April 29, 1921

UNION

Edgar Keith Spinney (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Hon. E. K. SPINNEY (Yarmouth and Clare):

Mr. Speaker, the Bill has not been printed, and I do not think it can be dealt with to-day.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

This is merely a skeleton Bill, and as a committee has been appointed to deal with it there is no reason for delay. The Bill is printed and has been distributed, although it is not so referred to on the Order Paper. The whole Bill is being submitted to a committee and will come back to the House, before Committee of the Whole, after going through the special committee that has been appointed to deal with it.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I had better submit

the motion. Mr. Spinney moves that Bill No. 122, to amend the Civil Service Act, 1918, be read the second time.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The second

reading is supposed to affirm the principle of a Bill, and we should know something about this Bill before we consider the second reading. I would suggest that we have some explanation as to what this skeleton purports to represent.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Keith Spinney (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. SPINNEY:

Mr. Speaker, it is the usual policy that on the second reading of a Bill full discussion of the merits of the measure should take place. On the present occasion, in order to save the time of the House, I would strongly urge that the customary debate be delayed until after the Bill has been dealt with by the committee to whom it is to be referred. When the Bill is reported to the House, after consideration by that committee, ample time will be granted for debate. If the introduction of the present measure, which proposes to amend the Civil Service Act of 1918, leaves the impression on the mind of any hon. member that the Government is receding from the main principles of that statute, namely the abolition of patronage, he may at once dismiss that thought. In the case of every new measure experience of its working may show inconsistencies and defects to exist which it would be well to discuss and if possible, eliminate. After nearly three years of operation it is claimed that such a condition prevails in connection with this Act. In order that a full and complete investigation of the measure may take place a committee of the House has been appointed to deal with it, power being granted to call for witnesses so as to obtain the evidence necessary to enable that committee to reach correct conclusions and the committee will enter upon its duties without being restricted in any way. As I explained when introducing the measure the limitations provided in the Bill are tentative; they are not intended to influence the committee in any way. It will be entirely within the power of the committee to disallow the limitations, or to amend them, as in its judgment seems desirable. It is stated by many that the efficiency of the public service will be enhanced hy removing from the Civil Service Commission the power to make certain appointments. That does not mean, however, the removal of its jurisdiction, because there is a provision in the proposed amendments under which temporary appointments can be made and the efficiency of such appointees must be established within six months by securing from the Civil Service Commission a certificate of competency before the appointments are confirmed. At this stage I do not think it is necessary for me to elaborate the provisions of this amending Bill.

Mr. JAMES A. ROBB (Chateauguay-Huntingdon) : Bearing in mind that the Budget has not yet been presented and that

to-day the Prime Minister has given notice that Saturday sittings will shortly be held, which is an indication that an early closing of Parliament in contemplated, is it the intention of the Government to put this measure through at the present session, or simply to make a study of the Bill so as to be well informed for the session following?

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, it is intended to have the measure completed by the committee, and then of course it will be resubmitted to the Government. The Government will then have to consider the Bill as reported from the committee, but it hopes that the House will be able to consider it this session. I do not say that is absolutely certain to be attained but it is the hope of the Government.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MURPHY (Russell) :

The hon. member for Yarmouth (Mr. Spinney) has explained the principles embalmed on a blank sheet, the paper I now have in my hand. I do not know whether any other hon. member has a copy of the Bill or not. The statement is made that the Bill has been printed, but whether that be a fact or not it has not been distributed, and I for one object to the second reading of a measure about which we do not know any more than we do at the present time. Nor do I see that any force is given to the argument by the statement that the measure is going to a committee. The usual practice is that the principle of a Bill is adopted on the motion for second reading and if it is going to a committee then that committee has the benefit of the expressions of opinion that are elicited during the debate. Now it is proposed to reverse all that and send this Bill-a Bill of vast importance and one which, with all respect to my hon. friend, comes into this House under rather strange auspices-to a committee without our ever having seen it. As a member of the House I protest against this proceeding.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I would not think of even proposing the second reading of a Bill that is merely of a skeleton character without hon. members having seen it-

