Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to the appropriation bill which we are about to consider at all stages tonight. In my opinion the bill is out of order since it is attempting to approve expenditure for the Department of Canadian Heritage Parks Canada Agency for the fiscal year 2000-01.
Subclause 6(2) at page 3 of the bill states:
Amounts appropriated by Schedule 2 may be spent at any time on or before March 31, 2001, so long as every expenditure is charged first against the relevant amount appropriated that is earliest in time until that amount is exhausted, next against the relevant amount appropriated that is next in time until that amount is exhausted and so on.
Schedule 2 of the bill at page 58 attempts to appropriate $245,857,000 for the fiscal years April 1, 1999 to March 31, 2001.
Mr. Speaker, if you review the standing orders and our practices, the estimates process is designed to deal with the next fiscal year and not the fiscal year after that.
I will start with citation 933 of Beauchesne's sixth edition which states:
The purpose of the Estimates is to present to Parliament the budgetary and non-budgetary expenditure proposals of the Government for the next fiscal year.
Citation 934 states:
In accordance with Standing Order 81(4), in every session the main Estimates to cover the incoming fiscal year for every department of government shall be referred to the standing committees—
If citation 934 is read in full, it goes on to talk more about the current fiscal year. Citation 944 states:
The Estimates are limited to setting out only the sums which it is calculated will be required in the current year, and do not show the value of assets held or the liabilities outstanding from the previous financial year or to be spread over future years.
While these citations refer to the estimates, citation 968 ties the appropriation bill into this argument. It states:
The concurrence by the House in the Estimates is an Order of the House to bring in a bill, known as the appropriation bill based thereon.
If we review the standing order starting with Standing Order 81(1) and follow through to Standing Order 81(22), they all deal with the principle that the estimates are to cover the incoming fiscal year and not the year after that.
We have example after example before us from both Beauchesne's and the standing orders of the House which clearly demonstrate that the estimates and appropriation acts are intended to deal with one fiscal year at a time.
I fear that the legislation such as this before us is eroding the power of parliamentarians and the power of the House to make informed decisions on granting supply to the crown.
If this bill is allowed to remain on the order paper, it will set a dangerous precedent where the estimates will no longer be required to be published and passed on a yearly basis. Therefore, I believe that Appropriation Act No. 2, 1999-2000, Bill C-86 as it will become known, should be ruled out of order and removed from the order paper forthwith.