Two versions of budget bill
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
House of Commons Debates
OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It appears that Bill C-38, astabled in the House, may not be the correct version.
MPs have been given at least two different versions of Bill C-38 in preparation for today's debate. One version has 421 numbered pages of legislative text, and that was the version that was given to opposition MPs in the opposition lobby immediately after the legislation was tabled in the House. Another version has 425 numbered pages of legislative text, and that is the version that has been distributed to MPs through Parliament's postal and distribution service and online through the Parliament of Canada website. It appears that either the opposition MPs were given the wrong copy of the bill when the bill was tabled in the House, or the wrong copy is being more widely distributed to MPs and the public in advance of today's debate.
Is there text that appears in one copy but is missing from the other? We do not know. We are relying on hard copies of legislation that are over 400 pages in length, so it is virtually impossible to verify the source of each discrepancy.
How can everyone follow the debate on Bill C-38 when what is on page 310 in one version is clearly nowhere to be found on page 310 in the other?
It is also not clear which version of the bill we should use to propose amendments or prepare for clause-by-clause at committee.
On page 728 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, it states:
"In the past, the Speaker has directed that the order for second reading of certain bills be discharged, when it was discovered that they were not in their final form and were therefore not ready to be introduced"
The fact is that MPs have been preparing for today's debate with two different versions of Bill C-38. Thatwill certainly impede our ability to properly debate the bill. We are told by the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the government has kept two different sets of books on F-35 costs, but it is a little much when the government presents two versions of its own budget implementation legislation.
If the government tabled one bill at first reading and then printed another version for members of Parliament, the debate cannot be allowed to continue at this time. I ask that this matter be clarified and corrected before the debate on Bill C-38 is allowed to proceed.
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