Before I call for questions and comments on the hon. member's speech, I would like to deal with a point of order raised this morning by the hon. member for Vancouver East, relating to the motion adopted by the House under the provisions of Standing Order 56.1. The hon. member contended that the motion was inadmissible and that it was not being used as a routine business motion aimed at fixing the sitting or adjournment times of the House, or arranging its proceedings, but that it was tantamount to a motion for time allocation or closure. I believe the words she used were that the motion was designed to “cut off the debate”. In her argument, she quoted from a ruling I delivered in 2001, in which I expressed concern that Standing Order 56.1 was being used for purposes that had not been envisaged when the Standing Order was adopted.
The House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 571, describes Standing Order 56.1 as follows:
If, at any time during a sitting of the House, unanimous consent is denied for the presentation of a “routine motion”, a minister may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker put the motion. For that purpose, a “routine motion” refers to motions which may be required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishment of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment. The motion, which is neither debatable nor amendable, is immediately put to the House by the Speaker. If 25 members or more oppose the motion, it is deemed withdrawn; otherwise, it is adopted.
In the case before the House, a motion has been adopted that the House “shall not be adjourned before such proceedings have been completed”. This is meant to apply to a motion for second reading of a bill, a motion, I might add, to which an amendment and a subamendment have been moved. As was seen earlier today, debate has ended on the subamendment and a vote is scheduled tomorrow at the conclusion of government orders. So the House is left with an amendment and the main motion. In fact, the effect of the motion is not unlike the effect of adopting a motion under Standing Order 26, which provides for the continuation of debate on a matter before the House, which is to say that it provides for an open-ended extension of the sitting for purposes of continuing debate on a particular matter. This, it can be argued, can be seen as the House managing its business and arranging its proceedings.
As I read the motion moved by the hon. the government House leader and adopted by the House, every member wishing to speak to the amendment and the main motion, who has not already done so, will be able to participate. The motion does not set a deadline for completion of the proceedings, as would be the case under time allocation or closure. Instead it simply extends the sitting of the motion then before the House. That is a significant difference. The precedents available to me, including my own previous rulings, are therefore insufficient in my view for me to rule the motion out of order on this occasion.
This does not, however, take away from the concerns raised by the member for Vancouver East about the nature of the motions moved pursuant to Standing Order 56.1. My predecessor and I have both encouraged the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the appropriate use of the Standing Order. To date I am not aware of any report by that committee on this question.
I thank the hon. member for Vancouver East for bringing this matter to the attention of the House, but I believe the motion, as adopted, is in order.