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

Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne (Adresse en réponse au discours du Trône)

After the throne speech has been delivered, the throne speech debate follows. The throne speech debate opens with a speech from a government backbencher that ends with a motion that the House reply to the Lieutenant Governor by thanking the Lieutenant Governor for the Speech from the Throne. Another government backbencher then speaks and seconds the motion, and the throne speech debate continues, technically, as a debate on the motion. The first person to speak after the motion has been seconded is traditionally the Leader of the Opposition.


The end of a sitting day 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.


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 House of Assembly before the proposed change takes effect.


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

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.


A Member of the Legislative Assembly who is not the Speaker, a leader of a party, a house leader, a minister, or a member of the opposition with a critic role. The term derives from the British Parliamentary tradition where the ministers and the party spokespeople sit on the front benches and all the other Members of Parliament sit on the back benches.

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.


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.


A proposed law to create an entirely new law or to change an existing one. 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, or part of them, become law either when they have been proclaimed or on a particular date.


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


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 (a writ) must be issued within six months of a vacancy and an election held within 46 days of the notice.

Cabinet Minister

A member of the Executive Council, responsible for a government department, office or agency, or for specific legislation. Ministers are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor on the advice of the Premier. Ministers are accountable to the House of Assembly for their official actions and those of their departments.


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.

Chair of Committees and Deputy Speaker

The Chair 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.

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, the Assistant Clerks and, when the House in committee, the Chairman of the Committee 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, except in Committee of the Whole House.


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 standing, select, or special committees of the House.

Crossing the Floor

Occurs when a member changes 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.


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.


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

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 51 electoral districts, sometimes called constituencies or ridings. 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 always passes without debate or vote.


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.


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 a cabinet 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.


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 Leader

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

House of Assembly

The elected body of 51 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 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 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 2/3 of the members agree.

Rules and Forms of Procedure (November 2014)

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


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

Leader of a Recognized Party

The leader of a party represented by two or more members in the House of Assembly.

Leader of the Opposition

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


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 draft bills for government and opposition. 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.


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


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 an electoral district to a seat in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

Ministerial Statements


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.

Motion of Non-confidence

A motion which shows government has lost support to enact its policies, legislation, or the spending of public funds.  When adopted by a majority of MLAs, government has lost the ‘confidence’ of the House. The government then either resigns or requests that the Lieutenant Governor dissolve the Assembly.

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.  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 the member's 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.

Official Opposition

The party having the second largest number of seats in the House of Assembly.


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.


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 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, matters determined by the opposition parties are considered by the House after the Daily Routine and Question Period.  The allotted time for Opposition Members' Business is determined by the opposition parties.

Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers

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.

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. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the order of business is Oral Questions, Government Business, Private and Local Bills, and Private Members’ Public Bills and on Wednesdays, Oral Questions, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading, Opposition Members' Business, Government Business, Private Member’s Public Bills, and Motions Under Rule 5(5).


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 by the Government or the House. 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

Points of privilege may be raised when members feel that they are being interfered with in carrying out their duties as members. True points of privilege are very rare and serious.

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.


The office or responsibilities of a cabinet minister.


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. Cabinet ministers may also act outside of their portfolio responsibilities as private members.

Private Members Public Bills

A bill 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.


An official notice 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 containing statements of law that are of general application throughout the whole province and apply to all citizens of the 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, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for not more than fifty minutes. Questions must be concisely presented and related to matters for which the minister is responsible.


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


A law made under the authority of a statute. Regulations outline rights, and create duties, obligations, and responsibilities for those affected by the regulation. 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.


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.

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 (Journals). When a roll call vote is demanded, the bells are rung, for a maximum of one hour, until the Speaker is satisfied that all members wishing to vote are in their seats, then the Speaker directs the Clerk to call the roll.


A decision on the procedural acceptability of a matter before the House by the Speaker or Chairman 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, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills.


The Sergeant-at-Arms is the Guardian of the Mace which is the symbol of parliamentary authority. The Sergeant-at-Arms 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 the Speaker leaves the chamber at a recess or adjournment of the Assembly. The Sergeant-at-Arms also announces and escorts the Lieutenant Governor while entering or leaving the Chamber.


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 for an election. In present practice, the House is only prorogued immediately before the commencement of a new session.


A meeting of the House of Assembly.


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. The Speaker 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 this particular gallery.

Speaker's 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.

Current Speech from the Throne

Standing Committees

A committee of Members of the Legislative Assembly mandated by standing orders.  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.


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


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

Third Party

A political party in the House other than the Governing party or 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.

Vote of Non-Confidence


A Member of the Legislative Assembly whose role is to keep other members in that person's party informed about House business and to ensure their attendance in the House, especially when a vote is to be held.