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Many documents are produced and filed during sessions of the House. These documents create a complete record of all the work that took place over the course of a sitting.
Paper copies are available to members through the Sessional Administration Office on the first floor of the Hon. George Coles Building. All documents produced and filed with the Legislative Assembly are public documents and are available under House Records.
The Journal of the Legislative Assembly is the official record of House proceedings. The daily Journal is approved by the members of the Legislative Assembly. Based on notes and records taken by the Clerk during the course of the sitting day, it follows the Ordinary Daily Routine and Order of Business, and entries are made on the business conducted and decisions taken.
Order Paper (Orders of the Day)
Consisting of two sections (Orders of the Day and Notice of Motions), the Order Paper outlines all potential business the Government and private members may call during any sitting day.
The Orders of the Day is the daily agenda of the House. Business that has not been completed during the sitting day is automatically transferred to the next day’s agenda.
The Notice of Motion paper follows the Orders of the Day. It contains a list of all motions which ministers and private members have brought forward and can be debated in the House.
Bills-Public, Private Member, & Private
A bill is a proposed law submitted to the Legislative Assembly for its approval. Most are public bills, which originate from Government, or private members’ bills, which originate from a private member. Bills must go through several stages before becoming law, with the House voting at each stage:
|Introduction and First Reading
|The promoter seeks permission of the House to introduce a new bill, and moves that it be read a first time. If passed, the bill becomes a public document. No debate occurs at this stage, but the promoter is given the opportunity to briefly explain the purpose of the bill.
|The first opportunity for debate on a bill, which focuses on the principle of the bill. The House votes on the motion that the bill be read a second time.
|Committee of the Whole House
|The bill is reviewed clause-by-clause in Committee of the Whole House. Members have the opportunity to ask questions of the promoter of the bill, and can move amendments. The committee votes on each clause, and votes on whether to recommend the bill as a whole.
|The last opportunity for debate on a bill, which focuses on the effects of the bill should it be adopted and become law. The House votes on the motion that the bill be read a third time.
|Immediately following third reading, the House votes one final time on whether to pass the bill. There is no debate at this stage; the House simply votes on whether “the bill do now pass”.
|The Lieutenant Governor comes to the Chamber to give Royal Assent to the bill (or to multiple bills) in Her Majesty’s Name. Once a bill has received Royal Assent, it becomes an Act of the Province of Prince Edward Island and is law.**
*The readings of a bill must occur on separate sitting days, e.g. a bill read a first time on Tuesday may be read a second time on Wednesday and a third time on Thursday. Committee of the Whole House review of the bill may immediately follow second reading on the same day. The vote on passage of the bill immediately follows third reading on the same day, and Royal Assent may occur any time after passage. With unanimous consent the House can allow a motion to read a bill more than once on the same day.
**Some bills contain a proclamation clause that indicates that the Act, in whole or in part, will come into effect at a future date, with that date either specified in the Act or to be later proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Private bills are now less common, but still do occasionally come to the House. They relate to private or local matters affecting a small number of persons, a corporation, a charity, a religious group or a service club rather than the Island as a whole. Private bills start with a petition being brought to the House and must meet certain requirements, as specified in chapter 15 of the Rules.
Motions are proposals calling on the House to do something, to order something to be done, or to express an opinion. Motions that bring debate to the floor are considered substantive motions, and require notice. Other motions relate to procedure and may not require notice; see the section on motions and voting below.
Motions must be moved by one member and seconded by another member. Seconding a motion does not necessarily mean the member supports the motion. A motion must first be presented to the Clerk at the Table in writing, with signatures of both the mover and the seconder. The motion must then be listed on the Order Paper for one clear sitting day before it can be called for debate, so that the House as a whole does not have to deal with a question unexpectedly.
The following charts indicate "one clear day" for motions:
|If a Government motion comes to the Table on...
|...it may be debated the following
|If a Private Member's motion comes to the Table on...
|...it may be debated on the following
However, with unanimous consent, a motion can be debated without being on the Order Paper for a full sitting day.
To table a document is to present information to the Legislative Assembly and to make the document available to the public. Documents tabled are noted in the Journal, and the original documents are signed in by the clerks and are kept as part of the official record of the House.
Daily Debates (Hansard)
The proceedings of the House are transcribed, edited and published. The publication is known as the Daily Debates or Hansard. The Oral Question Period portion of a daily sitting is transcribed and distributed via email by 8:00 p.m. on the same sitting day. The paper publication of the full sitting day is distributed as follows:
|For sitting on...
|...the transcript will be distributed by
Written Questions & Answers to Written Questions
A written question may be brought to the floor of the Legislative Assembly by any private member during Tabling of Documents. They are directed to ministers and may relate to public affairs, bills, motions or other public matters connected with the business of the Assembly. Written questions usually request greater complexity and detail than can be provided in oral answers to oral questions.
Answers to Written Questions
According to the Rules, the minister to whom a written question is directed shall, without unnecessary delay, file the answer with the Clerk. This can be done during tabling of documents. The answers are considered public documents.