February 11, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)



Mr. Speaker,
the resolution which I moved this afternoon is similar to those which have been approved by the house at each session of this parliament. The arguments made in support of it are, if anything, stronger to-day than they were at any preceding session. I am glad to see, therefore, that the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) and the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (Mr. Coldwell) both agree that there are reasons why, at least for the beginning of the session, the government should have an opportunity to get on with government measures, and that, if private members are to have an opportunity of bringing forward resolutions of their own, such opportunity should be postponed until later in the session. I think we are agreed on that.
So far as an opportunity being presented later in the session is concerned, I would say the government will be only too pleased to consider granting that opportunity in the light of conditions as they may develop. I did say in the last session that we would be prepared to consider giving private members an opportunity to bring forward resolutions when we got through the main part of our business. But I think all hon. members felt that by the time we reached the month of July they much preferred to have an adjournment of the house than to stay on for the purpose of debating the different motions placed on the order paper by private members.
Reference has -been made to the position at Westminster. I believe a comparison will show that in this house private members have an even greater opportunity of bringing forward

Precedence oj Government Orders
matters of interest to themselves, and of questioning the government, than is afforded at Westminster.
For instance, let us first consider the matter of questions, which has been mentioned by the hon. member for Lake Centre. He said that at Westminster the government can be questioned at considerable length. My understands ing of procedure there is that all questions to be answered by the government must be placed upon the order paper, and that the only questions which may be asked of the administration during the question hour are supplementary questions, growing out of those already asked. We adopt quite a different procedure here, one which gives hon. members a much greater opportunity to ask questions of the government. Almost every day the government is questioned in regard to some matter of which it has had no notice at all, and of which nothing whatsoever has appeared upon the order paper. On some days an hour's time is taken up in questions asked of the ministers. That would not be permitted under the procedure at Westminster. In this way, an opportunity does exist here for private members which does not exist in London. More than that, there is here no restriction upon the introduction of public bills by private members. In London during this time of war that right has been taken away from private members. They have not the right even to introduce a public bill.

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