I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Vancouver East on February 18 concerning the need to clarify the process by which members give notice of questions of privilege arising out of committee reports. I thank the hon. member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.
The House will recall that on February 17, 2001, two members gave notice of questions of privilege related to the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. One member did so before the report was tabled, while the other waited until the report had actually been tabled and, as a result, the member who chose to wait to give notice until the report had been tabled was not the first to be recognized.
In reference to the procedures members are to follow in raising questions of privilege, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 142 states:
A member wishing to raise a question of privilege which does not arise out of the proceedings during the course of a sitting must give notice before bringing the question to the attention of the House. The member must provide a written statement to the Speaker at least one hour before raising the question of privilege in the House.
For questions of privilege arising out of committee proceedings, O'Brien and Bosc states on page 151:
If the committee decides that the matter should be reported to the House, it will adopt the report which will be presented to the House at the appropriate time under the rubric “Presenting Reports from Committees” during Routine Proceedings.
Once the report has been presented, the House is formally seized of the matter. After having given the appropriate notice, any Member may then raise the matter as a question of privilege.
This passage implies that a report must have been presented to the House before a member can give notice of a question of privilege related to its contents. This is akin to our procedures with regard to notices of motions to concur in committee reports, which cannot be submitted until the report in question has been presented.
The Chair is cognizant that to do otherwise with regard to notices of questions of privilege might well give rise to situations in which a member could give notice as soon as a committee begins to consider a matter, or perhaps even earlier, when there is but an inkling that something may arise. This is neither desirable nor practicable.
Accordingly, in the interest of bringing clarity to this procedure, from now on, the Chair will not accept notices of questions of privilege based on committee reports until after the reports are tabled.
I thank hon. members for their attention.