice and has remained essentially unchanged since 1867. Once codified as a separate Standing Order, it is now formulated as sections 13 and 13.1 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons appended to the Standing Orders. See Debates, May 27, 1996, p. 3041, when the House was informed that a Member’s vote on one question would not be applied to another question in which the Member had a personal interest.

[275] Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 387‑8. See Debates, July 9, 1906, cols. 7470‑3 for a wide‑ranging discussion on this topic.

[276] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 12(1). See, for example, Debates, September 10, 1985, p. 6473; November 25, 1985, p. 8794.

[277] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 12(2).

[278] See, for example, Debates, May 3, 1886, p. 1011; June 4, 1900, cols. 6607‑8.

[279] See Speaker Beaudoin’s ruling, Debates, May 22, 1956, pp. 4244‑5. On this occasion, a Member’s vote was challenged but the matter was not taken up by the House.

[280] Debates, May 26, 2008, pp. 6006‑10.

[281] Journals, June 5, 2008, pp. 919‑20.

[282] Journals, June 17, 2008, p. 1000.

[283] Speakers have elected to proceed with votes when the bells were not functioning. See, for example, Debates, March 13, 2001, p. 1600.

[284] Standing Order 115(5). See Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, March 22, 2007, pp. 7796‑7; Forty-Eighth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House and concurred in on May 9, 2007 (Journals, pp. 1376‑8).

[285] The rules pertaining to the length of time the division bells are rung arose from the bell‑ringing episode of March 1982. At that time, the Standing Orders provided no time limit for bells rung for unscheduled votes. A recorded vote was demanded on a motion to adjourn. The Opposition Whip refused to accompany the Government Whip into the Chamber to indicate to the Speaker their readiness to proceed with the vote; the government and opposition parties were involved in a dispute over a controversial bill and each side demanded concessions before allowing the vote to take place. Consequently, the division bells rang continuously for over 14 days (Debates, March 2, 1982, pp. 15539‑41; March 18, 1982, pp. 15555‑7). As a result of this episode, the Standing Orders were amended.

[286] Standing Order 45(3).

[287] Standing Order 45(4) and (5)(a)(i).

[288] Standing Order 45(8).

[289] See, for example, Debates, January 22, 1991, p. 17567.

[290] See, for example, Debates, December 11, 1991, pp. 6164‑6; March 13, 1997, pp. 8995‑6; December 12, 2007, p. 2101‑2. On October 30, 1991, one Member rose to object and physically attempted to prevent the Mace from leaving the Chamber at the end of the sitting (Debates, pp. 4269‑70).

[291] Debates, March 20, 1990, pp. 9512‑3; see Standing Order 45.

[292] Debates, September 15, 1987, pp. 8958‑9. In his ruling, the Speaker referred to a similar incident which had occurred on November 2, 1982 (Debates, pp. 20332‑3).

[293] Although this was not recorded in the Debates, votes were taken in the absence of one of the Whips on June 1, 1956; February 3, 1987; October 8, 1997; March 1, 1999; March 29, 2001.

[294] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, April 15, 1987, pp. 5187‑8.

[295] Standing Order 45(5)(a)(ii). However, if the vote concerns a motion to revoke a regulation or statutory instrument, it is automatically deferred to the ordinary hour of daily adjournment the same day (Standing Order 126(1)(c) and (2)). For further information, see Chapter 17, “Delegated Legislation”.

[296] Standing Order 45(5)(a)(ii) and (6)(a).

[297] In such cases, Speakers will usually encourage the Whips to consult with a view to an agreement between them. Failing this, the Speaker will defer the vote to the later of the two times requested. On Thursday, June 15, 1995, for example, the Government Whip requested a deferral to later that day and the Opposition Whip requested a deferral to 5:30 p.m. the following day. The Speaker asked that the parties consult. When no agreement was reached, the Speaker declared that the vote would be deferred to the following Monday (Debates, June 15, 1995, pp. 13905‑6, 13908, 13927). In 2005, faced with similarly conflicting requests, the Speaker gave the parties five minutes to consult, declaring that in the absence of agreement between them, he would announce his decision at that time. The result was a compromise between the parties (Debates, May 9, 2005, pp. 5837‑8).

