Suppose a manufacturer is making a certain class of goods, and he says that his goods have been driven out of the markets by the hon. gentleman, who is a free trader, not giving him adequate protection. The hon. gentleman says he is aiding that manufacturer less by giving him a reduction of duty than by making the arti-Mr. INGRAM.
cle free. That would seem a very rational argument, but in appearance it is all wrong. The hon. gentleman must justify himself When he puts the article on the free list in the public interest. But according to his own theory, if he reduced the duty partially instead of giving him additional protection, how can he argue that he is doing it in the public interest ? This is giving such a power to the hon. minister that we might just as well relieve him of the necessity of coming down to the House and asking the House to fix the duties on any article which may be brought into this country.
I may be obtuse, but I cannot see the force of the hon. gentleman's argument. The procedure in both cases is precisely the same. You can only do this by Order in Council. I do not object to the contention that it means the Minister of Customs, because we pay great respect to his recommendations. It has to be done in the usual way, the minister has to make a report to council, council must pass judgment upon it and the decision must be published in the ' Canada Gazette.' That condition which exists now in respect to placing an article on the free list must continue to exist in respect to reducing the duty.
I am not quarrelling with the hon. gentleman as to who does it, or the form in which it is done. Our contention is not in respect to the way in which it is brought about. This is going a long way in the direction of giving the government power to legislate by Order in Council, to take certain articles from a fixed duty and place them on the free list. This additional power is going too far and is placing a weapon in the hands of the government that should never be wielded by any government I care not which party may be in power.
Mi-. HENDERSON. Now, the minister at all times requires to have a revenue. He hesitates about placing an article on the free list because he knows he is going to lose the revenue that would accrue from that article. That alone would restrict him very much in the exercise of this extraordinary po'wer which has been placed in the hands of the government for so many years. It is an extraordinary power and
perhaps in that we have made a mistake. It may be desirable to go back the other way, to undo something we have done, but in regard to the partial reduction of duties, the minister may say : I want
revenue ; here is an article on the list which pays 25 per cent. There is very little of that article coming into the country under a 25 per cent duty ; I will reduce it to 15 per cent to meet the views of this manufacturer and I will get a good deal more revenue out of a 15 per cent duty than. I will out of a 25 per cent duty. Hence, I fear that power, if it were for nothing more than the purpose of getting revenue, may be exercised a great deal more than the present power of putting an article on the free list. The government would have an incentive if they wanted revenue to make these reductions which perhaps would be altogether contrary to the wishes of parliament. There is a strong point in this and I think it is well that it should be thoroughly considered before we embody it in the law.
I agree that the subject is important and before the Bill to be introduced reaches its final stage, there is no reason why it should not be reconsidered. There is no disposition on the part of the government to exercise that power frequently and although the bon. gentleman describes this power as an extraordinary one I think he will find that not only by this government but by all governments it has been used very sparingly, and I am sure it will continue to be used very sparingly and only for good reasons.
Certainly, at this hour of the morning I have no intention of inviting further discussion on the preference tariff subject, but I do wish to make an appeal to the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Blain) regarding one of the gentlemen who was referred to, the author of one of the declarations that was presented to the House tonight. Mr. W. Trant, of Regina, is a reputable gentleman and has like all of us a reputation to uphold. The reference that was made by the hon. member for Peel to Mr. Trant was, to say the least a very disagreeable reference
No, it is not regular on a motion to adjourn to make any statement. A discussion can be brought up on a motion to adjourn when it is proposed by a private member during a sitting of the House, but when we come to the adjournment the only question which is open for discussion is as to whether the House shall adjourn or not.
Will the hon. Minister of Finance give us the order of business for to-morrow ?
The B1INISTER OF FINANCE. We will proceed in Supply with the remaining items of the estimates of the Department of Public Works, excepting one, which, by arrangement with the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), will be held over, and after that with those of the hon. Blin-ister of Justice or of the hon. Minister of Blilitia and Defence as may be found the more convenient-with those of the hon. Bfinister of Justice if he is able to be present, but if he is absent, with those of the hon. Minister of Militia and Defence.