Chapter 2: Sittings of the House

Attendance and absence

37      Attendance

(1)     A member is recorded by the Clerk as being present in the House on a sitting day if, during that sitting day, the member—

(a)     attends the House, or

(b)     attends a meeting of a select committee, or

(c)     attends other official business approved by the Business Committee, or

(d)     is participating in the official inter-parliamentary relations programme funded by the Office of the Clerk.

(2)     At the time that a member is outside the parliamentary precincts attending or participating in business under paragraph (1)(a) to (d), that member is regarded as present within the parliamentary precincts for the purposes of the Standing Orders.

38      Permission to be absent from the House

(1)     The Speaker may grant a member of a party consisting of one member, an Independent member, or any other member (following a request from a member’s party leader or whip) permission to be absent from the House—

(a)     on account of illness or other family cause of a personal nature:

(b)     to enable the member to attend to public business (whether in New Zealand or overseas).

(2)     A leader or whip of a party consisting of more than one member may grant any member of that party permission to be absent from the House.

39      Absence from the House

If a member is not recorded as being present in the House on a sitting day and that member did not have permission to be absent on that day, the member’s name and the sitting day on which the member was absent are recorded in the Journals.

40      Minister to be present

A Minister must be present during all sitting hours of the House. If a Minister is not present, the Speaker interrupts proceedings and the bell is rung for up to five minutes. Where no Minister appears, the Speaker adjourns the House until the time for its next sitting.

Strangers

41      Strangers may be ordered to withdraw

(1)     A member may move, without notice, that strangers be ordered to withdraw. In moving the motion, the member informs the House of the circumstances that warrant the order.

(2)     There is no amendment or debate on the question.

42      Effect of order that strangers withdraw

If the House resolves that strangers be ordered to withdraw,—

(a)     all strangers must leave the galleries, and

(b)     all members of the parliamentary press gallery must leave that gallery, and

(c)     official reporters and attendants must leave the Chamber and no official report of the proceedings is made, and

(d)     no recording, transmission, or broadcast of proceedings may be made.

The Clerk makes a note of proceedings for the Journals of the House.

43      Strangers interrupting proceedings

The Speaker or the Serjeant-at-Arms may require strangers who interrupt proceedings or who otherwise misconduct themselves to leave the galleries and the parliamentary precincts.

44      Speaker controls admission

On behalf of the House, the Speaker controls admission to the Chamber, the lobbies, and the galleries, and may from time to time issue rules setting out who may be admitted to those areas and governing their conduct there.

Sittings

45      Sittings of the House

(1)     The House sits as follows:

Tuesday and Wednesday: 2 pm to 6 pm and 7.30 pm to 10 pm

Thursday: 2 pm to 6 pm.

(2)     On a Tuesday and a Wednesday, the sitting is suspended at 6 pm until 7.30 pm.

46      Broadcasting

(1)     The proceedings of the House are broadcast on radio during all hours of sitting and are available for television coverage.

(2)     When the Clerk, or a provider of official radio, television, or other coverage on behalf of the Clerk, broadcasts, transmits, or otherwise makes available either live or recorded coverage of the proceedings of the House or any public proceedings of a select committee, the Clerk or that provider does so under the authority of the House.

(3)     A provider of official television coverage of the House, or any other person filming from the gallery, must comply with the rules set out in Part A of Appendix D.

(4)     Any use of the official television coverage of the House, in any medium, must comply with the conditions set out in Part B of Appendix D.

47      Appointment of Monday, Friday, or Saturday as sitting day

Any other day (other than a Sunday) may be ordered by the House to be a sitting day. On such a sitting day, the sitting hours are as for a Tuesday unless the House provides otherwise.

48      No Sunday sitting

The House must not sit on a Sunday. Whenever a sitting extends to midnight or, in committee, five minutes before midnight, on a Saturday, proceedings are interrupted as provided in Standing Order 51 or 52 respectively.

49      Adjournment of the House

(1)     At the conclusion of each sitting, the House adjourns until its next sitting day.

(2)     Any motion for the adjournment of the House may be moved only by a Minister.

50      Speaker may suspend sitting or adjourn the House

(1)     The Speaker may suspend a sitting or adjourn the House if the Speaker thinks it is necessary to do so—

(a)     to maintain order, or

(b)     in the event of an emergency situation.

(2)     Whenever the Speaker suspends a sitting, the Speaker decides when the sitting should resume.

(3)     Whenever the Speaker adjourns the House, it stands adjourned until its next sitting day.

