I am quite prepared now to allow discussion on that question and after that discussion I shall rule one way or the other ; but I cannot make a ruling and have discussion later on about it. The point of order is now open for discussion and after it has been discussed I shall rule finally on the question.
Would not a consideration of the actual practice in the Public Accounts Committee enable us to determine whether or not certain documents are under consideration in that committee ? At the beginning of the session and throughout the session the members of the opposition find in the Auditor General'^ Report items such as in their opinion call for inquiry. Very seldom does the opposition member when moving for papers, know that the papers will produce tangible result; but from information that he may
have received from private sources he moves for papers that he may investigate them and, as a matter of fact, no one but himself investigates them. In fact the papers are not laid before the committee ; they are brought over from the department to the clerk of the committee and are by him put in the proper pigeon holes and are never seen, in all probability, except by the member who moved for them. When papers are brought down there are probably a hundred different matters on which the papers are before the committee.
The papers are brought from the department by the order of the committee, there is no question of that ; but as a matter of fact they are not laid before the committee until some one moves to examine witnesses and when he examines the witnesses the papers are brought before the committee. Let me show to my hon. friend the absurdity of his position. Of the papers brought before the committee probably not one-twentieth are investigated by the hearing of evidence. If the rule is to be that the moment papers are brought down before the Public Accounts Committee, then the subjects with which they are concerned are excluded from discussion in this House until the committee reports, there will be on an average eighty cases each session that never come before the committee, and the committee cannot make a report because there is no subject before them.
Then what does it come to ? It has been contended that the moment papers are brought down to the Public Accounts Committee the House is debarred from discussion upon them until the committee reports. I point out that there cannot be a report until something further has been done in the committee than the mere examination of papers by a member. The hon. member for Simcoe says that this matter was never before the committee. His word must be sufficient for the committee in that respect.
Apart from the proof lie brings, the hon. member's wmrd is sufficient for this House, but when he brings the
record and shows that it is another dredging matter altogether, it practically comes to (his that the Minister of Public Works wishes to prevent discussion on dredging contract ' A ' because dredging contract ' B ' is being investigated before the committee.
In so far as the dredging goes, the question of dredging stands by itself. Ever since the Public Accounts Committee commenced the hon. member for Simcoe has been examining witnesses in regard to dredging. His first motion was in regard to one certain payment and several times, whilst the committee lias been in session, he has branched oft from that payment altogether and gone on to other matters not pertinent to it at all. His attention was called to it
This has gone on and I wish to say further that I asked the hon. gentleman only on Friday last, to close the inquiry and bring a report to the House regarding dredging. He refused saying that he had other witnesses to examine.
If the *ruling just given is correct it is a rule that has been more honoured in the breach than in the observance, because every session there are questions before the Public Accounts Committee, some of which will be investigated and some will not; during the time these papers are before the Public Accounts Committee, we go into a Committee of Supply here and we proceed to vote money for similar items, we take up the Auditor General's Report with these items that are before the Public Accounts Committee for consideration and we ask all kinds of questions about them. I think, if my memory is correct, we have sometimes brought down the original papers from that committee for the convenience of the House when we were inquiring into the expenditure of public money in connection with some of these items. At the present time there are several items regarding timber limits that are before the committee. I moved for some papers there as well in reference to some timber limits. I looked into those papers, I got all the information I required, and therefore it was unnecessary either to call witnesses or to bring the departmental officers before the committee. I obtained the information and I left the papers there. Would it be said that I had no right to use the information or to discuss those items in this House because the papers were before the Public Accounts Commit-Mr. NOETHRUP.
tee, when the Public Accounts Committee will not deal with them during the whole session, will make no report whatever ? If I understand, it is only questions with which the Puplic Accounts Committee deal and upon which they report, according to the terms of the order of reference, ' their findings, suggestions or observations,' that we may not discuss. Take the case with which the hon. member has dealt. It is true that one item of dredging that lias been before the Public Accounts Committee has been inquired into.