[298] Standing Order 45(7).

[299] Standing Order 45(6)(a). See Speaker’s ruling, Debates, October 23, 1995, p. 15706.

[300] Standing Order 45(5)(a)(iii). See, for example, Debates, March 10, 1997, p. 8868. In current practice, unanimous consent is frequently sought early in the supply day for a motion to defer the recorded division. See, for example, Debates, April 26, 2007, p. 8732.

[301] Standing Order 45(5)(b) and (6)(a).

[302] Standing Order 45(7).

[303] On the rare occasions on which a Friday is designated as an allotted day, the recorded division is usually further deferred by unanimous consent (see, for example, Debates, June 3, 2005, p. 6622) or pursuant to an Order made earlier (see, for example, Debates, March 17, 2000, p. 4842).

[304] Journals, December 6, 1995, pp. 2215‑6; December 8, 1995, p. 2224.

[305] Standing Orders 76(8) and 76.1(8).

[306] Standing Order 45(6)(b).

[307] Standing Orders 93(1)(b), 97.1(2)(c)(iii) and (3)(a), and 98(4)(b).

[308] Standing Order 45(5)(c).

[309] Standing Order 45(7).

[310] Standing Order 45(5)(c).

[311] Standing Order 45(5)(a)(ii), (6)(a) and (7).

[312] See, for example, Debates, April 21, 1998, p. 5931, when the House agreed to a sequence in which to take five deferred recorded divisions.

[313] In 2001, pursuant to a recommendation of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, the Standing Orders were amended by the addition of Standing Order 45(7.1), which seeks to accommodate the growing trend toward the grouping of deferred recorded divisions at the end of Oral Questions by providing for a period of time equivalent to that consumed by the vote to be added to the time provided that day for Government Orders.

[314] This is sometimes referred to as a “whipped” vote, meaning that the party Whips marshal their Members to vote as a bloc, in accordance with party policy. In British practice, Whips inform their Members about forthcoming House business, indicating when their attendance is requested (a one‑line whip), when it is expected as there is to be a vote (a two‑line whip), and when their attendance is required on vital business (a three‑line whip). A similar arrangement was experimented with by the Liberal Party during the Government of Prime Minister Paul Martin as part of itsAction Plan for Democratic Reform” (Debates, February 4, 2004, pp. 108‑9). See Griffith, J.A.G. and Ryle, M., Parliament: Functions, Practice and Procedures, 2nd ed., edited by R. Blackburn and A. Kennon with Sir M. Wheeler‑Booth, London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2003, p. 166; Wilding, N. and Laundy, P., An Encyclopaedia of Parliament, 4th ed., London: Cassell & Company Ltd., 1972, pp. 785‑6.

[315] The Speaker has explained the process of conducting a row‑by‑row vote. See, for example, Debates, November 23, 1967, p. 4605; June 22, 1976, pp. 14740‑1; June 29, 1987, pp. 7817‑8.

[316] See the Thirteenth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on November 26, 1997 (Journals, p. 270) and concurred in on November 4, 1998 (Journals, p. 1238). Prior to concurrence in this Report, votes were taken in the same manner but starting with the front row. See the Twenty‑Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on House Management presented to the House on February 14, 1992 (Journals, p. 1025), and concurred in on April 29, 1992 (Journals, p. 1337). See also Standing Committee on House Management, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, February 14, 1992, Issue No. 24, p. 17. Prior to 1992, votes were taken along party lines unless a Member sought and received unanimous consent to have the vote taken row‑by‑row.

[317] See, for example, video archive of divisions taken at report stage of Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), on April 9, 2008. Motions to amend the Bill at report stage were moved by Peggy Nash (ParkdaleHigh Park). As the Bill’s sponsor, Charles Hubbard (Miramichi), did not support the report stage motions, Ms. Nash was the first to rise when the divisions were taken. This distinction does not apply to motions or to bills at second reading, since in those cases, the sponsor must agree to the moving of the amendment (Standing Order 93(3)).

