February 16, 1950

TABLING OF SUMMARY

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

I should like to table two copies of the summary of orders in council passed during the period December 1, 1949, to January 31, 1950. A previous summary of these orders in council was tabled on December 9. This is a summary of all the orders in council passed since the previous summary, and up to the end of January.

Topic:   ORDERS IN COUNCIL
Subtopic:   TABLING OF SUMMARY
Sub-subtopic:   DECEMBER 1, 1949, TO JANUARY 31, 1950
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STANDING COMMITTEES

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister) moved:

That a special committee be appointed to prepare and report, with all convenient speed, lists of members to compose the standing committees of this house under standing order 63, said committee to be composed of Messrs. Fournier (Hull), Claxton, Casselman, Knowles and Weir.

Topic:   STANDING COMMITTEES
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Motion agreed to.


INTERNAL ECONOMY COMMISSION


Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister) presented the following message from His Excellency the Governor General: The Governor General transmits to the House of Commons a certified copy of an approved minute of council appointing the Honourable Alphonse Fournier, Minister of Public Works, the Honourable D. C. Abbott, Minister of Finance, the Honourable J. J. McCann, Minister of National Revenue, and the Honourable F. G. Bradley, Secretary of State of Canada, to act with the Speaker of the House of Commons as commissioners for the purposes and under the provisions of chapter 145 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1927, intituled: An act respecting the House of Commons.


APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Righi Hon. L. S. Si. Laurent (Prime Minister) moved:

That this house will on Friday next resolve itself into a committee to consider of a supply to be granted to His Majesty, notwithstanding the provisions of standing order 57.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I think it is appropriate that this motion should be examined and the effect of its presentation at this time carefully considered.

Already this afternoon it has been pointed out that what is done now without objection may become a precedent. Practice becomes established simply by repetition. This same type of motion, in somewhat similar form, was introduced at the beginning of the session which opened last September. When the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) introduced the motion at that time he explained that he was doing so because it was necessary, in order to prevent any disturbance of the public service, to ask then for additional supply. No similar reason exists on this occasion. Because of the fact that supply had run for some time without the ordinary procedure being followed, we did not raise objection to the adoption of such a motion on that occasion. Today there is no reason for the presentation of this motion, and there are many strong reasons against it.

If this were merely a case of dealing with a motion as one which requires consent, then I would not be making the objection I now propose to make. If the question were simply whether we deal with this motion today without notice or deal with it a few days from now with notice, I should not be inclined to press the point strongly, because we all know what the purpose is. No one can suggest that there is any measure of surprise involved in the motion itself. Any point that I now make applies, I submit, with the same force to this motion, as if it were coming forward after due notice had been given.

I think it will be recognized by every member that in any event this motion cannot be dealt with today unless there is unanimous consent. But I think it is appropriate that we should deal now with the principle involved, so that discussion of this same subject on a second occasion may be avoided; the procedure will then be more convenient to the government as well as to members of the house generally.

This motion is made under standing order 57, which reads as follows:

The house shall appoint the committees of supply and ways and means at the commencement of every session, so soon as an address has been agreed to, in answer to His Excellency's speech.

I know it has been contended on other occasions in this house that the words "at the commencement of every session, so soon as an address has been agreed to" are not intended to prevent the appointment of these committees by motion before the address has been agreed to, but that they are a direction that 55946-2

Committee of Supply

the committees must be proceeded with when that address has been agreed to. I submit, however, that this is not the interpretation which should be taken of the wording of that rule. Since it seems desirable that we be in no doubt as to what the meaning of the rule is, I should like to read what I believe to be one of the clearest arguments I have read in the records of this house in support of the proposition that this rule means that the committees must not and cannot be appointed until after the address has been dealt with.

I will quote from an extended speech made by Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King in this house on February 6, 1934. I am reading from page 287 of Hansard; I shall cover only a limited part of his remarks. I start to quote from the point at which he was dealing with the interpretation which should be placed on this section:

It is obvious, from the reading of the rule of this house, that it is copied literatim et verbatim from the rule of the House of Commons at Westminster. There are two words which appear in the order at Westminster that do not appear in our order, the words "in future," but they in no way affect its purpose. The order of the British house is standing order No. 14; it reads as follows:

"This house will, in future, appoint the committees of supply and ways and means at the commencement of every session, so soon as an address has been agreed to, in answer to His Majesty's speech."

Then Mr. King's words continue:

The interpretation to be placed upon the order by the British house is best given by the leading constitutional authorities on procedure in the Commons, and on the law and custom of the constitution. I shall therefore quote from three or four of the most eminent authorities. It will be apparent, once the quotations are given, that there is no longer room for doubt as to what the intention of the order is.

