March 7, 1944

PRIVILEGE-MR. KNOWLES JUDGES ACT AMENDMENT-ERROR IN PRINTING OF BILL


On the order for motions:


CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. S. H. KNOWLES (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, yesterday by leave of the house I introduced Bill No. 9, to amend the Judges Act in reference to the salaries of certain judges on attaining the age of seventy. This morning I received, as did other hon. members, a printed copy of what "purported to be my bill, but on looking inside I found that there had been printed in error a proposed amendment to the Exchequer Court Act which bears no relation to the contents of my bill; I understand that this is a government measure which is to be brought down at a later date. I hope some day to have the privilege of introducing legislation on the government side of the house, but I must disclaim any responsibility for this bill.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I was informed this morning that a mistake had been made in regard to the hon. member's bill, which was put out for distribution in error. That error is being corrected, and the copy of the hon. member's bill will be in the post office to-day.

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CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON REVISION OF STANDING ORDERS

LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

basic principles of parliamentary procedure ought not to be encouraged. There were no standing orders relating to public business in the United Kingdom House of Commons until 1707, and there were only three from 1715 to 1821-over a century. There are 95 to-day. We have 81, besides 10 dealing with the staff and 28 governing the library of parliament. Your committee is aware that members of this house are reluctant to impose restrictions on their freedom and independence, and that any attempt to translate, procedure into precise rules will deprive them of the very quality which render them adaptable to new and varying conditions, or unusual combinations of circumstances, and might have the effect of restricting rather than safeguarding their privileges.

The following amendments to the standing orders are recommended:

Standing order 9 reads:

Upon a division, the yeas and nays shall not be entered upon the minutes, unless demanded by five members.

Proposed amendment: That the following be added:

And every member present in the chamber when the question is finally put by Mr. Speaker shall be obliged to vote, and if he does not vote Mr. Speaker shall call upon him to, vote and his name shall be recorded accordingly. If he persists in not voting he may be named by Mr. Speaker for having violated a standing order of the house.

There never was any standing order governing this matter in the Canadian House of Commons. The practice for many years was that a member who remained seated during a division was often required by the Speaker to declare on what side he voted. If he persisted in not voting, neither the house nor the Speaker had authority to penalize him. In 1906, the United Kingdom house passed its standing order 29 which relieves members of the obligation to vote; and our house seemed to have been so influenced by this new practice that our speakers have hesitated to demand that all members present when the question is put are bound to vote. The procedure was not uniform, which was not fair to members who are entitled to know what are their rights in a matter of this kind. Under the new standing order, a member who may have objections to vote one way or the other shall not be forced to do so against his will as he will be free to stay out of the chamber when division takes place.

Section (1) of standing order 12 reads:

Mr. Speaker shall _ preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of order, subject to an appeal to the house without debate. In explaining a point of order or practice, he shall state the standing order or authority applicable to the case.

Proposed amendment: That the following be

added after the word "debate" in the fourth line:

provided no division shall take place thereon unless demanded by twenty members.

Under the , present procedure, when Mr. Speaker has given a decision, any member may rise and say:, "I appeal from your decision." The question is then put on that appeal, and if five members rise, a division has to take place. This amendment provides that, in the future, the house will only divide on the appeal if a division is demanded by twenty members.

[DOT]

Section (3) of standing order 31 relating to the motion to adjourn the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance reads:

He (the member) then hands a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed to Mr. Speaker, who, if he thinks it in order, and of urgent public importance, reads it out and asks whether the member has the leave of the house. If objection is taken, Mr. Speaker requests those members who support the motion to rise in their places and, if more than twenty members rise accordingly, Mr. Speaker calls 'upon the member who has asked for leave.

Proposed amendment to be added as subsection (g) of section (6):

There shall be no appeal from Mr. Speaker's decision as to the urgency of discussing the matter mentioned in the written statement submitted to him by the member who proposes to move the adjournment of the house.

The object of this amendment is to bring the rule in conformity with the present practice of the house and several Speaker's decisions which have been invariably sustained. The theory is now accepted that the Speaker in declaring that there is no urgency to debate the matter brought to the attention of the house does not rule on a point of order. He takes the responsibility of deciding whether or not the question proposed to be discussed is of such national importance that it should be given precedence over the appointed proceedings of the house.

Standing order 37 reads:

No member except the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition, or a minister moving a government order and the member speaking in reply immediately after such minister, or a member making a motion of "no confidence" in the government and a minister replying thereto, shall speak for more than forty minutes at a time in any debate.

Proposed amendment: That the following

be added as section (2):

Provided always that in the committees of the whole, supply or ways and means, no member shall speak more than once on a particular motion, clause or item under consideration, and not more than twenty minutes continuously, but his right to ask questions relating to the subject-matter of the said motion, clause or item under consideration shall not be thereby restricted.

When Mr. Speaker is in the chair, a member can only speak once, but there is no limit to the times of speaking when the house is in committee. Under the present rule, a member may make two or three forty-minute speeches during a sitting of the committee which does not last longer than, three hours at a time. This amendment provides for a more equitable apportionment of time and allows more members to take part in the discussions.

