January 20, 1956

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask leave under standing order 26 to move the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the need for a definite government policy regarding the shipments from Canada to foreign countries of arms, military equipment and ammunition and the effective supervision thereof.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Mr. Drew asks for leave under standing order 26 to move the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance. He has indicated that the matter in question is the need for a definite government policy regarding the shipments from Canada to foreign countries of arms, military equipment and ammunition and the effective supervision thereof.

As the house knows, according to standing order 26, it rests with the Speaker to decide, not only whether the motion for leave is in order, but also whether in his opinion, that is, in the Speaker's opinion, he thinks that it is of urgent public importance. Under our practice, a matter of urgent public importance is understood to be one with regard to which there is urgency of debate.

I do not know to what extent I should preserve the line of reasoning that I and many of my predecessors have followed, namely, that whenever there is a debate like the one currently going on, which gives the opportunity to hon. members to discuss a wide range of subjects, motions such as this one have not been allowed. I am inclined today to follow the precedents that have been established. Today is the seventh appointed day of the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. There are still three more days.

We all know that the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Hahn), who adjourned the debate last night, will shortly obtain the

floor and, on the basis of our memory of what has happened in previous sessions, is likely to move another subamendment which will give hon. members the right to speak for 40 minutes each. Therefore they can debate at great length the matter proposed for this day in the motion now before me. In view of that I would submit that all those who wish to put forward points with regard to this matter can take advantage of the debate which is going to follow shortly on the amendment to the amendment about to be moved by the hon. member for New Westminster. In these circumstances I do not think I would be justified in accepting the motion.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, may I with deference place a consideration before you. While I recognize that such a dispatch need not necessarily be taken as evidence that the facts are so, the Canadian Press carries a dispatch this morning that there has been a permit issued for the shipment of 25-pounder shells out of Canada to an area where there is disturbance at the present time and that the permit order is dated since the disturbance actually began. Having regard to that and having regard to the fact that there is an incompleted order for aircraft of value for military training purposes, if nothing else, I submit it would be advisable that there should be an opportunity to deal with so important a subject as this without further delay. That was the reason for putting forward this proposal.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

We must be realistic about this matter. The hon. member cannot do anything else but debate the matter named in his motion. As soon as questions on the orders of the day are disposed of the hon. member for New Westminster will be able to speak for 40 minutes. Then the Leader of the Opposition may speak immediately following him and may deal with the subject named in his motion. That is why when we are considering urgency of debate we must bear in mind the fact that whenever a debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne or a debate on a motion to go into supply is under way the range of subjects that can be covered is very wide and great latitude is offered. Therefore it has been the consistent policy of Speakers as far as I can remember not to accept these motions in the circumstances in which we find ourselves

344 HOUSE OF

Reported Export of Military Equipment today. Would the hon. member for Van-couver-Kingsway like to help me in this instance?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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?

Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but I am afraid I shall not be able to help you. I rather think that the Leader of the Opposition is in a strong position in raising this question this morning. You have stated that the Leader of the Opposition can present bis views after the hon. member for New Westminster has finished. That is true mough, but what is more important than a statement in this regard by the Leader of the Opposition is that we should have a statement from the government. In a debate such as that on the speech from the throne ;here is no compulsion on the Secretary of State for External Affairs or any other member of the government to make any reply ifter the Leader of the Opposition has made iis speech. In my opinion that is the point of :his whole matter. I should like to see you illow this motion, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I say this. I have never heard t suggested in this house-although I have rot been here so very long-that a motion )f this kind would be entertained by Your donour when a general debate of this nature vas going on. Indeed, I have heard it said nany times that it would not be entertained 'or the obvious reason that these general lebates give the opportunity for discussion >f any subject that anyone wants to raise.

On the point made by the hon. member 'or Vancouver-Kingsway (Mr. Maclnnis) nay I point out that if it is open to an hon. nember, in the course of this debate, to speak >n any subject on which he may choose to ipeak, surely it is equally open to the gov-;rnment to declare its position if it so chooses. Jnder these circumstances I can see no point n not supposing that this whole matter could >e disposed of by discussion during the course if this debate. Whether or not the hon. nember who has moved the adjournment of he debate should raise this matter by way of i subamendment is a matter of opinion for tim to decide. As I said before, it has never >een in the contemplation of any of the larties, so far as I know, that on this occasion motion of this kind could be entertained.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Since the Minister of Finance Mr. Harris) has mentioned this matter, I hould like to point out that the key words n the statement were that the government nay reply if it chooses to do so. Our point 5 that it does not choose to give us the nformation that we should have and that a iebate of this kind would call upon the overnment to give a statement of policy

