I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the hon. House leader of the PC/DR coalition concerning Vote 36a under Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02.
The hon. House leader drew to the attention of the House that Vote 36a provides for the transfer of $2 million to the Export Development Corporation from the government. The purpose of the transfer is to compensate the corporation for the liability transferred to it by the government with respect to contributions made by corporation employees to the public service death benefit account.
The hon. PC/DR House leader pointed out that this liability will be transferred only with the passage into law of Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
While that bill has been passed by the House, it is still being considered in the other place.
On that basis, he indicated that the request for funds in Vote 36a was without legal authority and requested that it be struck from the supplementary estimates and removed from the appropriation bill based on those estimates.
The principle that legislative authority must be in place before funds could be appropriated is clearly recognized. The House of Commons Procedure and Practice , at page 735, provides the following citation from the ruling of Mr. Speaker Jerome.
This was on March 22, 1977, and I quote:
—it is my view that the government receives from parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item, in my opinion, ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.
The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader later informed the House that such statutory authority does exist and can be found in the Public Service Superannuation Act. He explained that the Export Development Corporation--and it is useful to note that the existing name is what appears in the appropriation bill--incurred a one-time liability when it withdrew from the Public Service Superannuation Act in April 2000, and that is the situation that Vote 36a addresses.
In the short time available, I have examined the text of Bill C-31 and the supplementary estimates and I have concluded that in light of the explanations offered by the parliamentary secretary the vote is in order and can proceed.
I am therefore ruling that the amount of $2 million in Vote 36a under Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the supplementary estimates is in order, as is the corresponding amount in the appropriation bill.
I thank the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough for his vigilance in raising the matter.
The house resumed consideration of Motion No. 1.