June 12, 1952

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Mr. Speaker, I know hon. members will realize that the only reason I abstained from voting was that it so happened that the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) was not in his seat.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, before the question is put on the main motion there is another aspect of the matter of redistribution which we feel the house should consider. I have already indicated that it was my intention on behalf of this group to move a further amendment. Indeed, the amendment is one which I sought to move in the special committee on redistribution. It was ruled out .of order in that committee on the ground that the terms of reference given to the committee did not empower it to deal with the question of whether or not redistribution should be effected by an independent redistribution commission rather than by a committee of the House of Commons.

That, Mr. Speaker, is the subject of my amendment, and I shall move it in a form which, if adopted, would give to that committee the power to consider that very question. I thought the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) tonight anticipated that I might be raising this question when in discussing the amendment then before the house he referred to the fact that as long ago as 1867 at the Westminster hotel in London the question was raised as to whether the redistribution of

seats in the federal parliament should be carried out by a committee of parliament or whether it should be referred to some independent tribunal. Apparently the fathers of confederation and those who were associated with them did not see fit to determine at that time that it should be done that way, although in the wording of section 51 they left the door open by leaving it for parliament to decide what authority should carry out redistribution.

This question as to whether or not redistribution should be effected by an independent body rather than by parliament has come in for considerable attention in the last two decades. As the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) has pointed out, just at the outbreak of world war II a bill had been prepared which he, in the name of the government, would have introduced but for the outbreak of the war. In other words, but for that tragic event we might already have had redistribution effected by an independent commission instead of by a committee of parliament. The matter was discussed again at the time of the last redistribution, namely in 1947. On that occasion I had the privilege on behalf of this group of moving an amendment to second reading of the representation bill suggesting that, as an alternative, the redistribution of that year should be referred to an independent commission.

I well remember the remarks of the hon. member for Quebec South on that occasion. He indicated his support of the principle of my amendment, and he reminded us of the bill he had prepared some years before. He said, however, that it was difficult and impractical in his view to set up an independent redistribution commission when redistribution was right at our doorstep. In other words his proposal was that we should deal with this matter some years in advance. Again in this session the hon. member for Quebec South brought this matter to the attention of this house and of the country in a very forceful manner in a speech he made on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. He has a bill on the order paper that would establish an independent redistribution commission; but he has counselled us-and mind you, his counsel must be taken into account-to the effect that it may be that we have to look ahead; it may be that when we are right at the problem of redistribution it is too late to change the method of that immediate redistribution. It may be that, as the hon. member for Quebec South says, we shall have to plan while we are in the very midst of one redistribution for a different method of dealing with the next and future redistributions.

55704-200J

British North America Act

In other words, the amendment I shall move carries out the spirit of that suggestion which was made earlier this session by the hon. member. May I remind hon. members that others have indicated their support for the principle of redistribution being undertaken by an independent body. I refer in particular to the view expressed by the late prime minister, Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King. On February 3, 1947, when he spoke in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, he answered a question which had been put to him by the then leader of the opposition, Mr. John Bracken. Mr. Bracken had expressed the hope that redistribution might be carried out by an independent commission. Mr. King's reply, which can be found on pages 67 and 68 of Hansard for that date, was that on several occasions he had expressed the personal view that redistribution should be carried out by an independent tribunal. He said that he still held that view, but he said, and I quote from Hansard:

I do not believe that the majority of hon. members take that view, and in that particular I am prepared to accept the will of the majority. I hope, however, that the day will come when the House of Commons of Canada will see the wisdom of allowing its redistribution to be made by some impartial tribunal and not by the members of the house themselves dealing with the matter in committee as in former years it has been dealt with.

I am not so sure that Mr. King was right that it was the view of the majority of the house that this way should not be tried, but at any rate that was the opinion expressed. Nevertheless, at the same time he expressed his personal opinion, and it was one that he had held for some time, that it should be done by an independent body.

Those of us who have spoken on this subject from time to time have quoted such authorities as Professor Norman Ward of the university of Saskatchewan. The hon. member for Quebec South quoted him when he spoke earlier this session, and so have some of the members in this group. I need not take the time to put some of the excellent quotations from Professor Ward on the record again, but I shall refer to a quotation that was put on Hansard on April 21, 1952, at page 1441, in which Professor Ward demonstrated clearly that this is an outmoded way of dealing with redistribution-that is, referring it to a committee of the House of Commons. He supports most strongly the suggestion of the hon. member for Quebec South that the time has come to refer the matter to an independent tribunal.

