Parliamentary procedure at the Legislative Assembly is founded on constitutional and statutory provisions, the Standing Orders, Speakers’ rulings establishing precedents, and customary practices which may evolve over time. Assembly proceedings are regulated by a vast body of parliamentary rules and practices intended to expedite the business of the Assembly while ensuring the right of each Member to participate in the parliamentary process.
Standing Orders are the formal written rules adopted by the Legislative Assembly to govern its proceedings. The continuing or “standing” nature of these rules means that they remain in effect until the Legislative Assembly itself decides to suspend, change, or replace them. A key objective of the Standing Orders is to support and implement constitutional and statutory requirements as the Assembly has determined should apply to the conduct of its business.
Temporary sessional orders change or supplement existing rules for the session in which they were adopted, while special orders may apply to a single or special occasion.
The Speaker and other presiding officers are responsible for the application of the Standing Orders and for deciding any questions regarding their interpretation.
The Clerks-at-the-Table, the senior officials of the House, are available to provide procedural information and advice on interpreting the Standing Orders.
Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia
The procedural authority of choice at the Legislative Assembly is Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia, 5th Edition, edited by Kate Ryan-Lloyd, the current Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. The book’s 18 chapters are organized thematically and cover a range of topics including parliamentary procedure, the role of Members, order and decorum, parliamentary committees, and parliamentary privilege.
There is also an online version of Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia that allows users to browse the full text and perform key word searches.
Speakers’ rulings are an important part of our parliamentary practice and address procedural questions raised by Members.
Standing Order 9 provides for the Speaker to “decide questions of order and practice.” Speakers’ rulings are decisions based on the Legislative Assembly’s rules and practices and how they should be applied and interpreted.
New Members may use their inaugural speech during the Throne Speech debate to introduce their constituency, describe issues of interest to their communities, and comment on the content of the Throne Speech. There are certain protocols to follow when speaking in the House:
- Stand and address all remarks to the Speaker
- Refer to Members by the name of their constituency or their parliamentary position or ministerial position
- Refer to notes, but do not read prepared speeches or read from a laptop or other electronic device once recognized to speak
- Observe time limits for individual speeches and debates (see Standing Order 45A)
- Speak only from your assigned place
- For more information, please contact the Office of the Clerk or refer to Rules of Debate in the Standing Orders or Chapter 7 in Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia, 5th Edition.
- Bow to the Speaker when entering or leaving the Chamber, or when crossing the floor at the far end near the bar
- Assume you are on camera at all times
- Wait until your microphone is illuminated before beginning to speak
- Don’t pass between a Member speaking and the Chair, or between the Chair and the mace
- Don’t use displays or props at any time