October 23, 1997

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The Speaker

I am now ready to render a ruling on the matters raised by the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton on October 7, 1997 and by the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River on October 2, 1997. These matters concern the delivery of legislative counsel services to all private members.

I want to thank other members who also made comments on this question.

Following the earlier submission made by the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River, I suggested that he speak with his representative on the Board of Internal Economy, since administrative matters of this sort come under its responsibility.

When dealing with similar questions, my predecessors have repeatedly indicated that these should be brought to the attention of the Board of Internal Economy and should not be raised on the floor of the House as a point of order nor as a question of privilege.

Although presented as a question of privilege, the matters raised by the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton involve, in my view, basic administrative issues.

As Speaker Sauvé indicated in two rulings on December 15, 1982, complaints or grievances dealing with the delivery of services by the legislative counsel, and in particular the drafting of private members' public bills, do not constitute the basis for a question of privilege but are, indeed, questions concerning the services of the House. I refer hon. members to the Debates of December 5, 1982, pages 21603 to 21605.

I must therefore rule that the matters raised by the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton do not deal with privileges of members or of the House.

That being said, I wish to reassure hon. members that the matter will be revisited by the Board of Internal Economy. As a governing body of the House of Commons, the Board of Internal Economy has a long statutory history, originating in 1868. Initially composed of five members, its powers were essentially the same as they are today.

In 1985, however, in order to meet members' demands for opposition and backbench representation from that body, the membership of the board was increased to nine members. The intent of this recommendation was to enable private members to have “an effective voice in the decisions governing the management of the House”.

Despite the fact that only four of the nine members are from the backbenches, their opinions and input are crucial, as the practice of the board is to arrive at its decisions by consensus.

Let me now refer to the power and authority of the board as provided in section 52.3 of the Parliament of Canada Act:

The Board shall act on all financial and administrative matters respecting

(a) the House of Commons, its premises, its services and its staff; and

(b) the members of the House of Commons.

In other words, the Board of Internal Economy is entrusted with specific administrative oversight functions such as the delivery of legislative counsel services to members.

I understand the concerns of members in respect of the legislative counsel services privided to them by the House. As your Speaker and also Chair of the Board of Internal Economy, I would like to take this occasion to briefly comment further on this matter.

The board reviewed this matter in the last Parliament when it established a subcommittee to consider proposed options and alternatives for the delivery of legislative counsel services to House committees and to private members.

At the time, the subcommittee considered many related issues which are still relevant today and which make this matter more complex than simply throwing more resources at it.

There is, for instance, the matter of what exactly is the proper function of legislative counsel, whether in respect of private members' public bills or government bills at committee or at report stage.

On some occasions, counsel, who are House staff responsible to the Speaker, are asked to play the role of advocate in the sense of explaining and defending private members' legislative initiatives.

There is also the practice of legislative counsel giving priority on a first come, first serve basis which is sometimes challenged by caucus and legislative priorities.

Finally, there is the fact that over half the private members' bills drafted in the last Parliament were never introduced in the House by private members.

As your Speaker I have taken to heart the concerns expressed by members regarding these services. In my capacity as chair of the Board of Internal Economy, I have already asked the board to conduct a review of these issues as it is the body designated to, by statute, act on all financial and administrative matters of the House.

I therefore invite members to submit their concerns directly to the board.

I thank you for allowing me to clarify the Chair's position on this very important matter.


Subtopic:   Privilege
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The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the administration of the House of Commons for the 35th Parliament.

A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) for the financial year ending March 31, 1998 was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   House Of Commons
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LIB

Joe Comuzzi

Liberal

Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Nipigon, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the 38th annual meeting of the Canada-United States interparliamentary group which was held in Sydney, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from September 11 to September 15 of this year.

The meetings, like previous ones, outline the close personal and interpersonal relations between Canada and the United States. While we do not always agree on all aspects of this issue, we had the opportunity to honestly exchange viewpoints and information in a friendly manner showing the mutual respect that each country has for one another.

At the historic fortress of Louisburg we dealt with many important issues. Trade and economic matters, global peace and security and transport are questions that affect the billion dollars worth of trade a day going across our borders. We have not been able to directly resolve some of these important issues but we had the opportunity of putting forward in the strongest terms Canada's position as we approach the millennium.

Unfortunately the Pacific salmon dispute tainted the tremendous relationship that exists between the province of British Columbia, indeed all Canadians, and in particular the states of Washington, Alaska and Oregon.

With this in mind it was the consensus of all those attending, the Senate from the United States, the House of Representatives and members of Canadian Parliament, that they should convene a meeting on the west coast to deal with those issues that are supportive of the friendly relations that exist between the two countries. We will pursue that and advise the House accordingly as we proceed down that path.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Interparliamentary Delegations
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-11, an Act respecting the imposition of duties of customs and other charges, to give effect to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, to provide relief against the imposition of certain duties of customs or other charges, to provide for other related matters and to amend or repeal certain Acts in consequence thereof.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Customs Tariff
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LIB

Andy Scott

Liberal

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-12, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act
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LIB

John Bryden

Liberal

Mr. John Bryden (Wentworth—Burlington, Lib.)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-264, an act to amend the Access to Information Act.

