April 12, 1921

UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre) :

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad that the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) has brought up this subject -not that I agree with him, but in order that I may have this opportunity of expressing the view of one who comes from a great distance and is forced to remain in Ottawa practically during the whole session. It is all very well for hon. gentlemen who live within a few hours' journey from the Capital and who can give fair attention to their private affairs while the session is in progress to be anxious to restrict the hours of sitting of the House. But it is exceedingly unfair to those of us who come from a distance, who have to remain here during the whole session and who have no opportunity of attending to private business, that there should be two days of the week during which very little business is done, namely, Monday and Friday-the result of an ancient tacit arrangement between both sides of the House. It is generally understood that no contentious business will be carried on during those two days. When the House meets on Friday we note

that there has taken place a general exodus of hon. gentlemen who live eastward in Quebec and in eastern Ontario, and who leave Ottawa on the 3.30 or 4 o'clock train on Friday afternoon and remain away until Monday or Tuesday. On Friday night about nine o'clock nearly all the Ontario members, or a very large number of them, living west of Ottawa, in the vicinity of Toronto and in western Ontario, leave the city, and return, as a rule, on Tuesday morning. I submit that this is exceedingly unfair to those of us who are not privileged to communicate with our business associates at home or with our families. Now, I have no apology to nlake for speaking as I do, because during the thirteen sessions-I think it is-that I have been in the House I have only on one occasion missed more than seven days in a session; in many sessions it has been three or four days. I speak, therefore, with some conviction and with a considerable degree of feeling. I do not wish to make personal references, but I know how it is with myself. Business has suffered very seriously, and this condition could be remedied somewhat if hon. gentlemen attended the sittings of the House on Mondays and Fridays and evidenced on those days the same degree of interest in the business that they do on the other days of the week. If, moreover, we were to cut the speeches on ordinary occasions-excepting, perhaps, those of the mover and the seconder of a motion-down to about twenty minutes or half-an-hour, I think that would be a move in the right direction. But I submit to my hon. friend who moves this motion that nearly all the late sittings are occasioned by the participation in debate by hon. gentlemen who take very little interest in the business and who come in at the last moment when an important vote is about to be taken. I have seen it scores of times, and my hon. friend has seen it oftener than I have. An important subject is under consideration-we will say, the Budget, the speech from the Throne, or some other important matter-and it is generally understood, after a debate of perhaps two or three weeks, that a vote will be taken, say, on Tuesday. Well, under ordinary circumstances it is expected that the vote will be taken during the evening, but, one after another hon. gentleman whom, perhaps, we seldom see in the House and whom we seldom hear, get up and the debate drags on until two, three or four o'clock in the morning. That is invariably the case, so the condition which prevails is not the fault of those who regularly attend the sittings of

the House; it is not the fault of those of us, I contend, who come from the remoter sections of the country. It is largely the fault of such hon. gentlemen as I have described.

Now, I would not favour restricting the hours as suggested by the hon. gentleman, because it would simply mean the prolonging of the session and the imposing of greater hardships upon those who attend regularly the sittings of the House. In my estimation, the adoption of this proposed rule would do no good. But I would like to see the rules amended, as I moved in the House about two sessions ago, so as to restrict the length of speeches in debate. That, I think, would tend greatly to facilitate the business of the House. I further would like to see this unwritten law of no serious business being taken up on Monday and Friday entirely done away with, so that during the five days of the week that the House is sitting we may accomplish as much business as possible.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK (Red Deer) :

Mr. Speaker, I find myself in complete agreement with fifty per cent of the resolution of my hon. friend (Mr. Fielding). Speaking from personal experience, I have found the two o'clock to six o'clock sitting long and irksome and such as to make it difficult to follow closely all the business that goes on during those four hours. With regard to the recess in the evening on Wednesdays, I think we are doing very well. We have a recess in the evening for the first portion of the session when the darkness comes early and it is the pleasure of members to meet in social gatherings on that particular evening of the week.

