Mr. Speaker
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 25 Oct 1956, p. 34-50


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Beaudoin, The Hon. L. Rene, Speaker
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Text
Item Type:
Speeches
Description:
The history of the Speakership in England from its medieval beginning to the present modern age, following the evolution of the English Parliament itself. The Speaker in England today. Differences between the Speaker's position in England, and in Canada. Instances when a Speaker has taken part in a debate. Guaranteeing the impartiality of the Speaker. Rules and regulations governing the behaviour of the Speaker. The various functions of the Speaker.
Date of Original:
25 Oct 1956
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Language of Item:
English
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Full Text
"MR. SPEAKER"
An Address by THE HON. L. RENE BEAUDOIN, B.A., LL.B., Q.C., M.P. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Ottawa
Thursday, October 25th, 1956
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. Donald H. Jupp, O.B.E.

MR. JUPP: Honorable Senators, Distinguished Guests and Members of the Empire Club,

Our speaker today was introduced to the members of the Empire Club last year on his first visit as our guest speaker, so that I will only recapitulate briefly that L. Rene Beaudoin was born in Montreal in 1912, was educated at the University of Montreal and having been called to the Bar was made Queen's Counsel in August 1952. He has been successful in three Federal elections and has represented Voudreuil-Soulanges in the House of Commons without interruption since 1945. His scholarly enthusiasm for parliamentary procedure has been well known for years, but it is well to emphasize that it is backed up by extensive practical experience in the intricacies of the House. He was a member of all the special committees of the House from 1945 to 1949, when he became Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole: in 1952 Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees of the Whole. Meanwhile Mr. Beaudoin was a delegate to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences in Australia and New Zealand in 1950, Ceylon in 1952 and London in 1953. It is not surprising that on November 12, 1953, Mr. Beaudoin was elected Speaker of the House of Commons to plaudits all around him.

Apart from the fact that this high office dates back to 1377, we can judge its importance from the degree of precedence accorded to the Speaker of the House at Westminster - first commoner until 1919, the Speaker now ranks after the Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council, but before all peers of the realm, except the two archbishops.

In considering the exalted place of the Speaker in the life of the nation, we find that he is expected to be like a sturdy oak towering above the ordinary run of men.

The French poet LaFontaine has told us of the dangers faced by the lofty tree in the charming story of Le Chene et le Roseau. Says le roseau:

"Les vents me sont moins qu'a vous redoubtables; Je plie et ne romps pas. Vous avez jusqu' ici Contre leur coups epouvantables

Resiste sans courber le dos;

Mais attendons la fin, Comme il disait ces mots Du bout de l'horizon accourt avec furie

Le plus terrible des enfants

Que le nord eut portes jusque-la dans ses flancs. L'arbre tient bon; le roseau plie,

Le vent redouble ses efforts, Et fait si bien qu'il deracine Celui de qui la tete au ciel etait voisine . . ."

We require that the speaker shall play the part of the tree, but all men of goodwill must ponder its fate. The Speaker is a symbol of our heritage of freedom and the storms of controversy cannot be allowed to supplant the sturdy chene with the pliant roseau, seemingly constructed especially for its own preservation. Our speaker today is a tree in the great tradition.

Mr. L. Rene Beaudoin, B.A., LL.B., Q.C., M.P. is the undoubted authority on the role of the Speaker throughout history and on into the present day, and I have great pleasure in calling upon him to address the Empire Club on his chosen subject, "Mr. Speaker".

THE HON. L. RENE BEAUDOIN: May I express to you, sir, and to the Officers and Members of your Club, my gratitude for the great honour you have conferred on me by inviting me to address you again.

When I spoke to you a year ago I found the audience most sympathetic and most interested in all matters pertaining to our parliamentary institutions. The warmth of your welcome today indicates to me that your disposition in that regard has not only been maintained, but even improved.

Through your Year Book, made available to thousands of Canadians, the information collected at this rostrum receives a very wide circulation indeed.

Having in mind the worthy purposes of your Club and the importance of the station from which I speak, I do hope that my modest contribution will be helpful.

