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Parliamentary Glossary






  Parliamentary Glossary  

Term   Definition  
  Debate   A formal discussion in Parliament or Committee in which different views may be expressed. All debates proceed from a motion. The Member moving it makes a speech explaining the basis for the motion. The Speaker or Chairman then proposes the motion as a question. Debate may take place on the motion, with Members speaking for or against it. The mover of an original motion has up to one hour to introduce the motion and only he has the right of reply. Reply is limited to one hour. During the debate in Parliament, Ministers (including Ministers of State) and Parliamentary Secretaries are given up to one hour to speak and Members are given up to 30 minutes.

At the end of the debate, the Speaker or Chairman puts the question on the motion and a vote is taken. The decisions of the House and its votes are published in the Votes and Proceedings, and the verbatim speeches are published in the Singapore Parliament Reports. (See also Hansard, Language of Debates, Rules of Debate and Votes and Proceedings) S.Os. 39 and 45(8).

  Deputy Speaker   The Deputy Speaker acts as Speaker in his absence. Up to two Deputy Speakers may be elected. Art 42 of the CRS.  
  Development Estimates   (See Estimates of Expenditure)  
  Disorderly Conduct   (See Order in the House)  
  Disqualification   (See Tenure of Office)  
  Dissolution of Parliament   Parliament stands dissolved on the expiry of its statutory term, which is a maximum of five years from the date of its first sitting. However, the Prime Minister may advise the President to dissolve Parliament by Proclamation in the Gazette before the expiry of its term. The President also has the discretion to dissolve Parliament if the office of the Prime Minister is vacant and, after a reasonable time has elapsed, there is no Member likely to command the confidence of the majority of Members. A general election must be called within three months of the dissolution to elect Members to a new Parliament. Dissolution is to be distinguished from prorogation of Parliament, which ends a session of a Parliament. (See also Government Gazette and Parliamentary Election) Art 65 of the CRS.  
  Division   Many decisions in Parliament or in Committee are made by a collection of voices. However, a Member may challenge the Chair’s opinion of the outcome and claim for a further vote by calling for a division. The claim for a division must be supported by at least four other Members. In a division, the vote of each Member is collected and tabulated through an electronic voting system.3 (See also Collection of Voices) A division must be called when amendments are made to the Constitution to ascertain whether it has the support of two-thirds of all elected Members. Where a Member merely wishes to have his dissent recorded in the Votes and Proceedings and Official Report, he may do so without calling for a division by informing the Speaker or Chairman. (For division in Select Committees, see Select Committee) S.Os. 60-62.

3 In the UK House of Commons, where this procedure originated, Members divide themselves by leaving the Chamber through two lobbies, one for the Ayes and the other for the Noes. Tellers at each lobby count the number of Members passing through each lobby and announce the results to the House. In Singapore, a division is conducted through an electronic voting system.


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