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Date:
14 July 2011

A

Act / Act of Parliament

A law made by Parliament. (See also regulations.)

Address (to the Sovereign or Governor-General)

A formal communication from the House of Representatives to the Crown in which the House makes known its views. Usually Addresses are in reply to a Speech from the Throne or to commend appropriations for offices of Parliament, but they could deal with matters such as the appointment or removal of office holders (judges, ombudsmen) or to mark a particular royal occasion.

Address in Reply

Response of the House of Representatives to the Speech from the Throne by the Governor-General at the beginning of each session of Parliament. Adopted after a 19-hour debate that often includes maiden speeches.

adjournment

The bringing to an end of a sitting of the House of Representatives. It is also the term used to describe the period between sittings of the House.

Administrator of the Government

The Chief Justice when performing duties of the Governor-General, if that office is vacant or the Governor-General is for any reason unable to perform those duties (for example, if the Governor-General is overseas).

amendment

A change to the wording of a motion or bill that is being considered by the House of Representatives or a committee.

Appropriation Bill

A bill that is introduced by the Government to seek authority from Parliament to spend public money and incur liabilities. Details of the Government’s spending plans are set out in papers that are presented in association with each Appropriation Bill. (See Estimates.)

assent

See Royal assent.

Attorney-General

In New Zealand, the Attorney-General is the chief law officer of the Crown and the Minister responsible for the country’s administration of the law and for providing legal advice to the Government. Before the first reading of a bill the Attorney-General must indicate to the House of Representatives any of the bill’s provisions that appear to be inconsistent with any of the rights and freedoms contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Aye

An old English word for yes. This word is used when votes are cast in support of a motion in the House of Representatives.

Ayes

The votes of members of Parliament who vote in support of a motion in the House of Representatives.

Ayes Lobby

The lobby to the Government side of the Chamber. Members of Parliament go to the Ayes Lobby to record a personal vote in support of a motion.

B

backbencher

A member of Parliament who is not a Minister or a leading member of an Opposition party and who does not occupy a front bench in the House of Representatives.

Beehive

The Executive Wing to Parliament House, which houses Ministers’ offices. It is known as the Beehive because of its distinctive shape.

Bellamy's

Parliament’s dining rooms and catering service.

bell

Electronic bells that ring to call members to the Chamber. Bells ring at the start of each day's sitting, when members need to make a personal vote, when there is no Minister in the House, and when the House is suspended or adjourned.

bicameral

See unicameral.

bill

A proposed law for the House of Representatives to consider. (See legislative process.)

Black Rod, Usher of the

An officer named for the black staff the officer carries. During the State Opening of Parliament, the Usher of the Black Rod calls members of Parliament to the Legislative Council Chamber to hear the Speech from the Throne.

Bowen House

The building on Lambton Quay, Wellington, where some members of Parliament have their offices.

Budget

The process for preparing and documenting the Government’s economic policies and spending plans each year, resulting in the introduction of the main Appropriation Bill and the delivery of the Budget statement.

Budget policy statement

A paper presented by the Minister of Finance in the months before the Budget, foreshadowing the Budget and its policy goals. The Finance and Expenditure Committee examines the Budget policy statement and reports to the House of Representatives, which then debates it. (Compare with Budget statement.)

Budget statement

A statement made by the Minister of Finance detailing the Government's economic policies and plans for spending public money in the coming year. The Budget statement takes the form of a speech in the House with no time limit. When making the statement, the Minister moves the second reading of the main Appropriation Bill, and starts the annual Budget debate, which lasts for up to 14 hours (excluding the time taken for the Budget statement).

by-election

An election held in an electoral district if the seat of the member who represents that district becomes vacant during a term of Parliament, for example if the member dies or resigns.

C

Cabinet

The central decision-making body of executive Government. Chaired by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet is a collective forum for Ministers to decide significant Government issues.

candidate

Someone who puts his or her name forward for election to Parliament.

caucus

A collective term for all members of Parliament from the same political party. A caucus meets regularly in private to consider party matters.

Chairperson (1)

When the House of Representatives meets as a committee of the whole House, the presiding officer is the Chairperson, not the Speaker.

chairperson (2)

A presiding officer of a select committee, who is usually chosen by that committee.

