Mr. Speaker, I would like to add briefly to the points raised by the deputy House leader for the government.
First, the hon. member in his speech to the House reflected on the parallel which he drew between his case and that of the hon. member for Northumberland-Durham some time ago. He also alleged that the wilfully giving of false information, which was the issue at the time, is synonymous with what is occurring today and that there is a deliberate attempt to deny information to him. He also stated that the request had been cited as "outrageous". He drew on citation 59 of Beauchesne.
First, written questions are similar in the standing orders to oral questions in the House of Commons. They are under the same section of the standing orders. Standing Order 39 refers to questions as questions from members. In other words, Mr. Speaker, these are private members' questions and they are to be treated as such. A request by a private member does not constitute an order of the House.
Second, I do not know if the evaluation made by someone that the question was so vast in scope that it was outrageous, is fair or not. The fact that the work required to answer the question may be very large may be one thing but that in no way suggests that the question should not be put. However, it does suggest that a lot of work may be required in order to put the answer together.
The deputy House leader has indicated the size of this project. When we are talking about a couple of hundred thousand civil servants, measuring all of the things that the member has asked for is indeed a very significant task and perhaps the word outrageous was the appropriate word.
However, there is not a deliberate attempt to deny or wilfully give false information. The case brought by the hon. member in relation to citation 59 of Beauchesne reflects those things that have to do with "reflecting badly on the character of the House".
If I understand it correctly, no one said that such a request made by the House itself would have been outrageous nor was any comment made disparaging it. In the case of the issue in question, I believe there was a parallel some years ago, known as the Doyle case, which was judged as being a contempt and insult to the House as an institution.
Nothing is parallel in the discussion today. We have a private member's request which is perhaps a legitimate request. Nevertheless, it is one that is so wide in scope that it will cost not only tens of thousands of dollars to accumulate the answer. However, I am sure that when the information is available it will be responded to. It is not a wilful attempt to deceive the House in any way but a request that is so vast in scope that it will be difficult for anyone to achieve the desired result, notwithstanding the best efforts of everyone in government.