I would like to open this session of committee of the whole by making a short statement.
Tonight's debate is being held under Standing Order 81(4)(a) which provides for each of two sets of estimates selected by the Leader of the Opposition to be considered in committee of the whole for up to four hours.
For some members, this may be the first time they participate in such a debate. Therefore, I would like to explain how we will proceed.
Tonight's debate is a general one on all of the votes under National Defence. The first round will begin with the usual rotation, with the official opposition followed by the government and the Liberal Party. After that, we will follow the usual proportional rotation.
Each member will be allocated 15 minutes at a time, which may be used both for debate and for posing questions. Should members wish to use this time to make a speech, it can last a maximum of 10 minutes, leaving at least 5 minutes for questions to the minister.
When a member is recognized, he or she should indicate to the Chair how the 15 minute period will be used, in other words, what portion will be used for speeches and what portions for questions and answers.
Members should also note that they will need the unanimous consent of the House if they wish to split their time with another member.
When the time is to be used for questions and answers, the Chair will expect that the minister's response will reflect approximately the time taken by the question, since this time will be counted in the time originally allotted to the member.
Though members may speak more than once, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all members wishing to speak are heard before inviting members to speak again, while respecting the proportional party rotations for speakers.
Members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.
As your Chair, I shall be guided by the rules of the committee of the whole. However, in the interest of a full exchange, I am prepared to exercise discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules. The Chair will expect all hon. members to focus on the subject matter of the debate, the main estimates of the Department of National Defence.
I also wish to indicate that in committee of the whole, ministers and members should be referred to by their title or riding name and all remarks should, as usual, be addressed through the Chair.
I ask for everyone's co-operation in upholding the established standards to parliamentary language and behaviour.
At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise, the estimates under National Defence will be deemed reported and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.
We will now begin tonight's session of the House in committee of the whole pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the first appointed day, consideration in the committee of the whole of all votes under National Defence in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.
For the first comment, or statement, the hon. member for St. John's East.