Chamber

The debating chamber where the House of Representatives meets. It has rows of seats and desks in a U-shape facing the Speaker's Chair.

clauses

Distinct, numbered blocks of text that together form a bill. Each clause usually deals with a single matter or closely connected set of points. Clauses become known as “sections” when a bill becomes an Act. They may be grouped into “parts”.

Clerk at the Table

The Clerk or other member of staff of the Office of the Clerk who sits at the Table of the House. The Clerk at the Table makes notes of the decisions made by the House and advises on procedure.

Clerk of the House of Representatives

The principal permanent officer of the House of Representatives. The Clerk of the House of Representatives is also the chief executive of the Office of the Clerk.

coalition Government

A type of Government that is formed from more than one party.

committee of the whole House

A committee that includes all members of Parliament. The House “resolves itself into committee” to consider certain business in detail. In the case of bills, this “Committee stage” happens after their second reading, and during this stage members may propose amendments to the text of bills. Some rules of debate in a committee of the whole House differ from those in the House itself—for example, a member may speak more than once in a debate.

committee, select

See select committee.

confidence

The ability of the Government to command majority support in the House of Representatives, without which another party could seek to form a Government or a general election might be needed.

confidence, vote of

A vote on a motion that determines whether the Government has the confidence of the House. A vote of confidence most often arises from the Address in Reply, the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement, an Appropriation Bill, or an Imprest Supply Bill.

conscience vote

A personal vote made by all members of Parliament according to their own conscience rather than along party lines, such as a vote on a bill amending liquor licensing laws or gambling laws.

constituency

See electoral district.

constituent

A person living in an electoral district.

Crown

The Queen (or King) of New Zealand when exercising powers through Ministers; in effect, the executive or Government.

D

debate

A discussion on a bill or a motion before the House of Representatives.

delegated legislation

See regulations.

dissolution

The ending of a Parliament by proclamation, resulting in a general election. (See also proclamation, prorogation, and expiration.)

E

election

The process by which electors vote for members of Parliament.

elector

A person who is eligible to vote in an election.

electoral district

A district or area defined by the Representation Commission to be represented by a member of Parliament.

electoral roll

The list of names of people who are registered electors for an electoral district.

electorate

See electoral district.

electorate office

A member of Parliament’s office in his or her electoral district.

enact

To pass an Act of Parliament. (See legislative process, and Royal assent.)

enacting words

The words ‘The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows’. These words are placed at the beginning of an Act of Parliament and declare that the Act has the force of law.

Estimates

A detailed statement of how the Government proposes its departments and other agencies will spend public money and incur liabilities in a financial year. This spending must be approved by way of an Appropriation Bill.

evidence

Information given in writing or in person to a select committee.

executive

A decision-making group made up of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. The Government of the day forms the executive.

Executive Council

A formal meeting of the Governor-General with Ministers to make regulations and other administrative decisions.

expiration

The ending of a term of Parliament if it exceeds the legal time limit, which is three years from the date set for the declaration of the results after the previous general election. The expiration of a term of Parliament triggers a general election. Parliament almost always is dissolved before expiration. (See also dissolution.)

F

financial review

Scrutiny by the House of Representatives and its committees of the performance for the previous financial year, and current operations, of Government departments, offices of Parliament, Crown entities, State enterprises, and public organisations.

financial year

A year as it is set for public finance, being the period from 1 July of one calendar year to 30 June of the next.

first reading

The first stage (debate) in the passing of a bill, after which the bill is usually referred to a select committee for consideration.

free vote

A conscience vote.

G

gallery

The public seating areas above the Chamber.

General Assembly

The original name for the New Zealand Parliament.

general election

The election held following the end of a term of Parliament, usually every 3 years, to elect members of the new Parliament.

(Gentleman) Usher of the Black Rod

See Black Rod, Usher of the.

Government

The political party, or group of political parties, represented in the House that the Governor-General has approved to lead the country and that has the confidence of the House. The word ‘Government’ is also used more narrowly to mean the executive.

Government House

The Governor-General’s official residence.

Governor

The title used until 1917 for the Sovereign’s representative in New Zealand.

