August 5, 1958

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


Fifth report of standing committee on veterans affairs.-Mr. Dinsdale.


RAILWAYS, CANALS AND TELEGRAPH LINES

PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. K. Fraser (Peterborough):

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the the seventh report of the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Erhart Regier (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

May we have this report read by the Clerk, Mr. Speaker?

And the Clerk having read the report:

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My point of order is that this report is not in accordance with the findings of the committee. I refer you, Mr. Speaker, to the evidence as found in the minutes of proceedings and evidence, No. 6, of the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, for Tuesday, July 29. On page 231 of that report we find this:

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PC

Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

Shall clause 1 carry? We will have a show of hands.

The Clerk: Six in favour, eight against.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that we should consider Beauchesne's fourth edition, citation 322, which says:

It is not competent for a committee to reconsider and reverse its own decision, hut if the house resolves that such reconsideration is necessary, the correct procedure is for the house-

House is spelled with a capital letter.

-to give the committee instructions which will enable it to consider the whole question again.

It is my contention, therefore, that you, Mr. Speaker, have one of two alternatives; either you declare this report out of order or you recommit this matter to the committee. There are many references which show this house has the power to recommit a problem to a committee, in which case the committee would then be clear of the decision reached at an earlier meeting.

This morning, Mr. Speaker, the committee met, and without any further ado and despite objections and warnings raised, simply reversed a decision it had made the other day. I should like to call your attention to

citation 325 of Beauchesne's fourth edition. The first paragraph says:

When the report does not contain any resolutions, recommendations or other propositions for consideration of the house, it does not appear that any further proceedings in reference to it as a report are necessary.

I should like to underline the words "are necessary".

Every session, select committees make reports of this description, containing a statement of facts, or of the evidence on the subject of inquiry; but as they do not contain any proposition which can be agreed to by the house, they are simply printed for the information of the members.

The next citation, namely citation 326, I believe is very clear when it says:

326. The report of a standing committee should be considered final only when it is adopted by the house, because, until then, the house can refer it back to the committee with instruction to amend it in any particular.

If you wish other evidence out of Bourinot or May I am willing to produce it, Mr. Speaker. It is for these reasons that I submit that this report should be declared out of order by Your Honour or should be recommitted to the committee.

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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

Mr. Speaker, I think a word of explanation here would be in order. The preamble of the bill, which had been carried, reads as follows:

Whereas Trans Mountain Oil Pipe Line Company has by its petition prayed that it be enacted as hereinafter set forth, and it is expedient to grant the prayer of the petition: Therefore Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:-

It has thus been approved in principle. It would have been to negative this action by killing the first clause. There is only one clause in the bill. The feeling of the committee was that there had not been enough discussion. At that time a number of the members put their hands up indicating that they wished the discussion to continue. Also, Mr. Speaker, I understand that if there is any dispute of any kind or disagreement in a standing committee in a case of this kind, the members at that time should have immediately disagreed and asked that it be discussed further or that a vote be taken.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

May I ask one question of the hon. member who presented the report. Was the report as presented approved by the committee?

3090 HOUSE OF

Committee on Railways, Canals, etc.

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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

Mr. Speaker, the report was approved this morning by the committee.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

Further to the last point, Mr. Speaker, I should say that the decision of the committee in the first instance is evidenced by the minutes of proceedings and evidence which the chairman did not deny this morning when asked about it. The committee took a vote; it was a vote by count of the clerk, and clause 1 did not carry. However, the hon. member raised the point of immediacy. This is the first time this matter could be raised in this house, Mr. Speaker, as I think you will agree. However, even in the meeting of the committee, when apparently there was some confusion, there is noted at page 231 a comment or a question by the hon. member for Winnipeg South when he said:

Does the vote on clause 1 settle the matter or is it to go on indefinitely?

I contend that he answered himself when he said "or is it to go on indefinitely?" Definitely, according to the rules whereby a committee may not reverse its decision, it would have to go on indefinitely, for the meeting to continue. Then, following that, the hon. member for Winnipeg South said, "We should now adjourn." There appeared to have been a number of members of the committee who understood at that time that the matter had been settled and the bill had been defeated in committee. However, the chairman said, "I asked our clerk if we could go on and he said yes."

The hon. member for Peterborough now makes the point that the preamble was endorsed. From all my reading of the rules, when you endorse the preamble you have satisfied yourself that all the conditions necessary for the consideration of the bill have been met; that is the endorsation of the preamble. I have always taken it, and have so been advised by others, that clause 1, which in this case is the one and only clause and the operative clause, is in effect the principle of the bill. The preamble only assures to us that it is right and proper that the committee do now consider amending a certain act at this time.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I think the point of order may be in effect an appeal from the chairman's ruling. Perhaps the best course to follow, as this is not a matter of immediate urgency, would be to allow me to consider the point of order which has been raised and to hold the item, which would normally go to the committee of the whole, until it has been disposed of.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I thank you, Mr. Speaker; and while you are considering it would you also consider the gross discrepancy which

appears as between the evidence on page 231, recording this vote, and the minutes which say at one stage that the chairman asked whether the clause would carry and, "on a show of hands the committee decided to continue the discussion".

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PC

John Andrew W. Drysdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. John Drysdale (Burnaby-Richmond):

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if when you are considering this matter you could also consider the point that the vote on page 231 of the report was, in my contention, a nullity. 1 would refer you to page 354 of Beauchesne's fourth edition, where it says:

All questions before committees on private bills are decided by a majority of voices including the voice of the chairman; and whenever the voices are equal, the chairman has a second or casting vote.

Then under citation 491 on the same page it continues:

491. (1) The names of the members attending each committee are entered by the committee clerk in the minutes; and when a division takes place, the clerk takes down the names of the members, distinguishing on which side of the question they respectively vote; and such lists are to be given in, with the report, to the house.

There was merely a show of hands vote, Your Honour. Accordingly it is my contention that the vote was a nullity and that therefore we were in order in carrying on the meeting.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

The second vote was exactly the same.

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PC

John Andrew W. Drysdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drysdale:

And in addition, Your Honour, the matter was referred to the committee and I think that is the place where the appeal should be made; and I know Beauchesne does refer to that as the proper practice rather than appealing to the house. The committee unanimously decided that it was correct.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I will take the matter under consideration. It may be that it should be disposed of in the committee itself.

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NATIONAL DEFENCE

EQUIPPING OF R.C.A.F. WITH ATOMIC WEAPONS


On the orders of the day:


August 5, 1958