Just before I put the question, the Chair would like to clarify something that happened earlier today.
At the beginning of debate this morning when government orders were called, the clerk at the table rose and announced that the item of business to be called was Bill C-8 at report stage. The announcement was complete. The government House leader indicated that had not been his wish. He wished to proceed with the motion that is now before the House and which I am about to put to the House.
The hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes raised a point of order, asking the Chair to continue with Bill C-8, which had been called by the clerk at the table. At that time I decided that the government was always entitled to change the order of government orders. That is what was done through the intervention of the government House leader.
I regret that it appears the Chair made an error in making such a ruling. In fact, the Chair should have proceeded with Bill C-8 at that time. The hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes was quite correct in that, and I cite for the House on this point, Erskine May's book Parliamentary Practice , page 319:
When an order of the day has been read, it must thereupon be proceeded with, appointed for a future day, or discharged. It cannot be postponed until after another order except as the result of a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown at the commencement of public business.
The motion had in fact been called and should have been proceeded with.
That said, I must also indicate that your Chair has, like all other members, read the new work on this subject, House of Commons Procedure and Practice , by our distinguished colleagues Messrs. Marleau and Montpetit.
Its wording is less precise. It states:
When Government Orders is called, any item listed may be brought before the House for consideration. Any item that has been called, and on which debate has begun, must be dealt with until adjourned, interrupted or disposed of.
The wording in the new book is not as precise as in Erskine May, but I must state that our practice—and obviously I have been well advised on this—has always been what is given in Erskine May, and not in the new book.
I read something and believed it. Hence my decision, but it was obviously in error, and the hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes was absolutely right. Certainly the next time there will not be such a disaster.