The Speaker is in a rather difficult position. The hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst has raised this question of privilege and he has cited an article in The Globe and Mail , I believe, concerning the draft of a report by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
As Speaker, I have not seen this report. I was not on the list of those who received the draft of the report. It is therefore difficult for me at this time to compare the quotations in the Globe and Mail article with the draft of the report, and I do not wish to see it at this time.
However, the other thing which is very important is that it is the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which really has the right to examine things. If I find a question of privilege today, the matter will undoubtedly be referred to this committee. So, if all those who are members of this committee agree that the committee should examine this matter, the committee may do so without a referral from the House. It has the right to do so and, in my view, the obligation.
So, at this time, the committee is in charge of its own procedure for examining this important issue, this breach of its own privileges, which appears to have taken place.
I urge members of the committee to go back to a meeting of the committee and take the necessary steps. They can call the reporter who published this story. If the reporter will not tell them who published it, they can recommend to the House that he be jailed for contempt. They have amazing powers. However, the committee is master of its own procedure. It is not for the Speaker to tell the committee how to do its work.
I can allow the member to move a motion in this House referring the matter to the committee, but the committee has to take its own enforcement procedures, subject of course to the House approving those enforcement procedures.
I do not know what the government House leader thinks of my suggestion, but I am sure that if the committee considers the matter it will come up with a solution that will appeal to all hon. members on a very important issue.
However, there are other ways of investigating this. I am sure the committee can come up with a list of witnesses who might be able to assist it and its investigation into this matter.
For the time being, I will take under advisement the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst. I much appreciate the interventions of the other members on this issue. I hope that, until such time as I am prepared to rule on this question of privilege, which will be soon I hope, the committee will be able to take this matter under consideration and begin an investigation in order to determine what the problem is and what must be done to ensure that it does not recur, for this committee and for others.
As I have already said in my earlier rulings, this is a serious problem for the House of Commons and for all committees of the House. I hope that we will be able to find a solution to it very soon.
I am sure that the members who raised this matter today and who spoke are prepared to ensure that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs can do precisely what is necessary in this situation.
For the time being, I will take the matter under advisement.