I remind hon. members as well of the tremendous interest there is in this question on the part of those who write the editorials in most of the newspapers of this country.

British North America Act It has been discussed this year in particular because redistribution is with us at the present time, and it is a subject of great interest. I think it is fair to say that the consensus of editorial writers in this country is that we should find a better way than by referring the question to a committee of this house; that we should set up machinery to make it possible for the problem to be handled by an independent commission. Hon. members are aware that the practice of referring the matter to an independent commission is followed in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, as well as other democratic countries. Indeed we are about the only democracy that still adheres to this outworn method of dealing with this problem.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Will the hon. member allow a question?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Yes.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I have been following very carefully, and I wanted to ask whether the press anywhere suggests a constitutional amendment in order to bring about that condition of affairs; or would it not be better to have it in the form of a statutory amendment to the election act?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

I cannot say whether I have seen any editorial comments suggesting that this matter be settled by means of a constitutional amendment, but I am making that proposal, in line with what has been suggested by the hon. member for Quebec South, that we make a firm decision. What annoys me is that at redistribution time we can all agree that next time we should do it the other way, but then we let the years roll by and when the next time comes the same sentiments are expressed again, that we shall have to leave it over until the next time. It was for that reason I felt we should settle the question by writing into our constitution the necessary amendment. That it could be written in I think is borne out by the statement of the Prime Minister tonight to the effect that this was discussed at the Hotel Westminster in London back in 1867, and that is the suggestion I shall be making in the amendment I shall move in a few minutes.

May I also cite as support for our contention that redistribution should be carried out by an independent commission rather than by a committee of parliament the experience we are having right at this very time in dealing with redistribution. Professor Norman Ward, in the quotation I referred to a moment ago, said that, with the best will in the world, a group of M.P.'s drawn from many occupations, provinces and political parties would find it extremely difficult

to face objectively the various problems connected with this whole question of redistribution.

I think it is fair to say that we in this parliament think we are members with the best will in the world. Yet it is an understatement to suggest that we are having great difficulty in sorting out the problems associated with redistribution. Indeed, there are many knotty problems to be dealt with in that sphere before this session ends. In my view the experience hon. members are having right now should convince all the members of this house that the time has come to make a firm decision with regard to this matter.

The last time redistribution was up for consideration, namely in 1947, we moved an amendment to the motion for second reading of the representation bill the effect of which would have been to refer the redistribution of 1947 to an independent commission. That amendment was defeated. In my view such a move would be a valid one to make on this occasion. But there are those who might say that if one now tried to refer the present redistribution to an independent commission, that would result in delay, in fact in so much delay that the next election might have to be fought on the present boundaries. In my view that is not a sufficient argument against referring the matter to an independent commission for this very redistribution. However, I recognize the fact that if we were to move an amendment of that kind it would be beaten and no gain would be made.

Believing that it is our job to look to the future, Mr. Speaker, we are therefore going to propose instead that, in the light of our present experience, in the light of the opinions of people across this country and in the light of the advice of the hon. member for Quebec South, we now make a decision that this is the last time redistribution will be carried out by a committee of this house. We are going to propose that we now make the decision that, in the case of the redistribution to be effected after the decennial census of 1961 and every census thereafter, redistribution will be carried out by an independent commission to be established by parliament.

There will be much to do before 1961. A bill establishing such a commission will have to be prepared. That bill will have to specify the rules on the basis of which that commission will function. That bill will have to determine the composition of that commission, and to make certain of its independence. That bill would have to provide what would happen when the commission had finished its work and had reported its findings to Mr. JUNE 12, 1952

Speaker, for in the end the responsibility in connection with this matter would still rest with parliament.

The hon. member for Quebec South, in his bill, proposes a way of dealing with that problem. I am not going to comment as to whether his method is the best one or not; and he will agree with me that at this point that is not something for us to decide. The fact that he has worked it out in his bill is evidence of the fact that it can be done. My suggestion is that at this moment we should at least take the position that next time, and every time thereafter, redistribution is going to be carried out by an independent commission.

The way we propose that this matter should be dealt with, Mr. Speaker, is by referring the subject matter of the bill now before us to the special committee on redistribution which is still in existence and is still carrying on its work. In fact, procedurally we are rather fortunate that that committee is still meeting, because it makes it possible for us to deal with this matter in a manner which will not kill the effort now being made to amend the British North America Act in respect of the 15 per cent floor and in respect of two seats for Yukon and Mackenzie River. Our proposal is that the subject matter of this bill should be referred to the special committee on redistribution and that it should be given by this house power to do something which thus far it has not had the power to do, namely the power to consider whether the British North America Act should be amended to provide that the readjustment in the representation in the House of Commons to be effected following the decennial census of 1961, and following each decennial census thereafter, shall be made, subject to any rules to be prescribed by parliament, by an independent commission to be appointed by parliament for that purpose.

