May 26, 1965

NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Speaker, should not the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) make the same correction that he made the other day. The Prime Minister is talking about 1958 to 1962. In the 1957-58 parliament there were more appeals than the three he has indicated.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I said the other day, from 1957 to 1962. I was not corrected at that time. If I am wrong, I will be glad to make the correction. It was a five-year period. This is one way to strengthen the independence of the Speaker. Another way of strengthening his independence-and I just throw this out as a suggestion-is to ensure that in some way after he ceases to be Speaker-and if we took steps to see he was Speaker for a longer period of time than is the case at present, this would be even more important-we could, by pension or otherwise, make him financially independent. In other words, Mr. Speaker, he should be made financially independent in some way after he has discharged his duty to the House of Commons.

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

It is very important, then, that strengthening the independence of the Speaker is a matter of agreement. It will have to be done by agreement between the parties; I do not think it could be done by any formal act of the House, although I may be wrong in that. But it can be done by agreeing that the Speaker who is appointed will be appointed on the understanding that he will not be opposed by any party in a subsequent election, if he is available to continue as Speaker. That is one way of establishing what we now rather loosely refer to as a permanent Speakership.

I can see a good deal of merit in that, and I said the other day when we were considering this matter that when a Speaker is chosen it should be on the understanding that he would not be opposed at the next election. I can think of the present occupant, a man of fairness and objectivity, as being the kind of person to whom we should like to give that assurance if he were available; and there certainly is no evidence to support the suggestion that he would be available for the next parliament. I can think of the Deputy Speaker as being the kind of man to whom we on this side of the House would be very glad indeed to give that assurance.

If these two Members of the House, who have conducted the affairs of the House with fairness and impartiality, were not available, then I can think of no man worthier or more qualified to be given this assurance that he would not be opposed if he became a Member of Parliament and acted as Speaker than former Mr. Speaker Michener; and I am very glad to put his name forward in this connection as a man we would be very glad to see in the Chair under the conditions I have mentioned, if Mr. Speaker and Mr. Deputy Speaker were not available themselves.

I was very glad to get confirmation of the feeling from the other side of the House in respect of the two Members I have mentioned, and the third, who I think we will all agree was one of the most effective Speakers this House has ever had. I hope we would all agree, if he were back in the Chair and there for an indefinite period, not opposed in an election, it would probably add something to the independence and strength of the Speaker; and as far as the Government and this party is concerned I would be glad to give that assurance right now, and I would invite confirmation on this score from other parts of the House.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Would the right hon. gentleman allow a question. The other day he stated when at Sudbury that he would be consulting with the present Speaker and yesterday I asked him whether he had as yet consulted with him. Do the words which the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) has just uttered indicate that he has since yesterday consulted with Mr. Speaker and that he has been given to understand that Mr. Speaker would not want to continue?

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, I did discuss the matter with the Speaker, as I had indicated I was going to. I had already discussed the matter with him some weeks ago, when he brought to my attention the probability that he would not be running again in the next election but would be withdrawing from the House. He told me that some weeks ago, so when I mentioned the matter to him yesterday I did so not only in the light of our earlier discussion but in the light of the new situation which arose when his name was put forward by the Leader of the Opposition as what had been termed a permanent Speaker. It is a little difficult to speak on these matters, but the Speaker will not mind, I am sure, if I tell the House that he felt, in the circumstances as they now exist, his name having been

May 26, 1965 COMMONS

mentioned, that he could not give any expression of opinion as to his own views, his own feelings, his own desires, his own plans, until the House itself, having initiated discussion in this matter, completes that discussion.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That is fair.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The hon. Member for Medicine Hat.

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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Speaker, just before the right hon. gentleman resumes his seat, may I ask him whether he has given any consideration to the important matter of setting a date when the Estimate Committees will be set up at the beginning of this process we are now contemplating? If this procedure is delayed, then we will know it has been delayed owing to a certain situation; but if they are set up early it would be a different matter.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, I think this is an important point which I should have dealt with; it was mentioned by my hon. friend from Winnipeg. If the committees are delayed for a matter of days or weeks then, of course, consideration of the estimates will be delayed; and as we are attaching greater importance to the work of the committees in considering estimates, it is important that the committees be set up at once. I hope that we can take steps to see that that is done so that these committees can begin to work as soon as Parliament begins its work.

I do not think it is possible to discuss, as I have been attempting to discuss, the number of days we should set aside in this House for supply questions without relating it to the work done in committees. If the work done in committee is going to be completed in the House over the same number of days which has been customary in the past, then the Members of the committees will have a feeling of frustration and almost impotence regarding the work they are doing and the committees would cease to operate, under this new regime, in the way we believe committees should operate. Therefore it is important, I think, to do everything we can to underline and emphasize the importance of the new committees machinery. One way of doing that would be to get it working right away.

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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

May I also ask the Prime Minister whether consideration will be given, when the committee reports, to discussing in supply, the report of the committee, rather than discussing the individual items? That is the British system in operation; you debate the report of the committee rather than the estimates of the departments.

22620-109|

DEBATES 1693

House of Commons Procedures

Topic:   PROVISION FOR CONSIDERATION OF ESTIMATES AND ALLOCATION OF TIME
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. That is something we certainly ought to consider and perhaps we can discuss that matter among ourselves. I realize the importance of it-that not only the individual estimates but the report itself when it comes back be discussed, giving an opportunity to bring forward some more general questions.

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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

Mr. Speaker-

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SC

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson

Social Credit

Mr. Olson:

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The hon. Member for Medicine Hat has been trying to get the floor for a number of minutes. Is it the desire of the House to grant him a few minutes before the Chair calls it five o'clock?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister may not be back for a little while and I should like to ask him a question which I think requires only a brief answer. It has to do with the next item on the order paper, item 15, and the Prime Minister might want to give some thought to this. Has he considered the possibility of accepting the recommendation of the procedural committee last year of having these committees appointed for the life of a parliament? This would save a good deal of time in setting up committees each year, would allow the chairmen of the committees to call the committees earlier, and would make much better work to be done by the committees.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, this does appeal to me and it does to some of my colleagues also. We will certainly look into this.

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SC

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson

Social Credit

Mr. H. A. Olson (Medicine Hat):

Mr. Speaker, several minutes ago, in fact well over an hour ago, I was prepared to get up and respond to the suggestion made by the Minister of Transport (Mr. Pickersgill) in his suggested amendment to the resolution that is now before us, offered on the understanding that the amendment and the subamendment were withdrawn. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, I have nothing to contribute with respect to the amendment, but I did move the subamendment and I am prepared to withdraw it because the wording advanced by the Minister of Transport is almost identically the same as the wording of the subamendment. However, Mr. Speaker, a number of other proposals have been put forward such as the one by the Leader of the Opposition to reduce the number of supply motions to four from six, and also the suggestion-

1694 COMMONS

Financial Aid to Minimize Pollution [DOT] (5:00 p.m.)

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?

Some hon. Members:

Five o'clock.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is not entitled to take part in the debate at this stage.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. I understand some hon. Members have called it five o'clock.

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May 26, 1965