June 10, 1954

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

AMENDMENTS TO MOTION FOR COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY-SUGGESTED PROCEDURE FOR DISPOSAL

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I think this may be the appropriate time to mention the matter because, in the ordinary course of events if Your Honour were giving a ruling, it would be at this time that you would give it. I want to point out that with regard to the question that was raised just before the house rose last night as to the possibility of the motion being in order, if that motion stands-

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. May I inform the Leader of the Opposition that that matter cannot be taken up at this time. The order of the house to go into committee of supply and the debate on the amendment and the amendment to the amendment will be resumed when it is necessary for the Speaker again to put the motion to go into supply. That will be perhaps on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Today, however, that debate will not be resumed. In any event, this would not be the time to discuss the observations I made last night in connection with the amendment. That discussion will have to take place when the order is read for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion to go into supply and on the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I was about to point out that under rulings that have been made the fact that this matter remains in a state of suspense conceivably could have some effect on the scope of the debate under the Department of Trade and Commerce which, we have been informed, is to be the first department called today. I was merely suggesting the possibility that if Your Honour had reached a decision, that decision conceivably could have some bearing on the breadth of the remarks that could be made on the first item of the Department of Trade and Commerce. If Your Honour feels that that matter should stand, then it would be necessary for those who speak to guide themselves accordingly.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

As I said a moment ago, it is not a matter of the Speaker feeling that it should stand; it is because I cannot deal

with the matter otherwise. I cannot deal with observations made upon an amendment until the order for resuming the debate on that particular subject is called by the clerk assistant. As to the fears expressed by the Leader of the Opposition that perhaps discussion might be curtailed on the first item of the Department of Trade and Commerce in the committee to supply, may I say that I do not think he should entertain those fears. As I recall it, on the first item of a department in supply the discussion is always allowed to cover all the administration of that department.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Under those terms, Mr. Speaker, the situation is entirely satisfactory in any event.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

There is another point that I should like to take care of and that has to do with the remarks that were made at the beginning of our sittings today with respect to the amendment to the motion to go into supply which is on the order paper for Monday next. Upon reflection, I see now why the matter was brought up by the Leader of the Opposition. We are to go into committee of supply without question put, and the first department to be called is trade and commerce, the first item being administration. Under that first item of course comes perhaps the matter of wheat. Yesterday we had a debate initiated with respect to wheat on the motion to go into supply, which was adjourned last night, and which appears on the order paper for Monday next, item No. 3.

I do not want the house to be misled by what I said earlier. It is true that on the first item of any department in supply a general discussion of the department's activities is allowed. However, it would seem to me that the amendment moved to the motion to go into supply yesterday is blocking a discussion with respect to wheat today in the committee of supply on the first item of trade and commerce. Citation 246 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms says:

Besides the prohibitions contained in standing order 41, it has been sanctioned by usage both in England and in Canada, that a member, while speaking, must not:

(d) anticipate discussion on a motion set down for future consideration.

Business of the House

Anyone dealing with wheat would certainly be anticipating discussion of the motion which is set down on the order paper for Monday next.

Furthermore, hon. members are limited by the terms of standing order 40(2), which is to the effect that one must not repeat arguments of his own or arguments used by others. I just want to point out that there is this difficulty at this stage of the proceedings in connection with the subject of wheat.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Before we pass from that, may I say that Your Honour has apprehended the very difficulty that I anticipated. I would point out that it is not the choice of the opposition that we broke from the motion that was before the house to discuss trade and commerce.

I would point out that by the device of halting a debate before it is concluded and then calling a department which embraces the subject matter of a motion of that kind we could find ourselves denied the opportunity to discuss it at all, that is further than the discussion which has already taken place, because, as I pointed out earlier, Your Honour did indicate some uncertainty as to what was in your mind. I am prepared to argue that point because I submit the point is in order. Nevertheless, Your Honour indicated quite clearly last night that you thought the motion might be out of order. In that event we might find ourselves foreclosed from the possibility of discussing an extremely important aspect of the Department of Trade and Commerce, and then find when we returned on Monday that Your Honour had come to the conclusion that he thought it was not in order and that the very motion which is now being discussed on this subject is in fact not a valid barrier at all.

I would repeat that the choice by which that debate was suspended and we now come into trade and commerce was not our choice. I am not suggesting for one moment that the course which has been followed is one that was designed for that purpose. I would point out, however, that the government, which has nothing to do with that, could by that very method interfere with the ordinary discussion of a subject before the house and I submit that while hon. members might well refrain from the detailed discussion of this subject which has already come forward, that if we talk on trade and commerce we can hardly take the time to deal with it in its all-embracing aspects without considering the impact of the present wheat situation upon trade and commerce in Canada.

