I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the hon. member for Perth—Wellington concerning the supply bill that was distributed with Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, which will be called for debate later today.
I thank the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for raising this important issue, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the hon. member for London—Fanshawe for their observations.
In his arguments, the member for Perth—Wellington indicated that the parts of the draft appropriation act concerning the salary of certain ministers were already before the House in an amending bill, Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act. He contended that, as such items of a legislative character should not be included in the estimates, the Speaker should remove from the estimates all references to authority for ministerial salaries.
As the member has indicated, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, states at page 869:
...estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent...should come to the House by way of an amending bill.
However, as the member also noted, this situation is not new. In fact, members may recall that during the current Parliament, Bill C-8, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016 and Bill C-9, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, had the exact same provisions regarding ministerial salaries. Both bills were adopted by the House without any concerns being raised either beforehand or afterwards.
As has been pointed out by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, this procedure has been used consistently since the mid-1990s.
In reference to the specific arguments raised by the member for Perth—Wellington, the Chair would be remiss if it did not point out an important nuance, namely that outlined by Speaker Parent in his ruling November 25, 1997, found at page 2209 of Debates, when he said:
...what was objected to in the past and what different Speakers have ruled out of order were attempts to amend existing acts or legislate new programs as part of a legislative measure granting supply.
Clearly, the draft supply bills currently available to members on this last supply day are not amending existing acts or legislating new programs. Accordingly, the Chair is satisfied that the form or content of the bills is not at issue in this case.
The Chair is therefore prepared to let the estimates, and the supply bills that flow from them, proceed today in their current form.
I thank hon. members for their attention.