Glossary Of Common Terms Used In The Legislature

Abstention

Refusal to vote either for or against a motion. A Member is not obliged to vote and if he abstains, the records of the House will reflect his abstention.

Act of Parliament

A bill which has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, has received Prime Ministerial Assent. Unless a provision of the Act specifies otherwise, the Act comes into force on the date of Assent.

Adjournment of debate

Often a dilatory tactic which may be employed to delay progress on a particular matter. If a motion to adjourn a debate is adopted, the item is not dropped from the Order Paper but may be taken up again on a later day.

Adjournment of the House

The termination by the House of a sitting (either by motion or pursuant to a Standing or Special Order) within a session. An adjournment covers the period between the end of one sitting and the beginning of the next. The House may adjourn for a few minutes or for several months.

Distinguish: recess; suspension of a sitting.

Adjournment proceedings

A thirty-minute period prior to the daily adjournment, during which Members may raise matters which fall within the official cognizance of the Cabinet. They are another method of raising questions in order to get answers from the Ministers. Ministers are obliged to respond to these requests.

Admonition

A stern warning by the Speaker/President of the Senate to an offender.

Compare: reprimand.

Affirmative resolution

In an Act, this expression, when used in relation to a regulation, means that the regulation shall be laid before both Houses, or the House of Representatives as the case may be, within the prescribed period of time and shall not come into force unless and until it is affirmed by a resolution passed by both Houses, or the House of Representatives as the case may be.

Compare: negative resolution.

Amending Act

An Act of Parliament whose sole purpose is to modify another Act or Acts which are already in force. Restrictions exist on the type of amendments that may be proposed to bills leading to amending Acts.

Amendment

An alteration proposed to a motion or clause of a bill or to a committee report. It may attempt to present an improved formulation of the proposition under consideration or to provide an alternative to it.

Ancillary motion

A subsidiary motion, such as a motion for the second reading of a bill dependent on an order already made by the House.

Appropriation

A sum of money allocated by Parliament for a specific purpose outlined in the Annual Budget.

Appropriation bill

A bill to authorize government expenditures, which must be first introduced in the House.

Synonym: supply bill.

Auditor General

An Officer responsible for the independent examination of the Government’s accounts. Reports of this examination are tabled regularly in both Houses and referred by the House of Representatives to either the Public Accounts Committee or the Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee, as the case may be.