August 3, 1931

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

QUESTION AS TO REGULARITY OF PROCEDURE RESPECTING ELEVEN O'CLOCK. SITTING ON MONDAY

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker,

I rise to a question respecting the privileges of this house. Standing order 2 reads as follows:

The time for the meeting of the house is at three o'clock in the afternoon of each sitting day ....

As hon. members know, and as you Mr. Speaker are aware, that rule cannot be changed except with the unanimous consent of the house and by resolution to that effect. No motion has been put to this house to alter that rule with regard to the sitting of the commons to-day, and I submit that in the absence of a formal resolution, duly passed and assented to, the whole proceedings of this House of Commons would be irregular. I should be very sorry to see this parliament break up with a violation of the rules of the house as its last act, particularly

where the effect might be to render irregular all the business done this morning, if not also possibly the business of prorogation itself.

Let me read what took place on Saturday evening last with respect to adjournment. Hansard, at page 4516, records the following:

Mr. Bennett: I move the adjournment of the house.

Mr. Mackenzie King: Will it be eleven

o'clock on Monday or three o'clock in the afternoon?

Mr. Bennett: I was going to move that

the house stand adjourned until either eleven o'clock or three o'clock, as the right hon. gentleman thinks his friends desire. If they wish to talk from eleven o'clock to one o'clock, discussing the items, very well; if not, the house will meet at three o'clock. .

Mr. Mackenzie King: My right hon. friend has shown his capacity to make decisions. He had better say which.

Mr. Bennett: Eleven o'clock, so that hon.

members may have an opportunity to discuss the estimates on agriculture.

Mr. Speaker: This house stands adjourned until Monday morning at eleven o'clock.

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Subtopic:   QUESTION AS TO REGULARITY OF PROCEDURE RESPECTING ELEVEN O'CLOCK. SITTING ON MONDAY
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. I think that record makes it very clear that no motion was put to suspend the rule of the house with regard to sitting at three o'clock, and that to that end the unanimous consent of the house was not so much as even asked, but that the Prime Minister himself declared that the house would sit at eleven o'clock. In view of that fact I am more than surprised that in the votes and proceedings of Saturday I should find the following record of the alleged proceedings of the house, at page 685: On motion of Mr. Bennett, it was resolved,- That when the house adjourns this day it do stand adjourned until Monday next, at eleven o'clock a.m. That is not a correct statement, Mr. Speaker, of what took place in this house. There was no motion made by the Prime Minister to suspend standing order 2, as the record of the house shows.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

These Journals are the

record of the house.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes, the

Prime Minister now says the Journals of the house are the record, but unfortunately in this case, the Journals are not accurate. That is what I am taking exception to with regard to the privileges of this house, that someone, with no authority from this House of Commons, has included in the Journals a record of a motion which was never introduced in this house, never made and never

Business of the House

passed. In the name of the rights of the commons I demand that this part of the record, as it here appears, shall be effaced. If the Prime Minister desires to have the proceedings of parliament conducted in a regular way he should formally put to the house a motion asking that standing order No. 2 be suspended in order that the house be permitted to sit this morning. I shall do what I can to secure for such a motion unanimous consent. I submit that unless that motion is put and agreed to as regularizing proceedings, in order that to-day's proceedings may be regular it will be necessary to adjourn this house until three o'clock, which is the time fixed for the regular sitting. As Your Honour very well knows, notice has to be given of a motion of this kind.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not a motion to

adj ourn.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

But notice has to be given of a motion to change the time of sitting.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not when the hour is

fixed at adjournment.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Notice has to be given to change any rule of the house; the Prime Minister knows that very well. He knows that the rules of the house required that before this house could sit on Saturday last a notice had to be made to suspend standing order No. 2 in order to give the house authority to sit. In the same way a motion must be made formally and passed by this house in order to give the house authority to sit in the morning today.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I am not raising this point to prolong the proceedings of this parliament further than may be necessary. I would go as far as to say that I would advise hon. members on this side of the house, if a motion is formally put to suspend standing order No. 2 and that the house sit at eleven o'clock this morning, to give their unanimous consent, but I am going to request as emphatically as I can that this alleged resolution, which appears in the votes and proceedings, which was never passed and which has no right to appear in the votes and proceedings of Saturday, August 1, be deleted, and that the records of this parliament be a faithful and true record of what transpires in this house. On Saturday last a measure was put through this House of Commons which removed the necessity of parliament meeting for a period of seven months. That is serious enough. So long as parliament continues to be sitting, if it

is at all possible so to do I propose to see as far as I can that the commons exercises its rights at least in regard to its own business and that a faithful and true record is given in the Journals of parliament with respect to what transpires.

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime

Minister): I cannot say that I am at all

surprised at the observations of the right hon. gentleman; they are wholly in keeping with what I would expect, but the record shows that the Journals correctly record what transpired. At page 4516, from which the right hon. gentleman read, it will be observed that I started to move the adjournment of the house when my right hon. friend asked, "Until when?" It was he who raised that very question, speaking for the opposition as I assumed, and no question came from any other quarter of the house. Thereupon I said I was going to move that the house stand adjourned until either eleven o'clock or three o'clock, whichever the right hon. gentleman and his friends might prefer, whereupon he said:

My right hon. friend has shown his capacity to make decisions. He had better say which.

