House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

House of Commons Procedure and Practice - 9. Sittings of the House - Contents and Introduction

9. Sittings of the House

Photo of high relief entitled “Civil Law” from the British North America Act series of the Heritage Collection in the Chamber of the House of Commons.



*    Quorum Before a Sitting Begins

*    Quorum During a Sitting

*    Lack of Quorum During Divisions

*    Quorum when the Attendance of the House Is Requested in the Senate



*    Altering Days and Hours of Sitting

*    Suspending a Sitting

*    Continuing or Extending a Sitting Beyond the Ordinary Hour of Daily Adjournment

*    Adjournment of a Sitting Before the Ordinary Hour of Daily Adjournment

*    Extending Sitting Hours in June

*    A Sitting Which Lasts More than One Day



*    Sitting for the Sole Purpose of Attending a Royal Assent Ceremony

*    Election of a Speaker

*    Secret Sittings

*    Addresses by Distinguished Visitors

Figure 9.1        Joint Addresses to Parliament Since 1940


… there is nothing wrong in trying to improve the life style of parliamentarians, many of whom are men and women with family responsibilities. … The fact that Members of Parliament would not have to sit in the evening will upgrade their role in the sense that … they would be free to come and go as they please, to look after the interests of their constituents, to sit on the standing committees of the House, to participate actively in the special caucuses of their respective parties, [and] to go and address the Canadian people in many communities located within a reasonable distance from Ottawa.

Yvon Pinard, President of the Privy Council

(Debates, November 29, 1982, p. 21070)

A meeting, or “sitting”, of the House begins when the Speaker, or his or her deputy, takes the Chair and, seeing that a quorum is present, calls the House to order. A sitting ends upon the adjournment of the House. On days when the House meets, it does so in accordance with a predetermined daily schedule or timetable.[1] Within this context, the House retains a large measure of flexibility in the timing and duration of its sittings, and departures from the usual daily timetable do occur.

This chapter deals with the opening of a sitting, the requirements for quorum, the way in which the hours of sitting are set or altered, and the unusual or special types of sittings of the House.

[1] For further information on the Daily Order of Business, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

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