James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)
Has the hon. member the unanimous consent of the house to place on the record these reports from newspapers?
Subtopic: CONCURRENCE IN SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
Mr. JEAN-FRANQOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata) moved: That the second report of the standing committee on standing orders, presented to the house on May 44 last, be now concurred in. He said: Mr. Speaker, believe it or not, I am not asking for any personal favour. As always, I represent the views of my electors, who have been very good to me and who do not want the wishes or suggestions of outsiders to be substituted for theirs. During the first days of the year there were some people at Trois Pistoles who thought it would be well to make a new county from part of Temis-couata and part of Rimouski. But as the combined population of Temiscouata and Rimouski is about 100,000, there are not enough people to make a third constituency. If it was the wish of my electors to make a different choice, I would have agreed to it because I would not go against the expressed will of the people. However, their desire, as manifested by petitions, is to Stay in Temiscouata county; therefore I submit that a request or petition made by outsiders should have no weight with the redistribution committee. My electors do not complain of the redistribution committee; they are satisfied with the work that has been done under my esteemed colleague the hon. member for Outre- Standing Orders
mont (Mr. Rinfret). I want to pay a special tribute to him for the arduous and painstaking work he has done in an effort to give justice to everybody. It is not my desire to embark upon a discussion of the report -of the redistribution committee in connection with other constituencies. All I am dealing with now is the report of the committee on standing orders, to which committee has been referred the petitions which I have tabled. After they were tabled they were examined by the clerk of the committee, and he said that the petitions were not drawn in proper form and therefore should not be received. Then I argued that some of the forms were antiquated, and I thank the lion, member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) for the support that he gave me on that occasion. He spoke as a great parliamentarian, as he always does; what he said has been appreciated by my electors on whose behalf I speak today, and I convey their thanks to him. I cannot thank you, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Beauchesne, but I can express to you the deep appreciation of my electors of the spirit of fairness that you showed -on that occasion. When the matter was brought before the committtee another one of my colleagues, the hon. member for Saskatoon City (Mr. Knight), spoke very well, and expressed in the committee views similar to those which have been expressed in the house by the lion, member for Peel. To him also I convey the thanks of my electors. I shall not take up much of the time of the house but I have here some very fine articles which have been published in different papers, Montreal Matin of May 5, the Ottawa Journal of May 6, the Toronto Daily Star of May 9 and the Ottawa Journal -of May 14; and if I am allowed to do so I shall table them in order to save time.
Has the hon. member the unanimous consent of the house to place on the record these reports from newspapers?
Montreal Matin, Lundi, 5 mai, 1947 Evitons les "chinoiseries"
Nos grammairiens se sont montres tres injus-tes a 1'egard des Orientaux quand ils ont permis que le mot "chinoiserie" servit a designer toute demarche, manifestation ou reglement inutile.
Mais nous n'y pouvons rien et, a maintes reprises, l'occasion nous est fournie de nous plaindre de "chinoiseries" particulierement de "chinoiseries administratives". Celles-la sont abondan-tes: jamais, probablement, n'y en a-t-il eu
La plus recente, c'est M. Jean-Franqois Pouliot, depute de Temiseouata, qui l'a signalde alors que deux petitions presentees par un groupe de ses commettants risquaient d'etre
raises de cotes, parce qu'elles n'etaient pas redigees dans les termes precis exiges par les reglements.
Les e'lecteurs de Temiseouata, en personnes intelligentes, ont abrege. Comme l'expliquait M. Pouliot, "ils ont expose ce qu'ils voulaient en langage simple et tres clair". Or, selon les reglements de la Chambre, e'etait trop clair, trop simple, trop abrege surtout, d'oii l'inter-vention du depute de Temiseouata pour empe-cher que la requete aille tout droit au panier.
Rien d'etonnant que certaines lois et ordon-nances soient tellement emberlificotees, si l'on songe qu'elles sont l'ceuvre de legislateurs ne prisant guere un langage simple et clair et preferant, au contraire, les formalizes sura-bondantes qui compliquent et... embetent.
