April 20, 1928

AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. J. A. ROBB (Minister of Finance) moved:

That the Auditor General's report for the year ending March 31, 1927. and the public accounts for the year ending March 31, 1927, be referred to the select standing committee on public accounts.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

I desire to direct attention to

the fact, Mr. Speaker, that with respect to these public accounts now being referred to the public accounts committee, when we are within reasonable distance of the end of the session, something should be done so that they may be studied in the meantime and brought before the committee at the next session. The public accounts committee has not been sitting for two years or more, and there is a great deal of work to be done by it. Many things in the Auditor General's report should be inquired into, and it should be understood that the passing of this motion will not preclude the public accounts committee being set up next session and dealing with these accounts, because they are for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1927, a year ago, and they were not brought down in the early part of this session. I shall probably have something to say about the fiscal year and the public accounts on another occasion, because our budget is only as of March- 31, 192S, so far as that feature is concerned. If these public accounts cannot be considered by the public accounts committee next session great injustice will be done.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I admit at once, Mr. Speaker, that this motion should have been made on the day the accounts were tabled. It was an omission on my part.

Procedure in Divorce Bills

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is not what I was

directing attention to. Would there be any objection on the part of the administration to these accounts and the Auditor General's report being studied and made available for consideration by the public accounts committee to be set up next session? I think there should be no objection.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

There will be no objection on the part of the administration.

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Motion agreed to.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS


Right Hon. IV. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved: That for the balance of the session all divorce bills received from the senate be read a first and a second time forthwith and referred to the select standing .committee on miscellaneous private bills; and that standing order 22 be suspended in relation thereto.


CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. C. H. CAHAN (St. Lawreoce-St. George):

Mr. Speaker, why should senate bills have a preference over other private bills? As a matter of fact, this session we proceeded-as usual, I suppose-by unanimous consent of the house to give the debate on the address precedence, and then again by unanimous consent to give precedence to the debate on the budget, with the result that there has been less opportunity for private bills to be dealt with this session than in any of the previous sessions during which I have been in the house. If this course is continued, it will be impossible in subsequent sessions, unless I very much mistake the temper of hon. members, to secure unanimous consent to precedence of public business. Public business will have to take its proper place on the order paper, and private members will at least have Wednesday afternoons and one hour two nights a week in order to present and discuss their private measures. But under present conditions, with the great mass of private legislation held up without any chance, as it seems to me, of securing the approval of the house during the present session-some of it private legislation which is just as important to the country as many of the public bills that have been introduced-I see no reason why we should give to senate bills precedence over any other private legislation.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The motion relates only to divorce bills, and I think it facilitates what the hon. member has in mind, namely, the getting out of the way of some of the legislation that in procedure helps to block

Procedure in Divorce Bills

the way when we are trying to reach other private ibiliLs. In short, this motion is simply intended to expedite to some degree other private legislation on the order paper.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I have no right to speak again, but I would suggest to the Prime Minister that the passing of this motion will simply give precedence to senate bills over other private legislation which is coming before this house.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If my hon.

friend insists on his objection I shall not hesitate to withdraw the motion until he has had time to consider its significance. Then I think he will find that what I am saying is quite correct, that the purpose of the motion is simply to permit of the disposal of certain divorce bills that come from the senate, to which this house does not give time in debate or committee, but which have to be read a first and a second time. This motion would send them immediately to the private bills committee. To that extent the way is left clear for other private legislation.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ROBERT GARDINER (Acadia):

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

I wish to protest as strongly as I can against the disgraceful way in which we are dealing with these divorce cases. I heartily agree with the member who has just spoken with regard to the necessity of having these divorce cases transferred to some court where they can be properly dealt with. At the present time, as we all know, they come before this house and are given three readings, and we are getting into the habit of lumping them together and passing batches of ten, twenty and thirty without giving them the slightest consideration. For some years I sat on the private bills committee where the same thing was done. I doubt whether the ordinary member of the private bills committee read one case in fifty of those coming before him. If some uniusual protest came before the house regarding some particular case we were forced to read the evidence in that case. Although we are supposed to have certain safeguards in this house in the passing of legislation, provided for by a distinct reading three times of each bill and also by dis-

eussion in private committees, as a matter of fact, so far as the house is concerned, there is absolutely no investigation into any one of the cases-not one. I feel that we as members here are not justified, in what is supposed to be, as regards such cases, a more or less judicial committee, in continuing in this most perfunctory way to pass these bills without any investigation whatever. I think, Mr. Speaker, that in the very near future I shall insist that a test case be made in connection with one of these divorce bills and that we discuss in this house the merits of the case. I fancy that if we-did so the first thing we should have to do would be to ask the one lady member oif the house to withdraw. The next thing would be to ask that the galleries be cleared, and in the next place, to have the Hansard reporters leave the chamber, because I submit that the evidence which would be produced in this house would be such as to constitute obscene literature which would be refused carriage through the mails of the country. I submit that we are placing ourselves in an unfortunate position if, to avoid publicity of this kind, we condone the manner of granting divorce as at present observed. In my judgment whether we regard divorce as good or bad, we are submitting to a course of procedure that involves the maximum of expense and the maximum of publicity-

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

And the minimum of

safeguard.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Quite right, the

minimum of safeguard with regard to the granting of divorces. It is a public disgrace, and I for one do not propose indefinitely to submit to this kind of thing. And if it came to insisting upon the discussion of these bills one by one I for one feel that perhaps the session would not be in vain provided such a course led to a revision of the rules of procedure.

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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CON

James Charles Brady

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. C. BRADY (Skeena):

I should like to refer to the publication of these divorce cases. Now, we have many committees-

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Subtopic:   FIRST AND SECOND READINGS OF DIVORCE BILLS
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April 20, 1928