Parliamentary sitting days and hours 2008

19 November 2009

Dr Nicholas Horne
Politics and Public Administration Section

Contents

Introduction
National parliaments
Notes
United Kingdom
Canada
New Zealand (unicameral)
South Africa
Germany
Australian parliaments
Notes
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory
Appendix A: Sources for Tables 1 and 2
National parliaments
Australia
United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan
United States of America
Republic of Ireland
Germany
Australian parliaments
Commonwealth
New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory
Victoria
Queensland
Australian Capital Territory

Introduction

This background note provides figures for the sitting days (and, where available, sitting hours) for a range of national parliaments and for all Australian parliaments in the 2008 calendar year.

Sitting hours are for main parliamentary chambers and do not include meetings of chamber extensions (such as the Australian House of Representatives Main Committee) or separate parliamentary committees. The sessions of main parliamentary chambers are referred to by some parliaments as ‘plenary sessions’. Where the available data allows, breaks and suspensions of sittings have been excluded from the sitting hours figures. Sources for Tables 1 and 2 are listed in Appendix A.

Parliaments vary as to how they conduct their business, and not all parliaments will conduct the majority of their legislative business in their main chambers. The Japanese Parliament, for example, conducts the majority of its legislation debates in a range of committees rather than in its main chambers (the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors)—plenary sessions in the chambers are used mainly for voting. In 2008 only 10.5 per cent of sitting days for the House of Representatives took place in plenary sessions (60 sitting days out of a total of 571)—the other 89.5 per cent (511 sitting days) took place in the committees. Similarly, for the House of Councillors, only nine per cent of sitting days in 2008 took place in plenary sessions (45 sitting days out of a total of 501)—the other 91 per cent (456 sitting days) took place in the committees.[1]

National parliaments

Table 1.      Sitting days and hours for selected national parliaments, 2008

Country

Chamber

Sitting days

Sitting hours:minutes

Australia

House of Representatives

69

638:30

Senate

52

481:37

United Kingdom

House of Commons

149

1188:02

House of Lords

148

1009:54

Canada

House of Commons

93

Senate

56

160:00

New Zealand

House of Representatives

61

486:10

United States of America

House of Representatives

118

Senate

184

988:31

Republic of Ireland

Dáil Éireann
(House of Representatives)

96

794:58

Seanad Éireann (Senate)

93

550:35

South Africa

National Assembly

58

141:20

National Council of Provinces

43

91:12

Germany

Bundestag

100

Bundesrat

13

Notes

United Kingdom

Figures for the House of Commons comprise 139 sitting days and 1106:36 sitting hours from the 2007–08 session and 10 days and 81:26 sitting hours from the 2008–09 session.[2]

Canada

A general election was held on 14 October 2008. Prior to the election the 39th Parliament was dissolved on 7 September 2008. The 40th Parliament was opened on 18 November 2008 and was adjourned on 4 December 2008.[3]

New Zealand (unicameral)

An election for the House of Representatives was held on 8 November 2008. Prior to the election the 48th Parliament was dissolved on 3 October 2008. The 49th Parliament was opened on 8 December 2008 and was adjourned on 18 December 2008.[4]

South Africa

Figures for both chambers include six days of joint sittings.

Germany

The Bundesrat, which consists of members appointed by the German states (Länder), usually holds one plenary session every three weeks (an average of 13 sitting days per year).[5]

Table 1 is represented graphically in Figures 1 and 2 below.

Figure 1.    Sitting days for selected national parliaments, 2008

Figure 1. Sitting days for selected national parliaments, 2008

Figure 2.    Sitting hours:minutes for selected national parliaments, 2008

Figure 2. Sitting hours:minutes for selected national parliaments, 2008

Australian parliaments

Table 2.      Sitting days and hours for Australian parliaments, 2008

Jurisdiction

Chamber

Sitting days

Sitting hours:minutes

Commonwealth

House of Representatives

69

638:30*

Senate

52

481:37*

New South Wales

Legislative Assembly

59

442:23

Legislative Council

49

343:30

Victoria

Legislative Assembly

49

508:55#

Legislative Council

52

508:50

Queensland

Legislative Assembly

43

408:28*

South Australia

House of Assembly

48

282:47

Legislative Council

50

352:24

Western Australia

Legislative Assembly

38

263:39

Legislative Council

45

270:09

Tasmania

House of Assembly

47

371:51

Legislative Council

45

279:50

Northern Territory

Legislative Assembly

35

309:29

Australian Capital Territory

Legislative Assembly

35

312:00#

Notes

* Excludes suspensions of sittings/meal breaks.
# Includes suspensions of sittings/meal breaks.