The Ottawa Journal Tuesday, May 6, 1947 The Form or the Substance
Mr. Jean-Franqois Pouliot, member for Temiseou-a-ta, brought an extraordinary ruling to the attention of the House of Commons the other day. Two petitions signed by hundreds of electors in that riding and addressed to the House were refused consideration, he said, because they did not use the prescribed
The petitions, Mr. Pouliot explained, had to do with redistribution, and were tabled in the ordinary way, but were not turned over tothe Redistribution Committee because they did not conform to ceremonial practice. "They were addressed", said the Member for Temis-couata, "to Mr. Speaker and to members of the H-ouse of Commons instead of -to the Honourable the House of Commons in Parliament assembled". That was the first offence. But worse was to come. The prescribed words "The petition of the undersigned humblyslieweth" were missing, the argument was not divided into paragraphs each beginning with the word "That", and the conclusion omitted the prescribed formality, "And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray". His electors, said Mr. Pouliot, were not strong on red tape, but they had made their meaning
dear and plain.
Mr. Graydon supported Mr. Pouliot's request that the petitions be sent on to their intended destination, and the Speaker -promised to look into the matter. Mr. Graydon's words were very sensible. "We should not be governed so much by the form as by the substance of a petition such as this", he said. "When the common people of Canada decide that they want to petition the House of Commons we should place as few obstacles as possible in the way."
With that doctrine we thoroughly agree. Parliament is the servant of the people, not its master, and nothing is less important than the form a petition to Parliament takes. If it is the honest expression of a group of electors ou a -matter -of public concern, expressed in decent and intelligible language, obviously it should be received and considered, and if the rules interfere then the rules should be changed.
Toronto Daily Star Friday, May 9, 1947 Jean-Franeois Scored That Time
That genial man and Independent Liberal, Jean-Franeois Pouliot of Temiseouata, gets sometimes upon the nerves of parliament. But
when it comes to an issue of red tape vs. common sense, Jean-Francois is usually on the right side. He was on the right side the other day when he protested the rejection of two petitions which had been forwarded by his constituents.
It is a fundamental principle of democracy that the electors should have no difficulty in making their wishes known to their parliamentary representatives; if not personally, at least by letter. The post office recognizes this and charges no postage on letters to or from members at Ottawa during a session or ten days prior to it. It is also in accord with democratic principles that a group of individuals should have the right to contact parliament as a whole by way of a petition. That their petition must contain certain specified phrases may be a rule of parliament, but it is a rule which should not be too closely insisted upon.
In the present instance, certain electors of Temiscouata wished to protest a proposed change in their riding under the redistribution, and Mr. Pouliot presented two petitions from them to that effect, believing that these would be received and go to the redistribution committee. But they got tangled up in red tape. The rules say that petitions should be addressed to "the Honourable the House of Commons in parliament assembled." These were addressed to "Mr. Speaker and members of the House of Commons." The prescribed words, "the petition of the undersigned humbly sheweth," were omitted, as were the closing words the rules call for, "and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray." Moreover, the petitions were not divided into paragraphs, each beginning with "that"-evidently a particularly heinous fault. On these grounds the petitions were turned down.
It is no wonder that Mr. Pouliot protested. Mr. Gordon Graydon backed him up and said: "We should not be governed so much by the form as by the substance of a petition such as this. When the common people of Canada decide that they want to petition the House of Commons, we should place as few obstacles as possible in the way of their getting their views tabled in the House. I suggest that we waive any technicalities in this matter and allow the petition presented by the hon. member for Temiscouata to be tabled as he suggests."
Hansard does not record that Mr. Graydon's remarks evoked a cheer, but they should have done so. At any rate, Mr. Pouliot got action. The Speaker explained that "the House is not seized (what a word!) of a petition addressed to the members without mentioning the words 'in parliament assembled.' " The omission of "and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray," was not so serious. The learned authority "May" agrees that while those words are "generally added," they are not necessary. In any event there was a way out. Mr. Pouliot could move that the petitions go to the committee on standing orders-which he did. And no doubt the committee on redistribution will finally get them.
