I think the Chair has heard enough on this point to be able to bring the matter to a conclusion. I appreciate the intervention of all hon. members on this very important point.
When the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough began his remarks, I thought he would quote me on this point, because I clearly remember raising the same point from time to time in the House when I was in opposition.
Having done so, I have to say that the points of order I raised at that time were unsuccessful, as his are today, because there is now a series of precedents that in my view are quite binding on the Chair on this point. I refer all hon. members to that wonderful work, Marleau and Montpetit, at page 379. It states:
A Minister is under no obligation to make a statement in the House. The decision of a Minister to make an announcement outside of the House instead of making a statement in the House during Routine Proceedings has been raised as a question of privilege, but the Chair has consistently found there to be no grounds to support a claim that any privilege has been breached.
The learned authors of this work cite a series of examples starting in the Debates of November 1, 1974, and in March 2, 1977, February 17, 1978, February 8, 1982, December 2, 1985, October 4, 1989, February 18, 1998, and December 3, 1998.
I would urge all hon. members interested in this point to look at these precedents that are referred to in footnote 145 on page 379 of Marleau and Montpetit, to examine the words that were used then and to examine the rulings of the Chair in each case. I am afraid I have to agree with those rulings, however reluctantly today, having made, as I say, the same argument myself when I sat in a position similar to that of the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. I think the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona and I probably argued the same point at one time as well.
I am very sympathetic to the point raised and I think the government House leader has shown some sympathy, but I hope that in discussions between the parties suitable arrangements can be made. Those are beyond the control of the Speaker.
I thank all hon. members for their interventions on this point.