The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House will resume on
April 25, 2017.


Act
A bill that has passed third reading in the House of Assembly and has received Royal Assent.

Adjournment
The end of a sitting within a session. Adjournment also refers to the period between the end of one sitting and the beginning of the next. At the end of each sitting day, the House of Assembly is adjourned to the next day or another future day at the call of the Speaker. In the latter case, the Speaker recalls the House on the request of the Premier. As long as the House is in session, its members determine when it sits.

Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne
A speech addressing the House of Assembly’s thanks to the Sovereign, represented by the Lieutenant Governor, for the Speech from the Throne. The Premier makes the first reply, traditionally followed by a response from the leader of each recognized party. Other members may make an address in reply later in the session.

Amendment
A proposal to alter the text of a bill or other measure by inserting new text, by deleting text, or both. Amendments must be introduced by motion and must be approved by the Legislature before the proposed change takes effect.

Appropriation
A sum of money allocated by the Legislature for a specific purpose outlined in the government’s spending estimates.

Assembly
See House of Assembly.

Auditor General
The Auditor General is responsible for the independent examination of the province’s public accounts. The Auditor General is appointed by Governor in Council under the Auditor General Act, subject to approval by majority vote in the House of Assembly.


Backbencher
See Private Member.

Bar of the House
A brass bar across the entrance to the legislative chamber that cannot be crossed by anyone who is not a member, officer of the House, page, or invitee, when the House of Assembly is in session.

Bells
An electronic bell is used to summon members at the beginning of a sitting, for the taking of a vote, or to establish a quorum in the House of Assembly. When used for a roll call vote, it is a called a division bell and it cannot ring for longer than one hour.

Bill
A proposed law. To become law, a bill must pass three readings, committee study and be given Royal Assent. Some bills come into effect on Royal Assent. Others may contain a provision indicating that they become law either when they have been proclaimed or on a particular date. A bill may propose an entirely new law or change an existing one.

Budget
The government’s statement of its fiscal, economic and social policies. It must be presented at least once a year under the Finance Act.

Budget Address
A presentation made in the House by the Minister of Finance introducing the government’s plans concerning fiscal, economic, and social policy (the Budget).

By-Election
An election held to fill a vacancy in the membership of the House of Assembly. By-elections are irregular and infrequent. Normally,  membership in the House of Assembly is determined during a general election. An official by-election notice must be issued within six months of a vacancy and an election held within twelve months.


Caucus
A group of elected Members of the Legislative Assembly belonging to the same political party. A caucus is also a closed meeting of the members from the same political party to decide upon questions of policy and the selection of candidates for office.

Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker
The Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker is elected at the beginning of a new General Assembly from among the Members of the Legislative Assembly. The Chair of Committees presides over Committees of the Whole House and may, at the request of the Speaker, preside over the House of Assembly. There can be more than one member elected to this position and sometimes, the House elects a Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker from each recognized party.

Chamber
See Legislative Chamber.

Chief Clerk of the House
The chief principal officer of the House of Assembly. The Clerk is responsible for providing advice on parliamentary procedure to the Speaker and other Members of the Legislative Assembly and for maintaining all official House documents. The position is equivalent to a deputy minister of a government department.

Clerk’s Table
A table positioned between the government and opposition seats and in front of the Speaker’s chair where the Chief Clerk of the House and Assistant Clerks sit in the legislative chamber. It serves as the business centre of the parliamentary process. The mace must be present on top of the Clerk’s Table for the House to meet.

Committees
A group composed of Members of the Legislative Assembly who are appointed and authorized by the House of Assembly to investigate and report on specific issues of importance. There can be either standing, select, or special committees of the House.

Constituency
See Electoral District.

Crossing the Floor
When a member changes his or her political allegiance in the House of Assembly. A Member of the Legislative Assembly crossing the floor may choose to sit as an independent or as a member of a different party. When a member leaves a political party, the location of their seat in the legislative chamber also changes.


