Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning the amendments at report stage of Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident. Before you make a ruling on the selection of these amendments for debate, I would like to bring two things to your attention.
First, I point out that the member for Western Arctic is his party's energy critic and was present in committee during consideration of the clauses where report stage amendments had been proposed. He had the opportunity to move all these amendments at committee. When these clauses were debated at committee, he was signed in as a full member of the committee.
Standing Order 76.1(5) states:
The Speaker...will normally only select motions which were not or could not be presented in committee.
Second, I have concerns that some of these amendments would increase the cost to the Crown, and I would like to go through those.
Page 711 of Marleau and Montpetit states:
A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. An amendment which either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends it objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.
Therefore, I submit that some of the amendments are inconsistent with the royal recommendation that accompanies the bill.
Motion No. 1 proposes to delete clause 21, which limits the liability of an operator to $650 million. I make the point that a similar motion was ruled out of order at committee. This change would apply to all nuclear operators, including those that are agents of the Crown, such as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which are funded by the government through appropriations.
The effect of this motion would increase the costs to the Crown of operating these reactors and therefore would require a royal recommendation. Again, I point out that this was ruled out of order by the Chair at committee. Further clause 26 authorizes the minister to reinsure the risk of operators, which can be funded out of the consolidated revenue fund under clause 27. Therefore, if clause 21 is deleted without the deletion of clause 26, there would be increased liability to the government and that would therefore infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown.
Motion No. 4 would delete subclauses 24(2) to (5). These provisions presently authorize operators to obtain alternate financial security. This change would apply to all nuclear operators, including those that are agents of the Crown such as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which are funded by the government through appropriations. The effect of this motion would increase the cost to the Crown of operating these reactors and therefore requires a royal recommendation.
Motion No. 8, as with Motion No. 1, was ruled out of order at committee. It would have the effect of repealing subclause 34(2) of the bill. Clause 34 relates to interim financial assistance that is payable to persons who, in the minister's opinion, have suffered damage as a result of a nuclear incident.
Subsection (2) of this clause states that the maximum amount paid under subsection (1) may not exceed 20% of the difference between: (a) the amount set out in subsection 21(1), which is $650 million; and (b) the total amounts paid by the operator before the declaration of the governor in council is made to compensate persons for damage arising from the nuclear incident.
A motion to increase the amount from 20% to 40% was defeated at committee on the basis that it would require a royal recommendation. By deleting clause 34(2) the minister could pay 100% of claims before the tribunal would be in a position to adjudicate any such claim for damage suffered as a result of the incident. Again, I point out that a similar motion was ruled out of order at committee.
Motions Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10 propose to delete clauses of the bill which are designed to ensure the efficient operation of the tribunal established by the bill. For example, Motion No. 9 proposes to delete clause 47, which allows the tribunal to refuse to hear claims which are frivolous and vexatious. We dealt with this at committee where it was defeated. The deletion of these clauses would have the effect of increasing the operating costs to the tribunal and therefore should require a royal recommendation.
In conclusion, I point out, once again, that the member for Western Arctic was part of the committee when it heard much of the subject areas that were dealt with by these amendments. He had the opportunity to make those amendments. It is clear that the motions that would require a royal recommendation cannot be selected for debate at report stage.
The annotated Standing Orders at page 271 state:
Though not mentioned in this section, exception is made for motions requiring a Royal Recommendation, which are inadmissible at committee stage but admissible at report stage. However, if the necessary Royal Recommendation has not been placed on notice by the deadline required in section (3), the motion in question will not be selected.
I therefore submit that these motions should not be selected for debate.