I would like to open this session of committee of the whole by making a short statement on this evening's proceedings.
Tonight's debate is being held under Standing Order 81(4), 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. The debate is also held under the motion adopted by unanimous consent yesterday.
Tonight's debate is a general one on all the votes under Agriculture and Agri-Food. Each member will be allocated 15 minutes. The first round will begin with the official opposition, followed by the government, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party. After that, we will follow the usual proportional rotation.
As provided in the motion adopted yesterday, parties may use each 15 minute slot for speeches or questions and answers by one or more of their members. In the case of speeches, members of the party to which the period is allotted may speak one after the other. The Chair would appreciate it if the first member speaking in each slot would indicate how the time will be used, particularly if it is to be shared.
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 party.
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.
I would remind all hon. members that, according to yesterday's motion, during this evening's debate no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be entertained.
As your Chair, I shall be guided by the rules of the committee of the whole and by the motion adopted yesterday. However, in the interest of a full exchange, I am prepared to exercise discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules.
It is important that the traditions of the House in relation to decorum be respected and that members make their remarks and pose their questions in a judicious fashion. The Chair will expect all hon. members to focus on the subject matter of the debate, the main estimates of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
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 be addressed through the Chair. I ask for everyone's co-operation in upholding all established standards of decorum, parliamentary language and behaviour.
At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise, the estimates under Agriculture and Agri-Food will be deemed reported and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.
We may now begin tonight's session.
The House in committee of the whole pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the first appointed day, consideration in committee of the whole of all votes under Agriculture and Agri-Food in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.