I did not appreciate his either pulling my leg or, being sarcastic. The explanation given by the minister is the kind of statement which, it seems to me, does serve a useful purpose because when the men in these plants are not being utilized to the full, the impression gets around that this thing is a racket. That is how they talk, and some explanation of why they are idle ought to be forthcoming. I do not know anything about production, it is true, because a member of this house cannot be a student of everything that comes within the departments of all the ministers, but it is the duty of a member of this house to bring these matters to the attention of the minister so that he can make the kind of statement he made to-night. I do not think the minister ought to pull anybody's leg or be sarcastic about members being students of production all their lives.
I did not take any offence. I want to thank the minister again for his statement, and if statements of that kind were made more often it would be of great value to the country. The explanation is that there is a tapering-off from one type of production so that the plant can move into the production of another type of plane because some of the older types have become obsolete. But in the case which the minister mentioned at Fort William, that is a plane which, I understand, is still in use-the Hawker Hurricane.
What is the object in making a switch there? Men who have done some reading along the line of aircraft production say that one of the things that got Great Britain off to a bad start before the war was the fact that, whereas Goering went into mass production of Messerschmitts and probably produced inferior planes but produced them on a standard line, the British constantly kept changing their designs, which meant long periods of delay. Is there a danger of us doing that here? Is a lot of this switching necessary? Is it necessary to be constantly changing some of the types? Are we reducing the number of types and trying to get down to two or three standard lines which could be produced on a steady basis, rather than making these constant switches which, as the minister has said, must entail periods of non-production?
The reason why we are leaving the Hawker Hurricane for another plane is that our air force demands the best and the Hurricane is getting out of date. To-day there are much better fighting planes, faster and more manoeuverable planes, than the Hurricane, and I think it is desirable not to maintain in production an obsolescent type. It is true that far more planes would have been produced by this time if the British had kept to pre-war types, but I would point out that by getting more advanced types they have gained control of the air, and gained it at a time when they undoubtedly had fewer planes than the enemy. I certainly have to accept the judgment of the operational forces as to the type of planes which we should produce.
I have a question to ask regarding the manufacture of steel. We know that steel is in great demand these days. The last time I visited Trail smelters I noticed they had a mountain of what looked like good material if it were smelted down and perhaps manufactured into steel. This was the residue from their mining operations. I do not know how many tons would be there, but it seems to me that the mountain they had was about a mile long. Has the minister had any report regarding the great mountain which they have there and which I believe they are willing shall be used?
I have no report on it, but I think there would be transportation difficulties in the way. The equipment necessary to turn ore into steel is very rare. We have
only three places in Canada with sufficient equipment to take ore of any kind and make finished steel from it-Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton and Sydney, Nova Scotia. While I have no knowledge of this particular situation, I assume the transportation difficulty is there.
design planes. Their engineers design a new plane from experience of their pilots in the air in opposition to planes which have been designed in Germany or elsewhere. In the United States also they design planes. In Canada we do not do any designing; we make only what has been proved to be satisfactory in Great Britain. Is that not one of the main differences between conditions of aircraft manufacture in Canada and Great Britain? So, when we undertake to make a type of plane which has been proved to be satisfactory in Britain, our companies first have to make their blue prints, of which there may be 20,000 or 25,000 for one new design; then they have to adjust their tools to suit that work, or retool, and arrange for all the component parts involved in the new design. But we do not really design any new plane in Canada in the sense that they do in England-for instance, a Lancaster. *
Please do not mention the names of new planes. We do design in Canada a Fleet-60 which is used for advanced training by the air force. We have designed some very important modifications of planes, but of course the designing industry is new in Canada as it is elsewhere. We have brilliant designers, but they have not the background of experience which is possessed by designers in either the United States or Great Britain. Designing talent is improving month by month, and I think that if occasion calls for the designing of a new type of plane in Canada, we have people here who are competent to do it. I may say, however, that when we take a British or even a United States design, but especially the former, there is a good deal of redesigning to do to fit Canadian methods. We here are fairly well advanced in mass production, and our methods are different from those in the old country. So we have quite an engineering department in our aircraft industry.
It has been brought to my attention that in some cases where contracts have been given for aeroplane construction, for example, where the government would place a contract for, say twenty-five planes with a company, the plant would get tooled up for that work, and they have represented that they could have made thirty-five planes just as easily-I am using this number as an illustration-in practically the same length of time, but their instruction was to make twenty-five planes and they could not go ahead any faster than that limited order would permit. If, however, the order had been increased they could have manufactured quite a number of additional planes in the same period.
One other point. In the minister's remarks a while ago I think he stated-I am not arguing the point with him-that in some departments of a factory it was possible that the management would require the workers to slow up a little bit. I think that is a fair interpretation of what he said, and it bears out exactly what I was trying to tell the minister the other day, that in some of those places the fellows have come to me and told me they were requested not to do so much work.
Whether that was the final result or not is not the point I am now discussing. The point is that these people were deliberately advised to slow down. They came to me as a member of parliament and objected to that, and I think they were perfectly right in doing so. The minister now admits it would be possible in some instances that the management would go to these fellows and say to them that they might not have to work very fast, that if they did they would run out of a job.
Would the minister straighten up the question I asked him about the limited number in a contract? Would these companies be allowed to make five or ten planes more if they could, if they had the material?
When my hon. friend speaks af twenty or twenty-five planes he is talking about pre-war days. Planes to-day are built certainly in the hundreds; I do not know of any contract for less than two hundred that
has been placed in the last two years. However, we do build planes to meet a demand. Sometimes we build them without knowing exactly who wants them, if they are a plane in common use. But in pre-war days we used to tool up to make ten or fifteen or twenty planes, when the industry was very small. To-day we place large orders. Any factory that is in production to-day is either working on an unlimited order or is tooling up to make planes for which it will have an unlimited order. Therefore my hon. friend's question is hardly pertinent to the present-day situation.