Mr. Speaker: Few other titles embrace so much historical significance. Although there were officers presiding over the Parliaments held between 1295 and 1376, it is generally agreed that the first member to be called "Mr. Speaker" was Sir Thomas Hungerford, appointed in January, 1376.

In order to trace the history of the Speakership in England from its medieval beginning to the present modern age, one must follow the evolution of the English Parliament itself. Elbert, in his work entitled: "Parliament", divides the history of the English Parliament into four great periods:

First: "The period of the medieval Parliaments of which the Parliament of 1295 became the Model and Type";

Second: "The period of the Tudors and Stuarts, having for its central portion the time of conflict between King and Parliament, between prerogative and privilege;

Third: "The period between the Revolution of 1688" (the date which reminds us of the advent of Cabinet or Parliamentary Government) "and the Reform Act of 1832";

Fourth: "The modern period which began in 1832".

To simplify our study of the Speakership, however, let us establish two main headings:

(1) The emancipation of the Speakership from the Crown which gradually took place in the first two periods mentioned by Illbert.

(2) The emancipation of the Speakership from party politics which took place in the last two periods mentioned by Illbert.

The Speaker in England today enjoys as Presiding Officer prestige and authority which are without parallel anywhere else in the world. This authority and prestige are anchored on impartiality. His impartiality has been secured and guaranteed, not by statutes, but by a certain set of principles, conditions and arrangements developed over six centuries. Notwithstanding the fact that he is always selected for his high moral, intellectual and humanitarian virtues, he has been protected as fully as the British genius could devise, both against himself and others to the extent that the temptation on his part to be partial and the inclination of others, both in the House and outside the House, to doubt his impartiality, have practically been eliminated.

Before 1688, i.e., before Parliamentary Government, the Commons had been engaged in a struggle against the Crown in order to establish its autonomy. The Speaker who was the Spokesman for the Commons was under the influence of the Crown. His choice at the time of his appointment was dictated by the Crown, and he often held a Crown appointment. As a matter of fact, it was considered proper that the Speaker should hold a profitable appointment under the Crown. For instance, Speaker Cook was Solicitor General; Speaker Seymour was Treasurer of the Navy; Speaker Harley was Secretary of State, and Speaker Compton was Paymaster General. Thus, dependent upon the Crown, Speakers often informed the Sovereign about certain proposed measures contemplated by the Commons and, in some cases, were instrumental in blocking the passage of Bills. Serving two masters, the Crown and the Commons, was a difficult task indeed. You will recall, the predicament in which Mr. Speaker Finch found himself one day, when Charles I had directed him to instruct the House to adjourn. The Commoners, led by Sir John Eliot, refused to comply and when the Speaker was about to leave the Chair he was kept there by physical force. Speaker Finch said: "What would any of you do if you were in my place? Let not my desire to serve you faithfully be my ruin. I am not less the King's servant for being yours. I will not say 'I will not put the reading of the paper to the Question', but I must say I dare not!"

In those days the approval by the Crown of the choice of a Speaker of the Commons was not a mere formality as it is today. It was not until 1695 that a Speaker, Paul Foley, was elected freely by the Commons and accepted by the Crown. Although 32 years after Speaker Foley's election had passed Walpole still contended that "the way to the Speaker's Chair lay through the gate of St. James Palace". From that time on, however, no Speaker has ever been refused. The right of free election having been asserted, there remained the elimination of Crown appointments. When Speaker Onslow was elected in 1727 he resigned the Crown appointment which he held and the Commons adopted an act forbidding acceptance by Speakers of any office of profit under the Crown. Tie Speaker may be a member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, which is not an office of profit, but gives him the title of "Right Honourable".

The liberation of the Speakership from party politics took place mainly from 1727 to 1852. It started with Speaker Onslow who served the House for 33 consecutive years. The consolidation of the Independence of the Chair from the Crown and the beginning of the emancipation of the Speaker from party politics is attributed to Onslow. Redlich says that "Shaw-Lefevre, who held office from 1839 to 1857 finished in the nineteenth century what Onslow had begun in the eighteenth century. He completed and permanently settled the doctrine of the Speaker's absolute impartiality. From the middle of the nineteenth century therefore, the Speaker has been independent of the Crown".

