February 17, 1953 (21st Parliament, 7th Session)


Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

I hear some of my Tory friends applaud that sentiment. Many of those resolutions are not of such consequence as to require a lengthy debate at that stage. If I may say so, quite frankly I think the reason we have asked for it perhaps more often than we really wanted it has been because of resistance from the other side of the house to have debate at that stage. I would hope that out of this discussion which Your Honour has been good enough to invite we might not only reach a decision in terms of procedure, a decision as to the debate that is allowed, but we might also reach some better understanding between the two sides of the house.
I think we on the opposition side are prepared to be parties to such an understanding. To let it be clear I am saying here in the open that we do not want to debate every one of these motions with the Speaker in the chair. There are many of them in connection with which it is more satisfactory to go straight into committee. The government can know that and quote it back at us. There

are, however, occasions such as the emergency powers resolution, and the resolution concerning housing which is coming up soon, when the matter is of such importance that we feel we should not be asked to surrender a right that has obtained in this House of Commons across the years.
As everyone knows, there is a lot more one could say, but there is really no need to multiply words or repeat arguments. I simply press the point that the circumstances that led to the ruling in 1942 should be understood, and I won't be impolite if I say we should recognize that 17 days later that same House of Commons which had heard the ruling chucked it out the window. On that occasion the chief chucker-outer was none other than Mr. Ilsley, and the house readily joined in his suggestion that there should be that 78-page debate on that occasion with .the Speaker in the chair.
I may point out again that during those years when these debates took place, two or three each year, there were many resolutions on which there was no debate with the Speaker in the chair. I think we should return to that sort of understanding, that sort of modus operandi, under which it is clear that we have the right to debate the motions that are important. That is what we ask from the government side and that is what we ask from the Chair. I think the Chair and the government side have the right to expect from us, if that is the case, that we will not exercise that right on every occasion. I thank you, sir, and I thank the house for listening to this argument at length. I certainly hope our point will be given consideration.

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