Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You will remember in your ruling of April 27, which was your decision on a question of privilege, that you were confident that members of Parliament of all parties could come to an agreement. I just want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that that confidence was not misplaced because I am very pleased to tell the House today that an agreement has been reached with all the political parties.
It is an agreement that complies with Canadian law, it does not compromise national security and it does not jeopardize the lives of the men and women who serve in uniform, which of course was the concern of the government in recognizing your ruling. Again, this was put together with the agreement of all political parties and I am very pleased and honoured at this time to inform the House of the details of that agreement.
The agreement in principle is the creation of an ad hoc committee of parliamentarians composed of one member of Parliament and an alternate from each political party. Each member of the ad hoc committee will be required to take an oath of confidentiality and sign a confidentiality agreement and will be required to obtain the appropriate security clearances. Access to documents will take place in a secure location. Appropriate security procedures will apply. Committee members will have access to all documents in both redacted and unredacted form. Committee members will have access to government officials from appropriate departments to provide briefings and contextual information and reasons for protecting information.
With respect to every unredacted document examined by the committee, the committee will determine whether the information in the document is relevant to matters of importance to members of Parliament, particularly as it relates to the ongoing study on the transfer of Afghan detainees currently under way at the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, and whether the use of such information is necessary for the purpose of holding the government to account. The decisions of the committee related to the relevance shall be final and unreviewable.
Where the committee determines that such information is relevant and necessary, or upon the request of any member of the committee, it will refer the document to a panel of arbiters who will determine how that relevant and necessary information will be made available to members of Parliament and the public without compromising national security, either by redaction or the writing of summaries or such techniques as the panel finds appropriate, bearing in mind the base objectives of maximizing disclosure and transparency.
The panel of arbiters should regularly consult with the members of the committee to better understand what information the MPs believe to be relevant and the reason why. The decision of the panel of arbiters with respect to disclosure shall be final and unreviewable. The panel of arbiters will be composed of three eminent jurists. The composition of the panel must be agreed upon by the government and the opposition.
All parties agree that the details of this proposal will be further outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed by all party leaders.
Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to table that, in both official languages, and indicate to you that it is the agreement between the members that the memorandum of understanding would be in place by May 31, 2010.
Mr. Speaker, this is a good day for parliamentarians. It is a good day for all those who have respect for the rule of law in this country. Again, I commend all members and thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the ruling and the opportunity that you have given us to bring together this agreement. Again, your confidence was not misplaced.