with regard to something that is of great concern as it is related to the whole question of our relationship with other nations at an extremely important time in the world's history.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Speaker, earlier in this session the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) asked for a specific debate on external affairs. In his absence the other day and in reply to a question asked by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), I said that we would have that debate within two, three or four days after the conclusion of this debate. It was my understanding that on that occasion these matters could be aired. There is no question of the government's not choosing to declare their position. We certainly will do so. We are quite proud of our record and we are prepared to defend it at any time.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, since the minister has referred to his statement, I would point out that prior to his making this statement the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) had assured me personally of a debate on external affairs.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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?

An hon. Member:

What more do you want?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I would ask the Prime Minister if, in the meantime, he will assure us that there will be no further shipment of arms or equipment from Canada.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent (Quebec East):

I think it is quite proper for me, Mr. Speaker, to give the assurance that we consider very carefully at all times any request for anything that can be of war service or armament service and that at the present time we are as much concerned about the situation in the Middle East as is any hon. member of the house; and that there will be no shipments for that area pending the debate on the matter in the House of Commons.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, may I say that not only would there have been an opportunity in the debate on external affairs to discuss this matter that my hon. friend has suggested, but it was also my intention, after discussing the matter with my colleagues, to anticipate this debate and make a statement to the house on this particular subject on Monday or Tuesday next.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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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 am sure we all appreciate what the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) has said. It is a little bit better than the offer made by the Minister of Finance in that we shall get a statement next week rather than the week after next. However, it seems to me that

in this matter there is immediacy-a real urgency-that calls for discussion today.

I should like to submit for Your Honour's consideration a new procedural point which I think has arisen because of one of the changes we have made in the rules. Your Honour suggests that so long as debate on the address is going on and provided that new amendments or subamendments are made, any hon. member may enter the debate and speak on any question such as this. Your Honour is referring to various precedents of that nature, but those precedents relate to a period when there was unlimited time for the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. There is now a ten-day limit. It may be technically correct to say that any member could rise on the supposed subamendment by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Hahn) and speak on this question. The fact of the matter is that there are only so many days left and many members who have already spoken who might wish to speak on this question would feel that they would not be fair to other members of the house if they were to speak a second time before all members have had a chance to speak once. I suggest therefore to Your Honour that in considering this situation, before you rely too completely on the precedents of the past, with some of which I do not agree anyway, you consider the new situation created by the time limit now fixed for the debate on the address.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Well, no matter what time limit has been placed on the debate on the address in reply there is no change as to what kind of vehicle the debate on the address in reply is. It is one which consists of'giving hon. members an opportunity to discuss anything coming within the administration of this parliament. If while this debate is going on by virtue of a particular announcement made a few days ago by the acting leader of the house if hon. members wish to put the debate on the address aside from time to time and use standing order No. 26 as a vehicle to discuss questions of actuality because they do not wish that day to be counted within the ten-day period for the debate on the address, I suggest to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) that the matter will have to be very seriously considered. I am not prepared today to give way and put aside all the decisions that have been rendered by my predecessors and myself, but I will consider it.

It does pose a problem, I realize that. It seems that before I do put aside all the precedents to which I have referred, I should

Reported Export of Military Equipment like to give it some more thought. It does pose a problem. It seems to me that if the members of a party do consider that a particular matter needs to be debated on a particular day, then those who are interested in making, let us say, constituency speeches, could give way to those who want to take part in the debate on the matter named in the motion. There are other opportunities during the session, such as supply motions and the budget debate, for discussion of a wide range of subjects.

Now, are we going to allow the motion under standing order No. 26 to be a vehicle for questions of actuality and to displace a debate so wide as the one in which we are currently engaged at the moment? The same situation will obtain with regard to supply motions and the budget debate. Therefore, I think the hon. member will agree with me that before I change the practice I will have to give the matter very careful consideration.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Since Your Honour has indicated you propose to give this very careful consideration, may I point out that there is a very marked distinction between a motion of . this kind and a motion in regard to a subject of general concern. When Your Honour suggests that the matter could be dealt with on a motion to go into supply, I would point out that the house has been informed by the government that three aircraft are actually now on the way-

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

-to the Middle East; that 12 of the 15 aircraft ordered remain to be shipped; that certain shells are still to be shipped, and the purpose was to deal with this before that took place. The situation would in no way be met by waiting for a purely academic debate on the motion to go into supply.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   REPORTED EXPORT OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
Permalink

January 20, 1956