Recently hon. members discussed the proper construction of standing order 60. The house will recall that on the 18th June, 1952, I made a ruling with respect to this standing order which was to the effect that on the second day, that is, when the order is called for the Speaker to leave the chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of the whole on a resolution dealing with money a full discussion of the resolution is not in order. However, in view of the ruling made by Mr. Speaker Glen in February, 1942, I ruled that a debate was permissible provided it was directed to the negative of the motion. When that ruling was made some hon. members expressed doubt whether it could be put into effect. It was not long before I came to the same conclusion and I think all members agree that my ruling of the 18th June last must be revised. Most members, if not all, who spoke recently on the point of order were of the opinion that there should be no debate at all or that a full debate should be allowed on the resolution.
Standing order 60 was adopted in the House of Commons in 1867 in almost the identical wording it has today. Debates took place from time to time over the years on the second day. In 1905 Mr. Sproule, who later became Speaker under the administration of the late Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden, objected to this procedure. He is reported at column 320 of Hansard of that year as follows:
On Friday next will not the Speaker have to leave the chair, in compliance with the motion just made, and allow the house to go into committee of the whole without a motion to that effect being made again, and will not this preclude any debate before the house is in committee?
However, his opinion did not prevail and debates continued to take place until 1912. Between 1912 and 1919 there were 140 resolutions and I can find only two instances where any debate took place. On October 15, 1919, pages 1013-14 of Hansard, Mr. Speaker Rhodes, who was Speaker under the administrations of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden and the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, ruled that the motion was not debatable but that a vote could take place upon it. His ruling was generally respected until about the year 1930, after which the number of debates on this motion gradually increased.
It is to be noted that in February, 1942, the Right Hon. Mackenzie King objected to a debate at this stage and Mr. Speaker Glen gave the ruling to which I have referred. Subsequently, in 1946, Mr. King again contended that the motion was not debatable and quoted a communication from Dr. Arthur Beauchesne to that effect. See Hansard, page 761 of that year.
Along with standing order 60 it is necessary to consider standing order 38. It is to be noted that when Sir Robert Borden sponsored the resolution amending standing order 17 (a), which is now our standing order 38, in an amended form, he is quoted at column 7406 of Hansard of April 9, 1913, as saying:
What we have sought to do is to provide that ail substantial motions, which bring into question the propriety of passing any bill, measure, or vote, shall be debatable in the future as they have been in the past, but that purely formal motions, which, under the existing rules, would be used only for dilatory purposes, shall not in future continue to be debatable. That has been our object, and we propose to carry it into effect in a reasonable way.
From these words there seems to be no doubt that the intention of Sir Robert Borden while safeguarding the freedom of speech was to eliminate the occasions on which repetitious debate could arise. That I consider to be the spirit in which standing order 38 was adopted.
The resolution is not debatable on the first day by virtue of clause 1 (a) of standing order 38. On that day the house makes a decision that the resolution should be considered by a committee of the whole house at the next sitting. I must determine whether debate is permissible on the second day. It seems to me that a debate on the resolution at this stage cannot be permitted. The house has already decided that it should
Standing Order 60
go into committee at the next sitting to consider the resolution. It is surely, therefore, wrong for the house to consider at the said next sitting the resolution with the Speaker in the chair on the following grounds:
(1) That once a question has been decided by the house it cannot be reopened in the same session. See Beauchesne's third edition, citation 332.
(2) That when a resolution has been referred to a committee of the whole house that resolution cannot be debated in the house until the committee has reported.
What debate, if any, can be permitted on the second day, or is. a further motion of any kind required when the order under government orders is called "that the Speaker do now leave the chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of the whole on the following resolution . . . '. As stated above, since the house has already made a decision that that particular resolution is to be considered by the committee it is obviously irregular to have any further debate on that point. Therefore, the only possible subject matter for debate is as to whether the Speaker should leave the chair at that particular time, or later that day, or on some other day. However, even that subject matter is not debatable. Standing order 17 (2) provides that "whenever government business has precedence, government orders may be called in such sequence as the government may think fit", and of course it is the practice for the government to announce the
night before just what business will be called, the following day. In this way no one is taken by surprise.
From the above it would appear that the motion that the Speaker do now leave the chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of the whole on a money resolution moved on the second day under the provisions of standing order 60 is purely a procedural motion. It stands on the order of proceedings for the day, and were it other than a procedural motion it would, under standing order 38, be debatable. But procedural motions are not debatable. This was decided by Mr. Speaker Lemieux on June 18, 1923. See Hansard, page 4013 of that year. He said:
A bill is regularly on its way to the committee of the whole house and the motion has been made that X do now leave the chair. It is a purely formal motion.
It is doubtful if any motion at all is really necessary, but as Mr. Speaker Lemieux has ruled, and as Mr. Speaker Rhodes has also
ruled that the motion should be made, and that, though the motion is not debatable, the members have a right to vote thereon, I will follow their rulings.
Accordingly in future once the house has decided that the Speaker will leave the chair at the next sitting of the house to resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider a resolution I will put the motion when the order is called, but the motion will not be debatable although members will have the right to vote thereon.