The right hon. the
leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) has expressed the desire that I should state the rules of procedure on the reading in debate of written statements made outside the house. Points of order should be taken before and not after such statements are read and included in the official reports of debates. I have looked into the matter and I think it may be advisable to explain these rules.
The rules under which statements emanating outside the House of Commons may be read in debate are so restrictive that we may say the practice is not allowed. Unless a member intends to base a motion on extracts from such statements, it is irregular to read them during debate if they refer to, comment on or deny anything said by a member, (Bourinot 336); are intended to influence debate (May 316); reflect upon any vote of the house or use offensive words against either house or against any member thereof (standing order 41); contain unparliamentary expressions, as no language can be heard in quotation if it would be disorderly if spoken (Bourinot 336); allude to debates in the other house of parliament (May 316); utter treasonable or seditious words, or use the king's name irreverently
Powell and Unwin Case
(standing order 41); cast reflections upon the conduct of judges (May 295; Bourinot 358); refer to matters pending a judicial decision (May 316); reflect upon the conduct of persons in authority (May 316); make personal allusions to members (May 316); refer to other debates during the same session, or to any question not under discussion (May 317318; Bourinot 336).
Bourinot, page 335, refers to these objections when he says a member may read extracts from documents, books, or other printed publications as part of his speech provided in so doing he does not infringe upon any point of order.
When the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Perley) quoted letters in an argument against the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and when the minister retorted with telegrams, I did not interfere because great latitude has always been given with respect to citations in this house. We follow the same practice as in England where the house itself seems to have settled the procedure in these cases. I take it that the same rule applies to telegrams and letters as to extracts from newspapers.
The practice of reading extracts or written statements in debate to support an argument has been followed in the British house since 1840 when Speaker Peel, with the acquiescence of the house, allowed a member to proceed to read passages from a newspaper. In 1856, when a member was called to order for reading an extract from a newspaper, the Speaker stated that on former occasions when he had attempted to enforce this rule, he had been overruled by the house. A similar statement was made by the chairman in committee on the 9th March, 1857 (May 318). These are the last precedents cited in the 13th edition of May, published in 1924.
The house may be indulgent in these matters but it is a well known principle that a statement made in this house cannot be contradicted by a statement made by a person who is not a member of the house.
Subtopic: STATEMENT OF MR. SPEAKER WITH RESPECT TO READING IN DEBATE OF STATEMENTS MADE OUTSIDE OF HOUSE