Governor-General

The Sovereign’s representative in New Zealand. (See also Administrator of the Government.)

H

Hansard

Alternative name for the New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, which is a written record of the debates in the House of Representatives.

hearing of evidence

A select committee meeting during which members of the public may present information or opinions about an issue.

House

Short for the House of Representatives.

House of Representatives

The assembled body of elected members of Parliament.

I

Imprest Supply Bill

A bill that proposes giving the Government temporary authority to spend public money and incur liabilities until detailed spending proposals are approved by way of an Appropriation Bill.

introduce (a bill)

To present a bill to the House of Representatives marking the start of the bill’s process towards becoming an Act of Parliament.

J

Journals of the House of Representatives

The official record of the proceedings of business transacted by the House of Representatives. Effectively the ‘minutes’ of the House.

L

law

Binding rules by which society is governed. (See bill, and regulations.)

Leader of the House

The Minister who coordinates Government business in the House of Representatives.

Leader of the Opposition

The leader of the largest political party in the House of Representatives that is not part of the Government.

legislation

Laws, Acts of Parliament, or bills. (See also regulations.)

Legislative Council

The Upper House of Parliament, which was abolished on 1 January 1951.

Legislative Council Chamber

The chamber in Parliament House where the Legislative Council met before its abolition in 1951. The Legislative Council Chamber is still used for formal occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament.

legislative process

The process by which the House considers a bill before it becomes an Act of Parliament. To be successful, a bill must be read three times.

legislature

A law-making body. The House of Representatives is the law-making body for New Zealand.

Lobby, Ayes and Noes

Lobbies on the sides of the Chamber where members of Parliament cast a personal vote. The Ayes (those who support the motion) go to the Ayes Lobby on the Government side of the Chamber. The Noes (those against the motion) go the Noes Lobby on the Opposition side of the Chamber.

Lower House

A description for the House of Representatives before the abolition of the Legislative Council in 1951.

M

Mace

A symbol of the Speaker’s authority. When the House starts sitting on a sitting day, the Serjeant-at-Arms carries the Mace into the Chamber and places it on the Table.

maiden speech

The first speech made by a new member of Parliament, when that speech is made during the Address in Reply debate.

maiden statement

The first speech made by a new member of Parliament, when that speech is not made during the Address in Reply debate.

member of Parliament (MP)

A person elected to the House of Representatives. A member of Parliament may be elected to represent an electoral district or may be from a political party’s list. (See mixed-member proportional representation.)

Minister

A member of Parliament who is part of the executive. Ministers are usually responsible for one or more Government departments or agencies.

Minister outside Cabinet

A member of Parliament who is part of the executive but not Cabinet.

minority Government

A Government formed by a party or coalition of parties that does not have a majority in the House in its own right, but retains the confidence of the House through the support or abstention of members who are not in a Government party.

mixed-member proportional representation (MMP)

The voting system used to select New Zealand’s members of Parliament, of which there are generally 120. Each voter casts two votes — one for a political party and the other for a local candidate.

MMP

See mixed-member proportional representation.

motion

A formal proposal put to the House of Representatives or a committee for debate and usually a vote.

move

To propose a motion.

musterer

See whip.

N

New Zealand Parliamentary Debates

A written record of the debates in the House of Representatives. This record is also known as Hansard.

Noes

The votes of members of Parliament who vote against a motion in the House of Representatives.

Noes Lobby

The lobby to the Opposition side of the Chamber. Members of Parliament go to the Noes Lobby to record a personal vote against a motion.

notice of motion

Notice of a member’s intention to move a motion, the text of which is printed on the Order Paper.

O

Office of the Clerk

The secretariat of the House of Representatives, which gives specialist advice on parliamentary procedure and law, and provides administrative services to the Speaker and members as they participate in the business of the House and its committees. Publishes the Journals of the House of Representatives and New Zealand Parliamentary Debates.

Opposition

Members of Parliament who are not members of the political party or group of political parties in Government, or who have not agreed to support the Government.

Order Paper

The document that sets out the proposed order of business, or agenda, for the House of Representatives on any one sitting day.

order, point of

See point of order.

orders of the day

The items of business set down on the Order Paper.

out of order

The term describing any proposal, action, or behaviour that is against the Standing Orders, or rules, of the House of Representatives.

