Mr. Slanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):
On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say only a few words and I am afraid that what I say will not be of great assistance to Your Honour. It is obvious that you have a very difficult problem on your hands.
If I can recall our discussions about this rule, rule 15A, when we were adopting it a couple of years ago, the intention was that a day on third reading would be the same as a day on second reading or in committee of the whole house. But I am bound to say, as one reads carefully the exact words of that standing order as we have passed it and of the other standing orders, that the case presented by the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka and by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill) is quite strong.
I will go further and cite another point in their favour. In Votes and Proceedings of Monday, March 20, there appears the second report of the special committee on procedure. One of the recommendations made in that report is that standing order 15(4) be amended. The purpose of amending standing order 15(4) was to put together in one place the instances where the private members hour may be suspended.
The report is interesting to read in the present context and it suggests that even in the committee on procedure we are a bit confused on this point. On page 1552 of Votes
April 21. 1967
National Defence Act Amendment and Proceedings for March 20, 1967, we find this recommendation:
That Standing Order 15(4) be consequentially amended on a provisional basis to read as follows:
15(4) On any Monday, Tuesday or Thursday, notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of this Standing Order, the consideration of private members' business shall be suspended when an order for resuming the address debate or the budget debate, an order for a motion 'That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair' for the House to go into committee of supply, or an order to go into committee of the whole on a money resolution, pursuant to standing order 61A, is set down as the first item of government business in any such sitting.
I hope no one will accuse me of revealing what has gone on in the special committee on procedure if I say that in presenting this proposal we were not trying to present anything new; we were merely trying to put in one place the various orders relating to the suspension of the private members hour. I submit that this also is on the side of the position taken by the two members of the Conservative party who have spoken.
The statement made by the chairman of the committee of the whole house to the effect that the phrase about third reading in standing order 15A should be treated parenthetically also carries weight. The phrase at the end of that section, "such an order", does seem capable of being applied to the whole of that section of the standing order. We all sympathized with the chairman when he admitted that he was confused. I do not think he needed to apologize for that. I think the wording of this standing order leaves a good deal to be desired.
There are times when we call upon Your Honour to overrule a ruling made by the chairman of a committee of the whole house. You have demonstrated your impartiality and the chairman has demonstrated his largeness of soul by the fact that on one occasion this did happen and a chairman's decision was overruled. Obviously this should not happen very often. I wonder whether in these circumstances-because, after all, there is not much time left either for a private members hour or for the discussion of the defence bill, -whether it would not be better for Your Honour to rule that the special committee on procedure should redraft the whole of this standing order. It seems to me there is nothing to be gained by ruling either way at this time.
There are arguments on both sides but if one looks at the precise wording before us there is a great deal to be said for the position taken by the hon. member for Winnipeg
South Centre and the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka. In any case I offer the suggestion that Your Honour reserve your decision until the special committee on procedure has had a proper chance to look at this matter more thoroughly.
Subtopic: SITTING RESUMED