Section (2) of standing order 40 reads:

Mr. Speaker or the chairman, after having called the attention of the house, or of the committee, to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance, may direct him to discontinue his speech, and if the member still continues to speak. Mr. Speaker shall name him, or. if in committee, the chairman shall report him to the house.

Rules of the House

Proposed amendment: That the following

words be inserted after the word "irrelevance": "or tedious repetition".

Your committee hopes that this addition will meet with the general approval of the house.

Section (2) of standing order 43 reads:

A reply shall be allowed to a member who has moved a substantive motion, but not to the mover of an amendment, the previous question or an instruction to a committee.

Proposed amendment: That the following be

inserted after the word "motion": "or the second reading of a bill, and to a minister of the crown who has introduced a government measure". The amended section will read:

A reply shall be allowed to a member who has moved a substantive motion, or the second reading of a bill, and to a minister of the crown who has introduced a government measure, but not to the mover of an amendment, the previous question or an instruction to a committee.

In recent years, the ministers have had to obtain leave or unanimous consent in order to answer criticism and as no objection was ever taken to this course, the house may now regulate the practice by adopting this new rule.

Standing order 44 regulates questions placed on the order paper, but does not deal with questions addressed to ministers on the orders of the day being called.

The committee proposes that the following be added as section (5) of this standing order:

A question of urgent character may be addressed orally to a minister on the orders of the day being called, provided a copy thereof has been. delivered to the minister and to the clerk of the house at least one hour before the meeting of the house. Such a question shall not be prefaced by the reading of telegrams, newspaper extracts, letters or preambles of any kind. The answer shall be oral and may be immediately followed by supplementary questions limited to three in number, without debate or comment, for the elucidation of the information given by the minister.

The custom of asking questions before the orders of the day are proceeded with has taken such a development that it is now part of our parliamentary practice. It is neither possible nor advisable to do away with it. As it seems to meet the wishes of the majority of members, the house may adopt this amendment so that the Speaker will in future be guided^ by a standing order when members' rights in this connection are challenged.

Standing order 49 reads:

Only one amendment and one subamendment may be made to a motion for Mr. Speaker to leave the chair for the house to go into committee of supply or ways and means.

Proposed amendment: "That the following

words be inserted after the word 'motion': 'for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne'", so that the standing order will read:

Only one amendment and one subamendment may be made to the motion for the address in reply to the speech from the 100-79

throne and to the motion for the Speaker to leave the chair for the house to go into committee of supply or ways and means.

The debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne covers the whole ground of administration and is repeated when the budget is brought down. This debate has been abolished in the House of Assembly of South Africa where the following standing order is now in force: "Mr. Speaker shall report to this house the governor general's speech, and there shall be no debate on such report".

Your committee felt that the house could not abolish this debate, but it realized that the scope of discussion was so wide and the question of relevancy almost nonexistent on this particular occasion that the freedom of speech of every member, party or group would be fully preserved by limiting the number of amendments in the same way as on the motion for committee of supply. These two motions are in the same category, namely, they furnish occasions for airing grievances and making suggestions to the government.

Standing order 60 reads:

If any motion be made in the house for any public aid or charge upon the people, the consideration and debate thereof may not be presently entered upon, but shall be adjourned till such further day as the house thinks fit to appoint; and then it shall ibe referred to a committee of the whole house, before any resolution or vote of the house do pass thereupon.

Proposed amendment: That the following be added at the end after the word "thereupon": provided that if the aid or charge is to be a subsidy provision of a bill to be later introduced, the motion creating it shall be considered without the house resolving itself into committee.

Your committee has reached the conclusion that there is an immense advantage in informing the members of parliament as to the nature of a money bill upon the committee stage of the discussion. The obligation to refer a resolution to the committee of the whole is one of the traditional rules of British parliaments, and though it may sometimes seem superfluous, there may be occasions when it will prevent obnoxious legislation. There can be no question of abolishing this part of our procedure, but there is no doubt in our minds that the committee stage can be avoided when the charge created by a bill is a subsidiary feature such as the payment of a staff or travelling expenses, the bill should be introduced without the formality of a resolution and the committee stage.

Standing order 75 reads:

Every public bill shall be read twice in the house before commital or amendment.

Proposed amendment: That the following be added at the end of this standing order:

with the exception of divorce bills passed in the Senate which shall be referred to the standing committee on private bills as soon as received from that house.

Under this new rule, divorce bills will come before the house only once. They will be thoroughly considered in the committee on private bills prior to being submitted to the

Rides of the House

house. They are now mentioned three times before their second reading: first, when the message is read from the Senate; secondly, on first reading and thirdly on second reading. The object of the new rule is to avoid this unnecessary procedure.

Your committee is of the opinion that divorce by legislation should not take place to such an extent that bills seeking it sometimes fill many pages of the order paper. The matter is not one that can be settled by standing orders. The whole question should be given full consideration with a view to eliminating divorce bills from parliament, and your committee strongly recommends that this be done as soon as conveniently possible.

On Friday, the 25th of February last, speaking on behalf of your commitee, I asked members who may desire to place their views on procedure before your committee to write to me or the clerk of the house and I stated that their letters would be given every consideration. No suggestions have been received.

Your committee does not recommend radical changes in the rules of the house, but it believes that practices,^ which have been followed for - years by unanimous consent, ought to be permitted by standing orders. It is only by a process of evolution that the rules can be materially altered.

