Sir GEORGE FOSTER:
Committee got their authority by a certain Order in Council, dated October 4, 1917, which I want to read. I was the minister who made the recommendation:
The minister recommends that a committee of three members of the Civil Service be appointed to consider the suggestions of the Joint Committee on Printing-
I want my hon. friend to listen to their powers as given:
-and take such action as may contribute to the better co-ordination in the preparation for and printing of public documents and subsequent distribution- .
That is, after printing.
-so that the greatest possible economy may be attained, consistent with the public interest, and that three members of the Government be constituted a committee to advise and co-operate with the said Editorial Committee, and whose approval shall be obtained to all measures recommended by that committee before they are put into execution.
That is the primary duty which was put on the Editorial Committ'ee, to cooperate with the Committee on Printing and to see that ,those economies werei practised, both in the printing and in the subsequent distribution of documents that were printed. That remained their sole duty until the Order in Council of June 29, 1920, which in part stated that to them should be given:
Authority to determine the proper disposition of obsolete and surplus publications in store in the various Government departments, as well as in the Distribution Office of the Department of Public Printing and Stationery, and supervise their disposition.
That was an added and late duty which was placed upon them and which they undertook, of course, much later than their primary duties. In the execution of
their primary duties, such as are stated in the first Order in Council, the Editorial Committee have done work which is apparent to Parliament. If the members of the House will get the reports of the two years' work of the Editorial Committee, they will see that they have done splendid work, and that very fine results in the way of economy have come therefrom.
With reference to the action of the Editorial Committee in connection with the matter now before this committee, I am not going to review here Judge Snider's report, and I want my hon. friend and other hon. members, in taking Judge Snider's report into consideration, also to take into consideration the document which I placed on the table of the House this morning as a statement by Mr. Fred Cook and Mr. Lynch, two members of the Editorial Committee, who had the conference at which it was proposed to do certain things with certain of those documents that were supernumerary. Mr. Boudreau and Mr. O'Hara, members of the Editorial Committee, were not in town at the time, and they had nothing to do with that conference. There was a misunderstanding, apparent to anyone who will read the reports, with reference to the conclusions come to by a conference held between Mr. Cook, Mr. Lynch and employees of the Printing and Distribution Department. They have different ideas and make different statements as to the conclusions that were reached. My own view of the matter is that there is not the first item which can be cited to show that there was malice prepense, or that there was any desire to do anything other than was proper and right, and the ultimate result was almost entirely due, I think, to the misunderstanding as to the conclusions come to in that conference. Whether it was from blunder or negligence, or from whatever other cause, I want hon. members, before they make up their minds, to read not only Judge Snider's report, but also the statement I placed on the Table this morning.
I think the whole thing is soluble on the ground, not of a desire to do anything wrong or inconsistent with a desire to do everything right, but owing very largely to misunderstandings and maybe to a little negligence and perhaps oversight. I rose to make that little explanation, 53 that fairness may be had on all sides when both documents are before hon. members for review.
Subtopic: REVISED EDITION. . 4554 COMMONS