May's Parliamentary Practice at page 520 of the thirteenth edition, published in 1924, has the following:

"The action taken by the House of Commons upon the demand of aid and supply for the public service made by the speech from the throne is the appointment, pursuant to standing order No. 14, of those committees of the whole house which are known as the committee of supply and the committee of ways and means. Motions setting up these committees are made immediately after the house agrees to the address in answer to the speech from the throne, and are put forthwith from the chair, no debate being permitted thereon."

Mr. King continued:

Hon. members will observe that the wording is not that they "may be" or "must be" established, but that they "are" established immediately after the house agrees to the address in reply to the speech from the throne.

Anson's Law of the Constitution, volume I, fifth edition, 1922, page 286, states:

"The speech from the throne always contains a demand from the crown for supply, and as soon as the House of Commons has agreed upon an address in reply to the speech, it has for many years passed two resolutions-one that on a certain day

Committee of Supply

it will resolve itself into committee of supply; another that on a certain day it will resolve itself into committee of ways and means."

Mr. King then said;

Here we have a positive statement of the customary method of procedure. I submit it is custom that governs in matters of this kind. I refer next to Redlich's Procedure of the House of Commons, 1907, volume 3, page 133:

"In response to the speech from the throne the Commons, as soon as they have voted the address in reply, appoint the two great committees before which the whole finance of the year has to be discussed-the committee of supply and the committee of ways and means."

That is very specific language; as soon as they have voted the address in reply they appoint the committees. It is, I think, conclusive in its wording and meaning.

There are reasons why this practice' should not grow by failure to observe what the precedents have been. It is customary-and I may say that practice will be followed on this occasion by the opposition-to move an amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech from the throne which is a motion indicating lack of confidence in the government. That is customary practice, and it will be adhered to. If this procedure were followed, then a similar motion might be made to the motion to go into supply, and you would have two motions of want of confidence before the house at the same time. It is certainly no answer to a question of procedure in this house to say that the government enjoys so large and assured a majority that no question can arise as to the disposition of a motion of that kind. I would hope that no such suggestion will be made. I still have hopes that there may be members who will assert their independence sufficiently to give real meaning to a motion of this kind. But the procedure that we are following may apply to instances in which the numbers in the house are very close, and in which two debates relating to confidence of the house could go on simultaneously.

I would ask any hon. members who are interested in that particular point to examine the words of Mr. King, spoken on that very subject on the occasion to which I have referred. In that same speech Mr. King made a statement which I think is appropriate on this point, and I quote his words;

What I am afraid of is that in this house we may be changing a custom by the exceptions we are making, that the government is not viewing the proposed course so much as an exception as it is seeking to make what has been an exception in the last session or two a custom which will govern in the future.

Then there is a discussion of the importance of the debate on the speech from the throne. There are two great debates each session, namely, the debate on the address in

reply to the speech from the throne, and the debate which follows the presentation of the budget. In the debate on the address in reply it is customary for hon. members who have returned from their constituencies to interpret, at the time the session opens, what they have found there of major public concern. Any argument that can be put forward in favour of the motion which has been already presented by the Prime Minister, that the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne should have precedence over all other business, unless any other motion is made, supports the contention which I am now making, namely, that there should be no interference with the established practice in dealing with the debate on the address in reply.

What we do now may be a precedent for other occasions. There may be occasions-as there have been in the past-on which government will not receive a vote of confidence from the house. If the government does not receive a vote of confidence, and under our procedure is then called upon to go to the people or to have a new government formed, any debate that has taken place on supply will simply have been wiped out and proved useless. That is one of the reasons why the discussions in committee of supply or in committee of ways and means have been intended by the established practice of this house and of Westminster to be deferred until the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne has been dealt with.

Having regard to the precedents, and what might happen in the future, and considering the desire to preserve our parliamentary practice, I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this motion should not be proceeded with now. We know it cannot be dealt with now without consent. So that there may be no question of that, for the very reasons I have given I cannot accord consent to this motion today. But I do not believe the motion should be proceeded with in any event, on notice or otherwise, until the debate on the address in reply has been concluded.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Roselown-Biggar):

I

agree with what the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) has said. If anyone looks through the records of the House of Commons over the past fifteen years during, to a very large extent, the prime ministership of Mr. King, he will find that the views which have just been quoted by the leader of the opposition were expressed by Mr. King not only when he was himself in opposition but when he was prime minister and head of the government.

I would also point out in support of the leader of the opposition that, while the two

motions may be made immediately following the adoption of the address, as moved today it would fall within the category of an ordinary motion. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I submit it would come under standing order 45, which reads:

Forty-eight hours' notice shall be given of a motion for leave to present a bill, resolution or address, for the appointment of any committee, or for placing a question on the order paper; but this rule shall not apply to bills after their introduction, or to private bills, or to the times of meeting or adjournment of the house.

