Right. Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
I am pleased to say to my hon. friend that I heartily approve the suggestions which he has made. Indeed, the government itself has felt that it was most desirable to have committees meet at an early day, and care will be taken to see that they are constituted as soon as the debate on the address is concluded, if not, by arrangement with my hon. friends opposite, before that time.
As to some of the committees not having met last session, that in no sense is a reflection on the government. As my hon. friend is aware, any member of the house has a right to ask that certain matters should be refeired to the appropriate committees. If no request is made for a committee to meet, and matters are not thereby referred, there is obviously no need of calling a committee together.
My hon. friend has spoken about some delay in constituting the committees. I am quite prepared that we on this side should take our share of the blame, if such is to be given, for any delay; but I wish to point out to him that time and again the appointment of committees has been delayed because of the inability to get from my hon. friend and his supporters opposite the names of the members of his party whom they desired to have serve on committees. However, he no doubt intends to see that they act promptly in these matters and we may be spared that delay on this occasion.
As to the number of committees that are to meet, I imagine that a good deal of the time of members of the house this session will be taken up by service on the different committees, because there are some committees the work of which will require considerable time. I do not think the business of the house is expedited at all by having a very large number of committees, with members serving on two or three committees at one and the same time. Rather, I should think it would expedite matters to have the committees properly attended by limiting their number. I ihight mention immediately the committees which this year will be of special importance.
My hon. friend has asked that the committee on radio broadcasting should be appointed again this year. The government fully intends to see that it is reconstituted. The speech from the throne has mentioned the reconstitution of the committee on rehabilitation and reconstruction. It also indicates another committee, a very important committee, on social security. The committee on war expenditures will also be reconstituted, as well as the committee on the Defence of Canada regulations. In addition to these there will be the committee on railways and
War Labour Board
shipping. It is possible there may be a committee on canteen funds. I do not think it will be necessary this year to have a special committee on land settlement, or one on vocational training, nor will there be the necessity of a special committee on the plebiscite. My hon. friend will recollect that that subject took up a large amount of time last year, and it accounted in very large part for the delay in constituting some of the other committees.
While I am speaking on the question of committees, I may say that the government has had under consideration the appointment of a committee on estimates, but before making any final decision in the matter I should like to have a word with the leader of the opposition and the other leaders in conference together.
There is one other committee to which reference has been made: a committee to revise the rules of the house. We have, as I stated on a former occasion, thought that a time of war was not the best time to revise the rules of the house. The rules of the house are designed to apply in ordinary times; in a time of war they have to be modified considerably. We hope the war is not going to continue for so many years that the house will be embarrassed in any way by having its rules remain as they are for the present, modified by agreement to such extent as has been the case in previous sessions. However, I do not wish to say a final word on that just now. But it is the present view of the administration that this is not the best time to have a committee consider the rules of the house.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: STANDING AND SELECT COMMITTEES-REVISION OF RULES