Chapter 21 - Committees of the Whole

146  President to resume chair

  1. If sudden disorder arises in committee, the President shall resume the chair.
  2. The President shall resume the chair at the time for doing anything which the Senate has ordered to be done at a stated time.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SOs 265 and 266 (corresponding to paragraphs (1) and (2)) but renumbered as SOs 261 and 262 for the first printed edition

1989 revision: Old SOs 273 and 274 combined into one, structured as two paragraphs and renumbered as SO 146; unnecessary detail deleted from paragraph (2); expression streamlined


There are several methods by which proceedings in committee of the whole may be interrupted. The first is by a motion that the committee report progress (see SO 148(2)).

An example of a pro forma report from a committee

An example of a pro forma report from a committee of the whole at a specified time (2pm to allow Question Time to proceed in accordance with SO 57)

Two other methods are provided by paragraphs (1) and (2). If disorder arises that requires enforceable action, the Chair must report to the Senate because such action can only be taken by that body (see SO 144(7)). For example, if a senator in committee refuses to withdraw objectionable words, persistently and wilfully disregards the authority of the Chair or commits any of the other offences listed in SO 203, the Chair must report to the Senate. On resuming the chair, the President reports the disorder and action may then be taken under SO 203.[1]

The second method is the most common cause of interruption to proceedings in committee of the whole. The routine of business under SO 57 contains many instances where items of business occur at a fixed time; for example, questions without notice at 2 pm on each day, or matters of public interest at 12.45 pm on Wednesdays. In addition to fixed business, the Senate may also resolve to deal with particular matters at a prescribed time. For example, it is common for business to be interrupted at a particular time to enable senators to make their first speeches without any question before the chair. If the Senate is in committee at such times, the Chair reports to the Senate without putting any question and proceedings then continue in the Senate in accordance with the relevant standing or other order.