51      Conclusion of sitting

(1)     Business before the House at the conclusion of each sitting is interrupted by the Speaker and set down for resumption on the next sitting day. Any motion for the adjournment of the House lapses.

(2)     Whenever the next business would require the House to go into committee within five minutes of the time for the conclusion of a sitting, the Speaker adjourns the House until its next sitting day.

52      Interruption when House in committee

(1)     Whenever the House is in committee five minutes before the time for the conclusion of a sitting, the chairperson interrupts the business and leaves the Chair.

(2)     On the Speaker resuming the Chair, the chairperson reports to the House the business transacted in committee. After the House deals with the report, the Speaker adjourns the House until its next sitting day.

53      Interruption deferred when vote in progress

Whenever, at the time for the Speaker or the chairperson to interrupt business, a question is being put to the House or a vote is in progress or the closure is carried, the interruption of business is deferred until—

(a)     the question (in the case of the closure, the main question) is determined:

(b)     any further question, which is required to be put without debate, is dealt with.

54      Resumption of business

Business interrupted by the Speaker or the chairperson for whatever reason is resumed at the point of interruption. A member whose speech was interrupted may speak first on the resumption of the debate. If the member does not exercise the right to speak first when the debate resumes, the member’s speech is concluded.

55      Early sitting or postponement of sitting during adjournment

(1)     Whenever the House is adjourned and it appears to the Prime Minister desirable in the public interest that the House should sit at an earlier time than that to which it is adjourned, the Prime Minister, after consulting with the leaders of all other parties, may inform the Speaker that the House should sit at an earlier time.

(2)     The Speaker, on being informed under paragraph (1), decides on a day that is appropriate for the House to sit and notifies members accordingly. The House sits on the day determined by the Speaker.

(3)     If the House is adjourned and—

(a)     an epidemic notice given under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006 is in force, and

(b)     it appears to the Prime Minister, on the written recommendation of the Director-General of Health, that the postponement of the next sitting of the House is necessary for the effective management of a serious outbreak of a disease affecting people,—

the Prime Minister, after consulting the leaders of all other parties, may inform the Speaker that the next sitting of the House should be postponed to a specified date within one month of the date originally scheduled for the next sitting.

(4)     The Speaker, on being informed under paragraph (3), may postpone the next sitting of the House and notify members accordingly. The House sits on the day determined by the Speaker.

(5)     A sitting of the House—

(a)     may be postponed more than once under paragraph (4), but

(b)     may not be postponed under paragraph (4) beyond one month from the date originally scheduled for the next sitting without the agreement of the leaders of all other parties.

(6)     If the House is adjourned and an emergency has occurred and, on account of that emergency, it is necessary for additional or alternative arrangements to be made for the House to meet, the Speaker may postpone the next sitting of the House to enable such arrangements to be made, provided that a sitting may not be postponed under this paragraph for more than seven days after the date originally scheduled for the next sitting. The House sits at the time determined by the Speaker.

(7)     This Standing Order is subject to any statute that requires the House to sit within a certain time.

56      Extended sitting hours

(1)     A sitting of the House may be extended—

(a)     on motion without notice, or

(b)     by determination of the Business Committee.

(2)     Unless the Business Committee determines otherwise, only one motion under paragraph (1)(a) may be moved in any one week, and such a motion—

(a)     may be moved only by a Minister, and

(b)     is moved without amendment or debate on the question, and

(c)     must relate to the extension of only one sitting day, being either a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and

(d)     may be moved only if the Government has advised the Business Committee before the week in which it is intended to move for the sitting to be extended, and

(e)     must specify which orders of the day are intended to be considered during the extended sitting.

(3)     A determination under paragraph (1)(b) may relate to the extension of—

(a)     a sitting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday:

(b)     more than one sitting day in the same week:

(c)     sittings in more than one week.

(4)     Whenever a sitting has been extended under this Standing Order, the sitting is suspended at the normal time for its conclusion and,—

(a)     if the sitting is on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, resumes at 9 am the following day:

(b)     if the sitting is on a Thursday, resumes at 7.30 pm, then is suspended at 10 pm, and resumes at 9 am the following day:

(c)     concludes when the orders of the day (or other business as determined by the Business Committee) intended to be considered during the extended sitting are dealt with, or at a time determined by the Business Committee, or at 1 pm on the day after the sitting commenced, whichever is the earlier.

57      Urgency

(1)     A Minister may move, without notice, a motion to accord urgency to certain business.

(2)     A motion for urgency may not be moved until after the completion of general business.

(3)     There is no amendment or debate on the question, but the Minister must, on moving the motion, inform the House with some particularity of the circumstances that warrant the claim for urgency.

