not got it yet. I hope I will earn it. In any case, the salary of the leader of the opposition was fixed by statute after the most careful consideration, and it has been agreed to by both parties. But nobody was ever consulted when it was decided to set up a public relations officer, or whatever it may be, and pay him $9,000 a year. I should like to know out of what vote that salary is being paid.
I feel that the Department of Public Works cannot accept the criticism of the leader of the opposition and cannot agree to the idea that we are not doing everything we can to reduce expenditures. If hon. members will look at the estimates for this year they will see that my department has submitted itself to a very substantial reduction. If they compare the figures for this year with those for last year, they will see that the decrease amounts to about $17,000,000.
All possible reductions are being made, but we must retain the services of our employees and officers to protect the properties in our charge. Numerous repairs must be made to wharves and buildings all over the country, and we need our officers to look after these. We are not doing any new work, but as I explained a moment ago we need the services of these officials to gather all the information necessary to close out the contracts, pay the. compensation which may be due the contractors and pay for the material already on the sites, although it may not have been used. All this takes time, and we mu9t gather all this information before we make settlements and definitely close the contracts. As far as the Halifax office is concerned, that may be discussed under another item. As I have stated, the item under consideration covers only what we may call the central office at Ottawa.