Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):
I rise on a question of privilege. My question of privilege is that certain documents were improperly made available to the hon. member for Kootenay East by a senior official of the Department of External Affairs before those documents had been tabled in the house. This action was taken during a meeting of the external affairs committee held yesterday afternoon, and in my opinion it constituted an offence against the rules of the house and a grave discourtesy to its members.
On Wednesday, May 6 I moved the following motion:
That an order of the house do issue for a copy of all petitions sponsored by the Nelson chamber of commerce signed by residents of Kootenay East and West urging immediate ratification of the Columbia river treaty, received by the government since January 1, 1964.
This motion was unanimously agreed to. During the meeting of the external affairs committee yesterday afternoon a senior official of the Department of External Affairs, at two minutes after 5 p.m., handed the hon. member for Kootenay East the original petition referred to in my motion. I wish to bring Your Honour's attention to the fact that the hon. member for Kootenay East is not at present a member of the government. Shortly afterward the hon. member for Kootenay East commenced to use this document as evidence before the committee.
At that point I immediately rose on a question of privilege to draw the attention of the committee to the fact that the document was improperly before the committee. The hon. member for Leeds, the esteemed chairman of the committee, then suggested I be permitted to see the petition. However, out of respect for the rules of this house and the rights of members of parliament I refused to look at the document until it came into my hands legally in accordance with the rules of the house.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I respectfully suggest that the members of this house are entitled to an explanation of the reasons for this unusual breach of the rules of this house, and are entitled to an apology from the member for Kootenay East and the senior official of the Department of External Affairs involved in this breach of the rules and grave discourtesy to the members of this house.
Subtopic: MR. HERRIDGE-USE IN COMMITTEE OF DOCUMENT NOT TABLED IN HOUSE