I am not in agreement with my hon. friend as to his further proposition. There is something in what has fallen from the lips of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens)-that we ought not to have these days in the week when we do not do any serious business. All the working days of the week ought to be treated very much alike. I cannot, however, quite agree with the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) that no serious business is done in this House after eleven o'clock at night. Why, Sir, if I may say so, he himself is the very embodiment of the contradiction of what he has laid down in that respect. I have the pleasantest recollection of a speech which he delivered in the old Museum while we assembled there. I am sure it was after eleven o'clock at night when he renewed his reciprocity

discussion with the former Minister of Finance, and to the delight of everybody, in perfect temper and in round and eloquent periods, long after eleven o'clock at night, he assailed his opponent with horse, foot and artillery. Indeed, I think my hon. friend's brain considering the years it has functioned, is a perfect miracle of activity after eleven o'clock in the evening. I say that with all sincerity and, therefore, I contend that he himself is a contradiction of what he has stated. He has made so many good speeches in his time that he has forgotten the time of night at which he has delivered them, but I am sure I have not. I have heard many of his speeches delivered after eleven o'clock at night, all of them while he was an older man than I am at the present moment.

The resolution has some misgivings about itself, so to speak. It says that we might still find exceptional circumstances in which we should sit after eleven o'clock at night. It is only in exceptional circumstances that we do so now, and, indeed, at the beginning of this session, the disposition is all the other way. On the very first night of the debate on the Address, the House was adjourned at ten minutes to ten by a leading front-bench man on this side of the House. That is a reprehensible practice. We should as in so many things in life, begin as we mean to carry on with the sittings of Parliament; we should be a businesslike body from the beginning of the session to the end. I am in thorough agreement with the hon. member for Vancouver Centre in that respect. And his argument might be carried further in regard to the meetings at the beginning of the session. We ought to do business then just as we do it later; and I think there are special circumstances when the Government of the day would be justified, from the very beginning of the session, in refusing adjournment at 9.50 o'clock in the evening, because at 9.50 o'clock we have not sat two hours in the evening. Improvement could be made along the lines mentioned by my hon. friend and along this line. The resolution, as I have said, would allow us to sit still later in exceptional circumstances; and I think that debates that have been carried on in a traditional way so long as almost to become constitutional might very well still be carried on in that way, and that the common-sense of the House of Commons could use its time on the whole wisely with the rules as they are in regard to our general meeting. I am getting old enough to have to restrain some of those' revolutionary tendencies that show themselves unaccountably in men older than myself, and I would feel if we made the alteration on Wednesdays and and the Government would consider before another session came up, of giving fifty per cent of this resolution their earnest attention, we might leave the conduct of our general debate on the other days of the week to the common-sense of this assembly, which has never erred very far and which, I feel, will be a growing quantity in this great young country as the years go by.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. J. A. CURRIE (Simcoe North) :

Mr. Speaker, I am one member of the House who find I cannot quite agree with the hon. gentleman who introduced the resolution. Some years ago the rules of the House were under review, and a number of corrections were made in them. At that time it was supposed that we had reached finality in the matter of change. Two questions are brought under review by this resolution. The first is the matter of the elimination of Wednesday evening sittings. Mondays and Wednesdays are private members' days. Many members do not realize that, in the Old Country, owing to the large amount of work they have, they are compelled to shorten up the time, so that private members who wish to bring resolutions or private Bills to the attention of the House, have to go into the lobby and ballot, and possibly not more than 15 per cent of the members who wish to bring private matters before the House, have an opportunity of doing so. Fortunately, that is mot so in this House; the utmost latitude is given to members to bring in matters of a private nature and to discuss them, and generally during the first two months of the session we spend Mondays and Wednesdays in discussing matters brought forward by private members.

It would be a great mistake, to my mind, to eliminate the night session, especially until some rule is adopted with reference to Supply. Those of us who have been in this House for a long time know very well that the greatest enemy, the wolf of time, in this House, is the discussion over Estimates. A small item, amounting possibly to not more than a couple of hundred dollars in the aggregate, will be discussed in committee of Supply for a whole day and a whole night and the same thing argued over and over again. Nothing very edifying is achieved by that operation and no particular information gained. When our rules were changed some years ago, we inserted a clause giving cloture with notice,

and cloture with notice meant simply, in the matter of the Estimates, that a minister, coming into this House in the afternoon or at night with his Estimates, was at liberty to stand up and call a series of items, ten, fifteen or twenty as the case might be, for the next day, and the next day the items would go through automatically, the time limit for speeches being twenty minutes. We have never taken advantage of that rule. Had we done so, the time occupied by the House in putting Estimates through would be cut down by seventy-five per cent, and that is where the great loss of time occurs.