Daily Routine
The ordinary daily business of the House of Assembly occurring at the start of each sitting day. It may include Presenting and Reading of Petitions, Presenting Reports of Committees, Tabling Reports, Regulations, and other Papers, Statements by Ministers, Government Notices of Motion, Introduction of Bills, and Notices of Motion. The Daily Routine is followed by Orders of the Day.

Department
A cabinet minister’s area of responsibility, or portfolio. This also describes the group of people who report to the minister and work within that particular area of government. The minister, who is head of the department, is also a member of Executive Council.

Deputy Speaker
See Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker.

Division
A vote taken in the House of Assembly. The result of the vote, dividing the members into two groups (the yeas and the nays). This determines the decision of the House on a particular matter. All questions put to the House are generally decided by majority through a voice vote.

Division Bells
See Bells.


Electoral District
An area within a geographical boundary whose voters elect a representative to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Nova Scotia is divided into 52 electoral districts, sometimes called constituencies. Electoral boundaries are set out in the House of Assembly Act and are reviewed at least once every ten years by an independent commission.

Emergency Debate
A debate held with the purpose of discussing a specific matter of urgent public importance. A member may, immediately after the daily routine, move that the House set aside its regular business to attend to a matter of genuine emergency calling for immediate and urgent consideration. Members can speak for a maximum of fifteen minutes each for up to two hours.

First Reading
The first stage in the passage of a bill into law. The Introduction of Bills is an order of business that must be called during each sitting as part of the Daily Routine. The sponsoring member briefly introduces the bill. First reading usually passes without debate.


Galleries
Seating areas in the House overlooking the legislative chamber. They are set aside for the public, the press and distinguished visitors who wish to attend a sitting.

Governing Party
The political party that wins the largest number of seats in an election. Its leader becomes the head of the provincial government and is known as the Premier.

Government
Officially, the government of the province consists of the Lieutenant Governor acting in the name of the Crown with the advice and consent of the Executive Council. To remain in office, the government must have the support of a majority of members in the House of Assembly. Informally, the term government is often used to refer to all members of the governing party.

Government Bills
A bill introduced by acabinet minister as government measures.

Government House Leader
The Government House Leader is a cabinet minister who is chosen by the Premier to plan and manage the conduct of government business in the House of Assembly. The Government House Leader advises Members of the Legislative Assembly of the order of business, hours of meeting, and time of adjournment for the next sitting day.

Government Member
A member belonging to the governing party.

Government Motion
The order of business that provides opportunity for the House of Assembly to debate and support government initiatives.

Governor in Council
The Governor in Council is the Government of the Province and consists of the Lieutenant Governor acting in the name of the Crown with the advice and consent of the Executive Council.


Hansard
The verbatim transcript of what is said in the House of Assembly and in committees. The word Hansard comes from the name of the British family originally responsible for publishing the proceedings of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. The official title of Hansard is Debates and Proceedings.

House of Assembly
The elected body of 52 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). In Nova Scotia, the legislative assembly is officially called the House of Assembly. The members of the House of Assembly (MLAs) are elected in a provincial general election or by-elections. The House can sit for a maximum of five years from the expiration of a general election writ.

House Leader
A Member of the House of Assembly designated by a caucus to be responsible for coordinating the business of the House.

House Rules
The Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly set out how business is to be conducted within the House. They are the primary source for solving procedural problems but they can be changed if all members agree.


Independent Member
A member of the House of Assembly who does not belong to a recognized political party. The person may be elected as an independent or may leave or be expelled from a party during the course of a General Assembly and sit as an independent.

Introduction of Bills
See First Reading.


Late Debate
See Motions Under Rule 5(5).

Law
A bill that has passed all stages in the House, has received Royal Assent, and has been proclaimed.

Leader of the Opposition
The leader of the party designated as the Official Opposition in the House of Assembly.

Leader of a Recognized Party
The leader of a party represented by two or more members in the House of Assembly, other than the Premier or the Leader of the Opposition.

Legislation
Any law, or generally the collection of all laws, enacted by or on the authority of the Legislature.

Legislative Chamber
The room where the House of Assembly holds its sittings. It may also be used for committee meetings.