The Queensland, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory parliaments are unicameral.

Western Australia

A general election was held on 6 September 2008.[6] Prior to the election the Legislative Assembly of the 37th Parliament was prorogued and dissolved, and the Legislative Council was prorogued, on 7 August 2008.[7] The 38th Parliament was opened on 6 November 2008 and the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly were adjourned on 9 and 11 December 2008 respectively.[8]

Northern Territory

An election for the Legislative Assembly was held on 9 August 2008.[9] Prior to the election the 10th Assembly was prorogued on 22 July 2008.[10] The 11th Assembly was opened on 9 September 2008 and was adjourned on 27 November 2008.[11]

Australian Capital Territory

An election for the Legislative Assembly was held on 18 October 2008.[12] Prior to the election the 6th Assembly was adjourned on 28th August 2008.[13] The 7th Assembly was opened on 5 November 2008 and was adjourned on 11 December 2008.[14]

Table 2 is represented graphically in Figures 3 and 4 below.

Figure 3.    Sitting days for Australian parliaments, 2008

Figure 3. Sitting days for Australian parliaments, 2008


Figure 4.    Sitting hours:minutes for Australian parliaments, 2008

Figure 4. Sitting hours:minutes for Australian parliaments, 2008

Appendix A: Sources for Tables 1 and 2

National parliaments

Australia

Department of the House of Representatives, Statistical Digest No. 10 24 November–4 December 2008, Department of the House of Representatives, Canberra, 2008, p. 1, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/statistics/42p/sd10.pdf

Department of the Senate, ‘Days and Hours of Sitting 2001–2010 (to 29 October 2009)’, Senate website, viewed 18 November 2009,
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/work/statistics/bus_senate/Consolidations/2001-2010/days_hours.html

United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan

Information courtesy of the UK House of Commons Information Office; the House of Lords Information Office; the Canadian House of Commons Table Research Branch; the New Zealand Parliamentary Library; the South African Parliamentary Library; and the Japanese Parliamentary Library.

United States of America

Library of Congress, ‘Days in Session Calendars: 110th Congress 2nd Session’, Library of Congress website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://thomas.loc.gov/home/ds/h1102.html

Senate, 20-year comparison of Senate legislative activity, Senate website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/yearlycomparison.pdf

Republic of Ireland

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, Annual Report 2008, Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, Dublin, 2009, p. 23, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/commission/reports/2008.pdf

Germany

Bundestag, ‘Bundestag’s Calendar of Sittings 2008’, Bundestag website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/bundestag/plenary/calendar/bundestag2008.html

Bundesrat, Fortschreibung der Statistik der beratenen Vorlagen, Bundesrat, Berlin, 2009, p. 4, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.bundesrat.de/cln_099/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/statistik/fortschreibung,templateId=raw,property=publicationFile.pdf/fortschreibung.pdf

Australian parliaments

Commonwealth

Sources as above.

New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory

Information courtesy of the New South Wales Parliamentary Library; the Parliament of South Australia; the Western Australian Parliamentary Library; the Tasmanian Parliamentary Library; and the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly.

Victoria

Legislative Assembly, Assembly Statistics—No 34, Legislative Assembly website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/assembly/statistics/2008/AsStats_34_4_12_2008.pdf

Legislative Council, Legislative Council Statistics, Legislative Council website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/statistics/2008/LC%20Stats%202%20to%204%20December%202008.pdf

Queensland

Queensland Parliament Chamber and Procedural Services Office, 2008 Statistics, p. 1, Queensland Parliament website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/ljsc/view/legislativeAssembly/tableOffice/documents/workOfTheHouse/2008-Statistics.pdf

Australian Capital Territory

M McRae, D Abbott and T Duncan, eds, Companion to the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory, Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, Canberra, 2008, p. 368, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/companion/companion.pdf


[1].       The 2008 plenary session sitting hours for the Houses were proportionally even lower. For the House of Representatives, four-and-a-half per cent of sitting hours took place in plenary sessions (51.6 sitting hours out of a total of 1153.4)—the other 95.5 per cent (1101.8 sitting hours) took place in the committees. For the House of Councillors just over four per cent of sitting hours took place in plenary sessions (40.12 sitting hours out of a total of 967.15)— 95.85 per cent (927.03 sitting hours) took place in the committees. (Sitting days and hours figures courtesy of the Japanese Parliamentary Library).

