Mr. Speaker, I am rising to seek clarification from the Chair with respect to an incident that occurred in question period today. A very specific question was addressed by a Liberal member to the chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
The chair was pre-empted from answering the question by the intervention of the Minister of Veterans Affairs. I would point out that the question did not pertain to the responsibility of the government or the minister. The question related to the work of the committee, which would be under the purview of the chair and the members of the committee.
I am seeking clarity from you, Mr. Speaker, about the proper procedure in this sort of matter. Is it now permissible in the House for ministers to effectively muzzle the chairs of committees and impose on committees the views of the government? We always take the position in the House that committees are masters of their own affairs, that they determine the time of meetings, the witness lists and the order of business. The work before the committee is under the control of the committee.
If it becomes permissible for ministers simply to pre-empt all that--to take that responsibility away from the chair and to place it under the minister--then I think we have undergone a rather profound change in our long-held traditions with respect to the proper functioning of our committees.
Mr. Speaker, I seek your clarification on that matter, because it is very important to the integrity of how our committees function.