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

-but I made inquiry, and have inquired a second time, and the answer confirms my information that the Bill was distributed at noon to-day. That is not a very long period, but at any rate

the distribution has been made. If we were proposing to go into the merits of the Bill now I would not feel justified at all in asking for the second reading. But such is not the case. The hon. member will also recall the circumstances that the House has already discussed the very principle of this Bill on a motion by the hon. and gallant member for Victoria (Sir Sam Hughes) debated some weeks ago. The House has discussed the subject dealt with by this measure most fully-almost a day's discussion, if I remember rightly, took place then. The Bill is simply a provision for taking a certain class, to be decided by the committee, out of the operation of the Act, and to place certain other classes, or a class, as the committee may recommend, in another category-not out of the operation of the Act but only so far as nomination by the commission goes, and to leave them, as to permanent appointment, under the control of the commission. All I am rising now for, is to say that the House has discussed the policy of the Bill this session in the course of a day's debate. The subject matter that is to be considered by this special committee will later be considered by a Committee of the Whole House and will go through the regular stages. Therefore I would think, especially as this is Friday, that we should enable the special committee to get to work as soon as possible. The hands of the House are not tied in any respect by the passing of this motion; it is merely a method of submitting the question to the special committee-that is all.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

I am not allowed to

speak a second time but I desire to repeat my protest.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Quebec East) :

If this Bill means anything it

means that we are going back to political patronage as far as certain classes of public servants are concerned. The Bill removes from the control of the Civil Service Commission:

Postmasters whose remuneration consists in whole or in part of a percentage on the receipts of the office;

Professional, scientific and technical officers employed for the performance of duties as such.

This is very vague and very general, and Heaven knows what men could be appointed under such a heading as "professional, scientific and technical officers."

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink
L LIB
L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Yes, census enumerators for instance. I think we should have

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT, 1918, AMENDMENT
Permalink

REVISED EDITION. COMMONS


time to study this Bill and consider it before we approve of the principle of the measure, and if further delay, is not granted I, for one, will vote against the second reading.


L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Hon. H. S. BELAND (Beauce):

I hate to delay the second reading of this Bill, but it is not customary that the principle of a measure should be discussed by a committee of the House. It must be borne in mind that there is an important principle involved in this Bill. A copy of the measure has just reached me and I find that under clause 3 the powers which formerly belonged to the Civil Service Commission are transferred to the Governor in Council. This appears to be a very important departure from the principle which is now incorporated in this clause, and the adoption of an entirely different principle. I believe there will be a good deal of contentious discussion regarding the transfer of certain powers from this commission to the Governor in Council, and I feel that it is very unusual, and perhaps ill-advised, to transfer to a committee of the House the discussion of such a measure before the principle has first been discussed and decided upon by the House in full.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Laurier Liberal

Mr. C. G. POWER (South Quebec):

Mr. Speaker, before we take up the second reading of this Bill I would like to register my opposition to any measure of this nature. It has been preached throughout the country by hon. gentlemen opposite that the abuses of patronage were to be forever abolished. This Bill, if it means anything, means that in certain services we are to introduce the old abuses of patronage, and this is all the more irregular and all the more to be condemned since we have before us an election which we all hope will be held soon. On behalf of certain of my constituents who voted for hon. gentlemen opposite, believing in their promises to carry on the public services in a way in which they had not hitherto been carried on and that thereby the abuses of patronage weuld be abolished, I think I have a perfect right to register my protest. It is our duty to see that hon. gentlemen opposite are not guilty of any back-sliding, that once having entered on the path of reform and of uplift they shall continue to the end of their days, which we all believe will be soon. It is on behalf of these few but important people of my constituency that I protest against this Bill, and I think it is the duty of every member to see to it that the Government remains true to the promises it made to the electorate in 1917.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink

April 29, 1921