The house resumed from Wednesday, April 7, consideration of the motion of Mr. St. Laurent (for the Prime Minister):
That, notwithstanding any other order passed by the house in relation thereto, on and after Wednesday, the 7th of April and every day thereafter until otherwise ordered during the present session, government notices of motions and government orders shall have precedence over all other business except the introduction of bills, questions by members and notices of motions for the production of papers, and from 8 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, private bills.
And the amendment thereto of Mr. Coldwell.
Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Secretary of State for External Affairs): Mr. Speaker, it became apparent yesterday, when this motion was moved, that a large number of members of the house desired that there be some time available for the consideration of public and private bills. The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) moved, in amendment to the motion which is on the order paper, that Tuesdays and Fridays from 8 to 9 p.m. be devoted to these bills, but he also moved at the same time that the order of priority provided for by standing order 15 be reversed. I think that would mean that there would be no time for the consideration of private bills during this session, and though no one has any special interest in private bills, the standing orders do provide that they may be introduced in the expectation that they will get consideration, and to some of us it would seem to be unfair to do something which would shut them out at this time.
It may be that standing order 15 should not be in the form in which it is, but that, it seems to us, is something which should be considered not as a temporary provision for this session. Rather, it should be considered by Mr. Speaker's committee to revise the general rules; and if that change were made in the standing order, giving priority to public bills over private bills, it would be known to the public and those making applications for private bills would be aware of the risk they were taking.
I would like therefore to suggest that there be these two hours on Tuesdays and Fridays for these bills but that they be considered in the order which is provided by standing order 15.
My attention has been called to the fact that this is the fifty-eighth day of the session and that a similar order was made in this house last year on the fifty-ninth day of the session. There is no desire on the part of anyone to minimize the importance or the interest of the other matters placed on the order paper by private members, whether they sit in the front benches or in the back benches. That makes no difference to their rights in this house or to the consideration that should be given to their desires. But there is on the order paper a large volume of important public business which we feel it will be the desire of most hon. members of the house to have considered. For instance, this afternoon there is the bill to amend the industrial relations act, and the bill to amend the act providing for allowances to veterans. These are matters which I am sure rank in importance with any that can be placed upon the order paper. I hope therefore that members of the house will be agreeable to accepting the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar to strike out the words "the former having precedence" -that is to say, giving precedence to public bills over private bills-and substitute the words "in accordance with standing order 15," which would leave the priority as established by the general rule.
It may be, though the indications at the present time do not appear to be any too hopeful, that such progress will be made with the public legislation as to allow, at some later date, other arrangements to be made. But hon. members will realize that we have not yet started on the consideration of the estimates. While we made a move yesterday to make a start in that direction, there is a matter of considerable importance which will have to be discussed and disposed of before the house can go into committee to consider the estimates. I hope that this may be regarded as a sincere effort to meet the desires of members of the house generally that there be some time for consideration of public and private bills that are on the order paper, and that public bills be not in such position that discussion on them would shut out any consideration of private bills. There is one private bill which has already been before the house on two or three occasions and on which there has been, I think, a fairly full debate. Hon. members say that they wish these matters to be brought before the house not merely for the purpose of providing an opportunity for making speeches about them, but for the purpose of getting the decision of the house with regard to them. I would hope that there would be no desire, under a rule of this kind, to talk out any of these bills, but rather that they be
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