It is not the government that pays that money. The government could not pay it, it could- not draw the money out of the public treasury without the authority of this House. The whole House votes it. The highest official in this land gets his salary just the same way. I presume our constitution is not shaken by the fact that the man who stands above the government is paid in the same manner. However, that was one of the questions before us. There was also the question of the indemnity to the members, and the proposition that it should be increased met I think with general approval. The result of it was that a conference took place between some members on the government side, and some members on this side. I presume that conference was arranged as such meetings on matters of public moment are usually arranged for. I know I was one of those who attended. That meeting also was as public as anything could be that is not published in the press. There were some eight, ten or twelve members present from both sides, and they sat in the room and discussed this whole question, and talked over what was reasonable, and what was right and proper. The result was that
I think every gentleman present was of the opinion that the indemnity which had been paid to the leader of the government up to that date was insufficient. There was no difference of opinion as to that. The same view was taken in regard to the indemnity to the leader of the opposition. I do not think there was any dispute or difference of opinion as to that. Well, now, all I can say further with regard to that matter is this: That I was there simply as a member of this House, as I have been on other occasions when conferences took place in regard to important subjects that can best be thrashed out in that way. There was no seciecy about it; no negotiations, nothing 0f was discussed just as it
would have been discussed if every member ot both parties was there. All I had especially to do in connection with that committee, or whatever you might call it, was that I was requested to act with Hon. Mr. Brodeur, Minister of Marine and Fisheries in revising some of the clauses of the old Act. It will be in the recollection of this House that there had been something like a scandal throughout the country, and in the House with regard to the payment of indemnity to members. It was alleged on apparently most excellent grounds that one or more members; certainly one _ was notorious for getting from the public treasury payments rather tor .ns absence than for his presence. I assert that. And the chief object of the mission which the_minister and I undertook was, in the public interest, and for the protection of the public chest, to try and improve the checks upon such payments. Prior to that tiriie the member who claimed his indemnity made an affidavit at the end of the session-whether it lasted four or five or six months-in which he stated by a solemn declaration-the statute declaring it to be in law a declaration upon oath-that he had been present or absent so many days. Well, we thought, at all events I thought, that it was perhaps^ taxing the memory of the member of parliament too severely to ask him to make out that declaration after six months, and to say how many days during the previous six months he had been present in the House or absent from it. It occurred to us that it would be fair to the individual who had to commit himself to this statement upon oath that he should do it once a month when his memory was fresh, and when there would be no danger of his misrepresenting his presence or his absence. Sc. we made that important distinction as to the new affidavit as against the former one, and I think on the whole the change has had pretty good results. We changed the Act so that the affidavit is made at the end of each month, so that a man who had been Mr. BARKER.
present say five days, and absent fifteen days out of twenty days sittings of the House would not be likely to make a mistake, and declare that he was present every day. I think we acted wisely in that. That was the whole work I had1 to do in connection with the business. I had no negotiations with anybody about indemnities or anything else; I was simply asked to join the Minister of Marine in improving that clause of the old Act. I do not know whether the fact that I took part in that has had anything to do with this item in the Toronto ' World ' ; certainly I have from beginning to end had no connection with the matter that should arouse the ire of the hon. member of whom I have been speaking except that one thing. There were two changes made: One I have mentioned, by the other we cut out the old practice, a very pernicious one, of a gentleman showing his face at a committee room door, and then going away, and being able to make his affidavit that he had attended, because under tht old Act you were allowed to count attendance upon a committee as attendance upon the House. We struck that out, and so attendance at a committee does not count under the present Act. We brought it down to as nearly as possible what the people of the country expected to pay when they are paying a man for his services in this House. I do not know that I can recall one circumstance that would give the slightest excuse to that paper or to the man who inspired that item for dragging in the name of the Hon. Sir Charles Fitzpatrick. I think that is an outrage. The only time I addressed a word to * Sir Charles Fitzpatrick during the whole of that matter was when the Bill was in committee. Sir Charles Fitzpatrick was watching the Bill through committee of the Whole House as Minister of Justice, and once or twice, as I had had a hand in drafting the clause, he called to me, and I went over to see that some proper verbal corrections were made. That is the one and only instance in which Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, and I addressed each other on the subject matter of thet Bill. Therefore I have asked the privilege of making this statement quite as much, indeed far more on his behalf in his absence, than I do on my own. I repeat that the statement in this newspaper is an absolute falsehood.