Elizabeth Wilson, Independant,
Ryan Harper, National Tory,
Leader of Her Majesty's
Andrea Horgan, Nantu Labour,
Government House Leader
Lynn Ambrose, National Tory,
Opposition House Leader
Hanson Johal, Nantu Labour,
Speaker - Independant
Her Majesty's Government
Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition
Green Party of Nantu
Length of Term
Up to four years
Two terms or eight years
January 29th, 2018
On or before January 29th, 2022
House of Commons Chamber,
The House of Commons of Nantu is the lower chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Nantu, along with the sovereign and the House of Lords. The House of Commons meets in the commons chamber in the Centre Block of the parliament buildings of the Columbia Palace in the District of Columbia.
The House of Commons is a democratically elected body whose members are known as Members of Parliament (MPs). There were 300 members in the 21st Parliament, elected on January 29th, 2018. Members are elected by simple plurality ("first-past-the-post" system) in each of the country's electoral districts, which are colloquially known as ridings. MPs may hold office until Parliament is dissolved and serve for constitutionally limited terms of up to four years after an election.
Seats in the House of Commons are distributed equally to the provinces. Each province is allocated 25 members, to be distributed into ridings (electoral districts) according to population.
The House of Commons was established in 1919, when the CONSTITUTION ACT, 1919 created the Commonwealth of Nantu and was modelled on the British House of Commons. The lower of the two houses making up the parliament, the House of Commons in practice holds more power than the upper house, the House of Lords. Approval of both Houses is necessary for legislation to become law. The House of Lords has been known to reject bills passed by the Commons (very rare) but more commonly amends such bills. The Cabinet is responsible solely to the House of Commons. The prime minister stays in office only so long as they retain the support, or "confidence", of the lower house.
The term derives from the Anglo-Norman word communes, referring to the geographic and collective "communities" of their parliamentary representatives and not the third estate, the commonality. Nantu, Canada and the United Kingdom remain the only countries to use the name "House of Commons" for a lower house of parliament.
Relationship with Her Majesty's Government
Although the House of Commons does not formally elect the prime minister, by convention and in practice, the prime minister is answerable to the House, and therefore must maintain its support. In this way, the position of the parties in the House is of overriding importance. Following an election, the monarch appoints as Prime Minister, the person who has the support of the House, or who is most likely to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the House—while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the leader of the Opposition. Whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Deputy Premier is appointed as Prime Minster in accordance with the line of succession. The line of succession runs through the cabinet through to the speaker, who assumes the role of acting Prime Minster. The monarch may then appoint a member who holds the confidence of the house or dissolve parliament and call an election.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Matters of confidence include the government's annual budget and important bills of the government's agenda. No confidence motions are phrased explicitly, "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." When a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for the Deputy Premier that shall attempt to command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament and calling an election.
Parliament sits up to a maximum of four years between general elections; the house is dissolved January 5th and the general election occurs January 29th. The prime minister can choose an earlier time to dissolve parliament, with the permission of the monarch. An early general election can be brought about by the approval of MPs holding at least two-thirds of all seats or by a vote of no confidence in the government that is not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence (which may be for confidence in the same government or in a different one).
Whatever the reason—the expiry of parliament's four-year term, the choice of the prime minister, or a government defeat in the House of Commons—a dissolution is followed by general elections. If the prime minister's party retains its majority in the House of Commons, then the prime minister may remain in power. On the other hand, if his or her party has lost its majority, the prime minister may resign or may attempt to stay in power by winning support from members of other parties. A prime minister may resign even if he or she is not defeated at the polls (for example, for personal health reasons); in such a case, the premiership goes to the deputy premier of the outgoing prime minister's party.
According to the constitution, ministers are members of the House of Commons. The elected status of members of the Commons (as opposed to the unelected Chancellors) and their direct accountability to the House, together with empowerment and transparency, ensures ministerial accountability. Responsible government is an international constitutional paradigm. The prime minister chooses the ministers, and may decide to remove them at any time, although the appointments and dismissals are formally made by the Sovereign.
