Before the hon. member continues, I wish to make a ruling on a point of order that was previously raised in respect of this matter.
The situation before us is this. The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier has risen to move concurrence in the sixth report of his committee and, in doing so, has provoked a point of order as to the acceptability of his moving concurrence in a report in which he may be perceived to have a pecuniary interest.
The sixth report transmits to the House the following resolution of the Standing Committee on Official Languages adopted April 29, 2003 , and reported to the House on April 30. It reads as follows:
It was agreed,--That the Standing Committee on Official Languages express its support for the initiative of Mauril Bélanger, M.P. (Ottawa-Vanier), in the Quigley v. Canada (House of Commons) case, and request the House of Commons suggest to its Board of Internal Economy to make available a maximum budget of $30,000 to cover a portion of the legal fees incurred by Mr. Bélanger for his role as intervener in this case.
However, Standing Order 21 provides as follows.
No Member is entitled to vote upon any question in which he or she has a direct pecuniary interest, and the vote of any Member so interested will be disallowed.
The House will recall that a point of order was raised on Thursday, May 1, 2003, by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast concerning the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages and arguing that the chair signing the report, which directly concerned his interest, was not in order.
In that case, the Chair explained that the reimbursement referred to concerned legal costs incurred by the hon. member as a third party intervener and not, strictly speaking, a grant of money to the member personally, and noted that there had been no suggestion that the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier stood to receive any direct monetary gain.
I then went on to review the very strict interpretation that has always been given to Standing Order 21 relating to conflict of interest. The House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 194 states:
--the Standing Orders of the House provide that Members may not vote on questions in which they have direct pecuniary interests; any such vote will be disallowed. The pecuniary interest must be immediate and personal, and belong specifically to the person whose vote is contested.
Then again, on May 12, the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast rose to contest that the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier had filed a notice of motion for concurrence in the sixth report. The Chair noted the objections and said he would return to this matter in the event the motion was moved, and today that has happened.
I have reviewed the arguments presented in this case, both on May 12 and today, and I can find no grounds for ruling the motion out of order. Standing Order 21 is quite explicit that the prohibition relates to voting. The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier has explained already that he will not be voting on the motion he has proposed and the Chair is, accordingly, satisfied that it is in order for him to move the concurrence motion and debate may proceed accordingly.