March 15, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, before we proceed' with the business of the bouse I wish to rise to a question. affecting the privileges of this parliament. I do not intend^ to discuss their historic background, or to refer to the usages of the British parliament or the statutes of this parliament by which they are established. They will be found, sufficiently outlined in the introduction

to Beauchesne's "Parliamentary Rules and Forms", third edition, 1943, part of which I will quote:
Several acts suspending for a time the Habeas Carpus Act have been passed am Great Britain with the special provision that no member of pairiliiaoneint shall be imprisoned during the sitting of parliament until the matter dn which he stands suspected shall be fi-rst communicated to the house and the consent of the house obtained for liis commitment, or if .parliament be not sitting, then immediately after it reassembles in like manner as if he were arrested on. a criminal charge. This is the general rule. The house is usually apprised of the cause of commitment of a member after his arrest and whenever he *is in custody, in order to be .tried by naval, military, air or courts-martial, or after he has been committed for any criminal offence by a court or a magistrate.
The newspapers report today that Mr. Rose, representative in this House of Commons of the division of Cartier-Montreal in the province of Quebec, has been taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This house has no knowledge of the charge or charges against him. If the suspected offence is indictable under our criminal law, either under the criminal code or by a special statute, then I submit that this house should be informed now of the nature of the charge, in conformity with the established usage.
If the newspapers are correct in stating that the action arises out of a disclosure of secret information laid before parliament, during the war, the offence would appear to be a breach of the privileges of this house and should be a subject of inquiry by the appropriate committee. I am confident that no member of this house, certainly not I or any member of our party, would condone improper or illegal action, by any other member. Bub the privileges of this parliament must be safeguarded no matter who may be involved.
In my opinion the house should require a satisfactory statement from the government now, and I therefore raise the question so that we may receive it today.

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