May I be permitted to make a statement at this time? Apparently my remarks on Monday have been interpreted by some members as changing the practice with respect to routine proceedings generally. I did not intend them to have that effect. I made my statement because I felt that last session I had allowed a practice to develop which permitted a member to rise at the opening of the house on a so-called question of privilege and to discuss certain matters which had taken place outside the house. That was a departure from our rules, and I did not think it was in the interests of parliament to allow it to continue. As Beauchesne states: "A question of privilege ought rarely to come up in parliament." He further states:
Wilful disobedience to orders and rules of parliament in the exercise of its constitutional functions. insults and obstructions during debate, are breaches of the privileges of the house.
These and other breaches of privilege, when they occur, should be brought to the attention of the house, and should be taken into consideration immediately and followed by the appropriate motion.
I do not need to remind hon. members that it is not a question of privilege whether a member should or should not have made a speech outside the house, or whether it would have been preferable to make it in the house. If the speech was made in wilful disobedience of the orders and rules of parliament, or contained libels on members, it would of course be a question of privilege which should be raised in the house. Otherwise the matter should be brought to the attention of the house by a question to the member or to the ministry when the orders of the day are called.
May I ask hon. members not to rise on questions of privilege unless they are satisfied that they are legitimate and not a so-called question of privilege.
My statement on Monday should not be interpreted in such a way as to prevent ministers, when motions are called, from
making important announcements of public policy. There is no positive rule to that effect, but it is a practice which has been sanctioned by usage both in the United Kingdom and in Canada. It has been my custom to allow the leader of the opposition to ask questions with respect to such statements. It is my intention to continue that practice. Of course no debate may take place at that time.
My anxiety is that I shall not, by any ruling I make, improperly curtail the rights and privileges of any hon. member, and I am confident that I shall have the continued co-operation of hon. members in my effort to carry out my duties in this manner.
Subtopic: PROCEDURE IN RAISING QUESTIONS OF PRIVILEGE