Legislative Counsel
Officers of the House who advise the House of Assembly on legal matters. They advise the Speaker on parliamentary procedure and also assist in drafting private bills and private members’ public bills. They also provide legal and procedural advice to members and committees.

Legislative Page
Post-secondary students or recent university graduates who work for the Speaker and provide a variety of services to Members of the Legislative Assembly when the House is sitting, such as delivering messages withing the legislative chamber.

Legislature
The Legislature consists of the Lieutenant Governor, acting in the name of the Crown, adn the House of Assembly. The Legislature makes the laws of the province.


Mace
The ceremonial staff carried by the Sergeant-at-Arms into the House of Assembly each day at the beginning of a sitting. When the House of Assembly is in session, the mace represents the Speaker’s authority to conduct the business of the House.  It is always in the care of the Sergeant-at-Arms, who places it on the table with the orb and cross facing the government side of the Chamber. When the Speaker leaves the chair, and the Assembly sits as a Committee of the Whole House, the mace is moved to brackets on the underside of the table.

Maiden Speech
The first speech made in the House by a new member.

Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)
A person elected in his or her electoral district to a seat in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

Minister
See Cabinet Minister.

Ministerial Statements
See Statements by Ministers.

Ministry
See Department.

Motion
A proposal made by a member in the House of Assembly requesting an action, order, or opinion on a matter by the House. A motion initiates all business undertaken by the House.

Motions Under Rule 5(5)
On certain days of the week, members may make a motion under rule 5(5). This rule allows members to debate either a non-government motion listed on the Order Paper or a matter arising out of Question Period. On Tuesdays and Thursdays a member of an opposition party, and on Wednesdays a non-government member of the majority party, may make the motion. Quorum is not required and no votes are called.


Naming a Member
A disciplinary procedure used by the Speaker to maintain order in the House. If a member consistently disregards the authority of the chair, the Speaker may “name” that member by using his or her personal name rather than the name of the member’s electoral district. The member is usually suspended from the service of the House for the rest of the sitting day.

Notices of Motion
The order of business in the Daily Routine whereby members announce their intention to present a motion on a future date.


Oath of Allegiance
An oath of loyalty to the Sovereign sworn by a member elect before taking a seat in the House of Assembly. Members of the Executive Council also swear an oath of allegiance swearing faithful service and confidentiality.

Oath of Office
An oath sworn by cabinet ministers to diligently and faithfully carry out the duties entrusted to them.

Officers of the House of Assembly
The Chief Clerk, Assistant Clerks, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Legislative Counsel. These officers report directly to the Speaker.

Official Opposition
The party having the second largest number of seats in the House of Assembly. It receives financial and procedural advantages over other opposition parties.

Ombudsman
The Ombudsman conducts impartial investigations of complaints from individuals who believe they have been treated unfairly by the provincial government. The complaints must be received in written form. The Ombudsman is appointed by Governor in Council under the Ombudsman Act and reports directly to the House of Assembly.

Opposition
Members of the Legislative Assembly who do not belong to the governing party. Their role is to question government actions, present alternatives to government positions and provide the option of an alternative government.

Opposition Day
See Opposition Members’ Business.

Opposition House Leader
The Opposition House Leader informs members of the House of Opposition Members’ Business which is on the Order Paper each Wednesday. The hours of meeting and adjournment time are set with the agreement of the Government House Leader.

Opposition Members’ Business
On Wednesdays, the first four hours of business to be considered by the House after the Daily Routine and Question Period, as determined by the Official Opposition or a recognized party.

Oral Questions Put By Members to Ministers
See Question Period.

Orders of the Day
The items of business on the Order Paper which follow the Daily Routine. The Orders of the Day vary by day of the week. On Mondays and Fridays, the order of business is Government Business, Private and Local Bills, and Private Members’ Public Bills. Tuesdays and Thursdays: Oral Questions, Government Business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading, Private Member’s Public Bills, and Motions Under Rule 5(5).

