May 29, 1903

FIRST READINGS.


Bill (No. 185) respecting the Canadian Steel Company.-Mr. Fraser. Bill fNo. 186) to amend the Inland Revenue Act.-The Minister of Inland Revenue. Bill (No. 187) to amend the Electric Light Inspection Act.-The Minister of Inland1 Revenue. Bill (No. 1S8) to amend the Weights and Measures Act.-The Minister of Inland Revenue.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE.

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The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) moved :

That from this date to the end of the session government Orders have precedence on Mondays after Private Bills and Questions to be put by members.

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CON

Ernest D'Israeli Smith

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. D. SMITH (Wentworth).

I would remind the right hon. gentleman that last Monday he promised that an opportunity would be given to bring up the Fruit Marks Act.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I have not forgotten that promise, and should this motion carry I shall ask the House on Monday to take up the two Bills relating to this subject.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

This motion takes away our right to make any private motions whatever, such as motions for returns. Is that necessary ? For instance yesterday a question was put by my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Roche) asking how many members or ex-members of the House of Commons have been appointed to offices of emolument under the Crown since the 13th July, 1896, and also how many members or ex-members of the Senate, and he was directed to move for a return. But should this motion carry, it will be impossible for him to do so. There seems to be a remarkable discrimination made between questions put on this side of the House and

those put on the other side. I called attention to this early in the session, and was told by the hon. Minister of Customs that no such discrimination was intended. But let me point to two instances of such discrimination during the session. in the 'Hansard' of March 20th, the hon. gentleman will find a long return given by the Minister of Customs in answer to a question put by the hon. member for West Huron (Mr. Holmes)-a return which takes up the greater part of the page. 1 called attention to this and was assured by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Customs that no discrimination was intended. No doubt the question was asked by the hon. member for West Huron, at the request of the hon. Minister of Customs, and with this I am not finding fault, but what I do object to is that we should find in ' Hansard ' an answer to such a question and that hon. gentlemen on this side should hare to move for returns which would not be any more voluminous than the one given in the answer to which I have referred. Another extreme instance is to be found on the 30th of April in ' Hansard.' A certain question was put by the hon. the member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott), at the request, no doubt, of the hon. Postmaster General, and nearly two columns of ' Hansard ' are taken up, without the slightest demur, giving long statistics with regard to three different subjects. Yet when my hon. friend from Marquette asks a question, the answer to which would not take up nearly as much space, my right hon. friend tells him to move for a return. I do not want to unduly complain, but I think that my right hon. friend should make an effort to have the one rule applied to both sides, and I am sure that if that were done, we would not find the condition of affairs to which I have just drawn attention. My right lion, friend must admit that the answer to the question of my hon. friend for Marquette could not possibly involve anything like the lengthy details given in answer to the question of the hon. member for West Assiniboia, but even if it should take a half a column or two columns of ' Hansard, what difference is there ? The minister of the Crown has to bring down the information, and the only difference between bringing it down in reply to a question and bringing it down in reply to a motion, is that in the one case he reads it, and in the other he lays it on the Table. It does not seem to me that so many cases should arise in which so many gentlemen on this side are asked to-obtain information by way of motion. A very inconsiderable portion of some of the business of the House at least has been concluded up to the present, and it is quite possible that we may require information which will be obtainable only by an address or Order of the House, and it seems to me that the right hon. gentleman ought to reserve some opportunity at least to hon. gentlemen on this side for obtaining information which they can only obtain by way of motion. I do not think therefore that my right hon. friend should press the motion in its present form.

The PItIME MINISTER. I must say to my hon. friend that if there lias been any discrimination, I was not aware of it. I would be the last man to try to take an ad-advantage over the other side. It may be, however, that sometimes an answer may more readily give the information than a return in reply to a motion, but there are other eases in which the form of a motion may be more suitable. For instance, with regard to the question of the hon. member for Marquette, I have no objection to give the information desired, but I wish to introduce an amendment and bring down some further information so as to avoid discrimination. Perhaps as the question will involve discrimination, a motion to which I would add an amendment would put all parties on an equality.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

That can be accomplished by having a question put on that side.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

