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House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

House of Commons Procedure and Practice - 21. Private Members' Business - Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers


Members may choose to give notice of a motion requesting that certain papers or documents be compiled or produced by the government and tabled in the House.[88] Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers resemble written questions in that they are requests for information from the government. All such motions are worded in the form of either an Order of the House (“That an Order of the House do issue …”) or an Address to the Crown, a formal message requesting the production of documents in the Crown’s possession (“That a humble Address be presented to His/Her Excellency praying that he/she will cause to be laid before the House of Commons …”). Thus, a motion, if adopted, becomes either an Order that the government table certain documents in the House or an Address to the Governor General requesting that certain papers be sent to the House. An Order of the House is used for papers concerning matters directly related to federal departments or the business of the House. An Address is required for correspondence between federal and provincial governments, federal and foreign governments, the federal government and any company, corporation or individual, Orders in Council, and papers concerning royal commissions, the administration of justice, the judicial conduct of judges or the exercise of Crown prerogatives. It is the responsibility of the Speaker to ensure that the motion proposed is appropriately worded so that it can achieve what it intends to do.[89]

While a number of motions for the production of papers have been transferred for debate in recent years, debate has rarely been held on an item of this nature since 1986.[90] When the House does consider such motions, the debate is restricted to whether or not the papers should be produced rather than the subject matter of the papers.[91]

*   Notice

Members must give 48 hours’ written notice of a motion for the production of papers, after which it is transferred from the Notice Paper to the Order Paper where it appears under the rubric “Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers” on the following Wednesday, the only day of the week such notices of motions can be called.[92]

*   Transferred for Debate

When a Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers is called on a Wednesday following Routine Proceedings, it must be either dealt with immediately, without debate or amendment, or transferred for debate at the request of the sponsoring Member or a Minister.[93] Once transferred for debate, the motion is placed on the Order Paper under the heading entitled “Notices of Motions (Papers)” on the list of “Private Members’ Business―Items Outside the Order of Precedence”. It may be subject to debate at a subsequent time if it is selected by the sponsoring Member for the Order of Precedence.[94]

[88] For further information on the rules and procedures concerning “Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers”, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[89] Journals, February 15, 1960, pp. 137‑40.

[90] In 1986, two motions for the production of papers were debated and concurred in (Journals, June 6, 1986, p. 2281; June 16, 1986, p. 2326, Debates, pp. 14479‑80). Since then, three motions for the production of papers have been debated and concurred in (Journals, October 2, 1998, p. 1115; November 2, 1998, p. 1221; December 4, 2001, pp. 913‑4) and two were debated and negatived (Journals, April 20, 1999, p. 1739; October 8, 2003, pp. 1115‑6).

[91] See Debates, March 31, 1966, pp. 3676‑7.

[92] Standing Order 30(6). See also Debates, April 24, 1998, p. 6087; September 28, 1998, pp. 8474‑5; February 15, 1999, p. 11893; April 13, 1999, p. 13721.

[93] Standing Order 97(1). See, for example, Debates, December 14, 1994, p. 9072; December 15, 1994, p. 9103; November 25, 1998, p. 10436; May 3, 2000, p. 6342; April 12, 2000, pp. 6028‑9; May 31, 2000, pp. 7289‑90; June 14, 2000, p. 8034; October 4, 2000, p. 8863; May 2, 2001, p. 3496; October 24, 2001, p. 6529; January 30, 2002, p. 8491; February 19, 2003, p. 3751; April 30, 2003, p. 5647; June 11, 2003, p. 7149; September 17, 2003, pp. 7463‑4; September 20, 2006, pp. 3027‑8. For further information, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[94] See, for example, Motion P‑15 in the name of Joe Clark (Calgary Centre) transferred for debate on January 29, 2003 (Debates, p. 2854), placed in the Order of Precedence on March 25, 2003 (Order Paper and Notice Paper, March 26, 2003, p. 34), debated May 16 and October 2, 2003 (Debates, pp. 6395‑403, 8133‑9) and negatived on October 8, 2003 (Journals, pp. 1115‑6), and the Order respecting the deferred division (Journals, October 2, 2003, p. 1085).

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