[2].       Yearly sitting day figures for a number of Commonwealth parliaments (national and sub-national) are published annually in The Table, the journal of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments. Electronic versions of The Table from 2003 onwards are accessible at the Society website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.societyofclerks.org

[3].       Canada, Parliament, ‘Key dates for each Parliament’, ‘Fortieth: Current Parliament’, Parliament of Canada website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/compilations/parliament/KeyDates.aspx?Language=E, http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Files/Parliament.aspx?Item=8714654b-cdbf-48a2-b1ad-57a3c8ece839&Language=E

[4].       New Zealand, Parliament, ‘48th Parliament has been dissolved’, ‘49th Parliament opened today’, Parliament of New Zealand website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/Features/e/c/d/00NZPHomeNews061020081-48th-Parliament-has-been-dissolved.htm, http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/Features/c/4/e/00NZPHomeNews081220081-49th-Parliament-opened-today.htm; New Zealand, House of Representatives, Journals of the House for the week beginning Tuesday, 16 December 2008, 18 December 2008, pp. 79, 81, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/8258FF98-3F32-4364-A249-AC506CD01E80/99842/2008_12_16_Weekly_1.pdf

[5].       Germany, Bundesrat, ‘Preparing for the plenary’, ‘Bundesrat members’, Bundesrat website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.bundesrat.de/nn_11590/EN/funktionen-en/arbeitsweise-en/Vorbereitung-Plenum-en.html, http://www.bundesrat.de/nn_11006/EN/organisation-en/mitglieder-en/mitglieder-en-node.html?__nnn=true

[6].       Western Australian (WA) Electoral Commission, ‘2008 State General Election Details’, WA Electoral Commission website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/elections/state_elections/election_results/2008_State_General_Election/key_dates_and_deadlines.php

[7].       WA Government, Western Australian Government Gazette, no. 135, WA Government Printer, Perth, 7 August 2008, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/gazette/gazette.nsf/gazlist/7D0A7F8584D9837AC825749E002D31FE/$file/gg135.pdf

[8].       WA, Legislative Assembly, Votes and Proceedings, no. 1, 6 November 2008, p. 1, Votes and Proceedings, no. 11, 11 December 2008, p. 107; WA, Legislative Council, Minutes of Proceedings, no. 1, 6 November 2008, p. 1, Minutes of Proceedings, no. 10, 9 December 2008, p. 91, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/web/newwebparl.nsf/iframewebpages/Parliamentary+Business+-+Chamber+Documents

[9].       Northern Territory (NT) Electoral Commission, ‘Past Election/Referendum Results’, NT Electoral Commission website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://notes.nt.gov.au/nteo/Electorl.nsf?OpenDatabase

[10].     NT Government, Government Gazette, no. S37, Government Printer of the NT, Darwin, 23 July 2008, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.nt.gov.au/ntg/gazette/2008/s37.pdf

[11].     NT, Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Record: Minutes of Proceedings, no. 1, 9 September 2008, Parliamentary Record: Minutes of Proceedings, no. 3, 27 November 2008, viewed 18 November 2009, http://notes.nt.gov.au/lant/hansard/hansard11.nsf/f1ed3b562e14751be9256bd70022cc94/a65720273781ca86692574e8001c5b20?OpenDocument, http://notes.nt.gov.au/lant/hansard/hansard11.nsf/f1ed3b562e14751be9256bd70022cc94/0a6354a4fa7c02006925752f007cf6ed?OpenDocument

[12].     Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Electoral Commission, ‘Election timetable—2008 Election’, ACT Electoral Commission website, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.elections.act.gov.au/elections/2008/timetable_08.html

[13].     ACT, Legislative Assembly, Minutes of Proceedings, no. 157, 28 August 2008, p. 1788, viewed 18 November 2009,          http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/downloads/minutes-of-proceedings/08MoP157.pdf. The ACT Legislative Assembly has fixed terms under section 100 of the Electoral Act 1992 (ACT).

[14].     ACT, Legislative Assembly, Minutes of Proceedings, no. 1, 5 November 2008, p. 1, Minutes of Proceedings, no. 4, 11 December 2008, p. 59, viewed 18 November 2009, http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/downloads/minutes-of-proceedings/08MoP01.pdf, http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/downloads/minutes-of-proceedings/08MoP04.pdf

 

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