It would be as well accomplished by having my hon. friend from Marquette move a motion and then moving an amendment to that motion, so that the motion and the amendment would go together. We have come to the time of the session when such a motion is usually moved, and I am only following ihe usual practice. When we have reached a certain period of the session the government takes possession of all the days in order to facilitate, or rather to accelerate, the business of the House. This year, I think, there ought to be no objection at all by my hon. friend to this motion, for, I have only to recall to his mind that, at least of 'ate, on days reserved for private members business, the paper has been gone over, we have been able to finish all the business standing in the nature of private members that was ready to be dealt with and to reach the business of the government. I have no objection that on Mondays, even though this motion is carried, the motions which are not debatable should be called and passed without any objection. Also, we can take up the Bill of my hon. friend from Wentworth (Mr. Smith) and the Bill of my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson). I think that ought to satisfy my hon. friend.

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LIB

Archibald Campbell

Liberal

Mr. ARCH. CAMPBELL (West York).

I would call the attention of the right hon. the First Minister (Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) to the fact that I also have a Bill before the House, a very important measure, Bill (No. 20). This has been kept back largely at the request of the government, that they might have an opportunity to consider it. If all the Mondays are now taken by the government, there will be no opportunity to consider this Bill. The Bill has been referred to a special committee. I would

ask the Prime Minister if lie would not allow that also to be taken up.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

It is not on the Order Paper. It will be called later on when the committee reports.

Hon. JOHN HAGGAItT (South Lanark). I would draw the attention of the right hon. Prime Minister to the fact that, no matter what the period of the session, this motion was seldom made until the main estimates were all passed. At present the estimates of a good many of the departments have not been even touched. Information may be wanted by members of the opposition to enable them intelligently to prepare for the discussion of the estimates. For instance, three or four points concerning which I have notices on the paper came up in the debate yesterday. I was without accurate information on the subject and could only speak on the facts that I gathered, outside. Opportunity should be left the private members of the House to move motions to get the information necessary for the discussion of the estimates.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

With the permission of the House, I would say that I do not agree with the statements of my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. Haggart) that this motion is generally made only after the main estimates have gone through. It is not only proper, but it is the invariable rule, that all information necessary to the discussion of the estimates should be given, even if not moved for. If it is not furnished, the opposition have a very easy way of enforcing it, and I do not know but that they have availed themselves of that power on occasion even during the present session. With reference to motions of which notice has been given, they will be called up by consent. But even if the motions referred to by my hon. friend are not called up, the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) lias promised that the information shall be brought down before his estimates are completed. There will be no trouble on that score. The hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Haggart) shall have the information which lie requires.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

Well, we ask for information when the estimates are under discussion and yet it is almost impossible to get it. The minister may promise it, but he may forget, or for some other reason it is not furnished anyway. There is nothing left for us of the opposition but to do as the right hon. gentleman (Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) suggests, and declare that the item shall not pass until the information has been given.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

I would suggest one thing, if Monday is the only day we are to have. I notice that when these unopposed motions are called, some member of the government is apt to call * stand,' for some reason best known to the

government themselves. The effect is to prevent the putting of the motion. They could do so with a motion of any kind, and so no opportunity would be afforded to the member who has given notice of a motion to have it passed by the House.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I will tell my hon. friend (Mr. Sproule) why the government call ' stand.' W'hen a motion is called and the member in whose name it appears is not present, if nothing were said, the order would be dropped Many debatable questions have been called up in this way. and the hon. member who has given notice not being present, I have called ' stand ' so that the notice might remain on the Order Paper. But on Monday all the motions will be called and those which are not debatable can be passed. For instance, the motion of my hon. friend from Saskatchewan (Mr. Davis) which stands on the Order Paper is a debatable question and would not be called. But all motions moved for the production of papers will be allowed without any objection.

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Motion agreed to.


I.C.R.-WINDSOR JUNCTION ACCIDENT.

CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. F. CLARKE (West Toronto).

With the unanimous consent of the House, I would move for :

The interim report of the commissioners appointed to investigate the accident on the Intercolonial Railway near Windsor Junction at 23 o'clock. April 11, 1903.

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Motion agreed to.


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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS (Hon. A. G. Blair).

Mr. Speaker, i beg to lay on the Table the interim report of the commissioners to investigate the accident on the Intercolonial Railway near Windsor Junction.

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May 29, 1903