I am now in a position
to give a ruling on the point of order raised last night. [DOT]
On the motion of Mr. Mercier (St. Henri) for concurrence in the final report of the special committee appointed to investigate the Department of Customs and Excise, Mr. Stevens moved that said report be referred back with instructions to add thereto certain clauses purporting that ministerial action had been influenced by improper pressure, with the knowledge of the Prime Minister and government, and that the oonduct of the Hon. George H. Boivin in the case of Moses Aziz is entirely unjustifiable; and also deploring the practice of certain public men to direct appeals to the minister to relax and depart from the proper administration of his department for reasons of political expediency; and concluding
Customs Inquiry-Speaker's Ruling
that such a practice is detrimental to the best interests of the country and prejudicial to the administration of the department.
To this amendment a sub-amendment is moved proposing that certain words be struck out and replaced by others providing for the appointment of a judicial commission with full powers to continue and complete investigating the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise and to prosecute all offenders; stating that the practice of members of parliament and others appealing to the minister to relax departmental regulations was done also for personal advantage;
Suggesting that the administrative duties of the department be wholly entrusted to the executive officers;
And finally, recommending that R. R. Farrow's services should be dispensed with.
A point of order was raised by the Right Hon. Mr. Meighen on the ground that an amendment to an amendment must deal with nothing but the subject matter of the amendment. It was also argued that the adoption of the sub-amendment would prevent the Housei from pronouncing on the proposal contained in the amendment.
There can be no doubt in my mind as to the relevancy of the sub-amendment.
According to Bourinot (page 321) the law on the relevancy of amendments is that if they are on the same subject matter with the original motion, they are admissible, but not when foreign thereto.
The only exception to this practice, as the House is aware, is on the question of going into supply or ways and means.
The object of an amendment is to effect such an alteration in a question as will obtain the support of those who, without such alteration, must either vote against it or abstain from voting thereon, or (vide May 13th edition, page 283) to present to the House an alternative proposition either wholly or partially opposed to the original question.
The effect of making an amendment is for the time being to link the amendment with the main motion so that the subject matter of both is thereby placed under the consideration of the House.
Bearing this principle in mind, there can be little question in this instance that both the amendment and the sub-amendment refer to the inefficiency of administration in the Department of Customs and Excise. The bon. member for Vancouver Centre proposes a general censure of the ministerial conduct, and of the failure of the government to take prompt and effective remedial action. The proposal of the hon. member for Winnipeg
North Centre would eliminate that censure for the time being at any rate, and while appreciating all the existing evils as to smuggling, he asserts that only a portion of the illegal practices have been brought to light, and therefore recommends the appointment of a judicial commission to continue and complete the investigation. This is an amendment to an amendment, which affords the House the opportunity of voting upon an alternative proposition. There -is no reason why such an amendment should be pronounced to be out of order.
It has been represented in the course of the debate on the point of order, that the possible elimination- of the amendment would result in depriving hon. members supporting it from the right of directly recording their views by a vote -in the House.
This is contradicted by long practice which is inherent to the British parliamentary system. May, page 254, 13th edition, says that it can not be contended that such a practice is unfair. After all, in the last analysis, the decision of the House is supreme. A-s long as Mr. Stevens has asserted his right to express his views by making his amendment he suffers no prejudice if Mr. Woodsworth using the same right, submits a sulb-amend-ment asking the House to accept an alternative proposition.
My ruling, therefore, is that the sub-amendment is in order.
Subtopic: REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE AND AMENDMENTS THERETO