But what nonsense it is to insist on stilted and archaic forms of expression. One of these days someone will faint if "sheweth" in a petition appears as "showeth", or if a bill is "entitled" instead of "intituled." Let red tape perish!
The Ottawa Journal Wednesday, May 14, 1947 Those Lett"' Rules
The other day Mr. Pouliot complained in the Commons that the house had refused to receive some petitions from electors in his riding, Temiscouata, because they were not couched in the prescribed phraseology. The petitions had to do with redistribution, and their natural destination was the special committee dealing with that problem. Mr. Graydon in the discussion supported Mr. Pouliot's contention that since the desire of the petitioners was clearly expressed the wording of the document should not prevent them from being heard.
This week the question came before the standing orders committee of the house, and it refused to accept the petitions on the ground that they were improperly worded and did not conform to precedent-the reason also was advanced that to let them go on to the redistribution committee would be contrary to the ruling of the present and former speakers.
This time it was Mr. Knight of Saskatoon wha in the standing orders committee, opposed so fine an example of red tape and hampering custom. He took the ground that any citizen should have the right to take his case to parliament, and that antiquated rules should not stand in the way-"the spirit is much more important than the letter."
However the majority were against him, and against Mr. Pouliot and Mr. Graydon. We think it was an unfortunate ruling. We do not know what the Temiscouata petitioners ask, and it does not matter. What matters is that they have something they want to say to the House of Commons and are refused a hearing because of their ignorance of certain formalities set out many years ago.
Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):
Mr. Speaker, is not this matter already before the redistribution committee of the House of Commons?
I have been listening to the hon. member and awaiting to call attention to the fact that he should not discuss on his motion the redistribution of representation, as that matter has been referred to a committee of the house. Of course he is allowed to discuss the form of the petition which has been refused by the clerk of petitions.
Here is the report to which I refer, the main part of which I shall read in a few moments. There was also a letter and a petition from his worship the mayor of Squatteck, which will be submitted in due course to the committee on standing orders according to the procedure which has been established. But, sir, there are two points which I desire to consider in my brief remarks. They are the two points which have been raised by the committee on standing orders. This is a question of parliamentary procedure, and I took the trouble to analyse what was said about that matter.
The rule previous to standing order No. 1 read as follows:
In all cases not provided for hereinafter or by sessional or other orders, the rules, usages and forms of proceedings of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in force on the first day of July, 1867, shall be followed.
That was observed when the rules were amended in 1906. I hold in my hand the Votes and Proceedings of March 15, 1927, and there is an explanation under that old rule which reads as follows:
This rule prevents the house from accepting in unprovided cases the practice followed in Great Britain since the first of July, 1867. There is no valid reason why English precedents, where Canadian ones do not exist, should not be accepted irrespective of the dates at which they were established.
Which means rhat we can go very far back for precedents. I quote again:
The rule goes too far inasmuch as it compels the house to follow the British rules in force prior to 1867. It is somewhat difficult to be governed in any case by the rules of the British parliament as they do not always suit our conditions, whilst there is a better scope for meeting all requirements in accepting as guides its customs and usages.
In other words and according to the quotation I have just given, English procedure and customs and usages where Canadian ones do not exist, shall be accepted irrespective of the dates at which they were established. They offer a better scope for meeting all requirements and they shall be accepted as guides.
May says at page 794:
The right of petitioning the crown and parliament for redress of grievances is acknowledged as a fundamental principle of the constitution. It has been uninterruptedly exercised from very early times, and has had a profound effect in determining the main forms of parliamentary procedure.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica is much more honest than May in that regard. It contains the following: "The political importance of petitioning dates from about the reign of Charles I," who was beheaded in 1649. "The development of the practice of petitioning had proceeded so far in the reign of Charles II, as to lead to the passing in 1662 of an act (13 Charles II, chapter 5) against "tumultuous petitioning", which is still on the statute book . . . And in 1817 (57 George III, chapter 19, section 23) meetings within a mile from Westminster Hall for the purpose of considering a petition to either house of parliament while either house is sitting were declared to be unlawful assemblies."