I do submit, Mr. Speaker, that if your ruling were to be that the mere introduction

of the subject of the wheat surplus were to be suspended or could not be proceeded with because of the adjournment of that motion, then some course should be followed which would open the door to discussion because we would be having a discussion on the first item on the Department of Trade and Commerce under very unsatisfactory conditions. It must of necessity be with the consent of the house, but because of the importance of this matter I would be prepared to withdraw the motion we were debating yesterday for the purpose of overcoming any difficulties of this kind.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Mr. Speaker, may I say just a word or two on this? On Tuesday on the opposition side of the house there was a general feeling that this was a matter of urgency and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) and my colleague the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) both attempted to introduce a motion to that effect. We urged the government to vary the business but the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) could not see his way clear to do so. He said then, with respect to the urgency of discussing this matter, as reported at page 5624 of Hansard for that day:

The most I would be prepared to suggest is that either when we move to go into supply at a time when that motion is to be debated or when we get into supply, the first department called be the Department of Trade and Commerce.

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?

An hon. Member:

Either.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Quite so. But he indicated that the matter of urgency was to be met when the first department was the Department of Trade and Commerce. We are in a bit of a muddle this morning regarding procedure, Mr. Speaker, but under the first item as a rule the discussion is very wide and I myself can see no objection to the house debating the wheat problem under the Department of Trade and Commerce and even concluding that debate, so that when we get back to a supply motion all that would have to be done would be to receive Your Honour's ruling on the amendment and the subamendment and if you so allow a vote can be taken at that time.

It seems to me, in the situation in which we are, that that would be the sensible thing for the house to do, but it is a matter for the house and yourself, Mr. Speaker, rather than for any individual in this house to decide as regards what is to be done. But I am making that suggestion to the house and to you, Mr. Speaker, because I believe that is a way out of the difficulty.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the C.C.F. party has explained the situation, as I understand it, quite clearly. In response to the desire of hon. members opposite that this matter might be debated at an early time the government did say it was going to call the Department of Trade and Commerce first on, I think, two successive days, giving them the opportunity when we got into supply. I presume hon. members are aware of the rule which provides that on Thursdays and Fridays we can discuss these matters without question put, and the opposition members have an option of taking whatever action they desire with that in mind. However, since all the hon. members who have spoken so far seem to be desirous of disposing of the matter the alternative presented by that hon. member would be acceptable to the government, that is if it is the desire of the house the amendment be now dropped so that it would not be called on Monday and we would agree to debate wheat or any other subject on this item. On the other hand, if the suggestion made by the leader of the C.C.F. party is adopted, that is that we debate the subject now by consent, and that there is to be no further debate on the amendments on Monday, then we are content.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

May I suggest to the acting leader of the government that although we can go into supply on Thursdays and Fridays without question put, what he could do is to suspend the standing order so that we can then go into supply with question put today and move that item 3 be taken and then I will by my ruling dispose of the two amendments, the main motion will carry, and we will go into supply.

I do not know if my point is well taken. We go into supply Thursdays and Fridays without question put although, if it was the wish of hon. members to have a debate on the motion to go into supply by suspending the provisions of the standing order, a motion could be made and we could have a debate on the motion to go into supply. If it is unanimously agreed that this be done then immediately I make my ruling and the two amendments are disposed of-and I take it that is the wish of hon. members-the motion could then be carried and I would leave the chair and the house could go into committee of supply on the Department of Trade and Commerce.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

But Mr. Speaker, might I point out that if Your Honour put the question and the consent of the house were obtained then the difficulty we are discussing would be disposed of if my motion were withdrawn, though, of course, that would also require the

Business of the House

consent of the mover of the subamendment. In that case there would be no problem before us.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Speaker, I have no way of judging what is in your mind but may I point out that if perchance your ruling was that the amendment and the subamendment were out of order then a further debate could continue on the motion to go into supply. I take it we do not wish that to occur. I think, as I have said before, that the other suggestions are agreeable to the government.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Is it agreed that the Leader of the Opposition, by leave, withdraw his amendment? Does the hon. member for Assiniboia also wish to ask leave to withdraw his amendment to the amendment?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Mr. Speaker, may I say a word on this? I understand the proposal is that the amendment and subamendment be withdrawn. But the purpose of moving the subamendment was to divide the house on that subamendment, though if there was an opportunity to move the amendment and subamendment again there would not be the same objective. However, if the withdrawal means that there is to be no vote regardless of what Your Honour's ruling may be, then I could not consent to the withdrawal of the amendment because our subamendment was moved deliberately so that we might divide the house on a question which we believe is both important and urgent.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Then on that point, Mr. Speaker, I hope and believe that on Monday we may have only four or five items of legislation at the most, and if these items are passed before Wednesday night it will, of necessity, be necessary to bring in another motion to go into supply and another opportunity will then occur.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I suppose we shall leave the matter at that for the time being and I will leave the chair for the house to go into committee of supply on the departments that were announced.

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June 10, 1954