Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. My colleagues and I consider this to be an important matter regarding adjudication by the Chair.
This morning's notice paper contains a notice which I gave yesterday pursuant to Standing Order 81(4) to extend consideration of the estimates of the Department of Human Resources Development beyond the normal date of expiration.
Normally the Leader of the Opposition would give such a notice and tomorrow it would be deemed adopted by the House. However, the Leader of the Opposition has neglected his obligation to use all means to hold the government to account by giving to all members of the House an opportunity to pose questions of the government with respect to billions of dollars of expenditures for authorization.
In the instance of the employment insurance program there are significant issues which I know all members of my party, and I suspect all members of the House, would like to be given the opportunity to address. I know there is no direct precedence in this matter to guide you, Mr. Speaker.
I readily acknowledge that the standing order specifically names the Leader of the Opposition as the member who is entitled to give this notice. However, the closest analogous situation may be found in the the citation 924 at page 257 of Beauchesne's sixth edition. In the case of a conflict among the opposition leaders over the use of an allotted day the Speaker has intervened where there is a breakdown of the informal House leadership machinery.
I believe some analogous precedent can be drawn here. In this instance the failure of the opposition and the Leader of the Opposition places every member of the House at a disadvantage. All of us on both sides of the House have operated under the assumption that this debate of the estimates would continue, at least for this one department, past the May 31 deadline because of the expectation that the Leader of the Opposition would move his motion under Standing Order 81(4).
There are urgent questions which all members want answered with respect to the granting of supply in the Department of Human Resources Development. I humbly submit we should not be denied this opportunity, simply because the Leader of the Opposition has failed in his duty to have the entire House given this opportunity.
The Leader of the Opposition was not prepared to let the House of Commons do its work in this important area. This party is prepared and we are asking, Mr. Speaker, that you grant this discretion. Given the abrogation of the responsibility to the whole House by the Leader of the Opposition, I ask that you permit this party and myself as House leader of this party to give this notice which would be considered under Standing Order 84(4) of the standing orders.
I submit that it is within your discretion, Mr. Speaker, to transfer that power which is normally reserved solely for the Leader of the Opposition to another opposition party which has gone through the normal procedures that would be followed in this matter. We have made the effort to do that and to follow the precedent and procedure that are set. I would ask that the Chair to adjudicate on this matter and I thank the Chair for its indulgence.