Hon. HUGH GUTHRIE (South Wellington) :
I think it is quite clear that the situation which has arisen has arisen entirely as .1 result of inadvertence, and there seems to be a disposition on the part of every hon. member who has mentioned the subject to right the wrong if a wrong has been done in the matter. It is obvious that, under the rules the Deputy Speaker, who last evening occupied the chair at six o'clock, would have no right at all to put the question when he did. Rule 3, which is the one that applies to the House sitting beyond six o'clock, is very explicit on the point:
If at the hour of six o'clock p.m., except on Wednesday, the business of the House be not concluded, Mr. Speaker leaves the chair until eight o'clock.
Business oj the House-The Address
The meaning of that rule is, in my opinion, that at six o'clock it is the bcunden duty of the Speaker to leave the chair unless the business is concluded; he would have no power to put the question except by unanimous consent of the House. I have heard it stated by Speakers in this House that unanimous consent is not to be presumed or assumed; it must be asked. And, so far as I am aware, no request was made yesterday that unanimous consent be given to the question being put after six o'clock. That is admitted. My point, therefore, is that the hour of six o'clock having arrived, as is admitted on all hands, the duty of the Deputy Speaker under the rules was to leave the chair. I can quite understand that he would not leave the chair if in doing so he would interrupt the remarks of any hon. member who was about to conclude at the time. The inadvertence and the error into which the House fell last evening was simply this, that instead of following the rule governing the procedure in this connection, the Deputy Speaker proceeded
without asking the consent of the House-to put the question. There is no doubt about the fact that nobody expected the question to be put yesterday afternoon. I am informed that the whips had notice that other speakers intended to take part in the debate, though I believe the names had not been communicated to the Deputy Speaker. But neither had there been any intimation to the Deputy Speaker, as I understand that there was any intention that the debate should close yesterday afternoon. So far as the Deputy Speaker knew, the list before him included the names of those who would speak yesterday afternoon, and he had no intimation that there would not be other speakers in the course of the evening. Now, this question can be righted, as we have righted so many of our technical errors in this House in the past: all that
is needed is the unanimous consent of the House. In every quarter of the House it is agreed that the present incident is the result purely of inadvertence and not of intention, and the mistake can and should be rectified by consent of the House.
Subtopic: PROCEEDINGS TAKEN BY INADVERTENCE