I am now prepared to deal with the point of order raised by the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry on March 3, 2000 relating to certain motions in amendment to Bill C-20, an act to give effect to the requirement for clarity as set out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec Secession Reference, which were found out of order.
I would like to thank the hon. member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.
The hon. member stated that the motions in amendment submitted to the journals branch were intended to clarify the working of clauses 1(5) and 2(3) of Bill C-20 and did not go beyond the scope of the bill. He maintained that, because the amendments were ruled out of order, not only was he prevented from debating them but that this action interfered with the rights of all members of the House and constituted a restriction on his freedom of expression and that of other members.
I can assure the hon. member that the scope and substance of the amendments submitted by him were carefully considered.
I also want to underline to the hon. member and the House that, while preliminary assessments about such matters may be taken by officials of the House, the review and approval of such decisions remain the responsibility of the Speaker.
It is a responsibility that I take very seriously.
I have myself re-examined all of the amendments ruled out of order, not in relation to their substance, but from a strictly procedural perspective and I remain convinced that those amendments the hon. member referred to do in fact go beyond the scope and alter the principle of the bill as already agreed to by the House.
I refer the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry to page 666 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice . I wish to reassure the member that the decision is purely procedural and not based in any way on whether the subject matter is worthy of debate. It was made in accordance with the traditions and practices of this House.
For these reasons, I must conclude that the matter does not constitute a valid point of order. I thank the hon. member for raising this issue and trust that this ruling has been helpful to him and to other hon. members.
Further to the question raised by the member for Rimouski—Mitis on Friday, March 3, 2000, I wish to inform the House that there was an error in the table for the voting on Bill C-20. The vote on Motion No. 70 will apply to Motion No. 71. A revised voting table is available from the table. I regret any inconvenience this may have caused the hon. members.