George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)
That is not what the Prime Minister said.
Subtopic: PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS ON MONDAYS
That is not what the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Si. Laurent:
I said that my information is-and I believe it to be accurate-that the Minister of Public Works mentioned to the hon. gentleman who sits behind the leader of the opposition his intention of giving that notice, and was told by the hon. gentleman that he thought it was quite all right.
I repeat that there was no undertaking.
There may have been no undertaking, but there has been an attempt here this afternoon-
Business of the House
Don't lose your temper.
-to put before the public as facts something which does not represent the facts, and I am attempting to re-establish the facts. Even before Easter there had been discussion as to the making of this motion to take away the Monday, and it was1 suggested
I believe by the hon. gentleman who represents Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles)-that there should be at least one Monday for private members after we came back after Easter. I thought that was a reasonable suggestion to make, and instead of giving the notice immediately,-because last Monday it was the unanimous wish of the house to take part of the time to deal with the motion to set up a committee on the readjustment of the representation of the house, inasmuch as that committee is apt to have quite a long job before it-the giving of the notice was postponed until after the Minister of Public Works had mentioned it orally in the house on Wednesday night.
I was under the impression-and I think there were some reasons for my being under such impression-that the private members had had the time they wished to have to deal with the various matters they had put on the order paper. Some minutes after nine o'clock last Monday we reverted to private members' business-and I was here-and every one of the resolutions was called. That of the hon. member for Matapedia-Matane (Mr. Cote) was, I think, the last on the list, and that was the only one that anyone was ready to proceed with. All the others were allowed to stand. Again on Friday night private bills and public bills and orders were called and disposed of in twenty-two minutes of the hour that was available for the discussion of those subjects, and the matters which hon. members had expressed a desire to have votes upon had received votes, and had been disposed of by divisions of the house.
From the very beginning of the session I have endeavoured to meet the wishes of hon. gentlemen opposite and to arrange the debates in the manner in which they have suggested they would like to have them arranged. I was under the impression that this motion was not going to raise any storm today, even though there might be six by-elections in the offing. The leader of the opposition suggests that a great deal of time has been taken, to the point of creating a feeling of frustration because of the fact that the government was not bringing forward any of its business. Will the hon. gentleman give himself the trouble to look at the Routine Proceedings and Orders of the Day, pages 15, 16 and 17? Will he note the dates on which the notices were put on
Business of the House
the order paper to be dealt with just as soon as they could be reached without taking away from the private members of the house the opportunity to debate the matters they were debating?
On March 7 there was put on the order paper notice of a resolution to introduce a measure to extend the application of the Emergency Gold Mining Assistance Act. On March 11 there was another for the introduction of a measure to amend the Government Employees Compensation Act, 1947. Then, on March 14, a resolution that it was expedient to introduce a bill conferring authority upon the governor in council to authorize the Canadian National Railway Company to construct a certain railway line; on March 28, that it was expedient to introduce a measure to amend the war veterans' allowance legislation, for increasing allowances and permissible income, etc. On the same day there was another, that it was expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Veterans Benefit Act, 1951; on the same day, that it was expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Veterans Insurance Act; on April 1, that it was expedient to introduce a bill to amend the National Defence Act; and there follows a long series of amendments to which the notice refers. On the same day there was a resolution that it was expedient to introduce a measure respecting the New Westminster harbour commissioners; on April 8, that it was expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Aeronautics Act; on April 23, that it was expedient to introduce a measure to provide that the governor in council may do such things as were required in order to implement the Japanese peace treaty which came into effect this morning. On April 24 there was another, that it was expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Pension Act.
These matters, especially those which concern the veterans, have come to the point where it is urgent that they be dealt with as soon as possible, because it is my understanding that the representatives of the Canadian Legion are .to be here on May 6 and that they expect to have the bills which concern the veterans in such shape that they can make representations to the committee to be set up-of which notice is now on the order paper-to consider this veterans legislation. Any suggestion that there has been delay in bringing forward the measures that the government wishes to have dealt with is quite contrary to the facts. These measures cannot be introduced without the adoption of the resolutions of which the notices are on the order paper. The committee set up at the last session to consider the rules of the house has not been able to get agreement on the proposal that there shall not be both a
debate with the Speaker in the chair and a debate in the committee of the whole on each of these resolutions which must be adopted before the legislation can be introduced.
And they could have been called at any time.
Mr. St. Laurent:
Had they been called at any time, we would have had the assertion by the hon. gentleman and by others that we were curtailing the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne,-
Mr. St. Laurent:
-the debate on external affairs, the debate on defence, the debate on the budget.
Don't get angry.
Mr. St. Laurent:
I have been trying to act in such a manner as to have the agreement or at least the acquiescence of the hon. gentleman opposite. It may be that we shall have to take another attitude, that we shall have to say that the business of the house has to be considered and will simply give notice in the house of the time when it will be considered and take whatever consequences may result from assertions of the hon. gentleman opposite that our huge majority is being used to muzzle parliament, to establish government dictatorship or government by orders in council, and that there is a disregard of the democratic rights of the people represented, as the hon. gentleman would seek to imply, only by those who sit on the opposition benches.
Here the understanding has been that there would be allotted to the business of private members as much time as had been taken last Monday to deal with business of a public character on a day when the private members' motions should have had priority. This motion was put on for today merely for the purpose of having today used in that manner and not carry over the undertaking to have another private members' day, in addition to today, used to replace last Monday.
There is no desire to prevent any debate on any matter that is on the order paper. If hon. gentlemen will bring to our attention any specific matter that-though it has been called, and has been stood over-should still in their opinion have priority over the public business of the country, their representations will get consideration.
So far as the present session is concerned, which, as has been pointed out by the leader of the opposition, is now in its third month, I think it is time to do what in my experience has always been done at about this stage in the session. I can assure hon. members
that there is no desire to cut off or to prevent debate or divisions. The house has had proof during this session that there has been no desire to dispose of these matters by talking them out. They have been brought to a conclusion, and they have been disposed of bv dividing the house upon them. I think that is what hon. gentlemen wish to have done, and there is no desire to have the business of the house carried on in any other way. On the other hand there is no desire just to take without comment the lectures that it pleases the leader of the opposition to give us from time to time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. The Prime Minister in his remarks has referred to me and part of what he said is correct, but-
Order, please. I think the hon. member should have raised his question of privilege during the Prime Minister's remarks.
As a matter of courtesy I let the Prime Minister finish. I think I should be permitted to state my question of privilege. My point is this-
Order. If the house wants a revival of the question of what took place between the whips, I will allow it to be done. However, I think it was discussed fully.
All I wish to say is that when this proposal was presented to me by way of my being informed of what was to be done, I complained every time about our not getting that day that we lost and which the Prime Minister had promised to give us as I indicated in my remarks this afternoon.
Mr. Fournier (Hull):
On a question of privilege, the hon. member admits, I think, that I did mention this matter to him before it was brought up in the house on Wednesday evening. I told him we intended to put that notice of motion on Votes and Proceedings the next day. I did not ask his agreement, but he was informed about the matter. The same thing applies to my hon. friends opposite.
No agreement at all.