As regards work on Mondays and Fridays and the understood rule that no matters of a controversial nature should be brought up on those days, apparently the blame for everything is cast upon those members who are so fortunate, as regards Parliament, as to be able to go home at the end of the week. I am not so selfish as to turn around and say that most of the time of the House is occupied by members from the remote provinces; but if you compare the amount of talking done by members from Ontario and that done by members from remote provinces, you will find that fully seventy-five per cent of the talk is done by members from remote provinces. If you adopt this resolution, you are going to prevent every man, who has a business of his own and knows anything at all about the business of the country, from coming into this House. This country at the present moment is faced with a grave crisis in its business affairs, and surely hon. members do not wish to have this House full of professional politicians. If you adopt any such rule as is proposed you are going to have that. If you want to shorten the sessions, apply closure to the Estimates, and you will cut the length of the session by fully one-half, but if you are going to prevent business men in the eastern part of this country from going home and looking after their affairs over the week-end, you are simply going to eliminate all the business men from Ontario and Quebec from this House. I do not think it is in the interests of this country that anything of that kind should take place. If you are going to deprive private members of their privileges on Mondays and Wednesday, why, of course, you can do so, but I warn you that in doing so you are doing grave injury to the country. I claim that with the rules as at present laid down, if they were as religiously enforced as they should be, the

length of the session could be cut fully one-half.

What good purpose is served by lengthy debates on Estimates? I have sat in this House for many years, and again and again I have seen an item come up and discussed, and then when the discussion was over and the minister had given his explanation, some member would wander into the House from the lobby and the whole discussion would be gone over again. When that member had got all the information he desired another member would come in and want the whole thing argued over again. There is nothing to be gained by that mode of procedure. We must get down to business, and some method must be adopted of expediting the work, either by a committee outside of the House going over the Estimates, or by limiting the discussion in this House on the various items of Supply, as our rules provide. But the trouble is that no ministry has been strong enough or fearless enough to carry out the rules of the House as they are laid down. If that were done, there would not be one-half the trouble. We had endless debates in this House, running over three and four days, until the closure rule was adopted. I remember the first time closure was applied. Notice of the business to be taken up on the following day was given, and when the business came up for discussion speeches were limited to twenty minutes. Half of my hon. friends opposite could not occupy their twenty minutes and the vote went through long before it was anticipated it would. Had closure not been applied on that occasion, the debate would have gone on for two or three weeks. If you desire to do justice to men who are not professional politicians,-and I think the country at large needs a few of these men,-you must be as reasonable as possible to the business men in the House and give them an opportunity once in a while to give a little attention to their own affairs. I know it is a great hardship on the western member who lives at such a distance from Ottawa that he cannot go home over the week-end, but I think the eastern members and those nearby Ottawa can help matters out very much, and they have been trying to do so, by inviting the members from a distance to go out socially and see some of the country in the East. There is a great deal to be seen in the East as well as in the West. The East is an important part of this country, just as much as the West. We should not have

any class ideas whatsoever. It is very much in the interests of the whole country that Parliament should be of a cosmopolitan character, that all interests should be represented here, not as classes but as a whole. We should have a certain percentage of the professional classes, a certain percentage of the trading class, of the manufacturing class, and of the agricultural class. Every class should be represented here, every race, religion, and colour, and then Parliament would get a proper view of the mind of the people of this country as a whole.

I have had occasion to sit at the head of committees of this House, and I have found that the business men in the committees were very active, and very willing to carry on the work of the committee just as they would their own private affairs. There is a Joint Committee on Printing, of which I have had the honour to be Chairman for many years. The membership includes a number of Senators, and amongst them some of the ablest men in the whole of Canada. By organizing, and through earnest efforts to achieve some saving in that branch of the Government business, we have succeeded, in three years, in making a saving of close to a million dollars in very small expenditures. I am satisfied that if the gentlemen composing other committees were of that character and made up their minds what they were going to do, the business would be done much more expeditiously. For instance, if we had a committee on Supply composed of members of the House with good executive ability, I am satisfied that the discussion on Estimates in this House would be very much shortened. What is the situation now? From now on, three-fourths of the session will be given over to Supply, and when the end of the session approaches about twenty per cent of the Supply may have passed, and then the rest all goes through with a rush in one day, or two. Hundreds of millions of dollars will then be voted without any one having a word to say.

