Roundtable: Parliamentary Reform

Roundtable: Parliamentary Reform

In May 2015, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group held a conference in Ottawa to discuss parliamentary reform initiatives of the past, present and future. In this roundtable, some of the presenters from that conference discuss reforms from recent history and the prospects for change in parliament in the near term and whether they are optimistic or pessimistic that positive change will occur.

CPR: The Canadian Study of Parliament Group’s conference programme was loosely structured on where we’ve been, where we are now and where we’re going, and I’d like to adopt a similar structure here. Can you tell us a bit about how parliament has changed and evolved over the past 20 to 30 years?

The Changing Use of Standing Order 31 Statements

The Changing Use of Standing Order 31 Statements

Standing Order 31s are permitted 15 minutes of the House’s floor time each day during which selected MPs can speak for a maximum of one minute each in order to draw attention to issues or events. These have often been used to congratulate groups or individual citizens, bring attention to a problem, or make a statement on a policy issue. Increasingly, they appear to have also been used to make negative statements about other parliamentary parties or leaders, or to praise the MPs’ own party. The purpose of this article is to provide evidence of the changing nature of this venue toward partisan purposes, and to highlight the trends of change and party use of this venue in recent years.

One of the House of Commons’ least visible, and likely least known, venues has received a fair bit of attention over the past year. This recent attention to Standing Order 31 members’ statements (SO 31s) has been due in part to MPs asserting themselves to counter what they have deemed to be excessive party control over the venue, while other attention has been given to a broader analysis of how these statements have changed over time by those in academia and the media.