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LIB-PRO

James Allison Glen (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. GLEN:

Mr. Chairman, the committee appointed by the house to assist the Speaker in the revision of the rules consisted of Messrs. Mackenzie (Vancouver Centre), St. Laurent, Hanson (York-Sunbury), Black (Yukon), Mc-Ilraith, McGarry, Fauteux, Golding, Maybank, Maclnnis and Quelch. All of these hon. gentlemen are experienced parliamentarians with intimate knowledge of the needs and requirements of this house. In addition we had the benefit of the advice and the great experience of the Clerk of the House, Doctor Beauchesne.

In their deliberations the committee addressed themselves to the question of maintaining the prestige of the House of Commons, and while they have not made many changes they have recognized certain features of our parliamentary life which through custom have become part of our jurisprudence, and have endeavoured to embody in the rules amendments which they feel are necessary. The committee took cognizance of and carefully considered general criticism of the proceedings of parliament, and on page 146 of Votes and Proceedings of March 3, last, they gave effect to their viewpoint by stating

Your committee, in the performance of the important duty assigned to it by the house, has taken into account the existence of general criticism of parliament both by members and representative citizens. It has fully realized that much is expected of the House of Commons where the views of the people are finding expression and where industrial and economic conditions are demanding parliamentary attention and solution. The main question before the committee was whether procedure

should be amended so that the house may be able to do more legislative work in the time at its disposal and increase its efficiency as a critical and controlling assembly. Criticisms of parliament seem to have been inadequately considered in relation to the -whole structure of parliament, the necessary party system and the complex situation created by a war which is now in its fifth year.

These criticisms arise from opinions concerning the functions of parliament which are often based upon such misconceptions as the view that parliament is primarily a board of directors with the members of the cabinet as its executive staff, and that members, instead of endeavouring to reconcile as much as possible all ^ the elements of public opinion, which is difficult in our diversified country, should rigidly consider every question on its own exclusive merits. Such however is not the true function of a legislative body composed of 245 members elected to discuss the management of public affairs. Debates may sometimes be lengthy but they bring home to the administration the advisability or unpopularity of a particular line of policy, and they must be heard because democratic government rests upon public opinion. Parliament is the assembly of representatives elected by the people where great issues are debated, or should be debated; it is not primarily a body of ahditors charged with the inspection of departmental accounts. Freedom of speech is one of the inalienable privileges of members of the House of Commons. It is in truth the privilege of their constituents and it is secured to members not for their personal benefit but to enable them to discharge the functions of their office. Without it, the essence of the country's liberty does not exist.

Hon. members will notice in the report that a paramount thought in the minds of the members of the committee was to see that the rights of minorities were not impaired. On page 147 of Votes and Proceedings of March 3, last, the committee has stated this principle in exact language:

Your committee, in all its deliberations, has kept in mind the importance of not impairing the rights of minorities. Two fundamental principles govern the procedure of the house. They are, that the government shall, so long as it can maintain a majority, be able to secure such legal powers as it considers necessary for administration, and that minorities, however small, shall be able to criticize that administration. Standing orders must protect them, and it is all the more important that they be founded on right and justice because they are merely resolutions of the house which can be swept away by a majority vote. Your committee is of the firm opinion that these rights cannot be alienated even if the house, in maintaining them, may protract sessions and lay itself open to severe criticism.

Some considerable criticism has been offered from time to time in the press and elsewhere regarding the consideration of estimates. The committee very carefully considered this mat-

Rules oj the House

ter and, the right of that criticism, but came to the conclusions as stated in the said page 147 of Votes and Proceedings, as follows:

The suggestion that estimates should be referred to standing or select committees has been given earnest consideration and carefully reviewed. It strikes at the root of ministerial responsibility and it divests members of the privilege of criticizing from the floor of the house without advice, suggestion or influence of any kind, all departmental expenditures submitted by the government. No proposals subversive of this settled rule of action can be safely embodied in any scheme for securing closer parliamentary control. One of the objections to this proposal is that if all the estimates are referred to a standing or select committee the motion for the speaker to leave the chair shall be abolished, which means fewer opportunities for private members to move amendments setting forth grievances or expressing want of confidence in the government. The procedure required to keep this privilege unimpaired would reduce the efficiency of the committee's functions and it would be so involved as to be misunderstood and hard to enforce. Certain estimates may be occasionally referred to a select committee in order to ascertain facts which the house desires to know, but this pra'ctice should be adopted guardedly and only in very special circumstances. Your committee does not think it would be advisable to change the present system and it believes that the elasticity of the present rules makes it possible to apply them in new situations from time to time. We, however, desire to submit that considerable time could be saved if the committee of supply sat oftener in the early part of the session. We therefore recommend that, when the yearly estimates have been brought down, one day a week be set aside for consideration of supply. If this is done, the house is not likely to find itself under the necessity of passing a great part of the estimates in the dying days of the session.

