Dear colleagues, before recognizing the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, I must rule on the point of order that was raised the other day. Here is the Speaker's ruling on the point of order raised on February 27 by the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie regarding the procedural acceptability of government business Motion No. 1 standing in the name of the hon. government House leader.
I also wish to thank the hon. members for Lethbridge and Winnipeg Transcona, the government House leader and the chief government whip for their contributions to the debate.
Reinstatement of business from one session to another is not uncommon in our practice. In our parliamentary experience, there are a number of occasions where bills and other forms of business from one session have been brought forward to another session either by unanimous consent or, more recently, as was the case in 1991 by way of a government motion moved after notice.
The question before us is not whether business can be reinstated from one session to another, but whether Government Business
No. 1 which provides a mechanism where bills from the first session may be reinstated to this session is procedurally in order.
Speaker Fraser noted in his ruling of May 29, 1991-much referred to in the debate-at page 734 of the Debates that he could find nothing in our rules or practices to preclude the reinstatement of bills by way of motion. He therefore permitted debate to proceed on the government motion that had been moved. He was concerned that members would be afforded an adequate opportunity to express their assent or dissent on each item to be reinstated and therefore ruled that separate questions be put on each bill to be reinstated.
The same concern has been expressed most eloquently by hon. members with regard to the proposed government motion. In our current circumstances the motion does not list specific pieces of legislation to be reinstated. Rather it provides a mechanism whereby both private members and the ministry would have an opportunity to revive legislation from the last session. There is nothing procedurally objectionable per se to the adoption of a motion setting in place such a mechanism.
However, as the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona pointed out, pursuant to Standing Orders 68(2) and 69(1), motions for leave to introduce a bill and for first reading and printing shall be deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put, that is to say, in the words of Speaker Fraser, without the hon. members of the House having a say in the matter.
I remind hon. members that our proceedings are generally arranged to provide hon. members with the opportunity to express their views on matters that come before the House. While the House would, of course, be able to vote on reinstated bills at subsequent stages of the legislative process, the Chair acknowledges the hon. members' concerns that under the terms of the third paragraph of the motion in issue, hon. members would not be able to take any decision on the bills that had passed all stages in the House and which were under study in the Senate when Parliament had prorogued.
While I do not believe it is within my power to unilaterally amend a motion which is procedurally in order, I would remind hon. members that during the course of the debate on this motion there will be ample opportunity for them to propose amendments to provide the members of the House with the means to express their assent or dissent on the reinstatement of each bill in issue. Of course, members may also choose to vote against the motion.
Both elements of this motion, that is, the first element dealing with the mechanism for the reinstatement of bills and the second element dealing with amendments to the standing orders dealing with supply, specify how certain items of business will be dealt with during the first part of this session. As both elements relate to the business of the House, the motion is not a complicated question. Therefore, one debate will be held on the motion and one question will be put on the motion.
I thank all my colleagues for their contributions to this important matter.