By leave of the house I should like to read a brief statement on not reading speeches.
At thij stage of the session I think I should recall to the minds of hon. members the well-established rule of this house against the reading of prepared speeches, except for members who are making their maiden speeches, and for certain important statements which have to be made in introducing complicated subjects, such as the budget or an involved piece of legislation.
During the first session of this parliament there were first speeches by many new members and it was perhaps not an appropriate time to invoke the rule too often. But at the present time almost all the new members- all except 11 or 12-have delivered their maiden speeches, and all hon. members might well give thought to the improvement of debate and the more expeditious handling of public business by refraining from the reading of a series of set speeches or essays.
I must say that an observer of the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, as it has progressed during the past two weeks, might well have thought that the rule required members to read their speeches. He would have seen members preparing a lectern from which to read their speeches by placing two or three thick volumes of Hansard on their desks, perhaps even the volume in which the rule against the practice had been noted. He would have seen others reading page after page of a speech which they boldly held in their hands.
It is clear that members may refer to notes and may read quotations and, as I have said, there are some exceptional cases where reading is allowed. But it is equally clear that members must not read their speeches verbatim, and even in the exceptional cases the whole speech should not be read.
The rule itself and the reasons which support it have been well stated from time to time, and I do not intend to repeat what has been said, but rather to give members one
or two references which will enable them to satisfy themselves on the course which they should follow.
May I refer hon. members to citation 144 in Beauchesne's fourth edition, pages 124 and 125. My immediate predecessor in the chair collected the authorities and precedents in a lengthy statement which he gave to the house on the 31st January 1956. This will be found in the Journals for 1956, beginning at page 92. Hon. members will appreciate that it is not easy for a Speaker to intervene on his own initiative, and that the enforcement of the rule depends almost entirely on hon. members themselves, those who are making speeches and those who are sufficiently interested in preserving the character of parliamentary debates to rise on a point of order when the rule is being infringed.
I have been encouraged to believe that now that the throne speech debate is over, hon. members in all parts of the house are ready and willing to co-operate to the fullest extent in restoring this very sound rule and practice. Those of us who sit in the chair will do our part. We ask for your co-operation, and particularly for your indulgence when we find it necessary to intervene.