If a number of items were called by a minister for discussion on the following day, and we had to get those items off the slate, and the discussion were limited, I am sure we could discuss properly every item in the Estimates and shorten the session very considerably. Sometimes a minister has items he does not want discussed. I know, when I was in Opposition we had to watch for those; we knew the minister would delay bringing them up until the very last day, when they had to go through, and not a

single word could be said about them at all. Our rules as a whole are far better than the rules of the British House of Commons. In the British House they have a form of .closure which is called the Kangaroo or the Scissors, with no notice. The minister can call any item, and jam it through, and there is no discussion whatever. Our form is closure, with notice. No item can be put through unless notice has first been given and opportunity for proper discussion afforded; speeches are limited to twenty minutes, and the items must automatically be voted or struck out. I have sat in the House for a great many years, and wasted a great many hours in Supply listening to talk, and I have never yet seen more than three or four items in the Estimates struck out or reduced, and when that did happen it was generally at the instance of a minister. The waste of time is largely due to the discussion of small matters in Supply, and I think hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House should seriously consider whether we cannot reach a unanimous decision to shorten the session by using the method of closure provided in the rules of this House. Let the items be closured through with notice. The items would be called that were to be taken up the next day, then after a discussion the items would automatically go through. I am satisfied that this method would achieve the object sought by the hon. member who has introduced this resolution. I would be the last man in the House to limit the rights of private members on matters that affect them, but I do not think it is necessary to go to bed every night at eleven o'clock. I think the business of the House should be carried through until finished. We are not on the eight-hour day here, but even if we were and we got paid for overtime, there would still be no limit to the debates. If we got double time after eleven o'clock, I suppose we would keep the discussion going until six in the morning. Therefore, I think we had better leave the rules as they are, and I would strongly urge the Government to enforce closure with notice on the Estimates. No harm can come from doing that, it would shorten the session by a month or two, and I think every hon. member would have ample time to discuss any item he wished in the time provided.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX (Maison-neuve):

As an old member of the House I wish to give my support to the motion moved by my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's. It is true that we are not under

the eight-hour system, as my hon. triend from North Simcoe (Mr. Currie), has just said. But we are here to perform our duties as diligently and intelligently as possible, and I submit that under the present system it is impossible for us so to do. I appeal to my friends on both sides of the House, whether we should not be sorry indeed if, on occasion, towards the close of the session, our electors were in the gallery witnessing the spectacle presented in this House, a few seats being occupied by ministers and a few others by members of the Opposition, and, for the rest, practically an empty chamber. Why is that? It is because, from ten o'clock in the morning until late in the evening, members have been going from committee room to committee room, and, from the opening of the session at three o'clock in the afternoon, have been discussing in the House different questions varying in their scope and in their importance. I say that it is not in the interests of the country that absurd rules of that kind should govern this Chamber.

Sir, as regards the Wednesday half holiday I consider it a Godsend to the members, and a mistake was made when the hour of meeting on that day during the first part of the session was fixed at two o'clock. As my hon. friend says, every one forgets that the House meets at two o'clock. And besides, it is not conducive to health that so early in the afternoon members should be called upon to legislate in the House of Commons. Furthermore, we do not do so much work during that additional hour that we could not very well meet at the usual hour of three o'clock. I therefore agree absolutely with my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's in asking the House favourably to consider amending the rule so that on Wednesday the House might meet at three o'clock and adjourn at six, giving us the rest of the day.

Now, as regards the late sittings, I will be more emphatic on this question than some of my hon. friends. I say that it is unbusinesslike that we should sit from practically the first day of the session until the last, after twelve o'clock at night. Under such circumstances, how can you expect a member of Parliament, who is anxious to perform his duties with diligence and care, to study any question either in the library here or at his own residence? How can you expect him to give any subject the consideration it deserves, if he is obliged to be in his seat from three o'clock in the afternoon until one o'clock or sometimes two o'clock in the morning? And in

the morning, Mr. Speaker, the member is not idle; he has to attend various committees-the Railway Committee, the Public Accounts Committee, the Insurance Committee, the Banking Committee, and others. How can a member of Parliament attend to the business of the country with reasonable diligence and care if his day is filled as I have described? It is not fair to the member; it is not fair to his electors; it is not fair to the country.