(Redlich, Vol. 2, pages 166-167).

In analysing the development of the Speakership from the beginning of Speaker Onslow's term in 1727 to the end of Shaw-Lefevre's term in 1857, there is one fact that must be noted by us Canadians, a fact which I believe facilitated the process of the Speaker's independence in England. Whereas, in Canada no member has been elected for more than one term as Speaker, except Mr. Speaker Lemieux, the re-election of the same person for several terms was not uncommon practice in England even in the seventeenth century. Although not for consecutive terms, Speaker Lenthall was elected Speaker five times, Speaker Trevor was elected twice, Speaker Seymour was elected three times, two of his terms being consecutive. Speakers Crew, Williams and Foley were also elected for two consecutive terms and in the eighteenth century, before Onslow, Speaker Harley had been elected for three consecutive terms, Speaker Compton for two consecutive terms. So, when Speaker Onslow began his long and fruitful tenure of office, being elected for five consecutive terms, from 1727 to 1761, it was almost the established practice to keep the same member in office for several consecutive terms.

It is interesting to note the pattern of continuity which has been maintained since Onslow.

Speaker Arthur Onslow was Speaker 33 years, elected 5 times;

Speaker Cust, elected twice, served 9 years; Speaker Norton, elected twice, served 10 years; Speaker Cornwall, elected twice, served 9 years; Speaker Grenville, served one term only;

Speaker Addington, elected four times, served 12 years; Speaker Mitford served one short term;

Speaker Abbott, elected 5 times, served 15 years; Speaker Manners-Sutton, elected 7 times, served 17 years;

Speaker Abercromby, elected twice, served 4 years; Speaker Shaw-Lefevre, elected 4 times, served 18 years. In the modern period from Speaker Shaw-Lefevre to the present Speaker Mr. Morrison, Mr. Speaker Denison succeeded Mr. Speaker Shaw-Lefevre. He was elected 4 times and served from 1857 to 1872. He was succeeded by Mr. Speaker Brand, who is well remembered for what was termed a coup d'etat at the time of the endeavours of the Irish Nationalists to obtain Home Rule, was elected 3 times and served 10 consecutive years. Mr. Speaker Peel, who was the first bearded Speaker of the House, and a brother of Prime Minister Peel, was elected 4 times and served 10 consecutive years. Mr. Speaker Gully was elected 3 times and served for 10 years. Mr. Speaker Lowther was Speaker from 1905 to 1921 and it was he who, as Chairman of the U.K. Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, presented to our own House of Commons the magnificent gift of the Speaker's Chair. Mr. Speaker Whitley against whom a motion of censure was moved and defeated in 1925, served from 1921 to 1928; Mr. Speaker Fitzroy, one of the only 2 or 3 English Speakers who died in office, from 1928 to 1943; Mr. Speaker Brown from 1943 to 1951 and Mr. Speaker Morrison, the present Speaker, who has been in office since 1951.

From Speaker Onslow to Speaker Morrison 229 years have elapsed. In those 229 years there have been twenty Speakers. I am the twenty-third Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons in the 89 years since Confederation.

I believe that the Canadian Commons is the only House in the Commonwealth where the prevailing tradition is the opposite of the English practice of continuous service. In England "once a Speaker, always a Speaker". In Canada, a member is Speaker for one term and no more. It has always been the recognized rule that at the time of his first election the Speaker in England emanates from the party in power, but once he is elected he may remain in office as long as he himself feels capable of performing his duties. Furthermore, once he retires from the Speakership he cannot reappear in the House either as a private member or as a member of the Government. In 1804, Mr. Addington, who had been Speaker and Prime Minister reappeared in the House as a private member but soon felt that he should resign and asked to be transferred to the Upper House.

