July 1, 1955 (22nd Parliament, 2nd Session)


Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

I thought I made that clear, Mr. Chairman. At least that was in my mind when I first started to talk about this. I asked private members on the government side to realize that we are interested in their rights being protected just as much as ours. But in the nature of things parliament has become a contest between the opposition side of the house and the government side of the house. Since the government side of the house in the end has the majority, on the basis of which it can achieve its will, as Bourinot and Beau-chesne have said, the opposition does have a particular interest in the protection afforded to it by the rules. I agree with my hon. friend that the same protection that is afforded to us by the rules is afforded to him. It should be and I hope it always will be.
Since that was our job, to get in between the consideration that we should apply selfdiscipline and the consideration that we must not limit free speech and must not let parliament become a rubber stamp, there will be some who will say that we went too far in agreeing to the limitations that were set, in particular to the 10-day and eight-day limits and the six times two limit. However, I should like to point out that in accepting these limits we have accepted limits on what in the end are simply procedural motions. We have not accepted and we are not asking the house to accept any limitations on debate at any point where legislation is being enacted.
The debate on the address is a formal motion for confidence in the government. The debate on the budget, so-called, is a debate on the motion for Mr. Speaker to leave the chair so that we may go into committee of ways and means to consider the budget resolutions. The supply debates are on motions for the Speaker to leave the chair so that we can go into committee of supply. I do not detract from their importance. They are extremely
TMr. Knowles.]

important and we shall continue to assert that fact. But I point out that we have not imposed any limitation on debate on any resolution standing by itself, or on any resolution preceding a bill, or on any bill at any stage, second reading, committee of the whole or third reading. In other words, when it comes to the business of enacting legislation, there are no limitations on any member of the house. The humblest backbencher has just as much right to speak, regardless of how long it takes to conclude the debate, as has any frontbencher in any party.
So I think we have got in between the two considerations and have achieved a balance. We have made progress in the direction of some self-discipline without interfering with the principle that when legislation is being enacted there should be no limitation on any backbencher, any more than there is on any so-called frontbencher.

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