My hon. friend from North Simcoe says that we have the very best rules possible. Well, take the British Parliament. Except on certain occasions agreed upon between the Government and the Opposition, the House of Commons at Westminster never sits after eleven o'clock in the evening; unless it be by reason of some very grave question under consideration. It is true, however, that the British House of Commons sits nearly the whole year round, with just a few intervals of adjournment; but at all events, except on very special occasions, as I have said, when there is an agreement between both leaders, the House never sits after eleven o'clock. In France it is the same; except on questions of grave importance, the Chamber never sits after nine o'clock in the evening. Take the United States Congress; it is very seldom that congressmen sit after ten or eleven o'clock at night. So that we might very well amend our rules and make it a question of agreement between the Government and the Opposition as to when the House shall sit after eleven o'clock. Of course, at the end of the session, when there is much business to be overtaken, there might be a few sittings beyond that hour; but for the rest of the session, I contend that there is no reason for those late sittings. My hon. friend asks: How can we shorten the session? Well, they have found a remedy in England. The hon. gentleman, a moment ago, spoke of the closure, and the wisdom of enforcing this measure. I must say that while the closure exists under our rules, it is not one of those weapons that any parliamentarian would care to use. In the United States, there comes a moment in any debate when, by mutual agreement, between the Whips, the speeches delivered thereafter shall not take more than ten minutes, or perhaps even five minutes. It is agreed that some of the principal speeches on both sides will cover a certain length of time, the others being limited to ten minutes, or twenty minutes at the outside. But in England there is a better rule still than

the closure. There is a time-saving system which is about to be adopted. They have, during the war, established over there a select Committee on National Expenditures, composed of members of both sides of the House. That committee scrutinized the various items of the Estimates; called for expert witnesses from the several departments; submitted to the Government proposals for reductions; and thereby exercised that very function for which Parliament exists, namely, the control of expenditures. My hon. friend suggested a moment ago that a minister might come before the House and say: To-day I give notice that so many items from the Estimates will be taken up, and after a delay of twenty-four hours they will be automatically voted.

This is not the way I understand British freedom. If these items had been scrutinized and reported upon, not by a committee of the whole House, but by a Select Committee, there would be very little discussion, except on a few selected items. That is the way they proceed in the Parliament in London. There they will have the Irish night, they will have the Scotch night, they will have the Welsh night, and they will have the English night. They take the items affecting these sections of the United Kingdom, and the time of the House is not lost there as it is here on items of the Estimates. It seems to me that this would be a proper reform, and when accomplished I am quite sure would have the effect of reducing the session by at least one or two months.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I think the hon. gentleman is mistaken about the Committee on National Expenditures. That committee investigates expenditures that have been made, but there is no change in the rules with regard to the Committee of Supply of the House.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I advise my hon. friend to read the book which has lately been published by Mr. Davenport.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I have got the rules of the House.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

This committee was

established during the war and saved millions to the Government in Great Britain by pointing out useless expenditures. The chairman of that committee was the exPostmaster General, Sir Herbert Samuel, who is now Governor in Palestine, and there is a recommendation by them that the National Expenditures Committee be

116J

made permanent. I understand that the question is now before the British Parliament, and that the committee has ninety-nine chances out of one hundred of becoming permanent. At all events I desire to say-

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

If the hon. gentleman

will pardon me, the impression which I, and other members, gathered from my hon. friend's remarks was, that in England there was a permanent committee of Parliament on national expenditures dealing with this question, and that consequently there was no necessity for discussion there in Committee of Supply. But the House goes into Committee of Supply over there just the same as it ever did. The committee to which my hon. friend refers was purely a special committee, and is not a permanent one under the rules of the House.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

It may not be a permanent committee at the present moment, but it was established and maintained during the war and has rendered most valuable service to the Government and to Parliament, and as an institution it will remain. I say that when you have that committee you need not have closure, because the items will have been scrutinized in advance by members of the House and the debate on these matters will be much more intelligible than it is at the present time. I think it would be wise if, on certain occasions, there was an agreement between the Whips to limit the duration of debate. They have that system in the United States and they are a most practical people. The moment closure is imposed by the Government it has not the same flavour; but if there is a mutual agreement, a gentleman's agreement, between the Whips that the speeches will be limited we will have here what they have in the United States-a common-sense debate on the big issues of the day. On the whole I support the motion of my hon. friend for Shelburne and Queen's.