As you know, the situation is quite different here. I shall not go back to Confederation, but let us consider a few examples. The Hon. Charles Marcil, who was Speaker from 1909 to 1911, occupied a seat in the House as a private member from 1911 to his death on Jan. 29, 1937. Hon. Edgar Rhodes, who was Speaker from 1917 to 1921 was later for a time Minister of Finance. Hon. George Black who was Speaker from 1930 to 1935, reappeared in the House as a private member in 1945. Hon. P. F. Casgrain, who was Speaker from 1936 to 1940 became Secretary of State. Hon. James Glen, Speaker from 1940 to 1945 came back to the House as Minister of Immigration and Natural Resources. Hon. Gaspard Fautaux, Speaker from 1945 to 1949 was a private member of the House when he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the province of Quebec on October 1st, 1950.

In England, ever since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Speaker ceases to belong to any political party from the moment of his election. As long as he respects that condition he is assured of re-election no matter what party comes to power.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century to this day all Speakers have been regularly re-elected irrespective of the party in office with the exception of one: Mr. Speaker Manners-Sutton.

Mr. Speaker Manners-Sutton, who served from 1817 to 1834, had been first elected by the Conservative party. When the Whigs came to power, he was maintained in office for a while and at the next election, when the Whigs returned again, they elected one of their own party men, Mr. James Abercromby. The conduct of Mr. Speaker Manners-Sutton in office had been perfect but he continued to regard himself as a member of his party at the time of a general election and that behaviour on his part cost him his re-election as Speaker in 1834. Mr. Speaker Shaw Lefevre came from the Whig or Liberal Party but he was re-elected as Speaker in 1841 by the Conservatives. Mr. Speaker Brand was a Liberal originally, re-elected by the Conservatives in 1874. The same treatment obtained for Mr. Speaker Peel, Liberal, who was re-elected by the Conservatives in 1886, and Mr. Speaker Gully, a Liberal, was also re-elected by the Conservative Unionist Party in 1895. Mr. Speaker Brown who had been elected by the Nationalist Party in 1943 was kept in office by the Labour party from 1945 to 1951 at which time he retired and Mr. Speaker Morrison was elected by the Conservatives in 1951.

Since the Speaker ceases to belong to any political party and yet must preserve a seat in Parliament, he does not seek a renewal of mandate as a Member of any political party. The formula is to label him as the Speaker seeking re-election. It is guaranteed that he will have no opposition from any of the parties at election time. There were some very few deviations from this arrangement.

Mr. Speaker Gully was opposed at the election of 1895 by the Tory party in his constituency, but he was re-elected as a Member and the Conservative Unionist Party which formed the Government re-elected him as Speaker.

If my memory serves me right, I think that in the general election of 1954 in England an independent tried his luck against Mr. Speaker Morrison in his constituency but was miserably defeated.

In Canada, the Speaker who ceases to belong to any political party while in office and must abstain from any political activity during his term of office, re-enters the party at the time of the dissolution of the Parliament for which he served and it is customary for all parties to treat him as any other candidate.

In England, the Speaker must refrain from any political activity or expressing any political views within the House or outside the House, even in his own constituency. In the House, he cannot speak except from the Throne and on matters relating to the performance of his duties. Redlich says that until Onslow, in 1727, Speakers have been accustomed, though with diminishing frequency, to address the House by leave while it was engaged in debate. For instance, in 1813, Mr. Speaker Abbott spoke strongly against the Bill introduced by Grattan for relief of Catholics. In 1821, and 1825, his successor, Speaker Manners-Sutton spoke against the repeal of Catholic disabilities. In 1834, the same Speaker spoke against the bill for admitting dissenters to Universities. In 1856, Speaker Shaw Lefevre spoke on the management of British museums.

Since that date, there has been only one instance of a Speaker's participation in a committee debate, namely, on the 9th of June, 1870, when Speaker Denison spoke against an unimportant, but as he considered, unjust item of proposed taxation.