[318] For further analysis of free votes in the House of Commons, see Dobell, P. and Reid, J., “A Larger Role for the House of Commons, Part 2: Voting”, Parliamentary Government, No. 40, April 1992, pp. 11‑6; Franks, C.E.S., “Free Votes in the House of Commons: A Problematic Reform”, Policy Options, Vol. 18, November 1997, pp. 33‑6.

[319] For further information on the confidence convention, see O’Brien, G., “Origins of the Confidence Convention”, Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 7, No. 3, Autumn 1984, pp. 11‑4; Norton, P., “Government Defeats in the House of Commons: The British Experience”, Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter 1985‑86, pp. 6‑9; Desserud, D., “The Confidence Convention under the Canadian Parliamentary System”, Canadian Study of Parliament Group: Parliamentary Perspectives, No. 7, October 2006. See also Chapter 1, “Parliamentary Institutions”, and Chapter 2, “Parliaments and Ministries”.

[320] There have also been instances where the government freed its backbenchers but demanded Cabinet solidarity. Cabinet solidarity was demanded during debate and voting on Bill C‑43, An Act Respecting Abortion, during the Second Session of the Thirty‑Fourth Parliament (Debates, November 28, 1989, pp. 6343‑4). During the First (and only) Session of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament, the government’s insistence on Cabinet solidarity led Minister of State Joe Comuzzi to resign from the Cabinet in order to vote against the passage of Bill C-38, Civil Marriage Act (Debates, June 28, 2005, p. 7969). Similarly, during the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament, Michael Chong, President of the Queen’s Privy Council, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister for Sport, resigned his portfolio rather than vote with the government in support of a motion calling upon the House to recognize that “the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada” (Debates, November 27, 2006, p. 5372).

[321] The issue was whether or not to continue providing milk subsidies instituted during the war years; see Debates, August 27, 1946, p. 5431.

[322] Debates, August 21, 1964, pp. 7109‑13.

[323] Debates, March 23, 1966, pp. 3067‑9 (sponsored by four private Members representing three parties); November 9, 1967, p. 4077; January 26, 1973, pp. 687‑8; February 19, 1976, pp. 11120‑1; April 27, 1987, p. 5212.

[324] Debates, February 25, 1969, pp. 5912, 5919; July 26, 1988, p. 17966; November 7, 1989, pp. 5639, 5650.

[325] See references in Debates, May 9, 1996, p. 2565.

[326] Debates, May 31, 1996, pp. 3246, 3268; Journals, November 18, 1997, pp. 229‑30.

[327] See references in Debates, December 7, 2006, p. 5805.

[328] For further information on quorum, see Chapter 9, “Sittings of the House”.

[329] For examples where recorded votes did not total 20 Members and no objection was taken in the House, see Journals, June 15, 1988, p. 2893; May 26, 1989, p. 274. See also Speaker Sauvé’s ruling of July 12, 1982 where it was stated that since no one, according to the record of the proceedings, had asked for a quorum call, “a quorum did exist” (Debates, July 9, 1982, p. 19201; July 12, 1982, pp. 19214‑5).

[330] For a ruling upholding this practice, see Debates, April 17, 2002, pp. 10525‑6.

[331] See, for example, Standing Orders 45, 76(8) and 76.1(8).

[332] For reference to this old practice, see Dawson, p. 184.

[333] See, for example, Debates, October 24, 2006, p. 4203; March 28, 2007, p. 8056. In 1984, unanimous consent was refused for applying votes on a contentious piece of legislation and the division process subsequently took more than eight hours (Debates, June 20, 1984, pp. 4918‑83). In a similar scenario, voting on report stage motions relative to Bill C-20 (now the Clarity Act) obliged the House to sit continuously from 11:00 a.m. on Monday, March 13, 2000 until 6:07 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2000 (Journals, Monday, March 13, 2000 to Wednesday, March 15, 2000, pp. 1071‑1394).

[334] See, for example, Debates, April 24, 2007, p. 8648.

