April 21, 1967

PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Under the circumstances, Mr. Chairman, because of the seriousness of this question and the apparent infringement, to my mind, on private members time, it is with regret that I will have to appeal your ruling.

[DOT] (5:30 p.m.)

Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and the chairman of the committee made the following report:

Mr. Speaker, the question is an appeal from a decision of the chairman of the committee of the whole. In the committee of the whole the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka raised a point of order to the effect that the hour for the consideration of private members' business must be proceeded with at 5 o'clock.

Using section 7 of standing order 15A, after having given due consideration to the conflict between the provisions in this section and those in standing order 16, the Chairman ruled that the committee of the whole on Bill C-243 should continue, whereupon the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre pursuant to standing order 59 (4) appealed to Mr. Speaker from the decision of the Chairman.

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PC

Gordon Harvey Aiken

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. H. Aiken (Parry Sound-Muskoka):

Mr. Speaker, I make no apology for raising the point of order, despite the comment I hear from hon. members on the other side and to my left. We operate under rules, and when there is a conflict between rules we are entitled to raise the matter. I thought we

DEBATES April 21, 1967

were wrong yesterday; I was doubtful when debating the allocation of time motion, in view of the provisions of standing order 16, whether our procedure in going on with the private members hour yesterday was correct.

Today a similar question arose, but today it was felt that we should not go on with private members hour.

Briefly, it seems that there is a conflict between provisional standing order 15A and provisional standing order 16. In considering the point, the Chairman acknowledged that really there are two conflicts one being within provisional standing order 15A(7).

To clarify the matter perhaps I ought to say this. Sections 7, 8 and 9 of standing order 15A refer specifically to the third day of debate after an allocation of time has been made. That is, they refer to the day of the third reading. I emphasize that third reading is particularly dealt with in those three sections.

Section 7 makes specific statements. First, that the order for third reading shall only be called on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday; second, that the order must be the first item of business; third, that the debate shall continue until the normal time of adjournment, and fourth, that such an order shall have precedence over all other items of business. The point at issue within section 7 arises from the words beginning at the seventh line from the bottom, which are:

Such an order having been called on any Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday-

I submit it is clear that those words refer to an order for third reading, because third reading is dealt with after the first sentence of the standing order. I submit that everything appearing after the first seven lines, which constitute the first sentence, refers only to third reading. This contention is strengthened because closer to the beginning of the section we find that the language says that third reading shall be called as the first item of business on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, and farther on in that section the words are, "Such an order having been called on any Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday," and so on.

Section 9 of the standing order says that Mr. Speaker shall have the authority to extend the sitting of the final day of debate for four hours. I presume that that is to make certain that the last day is as full and as complete as possible. There is no argument about any reference to the third day. Also it is clear that we are now in the committee

April 21, 1967 COMMONS

stage, and this brings up another point. The second point, or putting it more correctly, the second difficulty on which the Chairman ruled had to do with standing order 16 which says that private members' business shall continue. Quoting the relevant parts of standing order 16 we find these words:

The proceedings on private members' business,... shall not be suspended by virtue of the operation of the provisions of standing orders relating to the adjournment of the house ... or to the allocation of time to certain debates.

It is quite possible that that wording refers to the allocation of time to certain debates, or to the discussion about that allocation of time. That wording may also refer, and probably does refer, to all debates taking place during the allocation of time, and herein arises the uncertainty.

My final point is this. It is clear, I submit, that the private members hour should not be interrupted or dispensed with unless there are specific provisions to that effect in the standing orders. Nothing in the standing orders says that the private members hour under these circumstances shall be dispensed with, and there was nothing in the order of the house allocating time which said that the private members hour should be dispensed with. Under those circumstances we ought to proceed with private members' business.

I am not raising my argument to delay the house. Should Your Honour decide that private members' business is not to be proceeded with, I shall continue with my remarks that were interrupted at 5 p.m. Surely, however, if we have rules, then we ought to know what the effects of those rules are.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Gordon Churchill (Winnipeg South Centre):

It would never occur to Your Honour, because of your obvious fairness, that this discussion was designed to delay the debate on the unification bill. Remarks to that effect were made from the government side of the house, and they might leave the wrong impression in Your Honour's mind.

