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New standing order seeks to end cross-talk

Published: 
Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Prime Minister will have to answer questions for 30 minutes during the new session of Parliament, MPs will have less speaking time and there is to be less of the infamous cross-talk in the House from now on. Speaker Wade Mark announced this during yesterday’s opening of the fifth session of the Parliament. He was speaking about the new Standing Orders which will be in force from now after being changed by the Parliament for the first time since 1961.

Mark said Standing Order 26 pertains to prime ministers’ questions, to be held during the second sitting of the House each month, for not more than 30 minutes. Questions may be put to the prime minister on current matters of national importance or on the general performance of the government and government agencies.

He noted it also provides for a maximum speaking time of 45 minutes-30 minutes plus a 15-minute extension. It was formerly a total of 75 minutes. He said the onus is now on the MP speaking to request an extension of their time, either during their speech or immediately upon the expiration of their speaking time. Standing Order 48,  on “Contents of Speeches,” encompasses many of the matters often raised, such as relevance and use of insulting language. 

Standing Order 24 also allows for one member from each party in opposition to the government to ask a brief question only for elucidation on statements made by ministers. Standing Order 55 concerns disturbances of the proceedings, which now includes, along with tedious repetition, engaging in excessive cross-talk and conversing noisily.