What date was that?
That was in 1817.
The first edition of "A Treatise on the Law, Principles and Usage of Parliament" by Sir Thomas Erskine May, Clerk of the House of Commons "was in preparation exactly fifty years ago (1843-44) during those halcyon days of parliamentary existence when the standing orders of the House of Commons, now ninety-seven in number, were only fourteen"-I counted only ten-"when no rule or order prescribed that previous notice should be given a motion, however important; and when a motion might be met by any form of amendment, however grotesquely irrelevant. Excluding the standing orders which require the recommendation of the crown to motions involving a money change, and which regulate the presentation of petitions, the parliamentary procedure of 1844 was essentially the procedure on which the House of Commons conducted business during the Long parliament." This is from the preface of the tenth edition of May which has not been reproduced in the 14th.
In the very last of his countless last speeches, delivered on the eve of his resignation as Prime Minister of England, I heard Stanley Baldwin speak as follows at the Empire day and coronation banquet of the combined empire societies in London on May 24, 1937:
If you will only do as I have done, study the history of the growth of the constitution, from the time of the civil war until the Hanoverians came to the throne, you will see what a country can do without the aid of logic, but with the aid of common sense. Therefore my next point is: do not let us put any part of our constitution in a strait-waistcoat, because strangulation is the ultimate fate. And I would say one more thing: do not let us be too keen on definition.
How could anyone reason with the aid of common sense and without the aid of logic? I may therefore be excused for not following the advice of the right hon. gentleman, as I intend to be keen on definitions with the aid of both logic and common sense.
The same year the empire parliamentary conference met at Westminster Hall, which no building in the United Kingdom overshadows in historic importance. It is haunted by the ghost of Charles I, Warren Hastings, Sir Thomas More, Lambert, the Earl of Strafford and the cynically humorous old "Fox of the North", Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat; and' many of the ceremonies in connection with the coronation of English kings were enacted under its lofty timbered roof. The Right Hon. Sir John Simon, who was then Secretary of State for Home Affairs, and who had been described as "a great statesman, an expert.
politician, and a great constitutional lawyer", made an amazing speech in which he asked this strange question:
Do you think that ministers of the crown will be able to continue under the increasing pressure and speed of modern conditions to do their work as ministers, and to sit in the legislature as well?
As I was invited to speak immediately after him, I gave my answer to the question, and it was as follows:
There is the alternative of suppressing either one or the other. If we suppress the cabinet the situation would be the same, because every member of parliament will be a cabinet minister and we shall have anarchy. If parliament is suppressed we shall have fascism, which Mr. Dillon hates and Mr. Danebury detests.
The subject matter of the discussion being, "The future of parliamentary government", I spoke of the parliamentary procedure of the British empire.
The first standing order was passed in 1707, and there were only, four in 1821. I made a comparison with the Quebec legislature, which has 688 rules, and I expressed the view that the rules of the various legislative bodies of the British empire were much more complete and to the point than those of Westminster. A New Zealand delegate said that he could conceive of a parliament being conducted without any standing orders at all. "I do not think", said he, "that the question of standing orders has very much weight so far as parliamentary' institutions are concerned. If you have a Speaker who is a fair and just man, if you have tolerance in the chamber so that you listen to what others have to say, and if you follow the Speaker's ruling, I do not think it matters very much whether there are written standing orders or not."
He expressed the view that we should rely on the spirit of fairness of the Speaker and the spirit of tolerance of our fellow members, as I do now.
Sir Thomas Erskine May, who has been acknowledged as the main authority on the law, privilege, proceedings and usage of parliament, was born in London in 1815, the year of Waterloo. He was only sixteen when, in 1831, the Speaker of the House of Commons nominated him to the post of assistant librarian. At the time of his appointment there were only' four standing orders, but countless were the precedents of every description.
