Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
I should like to make a statement on the winding up of the business of the present session, a matter which we have discussed two or three times in the course of the present week.
This week, on Wednesday, April 11, I reminded the house that if the business of parliament were not concluded before midnight on Monday of next week, this parliament would be automatically dissolved. I stated that at no time had I any thought or intention of recommending dissolution with a view to shutting off discussion in the house. I added that, as hon. members well knew, the sole reason the government had waited up to the last or almost the last day of the term of parliament before going to the people had been our desire to avoid a general election while the war in Europe was still in progress. I have stated, over and over again, that the intention of the government was not to dissolve parliament if that could be avoided before the decisive battles were fought in Europe. That position was subject only to the limitation that the people should not be denied the right guaranteed to them by the constitution of electing a new parliament at least every five years.
In a nation-wide broadcast on March 2, I said:
Once the war in Europe is over, we feel there should be a general election as soon as possible.
On Monday, April 9, I gave to the house an outline of the minimum time which would be required for a general election, and placed on Hansard an official memorandum on that subject which had been given me by the chief electoral officer. That statement made it apparent that the earliest date at which a general election could be held, following upon the expiration of the parliamentary term, would be June 11. As to the completion of the business of the present session, it rests with hon. members on the opposition benches *-and here I am not referring to any particular party or group but to all hon. members opposed to the government-whether the war appropriations and supply bills will be ready for royal assent on Monday next. My hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. 840 COMMONS
Business of the Home-General Election
Graydon) has said that so far as members of the Progressive Conservative party are concerned, they are prepared to conclude the debates in this chamber at six o'clock this afternoon. Intimations have also been given by the leaders of the C.C.F. and the Social Credit groups that they and their followers are prepared to assist the government in speedily completing the business for which this session had been specially called.
Were it possible to have the bills reach the other house this evening, that would permit of prorogation being arranged for Monday afternoon, April 16, at three o'clock. If that cannot be carried out, then the house will of course resume its sitting at three o'clock on Monday afternoon, to be continued, if need be, until eleven o'clock at night. Were this to happen, without the business being concluded and royal assent given to the bills before midnight, the government would be obliged to resort to governor general's warrants to meet expenditures both for the conduct of the war and for civil government over the period of the general election and the opening of the new parliament.
As hon. members are aware, I stated some time ago that a general election would be called before April 17. It may assist hon. members in deciding upon the course it is advisable in the public interest for them to pursue if I inform the house at once, on my responsibility as Prime Minister, that His Excellency the Governor General has authorized me to say that he is willing to approve a recommendation to have parliament dissolved just as soon after the conclusion of its business as may be possible. His Excellency has also authorized me to say that he is willing, at the same time, to approve the immediate issue of a proclamation for the holding of a general election on June 11.
Subtopic: PROCEDURE IN CONCLUDING THE SESSION- ANNOUNCEMENT OF GENERAL ELECTION ON JUNE 11