Scrutiny of the Government
The House of Commons formally scrutinises the Government through its Committees and Question Period, a daily forty-five-minute period during which members have the opportunity to ask questions of the prime minister and cabinet members. The Prime Minister is mandated to attend a minimum of two Question Period's per week; both slots may be delegated to the Deputy Premier with regards to international travel. Questions must relate to the responding minister's official government activities, not to his or her activities as a party leader or as a private Member of Parliament. Members may also question committee chairmen on the work of their respective committees. Members of each party are entitled to the number of questions proportional to the party caucus' strength in the house. In addition to questions asked orally during Question Period, Members of Parliament may also make inquiries in writing.
Members of federal caucuses may only be expelled by a 2/3 majority vote of their respective caucus; no party leader may unilaterally expel members. This is part of the House of Commons Constitution that all parties must sign on to. This increases the influence of back bench MP's and ensures party leadership works with all caucus members.
The House of Commons retains the power to impeach MP's, Ministers of the Crown (or any other subject, even if not a public officer) for their crimes. Impeachments are tried by the House of Lords, where a simple majority is necessary to convict.
Although legislation may be introduced in either House, most bills originate in the House of Commons and the House of Commons alone is authorized to originate bills imposing taxes or appropriating public funds. Otherwise, the power of the two Houses of Parliament is theoretically equal; the approval of each is necessary for a bill's passage. In practice, however, the House of Commons is the dominant chamber of Parliament. The House of Lords may initiate legilsation, amend or reject bills; in practice, the House of Lords rarely rejects legislation passed by the Commons.
Bills pass through the following stages:
- First reading: Procedural formality
- Second reading: Debate on the general principles of the bill followed by a vote. Second reading of a government bill is usually approved and a defeat signifies a major loss. If the bill is read a second time, then it progresses to the committee stage
- Committee stage: Takes place in a standing committee of the Commons or House of Lords. The committee considers each clause of the bill, and may make amendments to it; significant amendments may be made at committee stage.
- Standing committee: Permanent committee that deals with bills in specific subject areas and chairmanship is determined by the members of the committee
- Special committee: Established for a particular purpose, be it the examination of a bill or a particular issue and chairmanship is determined by the members of the committee
- Legislative committee: Established for the consideration of a particular bill a chairmanship is determined by the Speaker, rather than elected by the members of the committee
- Committee of the Whole: The whole house sits as a committee in the House of Commons or House of Lords and is most often used to consider appropriation bills, but can be used to consider any bill
Report stage: This takes place on the floor of the appropriate chamber, and allows the either House to approve amendments made in committee, or to propose new ones
Third reading: A debate on the final text of the bill, as amended
Passage: The bill is then sent to the other House (to the House of Lords, if it originated in the House of Commons; to the Commons, if it is a Lords bill), where it will face a virtually identical process. If the other House amends the bill, the bill and amendments are sent back to the original House for a further stage
Consideration of amendments: The House in which the bill originated considers the amendments made in the other House. It may agree to them, amend them, propose other amendments in lieu or reject them. If each House insists on disagreeing with the other, the Bill is lost
Disagreement between the Houses: There is no specific procedure under which the House of Lord's disagreement can be overruled by the Commons and rejection is absolute
Royal Assent: The bill is granted royal assent by the Monarch and becomes law. The Monarch may veto any bill (excluding appropriation bills), although this is only considered for extreme circumstances and occurred twice in Nantu's history. Both Houses of Parliament may overrule the Monarch with a 2/3 majority vote
The debate on each stage is actually debate on a specific motion. For the first reading, there is no debate. For the second reading, the motion is "That this bill be now read a second time and be referred to (name of committee)" and for third reading "That this bill be now read a third time and pass." In the Committee stage, each clause is called and motions for amendments to these clauses, or that the clause stand part of the bill are made. In the Report stage, the debate is on the motions for specific amendments.
Once a bill has passed both Houses in an identical form, it receives final, formal examination by the Monarch, who gives it the royal assent. Although the Monarch can refuse to assent a bill at this stage, this power has only been exercised twice.