P

Parliament

The Sovereign and the House of Representatives.

Parliament Buildings

Parliament House, the Beehive, the Parliamentary Library, and Bowen House.

Parliament grounds

The landscaped gardens and open area surrounding Parliament House, the Beehive, and the Parliamentary Library.

Parliament House

The central building where the House of Representatives meets. It houses the Chamber, select committee meeting rooms, and offices of members of Parliament.

Parliamentary Library

The library and analytical information service for members of Parliament and staff.

parliamentary privilege

The exercise of certain powers and the claiming of certain immunities for members of Parliament and other people (officers and witnesses) taking part in Parliament’s proceedings. Parliamentary privilege is designed to help the House function effectively without outside interference.

parliamentary procedure

The way in which the House of Representatives conducts its business.

Parliamentary Service

The organisation that provides administrative and support services to the House of Representatives and members of Parliament, and manages Parliament Buildings and Parliament grounds.

part

A division of a bill, which contains a group of clauses under a single heading. Not all bills are structured with parts.

party

A political group that stands for a defined set of policies and puts candidates forward in elections.

party vote

A procedure where each party is called upon to vote and a single member may cast the vote of all members of the same party.

personal vote

A vote cast by members of Parliament individually. Personal votes are used for conscience issues or where party votes are too close to give a definite result.

petition

A document presented to the House, signed by one person or a number of people, requesting that a certain course of action be taken (or not be taken).

point of order

A question about whether the proceedings of the House or a committee are within the Standing Orders.

prayers

On each sitting day, the Speaker reads a prayer to the House of Representatives before any business begins in the House.

presiding officer

The Speaker, Chairperson of the committee of the whole House, or another member acting in their place being the person who controls the debate in the Chamber. The chairperson is the presiding officer for select committee meetings.

press gallery (1)

The area above the Chamber where accredited media reporters sit.

press gallery (2)

Collective term for accredited media reporters who report on Parliament’s proceedings.

Prime Minister

The leader of the Government, who is usually the leader of the party with the most members of Parliament.

proclamation

An official declaration of Sovereign or Governor-General, for example, when summoning Parliament to meet for the first time following a general election.

prorogation

The ending of a session of Parliament by proclamation without triggering a general election. Permits a new session to occur within the same term of Parliament, starting with a further State Opening. (Compare with dissolution.)

provision

A general term for an element of a bill, such as a clause, subclause, part or schedule.

Q

questions for oral answer

Also known as question time, this is part of general business dealt with by the House each sitting day when members ask oral questions of Ministers, chairpersons of select committees, and other members about matters for which they are responsible. Notice of questions is lodged on the same sitting day that the questions are to be addressed. Question time usually takes more than an hour to complete.

questions for written answer

Questions lodged by members for Ministers to answer in writing, which must relate to matters for which the Ministers are responsible. Replies must be provided within 6 working days. Questions and replies are published on the Parliament website.

question time

See questions for oral answer.

R

reading

A formal stage in the process of considering a bill, where the House orders that the title of the bill be read out. This must occur three times for a bill before it is considered to have been passed by the House.

recess

The period of time between sessions of Parliament. (Compare with adjournment.)

recommit

To refer a bill back to the committee of the whole House or a select committee for further consideration.

referendum

A process for putting a matter of public policy to a vote by the registered electors.

regulations

Laws made, not by Parliament, but by a person or body whom Parliament has authorised to make those laws, such as the Governor-General, a Minister, or a government agency. Regulations, which are also known as subordinate legislation or delegated legislation, are scrutinised by Parliament through the Regulations Review Committee, which is a select committee.

Representation Commission

An independent statutory body that reviews and redraws electoral district boundaries.

resolution

A formal decision made by the House of Representatives or a committee.

responsible government

In the New Zealand context, the system in which the Government is accountable to the House of Representatives and must have the support of the majority of the members of the House. This accountability can be seen when, for example, Ministers answer parliamentary questions, a committee considers the Government’s spending plans, a Government bill is scrutinised and debated, or the House considers a confidence motion. (See also confidence.)

