Yesterday a rather acrimonious debate took place in this house on a subject I do not think I need mention, since I am sure it is still fresh in the minds of many hon. members; and I am hopeful, of course, that it will not be revived today. During the course of the debate the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) used the word "cowardly" with respect to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), and the Prime Minister demanded that the word should be withdrawn. I ruled that the word was unparliamentary, and that the leader of the opposition must withdraw it.
In reply the leader of the opposition stated that the Prime Minister had charged him with lack of courage. I did not recall having heard the Prime Minister use the words, and accordingly did not order him to withdraw them. The leader of the opposition insisted that the words had been used, and the Prime Minister stated that if he had used the words he would withdraw them. Apparently the house has left it to me to determine whether the words complained of by the leader of the opposition were used by the Prime Minister.
I have read in Hansard the record of the proceedings in the house yesterday, and I cannot find that the words referred to by the leader of the opposition were used. Accordingly I rule that the Prime Minister did not use the words "lack of courage", and that a withdrawal is not necessary. I further rule that as the leader of the opposition did use the word "cowardly" it is necessary that he withdraw it. In closing his remarks the leader of the opposition said:
If the Prime Minister used words different from those which I heard, and which I think I heard correctly, then obviously my remarks were related to words which were not said. Hansard will speak for itself.
I draw the attention of hon. members to these words:
If they were not said, then I withdraw what I said in relation to them.
Accordingly I accept the withdrawal of the leader of the opposition.