Bills being reviewed by Parliament are assigned numbers: 1 to 500 for government bills, 501 to 1000 for private member's bills, and 1001 up for private bills. They are preceded by C- if they originate in the House of Commons, or L- if they originate in the House of Lords. Bills C-C1 and L-L1 are pro forma bills, and are introduced at the beginning of each session in order to assert the right of each Chamber to manage its own affairs. They are introduced and read a first time, and then are dropped from the Order Paper.
The Parliament of Nantu uses committees for a variety of purposes. Committees consider bills in detail and may make amendments. Other committees scrutinize various Government agencies and ministries.
Potentially, the largest of the Commons committees are the Committees of the Whole, which consist of all the members of the House. A Committee of the Whole meets in the Chamber of the House but proceeds under slightly modified rules of debate. A member may make more than one speech on a motion in a Committee of the Whole, but not during a normal session of the House. Instead of the Speaker, the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, or Assistant Deputy Chairman presides. The House resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole to discuss appropriation bills, and sometimes for other legislation.
The House of Commons also has several standing committees, each of which has responsibility for a particular area of government. These committees oversee the relevant government departments, may hold hearings and collect evidence on governmental operations and review departmental spending plans. Standing committees may also consider and amend bills. Standing committees consist of between ten and twelve members each, and elect their chairmen.
Some bills are considered by legislative committees, each of which consists of up to fifteen members. The membership of each legislative committee roughly reflects the strength of the parties in the whole House. A legislative committee is appointed on an ad hoc basis to study and amend a specific bill. Also, the Chairman of a legislative committee is not elected by the members of the committee but is instead appointed by the Speaker, normally from among his deputies. Most bills, however, are referred to as standing committees rather than legislative committees.
The House may also create ad hoc committees to study matters other than bills. Such committees are known as special committees. Each such body, like a legislative committee, may consist of no more than fifteen members. Other committees include joint committees, which include both members of the House of Commons and House of Lords; such committees may hold hearings and oversee government, but do not revise legislation.
House of Commons Standing Committees:
- Access to Information and Privacy Committee
Nantu Heritage Committee
Joint Citizenship and Immigration Committee
Joint Electoral Integrity Committee
Environment and Sustainable Development Committee
Joint Ethics and Integrity Committee
Joint Finance Committee
Fisheries and Oceans Committee
Joint Foreign Affairs Committee
Government Operations and Estimates Committee
Human Resources and Social Development Committee
Industry, Science and Technology Committee
International Trade Committee
Justice and Human Rights Committee
Joint Law Enforcement and Intelligence Committee
Joint Law Enforcement and Intelligence Committee
The Joint Law Enforcement and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (LEICOP) is an independent standing committee responsible for overseeing the activities of Nantu's national security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Members of LEICOP are appointed from both houses of the Parliament of Nantu, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, by the Monarch on the advice of the Attorney General and Federal Integrity Commission. The Committee also performs strategic and systemic reviews of the legislative, regulatory, policy, expenditure and administrative frameworks under which national security activities are conducted.
The Joint Law Enforcement and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians has a broad government-wide mandate to scrutinize all national security, law enforcement and intelligence activities carried out by the Government of Nantu. The Committee is empowered to perform reviews of national security and intelligence activities including ongoing operations, and strategic and systemic reviews of the legislative, regulatory, policy, expenditure and administrative frameworks under which these activities are conducted. It also conducts reviews of matters referred by a minister.
The members of the committee are given access to highly classified material in carrying out their duties. The committee holds evidence sessions with Government Ministers and senior officials (for example, the heads of the security and intelligence Agencies), expert witnesses such as academics and journalists, and other interested parties. It also considers written evidence from the intelligence and security Agencies and relevant government departments.
The Committee provides oversight to at least 20 federal agencies involved in security issues, including:
Foreign Affairs Ministry
Attorney General's Office
National Security Service (NSS)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Customs and Excise Bureau (CEB)
Aviation Safety Administration (ASA)
Department of Corrections (DoC)
Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSET)
Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (InTAC)
Nantu Marshals Service (NMS)
Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Nantu (FINTRAN)
National Revenue Criminal Investigation Division (NRCID)
Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS)
Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)
Signal Intelligence Service (SInTelS)
Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)
Nantu Reconnaissance and Satellite Office (NaRSO)
Nantu Armed Forces Office of Special Investigations (NAFOSI)
The Committee is a statutory committee made up of parliamentarians, but it is an independent agency whose members are appointed by and administratively housed within the executive branch rather than within the structures of Parliament. This structure is designed to give the committee a high-degree of independence and access to classified government information, while providing for necessary controls on the use and disclosure of this information.