Royal assent

The signature of the Sovereign or the Governor-General, which is necessary before a bill that has been passed by the House becomes an Act of Parliament.

ruling

An authoritative decision made by a presiding officer about a matter of procedure.

S

schedule

An appendix to a bill, often setting out matters that are too detailed to include in the main body of the bill.

second reading

The stage (debate) in the passing of a bill at which the House of Representatives agrees to the principle of a bill. This stage follows the first reading, usually after the bill has been considered by a select committee.

sections

Distinct, numbered blocks of text that together form an Act of Parliament. (See clauses.)

select committee

A committee whose membership is confined to a limited number of members of Parliament. There are 13 “subject select committees”, each of which deals with a particular subject area.

Serjeant-at-Arms

The officer who leads the Speaker into the Chamber each sitting day and carries the Mace. The Serjeant-at-Arms also maintains order in the House and the galleries.

session

A grouping of sitting days from an Opening of Parliament until the prorogation of Parliament or the end of a term of Parliament. Until the 1990s there tended to be one session or more each calendar year, but now there is usually only one session in each term of Parliament.

sitting day

A day on which the House of Representatives meets.

Sovereign

The Queen (or King) of New Zealand. The Governor-General represents the Sovereign in New Zealand.

Speaker

The principal presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The Speaker is a member of Parliament who has been elected to that role by the other members of Parliament. The Speaker represents the House in its relations with the Sovereign.

Speech from the Throne

A speech made by the Sovereign or Governor-General to officially open a session of Parliament. The Speech from the Throne outlines the Government's legislative and policy plans.

Standing Orders

Rules made by the House of Representatives that govern its proceedings.

State Opening of Parliament

The ceremonial occasion when the Governor-General delivers the Speech from the Throne to open a new session of Parliament.

statute

Another word for an Act of Parliament.

subclause

A numbered component of a clause, usually in a single sentence. Subclauses become known as “subsections” when a bill becomes an Act.

subordinate legislation

See regulations.

Supplementary Estimates

A statement of further amounts to be spent by Government departments, offices of Parliament, Crown entities, State enterprises, and public organisations in the current financial year in addition to the details of spending contained in the Estimates. This spending must be approved by an Appropriation Bill.

Supplementary Order Paper (SOP)

A paper that is published and circulated to members, showing an amendment or amendments that a Minister or member will propose when a bill is considered by the committee of the whole House or a select committee.

T

Table (noun)

The oblong table in front of and below the Speaker's Chair in the Chamber.

table (verb)

To formally present a document to the House of Representatives.

teller

The member of Parliament who records the vote cast by each member in a personal vote. There is one teller for the Ayes and one for the Noes.

term of Parliament

The period from the Opening of Parliament after a general election until the Parliament ends (either by dissolution or expiration). By law this term may be no longer than three years from the date set for the declaration of the results after the general election.

third reading

The last stage (debate) in the passing of a bill. On being passed, the bill receives the Royal assent. When a bill has the Royal assent, it becomes law.

title

The official name of a bill or an Act of Parliament.

U

Unicameral

A description of a parliament that consists of a single House, or legislative chamber — in New Zealand’s case, the House of Representatives. New Zealand’s Parliament was bicameral (consisting of two Houses) until the Legislative Council was abolished in 1951.

Upper House

A description for the Legislative Council, which was abolished in 1951.

urgency motion

A motion proposing that the House accord urgency to certain business. If the motion is agreed, the House may pass that business through more than one stage on that sitting day, and in order to do so may extend its hours beyond the usual time.

Usher of the Black Rod

See Black Rod, Usher of the.

V

voice vote

The result of a vote as initially declared by the presiding officer. If no member then calls for a party vote or a personal vote, the decision is regarded as unanimous.

vote (1)

Motions are put to a vote, which can be a voice vote, party vote, or personal vote.

Vote (2)

Part of an Appropriation Bill containing details of the authority to spend public money or incur expenses.

vote of confidence

See confidence, vote of.

W

whip

A member who acts as a party manager. The Green Party prefers to call this position the musterer. A whip ensures that members of his or her party are present in the Chamber or within the precincts of Parliament to support or oppose a motion that is put to the vote.