It has been widely suggested that protracted debates should not be encouraged. The committee was fully aware of this defect in our procedure but did not feel it should further curtail debate, because after all there are a number of standing orders which, if exercised, can prevent undue debate. They are standing order 39, the rule with regard to closure; standing order 55, which provides for the previous question; standing order 48, which states *that when a question is under debate, a motion can be made to amend it, postpone it to a day certain, for the previous question, for reading orders of the day, proceeding to another order, to adjourn debate or to adjourn the house; standing order 38, respecting undebatable motions, including adjournment motions, decided without debate or amendment; standing order 49, stating that only one amendment and one subamendment may be made on a motion for Mr. Speaker to leave the chair to go into supply or ways and means.

The committee did however think that some amendments should be made with regard to

the speech from the throne and also to the proceedings when the house is in committee, and these matters will be discussed when the amendments are before this committee.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Mr. Chairman, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) made it quite clear-and I thank him for it-that this is to be a free discussion. I hope hon. members will take full advantage of the opportunity now presented to them to investigate the various matters dealt with in this report, and all allied subjects which may commend themselves to their consideration.

It is not often the rules of the house are revised. The last occasion was in 1927, now some seventeen years ago. While I had the honour and privilege to serve on that committee, I do not pretend to be an expert on rules or procedure. I am afraid that in a busy life I have not taken advantage of the opportunities which might have been mine to study such matters. And yet they are important. I am surprised that the general invitation extended by Mr. Speaker to hon. members, to make representations to the committee respecting improvements which in their opinion might be made, was not taken advantage of, either orally or in writing. I understand that not a single representation was made to the committee by any member, outside the members of the committee,

' although ample opportunity was afforded for so doing, and an invitation was extended to them to appear in person if necessary. That rather indicates-I do not say this in any carping spirit of criticism-indifference on the part of hon. members.

Why was this committee set up? I venture to suggest that there are two reasons. First there was the criticism from outside, particularly from the press, which in days gone by had been directed at the proceedings of the House of Commons. In parenthesis may I say that I held the view, which I may hold alone, that a good deal of that criticism was uninformed. I say this is no spirit of bitterness or revenge because of the criticism which had been levelled at the house. So far as I am concerned I have endeavoured in season and out of season to uphold the dignity of *this parliament so that it may commend itself to the people of Canada as the highest court of the people.

Why are rules of parliament set up? The first reason is that there may be an orderly conduct of the public business. This is fundamental, just as it is in connection with the affairs of any other deliberative assembly or any joint stock company. There must be 100-7Qi

Rules of the House

rules to govern not only the internal operations of a company but the procedure at its meetings. If you will read history you will see that for generations the mother of parliaments has had rules of procedure governing the course of public business. One fundamental right we have gained after a long struggle is that which is extended to minorities in order to protect them against the machinations or the power of governments. Any revision of rules which would take away from the minorities any of the rights which have been extracted from parliaments over a long period of years would not make for good government in this country. The very essence of democracy is the right of opposing parties to criticize and expose weaknesses, and if possible, by means of cross-examination or other arts to which resort may be had, to arrive at the truth. Any infringement of the powers and privileges which have been thus set up over a long period of years, both in the mother of parliaments and in Canada since confederation, yes and in the assemblies preceding confederation, would be a weakening of democracy itself.

The order of reference to the special committee was quite wide-that the standing orders be revised with a view to simplifying, accelerating and expediting business. I should like to pay a tribute to the members of this, committee. There was not a single attempt made to abrogate or abridge the rights of minorities. I have never served on a committee where there was a better spirit of cooperation. We approached the matter objectively and there was a unanimous desire to improve conditions. On several occasions when the committee was meeting I wished I could say the same about all committees of the house. There was an entire absence of partisanship or of attempts to put something over. We were all seeking a way to do well that which we had been appointed to do, and I think we have arrived at some sane conclusions.

May I say that the conclusions of the committee were by no means unanimous. I could not follow Mr. Speaker in his remarks, but my understanding is that while there was a difference of opinion, there was the view that the report represented a good cross-section of the opinion of the committee. Anyone was left free to criticize any particular item he might desire to criticize.

I think one of the reasons this committee was set up was the criticism throughout the country that there were too many speeches and that speeches were too long. I remember that this was the chief item of consideration by the committee set up in 1927. The recommendation of that committee for a forty-

minute limitation on speeches was accepted by this house, but so far as my observation goes it did not have the effect of correcting what was then alleged to be an evil. I do not sympathize very much with the view that per se a long speech is an evil. If we took that as a standard, the Prime Minister -would stand1 convicted over and above every one of us. It is what is in a speech that counts.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Hear, hear.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I think

we all agree with that statement of general principle. I hope the Prime Minister will agree with the facetious remark I have just made that he of all men has made the longest speeches in this house that I have ever heard. Some of them may have been good, and some of them may have been bad.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon. friend has made the worst.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That may be true. One is always the poorest judge of his own efforts, and we shall have to leave that question to posterity. I was a little more generous in my reference to the Prime Minister's efforts. I said that some of them were good and I will say that some of them were exceedingly bad. However, that is only in passing.