The committee consists of a Chair and fifteen other members, five from the House of Lords and ten from the House of Commons. A maximum of five members from the House of Commons are allowed from the governing party. Members are appointed by the Monarch on the recommendation of the Attorney General and Federal Integrity Commission. The members of the committee elect the chairperson.
Committee members are required to obtain a Top-Secret security clearance and swear an oath of secrecy before assuming their position on the committee, and they also must maintain the confidentiality of information they receive for the rest of their lives. Any breach will open the door to criminal prosecution and members would not be able to claim parliamentary immunity if they disclosed classified information.
House of Commons:
Brenda Waters (Chair), Nantu Labour, December 7th, 2017
Seth Wright, Nantu Labour, November 17th, 2017
Margaret Lee, Nantu Labour, January 30th, 2018
Francois Champagne, National Tory, April 19th, 2019
Esther Davidson, National Tory, January 30th, 2018
Mark Lord, National Tory, January 30th, 2018
Christina Gangotra, National Tory, January 30th, 2018
George Coulson, National Tory, January 30th, 2018
Katherine Mayberry, Nantu Democratic, September 1st, 2019
Jason Renee, National Union, April 19th, 2019
House of Lords:
Kenneth Frum, Independent, June 8th, 2011
Donald Sutton, Independent, August 12th, 2011
Heather Linden, Independent, March 18th, 2014
Justine Ottenbreit, Independent, May 2nd, 2013
Liam Nelson, Independent, November 11th, 2017
Joint National Defence Committee
Natural Resources Committee
Procedure and House Affairs Committee
Public Accounts Committee
Transport and Infrastructure Committee
Veterans Affairs Committee
Like the House of Lords, the House of Commons meets in Centre Block of the Columbia Palace in the District of Columbia. The Commons Chamber is modestly decorated in green, in contrast with the more lavishly furnished red Lord's Chamber. The arrangement is similar to the design of the Chamber of the British House of Commons. The seats are evenly divided between both sides of the Chamber, three metres apart. The Speaker's chair is at the north end of the Chamber. In front of it is the Table of the House, on which rests the ceremonial mace. Various "Table Officers"—clerks and other officials—sit at the table, ready to advise the Speaker on procedure when necessary. Members of the Government sit on the benches on the Speaker's right, while members of the Opposition occupy the benches on the Speaker's left. Government ministers sit around the Prime Minister, who is traditionally assigned the 10th seat in the front row on the Speaker's right-hand side. The leader of the Official Opposition sits directly across from the Prime Minister and is surrounded by a Shadow Cabinet or critics for the government portfolios. The remaining party leaders sit in the front rows. Other Members of Parliament who do not hold any kind of special responsibilities are known as "backbenchers".
Centre block of Columbia Palace
House of Commons Chamber
The House sits Monday to Friday from February 1st (or closest Monday) to June 30th (closest Friday) and from September 5th (closest Monday) to December 18th (closest Friday) according to House of Commons constitution. These session may be modified by a majority of the members. During these periods, the House generally rises for one week per month to allow members to work in their constituencies. Sittings of the House are open to the public and proceedings are broadcast over live streaming video on the Internet.
The Constitution Act, 1919 establishes a quorum of fifty members (including the member presiding) for the House of Commons. Any member may request a count of the members to ascertain the presence of a quorum; if however, the Speaker feels that at least fifty members are clearly in the Chamber, he or she may deny the request. If a count does occur, and reveals that fewer than fifty members are present, the Speaker orders bells to be rung, so that other members on the parliamentary precincts may come to the Chamber. If, after a second count, a quorum is still not present, the Speaker must adjourn the House until the next sitting day.