Order Paper
A daily agenda of business that is before the House prepared by the Clerk. It consists of the Daily Routine and the Orders of the Day. Any unfinished business left at adjournment is placed on the Order Paper for the next sitting day.


Page
See Legislative Page.

Petition
An historic means for the public to have direct access to the House of Assembly. A petition is a request, opinion or position from an individual or a group that is put forward to the House for some action. A petition may only be presented to the House by a member.

Point of Order
A question raised by a member in order to draw the Speaker’s attention to an alleged breach of the Rules of procedure. A point of order can be raised at any time except during Question Period.

Point of Privilege
A point of privilege may be raised when a member feels that he or she is being interfered with in carrying out his or her duties as a member. A true point of privilege is very rare and serious. For example, a member could raise a point of privilege if he or she were being threatened with death or violence if he or she voted a particular way on a matter before the House or committee of the House.

Political Party
A group of people sharing a particular ideology and set of goals that puts forward candidates for election to the House of Assembly.

Portfolio
The office or responsibilities of a cabinet minister.

Premier
The leader of the recognized political party that wins the most seats in a general election. The Premier also serves as the President of the Executive Council.

Presenting and Reading Petitions
An order of business in the Daily Routine when members may present petitions to the House of Assembly on behalf of groups of citizens who are appealing for some kind of action.

Presiding Officer
The person in the chair during a meeting of the House. usually, the Speaker or, in committee, the Chair of Committees and Deputy Speaker.

Private and Local Bills
Bills introduced by members other than cabinet ministers or by cabinet ministers in their capacity as private members. Unlike Private Members Public Bills, private and local bills do not have general application throughout the province. Private bills apply only to an individual or group of individuals while local bills apply within a particular geographical area or to a particular municipality.

Private Members
A Member of the Legislative Assembly who is not a cabinet minister, also known as a backbencher. Cabinet ministers may also act outside of their portfolio responsibilities as private members.

Private Members Public Bills
Abill that enacts or amends laws that apply to the entire province but are introduced either by members other than cabinet ministers or by cabinet ministers in their capacity as private members.

Procedural Motions
A motion that deals with a routine matter, such as a motion to adjourn.

Proclamation
An official notice or order issued by the Lieutenant Governor. The House of Assembly is called into session by proclamation upon the advice of the Executive Council.

Public Bill
A bill that applies to the entire province, usually introduced by a cabinet minister. A public bill introduced by a member who is not a cabinet minister is known as a Private Members Public Bill


Question Period
The informal name for the Order of the Day formally known as Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers. During this time, members can ask cabinet ministers direct questions about government priorities and policies. Question Period occurs on Tuesdays and Thursdays for not more than one hour and on Wednesdays for not more than one hour and thirty minutes. Questions must be related to matters for which the minister is responsible.

Quorum
At least fifteen members of the House, including the Speaker, must be present in order for the House to meet and exercise its powers. If there is not a quorum then the Speaker may adjourn the House until the next sitting day.


Recognized Party
A political party recognized in accordance with the Elections Act. To be recognized, a party must have had candidates standing for election in three quarters of the seats in the House of Assembly and received ten percent or more of the votes officially recorded in the last general election.

Recorded Vote
See Roll Call Vote.

Regulation
A law made under the authority of a statute. Regulations outline rights, and create duties, obligations and responsibilities for those affected by the regualtion. They have the same binding legal effect as Statutes, but are made by persons or bodies to whom the Legislature has delegated its law-making power, such as the Governor in Council, a minister, or an administrative body or agency.

Resolution
A motion to make a declaration of opinion or purpose without ordering or requiring a particular course of action. Resolutions are typically phrased to suggest that the government initiate a certain measure.

Riding
See Electoral District.

Roll Call Vote
Generally, decisions are made in the House by a voice vote. When two Members demand it, however, roll call is taken and the division of yays and nays is entered into the minutes of the House (Hansard). When a roll call vote is demanded, the bells are rung until the Speaker is satisfied that all members wishing to vote are in their seats, then he or she directs the Clerk to call the roll.

