Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
Exception may be made to a standing order, where it relates to the business of the house, and where the consent of the house is given either unanimously or, if necessary, by vote. The hon. member knows that this is a procedure which has been followed every year he has been in the house. I may say to my hon. friend, what may be a matter of surprise to him, namely that I believe this year the government has
Business of the House
been more generous in the number of days it has accorded to private members than has been the case in almost any year he has been in the house-and he has been here a long time.
The second point raised by the hon. member is that it is not democratic to permit the government to take from private members' days to carry on its business. He has said that in a democracy the elected representatives of the people are sent here to carry on the business of government. I take no exception to that statement, but I would add that the government represents the elected representatives of the people who have been entrusted with the business of government. If, after the people select a government to carry on the business of the country, we were to adopt a rule whereby the time of parliament would be taken up by private members who may not support the administration and who wish to discuss a number of questions of less importance than those the government may wish to present, we would not have democratic representation in the true sense of the word.
The hon. member has said it is necessary to give time for the debate of private motions, so that members may ventilate their views in connection with other matters. May I point out to him that there are many opportunities for ventilating views. When the house is moved into supply it is possible for hon. members to present their views on any question. Again, there is scarcely a subject touched upon in any private member's resolution which would not, at some time, come up for discussion in the committee of supply.
The hon. member has said that there are sixteen more private members' resolutions on the order paper, and that before taking an extra day for government business we ought to run through the list. If that reasoning were to apply, there is no reason why 360 resolutions might not be placed on the order paper, in the names of private members, should there be a desire to block the government in expediting its business.
Far from seeking in any way to limit hon. members in their customary rights, the government has proceeded in precisely the opposite way. We did not give notice for government business to take precedence on Mondays and Wednesdays- until after a larger number of those days had been accorded hon. members than has been the case at any time since 1930. That is the condition, apart from the time taken up in the discussion of the debate on the address.
If the present motion is adopted, seven Wednesdays will have elapsed before any Wednesday will have been taken away from private members. Of those seven Wednesdays, five
will actually have been used as private members' days. The house will notice that in my motion I have not suggested that government notices of motion and government orders should take precedence "on and after Wednesday the 16th March," which would be Wednesday next. I have purposely worded the motion so that it would apply a week hence. I might have done as has been done in previous years, namely insert the date of the 16th March, and then, as a result of a question such as that raised by the hon. members, have conceded an extra week. However, I thought it better to make it apparent at once that we were not seeking to take next Wednesday, but were prepared to give that additional day to private members, thereby making a total of seven Wednesdays since the opening of the session.
May I give the hon. member the figures respecting the Wednesdays which have been
taken since 1932. They are as follows:
Number of Wednesdays elapsed between opening and date on which
Session of Wednesdays taken away
as private members' day
The same situation applies with respect to Mondays, as the following figures will show: Number of Mondays Session of actually available as
private members' days
Those are the Mondays which were actually available, apart from the time occupied in the discussion of the debate on the address. Therefore I say that instead of an exception being taken to the request which has been made by the government, in their own interests as well as that of the government, hon. members should be prepared to accept the motion.
We have not been able to proceed as rapidly as we would have liked to with government business. There are many important measures which have to be discussed during the course of the session. I suspect as we get along in the session hon. members will be more anxious to conclude the business of the house than to continue its sittings on into
Canadian Wheat Board
the summer, if not into the autumn. The object of the motion is to try to get on with government business, and it is not in any way to take from hon. members any right or privilege they enjoy as members of the house.
Subtopic: PRECEDENCE FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS ON AND AFTER WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23