During debates, members may only speak if called upon by the Speaker (or, as is most often the case, the deputy presiding). The Speaker is responsible for ensuring that members of all parties have an opportunity to be heard. The Speaker also determines who is to speak if two or more members rise simultaneously, but his or her decision may be altered by the House. Motions must be moved by one member and seconded by another before debate may begin.
Speeches must be made in English. Members must address their speeches to the presiding officer, not the House, using the words "Mr. Speaker" or "Madam Speaker". Other members must be referred to in the third person. Traditionally, members do not refer to each other by name, but by constituency or cabinet post, using forms such as "the honourable member for [electoral district]" or "the Minister of..." Members' names are routinely used only during roll call votes, in which members stand and are named to have their vote recorded; at that point they are referred to by title (Ms. or Mr.) and last name. Members with the same last names are listed by their name and riding.
No member may speak more than once on the same question; the mover of a motion is entitled to make one speech at the beginning of the debate and another at the end. Moreover, tediously repetitive or irrelevant remarks are prohibited, as are written remarks read into the record. The presiding officer may order a member making such remarks to cease speaking. The Standing Orders of the House of Commons prescribe time limits for speeches. The limits depend on the nature of the motion but are most commonly between ten and twenty minutes. However, under certain circumstances, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and others are entitled to make longer speeches. The debate may be further restricted by the passage of "time allocation" motions. Alternatively, the House may end debate more quickly by passing a motion for "closure".
When the debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. The House first votes by voice vote; the presiding officer puts the question, and Members respond either "yea" (in favour of the motion) or "nay" (against the motion). The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote, but five or more members may challenge his or her assessment, thereby forcing a recorded vote. First, members in favour of the motion rise, so that the clerks may record their names and votes. Then, the same procedure is repeated for members who oppose the motion. There are no formal means for recording an abstention, though a member may informally abstain by remaining seated during the division. If there is an equality of votes, the Speaker has a casting vote.
All votes in the house are free votes, according to the chambers constitution. Parties are not allowed to unilaterally expel members from their caucus; a 2/3 majority vote is required. Therefore, backbench MP's have a high degree of independence and freedom, ensuring the house operates according to the will of the people.
The House of Commons elects a presiding officer, known as the speaker, at the beginning of each new parliamentary term, and also whenever a vacancy arises. The House elects speakers by secret ballot with a simple majority. The speaker is assisted by a deputy speaker, who also holds the title of chair of Committees of the Whole. Two other deputies—the deputy chair of Committees of the Whole and the assistant deputy chair of Committees of the Whole—also preside. The duties of presiding over the House are divided between the four officers aforementioned; however, the speaker usually presides over Question Period and over the most important debates.
The speaker controls debates by calling on members to speak. If a member believes that a rule (or standing order) has been breached, they may raise a "point of order", on which the speaker makes a ruling that is not subject to any debate or appeal. The speaker may also discipline members who fail to observe the rules of the House. When presiding, the speaker must remain impartial. The speaker also oversees the administration of the House and is chair of the Board of Internal Economy, the governing body for the House of Commons. The current speaker of the House of Commons is Elizabeth Wilson.
The member of the Government responsible for steering legislation through the House is leader of the Government in the House of Commons. The government house leader is a member of Parliament selected by the prime minister and holds the position of Deputy Premier; first in the Prime Minister order of succession. The leader manages the schedule of the House of Commons and attempts to secure the Opposition's support for the Government's legislative agenda.
Officers of the House who are not members include the clerk of the House of Commons, the deputy clerk, the law clerk and parliamentary counsel, and several other clerks. These officers advise the speaker and members on the rules and procedure of the House in addition to exercising senior management functions within the House administration. Another important officer is the sergeant-at-arms, whose duties include the maintenance of order and security on the House's premises and inside the buildings of the parliamentary precinct. The sergeant-at-arms oversees the National Investigative Service Protection Unit assigned to the parliamentary buildings. The sergeant-at-arms also carries the ceremonial mace, a symbol of the authority of the Crown and the House of Commons, into the House each sitting. The House is also staffed by parliamentary pages, who carry messages to the members in the chamber and otherwise provide assistance to the House.
