The Chair has heard the arguments and I thank members on all sides for their assistance on this matter but I think the answer is fairly clear.
A quorum call was in progress and hon. members chose to come to the House or not while the bells were ringing. The bells were rung for the purpose of bringing members to the House. With respect, at the end of the quorum call naturally the Chair called for the resumption of debate on the bill which was before the House. Members who were here at the time the quorum call occurred will note that the Chair had put the question on the motion and called for debate but no one had risen to speak because the quorum called intervened.
As your Speaker, I called for debate on the motion and no one rose to debate the motion. I do not want to say something that I should not say concerning the presence or absence of members from the House, but no one rose to speak on the motion. Accordingly, I said: Is the House ready for the question? And the answer was, yes. I then received the document to put the question.
It may be that while the question was being put members entered the House but no one rose to speak while I waited for the document to put the question. I submit that the Chair has acted in accordance with the practices and principles of the House in this matter.
As the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup just said, he was on his way to the House when the question was put to the House. He was too late. He must be here. If the hon. minister does not want to speak at third reading, that is his prerogative, he has no obligation to do so. For personal reasons, he decided not to speak.
As you know, I serve the House, but, in my opinion, the situation is as I described it. There is no point of order, and the matter is closed.