April 29, 1910

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

May I be permitted to observe that my hon. friend from North Simcoe (Mr. Currie) that this was a standing rule of the House of Commons in England long before the Nationalists were heard of, and I think moreover that it is a rule which is in line with common sense. This is a deliberative body and the discussions ought to be confined to the question which at the moment is before the House. My hon. friend says there may be occasions Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

when the opposition should fight strenuously a proposition put before it and he instanced the all-night sitting which took place during the present session. There have been all night sittings almost every session of this parliament since I have been in this House, and that runs back for more than thirty years. But the all-night sitting which took place during the present session was an exception to all the all-night sittings that I have ever heard of. It was not my good fortune or misfortune to be present, but I read the debate carefully and, I was surprised at the high character of the discussion which took place. It was not at all confined to one side of the House. All-night sittings for the purpose of obstruction are generally confined to one side of the House, the other side taking no part, but on the occasion of that all-night sitting both sides of the House discussed and discussed strenuously the proposition which was before the House. There was no irrelevant discussion as far as I could see in the debate. The discussion was of a very high character and under the circumstances I do not think the chairman would have been justified in imposing such a rule because there was no occasion to do it. I have also his word for it that he was impressed with the high character of the debate. But, if the debate goes on in a rambling manner, without any purpose, I think it is. only right that the dignity of the House should be preserved by having such a rule as they have in Great Britain. We are only following the provision of the British House of Commons and I must say that I am shocked that my hon. friend, who is a Britisher, should even interpose an objection.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

My right hon. friend knows and we all know that from the time that rules were first provided for parliamentary usage there has been a general rule that a speaker must speak to the question. In the Committee of the Whole the practice has arisen of allowing greater laxity in discussion than when we are speaking directly to a motion, and a member has only one chance of speaking. Of course,

I do not care-I am only one member of the opposition, but I feel that the House, by putting this rule in, is casting a reflection upon its past action. I do not feel like giving up any privilege or right in the way of obstruction than I have at the present time as a member of the opposition in any legislation which I consider not to be in the interest of the country is being forced through this House against my will.

I do not think the Speaker has ever had occasion, since I have been a member of the House, to bring us up very strongly: it is only occasionally that things"get a little hot and then he does it under the old rule. I do not see why there should

be any rule of this kind unless it is intended to do something that has not been done before.

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CON

Samuel Simpson Sharpe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. S. SHARPE.

In every Bill there are certain formal clauses. Is this new rule going to confine us strictly to the formal clause that may be under discussion, or will it be allowed under such a clause to discuss the merits of the Bill? If not, 1 think this will considerably restrict the discussion.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

If this new rule is applied, a member cannot discuss a Bill in committee in a general way, or the chairman will immediately shut him off. If a certain clause is before the committee, it will not be allowable to refer incidently to its bearing on other clauses.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I do not regard the rule as going that far. In the discussion of one clause, it would, of course, be allowable to refer to its meaning taken in connection with other clauses.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

If I thought the rule did not permit that, I would not consent to it for one moment. Moreover, on a motion that the committee rise or that the committee rise and report progress, there is always room for wide discussion. It does not seem to me unreasonable to say that the discussion in committee shall be relevant, and that is all that the rule amounts to. If the discussion in committee or anywhere else is not to be relevant, it is, of course, impossible to have any business done in order.

On paragraph 6,

The following new rule to be added after rule 18:

Mr. Speaker or the chairman, after having called the attention of the House, or of the committee, to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance, or tedious repitition either of his own arguments or of the arguments used by other members in debate, may direct him to discontinue his speech.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

That is the English rule copied word for word.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

It seems to me that we are making a new departure which may be of a more serious character than is intended. Hitherto members have always had the right to appeal from a ruling of the Chair to the House. In this case, I take it we have no right to appeal; the Speaker is to do just what he likes. I do not wish to insinuate that any Speaker would be partial in his ruling, but the Speaker of the English House of Commons continues to occupy that position no matter what party is in power, whereas the Speaker of this House is elected for every new parliament and is taken from the side <>f the House which for the time being is controlled by the ministers, so that if he gave a ruling that might be considered a partial one, there would be no redress. If it could be done without materially changing the rule, I think there should be an appeal to the House from the ruling of the Speaker.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

Under this rule the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole could compel a member to cease speaking during the whole session of the committee.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

No, it is simply on the question for the time being, certainly not for the whole sitting.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

Does this mean that if a member speaking in committee persists in beng irrelevant, and the chairman stops him, he can speak again while the House is in Committee, not on the same clause, but on the same Bill?

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

As I understand, he could speak again so long as he did not sin again.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Certainly.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

In other words, the chairman could direct a member to discontinue his speech, but he could not direct him not to begin again.

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?

Mr SPROULE.

I take it that the sense of the House is that there should be no appeal from this decision of the Speaker.

On paragraph 7,

The following new rule to be added after rule 78:

All members who are returned for two or more electoral districts shall make their election for which of the districts they will serve, within twenty days after it shall appear that there is no question upon the return of either district.

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CON
LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

No, of the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Campbell).

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

It seems to me that this clause is imported here without any justifiable reason. I think it should he embodied in the Election Act instead of being a rule of the House of Commons.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I see no objection to that, but we have followed the practice in England, where it is not a rule of the House, but a standing order.

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April 29, 1910