Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime
Minisler): Mr. Speaker, I have a short statement to make that I feel confident will be welcomed by every member of this house.
By 11.30 this morning the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) had received final agreement by all ten provincial governments as to the terms of the proposed amendment to the British North America Act respecting old age pensions.
I have said on more than one occasion in the house that the government did not want to be responsible for any avoidable delays in dealing with this matter, and we have felt that hon. members would wish to have immediately the text of the address to His Majesty the King. Copies have been prepared in English and in French of the form of address which I am asking the Clerk to place on the order paper for Monday. The form is as follows:
That a humble address be presented to His Majesty the King in the following words:
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty:
Most Gracious Sovereign:
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Canada in parliament assembled, humbly approach Your Majesty, praying that you may graciously be pleased to cause a measure to be laid before the parliament of the United Kingdom to be expressed as follows:
An act to amend the British North America Act 1867.
Whereas the Senate and Commons of Canada in parliament assembled have submitted an address to His Majesty praying that His Majesty may graciously be pleased to cause a measure to be laid before the parliament of the United Kingdom for the enactment of the provisions hereinafter set forth:
Be it therefore enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
1. The British North America Act, 1867, is amended by adding thereto, immediately after section ninety-four thereof, the following heading and section: '
"Old Age Pensions
S4A. It is hereby declared that the parliament of Canada may from time to time make laws in relation to old age pensions in Canada, but no law made 80709-17H
by the parlikment of Canada in relation to old age pensions shall affect the operation of any law, present or future, of a provincial legislature in relation to old age pensions."
2. This act may be cited as the British North America Act, 1951, and the British North America Acts, 1867 to 1949, and this act may be cited 19Mtll6r 3S America Acts, 1867 to
There are copies available to be distributed to all hon. members so that they may see the exact wording of the amendment which has now been agreed upon with the ten provincial governments.
As hon. members are aware, the business for the first three days of next week has been arranged by all parties, and the government would not wish to disturb that arrangement. In view, however, of the general feeling that this is a matter of urgency, I would be prepared to move the address as the first item of business on Monday, if hon. members felt that it could be disposed of without any protracted discussion, and would be willing to defer debate on this matter of old age pensions until we bring before parliament the legislation to implement the constitutional powers to be conferred by the amendment.
I know that all hon. members would be glad to have an opportunity of expressing satisfaction with this demonstration of the harmonious relations now existing between the provincial governments and the federal government on matters of national interest. But that would take some time, and I think we all realize that it would be advisable to get this address over to London as quickly as possible, and to take no risks that any obstacle might prevent our dealing with this important subject at the present session of parliament. To do this may require us all to forgo an early opportunity of expressing our satisfaction in this regard; but if hon. mem-beis felt that the resolution for adoption of the address could be disposed of rapidly on Monday, without interfering substantially with the arrangement made to deal with external affairs, I should be glad to submit the resolution on that day.
I am not saying this for the purpose of avoiding discussion, or anything of the kind; but if it is the general feeling that we should try to get the constitutional amendment as rapidly as possible, and have the debate when it might not have the same possible consequence with respect to delay, I should be glad if hon. gentlemen would consider this