If the motion in those terms which I shall presently move were to pass the house tonight, that would mean that this house would express its support of the principle that we should have an independent commission after the next census, and it would also refer that matter to the committee to consider. The committee could then consider it and if it approved of the idea of amending the British North America Act in that respect it could present to the House of Commons a further report including a draft bill which would be the same as the draft bill it has already agreed upon plus the amendment that would be necessary to carry out the proposal I am presenting to the house tonight. In fact the amendment which was ruled out of order the other day, and which I moved

British North America Act in that committee, was designed to do that very thing; and I am satisfied that it would have done it. The only difficulty was that the chairman felt the committee did not have power, under its terms of reference, to deal with this phase of the matter. This house has the right to give that committee the power to deal with this phase of the matter and that is what we are asking for at this time.

I hope hon. members of the house will give serious consideration to this matter. Let us not put it off from one decade to another. Let us not, every time it comes up for consideration, agree amongst ourselves-privately, and in some instances publicly-that this is the wrong way to do it and that next time we must do it the other way, but do nothing about it. The result is that when the next time comes around and some member rises in the house and wants to refer the matter to an independent commission, there will be some other member from Quebec South here saying, "I agree with the idea but it is too late; redistribution is on our doorstep".

We have a duty to perform, particularly because of the experience we are having in dealing with this matter at the present time. I urge the house to give most serious consideration to the amendment which I shall now propose. I therefore move, seconded by my colleague, the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis):

That Bill 331 be not now read a second time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the special committee on redistribution with instructions that they have power to consider whether the British North America Act should be amended so as to provide that the readjustment in the representation in the House of Commons to be effected following the decennial census of 1961, and each decennial census thereafter, shall be made, subject to any rules to be prescribed by parliament, by an independent commission to be established by parliament for that purpose.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, there is something I wish to say. Did the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) wish to speak on a point of order?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

No, not on a point of order.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I say that this amendment is really designed to serve the purpose of a motion to give enlarged powers to the present select committee that is dealing with the subject matter. The subject matter has already been before the committee, and the only purpose of the motion is to enlarge the powers of that select committee. I suggest to Your Honour that this would give power to the committee to consider whether there should not be an amendment to the constitution which involves expenditure. Therefore

British North America Act that is something which, if it got into the constitution, certainly would put an obligation upon the treasury to provide the funds required to implement the provision of the constitution, I would ask Your Honour to consider whether that does not bring it within the class of legislation which cannot be proceeded with without a recommendation from His Excellency the Governor General.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

With respect to the point raised by the Prime Minister, I do not know whether I can turn it up while I am on my feet but there is a citation in Beauchesne, and I believe a Speaker's ruling, to the effect that a motion for a bill which does not itself involve expenditure of money, but may involve the enactment of further legislation that would require money, is not in itself out of order as a private member's motion. There are a number of occasions when a matter is presented in that way. For example, the very bill we are debating would increase the membership of the House of Commons, but it was not regarded as a money bill and therefore it was not felt that a resolution had to precede it, because the necessary expenditure is taken care of under another act.

As a matter of fact the bill of the hon. member for Quebec South, to which we have referred, would involve, before the commission could operate, the expenditure of money; but the mere passing of that bill, by the terms of the hon. member's bill itself, does not do that.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris (Grey-Bruce):

The bill is still

out of order.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

It has not yet been ruled upon. I submit that if this motion passed and if the committee recommended that the British North America Act be amended in this way, that would not by itself involve the expenditure of money. No money would be required until later on the government had brought in a bill establishing a redistribution commission. That bill would have to specify how those expenses were to be met, and would of course have to be a bill introduced by the government, with a prior resolution.

I notice that Your Honour is perhaps trying to find the very citation to which I have been referring. Possibly we can locate it in a moment or two.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. Power:

Perhaps I have the very citation the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is referring to, Your Honour. It did come to my ears that there was a question of raising a point of order in connection with the bill standing in my name on the order paper, the same point of order which

has been raised, and I was proposing to refer the subject matter to a standing committee. I find that the House of Commons Journals of Tuesday, March 22, 1949 at page 233, contains the following. Perhaps the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre will tell me if this is the citation to which he refers. I read from the Journals:

The house then resumed the adjourned debate on the proposed motion of Mr. Garson: That Bill No.

