Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to an undertaking given at the last session of parliament at the request of the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), I wish to table a summary of orders in council for the period October 1, 1948 to June 30, 1949. These orders total 11,461, of which 6,589 are treasury b'.'ard minutes. The summary runs to 423 pages, and, as can be appreciated, its compilation has taken a considerable amount of the time of the staff of the privy council office.
The hon. member asked that in tabling the summary it be indicated opposite each of the orders which ones had been tabled or gazetted and which ones had not. This has been done. The government is naturally anxious to meet the wishes of the hon. member and of the house, but it has occurred to us that the information which the hon. member is really seeking has reference to orders in council that are not treasury board minutes, because treasury board minutes are purely administrative in character.
When the undertaking was given, I had not appreciated the amount of work involved; but, having given the undertaking, I felt it should be carried out in the exact terms in which it was given. It would greatly expedite the work of providing this information in future if it were understood that the summary would refer only to orders other than treasury board minutes, and that it would not be necessary to indicate whether the orders have been tabled or gazetted. In this
way I think the house would have the information in which it is interested, and the summary could be prepared and tabled much more expeditiously and would be more useful to members of the house.
I might add that I have looked up what the hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Harris) said on this subject on April 25, 1949, and the proposal I have made would appear to meet his wishes and facilitate the bringing down of these summaries in a much shorter time after the passing of the orders. If it is satisfactory to the house to have that done the next summaries will be so prepared. If, after the summaries have been tabled, hon. members feel that they are not getting sufficient information, the matter can be brought up again. "We wish to provide hon. members with any information they may regard as helpful to them in considering the matters with which they are concerned.
Subtopic: TABLING OF SUMMARY