The limitation of forty minutes did not bring about the results which the committee of that day and the House of Commons thought would be brought about. Therefore the matter was again considered by the committee which has now reported. I am bound to say that the consensus was that the cutting of speeches down to thirty minutes-there were exceptions to this point of view-would be an abridgement of the rights of private members. Personally I could not bring myself to agree to that abridgement. Private members have only two or three occasions during the session when they can make what is termed a set speech for the benefit of their constituents. I remember discussing this very matter one day with an old parliamentarian, Mr. D. D. McKenzie, who was very friendly to me when I first came to this house. He said to me, "Every member of the House of Commons who has anything to say ought to make one good reasoned speech a year and send it out to his constituents to let them know that he is there." I thought that was sound advice, and for a number of years I followed it. This brings us to a consideration of how long a man who only makes one speech in a session should be allowed to speak. If he has anything to say, if he has any ideas to

Rules of the House

present, he cannot present them, in less than forty minutes, and11 am opposed to any further abridgement of that time. But when it comes to speaking in committee-I am looking particularly at some members opposite, and commend this especially to them-I think there should be an abridgement of speeches. Under the present rule members can speak forty minutes in committee and cover a wide field, and if they are interrupted, or something intervenes, they can go on and make another forty-minute speech. That is repetitious and tiresome, and the special committee was. unanimously of the opinion that a limitation should be put on speeches in committee of the whole. Therefore we have recommended, and I concur fully in the recommendation that speeches in committee shall be limited to twenty minutes on any particular clause or item-I think that is the term used in the report-and that there shall be full opportunity of questioning.

I am not going through the report seriatim. I have indicated certain general views, and Mr. Speaker in the course of his remarks has pointed out what I think very many members and most of the press, if I may be rash enough to admonish them on this point, feel- that there are many opportunities in the hands of the administration and of the house itself to restrict debate. The trouble is that the remedies that are readily available are not called into operation. There is the closure. How many times has the closure been used in this house? What brought about the provision for closure? Obstruction-filibustering -that was the only reason. Something had to be done to stop it, and the closure was introduced. I was not here at the time, but I have read about it. Fortunately we do not have much obstruction nowadays, and perhaps it is not necessary to use the closure. But there is another medium, and that is the medium of consultation and cooperation between groups in the house, which would have the same effect. I commend to the party leaders and to the party whips the use of the voluntary system, which after all is a pretty good system if you can get it to work, and it can be made to work if we see things with sweet reasonableness.

Mr. Speaker has enumerated all the other methods that may be resorted to for restricting debate. We have, in fact, everything in Canada, so far as I can see, that they have in the mother of parliaments for restricting debate excepting the guillotine, and I am not sure that we have not something reasonably approaching the guillotine. I am not-going to go into details in these matters.

There is one part of the report with which I am not in accord, and that is that the Speaker should be the sole judge of the question of urgency. I believe that I am in a minority in the committee on that point. It was stated in the committee that the Speaker's decisions are never overruled. That I think is true in general, but I do remember one historic occasion on which the Speaker's [DOT] decision was overruled. On the question of urgency it seems to me that we are limiting the rights of private members if we put into effect the proposed amendment to the rules. But I am not going to argue the point at length; I shall not repeat the arguments that were made in the committee. There are other members of this committee who understand the position, and I shall leave the matter to them.

There is just one other point I want to discuss. With the exception of the question of the Speaker being the sole judge of urgency,

I am in favour of the report of the committee andi intend to vote for it, though how I shall be able to reserve my vote on that one point is not quite clear. I suppose we shall have to accept or reject the report in whole, or move to strike out a particular part, but if we cannot amend a particualr part I shall have to vote for the whole report.

The question of parliament dealing with divorce bills is the other question to which I wanted to refer. It is a matter of procedure. But any attempt merely to shorten the method of procedure with respect to divorce bills is not dealing with the root of, I will not say, an evil, but a situation which confronts this house. I take the broad view that no divorce bills should be brought into parliament at all, that divorce should be exclusively referred to the courts, and I am going to say that that is a matter of public policy in which I think the government should give a lead. I know it is a delicate question. I am not going to hurt the religious sensibilities of anybody.

I believe in the principle of divorce. I believe that there is such a thing as unholy wedlock, and it may develop into unholy deadlock. That is not original with me. Mr. A. P. Herbert wrote a novel on that which I commend to the Prime Minister as good reading for relaxation. If he will only read that book it might convert him to the point of view I am trying to set forth, if he is opposed to it.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

It might encourage him to get married.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That is hopeless at his time of life. It is only old

Rules of the House

widowers who get married at his time of life. Perhaps they have more courage than discretion.

But let us be serious about this question of divorce. The recommendation with respect to procedure on divorce bills is the best that the committee could evolve, having regard to the limited length of time we devoted to a discussion of the subject. I support that recommendation and I ask hon. members of the house to support it, but it is not dealing with the problem as it ought to be dealt with.

This is the suggestion I make to the government. Get this vexed question of divorce, out of the arena of parliamentary government. Get it out of the Senate and get it out of the House of Commons. Let us set up a division of the Exchequer Court of Canada, a division which will be clothed with jurisdiction to deal with divorce. We can do this, and then let us relegate the whole question of divorce to the courts, where it ought to be, just as we have referred the question of contested elections to the courts. It will not take away from us our right to deal with the question of divorce by legislation. Neither have we by referring contested elections to the courts robbed parliament of its jurisdiction to deal with that subject. Parliament right down through the ages has decided that questions of the kind which involve judicial discretion and that sort of thing can best be dealt with by the courts. My recommendation to the Prime Minister and to the government and to the members of the house, and may I say with the utmost candour to those who perhaps differ with me as to the ethical or religious aspects involved, that I believe the proper course for them to support would be to get this vexed question out of parliament and into the hands of a judicial body which will approach it fully qualified by education and by administrative experience and by knowledge of the law and of procedure to deal with it in a judicial manner. I commend that to the whole house. Let us not pussyfoot with this question any longer. Let us have an expression of opinion, if you like, although I am not inviting extensive debate; let us try to do something constructive in the matter and get this question off the order paper once and for all.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