58      Effect of urgency

(1)     If the House agrees to accord urgency to business, that business may be proceeded with to a completion at that sitting of the House, and the sitting is extended accordingly.

(2)     Whenever urgency has been accorded,—

(a)     the sitting is suspended at the normal time for its conclusion and the House resumes at 9 am on the following day, and

(b)     despite paragraph (a), if the Government has advised the Business Committee of the intention to move on a Thursday to accord urgency to business, the sitting on that Thursday is suspended between 6 pm and 7.30 pm and between 10 pm and 9 am, and

(c)     a sitting that has been extended is suspended between midnight and 9 am, 1 pm and 2 pm, and 6 pm and 7 pm, and

(d)     on a Saturday, the provisions of Standing Order 48 apply.

59      Business transacted after urgency accorded

(1)     After urgency has been accorded, the House may transact only the business to which urgency was accorded, except by leave, and subject to any Standing Order that provides otherwise.

(2)     The Business Committee may determine that oral questions be taken at any time during a sitting that is extended by urgency.

60      Extraordinary urgency

(1)     An urgency motion may be moved as a motion for extraordinary urgency or, after the House has accorded urgency, a Minister may move, without notice, a motion to accord extraordinary urgency to some or all of the business being considered under urgency.

(2)     There is no amendment or debate on the question, but the Minister must, on moving the motion, inform the House of the nature of the business and the circumstances that warrant the claim for extraordinary urgency.

(3)     Extraordinary urgency may be claimed only if the Speaker agrees that the business to be taken justifies it.

61      Effect of extraordinary urgency

(1)     If the House agrees to accord extraordinary urgency to business, that business may be proceeded with to a completion at that sitting of the House, and the sitting is extended accordingly.

(2)     Whenever extraordinary urgency has been accorded,—

(a)     a sitting which has been extended is suspended between 8 am and 9 am, 1 pm and 2 pm, and 6 pm and 7 pm, and

(b)     on a Saturday, the provisions of Standing Order 48 apply, and

(c)     the transaction of business is subject to Standing Order 59.

Business of the house

62      Prayers and Mace

On taking the Chair at the commencement of each sitting the Speaker reads a prayer to the House and the Mace is placed upon the Table.

63      Order of business

At each sitting the House transacts its business in the order shown on the Order Paper.

64      Order Paper

(1)     The Clerk must prepare an Order Paper for each sitting day showing the business of the House in the order in which it is to be transacted.

(2)     The Order Paper is prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Standing Orders as to the order in which business is to be transacted and in accordance with any determination of the Business Committee.

(3)     The Order Paper is circulated as early as possible before the House sits. Two or more versions of the Order Paper may be circulated.

65      Types of business

The business of the House consists of the following:

(a)     general business:

(b)     Government orders of the day:

(c)     private and local orders of the day:

(d)     Members’ orders of the day.

66      General business

(1)     General business is taken in the following order:

  1. announcement of the presentation of petitions, papers, and reports of select committees, and the introduction of bills
  2. oral questions (including urgent questions)
  3. debate on a matter of urgent public importance (if allowed by the Speaker)
  4. a general debate (on Wednesdays only)
  5. consideration of reports of the Privileges Committee.

(2)     General business is held at 2 pm on each sitting day.

67      Government orders of the day

Government orders of the day consist of Government bills, the Address in Reply debate, the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement, consideration of the performance and current operations of Crown entities, public organisations, and State enterprises, and Government notices of motion.

68      Arrangement of Government orders of the day

The Government decides the order in which Government orders of the day are arranged on the Order Paper, subject to any requirements in the Standing Orders that a particular debate be taken ahead of other Government orders of the day.

69      Private and local orders of the day

Private and local orders of the day consist of private bills and local bills.

70      Arrangement of private and local orders of the day

(1)     Private and local orders of the day are arranged in the following order:

  1. third reading of bills
  2. committee stage of bills
  3. second reading of bills
  4. first reading of bills.

(2)     Where the debate on a bill has been interrupted or adjourned, the bill is taken ahead of other bills at the same stage.

71      Members’ orders of the day

Members’ orders of the day consist of Members’ bills, the consideration of reports of committees (other than those of the Privileges Committee), and Members’ notices of motion.

72      Arrangement of Members’ orders of the day

(1)     Members’ orders of the day are arranged in the following order:

  1. third reading of bills
  2. committee stage of bills
  3. second reading of bills
  4. first reading of bills
  5. consideration of reports of committees
  6. notices of motion.

