Washminster

Washminster
Washminster

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Suspension Procedure

Each week in 'The Week Ahead', I report that the House of Representatives will be considering a number of bills under the 'suspension' procedure. This procedure has been described by the Rules Committee as follows:-

"Under House Rule XXVII, it is in order on Monday and Tuesday of each week, and during the last six days of a session (unable to determine unless the adjournment resolution has been adopted in advance), for the Speaker to entertain motions to suspend the Rules and pass legislation. Bills brought up under suspension of the Rules are referred to as "suspensions".

There is not a suspension calendar. The purpose of considering bills under suspension is to dispose of non- controversial measures expeditiously. Consideration of legislation under suspension of the Rules on other days of the week is possible by unanimous consent or by a special rule reported by the Rules Committee.

A motion to suspend the Rules requires a vote of two-thirds of the Members present and voting, and no amendments are in order unless submitted with the bill by its manager at the time the motion to suspend the Rules is offered.

Debate on a bill brought up under suspension is limited to 40 minutes -- 20 minutes controlled by a Member who supports the bill and 20 minutes controlled by a Member in opposition. A division does not always follow party lines depending on the issue. For control of the opposition time, priority is given to a Minority Member of the committee which has jurisdiction over the bill. Often the 20 minutes "in opposition" is controlled by the ranking Minority member of the committee or subcommittee who may not be opposed to the measure because no one rises in opposition, but he may be challenged for control of the opposition time by another Minority party member.

The Majority Leadership usually schedules several bills under suspension of the Rules on the same day and the Chair announces beforehand that recorded votes on passage of each suspension, if ordered, will be postponed until the debate is concluded on all such suspensions (or for up to two legislative days).

At the conclusion of debate, the postponed votes may be "clustered" and put before the House. If several votes have been ordered and the Chair has announced that the time for voting will be reduced, the first vote in the series will consume not less than 15 minutes and all subsequent roll calls will take not less than 5 minutes each. It is important to know when a 5-minute vote is expected, so that it will not be missed.

In the case of a series of two or more votes in which any votes after the first one are five minute votes, Members will be summoned to the Floor by two bells followed by five bells. "

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