In 1818 Hatsell had published a book entitled "Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons." May decided to do better, and he was given "the kind assistance of many gentlemen" to write a book which he filled with all the precedents he could gather,
without using proper discernment. He included even those that were, according to his own description, "grotesquely irrelevant", and he went so far as to fabricate precedent. He was only twenty-nine when his illegible book was published. Twenty-seven years later he was appointed clerk of the House of Commons. He was raised to the peerage in 1886, under the title of Baron Farnborough of Farn-borough, in the county of Southampton, a few days before his death.
He was born a collector, and his so-called treatise would be compared to the house which the Collyer brothers, who died not long ago in downtown New York, had filled with junk. The editors sell the revised fourteenth edition of the book for only $30.
The main portion of the report of the committee on standing orders reads as follows:
Authorities on parliamentary procedure and practice, which are binding on the house under standing order 68, are unanimous in declaring: (1) that all petitions should commence with the superscription: "To the Honourable the House of Commons in Parliament assembled"; (2) that the conclusion should be the prayer, without which no petition is in order.
The only way to check up the authorities in the matter of precedents is to find out the first precedent. To my great surprise I discovered that Bourinot, 4th edition, pages 234 to 235, referred to May, page 525; and to my greater surprise I found out that May, 13th edition, 1924, page 610 and 14th edition, 1946, page 795, had no ruling to quote to support his contention that petitions to the House of Commons should be superscribed, "To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in parliament assembled." In fact he quoted no ruling whatever for his suggestion of an antiquated form of petition to the House of Commons, which has been reverently followed by all the authors on parliamentary practice for over a century.
Standing order 68 mentions only "a petition to the house". What is "the house" if it is not "Mr. Speaker and Messrs, the members of the House of Commons"? I have the evidence of Hansard to show that the petitions were tabled when the house was assembled. Why should we be bound to use nowadays the formula which May took upon himself to suggest 103 years ago? Is it not musty, rancid, decayed and out of date?
Now I come to the prayer. May says, at pages 795 and 796 that-
Without a prayer a document will not be taken as a petition.
He gives two references, namely Commons Journal, 1651-59, page 427 and Commons
Journal, 1843, page 457. I looked up the first reference at page 427 of volume 7 of the Commons Journal for September 23, to 25, 1656. History tells us that it was during the protectorate of Cromwell, and four years before the restoration of Charles II in 1660. There was nothing to support May's declaration. I turned the pages of that old book and read on page 171 that on August 27, 1652 a committee for petitions was appointed to meet in the Star Chamber. Those who have revised May's book have been right on one point, when they wrote in the preface to the tenth edition that "the parliamentary procedure of 1844 was essentially the procedure on which the House of Commons conducted business during the Long Parliament," and it is still the same today. It has not changed with the times.
And now, Mr. Speaker, I will call to the attention of hon. members of the house the reference given by May in the latest, the fourteenth, edition published in February, 1946. Ten references to remonstrances, signatures, forgery or fraud on petitions date back to two centuries before the reform bill of 1832. They are in the Commons Journals for the following years: 1667 to 1687; 1688
to 1693; 1772 to 1774; 1792 to 1793; 1807; 1812 and 1813; 1817; 1821; 1826 and 1827; 1831. This book was out of the press last year. Could it be called a modern book?
May's second reference to the necessity of the prayer on petitions was Commons Journal of July 7, 1843, in the seventh year of Victoria, page 457. There was no ruling of the Chair about it. All I found was that a remonstrance of the secretary of the National Association, praying the house to establish better representative government, had been laid on the table and it was withdrawn the following Monday. Doctor Johnson calls "remonstrance"-strong representation.
There are so many interchangeable words in the dictionary that they have given birth to basic English. I looked up the Dictionary of the English Language by Doctor Samuel Johnson and I notice there that the words petition, request, supplication, prayer, entreaty, solicitation were interchangeable. Here is what he said with regard to "prayer."