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

Do not smile when you say that.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

The hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka in his closing remarks has shown that there is here an abrogation of private members' time. The submission made earlier to the Chairman was on that point. The government does not infringe on the time of private members unless specifically

National Defence Act Amendment by motion or by taking other procedure in accordance with the rules. I recall that in a number of years when we were reaching the end of the session and attempting to conclude the business of the house we found it necessary to eliminate the private members hour. This was always done by a motion to that effect. The ambiguity which is contained in the rule under which we are operating led us to draw this matter to the attention of the Chairman and now to Your Honour's attention.

I have put in a plea earlier for the rights of private members who have frequently given up their time during the course of this session, and who should not be asked to do so again because there are 175 bills in the names of private members set down for the consideration of this house. This constitutes an additional contribution of mine to the very good argument presented by the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka.

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NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Slanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say only a few words and I am afraid that what I say will not be of great assistance to Your Honour. It is obvious that you have a very difficult problem on your hands.

If I can recall our discussions about this rule, rule 15A, when we were adopting it a couple of years ago, the intention was that a day on third reading would be the same as a day on second reading or in committee of the whole house. But I am bound to say, as one reads carefully the exact words of that standing order as we have passed it and of the other standing orders, that the case presented by the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka and by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill) is quite strong.

I will go further and cite another point in their favour. In Votes and Proceedings of Monday, March 20, there appears the second report of the special committee on procedure. One of the recommendations made in that report is that standing order 15(4) be amended. The purpose of amending standing order 15(4) was to put together in one place the instances where the private members hour may be suspended.

The report is interesting to read in the present context and it suggests that even in the committee on procedure we are a bit confused on this point. On page 1552 of Votes

April 21. 1967

National Defence Act Amendment and Proceedings for March 20, 1967, we find this recommendation:

That Standing Order 15(4) be consequentially amended on a provisional basis to read as follows:

15(4) On any Monday, Tuesday or Thursday, notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of this Standing Order, the consideration of private members' business shall be suspended when an order for resuming the address debate or the budget debate, an order for a motion 'That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair' for the House to go into committee of supply, or an order to go into committee of the whole on a money resolution, pursuant to standing order 61A, is set down as the first item of government business in any such sitting.

I hope no one will accuse me of revealing what has gone on in the special committee on procedure if I say that in presenting this proposal we were not trying to present anything new; we were merely trying to put in one place the various orders relating to the suspension of the private members hour. I submit that this also is on the side of the position taken by the two members of the Conservative party who have spoken.

The statement made by the chairman of the committee of the whole house to the effect that the phrase about third reading in standing order 15A should be treated parenthetically also carries weight. The phrase at the end of that section, "such an order", does seem capable of being applied to the whole of that section of the standing order. We all sympathized with the chairman when he admitted that he was confused. I do not think he needed to apologize for that. I think the wording of this standing order leaves a good deal to be desired.

There are times when we call upon Your Honour to overrule a ruling made by the chairman of a committee of the whole house. You have demonstrated your impartiality and the chairman has demonstrated his largeness of soul by the fact that on one occasion this did happen and a chairman's decision was overruled. Obviously this should not happen very often. I wonder whether in these circumstances-because, after all, there is not much time left either for a private members hour or for the discussion of the defence bill, -whether it would not be better for Your Honour to rule that the special committee on procedure should redraft the whole of this standing order. It seems to me there is nothing to be gained by ruling either way at this time.

There are arguments on both sides but if one looks at the precise wording before us there is a great deal to be said for the position taken by the hon. member for Winnipeg

South Centre and the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka. In any case I offer the suggestion that Your Honour reserve your decision until the special committee on procedure has had a proper chance to look at this matter more thoroughly.

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PC

Lewis Mackenzie Brand

Progressive Conservative

Mr. L. M. Brand (Saskatoon):

There are just one or two other points which I should like to bring to Your Honour's attention in view of the ruling made by the chairman of committees that private members hour should have preference over all other business until the time of adjournment.

I would refer Your Honour to page 2 of today's Routine Proceedings where the order of business for Friday is stated as follows: oral questions, government orders, questions, public bills and private bills. Today we have already considered questions, oral questions and government orders. So we have already carried on some of the order of business, and it would seem to me that if it is the ruling of the Chair that private members hour should not take precedence, then immediately upon our deliberations beginning this afternoon we should have gone on to the consideration of this particular bill in committee of the whole.

Since we have not done so, it would appear to me we should continue normally in accordance with the provisions of the standing order which is in effect, and consider that we should have proceeded at five o'clock to consideration of private members business.