[335] Standing Order 44.1(1). This Standing Order requires the Clerk of the House to “cause to be kept at the Table a Register of Paired Members”.

[336] Redlich, Vol. II, pp. 110‑1. Pairing is said to have originated in Britain during the time of Cromwell (Wilding and Laundy, 4th ed., p. 515).

[337] Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 382. For one vote in 1946, 124 Members were listed as paired in the Debates (May 24, 1946, pp. 1874‑5).

[338] Standing Order 44.1(1).

[339] Standing Order 44.1(2).

[340] Debates, June 11, 1992, p. 11789.

[341] Constitution Act, 1867, R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5. s. 49. See also Standing Order 9.

[342] Standing Order 45(2).

[343] Standing Order 16(1). See, for example, Debates, November 27, 1991, p. 5458; June 5, 2003, p. 6930; December 7, 2006, p. 5813. For further information, see Chapter 13, “Rules of Order and Decorum”.

[344] See, for example, Journals, October 27, 1949, pp. 168‑9; Debates, October 4, 2002, p. 324; November 23, 2005, pp. 10057-8. Exceptions have been made for Members unable to occupy their seats for medical reasons. On May 4, 2005, for example, a Member of the governing party was permitted to vote from her wheelchair. Indeed, any Member with a disability may be so accommodated on an ongoing basis pursuant to Standing Order 1.1, which empowers the Speaker “to alter the application of any Standing or Special Order or practice of the House in order to permit the full participation in the proceedings of the House of any Member with a disability”.

[345] See, for example, Debates, June 9, 1986, p. 14140; October 28, 2003, pp. 8884-5. Members’ votes have been disallowed when it was pointed out that a Member had left his seat immediately after voting (Debates, June 25, 1986, p. 14830) or a Member had entered the House while the division was in progress (Debates, October 28, 2003, p. 8865).

[346] See Speakers’ rulings, Journals, April 18, 1956, p. 416; Debates, October 28, 1997, p. 1258.

[347] Debates, January 27, 1881, p. 724; May 3, 1951, pp. 2663‑4; October 6, 1971, p. 8495; June 20, 1984, pp. 4939‑40. In 1959, a Member was formally granted permission to leave before the vote result was announced (Debates, April 21, 1959, p. 2919). See also Debates, March 13, 1990, pp. 9265‑6, and June 9, 1998, p. 7890, when Members’ votes were not counted because they had entered or left the Chamber while voting was in progress.

[348] See, for example, Debates, April 28, 1988, pp. 14942‑3; April 2, 1990, p. 10116.

[349] See, for example, Debates, June 20, 1984, p. 4940 (a series of votes was being taken and a Member rose on a point of order to say that other Members had left their seats before the results of the previous vote were announced); April 9, 1990, p. 10390 (a Member complained that other Members were moving about the Chamber during the votes). On one occasion, the Speaker interrupted the calling of a vote to request that the leader of an opposition party remove a prop on the grounds that it was creating disorder in the Chamber (Debates June 22, 1995, pp. 14465‑6).

[350] See, for example, the proceedings during the taking of the vote on third reading of Bill C‑43, An Act Respecting Abortion (Debates, May 29, 1990, pp. 12009‑11).

[351] Beauchesne, 4th ed., p. 53.

[352] See, for example, Debates, February 19, 1929, p. 266; December 7, 1945, pp. 3133‑4; April 4, 1946, p. 572; April 12, 1962, p. 2909; November 26, 1996, p. 6770. On one occasion, the right of a Member to rise on a point of order before the result of a vote was announced was immediately challenged by another Member. The Speaker delayed his ruling until after the announcement of the result (Debates, October 16, 2006, p. 3840).

[353] See, for example, Debates, November 20, 1996, p. 6502 (a question as to a Member’s eligibility to vote was raised and addressed after Members were called in and prior to the taking of the vote); October 4, 2006, p. 3664 (a question as to whether a Member’s vote had been recorded was raised and addressed after the taking of the vote and before the announcement of the result). On a number of occasions, the taking of the vote has been interrupted when points of order as to voting intentions were raised and resolved. See, for example, Debates, March 9, 1998, p. 4586 (Members voted “nay” when their intention was to vote “yea”); June 13, 2007, p. 10556 (Member voted “yea” when his intention was to vote “nay”).