In Canada, Speakers did participate in Committee debates on matters of non-controversial character. Citation 426 of Beauchesne's 3rd Edition states that "although the Speaker is restrained by usage while he is in the Chair in the exercise of his independent judgment, he is entitled in a Committee of the Whole House to speak and vote like any other member. In late years, however, he has generally abstained from the exercise of this right".

This citation it taken from May's Parliament Practice, 13th Edition, which was published in 1924.

The latest instance that I find in which a Speaker has taken part in a debate occurred in 1927, on April 7th, when the House was considering in Committee of the Whole an Act to amend the Post Office Act. Mr. Speaker Lemieux, as will be found at pages 2034 and 2035 of Hansard, Vol. II, 1926-27, rose and said: "This is not a party question and I may therefore venture to remind the committee that at one time I was Postmaster General, and consequently am very much interested in the whole subject". And he carried on for a few minutes. Mr. Irvine, and Mr. Adshead spoke after Mr. Speaker Lemieux. Then Mr. Guthrie took the floor and said as reported in Hansard at page 2036 of the same year: "I rise to call the attention of the Committee to an incident which has just occurred and which I think should be noted. The presiding officer of this House has seen fit to address a few remarks to this Committee and I think we should take note of the innovation. I do not know that I draw attention to the fact by way of protest at all, because the remarks made by His Honour were very useful to the discussion and very elevating in their tendency, but the question is whether the Speaker of this House has the right to discuss any matters before the House. If His Honour has that right in this case, I do not see why he should not have the right to discuss any matter which comes before Parliament. I noticed in his remarks that he expressed the desire to facilitate the efforts of the Postmaster General. No doubt that is a very laudable desire, but there are members of this House who do not think this measure is proper, and I doubt if it is within the right of the Speaker to express an opinion upon any matter before the House. His Honour the Speaker on more than one occasion has laid down the doctrine pronounced by a celebrated Speaker in England in these words:

May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak, in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here

I think we should note the innovation, and I do not say this by way of protest against anything His Honour said, because no one has a higher respect for the Speaker of this House than I have. While a Deputy Speaker is allowed to take part in debates in the House in non-controversial matters, I have never in my experience heard a Speaker of the House take part in any proceeding except when the estimates of the House of Commons were before the committee. I think we should take note of this proceeding, because in the future it may become a precedent and I think the Speaker in his own interest should be prevented from taking part in the debates of this House. The rule says he shall not take part in the debates of this House, but whether or not that applies to committee I am not going to say at the moment."

Mr. Marcil defended Mr. Lemieux in the following terms: "Having been at one time Speaker of this House I am somewhat familiar with the practice as to the restrictions upon the occupant of the Chair. We are all at one on the point involved that the Speaker should never take part in any debate in the House except for the purpose of explaining his own estimates. That is a well known rule of Parliament. But I know that the House is disposed this morning to overlook the course pursued by His Honour in view of the motives which animated him. Mr. Speaker spoke for the youth of the country on high moral grounds, and to further the development of that sound Canadian sentiment which we are all striving to see realized in this golden jubilee year of the Dominion. I am sure that the leader of the opposition as he himself has said, has no intention of blaming the Speaker, and I quite agree with him that it would be out of place for His Honour to take part in our discussions having reference to matters of ordinary, everyday occurrence. In the present case, however, His Honour spoke from his experience as Postmaster General, and with the laudable purpose of promoting the circulation in Canada of a larger number of British periodicals. Because, after all, we are part and parcel of the British Empire.

Mr. Speaker Lemieux justified his intervention in debate. "I am in agreement", he said, "with the contention that the Speaker should take no part in the ordinary debates of the House. But this morning we are in committee, and the committee is discussing an important matter, and it was on purely moral grounds that I raised my voice against the sale of pornographic literature or newspapers on the streets of, our cities. But what is really the law on the subject? The hon. gentleman has quoted from Beauchesne." Mr. Speaker Lemieux quoted himself from Beauchesne and May. He concluded: "I repeat that I quite agree with the principle laid down by the hon. gentleman and by all authorities that the Speaker from the Chair must not take part in the debate; that he must not vote unless there is a tie; but in committee he has a right to speak and to vote. I never speak unless on an exceptional occasion like this morning, on a non-party matter, on a purely moral issue, and I would not even vote. I quote these precedents to show the Leader of the Opposition that this morning, the 7th day of April, 1927, no revolution took place in the Canadian House." However, so far a$ I can ascertain, no Speaker has ever taken part in any debate in Committee of the Whole since that time.

