Newfoundland National Convention, 16 January 1948, Debates on Confederation with Canada


January 16, 1948

Mr. Smallwood I beg to move notice of motion to move the following amendment to the motion of Mr. Higgins, namely that the following words be added: "Provided that under this system the United Kingdom government would, by means of grants-in-aid or otherwise if the need arose, guarantee the solvency of the public finances of Newfoundland without any lowering of the level of the country's public services." It would then read:
Be it resolved that this Convention recommend to the United Kingdom Government that the wishes of the people of Newfoundland should be ascertained at the earliest moment as to whether it is their desire that responsible government, as it existed in Newfoundland prior to its suspension in 1934, be restored; or that the present form of government be continued, provided that under this system the United Kingdom government would, by means of grants-in- aid or otherwise if the need arose, guarantee the solvency of the public finances of New foundland without any lowering of the level of the country's public services.
Mr. Higgins I would like to say that it is rather out of order. It is an amendment to a motion I have not made or might not even make. The proper time to move the amendment is when the motion is made.
Mr. Smallwood I think it is perfectly well precedented in parliamentary practice when motions appear on the order paper, for other members to give notice of amendment.
Mr. Chairman I would not accept an amendment without notice.
Mr. Higgins Should it not be after the motion is made? The motion may be withdrawn.
Mr. Chairman If the motion is withdrawn, obviously there will not be an amendment to a motion not made.
Mr. Higgins I move on behalf of Mr. Hollett order no. 1 on the order paper.
Mr. Chairman It is moved that I should receive and put the closure motion. Members will recall that on last Friday I received notice of this motion 1230 NATIONAL CONVENTION January 1948 formally by Mr. Hollett. On Wednesday I deferred it for 48 hours. It can hardly be alleged that the thing was railroaded through and that every member was not given sufficient opportunity to speak to the business then before the Chair. As I intimated on Wednesday and again yesterday afternoon, I think I have exercised my discretion to the utmost limits. I feel now that the time has come when the fate of this motion must become the responsibility of the House. Before I put the motion, I want to make it clear that it is not debatable, not amendable. The House therefore must accept or reject the motion as is. The motion before the Chair is "that the debate on the proposals received on November 6 from the Rt. Hon. The Prime Minister of Canada shall not be further adjourned."
[The motion carried]
Mr. Higgins Before going on to the next order on the order paper, I would like to make a suggestion to you and to the House. It appears fairly definite now that we are going to try and conclude our business before the end of this month. That would give us very little more than ten clear days between now and the end of our sessions. We have given no thought or no definite expressed thought to the idea of how we are going to conclude the business of the house — how we are going to finally wind up the Convention, what procedure we should take, whether it should be by formal report drafted by a committee of the House or some other such procedure, or just in what form the final wind-up should be made. For that reason I feel that before we go on to another matter, because of the shortness of time, it would be advisable in the interests of members and the business of the House, if instead of discussing the next motion we decided to go into a private meeting immediately after we adjourn, if members are agreeable to adjourn, to discuss the whole matter. With that idea in mind and with the consent of the whole House, I now move that we adjourn until Monday or Tuesday and immediately following the finalisation of the orders of the day, we should have that private session. I move that, and feel that not only will we be expediting our business but will certainly be doing something of great value.
Mr. Chairman I think the point is very well taken. As members will recall, section 3 lays upon this Convention the duty of making recommendations. Further than that, standing order 39 requires members to make a report to the Secretary of State for Dominions Affairs on the forms of government which, in the opinion of the Convention, would be inserted in the referendum presumably to take place next spring. The matter has given me considerable concern; and while I have some ideas about it, I would like to put them before members and have an exchange of ideas. We have to decide future procedure particularly in view of the fact that time is running out. The sooner we get at it, the sooner we will know where everybody is. The House must decide what is going to happen. I associate myself unqualifiedly with the view expressed by Mr. Higgins. I do not know how other members feel about it.
Mr. Hickman I would like to say that for four days and four nights most of the members have spoken and I doubt if very many are ready to continue the debate on this motion. The next two days would give them a good opportunity to prepare to go on. I have much pleasure in seconding the motion to adjourn, and say 15 minutes later to have a private session.
Mr. Chairman It will be a double-barrelled motion. Would the House please consider whether or not a motion to adjourn is put and carried, whether we should adjourn to Monday or Tuesday.
Mr. Smallwood As we have merely ten days left — I am agreeable to having a private session this afternoon — I think we should adjourn until Monday, not Tuesday.
Mr. Hickman I agree with that.
[The Convention adjourned until January 19]


Newfoundland. The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948 Vol 1: Debates. Edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington Montreal: Memorial University of Newfoundland by McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995).



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