86, an act to amend the Continuation of Transitional Measures Act, 1947, be now read the second time, and on the proposed motion of Mr. Fleming in amendment thereto: That the said bill be not now

read the second time, but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the standing committee on banking and commerce with instructions that they have power to recommend a specific measure relating to rent control and other specific measures relating respectively to other matters provided for in the said bill.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

There can be no question that,

on the second reading of a bill, an amendment may be made to the end that the second reading do not take place but that the subject matter thereof be referred to one of the standing committees which may be given certain instructions. But the house cannot, under the guise of referring the subject matter, refer also certain provisions of the bill itself.

I think in support of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre I should say that the last phrase does not apply in this instance, and that he would perhaps be in order to refer the subject matter of the bill in the same way that the hon. member for Eglinton was in order to refer the subject matter of the bill, though it did deal with matters which might in the long run have involved expenses. Specific measures relating to rent control would have involved expenses to the crown. Therefore perhaps this is the citation that my hon. friend refers to. If it is, I would say that he is in order.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Speaker, may I confess that is not the citation I had in mind but I am glad the hon. member has given it, for it is even better than the one that I was trying to turn up and which I have now located. Your Honour, I am sure, will give serious consideration to the point raised by the hon. member for Quebec South because it deals precisely with the kind of situation that we have now. On that occasion there was a bill before the house for second reading, and the amendment was that the bill be not then read a second time but that the subject matter be referred to a committee. That is precisely what my amendment to this present bill would do.

But, Mr. Speaker, having referred to certain citations generally when I was on my feet before I feel I should also indicate what they were so no one will think I was just pulling them out of the air. At page 457 of Beauchesne's third edition there is this

headnote to a ruling by Mr. Speaker Sproule, dated January 16, 1912:

A bill, which does not involve a direct expenditure but merely confers upon the government a power for the exercise of which public money will have to be voted by parliament, is not a money bill and no resolution is necessary as a condition precedent to its introduction.

I am not bringing in a bill; but even if I were bringing in a bill in the terms of an amended British North America Act, I submit that it would be covered by the ruling made by Mr. Speaker Sproule on January 16, 1912. The bill was to amend the Inquiries Act. A point of order had been raised and, as I say, a ruling was given to that effect by the Speaker of that day.

A similar ruling appears on page 459 of Beauchesne's third edition, only this one is quite lengthy. It runs all the way from page 459 to page 467. Again the headnote reads:

A bill designed to furnish machinery, for the expenditure of a certain sum of public money to be voted subsequently by parliament, may be introduced in the house without the recommendation of the crown and without a resolution being first considered in committee.

That was what I was trying to say by way of paraphrase when I was on my feet before; that there have been these rulings in the past; these circumstances that suggest that when a bill establishes machinery for the functioning of which it may be necessary for parliament later to appropriate money, that does not make the bill itself a money bill. The same consideration would apply if a point of order were raised against the bill of the hon. member for Quebec South. Indeed, even if he did not have the subject matter thereof referred to a committee I would contend that the bill, as he has drafted it, is in order because the bill itself does not require the expenditure of money. Before it could come into operation money would have to be appropriated, but that is separate from the bill itself.

I realize it is a very important point of order that has been raised by the Prime Minister. But I feel, with the support of the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power), that this motion of itself certainly does not involve the expenditure of money, but is merely referring the subject matter of a certain proposal to the special committee on redistribution for consideration by that committee.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Are there any other members who wish to make any further representations at this time?

British North America Act

This is a rather difficult problem for me to decide without time for consideration. The amendment is as follows:

That Bill 331 be not now read a second time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the special committee on redistribution with instructions that they have power to consider whether the British North America Act should be amended so as to provide that the readjustment in the representation in the House of Commons to be effected following the decennial census of 1961, and each decennial census thereafter, shall be made, subject to any rules to be prescribed by parliament, by an independent commission to be established by parliament for that purpose.

I think it is clear that the amendment in itself referring the subject matter to the committee and to consider an amendment to the British North America Act would not involve an expenditure of money. The difficulty which faces me is to determine whether a decision of the committee would be considered a direct order to this house, or to the government, to bring in legislation which would involve the expenditure of money.

Let us suppose that the committee did consider the question and, having been empowered to consider it, decided that an independent commission should be established. What effect would that decision have on the house?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

May I have a further word?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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?

An hon. Member:

Let Mr. Speaker finish.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

While you are thinking, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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June 12, 1952