The Speaker in England cannot express any political views outside the house, even in his own constituency. He is deprived, therefore, of his rights as a member and his constituents are deprived of the services of their member. Redlich, with a quotation from May, gives a comprehensive account of this situation.

"The complete aloofness from politics imposed upon the Speaker received its full extension during the nineteenth century, when it came to be considered that he must keep himself free from all political action outside as well as inside the House, even in his own constituency. He is thus the only member of the House of Commons who is not allowed, either in speech or writing, to advocate the interests of his constituents. The position in which his constituency is placed is accurately described in England as one of practical disfranchisement. The latest historian of the House gives a capital description of the situation in the following terms:-'The Speaker's constituents not only do not go to the poll; they cannot, according to present-day usages, call on their representative to vote either for or against any measure which may be before Parliament. As the Speaker never meets his constituents to discuss politics, one of the chief means of present-day political education is lost to them. Political organization is suspended in a Speaker's constituency; for a present-day Speaker has no need of any local party organization to secure his return, even if he deemed it proper to contribute to party funds. The newspapers in the constituency have necessarily to refrain from criticism or comment on the parliamentary conduct of its representative; and in nearly all the essentials which go to make representation. the constituency is unrepresented. In the constituency represented by the Speaker of today, political life is dormant; for all its outward activities, as they concern both political education and local political organization, are suspended. But no constituency complains or frets under its temporary and peculiar political difficulties. It is honoured in the honour done by the House of Commons and the country to its representative."

In Canada Speakers have refrained from taking part in any political activity outside the House, even in their own constituencies. Ever since I was appointed Deputy Chairman of Committees, and Deputy Speaker and Speaker, from 1949 to the present, I have abstained from attending any political meetings except during the General Election which took place in 1953. Prior to 1949 I used to call a meeting at least once a year of all my organizers, in order to review with them the political situation, both domestic and external. No such meeting has been held in my constituency since 1949. It is difficult for my constituents to realize that as Presiding Officer I must abstain from exercising some of the activities in which a member usually engages. While I remain idle politically, prospective opponents do not necessarily have to follow my example.

The impartiality of the Speaker is also guaranteed by the rules of the House. Not only can he not participate in debate, but he cannot vote, except to decide a tie. Even then he will vote in accordance with the principles laid down by Mr. Speaker Addington, i.e., in such a way as to give the House itself another opportunity to decide. There has been a rule since the eighteenth century in England that the Speaker cannot address the House except from the Chair and on matters within his sphere of action only. I cannot find any indication that the Speaker of the House of Commons in England has to pilot the estimates of expenditures under his own administration. In Canada once a year the Speaker may be asked to review his administration and explain the purposes of the sums proposed to be spent as laid down in the estimates for the next fiscal year. In debating his estimates he may be called to order by the Chairman of Committees, because at that moment he is under the jurisdiction of the Chair just like any other member of the House. In the United Kingdom the Speaker has the services of a counsel on parliamentary law, besides the assistance which he can always obtain from the experienced Clerks-three in number.

Under the rules members are required to give notice of most of their intended motions and amendments. A question of privilege cannot be raised in the House, unless the Speaker has been consulted. A question without notice cannot be put in the House before the Orders of the Day are called, unless the Speaker has been informed of the text of the question and allowed it to be put on the ground of urgency.

In the material sense the Speaker is provided with a salary, and his family resides in Westminster Palace. He has an allowance for stationery and equipment and upon retirement it is customary for the House to ask Her Majesty to make him the object of Her Royal Favours. He may, therefore, expect a peerage and a seat in the House of Lords. By statute, he is entitled to a life pension.

