The Speaker’s Procedural Role

The Speaker presides over the debates of the House and ensures that they are conducted according to the formal procedures but does not normally participate in debates.

The duties performed in the Chair are probably the Speaker's most important and onerous. One of the duties is to ensure that the rules of parliamentary procedure as embodied in the standing orders and practice are accurately and correctly interpreted and applied.

The Speaker:

  • Interprets the standing orders, deals with points of order when they are raised and gives rulings when called upon to do so
  • Calls upon members wishing to speak
  • Maintains order in the Chamber
  • Makes statements and announcements to the House when necessary.

 

Powers and functions under the standing orders

In addition to generally maintaining order in the Chamber and interpreting standing orders (rules), the Speaker has many powers and functions.

 

Discretionary powers

The Speaker's powers are augmented by a number of discretionary powers, which include:

  • Providing access to records of the House
  • Allocating the call to members wishing to speak in the House
  • Determining whether words used are offensive or disorderly
  • Determining if a member's arguments are irrelevant or tediously repetitious
  • Determining if a motion is an abuse of the orders and forms of the House, or is moved for the purpose of obstructing business
  • Determining whether a prima facie case of breach of privilege has been established
  • Amending notices
  • Directing the wording of a question to be altered if it seems to be unbecoming or does not conform with the standing orders
  • Giving an opinion as to whether the majority of the voices were 'Aye' or 'No'
  • Disallowing any motion or amendment which is substantially the same as any question which has already been resolved in that session
  • Giving permission for non-members to inspect and copy papers presented to the House but not printed
  • Calling the House together after a period of adjournment (in accordance with the resolution agreed to prior to adjournment — the practice is for the Speaker not to act on his to her own initiative but to wait for advice from the Government)
  • Ruling on admissibility of reasoned amendments.

 

The Speaker may suspend the sitting:

  • For the lunch or dinner break
  • In the case of grave disorder
  • After election while he or she presents his or herself to the Governor.

Return to Role of the Speaker.