That question was before the Committee on Agriculture, but it was held in abeyance. There was no recommendation from the committee. We did not recommend that such a thing should be done ; therefore, the House is not likely to consent to it.
I am not aware that there is anything in the rules of the House which prevents us from making this motion directly to the House. It is the permission of the House that is required, and I do not understand that it requires an absolute recommendation from the committee. The necessity of it was recognized in the committee. There was more or less apparent obstruction in the committee this morning, the session is drawing to a close, there is a good deail of work to do yet, and from all appearances that work is going to take a good deal of time. It is simply to gain a day that this motion is made. It is perfectly reasonable and it is not in contravention i of any rule or precedent of the House.
But tlie committee have not asked it, and precedent to the House granting that privilege there has always been a request from the committee. The House have never done it without a request from the committee. The committee have not requested it.
A resolution to this effect was moved in the committee this morning but before it could be put to the committee some one called out ' eleven o'clock,' and insisted that the committee rise, notwithstanding the earnest protest on the part of several members of the committee that the committee could sit until we heard the call-bell of the House. The committee rose and the chairman did not put the resolution. It is impossible to get through with the business of the Agriculture Committee in a short session from 9.30 to 11 o'clock, because any matter can be debated to such an extent that it will be impossible to arrive at any conclusion as happened this morning* and as happened at the last meeting of the committee.
Mr. Speaker, I think that the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) wall conclude that it is the privilege of the committee to debate any question as they think proper. But, to coma here when there is no recommendation from the committee which should be the judge whether we should extend the hours of sitting or not is quite unprecedented. The right hon. leader of the government knows well that it is always an awkward thing to have eleven o'clock sittings when there remains some unfinished work to be done by the committees. There is an hour and a half, if the chairman desires to call the committee earlier, in which the committee may sit. Until there is a recommendation from the committee itself that we should absent ourselves from the sitting cf this House it seems to me an extraordinary proceeding that any hon. gentleman should propose to have the committee sit during the period that members are obliged to be in their places here. I will not reflect in the least upon the objects that hon. gentlemen have in view in this proceeding, but if 1 were to do so it would not be very complimentary. I hope the right hon. Prime Minister will not, for the purpose of serving any end on one side or the other, permit such an outrage as to compel, without the recommendation of the committee, members to absent themselves for one duty or another by the adoption of the proposed motion now before the House. I think it would be a perfect outrage to make a) departure of that kind.
When the hon. gentleman moved his motion in the committee it was three minutes past eleven, and the committee had no opportunity of discussing whether it would be a proper thing or whether it is really necessary to extend the time
of the Agriculture Committee. Personally I do not think it is really necessary to prolong the time of the committee. I think the committee have arrived at that stage in their work that they will be able to arrange their business within the time allotted. T have never before known that two members could come into this House and ask that a committee's time be prolonged in the absence of the decision of the committee upon the point.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say as seconder of this motion that, as was stated by my hon. friend from Annapolis (Mr. Wade), the committee had no opportunity of passing upon this question at all. The resolution was moved in the committee asking the House to grant power to the committee to sit while the House was in session. The resolution was presented at least a quarter of an hour before the House bell rang.
When I came from the committee, down here the Speaker had not yet arrived in the chamber, and it took me some time to come from the committee room to the chamber. We were not allowed to press that motion. My hon. friend from East Eigin (Mr. Ingram) thinks that the work of the committee can be got through without this resolution being passed. If that is the case the resolution will do no harm. If we can get the work through _ bef ore eleven o'clock we will not have to sit after eleven, but if we cannot it is absolutely necessary that we should have this extended time in order that we may get through with the work. The chairman of the committee complained that a large amount of work had accumulated, he said that a report had to be made to the House, that it was getting late in the session- and he appealed to the members to get through with the work. At the last sitting of the committee and at the sitting this forenoon we could get nothing done, and I submit if we do not get this resolution through and have the right to sit during the time the House is in session we will never be able to complete the work, and the House may adjourn without the committee having been able to bring in a report to the House. I do not see that this is an injury to any person. There are enough members who are not interested in the estimates and similar matters to conduct the meetings of the committee. This is not a new suggestion ; I have been in this House for eight years, and nearly every year a resolution of this kind has been passed by the House and committees have sat while the House was in session. The business of the country went on just the same, and in order to facilitate matters and to give an opportunity to complete the labours ol tha, committee I think this resolution should pass.
As chairman o'' the committee, I wish to state to the House as I did to the committee this morning, that a very great deal of business remains to be done by the committee, and the question which at present engages the attention of the committee is one of great importance. The committee has not yet reached that condition of unanimity that would indicate that we shall reach an early conclusion. Personally, as chairman, I am exceedingly anxious that the business of the committee should be got into such shape that we could report to the House at as early a date as possible. This morning I received a motion in the committee, but it was five minutes past eleven, and I had no information from the House that they would not meet until a quarter past eleven, and never decided that X should not press the motion, and so we adjourned at live minutes past eleven. The consequence was that, owing to the obstruction that took place, I was prevented from securing the sanction of the committee in asking for leave to sit while the House was in session.
Even under the conditions I would not go so far as that, but I must say that, according to my recollection, motions of this kind have always been taken and adopted upon the recommendation of the committee interested. Of course, there may be exceptions to all rules ; I do not say that this condition, ihat they should be privileged reports, should be a condition absolute ; there may be reasons perhaps why such a motion should be entertained without the recommendation of the committee. At present I think I would ask my hon. friend (Mr. Douglas) noL to press his motion to-day, in view of what was said by the hon. member for East Elgin (Mr. Ingram) a moment ago that they expect that one more sitting would complete the business and settle the differences in the committee ; and, under those circumstances, I think my hon. triend would be justified in withdrawing his motion, and perhaps to-morrow the committee can settle their difficulties. If they cannot, the House will see what they can do in order to bring peace and harmony up stairs as we have it here.
ROSS '(Victoria). The time of the committee is occupied to a great extent by hair-splitting speeches that have no sense or bearing upon the subject under discussion. A sub-committee made a report to the committee, and the whole question now before the committee is whether that report shall be adopted or rejected.
I might say, in addition to what the hon. member for Victoria, Nova Scotia, has said, that if two or three members who can only find time to come IjO that committee at certain periods when they want to have a little trouble, would refrain from coming to it, the committee would be better off. I belong to that committee, and have always taken a great deal of interest in its proceedings and have invariably attended its meetings. If some of these gentlemen who were so anxious to have the committee sit while the House is in session would contain themselves and confine themselves to the business that is in the interests of the [DOT] committee and not in the interest of their own particular notions, we would be better off. I certainly object to sitting while the House is in session if we can avoid it. It seems to me that if the committee gets together at 9.30 and we have to meet in the House at 11 and sit until after midnight, we are worked quite hard enough, and I hope the Prime Minister will not consent to any sittings of the committee unless the cases are much stronger than the one we have had in the Agricultural Committee for some time. 1 certainly am quite opposed to anything of the kind, and, as I have said, if three or four gentlemen would stay away from the committee it would be better.