I understand that the various recommendations made by the committee will be discussed in the order in which they were made and will be decided by a vote of this committee. I do not therefore think it is necessary to take very much time in a general discussion. To do so, I think, would be to act contrary to the

purpose for which the committee was set up. I wish to associate myself with the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) in what he said about the committee. I was very glad to find that all its members, regardless of what party or group they belonged, were equally determined that the rights of the minorities should be maintained. In that connection, I think, we also recognized that the minority rights were not rights of groups only, but were rights of individuals. As has been very well put into the report by those who drafted it- Votes and Proceedings page 147:

It is in truth the privilege of their constituents and it is secured to members not for their personal benefit but to enable them to discharge the functions of their office.

That is the spirit in which the committee approached its work. There may be a feeling, possibly a justifiable one, that the committee did not go sufficiently deep into the rules of procedure and bring in a fuller report-that is, a report proposing changes which would expedite the business of the house to the extent that we think it should be expedited. But the committee felt that we were dealing with the subject at an abnormal time. This is a time of war, when ordinary parliamentary procedure is, necessarily, upset, and we grant to the government, because of the necessities of the times, many powers which would not be given to it in ordinary times. I believe that when we return again to normal conditions a similar committee should be set up to go more fully into the rules.

There is another point which the committee had in mind. While we tried to maintain and were anxious to maintain the rights of minorities, we realized that there is such a thing as the rights of the majority; that the government, after what might be considered sufficient time has been given to debate any matter, must have resources to curtail debate and get on with the business which has been entrusted to it by the country.

The hon. member for York-Sunbury referred to the necessity of preserving the dignity of the House of Commons. I think we are all agreed on that. But after all, the people of the country want something more than dignity; they expect parliament to do business, and I believe business can be done just as well in a dignified as in an undignified way. But let us not lose sight of the fact that the people of the country to-day have come very close to parliament. When parliamentary institutions were in process of growth, parliament had very little to do with the everyday life of the people. Parliament was a Sort of policeman; it arranged for granting the ruling monarch money to run the country, and concerned itself with a limited range of things of that kind. But to-day

Rules of the House

parliament is concerned with the everyday life of the people in an intimate way, and all are agreed that in future it will be more concerned with that than it has been in the past or is even to-day.

If we are to be successful in carrying on with our democratic institutions, something more than standing orders and rules will be necessary. Democracy in the ultimate depends on self-discipline, and I believe we can promote that' practice here in the House of Commons. The government of the day could facilitate and speed the work of the house and obtain cooperation from the opposition by approaching the opposition in a spirit of cooperation, but it will have to be done in such a way as to satisfy the opposition that the government has nothing "up its sleeve," as the saying is. I am satisfied that if the opposition is approached in this way a great deal can be accomplished. Perhaps the reason I lean so definitely in that direction is that I myself am a cooperative person; I hate to be driven, but I respond quickly to cooperation, and I find that that is also true of the people with whom I am associated.

There are one or two recommendations with which I do not fully agree, and I shall have something to say on those as they come up, so that I will not at this point take any further time of the committee.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

As one who sat on the committee I should like to say that I appreciated the expeditious way in which, under the able chairmanship of Mr. Speaker, it concluded its sittings. I suppose some hon. members will feel that the committee did not go far enough, and I do not doubt that a good deal of criticism in that regard will be heard from people outside the house. On the other hand there will doubtless be many hon. members who believe that the report goes too far.

I believe we all agree it is desirable that measures be introduced with a view to expediting the business of the house. We have all been aware that business has on occasions dragged on day after day without anything really worth while being accomplished. On the other hand we all agree that the rights and privileges of individual members and of minorities must be guarded jealously. So that when you try to expedite the business of the house without infringing upon the rights of individual members or minorities, you face a difficult problem. These points were plainly in the minds of the committee during its sittings.

As I understand that the different sections will be taken one at a time, I will conclude by saying that, generally speaking, I am in full accord with the report.

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IND

Liguori Lacombe

Independent Liberal

Mr. LACOMBE:

I want to make a few remarks concerning the amendment proposed to the parliamentary rules and forms of the House of Commons. It was a real pleasure and satisfaction for me and my colleagues to hear a few moments ago the speech delivered by His Honour the Speaker. Elected to this house in 1925, I remember that His Honour was at that time, as he has been at all times, one of the best debaters in this house. Mr. Speaker is now speaking with the same eloquence.

(Translation): Generally speaking, the

proposed amendments to the Rules of the House are excellent. However, I am bound to oppose one of them, for it is detrimental to the rights and privileges of members of this house. Why should the support of twenty members, instead of five as heretofore, be necessary in the future to force a vote on a decision of the hon. Speaker? This is a harsh proposition which should not go through. Thus, when a minority group numbers less than 20 members, it will be impossible for them to force a vote without the support of members from other groups with political tenets inconsistent with their own. In most cases it will be absolutely impossible. Such a measure would deprive the representatives of the people of the freedom of speech to which they are entitled in moving amendments to government policies. Indeed, what would be the use of moving such amendments if those members are deprived of the privilege of forcing a vote on a decision of the hon. Speaker, due to conditions which render the taking of a vote an impossibility?