A word also about the "usual channels" which, I believe, provide a great deal of assistance to the Speaker in the arrangement of the Business of the House. Meetings of the various Party Whips and the Speaker take place quite regularly in order to get agreement on the means of dealing with the items on the agenda. In the Journal of the Hansard Society, Vol. l, 1947 Major, the Right Hon. James Milner, who was Deputy Speaker, defined the "usual channels".

"There is another matter you often read about. You hear the Leader of the House (now Mr. Morrison, the Lord President) says that such and such a matter can be arranged through the `usual channels'. The 'usual channels' are the respective Whips' offices. Conservative, Labour, Liberal and National Liberal have their own Whips' offices and party officials, and when a matter has to be arranged through the 'usual channels' they get their heads together and try to arrange the matter in dispute. If, for example, the Opposition wants a little more time for a bill, the Opposition Whips will talk to the Government Whips, and try to persuade them to give a little more time. The Government Whips will probably say, 'We will give you more time on that subject if you will take less on something else'. This is one of the things we do extremely well in this country, making a fair compromise which enables business to be got through in a reasonable way. In foreign countries, and occasionally in this country, it is difficult. In the Parliament that sat from 1906 to 1910 it was very difficult. That was a time when, I am told, Liberals and Conservatives would not sit down at the same tables in the House."

In Canada there are occasional consultations about the Business of the House among the representatives of the various parties, but the "usual channels" as an institution similar to that which exists in the United Kingdom has not yet come into being.

Last year I touched on the various functions of the Speaker. He is the Spokesman of the House, the Administrator and the Presiding Officer.

As Spokesman he claims the ancient rights and privileges of the Commons once at the beginning of every Parliament. Every session he himself presents the Supply Bill or Bills to His Excellency the Governor General or his Deputy for Royal Assent. His duties as Spokesman are very limited compared with what they were in medieval times, but since the last world war, the number of embassies have increased in the capital city and many distinguished visitors honour us with their presence. Social functions in which he participates. as host or guest constitute part of his agenda. From time to time when heads of foreign states address the members of both houses in our Parliament Buildings, the Speaker has the pleasant duty of welcoming these visitors. To mention a few of these distinguished foreign visitors, whom it has been my pleasure to meet since the beginning of my term of office: The Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, the President of the United States, Mr. Eisenhower; the Right Hon. Sir Winston Churchill before he retired from the Prime Ministership; Mr. Magloire, President of Haiti; the President of Italy, Mr. Gronchi; The Right Hon. Mr. Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia; the Vice-President of Chile; The Prime Minister of New Zealand, The Right Hon. Mr. Holland; the President of Indonesia, Mr. Sukarno; the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan; and His Royal Highness, the Heir to the Throne of Laos in Indo-China.

As Administrator, the Speaker, with the assistance of the Clerk and the Sergeant-at-Arms, supervises a staff of approximately 350 employees which increases to approximately 650 during the session. This staff provides services required by the membership of the House, such as Hansard reporting, Journals, secretarial services, messengers, and the protective force. The members of the protective force, among other duties, serve as guides to the thousands of tourists who visit our buildings. With the assistance of a committee, composed of members of both Houses, the Speaker supervises the administration of a Restaurant, Cafeteria and a Parliamentary Library. He is also the Chairman of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

His main task, however, is that of Presiding Officer. I have endeavoured today to review with you how the impartiality of the Speakership, which is the law of its life, has been established over the years in the United Kingdom, and to draw your attention to some of the factual differences between the conditions surrounding Mr. Speaker in England and Mr. Speaker in Canada.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Controller F. Joseph Cornish, Q.C.

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Mr. Speaker


The history of the Speakership in England from its medieval beginning to the present modern age, following the evolution of the English Parliament itself. The Speaker in England today. Differences between the Speaker's position in England, and in Canada. Instances when a Speaker has taken part in a debate. Guaranteeing the impartiality of the Speaker. Rules and regulations governing the behaviour of the Speaker. The various functions of the Speaker.