May 19, 1965

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Yes, but I am trying to be very non-partisan in this matter and to associate the Leader of the Opposition with these proposals in order to acknowledge his paternity for some of them. I have associated him with three; all the others we will have to take responsibility for ourselves. At that time the right hon. gentleman said:

As far as questions are concerned, it is not for me to suggest, but I think that the number of these questions could be greatly reduced; and if we were also to have a self-denying ordinance that, under ordinary circumstances, we would not go over half an hour on questions before orders of the day we would save 15 full days in an ordinary session without, as I see it, losing any ground that might be gained through questions or in any way interfering with the rights of the Opposition.

I am sure we are all in agreement with that. I apologize for making these references when the right hon. gentleman is unavoidably absent from the Chamber.

Although I believe my right hon. friend is correct and that the question period could be made more effective if it were shortened, I also feel it is necessary that the question hour be a regular feature of House business. There have been occasions during the debate on the report of a committee when we have lost the opportunity for a question hour and for other routine proceedings. This is so, as hon. Members know, because under our existing rules motions are among the first items to be considered each day, and the proposal for concurrence of a committee report is considered under motions. If the committee's report should be controversial, debate may continue, as it has continued, and in recent years, for a number of days, and the question period,

May 19, 1985

which comes after motions, is never reached. We had that experience in the last session. To meet this difficulty, Mr. Speaker, we propose that if a motion has been considered for a day and then adjourned for further consideration later, it shall be taken up thereafter under Government orders; that is to say, after the normal question hour.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Industry; Minister of Defence Production)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

Half hour.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

House of Commons Procedures suspecting that many of them are being used, not because of any genuine disagreement with your ruling, but for other purposes.

During the entire period from 1867 to 1905, there were no appeals at all against Speakers' rulings. From 1906 to 1930-24 years-there were only 17 appeals. After 1930, appeals increased, but only moderately. Between 1931 and 1957, a 26 year period, there were 89 appeals. Of these, ten took place during the pipe line debate in 1956, and some of us will recall those appeals. From 1957 to 1962, the number of appeals diminished-only three being recorded during those years. In the 1962-63 session, six of the Speaker's rulings were appealed. In 1963 your rulings, Mr. Speaker, were appealed on 12 occasions, and in the last session they were appealed 11 times. I must add, Mr. Speaker, that of the 23 appeals against your rulings in the last two sessions, only two rulings were reversed.

I think this analysis makes it clear that appeals against Speakers' rulings have increased drastically in recent years. I believe that if the Speaker is to be given that control over the procedure of the House which is necessary for its effective functioning, his authority in this regard must be strengthened. The most effective way to do this is to abolish appeals from the Speakers' rulings, as is the situation in Westminster. This will, of course, still leave open to possibility, if a Member feels strongly enough, of a censure motion against a Speaker-and that has happened at Westminster-or even of a substantive motion, on proper notice, to modify the rule established by the ruling.

At the same time as appeals from rulings of Mr. Speaker are abolished, the Government proposes to modify the rule concerning appeals from rulings of Chairmen of the Committee of the Whole. In future, appeals will be taken from these rulings to Mr. Speaker, but not, as at present, to the House or beyond the Speaker.

That final proposal is also designed to strengthen the position of the Speaker. There is one other proposal which I believe would have the same result, and that is that one hour's notice be given to Mr. Speaker of any question of privilege, except one arising during the course of proceedings in the Chamber. Of course, there can be no question of interfering with a Member's right to rise during a debate on a question of privilege at any time.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Siarr:

Provided it is a legitimate one.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I am sure it would never be illegitimate.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Starr:

Ask the Minister of Transport.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

In raising a question of privilege subsequent to a debate, or in respect of something which arises out of something outside of the House, we propose that the Member of the House raising the question of privilege must give the Speaker an hour's notice before the opening of the House.

I think this proposal would be useful 'in order to offset the great recent increase in the number of questions of privilege. During the 1957-58 session, 23 questions of privilege were raised; in the 1953 session, 25 questions of privilege were raised; in the 1959 session, 29 questions of privilege were raised; and during 1960 there were 51. From the normal figure of about 30 questions of privilege per session, the number has risen sharply during the past two sessions. Eighty five questions of privilege were raised in the 1963 session, and 111 questions of privilege in the 1964-65 session. During the first six months of that session, which was the last session, Members rose on 375 occasions claiming that they were bringing questions of privilege to the attention of the House.

[DOT] (4:40 p.m.)

The Government, Mr. Speaker, has given very serious consideration and is continuing to give consideration to other means by which the Speaker's authority can be strengthened. We recognize, as all Members must recognize, that your authority, Mr. Speaker, depends in large measure upon your independence and the recognition of your independence. It is important that the person who occupies your position, Sir, be not merely independent-and we acknowledge your own independence and integrity in presiding over us-but also that he appear to be independent, and that there be no suspicion of pressures upon that independence.

One possible way of underlining the Speaker's independence from the party forming the Government-this idea has been put forward before and has been discussed over the years-is to make the Speakership a permanent office. However, this can only be achieved under our present electoral system at the expense of permanently depriving the electors of some Canadian constituency of the voice of their elected representative. I hasten to add that suggestions have been made that an artificial constituency of Parliament Hill might be created for this purpose and the

May 19, 1965 COMMONS

Speaker would become the Member tor Parliament Hill. This possibility has its attractions, but it seems to me that it also has its disadvantages, and I am not sure that it would achieve the objective it was desired to achieve in putting it into effect. This device would certainly transform the Speaker from being an equal with his fellow Members over whose deliberations he presides into-I say this in no derogatory sense-some type of parliamentary functionary, and I suggest that the change might even reduce the prestige of your office.