This being a motion for the appointment of two important committees, it would fall under standing order 45, and would therefore require forty-eight hours' notice. I imagine that is what the leader of the opposition had in mind when he said it could not be proceeded with without the unanimous consent of the house.

I support him, not because I wish to obstruct the business of the house or to obstruct anything the Prime Minister has suggested today that might conceivably facilitate the business of the house. With the leader of the opposition, I believe these rules are made to protect minorities in the house, and on every occasion on which a motion is made to vary the normal procedure, as occurred this afternoon in connection with the motion concerning the debate on the address, I say we should be wary and exercise great care. That care must be exercised when there is any attempt to vary these long-established rules for the protection of minorities and private members in the house, or when there is an attempt to set them aside, or a suggestion that they should be set aside.

Therefore I support the leader of the opposition in his contention, and submit that this cannot be proceeded with without the forty-eight hours' notice required by standing order 45, or without the unanimous consent of the house to set it aside.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, it occurs to me that at times the government may require that the rules of the house be streamlined. I imagine that the motions moved this afternoon by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) might well have been moved for the purpose of streamlining procedure and getting ahead with the business. With that I am in sympathy.

At the same time it is obvious that if we are to streamline the procedure of the house we will have to pay attention to changing the rules and standing orders as they are found in this book. I would suggest that the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and the leader of the C.C.F. party are quite in order in protesting against this way of doing 55946-24

Committee of Supply

business. I propose to support them, and to make the further suggestion that, if we want to change procedure with respect to the setting up of these committees, we should first of all pay attention to changing standing order 57, after which we would be perfectly in order.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to know just what hon. members do want. They say they do not want to rely upon the objection that this motion would require notice, and that they want to decide the question on the merits-at least that is what the leader of the opposition said. He wanted to decide on the merits, but then he pointed out that it was one of those motions which require forty-eight hours' notice.

I am not going to take time to debate it and waste a whole lot of time on this first day of a session discussing a matter of procedure. I endeavoured to do something which the government thought was going to meet the desires of hon. members as expressed at the last session of parliament. Statements were made at the last session that it would facilitate the business of the house if the estimates were brought on at an early day, and if an announcement was made that the first item for administration of such and such a department would be called on such and such a day, and that there would be general debate upon that item.

Ever since I have been here I have heard the complaint that the estimates are kept back until the dying days of the session, and then that they are rushed through without very much consideration. We have been working hard and working persistently to get the estimates into shape, and it is the hope of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) to table them this week. We thought that immediately after they were tabled it would suit the convenience of hon. members, as well as meet the exigencies of the public interest, to agree as to which department we would call on each one of those days upon which government business can be considered; so that, in order to make a speech hon. members would not have to rely upon prolonging the debate in reply to the speech from the throne.

There have been allusions here to procedure in the parliament at Westminster. It was the hon. member who leads the C.C.F. party who expressed in this house his admiration for what went on in the parliament at Westminster, because he had been there; he had heard the speech from the throne, and then he had attended the debate and within forty-eight hours the address in reply to the speech from the throne had been adopted.

Committee of Supply

Immediately thereafter committees were set up to deal with the concrete business of the house.

At that time the leader of the C.C.F. party expressed admiration- for that procedure. But here in this house, it does not matter how hard the government tries to meet the wishes expressed from time to time by parties on the other side, those parties switch and have other objections to make.

I am not going to ask you, Mr. Speaker, to put this motion today, because there may be something in the contention that under standing order 45 there should be forty-eight hours' notice. But I do give notice here and now, from my seat, that these motions will be put on the order paper, and that we will attempt to get a decision on the merits of them.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I just wish to leave one thing clear. If the Prime Minister will take the trouble to read the record of what I said, he will see I left no doubt whatever about the fact that I was not raising objection to having it dealt with today, beyond the merits of the general argument. I pointed out that the Prime Minister could not proceed today, whether he wished to or not, without consent-and he was not getting consent. But I said I was hoping to save time by preventing the argument. Then I might say I think we have precedents from the man whom he succeeds, and whose views I think he still respects.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I take it that the motion at the present time is withdrawn?

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

I take it the motions are not withdrawn but I understand there is objection to their being considered at this time. I submit to the objection; but I do

say that I will give notice on the order paper, so that they may, after forty-eight hours have elapsed, be considered on their merits-and I hope we shall not have to have the discussion again, though I am afraid it is a vain hope.

Motion stands.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE
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LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT


Report of the joint librarians of parliament.-Mr. Speaker.


DOMINION ELECTIONS


Report of the chief electoral officer on byelections held during the year 1949.-Mr. Speaker.


February 16, 1950