December 18, 1974

PRIVILEGE

MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974

PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. Horner (Crowfoot):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting a number of members in this House. At approximately 5:30 last evening, it was brought to the attention of the Chair that a quorum was not present in the House. The House, therefore, closed for the remainder of the day. Those members present were asked to come to the Table and sign the register to prove that they and no other were in attendance.

I think this situation reflects a little on the diligence and respect one has for his job as a member of parliament, in light of the fact the House had to close because there was not a quorum.

I wish to inform Your Honour and other members that at that time the Standing Committee on Agriculture was sitting. At precisely the same moment, about 29 minutes to six o'clock, a roll call vote was taken in the agriculture committee, which is really an arm of this House of Commons and under the jurisdiction of Your Honour. The roll call indicated 20 members present. The chairman, although he did not vote, was present. The witness was a member of parliament. This makes a total of 22 members who did not have the opportunity to sign the register, although they were on duty at 5:30 last evening. It should be made perfectly clear to you, Mr. Speaker, that far more than 17 members of parliament were serving their constituents at that time.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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PC

Allan Frederick Lawrence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Allan Lawrence (Northumberland-Durham):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same question of privilege. By coincidence, there was a recorded vote in the finance committee at approximately the same time yesterday afternoon. There were 18 members of the House present. Even though the House was not sitting, the justice committee sat until approximately 10:30. I should point out to Your Honour that no NDP members were present at either of those committee meetings.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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SC

André-Gilles Fortin

Social Credit

Mr. Andre Fortin (Lotbiniere):

Mr. Speaker, I raise the same question of privilege because, when the clerk was asked to count the House, we were dealing with Bill C-216, a bill which was put on the order paper under my name

and which is of paramount importance to my colleagues and myself.

The Social Credit Party was represented here by 20 per cent of its manpower, the majority of the others serving on committees, while the remaining two were held up on board busses by snow storms in Quebec. These two are the hon. member for Villeneuve (Mr. Caouette) and the hon. member for Abitibi (Mr. Laprise). It took them 16*/2 hours to return to Ottawa, while NDP members were preventing the House from carrying out its duties, while killing a private member's bill. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I take the opportunity of this question of privilege to emphasize the regular presence and unceasing work of Social Crediters in the House, in the hope that NDP members may realize that they are not carrying the load, and that they would do well to follow the example set by Social Crediters.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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LIB

Harold Thomas Herbert

Liberal

Mr. Hal Herbert (Vaudreuil):

On the same question, Mr. Speaker. The employee-employer relations committee was also sitting at the same time yesterday and there were no members of the New Democratic Party present at that meeting.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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?

Some hon. Members:

Shame!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

On the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Crowfoot, I should like to draw the attention of Your Honour to the fact that I did not have the opportunity to record my vote in the Standing Committee on Agriculture, to which reference has been made, as I was in the House.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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NDP

David Orlikow

New Democratic Party

Mr. Orlikow:

Mr. Speaker, I rise simply to correct the impression given by an hon. member on the other side who said there was no NDP member present at the meeting of the committee on employee-employer relations. I was at that meeting, taking the place of my colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), and remained throughout that meeting.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. A number of contributions have already been made respecting the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Crowfoot, who gave me notice of his intention to bring the matter before the House. The point is a serious one and the representations which have been made have been taken seriously.

However, as hon. members know, before a question of privilege can be sustained there would have to be some kind of interference with the right of hon. members to function as members of the House. The fact of the matter is that whatever took place yesterday at twenty-nine minutes to six, or whenever it was precisely, the rules of the House, according to precedents, and according to the interpretation placed upon the Standing Order with respect to a quorum, were strictly enforced. It is therefore

December 18, 1974

Privilege-Mr. Horner

not possible for the Chair to find there was any contravention of the rules or breach of conduct related to the performance of the House.

In considering this matter I re-examined the precedents in this respect and it is evident that two questions arise. It would be possible, I suppose, to hear every member rise on a question of privilege and explain what aspect of his functions as a member of parliament he was carrying out or adhering to yesterday afternoon. But that is obviously not practicable. It does appear that the rule relating to a quorum in the House goes back to a precedent in the United Kingdom parliament that is over 100 years old and which has long since been discarded by that House.

In addition, I am aware from representations that have been made that there are serious questions regarding this rule in the minds of hon. members. If there is to be a rule respecting a quorum, since members have agreed that it is in the interests of the backbench member of parliament to have a private members' hour, during which time it is not the responsibility of the government, as it is during the rest of the orders of the day, to carry on the business of the House, it has been seriously questioned whether the quorum rule, if it applies at all, should apply during that particular hour.

In any event, as with previous questions that may come close to being a question of privilege but which are not and which the procedure committee has undertaken to examine and review, the committee might also take into consideration matters of this sort. Certainly, I express the hope on behalf of all hon. members that that august and capable committee will take a look at this particular rule to see whether or not it does have any continuing usefulness.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HORNER-REFERENCE TO LACK OF QUORUM IN HOUSE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1974
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

FINANCE, TRADE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS


Fourth report of Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs, in the two official languages.-Mr. Trudel.


JUSTICE AND LEGAL AFFAIRS


Second report of Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs-Mr. Poulin. [Editors Note: For text of reports referred to above see todays Votes and Proceedings]


TRANSPORT

LIB

Joseph Clifford McIsaac (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Cliff Mclsaac (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, I rise pursuant to Standing Orders to table four copies, two in each official language, of the Desjardins report.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORT
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF DESJARDINS REPORT
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

December 18, 1974