The Commons' mace has the shape of a medieval mace which was used as a weapon, but in brass and ornate in detail and symbolism; at its head is a replica of the Imperial State Crown. The Commons mace is placed upon the table in front of the speaker for the duration of the sitting with the crown pointing towards the prime minister and the other cabinet ministers, who advise the Queen and are accountable to this chamber (in the House of Lords, the mace points towards the throne, where the Queen has the right to sit herself).
House of Commons Mace
The House of Commons comprises 300 members, each of whom represents a single electoral district (also called a riding). The constitution specifies each province is represented by twenty-five members, with ridings dispersed in each province by population.
General elections occur whenever parliament is dissolved by the Monarch. Although the timing of the dissolution has historically been chosen by the prime minister, the Constitution states that no parliament last longer than four years past January 5th. Nantu law requires that parliament be dissolved on January 5th and general election must be held on January 29th in the fourth year after the last election, subject to the discretion of the Crown. Candidates are nominated by political parties. A candidate can run independently, although it is rare for such a candidate to win. Most candidates are chosen in meetings called by their party's local association. In practice, the candidate who signs up the most local party members generally wins the nomination.
To run for a seat in the house, candidates must file nomination papers bearing the signatures of at least 100 constituents and pay a non-refundable fee of $1,000 KN. Each electoral district returns one member using the first-past-the-post electoral system, under which the candidate with a plurality of votes wins. To vote, one must be a citizen of Nantu, be of at least twenty-one years of age and have no criminal convictions.
Once elected, a Member of Parliament normally continues to serve until the next dissolution of parliament. If a member dies, resigns, or ceases to be qualified, his or her seat falls vacant. It is also possible for the House of Commons to expel a member, but this power is only exercised when the member has engaged in serious misconduct or criminal activity. A vacancy may be filled by a by-election in the appropriate electoral district. The first-past-the-post system is used in by-elections, as in general elections and the election must be held within two months of the members vacancy.
Under the Constitution Act, 1919, Parliament is empowered to determine the qualifications of members of the House of Commons. Under the Act, an individual must be an eligible voter, as of the day on which he or she is nominated, to stand as a candidate. Thus, minors, persons with criminal convictions and individuals who are not citizens of Nantu are not allowed to become candidates.
The Act also prohibits certain officials from standing for the House of Commons. These officers include members of provincial legislatures, crown attorneys, judges, and election officers. The Chief Electoral Officer and Assistant Chief Electoral Officer (the heads of Nantu Elections, the federal agency responsible for conducting elections) are prohibited not only from standing as candidates but also from voting. Finally, under the Constitution Act, 1919, a member of the House of Lords may not also become a member of the House of Commons and MPs must give up their seats when appointed to the House of Lords or the bench.
The term member of Parliament is usually used only to refer to members of the House of Commons, even though the House of Lords is also a part of Parliament. Members of the House of Commons may use the post-nominal letters "MP" and the style of "the Honourable" (or Right Honourable in the case of ht ePrime Minister or Deputy Premier). The annual salary of each member of Parliament, as of April 2020, is $155,500 KN. The position of speaker or cabinet minister includes a $20,000KN pay addition. The deputy speaker receives a $10,000 KN pay addition. Members are eligible for a partial pension upon completion of six years of service and a full pension upon completion of the maximum eight year service limit. MP's are granted an annual indemnity for travel, office expenses and staff. In the Nantu order of precedence, MPs rank immediately below chancellors of the House of Lords.
With regards to the House of Commons, nothing said within the chambers may be questioned by any court or other institution outside of Parliament. In other words, freedom of speech is guaranteed to members in the Commons chamber. In particular, a member cannot be sued for slander based on words uttered in the course of parliamentary proceedings, the only restraint on debate being set by the standing orders of each house. Further, MPs are immune to arrest in civil (but not criminal) cases, from jury service and attendance in courts as witnesses. They may, however, be disciplined by their colleagues for breach of the rules, including contempt of Parliament—disobedience of its authority; for example, giving false testimony before a parliamentary committee—and breaches of its own privileges.