I am not finding fault with the other proposed amendments. On the contrary, they will result in shortening the debate, especially in connection with the estimates. Mr. Chairman, measures should have been adopted long ago to curb the abuses that have been so common at every session of parliament, when the estimates are before the house. I have seen members repeatedly taking part in the debate on a single item, making the same utterances ten and even fifteen times over. At last, the government realize the futility of such goings on, which unduly lengthen the sessions of parliament.

I shall close my remarks by a few words on the divorce bills. The * committee entrusted with the revision of the Rules of the House have recommended some amendments which would render the adoption of divorce bills more difficult. I congratulate them for it. I shall go further and state that divorce bills should not be submitted either to the house or

Rules of the House

to a committee of the house. When such bills apply to Roman Catholics or when one of the parties is a Catholic, the bills should simply be dropped.

The civil code of the province of Quebec contains measures entitling the interested parties to apply to the courts of the province for an action in separation from bed and board or a decree of invalidity in certain special cases. Therefore, I wonder why the federal government does not adopt an act to refer Catholic husbands and wives to our courts, where they could avail themselves of French civil laws. Besides, the Roman Catholic dogmas hold that marriage is indissoluble and that its bonds can be severed only by the death of one of the parties. The federal government, when adopting divorce bills concerning Catholic married couples residing in the province of Quebec, not only transgresses against the civil code of that province, but also violates Canon law and the precepts of the Catholic faith.

One further remark, Mr. Chairman. The granting of these divorce bills, like a cancerous growth, eats into the very life of society, of which the family is the living cell. Divorce is one of the worst evils of our days. It should once for all be banished from civilization. It is a disgrace for both parents and children. The government is contemplating the implementation of a complete programme of social legislation. Will they allow divorce to keep on eating away at the very heart of1 society, the family? We claim to be fighting for civilization and still we adopt divorce bills worthy of Zulus and of the most backward tribes of the universe. Why not, once for all, close the doors of parliament against these divorce bills which have done us and are still doing us so much harm? Thus we would protect parents against themselves and children against the deplorable errors of their elders. This is a social as well as a national duty. The government must not and cannot avoid the issue. On behalf of family, society and civilization, I urge that divorce, this canker of society and the home, be prohibited.

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NAT

George Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

I have had the pleasure and honour of serving on two committees while a member of this house, which committees were set up to consider the rules and standing orders of the house. As the hon. member for York^unbury (Mr. Hanson) said, he was on the committee in 1927 and I [Mr. Lacombe.j

had the honour of being on that same committee. The late Speaker Lemieux was chairman of that committee, as our Speaker to-day is chairman of the committee which has brought in this report.

I do not think any member of the committee would pretend to ask the house to accept the report as a complete solution of all the problems that arise from time to time in procedure in this House of Commons, but I hope the house generally will feel that some improvement is offered by the report in this respect.

I do not propose to go into the report in detail, but I would refer to two or three of the proposed amendments. For instance, standing order 37 now Teads:

No member, except the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition, or a minister moving a government order and the member speaking in reply immediately after such minister, or a member making a motion of "no. confidence" in the government and a minister replying thereto, shall speak for more than forty minutes at a time in any debate.

That forty-minute limitation applies not only when the Speaker is in the chair but in committee as well. As has been pointed out by previous speakers, any member in committee of the whole can make as many forty minute speeches as he likes, and, the afternoon session lasting only three hours, two or three members can take up the whole time of the house. It is with a view to improving that condition that this amendment is offered as section 2 of standing order 37, in these words:

Provided always that in committees of the whole, supply or ways and means, no member shall speak more than once on a particular motion, clause or item under consideration, and not more than twenty minutes continuously, but his right to ask questions relating to the subject matter of the said motion, clause or item under consideration shall not be thereby restricted.

To some extent that does cut down the time that a member may take up in committee, but I do not think it takes away any substantial rights that he may enjoy as a private member of the house.

The proposed amendment to section 2 of standing order 43 in effect adds to the rights of a minister of the crown as the rules now stand. That section reads:

A reply shall be allowed to a member who has moved a substantive motion, but not to the mover of an amendment, the previous question or an instruction to a committee.

Rules of the House

It ia now proposed that the following words be added:

... or the second reading of a bill, and to a minister of the crown who has introduced a government measure.

Once a minister has introduced a government measure, criticism or commendation is offered, and it seemed to the committee only right that the minister should have the privilege of replying to all that had been said regarding that measure, though under the rules as they are constituted at present he has not that right.

Then a recommendation is made in regard to questions asked on the orders of the day, which I know have been a source of worry, shall I say, to all Speakers of this house. The committee did not see fit to curtail the right of hon. members to ask questions of ministers on the orders of the day, and in that I heartily concur; but following the British practice it was thought that the procedure might be improved, and the committee has proposed that the following be added as section 5 of standing order 44:

A question of urgent character may he addressed orally to a minister on the orders of the day being called, provided a copy thereof has been delivered to the minister and to the Clerk of the House at least one hour before the meeting of the house. Such a question shall not be prefaced by the reading of telegrams, newspaper extracts, letters or preambles of any kind. The answer shall be oral and may be immediately followed by supplementary questions limited to three in number, without debate or comment, for the elucidation of the information given by the minister.