I mention these possibilities only to indicate that the Government, in forming its proposals to strengthen your authority, is conscious of the need for preserving and for making obvious your independence from party or faction in this House. We believe that our present proposals will go far to emphasize your authority and independence and we think that that is as far as we should perhaps go at this time, although we are giving consideration to the other idea I have just mentioned.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, I believe that these proposals will have a number of very important effects if they are adopted by the House. They will increase the opportunities for participation by private Members of Parliament in legislative and other business; they will greatly expand the opportunities for critical examination of public spending; and they will strengthen the authority of the Speaker and, I believe, increase the effectiveness of the House without diminishing in any way the right of Members to discuss adequately and fully before decisions are made, a right which must be protected under our free parliamentary system. If they are put into effect I believe they will reconcile or go some way toward reconciling the right of discussion with the right of decision. We think that the proposals in the two resolutions are good. They may be better after we have considered the second resolution. There may be amendments made which will improve them, but we think they are good. We think they will improve the procedures of the House of Commons and we put them forward for that purpose and for that purpose only and in no partisan spirit. I hope they will commend themselves to the House.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Starr:

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question. Does the Prime Minister intend that these proposed rules will be incorporated as permanent rules

DEBATES 1483

House of Commons Procedures at once if passed by Parliament, or will they be instituted on a trial basis for a period of time?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, I gave my own view. The intention of the Government is that they should be adopted in the normal way without any time limit. I know there will be some who will think that we might try them for a year or two years. I think that would be a mistake because it would give the impression that we were not very certain of what we were doing and that they were only of a temporary character, which I think would be a disadvantage. But I think it could easily be made an order of the House, or it could perhaps be embodied in the resolutions or some other action could be taken, to make certain that at the end of one or two sessions, let us say, Parliament should examine what it had done two years ago.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Starr:

Mr. Speaker, in view of the Leader of the Official Opposition having a previous engagement which he could not forgo, in view of the fact that this is a very important matter which will affect all of us in the future, and in view of the fact that the time before five o'clock, when private Members' hour begins, is limited, I wonder whether I could have the consent of the House to adjourn the debate until tomorrow so that the Leader of the Opposition can follow the Prime Minister in the debate.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

If the hon. gentleman adjourns the debate he will lose his right to speak. I wonder whether he could not adjourn it for the Leader of the Opposition, because the hon. gentleman may wish to speak later.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Starr:

That is my intention. I should like to have consent to adjourn this debate for the Leader of the Official Opposition.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Speaker, we have no objection to the motion to adjourn the debate being made on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, but before it is made, in other words before the Prime Minister sits down, I wonder whether I might put one question to him. As he is aware, this is a debate with the Speaker in the chair and there is not the same opportunity to get things clarified that there will be when we go into Committee of the Whole on the second resolution. Therefore I wonder whether he would clarify one point in regard to the proposed new Standing Order 15A. My question relates to the suggestion that any item of business or stage thereof

1484 COMMONS

House of Commons Procedures may be referred to the proposed Business Committee. Does the phrase "item of business or stage thereof" mean that only one stage can be referred at a time, say second reading or committee of the whole, or does it mean that the whole gamut of the legislative process with respect to a particular matter can be so referred?

While I am on my feet there is one other question I should like to ask. Is it implied that this reference would take place before such a stage was entered upon rather than in the middle of such a stage?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend will recall that the details of the operation of the Business Committee are to be worked out by a special committee, but I believe it was the intention of the resolution that the Business Committee should arrange the time for all stages of a bill or a piece of legislation or a motion to which time allocation applies. That is the intention of the resolution. Does that answer the question?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

I am not sure that it does and I am not sure that that is the plain meaning of the word "stage". But what the Prime Minister has said leads to another question. He said it is clear from the resolution that a special committee is to work out these details. May I ask him, therefore, whether the special committee of 22 Members referred to in paragraph 1 is also to have the right to work out the new Standing Order 15A which is set out in paragraph 2? I am afraid I did not read it that way. If the special committee can make some adjustments in 15A, it will certainly shorten the debate in the House. Could we have that clarified?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I am going to ask the House Leader, who has worked on the matter and is more familiar with all the details, to answer the question.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

George James McIlraith (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

Mr. Speaker, it was not the intention that the special committee referred to in paragraph 1 of the resolution should deal with standing order 15A, but I take it that the question raised by the hon. Member implies that he would wish that to be done. Am I correct?

[DOT] (4:50 p.m.)

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

No, my question implied the hope that the reference of a matter to the Business Committee would be on the basis of a stage at a time rather than having several stages referred all at once. If the matter before the House, for instance, were second reading, do we have to decide at that

DEBATES May 19, 1965

point what is to happen all the way through, or do we decide merely for second reading and leave the various other stages until later?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
LIB

George James McIlraith (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

It can be either way.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink
NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

I am even more concerned about subclause (5) which deals with a situation in which the committee is not unanimous and where the Minister can move an order. It will make a great deal of difference it seems to me as to whether or not the Minister, in moving that order, can restrict the period of debate for all stages of the legislation through the house in the one motion or whether his motion will deal only with one stage at one time? Can the Minister clarify that point?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
Permalink

May 19, 1965