April 25, 1944

LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

If my hon. friend is referring to the passage which I think he is referring to, it was in answer to the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres, who asked for an assurance by the government that an approval or a disposition of the amendment to standing order 9 would not be regarded as an approval of the sentiments or the recommendations or the suggestions contained in the preamble, and I made the positive statement that the passing of the amendment to standing order 9 would be regarded only as an approval of that amendment in the terms in which it was set out.

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LIB

John James Kinley

Liberal

Mr. KINLEY:

What is the position of the preamble in the picture?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

As I see it, if I may suggest this to the committee, there is before the committee no motion with regard to the preamble at all,'but there is a definite motion before the chair that standing order 9 be amended by adding the clause which is here, and that is all that is before the committee. The committee was desirous of discussing the preamble, which contains no amendment whatever to any standing order-and I remind the committee that the special committee was appointed for the purpose of amending the

standing orders, not for the purpose of making suggestions or recommendations of the kind which are contained in the preamble-but because of the fact that this amendment is the only thing which is before this committee, and not the preamble, that is the thing which I think the committee should consider.

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LIB

John James Kinley

Liberal

Mr. KINLEY:

Do you not think that the fact that the matter has been dealt with in the way it was gives the unanimous approval of the house to the introduction?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Let me make it clear

that the government is taking no part in this. I am sitting back and watching the members of the house deal with the rules of the house, and I am taking just as little part in it as possible. I am glad to help if I can, but I have heard a good deal this afternoon about democracy, free speech, and things of that kind, and I think Hansard will show pretty good evidence that there has not been much restriction in that respect. Whether or not that has contributed to the effective consideration of the serious question which we have had to consider, namely the substantive recommendations in the committee's report, remains to be seen. However, as far as the government is concerned, hon. members have had a perfectly free rein in that respect, and all I have done is attempt to help if I could, to see that the rules of the house which we have at the present time and which are not amended are carried out, and hon. members are at liberty to make any such motions as they think proper if they are within the rules of the house. My own thought was that a motion regarding the preamble was not within the rules of the house, because a motion had been made by the Speaker and was put by the Chairman, a specific motion amending standing order 9. No motion is before the Chair at the present time with regard to the preamble, and I find it difficult to bring myself to think that by any stretch of the imagination, either the approving or disapproving of that amendment to standing order 9 can be regarded in any way as expressing any view one way or the other on what is set out in that preamble. It just means that it is disregarded, and that when these matters come up for consideration-and, by the way, one of them could be germane to a standing order of the house-they will have to come up, not by way of a recommendation such as we have here, but by way of an amendment to the standing orders. The one I have in mind could be related to standing order 17, which provides that when government business has precedence, government orders may be called in such sequence as the government may think fit. If the committee

Rules of the House

or anyone else wants to attempt to put into effect the suggestion or recommendation contained in that preamble with respect to the setting aside of special days for the discussion of estimates, he would have to bring forward and place in the hands of the Chairman a substantative amendment to standing order 17, and that has not been done. The preamble does nothing more than express some pious opinions as to what might be done, in the opinion of a committee of this house. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that the situation is pretty clear. We have roamed over a great deal of ground, but we are back to just one thing; that is, must a member vote or may he not? That is all there is to it. The amendment suggested, if I may say so, is rather vague; it just says that hon. members shall not be obliged to vote. Somebody will say, "So what?" Supposing a question is put and no hon. member votes; what then?

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NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

I wonder if I may ask the hon. member for Marquette whether in his opinion this is a proper amendment.

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LIB-PRO

James Allison Glen (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. GLEN:

I have no objection to the amendment personally, for reasons I have given already, though it might have the implications of an expanded negative. The amendment merely provides that a member in' the chamber at the time a vote is called shall not be obliged to register his vote. Penalties are provided in the original amendment which will be deleted if this amendment carries; and while I do think it comes somewhat near the realm of an expanded negative, yet I think it is in order. It denies the purport of the original amendment, but it adds a provision to the standing order.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Those in favour of the amendment will kindly say, yea.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Yea.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

Before the vote is taken-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

The vote has been taken.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

Before the vote is taken, in view of the fact that the more recent statements which have been made in the committee have been opposed-

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LIB

Thomas Bruce McNevin

Liberal

Mr. McNEVIN:

On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I maintain that the question has been put.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

On the point of order, I may have been a little hasty in calling for the vote.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

As I started to say, in view of the fact that the more recent statements made this evening on this subject have been in opposition to the idea of compulsory voting, I feel that I should briefly state my view, which is on the other side. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that if this amendment should carry, the last state would be worse than the first; then we would find ourselves with a standing order stating specifically that hon. members were not obliged to vote. My fear is that, as a result, in the future there would be more abstention from voting than there has been in the past.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

We might not have a vote at all.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

As the Minister of

Pensions and National Health interjects, there might be no vote at all. I see it in very simple terms. I was sent here by a constituency which has a population of some sixty or sixty-five thousand people. I am supposed to be a responsible person representing those people; I feel it my duty to give consideration to all matters that come to a vote in this house, and I feel I should be obliged to vote. I hope that the amendment will be defeated and that the main motion will carry.

While I am on my feet may I say that I shall oppose some of the other amendments that are to come before us just as vigorously as some hon. members are opposing this one. So far as this one is concerned, I feel that in the form in which the committee gave it to us it should be adopted.

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LIB

Roy Theodore Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I am still a bit puzzled as to the point of order. As I understand the position at present, this matter is before the committee as a result of the motion of the Prime Minister that the Speaker leave the Chair for the house to go into committee to consider a report from a special committee. If that is the case I ask for your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I may be wrong in this, but it would appear to me that the extent to which we can go is either to reject that portion of the report we are dealing with or to refer it back to the committee with appropriate recommendations. If my understanding of the matter is correct, this committee has no power of its own volition to amend a committee's report that is before us in the manner in which this report is before the committee. I want a ruling on that point of order.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I did not clearly catch the point the hon. member was making. There is quite a bit of murmuring around me.

Rules oj the House

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April 25, 1944