I hope the government will approve this recommendation, and that it will meet with the support of hon. members of the house.

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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

Mr. Chairman, at the moment I do not intend to comment on the recommendations that have been presented by this committee. Rather I should like to direct attention to another recommendation which in my opinion would be very desirable but which the committee has not seen fit to. include in its report. Citation 314 under standing order 41 reads:

It is a rule in both houses of parliament that a member must address the house orally, and not read from a written, previously prepared speech, for the reason that "if the practice of reading speeches should prevail, members might read speeches that were written by other people, and the time of the house be taken up in considering the arguments of persons who were not deserving of their attention."

It has been the custom of a great many hoa. members of this house to read their speeches, though roughly and freely; and when no objection has been taken Mr. Speaker has allowed

them to continue to do so. Unfortunately, however, some of those who usually read their own speeches would object to other hon. members being given the same privilege. In. my view this situation should be settled, and I had hoped that the committee might recommend that standing order 41 be done away with altogether, or on the other hand that the rule be applied strictly to all hon-. members of the house.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Mr. Chairman, it is some seventeen years since the rules of the house were last amended. I have been a member of the house since 1930, and before we go on to deal with the individual recommendations I should like to say a word or two in general. First, in reference to the remarks of the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson), it is my opinion that hon. members did not send in suggestions to the special committee because we all realized that the committee was composed of members experienced in the rules of procedure; and speaking for myself, I felt that I could not make any suggestion of which the members of the special committee would not have personal knowledge already. As the hon. member for York-Sunbury was speaking, however, I noted his reference to the support he gave to the proposal that in committee of the' whole members should be limited to twenty minutes. If my timing was accurate the hon. member took a little over twenty minutes this afternoon, which indicates to me at least that we should be very careful not to change these rules too quickly .because in so doing perhaps we may shut off an hon. member who has something really worth while to say.

The hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) pointed out that we are at war, that certain changes are necessary during war time, and that after the war is over we might go back to the old rules. Well, Mr. Chairman, I -am not as sanguine as the hon. member "is in that regard, because every change that has been made in the past in regard to the rules has remained in effect. The fact that it is some seventeen years since the rules have been changed shows at least how reluctant we are to alter the rules which have to do with the conduct of the House of Commons. Very few hon. members have made a study of the rules, but I think most of us have at least a sense of what they should be, realizing that after all we have an important position to uphold and that we should set an example in decorum and good behaviour.

The hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Roy) had a word to say with regard to the reading of speeches. I trust that what I am about

Rules of the House

to say will not be taken as a reflection upon the present Speaker or upon any hon. member of this house, because that is not my intention; but the reading of speeches has been a very sore point, shall I say, with many members of parliament. I am one of those who take the position that while there is a duty imposed upon members of this house to uphold the rules, there is also a duty upon those who conduct the proceedings of the house or the committee. The duties of members of the house are well expressed in the report brought down, where it is stated that-

Rules are not sufficient to preserve freedom of speech and to uphold the dignity of the House of Commons. Standing orders depend for their success upon the prevalence of good will amongst all members who have to -work under them. The house must rely on the forbearance of its members and on the general acquiescence in the enforcement by the Speaker of the rule -which requires that members should strictly confine themselves to matters immediately pertinent to the subject of debate.

That is all very true. When I first came to the House of Commons, like most new members I felt rather timid and on that occasion attempted to read my speech. But I had a difficult time in getting through, because one hon. member on the government side-we were sitting in opposition at the time-drew Mr. Speaker's attention to the fact that I w^as reading my speech; and the then Speaker, the present hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Black), rose I believe something like five times in an endeavour to have me desist from reading my speech. I shall not forget the example set for me on that occasion. It was a good lesson to me. I had come to the chamber with my speech fully written out, as a new member of the house. Had I been stopped on that occasion from reading I must confess the speech might not have been delivered. Perhaps it does not matter now whether it was delivered or not. The fact is that I was stopped. I did feel it keenly when, after that, I saw other hon. members deliberately reading their speeches. No member with any great sense of feeling likes to rise in his place and draw Mr. Speaker's attention to the fact that another hon. member is reading his speech. I did not do it then, although I might well have done it; and had I wanted to get back at members on the government side, I had reason to do it. I personally object to the reading of speeches; it is a dangerous procedure which has grown up in our House of Commons. I say at once that a well-read speech, if it is a good one, is much better than one which is not well delivered and may not contain as much good material, but

it is better that the member express his own thoughts. After all however we had better be careful that we do not countenance the thoughts and mind of someone outside the house. It is the easiest thing in the world for individuals belonging to any party, or for independents or the members of any group, to have speeches deliberately written for them and handed to them when they are entering the house. It is very easy to read those speeches. I do not say this in any spirit of criticism, but I do believe we are drifting toward the American system, where members may hand in a whole speech. One of them, I believe, handed in the whole Book of Isaiah.

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March 7, 1944