These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Transfer of Duties

Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday there was a question of privilege from the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville. I responded at the time indicating that I would like to have the opportunity to respond further after doing some more research, which I have now done.

The member asked how it was possible to transfer ministerial responsibility for the firearms centre from the Minister of Justice to the Solicitor General when the firearms legislation passed by Parliament specified that the Minister of Justice was the responsible minister.

The member quoted from research prepared by the Library of Parliament that the authority to make this transfer was provided under the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act. The government had the authority to make this transfer because Parliament, as I said yesterday, has provided the authority in that act.

The act provides a mechanism for the efficient reorganization of government and it has been used in the following recent cases. It has been used in the creation of new departments and related changes in ministerial responsibility in 1993, which included the Departments of Human Resources Development, Canadian Heritage, Industry, and Public Works and Government Services. All those departments were included. Another example is the transfer of responsibility for the Pest Control Products Act from the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to the Minister of Health in 2000. Transfer of responsibilities to the Minister of Transport from the Minister of Public Works for the Royal Canadian Mint in 2002 is the third case.

In each of these cases, the minister actually responsible for the organization is not the same minister found in the statutes. As the Library of parliament's research indicates, and as a reading of statutes confirms, this is not a matter of privilege. It is a request for a legal opinion by the Speaker, which of course is quite another issue.

The Deputy Speaker: I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his intervention. Of course, the matter of the question is already under advisement and the Speaker will be ruling on the matter very shortly.