(2)     Where the debate on a bill has been interrupted or adjourned, the bill is taken ahead of other bills at the same stage.

73      Orders of the day not reached

Orders of the day that are not reached are, subject to the Standing Orders, automatically set down on the following day’s Order Paper.

74      Discharge or postponement of order of the day

(1)     An order of the day may be discharged or postponed—

(a)     on motion without notice, or

(b)     by the member in whose name the order stands informing the Clerk accordingly, or

(c)     by determination of the Business Committee.

(2)     There is no amendment or debate on the question to discharge or postpone an order of the day.

(3)     An order of the day for the first reading of a Member’s bill—

(a)     may not be postponed under paragraph (1)(b):

(b)     if postponed under paragraph (1)(c), is arranged on the Order Paper as determined by the Business Committee.

(4)     Subject to paragraph (5), the order of the day for consideration of the report of a select committee is discharged if not dealt with within 15 sitting days or within 15 sitting days of the presentation of a Government response that relates to it, as the case may be.

(5)     A select committee report that is selected for debate under Standing Order 250(4) is not discharged under paragraph (4), and bills that subsequently become available for first reading are arranged on the Order Paper after that report unless the Business Committee determines otherwise.

75      Tuesdays and Thursdays

At a Tuesday and a Thursday sitting (and on any other day specially appointed by the House to be a sitting day) Government orders of the day are taken ahead of private and local orders of the day and Members’ orders of the day.

76      Wednesdays

(1)     At a Wednesday sitting private and local orders of the day and Members’ orders of the day alternate with Government orders of the day as to precedence.

(2)     Government orders of the day are always taken first on a Wednesday if the Address in Reply debate, the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement, or the Budget debate is before the House. In these circumstances private and local orders of the day and Members’ orders of the day are taken first on the next Wednesday.

Business committee

77      Business Committee

(1)     The Speaker convenes a Business Committee at the commencement of each Parliament. The Speaker chairs the Business Committee.

(2)     Every party is entitled to be represented at each meeting of the committee by one member nominated by its leader.

(3)     The names of the members nominated are given to the Speaker.

78      Basis of making decisions in Business Committee

(1)     The committee reaches decisions on the basis of unanimity or, if this is not possible, near-unanimity having regard to the numbers in the House represented by each of the members of the committee.

          Near-unanimity means agreement has been given on behalf of the overwhelming majority of members of Parliament.

(2)     The Speaker is the judge of whether unanimity is possible and, if it is not, whether a sufficient degree of near-unanimity has been reached for there to be an effective determination by the committee.

(3)     Before determining that near-unanimity has been reached, the Speaker must be satisfied that, having regard to the party membership in the House, the proposed determination is fair to all parties and does not discriminate against or oppress a minority party or minority parties.

79      Business of the House

The Business Committee may determine—

(a)     that a minor adjustment is to be made to the hours of a specified sitting day:

(b)     the order of business to be transacted in the House:

(c)     when business will be transacted in the House:

(d)     the time to be spent on an item of business:

(e)     that any two or more items of business may be taken together for the purpose of debate:

(f)      how time on an item of business is to be allocated among the parties represented in the House:

(g)     the speaking times of individual members on an item of business:

(h)     any other matters delegated to the committee under the Standing Orders.

80      Determination of Business Committee

(1)     A determination of the Business Committee takes effect when it is notified in writing to all members of Parliament. A determination must be published and circulated on the Order Paper before any sitting of the House at which it is to apply.

(2)        A determination of the Business Committee applies despite any other Standing Order to the contrary.

81        Sitting programme

(1)        The Business Committee must recommend to the House a programme of sittings for each calendar year.

(2)        The recommended programme of sittings is to be made to the House not later than the third sitting day in the preceding December or, if the House does not sit in December, not later than the sitting day before the House is due to adjourn.

(3)        The recommended programme must require the House to sit first no later than the last Tuesday in February and to sit in total on about 90 days in the calendar year.

(4)        On being adopted by the House, the sitting programme operates subject to any decision by the House to the contrary.

82        State occasions

(1)        After receiving a proposal from the Prime Minister, the Business Committee may determine arrangements for a State occasion.

(2)        A State occasion may include an address from a foreign leader.

(3)        Proceedings during a State occasion are reported in Hansard.

(4)        The Speaker maintains order during a State opening or a State occasion.


Reinstatement of business

83        Reinstatement of business

Business that had lapsed with the dissolution or expiration of Parliament and which is reinstated by resolution of the House in the next Parliament is resumed in that Parliament at the stage it had reached in the previous Parliament.