Routine
See Daily Routine.

Ruling
A decision on the procedural acceptability of a matter before the House by the Speaker or Chair of Committees and Deputy Speaker. Rulings range from reminders to members not to speak out of turn to complex questions of parliamentary privilege and may serve as precedents for future proceedings. Rulings can only be challenged through an appeal to the House through a Notice of Motion.


Second Reading
Second reading is moved by the member who introduced the bill. The member usually explains the general principle or principles underlying the bill. A debate follows, in which any member may speak for up to one hour, but only on the bill’s general principles. Specific sections are debated in committee stage by either the Law Amendments Committee or the Private and Local Bills Committee.

Sergeant-at-Arms
The Sergeant-at-Arms is the Guardian of the Mace which is the symbol of parliamentary authority. He assists the Speaker in maintaining order in the legislative chamber and has a number of ceremonial functions which include leading the Speaker’s procession into the chamber at the start of each day’s sitting and preceding the Speaker as he or she leaves the chamber at a recess or adjournment of the Assembly. He also announces and escorts the Lieutenant Governor while entering or leaving the Chamber.

Session
A series of sittings of the House of Assembly during a General Assembly. A new session begins upon the summoning of the Members of the Legislative Assembly by the Lieutenant Governor and begins with a Speech from the Throne. The House cannot sit until its members have been summoned. The Lieutenant Governor may end the session at any time by proroguing the House and, in that case, the House cannot sit again until its members are summoned to start a new session. A session may also be ended by the dissolution of the House. In present practice, the House is only prorogued immediately before the commencement of a new session.

Sitting
A meeting of the House of Assembly.

Speaker
The Speaker presides over the House of Assembly and is also a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker is elected after a general election or during a vacancy. The House may not conduct any business until a Speaker has been elected. Any member can be nominated for the position except a member of the Executive Council, the Leader of the Opposition, or the leader of a recognized party. If there is more than one nominee then the election is by secret ballot.

The Speaker preserves order and decorum and decides questions of order. He or she does not take part in House debates or vote except to break a tie. However, when the House is in committee, the Speaker may participate in a debate and vote on any question.

Speaker’s Gallery
The gallery facing the Speaker. Visiting parliamentarians, diplomats, and others may be invited by the Speaker to sit in his or her gallery.

Speaker’s Ruling
See Ruling.

Speech from the Throne
A speech delivered by the Lieutenant Governor in a ceremonial opening of the House, written by the government and stating the government’s agenda in very general terms. It is delivered at the beginning of each new General Asembly after a general election and each new session after a prorogation.

Standing Committees
A committee of Members of the Legislative Assembly mandated by standing orders. There are currently 10 standing committees: Assembly Matters, Community Services, Economic Development, Human Resources, Internal Affairs, Law Amendments, Private and Local Bills, Public Accounts, Resources, and Veterans Affairs. All standing committees are appointed for the life of a General Assembly; however, membership changes may be made by government motion at any time.

Standing Orders
Rules adopted by the House of Assembly to govern its proceedings.

Statements by Ministers
The order of business in the Daily Routine when statements are made by cabinet ministers acknowledging special events or announcing new policies, programs, or directions for their departments or for the government as a whole.

Statute
Statutes, commonly called acts, are laws enacted by the Legislature, which consists of the Lieutenant Governor and the House of Assembly.

Strangers
Term used to refer to all persons who are not Members of the House of Assembly, officers or staff of the House.


Third Party
A political party in the House that has fewer members than the Official Opposition.

Third Party House Leader
The leader of the political party in the House that has fewer members than the Official Opposition.

Third Reading
The final stage in the consideration of a bill. Members have a chance to comment on, criticize, or ask questions about the bill again before voting on it for the last time. Third reading debate is usually limited to brief comments supporting or opposing the bill.

Throne Speech
See Speech from the Throne.


Vote of Confidence
See Confidence Motion.


Whip
A Member of the Legislative Assembly whose role is to keep other members of his or her party informed about House business and to ensure their attendance in the House, especially when a vote is to be held.