I said eleven o'clock, therefore, and the motion was that when the house met on Monday it would meet at eleven o'clock.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

There was no motion; my right hon. friend said-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is here; I moved the

adjournment of the house.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It is not there.

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Subtopic:   QUESTION AS TO REGULARITY OF PROCEDURE RESPECTING ELEVEN O'CLOCK. SITTING ON MONDAY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is here, and what is

more the excitement of the right hon. gentleman is not in keeping with the calm repose that should mark an occasion of this character, the last day of the present session. The fact is that I did not conclude the motion to adjourn by fixing the hour at which we should meet this day; I asked my right hon. friend, as a matter of courtesy, to fix the hour having regard to the fact that his friends had said they had not been given an opportunity to discuss these items. When I extended that invitation my right hon. friend said, "No, do it yourself," whereupon I said eleven o'clock in order that there might be no question. The house thereupon accepted that motion unanimously.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The house did not accept it.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It was accepted unanimously, when I said I would suggest the hour

Business oj the House

of eleven o'clock. The Speaker, in the Journals, recorded the arrangement arrived at, the considered decision of the house given unanimously, to which no objection was taken. If it had been otherwise; if a single suggestion had been made that the proper time would have been three o'clock, we should not have met until that hour. I invited my right hon. friend to suggest the hour he preferred, but he declined that invitation and the Speaker recorded what took place, namely that this house agreed to adjourn until Monday morning at eleven o'clock.

There is only one man in this chamber who will see any doubt about that. That was the understanding arrived at; I, having moved the adjournment, was about to indicate the hour on Monday when my right hon. friend interrupted and asked whether it would be eleven o'clock or three o'clock. Could anything be more significant than that? What did the right hon. gentleman mean by asking in this house on Saturday night whether we would meet at eleven o'clock or three o'clock? Now he says it was neither. I met his views by saying I would make it whichever he chose, and when he told me to make my own decision I said eleven o'clock so that hon. members would have an opportunity to discuss these items. Whereupon, in pursuance of that consent, Mr. Speaker said, "This house stands adjourned until Monday morning at eleven o'clock.'' Could anything be more clear than that? If there was any objection or if the right hon. gentleman did not mean what he said he should have so stated then. If the right hon. gentleman desired to play fast and loose that was the time to do so, not now. If he desired to make a joke of the proceedings of this house that was the time to do so, not now. He asked, "When will you meet on Monday, at eleven o'clock or three o'clock?" He did not ask me what were my views; I was in the position, as leader of the house, of merely consulting the house as to what would meet its convenience. My right hon. friend himself said Monday; he himself said eleven o'clock; he himself said three o'clock, and all I did was to ask him what would best suit his convenience. Mr. Speaker recorded the decision arrived at and consented to by this house. The house has been opened in accordance with the common agreement arrived at and understood by everybody, except possibly in the subtleties of the right hon. gentleman's mind, and after having asked at what hour on Monday we would meet; after having left it to me; after I

said eleven o'clock, I cannot think that my right hon. friend should now come to this chamber seriously and so stultify himself as to suggest that we are not here at all.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am afraid

that in this matter, in order to make it clear I will have to ask Your Honour to advise the house whether you put any formal resolution that we should sit on Monday morning at eleven o'clock. You, sir, know the rules of this house as to the necessity of a formal motion being put, and I am prepared to abide by whatever you say as to what you did on Saturday evening. I do wish to make clear that my right hon. friend's own words, which he quoted a few moments ago, bear out the contention I have been making that no motion was put. He said:

I was going to move that the house stand adjourned until either eleven o'clock or three o'clock, as the right hon. gentleman thinks his friends desire.

The Prime Minister said, " I was going to move." He never did make that motion which to enable the house to sit at eleven would have had to include the suspension of standing order No. 2; he did not make any motion, which is made very clear by the record. My right hon. friend now says in reference to your action, Mr. Speaker, that you took the view that the house agreed to stand adjourned until Monday at eleven o'clock. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that there were no words of yours which indicated that there was an agreement, and you never used the expression " agrees to stand adjourned." You simply put the motion for the adjournment of the house. The Prime Minister had said eleven o'clock, so that hon. members might have an opportunity to discuss the estimates on agriculture. We recall the nature of the proceedings on Saturday evening. The Prime Minister took the business of the house out of your hands, Mr. Speaker, and into his own; he simply stated that we should meet at eleven o'clock, and that was the end of it. No motion whatever was put. Now, I do not think it is very fitting on the part of my right hon. friend, when I draw attention to this matter in order to regularize the proceedings, to save him from his own impetuous and dictatorial acts, and point out emphatically to him and to the house that the whole proceedings of this House of Commons this morning might be violated by virtue of-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

What a joke.

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?

Mr MACKENZIE KING:

-the fact that no resolution was passed-I do not think he should take occasion to follow his usual course

Business oj the House

of delivering a lecture to anyone who ventures to make mention of any shortcomings on his part, especially where it is only to point out where, in the excitement of the moment, he omitted to have regard to one of the important rules of the house.

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CON

James Langstaff Bowman

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOWMAN:

WThy did not the right

hon. gentleman question the proceedings on Saturday night?

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August 3, 1931