Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to say one word on this matter. I agree with the hon. member that it does seem a waste of time to sit here and simply give formal assent to bills of the category before us coming from the other house. I would point out, however, that it is not quite as bad as if we had to consider the bills in the first instance, and had not adopted the practice of leaving the investigation of these matters to a committee in the other house.
Periodically we have heard discussions similar to that which has taken place to-day. Only a few years ago such discussion did result in some progress being made, in that additional courts were established in the provinces to deal with divorce. The government of the day hoped, I believe, as hon. members generally hoped, that all the provinces would follow that example. I believe there remains only one province in which divorce courts are not to be found, and perhaps the discussion this afternoon may serve in some measure to advance the day when divorce courts will be set up in the remaining province.
I believe all I can say at the moment is that it should be remembered the obligation of dealing with divorce is placed on parliament by the British North America Act. Without taking pretty radical steps we cannot very well divest ourselves of that power and authority. Parliament has decided that the best way in which to meet the obligation is to have a special committee in one of the houses, and to deal in the main with all such matters there.
I cannot understand why there should be any reflection upon the proceedings of that committee. Possibly some hon. members know more about it than I do, but I would hardly think that any reference to collusion in connection with proceedings of a committee in another house would be in place here. All I can say at the moment is that naturally the government will give consideration to the discussion which has taken place this afternoon. Whether or not at this session it is going to be possible to adopt a different method, I cannot say. I imagine we shall have to put up with the present practice for at least the balance of the present session.
But I should not like the impression to go abroad that these are bills of a nature which parliament can refuse to entertain, so long as the obligation to legislate with respect to divorce is placed upon the federal parliament under the constitution.
I do say it is better to have consideration of these matters in the first instance in another house, where possibly they have more time for such matters than we have here, and for us to perform our part either of refusing altogether to agree to what has been done elsewhere, or of accepting what has been done in the more or less formal manner in which thus far we have been obliged to accept it.
Subtopic: CONSIDERED IN COMMITTEE-THIRD READING