Chapter 10 - Debate

Relevance

In speaking to a question a senator may not digress from its subject matter (SO 194).

This rule of relevance is interpreted liberally, so as to give senators the maximum freedom in debate. If a senator appears to be speaking irrelevantly to the question, the senator should be given the opportunity to show how the remarks in question relate to that subject (ruling of President Brown, SD, 5/10/1950, p. 333).

The rule is subject to the proviso that on the motion for the address-in-reply to the Governor-General’s speech (see Chapter 7, Meetings of the Senate, under Address-in-reply), any matter may be discussed. The rule also does not apply to debates in which, under the standing orders, any matter may be discussed, including debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate (SO 53(4)) and debate on the motion for the first reading of a bill which the Senate may not amend (SO 112(2)).

Closely related to the rule of relevance is the rule against tedious repetition. The chair may call the attention of the Senate to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition and may direct a senator to discontinue a speech, but that senator may require that the question whether the senator be further heard be immediately put to the Senate and determined without debate (SO 196). Because of the time limits applying to debates, the standing order is seldom invoked.

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