The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) rose yesterday afternoon at three o'clock to refer to a matter affecting the privileges of parliament and of himself as a member of parliament. I informed the hon. member that I would confer with the Clerk of the house and the Sergeant-at-Arms and that I would give him an answer as soon as possible. I have received the following memorandum from the Clerk of the House of Commons:
With regard to the admission of labour delegates and other persons in the parliament building yesterday, I have inquired from the R.C.M.P. and the house's protective staff and I have the honour to report as follows:
As we expected a large crowd yesterday and only had four constables on duty, I asked Commissioner Wood to send in a few men to help our protective staff. It is well known that the R.C.M.P. is assigned to parliament hill but the interior of the building is under the control of the protective staffs of the Senate and House of Commons.
About eleven o'clock a.m. Messrs. Murdock and Morrow, representing the delegates, called at my office and asked if they could hold a meeting in the railway committee room. I explained to
them that if a member of the house desired to meet them in any committee room 1 would instruct the Sergeant-at-Arms to make the necessary preparations for the meeting to be held. They said they desired to see certain members and 1 directed them to the main entrance where they would be helped to see these members. They did this and Constables Groulx and Gauthier, not acting as policemen but in the capacity of guides, went with them and four other delegates, including a lady, to Mr. Coldwell's room. The men left them in Mr. Coldwell's secretary's office and returned to the main entrance. Some of the other delegates who had remained downstairs insisted on seeing the leaders of the C.C.F. party but were told that the party was in caucus, and our staff never interfered with such meetings. Two delegates asked that their names be sent in to Mr. Maclnnis, which was immediately granted, and the hon. member for Vancouver East came out and saw them.
Hon. Mr. Douglas, Prime Minister of Saskatchewan, told me last night that he was not prevented from coming inside the building. When he arrived at the entrance he was asked who he was and after he had given his name he was immediately allowed to go in.
I am informed by the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that, according to "reports he has received, none of his men stopped anybody from going inside the building.
As to the protective staff of the House of Commons, it had not been given any order by me or the Sergeant-at-Arms to keep anybody out of the building. There was some confusion when the crowd pushed in and dispersed all over the main corridor. In order to slow up this rush, the outside doors yvere closed, but not locked, for about half an hour.
It has been said in the press that "parliamentary police bar delegates from the house until members of parliament guaranteed their conduct inside." No such practice has ever existed in the parliament building. The reason why members have to be asked if they wan to see visitors is that they cannot be importuned when attending to their correspondence or other parliamentary duties. If they cannot be seen, the visitor may withdraw or sit in the corridor and wait until there is a sufficient number of visitors to be taken through the building by a guide.
You will realize, Mr. Speaker, that some precaution has to be taken in the parliament building, but our practice in this regard is very broad. The best evidence that no severity was shown yesterday is that apart from the three hundred delegates, six hundred and twenty-two other persons visited the building in addition to the five hundred who followed the debates from the galleries.
Clerk of the House of Commons.