Chapter 9 - Times of sittings and routine of business

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63    Presentation of documents

Documents ordered to be presented, returns, and reports of committees may be presented at any time when no other business is before the Senate.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 63

1989 revision: old SO 67 renumbered as SO 63 and expression modernised to remove potential ambiguity

Commentary

Tabling of documents  

By convention, there is an opportunity each afternoon for the tabling of documents by the President, ministers, committees and the Clerk

 

In its original formulation, SO 63 provided that “Papers, Returns and Reports of Select Committees may be presented by Senators in their places at any time when other business is not before the Senate”. Its location in the chapter on the routine of business indicates that it is principally a rule about when certain things may be tabled rather than a rule about authority to table them. Authority to table is covered in SOs 38, 164 and 166 in relation, respectively, to the presentation of committee reports, returns to orders for the production of documents, and other documents.

There is an inference, however, in the original formulation, that any senator could table “papers” of any kind. This was never an intended inference and it was firmly dismissed by a ruling of President Baker in 1906 to the effect that “no private senator can lay papers upon the table, except by order of the Senate”.[1] The risk of any lingering ambiguity was removed by the rephrasing of the standing order in the 1989 revision. Under the standing orders, no senators other than the President or ministers have a right to table documents. Other senators may do so only with leave of the Senate or by a deliberate decision or order.[2]

By convention, there is an opportunity each afternoon for the presentation of documents by the President, by ministers, by senators tabling reports from committees and by the clerk (who presents documents tabled pursuant to statute). This is a convenient, informal opportunity to present reports and documents which may otherwise be presented during any break in business in accordance with SO 63.

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