I promised the hon. member for York (Mr. Crocket) yesterday, that I would look into the question raised by him in reference to an answer to a question, on the order paper, of the hon. the Minister of Public Works. The answer referred to stated that a certain company declined to tender for certain work and that the said company gave as a reason for declining that they found certain difficulties attending upon the work. The hon. member for York asked the hon. minister to lay the papers referred to on the table. As a matter of fact, the answer of the hon. minister did not refer to any papers, and the hon. minister himself stated to the House that he was not sure there was any correspondence on the subject. The hon. member for York asked if he was not entitled to demand that the correspondence, if anyj be laid upon the table without an order of the House. -
The rule of parliament in respect to the production of papers is that no documents can be laid before the House unless in pursuance of some parliamentary authority. The proper parliamentary authority is, of course, an order of the House, which must be moved for under the rules of the House as to notice. There is, however, a rule of debate, which the hon. member for York probably had in his mind, to the effect that when a minister of the Crown quotes a public document in the House and founds upon it an argument or assertion, the document quoted from should be produced. This rule does not apply to the case in question, as I do not find that the hon. minister quoted from any public document; in fact, he stated that he was not sure there was any correspondence on the subject. I am of opinion, therefore, that the hon. member for York is not entitled to the production of any correspondence or papers, if any, without following the rule of the House as to papers, on motion after notice.