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. H. B. MORPHY (North Perth) :

I think it is a good thing in the interest of the House and of the country that this resolution has been introduced. On listening to the arguments which have been advanced, not only during the present but during other recent sessions, I have been very much struck with the idea fhat if the principle of the closure were applied all the time it would raise the standard of debate in this House. That idea is based upon a recollection of what happened after

the one occasion, I think, upon which closure was applied in this House, under the rules; but I think if any hon. gentleman will take the trouble to consult the record of the first and second sessions after closure was introduced on the occasion in question he will be convinced, overwhelmingly convinced, that the standard of 5 p.m. debate in this House was never in its history as high as it was immediately after closure had been tried. The speeches were shorter, they gave evidence of more thought, and to my mind abundantly showed more preparatory work on the part of the individual member in connection with the subject matter which he rose to discuss. I have always been convinced of that; and I put forth the suggestion that if, by co-operation among the members generally, we could obtain the same result as followed from the application of the closure this Parliament would shine forth to the outside world, and in particular to all our constituents, as a more business-like assembly of men sent here by the people to conduct the country's affairs. The other night the House was regaled with a speech by one hon. member which lasted for five hours-five hours of what I would call destructive criticism; in fact it was hardly worthy of the name of criticism, its every tendency was factious and destructive. There was hardly an item in that five-hours speech that was of a nature tending to assist the Government in the solving of the great problems that are now on hand. Now, a speech of five hours in the British Parliament, or in any other parliament in the world, would bring down the wrath of the nation. That wrath would be aroused by anyone having the temerity to waste that much time in a deliberative assembly. Yet we are treated occasionally to five-hour speeches, although sometimes they are shorter-sometimes they occupy three hours, and sometimes two hours. I venture the assertion that any man who wishes to speak two, three, four or five hours can enhance his reputation a thousand fold by occupying far less time and limiting his speech to three-quarters of an hour. I did notice, in the celebrated example to which I have referred, that the speech consisted of verbiage-it was wanting in logic, in reason and in objective, except that there was apparently the idea of stultifying the opposite party. I do not believe the people of Canada to-day are very much concerned with the "Ins" and the "Outs" in this House, with what party

shall take the Government side and what party shall go into Opposition-not nearly so much concerned with that idea as they are concerned with the great problems the country has to solve, and the solving of them by members generally bending their energies towards assisting the Government in reaching a sane solution. This should be a business man's Parliament, because our problems are greater than they ever were before in the history of Canada. It is a business man's opportunity, and, if I may be permitted, I would say to the members of all parties that the closer they get to the idea that there are great problems to be solved, and that the country is looking to hon. members to solve those problems, instead of talking captiously and destructively for two, three or five hours, the more correctly they will interpret the feelings of their constituents. In that sense I would like to suggest, that parties should unite as far as possible upon the great problems confronting the country and bend their energies to a sane Canadian solution of them, and that credit for honesty of purpose should be given to any constructive suggestion no matter whence it comes. In a word, that hon. members should get down to close business-like efforts, irrespective of party, to solve these problems as quickly as possible in order to expedite our national affairs, save the time of the House and let the members get back to their homes. It seems to me that we are forgetting that time is valuable outside the House as well as inside.

The hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) spoke of the Wednesday evening holiday being a God-send. I quite agree with him that it is, but that is because we waste so many other nights and get home so late in the mornings that it becomes absolutely necessary to have such a respite from our arduous labours. I believe that nearly all hon. members will agree with my statement that there is a factious opposition, a speaking of words, and words, and words, until sometimes, I must confess, I think that the brains of some hon. gentlemen have ceased to function, for they speak without thinking, purely for obstructive purposes, saying this, that or the other thing by way of organized opposition to some hon. minister who is not very well liked. What has that got to do with the policy of the country? It is prostituting parliamentary life to gratify personal animosity. We have notorious examples of that sort in the House. Such tactics do not make for high parliamentary standing,

and we may be certain that the country does not approve of the actions of such hon. gentlemen.