[354] See, for example, Debates, October 29, 1991, p. 4176; February 23, 1994, p. 1729.

[355] See, for example, Debates, May 23, 1946, pp. 1793‑4; February 1, 1994, p. 751; October 16, 2001, p. 6202. On June 1, 1954, the Speaker even took the initiative in the matter and had a Member’s vote corrected before the Clerk announced the results of the vote (Debates, p. 5348).

[356] See, for example, Debates, October 15, 1919, p. 1014; July 1, 1926, pp. 5311‑2; June 9, 1998, p. 7907; October 16, 2006, pp. 3840‑1. In the 1926 example, a Member inadvertently voted when paired, and the Speaker ruled that the vote must stand. The newly formed government of Prime Minister Meighen was thus defeated on an important vote and the Fifteenth Parliament was dissolved on July 2, 1926.

[357] See, for example, Debates, March 19, 1992, pp. 8532, 8534. In 1993, a Member rose on a point of order immediately following the announcement of the results of a vote to clarify that the votes of some Members of the House had been misinterpreted. The following day the same Member raised a question of privilege to object to the tallying of the vote and its recording in the Debates. The Speaker subsequently ruled that a corrigendum would be issued to correct the vote (Debates, April 20, 1993, pp. 18183‑4; April 21, 1993, pp. 18226‑7; April 22, 1993, pp. 18323‑4).

[358] Standing Order 18; Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 328‑9. There is, however, no procedural obstacle to the introduction of a bill amending, altering or repealing an act passed in the same session (Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 555).

[359] Beauchesne, 6th ed., p. 179. Bourinot also notes that a motion that has been negatived cannot be proposed later as an amendment to a question, nor may an amendment that has been negatived be proposed on a future sitting day (Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 330). With regard to the degree of similarity that the Chair is prepared to tolerate, see Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, November 7, 2006, pp. 4785‑6.

[360] See, for example, Debates, May 19, 1960, p. 4025; October 20, 1970, p. 402; May 11, 1983, pp. 25363‑6; November 3, 1983, p. 28661; September 24, 1996, p. 4656; May 7, 1998, p. 6690; September 16, 2003, p. 7439; May 6, 2004, p. 2869. While this rule refers to decisions of the House rather than votes of individual Members, the Chair has also cautioned Members against commenting on how other Members voted. See, for example, Debates, May 22, 1991, p. 385; May 4, 1993, p. 18921; April 6, 1995, p. 11612; October 2, 2003, p. 8126.

[361] See, for example, Debates, March 1, 1996, pp. 187‑8; May 18, 2005, p. 6127.

[362] Standing Order 18.

[363] In December 1988, however, the House passed a Special Order which included a provision allowing a Minister to move without notice a motion to “rescind the order” (Journals, December 16, 1988, pp. 48‑9; December 23, 1988, p. 80).

[364] See, for example, Journals, May 27, 1898, p. 269; August 1, 1942, p. 708; November 22, 1944, p. 923; November 24, 1944, p. 927; November 18, 2002, p. 1517.

[365] See, for example, Journals, June 6, 1988, p. 2796; March 11, 1999, p. 1594; May 5, 2005, p. 709.

[366] See, for example, Debates, February 10, 1959, p. 895; March 31, 1960, pp. 2641‑2; May 25, 1965, pp. 1623‑4.

[367] Second Report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons, presented to the House on March 26, 1985 (Journals, p. 420) and Government Response to the Second Report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons, pp. 1‑2, tabled on October 9, 1985 (Journals, p. 1082).

[368] Sixty‑Ninth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on March 24, 1995 (Journals, p. 1274). The Report was not taken up by the House.

[369] Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, November 6, 1997.

[370] Fourth and Fifth Reports of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, (both) presented to the House on June 12, 2003 (Journals, p. 915). The Fourth Report was concurred in on September 18, 2003 (Journals, p. 995).

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