June 7, 1956 (22nd Parliament, 3rd Session)


John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

In 1925-the responsibility is set forth fully here-the responsibility remained with the Speaker and any changes that have been made since then do not remove that essential circumstance connected with the closure. In the United Kingdom no Speaker-and I again refer to Lord Ullswater -receives notes of communication from the members of the cabinet. He does not meet or communicate with them. As an inflexible policy-and it is of the essence of free debate in order to prevent anything in the nature of chaos within the House of Commons-he rules on the basis of rules, not with a consideration of the results that might flow from the rulings which he gives.
I say to you, sir-and I do so with deep feeling-that unless we maintain respect for parliament, democracy will wither and die. Parliament's supremacy demands the maintenance not only of the forms of parliamentary government but also of its soul. Without profound respect for the Chair the house would degenerate, in the heat of debate, into chaos and worse. What happened here on Friday, June 1, has but to be read in order to indicate how far removed from what parliament has a right to expect were the occurrences on that unforgettable morning.
On May 31, in accordance with the principles that are laid down by Viscount Ullswater, Your Honour decided that a serious question of privilege had been raised. You indicated the course to be followed by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Cameron). In a more or less incomplete manner you indicated that there were portions of the alleged statements that infringed the privileges of parliament and, indeed, your rights. One had only to look at the faces of Her Majesty's executive on the night of May 31 to realize how disturbed they were. The next morning, without giving the opposition a chance to speak, you, Mr. Speaker, peremptorily reversed, without argument, the decision you had made the night before, a course that was foreign to your usual course since assuming this high and honourable office as our first commoner. The Leader of the
House of Commons
Opposition (Mr. Drew) occupies a high position under our system of government. He rose in his place. There was nothing presumptuous in his words. As reported at page 4537 of Hansard he said this:

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