I have a suggestion to offer which I think will appeal to us all, Mr. Speaker,-including myself probably, although I have tried not to dilate at undue length on any subject which I have debated in this House. There is a rule, I think, in the United States Congress that members who wish to speak to their constituents-and that seems to be the great desire here-so that their speeches may be published in the local newspapers, may hand those speeches in to the Speaker already typewritten, and the Congressmen are then free to attend to other business with the fujl assurance that their speeches will duly appear in the Congressional Record. It seems to me that that might be a very good rule to introduce here. I am sure that the hon. member for Maisonneuve in the quiet of the library or in the shelter of his own home, would find it a welcome relief to write out his speeches, of course not at too great length, and hand them in to the Speaker to be printed in the next day's Hansard; and thus having seen to the enlightenment of his constituents, he would be free to attend to some other business.

I believe that the Wednesday holiday is a good thing, if we are bound to sit up until such late hours. But this debate, even if it should serve no other purpose, from my point of view, has enabled me to express my opinion that we waste too much time in factious and destructive criticism, and that we do not spend quite enough time over business which ought to engage our closest attention,-that while we oppose the Estimates of one minister's department we let the Estimates of another minister's department go through practical scot free, and the factious opposition is just for the purpose of creating an effect which even though it is reflected in the press, is but evanescent, and for which the country does not care a snap of the finger.

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L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. B. COPP (Westmoreland):

Mr. Speaker, I did not notice anything in this very innocent resolution introduced by my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) that would give my hon. friend opposite the opportunity of reading a lecture to the Ooposition for having, as he put it, organized factious and destructive criticism against some cabinet minister to block his Estimates. During the time I have been a supporter of the Opposition

I do not know that such a condition of affairs has ever obtained on this side of the House, and I am sure that my hon. friend has entirely misinterpreted our attitude.

My hon. friend from Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) expressed himself personally along the same line that I would have folowed with regard to the attendance of hon. members. Coming from some distance, I realize that it is very important for all the members to get through with the business of the House as quickly as possible having due regard to the importance of that business. I have been a rather regular attendant both in this House and also on committees to which I have been appointed, and I have found that in sitting on committees until one o'clock-and that always means a few minutes*after-it is impossible to get out to luinch and be back in time for the two o'clock sittings on Wednesday afternoons. I do not believe that the earlier hour of our meeting on Wednesday afternoons expedites public business very much; but if I felt that meeting at 3 o'clock would lengthen the session by one day, I would feel as my hon. friend from Vancouver said, that the House should meet at two o'clock. I do not believe it has had that effect, and for that reason I think the House should meet at three o'clock every day.

With regard to the Wednesday evening off, my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's said that hon. members desired this evening for social engagements. I am not very much given to such engagements, but still I feel that Wednesday evening is very important to a large number of hon. members. If we cannot engage in social affairs, at least we need recreation along different lines, and I believe that this freedom on Wednesday evenings is a very real benefit to hon. members. I have always thought that that evening is taken away by the Government too early in the session. I do not mind losing it towards the end of the session when it is necessary to get business through as rapidly as possible, but I think, with the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's, that if we have not that evening free from the work of the House a great many of us will naturally take any evening that suits our convenience. Therefore there is a very real advantage to the conduct of the business of the House by reason of hon. members making their social engagements for Wednesday evenings.

As to adjourning the House at eleven o'clock each night, I quite agree with my hon. friends resolution because he has added a proviso-unless circumstances may require a later sitting-which, of course, must be left to the Government to determine. My hon. friend from Red Deer (Mr. Clark) expressed himself against that part of the resolution, and he instanced the fact that my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's on one occasion made a very eloquent speech after eleven o'clock at night.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer):

Many.

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L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. COPP:

I have no doubt he has made many such speeches. My hon. friend knows that the eloquence of the mover of this resolution is such that he can always be depended upon to make a very interesting speech at any time of the day or night when he feels called upon in the public interest to address the House. But I would say to my hon. friend from Red Deer and to other hon. members that there should be no necessity for any hon. member to be called upon to deliver an important speech after eleven or twelve o'clock at night. The House should adjourn not later than midnight and give hon. gentlemen an opportunity of making such a speech at a time when there will be a full attendance of members to listen to their arguments. Personally, I feel that the work of this House should not be a test of physical strength. It should be a matter of getting the public business before this House in a reasonable, earnest, straightforward manner. The duties of Parliament are important, and they can be properly attended to only during reasonable hours,- such hours as those during which a man may ordinarily be expected to give attention to his public or private business.

The hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. Currie) says that if the rules are changed so as to enable members of Parliament who are business men residing in Ontario to go home on Fridays and attend to their business, this whole Parliament will become a farce. With that assertion I am not in agreement. It is quite obvious that we want business men in this Parliament, and it is true that we have a number of them here. Business men from Toronto, Montreal and other places which are near the seat of Government can, I submit, attend to their business and at the same time carry on their legislative duties.

I do not know that there is much to be said in regard to what has been referred

[Mr. Copp.)

to as an unwritten arrangement concerning Mondays and Fridays. I do not know that any such arrangement has been followed in Parliament during the time that I have been here. Of course, an item of business has been occasionally held over because an hon. member specially interested in it desired to take part in the discussion, but, generally speaking, the work of the House proceeds on Mondays and Fridays just as it does on the other days of the week. I know that last Friday night the work of the House went on as usual; we sat here until half-past twelve.

In reply to my hon. friend's remarks concerning the proposal that the House should adjourn at eleven o'clock each night, I submit that we do not make very much progress by sitting considerably later. As I say, to sit a few moments after eleven will not matter, but in the case of Estimates or any other subject coming up after eleven o'clock members of the House are tired and weary and more or less fretful and annoyed, and we do not get on with the business as we would if we had a regular hour for adjournment. Once the feeling prevails that someone is trying to force something through, the attitude is naturally taken by some that it shall not go through, and if it does not go through at eleven it will not go through at twelve or at one, so that sitting later is productive of no advantage. For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I support the motion of the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's.

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UNION

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Unionist

Mr. H. C. HOCKEN (West Toronto) :

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of sympathy with the motion presented by the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding). I think that when we start work at ten o'clock in the morning and keep at it until eleven at night, we ought to "call it a day." If we continue to extend our sittings until two or three o'clock in the morning it will be necessary for some one to organize a National Union of Canadian Orators and strike for an eight-hour day or something of that kind. If the members of this House would exercise their privileges .-I was going to say with more intelligence; perhaps I ought to say, with greater care- it would not be necessary to organize such a union and it would not be necessary to sit after eleven o'clock. When a man speaks for four or five hours on one subject, as happened the other night, he not only wearies Parliament but I think he commits an oratorical crime. We listened to the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. La-

pointe) the other day for nearly an hour and a half reading from a newspaper. Practically every member of the House had read the article in question. If the hon. member wanted that to go on the record, I submit that it should have been taken as read, and, as the member for North Perth (Mr. Morphy) suggests, handed in for insertion in Hansard.

Since coming to this House I have been very much surprised at the length of the speeches, at the verbosity of some hon. members. My training has been entirely different from that of the lawyer, who seems ordinarily to earn his fee by the length of his speech.

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L LIB

Pierre-François Casgrain

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

Not at all. We do

not do that.

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UNION

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Unionist

Mr. HOCKEN:

Well, I am judging simply by what I have heard since coming here. If some of these lawyers had taken courses in journalism they would condense their speeches. The reason why the gentlemen of the press do not occupy the gallery on occasions is this extraordinary verbosity to which I have referred. They get only a grain of argument out of a bushel cf remarks, so they spend their time elsewhere than in the gallery. I would like to submit to members who offend in this respect that they not only waste the time of this House, but they offend against their own reputations. Some of the most important speeches made in the Imperial House of Commons occupy but twenty minutes or half an hour; and in these speeches statements are made not merely of national but of international and worldwide importance and significance. But to make a speech like that requires some work. I am reminded of the young rector who was complaining to his bishop that it made him sweat to prepare his sermons. The bishop patted him on the shoulder and said: "Well, my boy, somebody has to sweat; it is either you or the congregation." And that is about the way it is in this House; if the members will not sweat in the preparation of their speeches, then the rest of the members have to suffer. The Lord knows we do suffer, Mr. Speaker, from some of the addresses that are given, for a man will take an hour or two, sometimes more than that, to say something that he should condense into about twenty-five minutes. Now, I do not want to transgress in this respect, but I just want to make one reference to my hon. friend from Graspy-

Topic:   SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Where is that constituency?

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UNION

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Unionist

Mr. HOCKEN:

-the hon. member for Graspy, who, I think, is one of the greatest offenders in this respect. He speaks at tremendous length and on every question. Nothing is quite settled until the member for Graspy has-

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Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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L LIB

Pierre-François Casgrain

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

He has more experience than you have. He knows more than you do.

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Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY SITTING. REGULAR ADJOURNMENT AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK
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April 12, 1921