1. Petition to heaven.
2. Mode of petition.
3. Practice of supplication.
4. Single formula of petition.
Then in the Oxford dictionary I find, at the word "prayer", under 5:
The thing prayed for or entreated; specifically that part of a memorial or petition that specifies this.
This is Middle English. And the petitions to the Commons, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, shall be as follows:
Must be in writing; must contain none hut genuine signatures, and must be free from disrespectful language or imputations upon any tribunal or constituted authority.
And May, at page 795, says:
The general allegations of the petition are concluded by what is called the "prayer," in which the particular object of the petitioner is expressed.
And it adds:
To the whole petition are generally added these words of form: "And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray," et cetera, to which are appended the signatures or marks of the parties.
Bourinot, fourth edition, says at page 234:
The conclusion should be "the prayer," without which no petition is in order. This prayer should tersely and clearly express the particular object which the petitioner has in view in coming before parliament.
The parliamentary meaning of "prayer", in Middle English, was that of "request" in modern language. Let us sweep away the dust of self-complacency and revise our rules and create our own precedents in conformity with modern times. This is to show that "May", who has been blindly quoted as an authority and accepted as such by other authors throughout the British empire, is outdated, because he and those who have revised his book have shown no discrimination and no discernment in the selection of precedents, and it is time that the House of Commons of Canada should have the rules revised in conformity with modem times.
I express my appreciation to the committee on standing orders who have forwarded the petitions which have been submitted to the house as exhibits to the redistribution committee. The question is not at all the word "petition", or "remonstrance", or any other word. The question is that the electors whom we represent shall have the opportunity at any time to get in touch with the House of Commons.
Sometimes a letter is wrongly addressed but it usually gets to its destination just the same and there are very few dead letters. I remember once a letter was addressed to "Jean-Frangois Pouliot, Deputy Minister of National Defence", but I got it and answered it.
You would have made a good minister.
It was a good letter too. I do not pay much attention to the address so long as I receive the letter, and the so-called petitions of my electors have been
sent here not to request anything, not to make a remonstrance to the House of Commons, but just to express their opinion to the House of Commons, as they have a right to do. If I insist again on this matter it is because I thought that documents that bore the signatures of the independent electors of Temiscouata should find their way to the right place, to the redistribution committee.
Something happened which was a precedent. I was unavoidably absent from Ottawa on the morning when the matter was referred to the standing orders committee, and who came to my defence? It was editorials which appeared in the press supporting what had been said by my friends the hon. member for Peel and the hon. member for Saskatoon City, who took the same view before the committee as the former did in the house.
I express the high appreciation of my electors to these great papers, Montreal Matin, Toronto Star and the Ottawa Journal. Those *who wrote these editorials have shown their readers that they are true to the very best traditions of the British parliamentary system. If I have had some difficulty, it was due to some opportunists outside my county-there are no opportunists in my constituency. There were three or four outside. One apparently was kidnapped during my first election. He was no more kidnapped than anyone here, but he disappeared like the prophet Elijah, although he was not in a chariot of fire. He is considered as one of his own class. The other was a young man who had no military record and who during the war was writing very hard letters to a N.R.M.A. man from the registrar's office in Quebec, and I complained bitterly about him at the time. He is just a little intriguer who wants to find a political nest for himself. But I know very well that these people who went to my electors and the electors of Rimouski telling them that my colleague, the hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. Belzile) and myself were for change, were liar's; and strangely enough they were supported by the parrot of the cream separators of the Quebec reform club, the legitimate heirs of the unforgettable Quebec Nipple club. I do not care about that. I thank the house, and I thank my colleagues who have supported me. I thank all my colleagues, and especially thank the committee on standing orders. I also thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. E. O. BERTRAND (Prescott):
would appear that in this matter, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) is complaining about the action taken by the standing orders committee, although he did it in an indirect manner. In
order to keep the record straight, to protect the procedure of the house and give a certain amount of explanation it would probably be well if a word or two were said about what has really taken place, in order to complete the record.
