Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for being here.
I have one question on one particular issue. Thank you for explaining what was in your mandate letter, but I'm going to veer away from the mandate letter for just a moment. You and I had a few discussions about what was in your discussion paper and my motion here, before I became the skunk in the room with the filibuster. That's fine; it's all part of debate.
There was, however, one element of that discussion paper that at first blush made me think to myself that I didn't think we should go there.
I had a chance to go to the United Kingdom, and I spoke to a woman by the name of Margaret Beckett. She was the House leader for Tony Blair and was the one who brought in the idea of government programming, which at first some people might say is just time allocation in disguise, or as they call it a “guillotine” in disguise.
I asked her if she had brought this in because Tony Blair thought it was the right thing to do. She said, “No, I did it because Margaret Thatcher convinced me this was the right thing to do.” She had a bill about poverty reduction, and it was guillotined just before she could get her best points out there during the course of debate.
Since she brought it in, there have been several governments and several leaders, and each one—and they set up a committee to review it—accepted this. There are problems with it, yet they all accepted it. I spoke to the Liberal Democrats; they accepted it. The Labour Party accepted it. And the Conservatives.... It will be interesting to see what happens now that they're back in a minority, but even when they had a Conservative minority with the Liberal Democrats, they still accepted this idea of government programming.
The reason is that it does two things. It allows people to see what the debate is about, providing transparency without doing time allocation, and they can see how it will unfold. It also, however, allows the government to be efficient in putting its mandate through in legislation.
Okay, that's a long question, but I would like to get your comments on government programming and how you feel about it vis-à-vis time allocation.