Mr. Speaker, this private member's bill would introduce 46 substantial amendments to the Access to Information Act, in effect, overhauling it entirely.

It is an act that is of great interest to every member in the Chamber. Therefore, I would ask for unanimous consent to be allowed to speak for three minutes on my private member's bill and for it subsequently to go directly on to the order of precedence.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access To Information Act
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The Deputy Speaker

I will deal with the member's request after getting the bill introduced.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access To Information Act
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LIB

John Bryden

Liberal

Mr. John Bryden

Mr. Speaker, I would request that you rule on my request for unanimous consent now, so that I can carry on with my remarks since I was in the middle of making them.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access To Information Act
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The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member has requested consent to speak for three minutes at this time on the bill and then have the bill placed on the Order Paper in the order of precedence.

Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access To Information Act
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Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access To Information Act
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The Deputy Speaker

There is not unanimous consent.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access To Information Act
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LIB

Marcel Massé

Liberal

Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing orders 81(5) and 81(6) I wish to move a motion concerning the referral of the estimates to the standing committees of the House.

There is a lengthy list associated with the motion and if it is agreeable to the House, I would ask that the list be printed in Hansard as if it had been read.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Supplementary Estimates (A)
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The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Supplementary Estimates (A)
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Supplementary Estimates (A)
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LIB

Marcel Massé

Liberal

Hon. Marcel Massé

moved:

That Supplementary Estimates (A), for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1998 laid upon the table on October 23, 1997, be referred to the several standing committees of the House in accordance with the detailed allocation attached.

(1) To the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

—Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Votes la, 5a, 15a, L20a, L25a, 35a, 40a and 50a

(2) To the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food

—Agriculture and Agri-Food, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a and 11a

(3) To the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage

—Canadian Heritage, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, L21, 30a, 35a, 45a, 70a, 80a, 90a, 110a, 125a and 130a

(4) To the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

—Citizenship and Immigration, Votes la and 10a

(5) To the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development

—Environment, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a and 15a

(6) To the Standing Committee on Finance

—Finance, Votes 1a, 15a and 40a —National Revenue, Vote 1a

(7) To the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

—Fisheries and Oceans, Votes 1a, 5a and 10a

(8) To the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade

—Foreign Affairs, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 20a, 25a and 45a

(9) To the Standing Committee on Health

—Health, Votes 1a, 10a, 15a and 30a

(10) To the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

—Human Resources Development, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a, 20a and 35a

(11) To the Standing Committee on Industry

—Industry, Votes 1a, 5a, 20a, 25a, 30a, 35a, 55a, 60a, 65a, 70a, 75a, 80a, 85a, 95a, 110a, 115a and 120a

(12) To the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

—Justice, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 30a, 33a, 40a and 45a —Solicitor General, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 15a, 25a, 30a, 45a and 50a

(13) To the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs

—National Defence, Votes 1a, 5a, and 10a —Veterans Affairs, Votes 1a and 10a

(14) To the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Government Operations

—Canadian Heritage, Vote 135a —Natural Resources, Votes 1a and 10a —Parliament, Vote 1a —Privy Council, Votes 1a and 5a —Public Works and Government Services, Votes 1a, 5a, 15a, 20a and 31a —Treasury Board, Votes 1a and 10a

(15) To the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

—Parliament, Vote 5a

(16) To the Standing Committee on Transport

—Transport, Votes 1a, 5a, 10a and 31a

(17) To the Standing Committee on Library of Parliament

—Parliament, Vote 10a

(18) To the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages

—Privy Council, Vote 25a

(Motion agreed to)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Supplementary Estimates (A)
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REF

Philip Mayfield

Reform

Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo—Chilcotin, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons to present a petition signed by 36 residents of my constituency who reside in Quesnel, British Columbia. My constituents request Parliament's support of a motion that was introduced by the member of Parliament for Yorkton—Melville which states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should authorize a proclamation to be issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada amending section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to (a) recognize the fundamental right of individuals to pursue family life free from undue interference by the state and (b) recognize the fundamental right and responsibility of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, and urge the legislative assemblies of the other provinces to do likewise.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present from constituents in my riding and from others in the region several petitions.

The first one relates to the issue of nuclear weapons. Whereas there are over 30,000 nuclear weapons on earth, the petitioners call on Parliament to support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention that will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition that relates to the sale of Candu reactors to China.

The petitioners call on Parliament to immediately withdraw from all arrangements concerning financial and technical assistance to China for nuclear reactor technology, and to ensure that the Government of Canada does not finance or subsidize the sale of Candu reactors to China or any other country.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have a further petition that calls on Parliament to lift the GST off books and reading materials in Canada.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have a final petition regarding the national highway system. It calls on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial governments to make a national highway system upgrading possible beginning in 1997.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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October 23, 1997