Sir HENRY DRAYTON (Leader of the House):
Before the proceedings open I desire to give to the House a statement prepared by the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) in connection with changes in the ministerial situation. The statement is as follows:
Immediately following the resignation of the late government and the adjournment of the House yesterday, His Excellency, the Governor General sent for the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen, leader of the Conservative party and requested him to form a new administration. Mr. Meighen advised His Excellency last evening that he would undertake this task, and was sworn in this morning as Prime Minister, Secretary of State for External Affairs and President of the Privy Council,
Having in mind the fact that the present session has now continued for almost six months, and is very near its close, Mr. Meighen believed it to be the first duty of any government he might form to conclude with all convenient despatch the work of the present session. Such a course in preference to a somewhat prolonged adjournment was demanded also by a just regard for the convenience of hon. members, especially those who come from a great distance.
It was manifestly impossible to effect this result if a government was to be formed in the usual way and if ministers were to be assigned portfolios necessitating the vacating of their seats and consequent by-elections. The delay thus involved would, especially at this period of the year, have entailed unnecessary hardship. The Prime Minister accordingly decided to constitute and submit to His Excellency a temporary ministry composed of seven members, who would be sworn in without portfolio, and who would assume responsibility as acting ministers of the several departments.