Under date of May 5, your committee received from the house the following reference;
That the petitions presented by the electors of the parishes of Ste. Rita, St. Cyprien, St. Paul de la Croix, St. Emile d'Auclair, Notre Dame de Sept Douleurs and St. Jean Baptiste de l'lsle-Verte be referred to the standing committee on standing orders.
These petitions had been presented to the house by the hon. member for Temiscouata. In his report thereon, under date of April 30 and May 1, the clerk of petitions stated that the petitions were not drawn in proper form and therefore could not be received.
I have listened with great care to what was said by the hon. member for Temiscouata, and although he claims that he wants the committee's report to be supported by the house, he is making all sorts of complaints with regard to it, claiming apparently that red tape is being used and that the voice of the people at large is not being heard by the house. This is not at all the case.
Having regard to the report made by the clerk of petitions it would appear that the question to be decided by the committee was whether or not in this case the rules of the house and the forms sanctioned by practice with regard to the wording of a public petition had been observed. Without taking too much of the time of the house, and referring to the documents under consideration, may I say first of all that Your Honour, the Speaker, had stated in the house on May 5 that the house is not seized of a petition addressed to the members unless mention is made of the words "in parliament assembled", which statement the hon. member for Temiscouata criticized severely. It was pointed out that the petitions were not properly addressed and the clerk of petitions reported that they could not be received. This decision given by the clerk and by Your Honour is only the practice confirmed by the rules which have been enforced by this house in the past, and following precedent. The practice was enforced by Hon. Mr. Rhodes, a former Speaker. It was enforced by the rules and regulations in days gone by.
Naturally we should like that report of the standing committee on standing orders to be accepted as such, but not with the remarks which were made by the hon. member foi Temiscouata. After all, we claim that we as the committee on standing orders are the
Old Age Pensions
guardians of the rules of procedure of the house; and that your committee had no alternative in this case but to report that the documents in question purporting to be petitions were not drawn in accordance with the rules of practice and not properly addressed and therefore should not be received.
If our report is to be voted upon, as chairman of the committee, I should like to make it plain that it is being accepted by this house in the terms in which it has been presented to the house by the committee and not on the recommendations which the hon. member for Temiscouata made in his address.
I rise to a question of
privilege. I said nothing critical about the ruling of the committee. I moved the adoption of the report. But I said that May is bunk, and I repeat that.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. PAUL MARTIN (Minister of National Health and Welfare):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to table copies in French and English of P.C. 1732, dated Thursday, May 15, 1947, being the revised1 regulations passed under the provisions of the Old Age Pensions Act.
These regulations were worked out in consultation with the representatives of the nine provinces at a meeting of the interprovincial old age pensions board, November 26-28, 1946. Following that meeting, it was necessary to put in textual form the changes agreed upon and to submit them to the respective governments for final approval. This has now been done, and in accordance with section 20 of the Old Age Pensions Act, the regulations are now in effect as of May 15, the date of their publication in the Canada Gazette.
I might point out that it is estimated that the effect of these regulations will be to relax the present restrictions applying to applicants for pension and to the circumstances under which pensions may be granted. The regulations have been completely revised and made more generous in their application.
I would draw to the attention of the house in particular the changes which have been made in the regulations dealing with the means by which an applicant may prove his age and the regulations regarding residence and calculation of income. These regulations have been relaxed in favour of the old age pensioner. Section 16 of the regulations in par-
ticular, defining income, provides that certain types of income listed under no less than eight different headings shall be ignored in calculating the amount of income which a pensioner is entitled to have and still be eligible for pension under the act. Changes are also made with regard to the method of assessing the income value of real property which a pensioner may have and still be eligible for pension. Distinction is made between the calculation of the income value of property which is used as a home and property which is not used as a home.
These and other changes are all calculated to relax in some degree the present restrictions which apply, through the act and regulations, to old age pensioners.