"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Speaker’s Orders

Last Thursday, the Hon. Member for Lake Melville stood on a point of order, and cited the House of Assembly’s S.O. 90:
Mr. Speaker, I stand on a point of order regarding Standing Order 90. Standing Order 90 is, and I will just read it for the record, Mr. Speaker, "A petition to the House shall be presented by a Member in his or her place who shall be answerable that it does not contain impertinent or improper matter; and every Member offering a petition to the House shall sign it with his or her own hand."

Whatever did or didn’t happen during the presentation of the petition at the heart of the controversy, the Hon. Member then proceeded to adduce nothing that suggested that the petition contained impertinent or improper matter, or that the Member offering the petition had not signed it with his or her own hand.
The Speaker offered nothing by way of any ruling on Standing Order 90, but did, quite interestingly, make up a brand new rule – a Speaker’s Order – right on the spot:
The other thing that we have failed to do here is – and I think from here on in that myself, as Speaker, will impose is that the prayer of all petitions be read, because the prayer of this petition was not read into the record. The petition was presented as a petition and the commentary was made by the Leader of the Opposition. At no time was the prayer of the petition read into the record of what the petition contained.

There is a point of order here, and the Chair will state specifically from here on in when petitions are presented here to the House, number one, they be vetted through the Table, which a ruling has already been made in the past. From today forward, the Speaker will insist that the prayer of the petition be read into the record as well before members start making commentary to use up their three minutes.
Oh, the mischief and merriment that this may lead to in the hands of clever backbenchers. Start looking for petitions with looooong prayers, which must – Speaker’s orders – be read into the record, even before the three-minute clock starts ticking on the commentary by the member presenting the petition.

There are legislators in other chambers who would give up their parking spots for a rule like that.

While the Speaker is thinking about Standing Orders and rules and such, he may wish to refresh himself, and the rest of the House, on S.O. 44:
44. Every Member desiring to speak is to rise in his or her place, uncovered, and address himself or herself to the Speaker.



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