Certain rules apply to the House and its committees. These are called Standing Orders and Speakers’ Rulings. The rules ensure that our parliamentary processes allow for fair and reasonable consideration before final decisions are made.
Standing Orders include rules of procedure relating to:
- the election of the Speaker
- House sitting times
- speaking times and length of debates
- the order of business
- keeping order
- voting procedure
- how select committees operate
- how bills (proposed laws) are considered
- approving the supply of public funds
- questions to Ministers and other members
- matters of privilege.
Sometimes the Speaker needs to rule on a point of procedure because the meaning of a rule may not be clear in a specific situation. Some of these rulings become useful precedents for future reference. These are edited and collated in the publication Speakers’ Rulings for easy reference.
Sometimes additional rules are required and the House may make a resolution that has the same effect as a Standing Order. These resolutions are known as ‘sessional orders’.
The House is responsible for making its own rules. Towards the end of a parliamentary term the Standing Orders Committee may recommend changes to the Standing Orders. The House may adopt these, ready for use in the new term.