Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
On Tuesday afternoon the leader of the opposition suggested that it might help to expedite the business of the house considerably were we to resume the sittings on Wednesdays. As hon. members are aware, the normal procedure has been to sit on Mondays and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays in the afternoon and evening, but on Wednesday for the half day only. I have been conferring with my colleagues as to the advisability of resuming the Wednesday afternoon sittings. If the house is prepared to accept the suggestion which was made constructively and helpfully by my hon. friend, that we might on Wednesday afternoons proceed immediately with government business, the business which was taken up on the previous night, or such orders as might be called, thereby avoiding delays on questions or motions preceding the taking up of business previously indicated, I would be prepared to move, with the consent of the house, that the house resume its sittings on Wednesday afternoons.
I have to make it clear that it will be necessary for the war committee of the cabinet to reserve Wednesdays, as we have up to the present this session, for the consideration of the very important matters which come before its members, and that the members of the government who are on the war committee will necessarily be obliged to absent themselves from the house that afternoon. I assume that hon. members will agree in the circumstances that there will be no divisions on Wednesday afternoons; that, as I have already said, ministers will not be expected to reply to questions, but that the procedure will be as it would normally be after the government has entered upon the orders of the day for the discussion of the different measures. If this is agreeable, and I gather from the response made to what I have already said that it is, I would move:
That on and after June 14, 1944, until the end of the session, the house shall meet at three o'clock in the afternoon on Wednesdays and that the order of business shall then :be the continuation of the business interrupted by the adjournment of the house on the preceding day, provided always that government business may be called on Wednesdays in such sequence as the government may think fit.
That last clause refers of course to government business. It means that the government would announce on Tuesday evening that on Wednesday we would take up such and such items on the order paper, but not necessarily continuance of the particular measure that was being discussed after time of adjournment on the Tuesday night. That might be a measure in which the Minister of Finance or some other member of the war committee would be interested. The house will observe that at present we shall continue to follow the custom of not sitting on Wednesday evening. Jf we make substantial progress under the proposed arrangement and we find that it is really likely to help in expediting the business of the house, we may a little later take Wednesday evenings and after that, I hope, before long begin morning sittings.
Subtopic: WEDNESDAY SITTINGS