June 6, 1919

L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

If there is an improvident purchase will the minister be responsible for it?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Of course he must accept responsibility.

On section 13-Estimates.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

Is there any provision in this Act by which the purchases will be reported to the Auditor General and the Auditor General will have in his report an account of the various purchases made by Ill's commission, showing the departments from which these various requisitions came and the amounts paid for the supplies enumerated in them?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

The information that my hon. friend has asked for will certainly be furnished in the Auditor General's Report. There will be no change in that report.

On section 14-the supplies that may be purchased:

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Should there not be

added to this clause something to the effect

that no expenditure of money can be made by the commission unless authorized by Parliament?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

*Mr. ROWELL:

That is the practice as it stands at the present time and I think no amendment would be necessary, but I will consider the matter and when the Bill is in committee again we can mention it.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

The words "estimates" and "requisitions" are used as substantially synonymous terms. One would suppose that "included in the Estimates" would mean the regular Estimates where provision is made for furnishing the necessary moneys but the use of the word "requisitions" takes away that meaning.

Mr. [ROWELL: I would draw my hon. friend's attention to two sections which deal with requisitions and supplies respectively. He will see that section 12 provides for a written requisition. That contemplates a specific requisition for the actual supplies that may be required at any time. But the Government holds the opinion, upon the advice of the existing commission, that purchases may be made with great advantage if supplies, say for three months or for six months, are purchased instead of small supplies such as a department might requisition for a month or two, and also that it might be a great advantage to have the . supplies of certain given commodities for all the departments made at the same time. Therefore, section 13 requires that all of the departments shall send in an estimate of the supplies they will probably require for such period or periods of time as the regulation may prescribe. The regulations may require each.department to give an estimate of 'the supplies it will require for six months, or whatever period of time may be determined as being best from the point of securing the goods at the lowest price. If a department puts in an estimate then the commission may purchase on the basis of that estimate, or, if it puts in a specific requisition, the commission may purchase on the basis of that requisition. That is the reason -why these two words are used in this clause.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

In view of the explanation, I would most strenuously insist that provision he made that the expenditure should first be voted by Parliament. I quite understand that cases might arise where it would be obviously the duty of the commission to take the state of the market into consideration. For instance, I remember that when the new Parliament buildings were on the point of being commenced the parliamentary committee appointed to

supervise their erection decided to buy the steel framework of the building in advance because it was hinted to one of the members that the price of steel would go up by several points, as it did. Of course, there was a saving by that purchase. But that was a very extraordinary case that occurred during war time. In normal times the commission, I think-indeed, I am positive of it-should not go beyond the amount provided by Parliament for each of the departments. I think my hon. friend ought to make that clear in the Bill.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

My present view is that that is clearly the law. There is absolutely no power whereby the commission could depart, from it. However, I shall consider the matter and if it is not clear there is no objection to making it perfectly beyond question. The commission have no power, and the Auditor General would not permit them, to expend money not voted by Parliament. As my hon. friend knows, in certain emergencies public moneys may be expended under the Governor General's warrant, but only in special circumstances.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

The Bill should provide that each department should give an estimate of the amount of money that it will require. The Public Works Department, for instance, will require certain supplies, and it would simplify matters if the Minister of Public Works were obliged to have an item in his estimates providing for the quantity of supplies he was going to requisition, and that he should not exceed that quantity except for some special reason. It should be provided that the department would be limited to the amounts voted by Parliament. In that way the House would indirectly be in a position to ascertain the operations of the commission.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

That is exactly what the procedure will be. The minister will have to come and get his supplies voted just as at present, and everything will be open to review.

On section 16-purchases to be by tender:

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I move that this section be allowed to stand.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

Will the minister consider the advisability of adding something to this section?

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

There is a motion by the hon. member for Maisonneuve that the section be allowed to stand. The motion is not debatable. If it is withdrawn the

hon. member for Antigonish and Guysbor-ough (Mr. Sinclair) can discuss the section.

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L LIB
L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

The practice has become prevalent of dispensing with public advertisement in many cases. A department professes to know the number of people who deal in certain articles in some province or vicinity, and instead of calling for tenders by public advertisement they send a circular letter or notice to the dealers. If this can be done in a fair way the practice is satisfactory. But the difficulty is that certain names are omitted from the list in the department and complaints are frequently made, as they were in the case of the War Purchasing Commission, that certain people did not get these notices. It should be easy to provide that in cases of this kind merchants or dealers could send in their names and post office addresses and be entitled to the usual notice.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

I shall be glad to consider that point.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Now that the hon. member has raised his point I renew my motion and ask that the section be allowed to 6tand.

Section stands.

Progress reported.

On motion of Hon. Mr. Rowell the House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.

Monday, June 9, 1919.

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June 6, 1919