I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised on May 9, 1996 by the hon. member for Lethbridge concerning the procedural acceptability of Motion M-1 standing on the order of precedence for Private Members' Business in the name of the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
The hon. member for Lethbridge argued that the motion is procedurally unacceptable because it contains allegations of contempt by one member against another and yet had not been designated as votable by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. In other words, the House must be capable of taking a decision on any motion which contains a charge against a member. In addition, he questioned the current rules governing Private Members' Business which have allowed this situation to occur.
The rules governing private members' business are indeed complex. Members may put bills or motions on notice, and then those members whose names have been chosen in a draw decide which item they wish to put forward for debate in the House during private members' business hour.
Once the chosen items are placed on an order of precedence, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs selects which ones will come to a vote of the House. In the case of Motion M-1, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs chose not to designate this item as votable.
Pursuant to Standing Order 92(2), the report of the committee concerning votable items is automatically deemed adopted, and therefore stands as a decision of the House. This is how the House has decided, through its Standing Orders, to deal with private members' business.
The hon. member is quite correct in his assertion that the conduct of a member can be brought before the House only by way of a specific charge contained in a substantive motion. Often, in such cases, members will choose to raise the matter on the floor of the House without giving the required 48-hour or two-week notice and ask the Speaker to give it priority or right of way for immediate consideration by the House, thus putting all other regular House business aside.
What is at stake here is whether or not your Speaker can override the rules governing the transaction of Private Members' Business in order that such motions come to a vote even when the sponsoring member has selected to bring it before the House under that procedure. I humbly must admit that unless the House changes its rules I do not have that power.
For the benefit of the House, please allow me to point out that this is not the first time this type of motion has come before the House without the possibility of a vote.
On a number of occasions on supply days the opposition has moved non-votable motions to condemn or challenge ministers for their actions.
In one case a motion condemning a minister for "failing to provide full and satisfactory information on the blatant conflict of interest situation involving the minister" was moved as a non-votable motion on a supply day.
I refer members to the Journals of the House of Commons of May 12, 1986, page 2160: ``In at least one other instance, a non-votable supply motion contained a specific charge of contempt of Parliament against the minister''. The text of this motion can also be found in the Journals of June 17, 1982, page 5025.
The content of the motion and the fact that it has not been designated as a votable item under Private Members' Business does cause the Chair some difficulty.
I understand the concerns of the hon. member for Lethbridge. As your Speaker I suggest this situation could be corrected either by the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, the hon. member for Lethbridge or, for that matter, the House itself. There are procedures at the disposal of the House to ensure that a sense of fair play prevails in all of its proceedings so that members are not placed in this type of position.
In the current circumstances I find that the rules for Private Members' Business have been followed and that there is therefore no point of order.
I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this point and the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for his contribution to the discussion.
The hon. member for Lethbridge on a question of privilege.