Chapter 9 - Motions and amendments

Same question rule

A motion may not be moved if it is the same in substance as a motion which has been determined during the same session, unless the latter was determined more than six months previously (SO 86). (An exception is made for motions for disallowance of delegated legislation the same in substance as legislation previously disallowed. This exception was inserted in case of the remaking of disallowed delegated legislation; it is complemented by the statutory provision which is referred to under Rescission of resolutions and orders, above.)

This rule, known as the same question rule, is seldom applied, because it seldom occurs that a motion is exactly the same as a motion moved previously. A motion moved in a different context, for example, as part of a different “package” of proposals, is not the same motion even if identical in terms to one already moved (SD, 8/11/2000, pp 19358-9). Even if the terms of a motion are the same as one previously determined, because of elapse of time it almost invariably has a different effect because of changed circumstances and therefore is not the same motion. There may also be different grounds for moving the same motion again.

This consideration arises particularly in relation to delegated legislation. A senator may move to disallow an instrument of delegated legislation on policy grounds, and the Regulations and Ordinances Committee may give notice of a motion to disallow the same instrument on grounds related to the committee’s criteria of scrutiny; the two motions are regarded as entirely separate, and the determination of one does not affect the other. Moreover, it could be argued that the same question rule could not prevent the operation of the relevant statutory provisions, which provide for disallowance subject only to the statutory time limit. Therefore any disallowance motion may operate (and operate automatically if not withdrawn or determined) provided only that notice of it is given within the statutory time. (See Chapter 15, Delegated Legislation; for precedents of two disallowance motions identical in terms: 8/12/1993, J.940; 3/2/1994, J.1190; 29/5/1997, J.2030.)

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