[DOT] (5:50 p.m.)

I would point out, in view of the fact that Your Honour may decide to uphold the ruling of the chairman of committees, that we have already spent five hours on the consideration, according to this, and therefore suggest there is valid reason for not carrying it on into private members hour at five o'clock.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I thank hon. members for their helpful comments. I think I should repeat the comments I have made previously when similar circumstances have arisen, that is, when the Speaker has been asked to review a decision reached by the chairman of committees. There is a fundamental difficulty about this in that the chairman of the committee is not only chairman of the committee but is also Deputy Speaker of the house and this, I submit to hon. members, complicates the situation when it comes before the person who occupies my position to review or reconsider a decision reached by the Chairman.

April 21, 1967

National Defence Act Amendment

On a previous occasion I have suggested that that particular provisional standing order should be reviewed, and that an appeal or a questioning of the decision by the Chairman of the committee should come to the Speaker, not by way of appeal but perhaps by way of trial de novo, or by way of stated case; certainly not by way of appeal. This having been said, I have looked at the standing order which is the source of our difficulty and I am in full agreement with the suggestion made by the chairman of the committee, wholly supported by all members, that there is a confusion, and ambiguity and uncertainty in the interpretation of the relevant provisional standing order, No. 15A.

The question of course is to determine whether the third sentence of provisional standing order 15A (7) refers to the second sentence or refers to the first one, when we read:

Such an order having been called on any Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday-

The question is whether the order referred to there is the order on third reading. The main difficulty comes from the obvious conflict between this provisional standing order and standing order 16 which specifies the cases where private members hour may be suspended. Of course standing order 16 refers not at all to this particular circumstance. There is no reference to the case where an item of business is under consideration under a time allocation order.

Having been a member of the special committee of the house reviewing these standing orders a couple of years ago, I am willing to plead guilty, along with other members who were concerned with this review, to perhaps not having gone far enough. I cannot agree with the suggestion made by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) that perhaps this was intentional, because certainly if we accept that there would be a suspension of private members' business when we are considering the third reading stage of a bill, then if we are to follow the argument made by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre and by the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka (Mr. Aiken), that exception would have been provided in standing order 16; but it was not.

And yet if we were considering the third reading stage of an item of business under a time allocation order, on a day when we have private members' business, I wonder if anyone should argue that we should not suspend the private members hour because it is not

specified in standing order 16. Obviously there is a mistake either in the drafting of provisional standing order 15A or in the reconsideration that should have been made of standing order 16.

I have every possible sympathy with the suggestion made by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre that because of this uncertainty we should leave the matter in a state of suspended animation. There are four minutes left this afternoon and I can say very honestly to hon. members that if I were to make a ruling, in view of the uncertainty of the situation I would certainly rule to support the decision of the Chairman of the committee, because there is as much logic to support his view as there is logic to support the other view; and when in doubt I think the Chair should not overrule the decision of his colleague, the chairman of the committee of the whole.

For this reason, and in view of the fact that there are only three minutes left before we adjourn at six o'clock, I would suggest to hon. members that we either go back to private members business for a little while, for the next two minutes, or that we call it six o'clock. But of course we would have to resume in any event in committee of the whole, and this exercise will take a short while, which will take us to the time of adjournment. We will suggest in a formal way to the special committee on procedure that it review at the first opportunity the provisions of provisional standing order 15A in conjunction with the provisions of standing order 16.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

The house resumed consideration in committee of Bill No. C-243, to amend the National Defence Act and other acts in consequence thereof-Mr. Hellyer-Mr. Batten in the chair.

On clause 5-Embodiment.

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PC

Gordon Harvey Aiken

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Aiken:

Mr. Chairman, perhaps I might call it six o'clock. I am prepared to go ahead with my remarks if necessary. I had two minutes before five o'clock, and it is now one minute before six o'clock.

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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Is the committee agreed to call it six o'clock?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Progress reported.

April 21, 1967

Business of the House BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

I realize, Mr. Speaker, that we are working under an allocation of time order, but there is nothing in the rules which says that could not be changed or modified; so perhaps the leader of the house has some different business to announce for Monday.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

Mr. Speaker, for Monday we propose submitting to the house for consideration item No. 107 on government orders on the order paper, and if it is concluded during the day, then item 134.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

What about unemployment insurance and the dairy industry?

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

On Wednesday and Friday.

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At six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.



Monday, April 24, 1967


April 21, 1967