But this committee is merely a fact-finding committee, with no power except to report to the House of Commons; and thus it is not to make recommendations in that report. The Prime Minister says that, of course, later on, if we want to do so, we can add authority to recommend, but that it is not the desire now to give that power, because it is more or less unnecessary until we have found the facts.
Well, when we have found the facts we should be entitled to make recommendations. And in finding those facts the committee should always bear in mind the cross-examination of witnesses. As my hon. friends know, the cross-examination of witnesses is often conducted on the basis that the examiner will be making recommendations. He sometimes examines in order to substantiate the recommendation he wishes to make and, consequently, to establish a fact in order that on that fact he can make a recommendation.
Well, why not give the House of Commons an opportunity to hear recommendations and to recommend to the government action to be taken upon those recommendations? We know what the opinion of the country is; we do not have to find that out as a fact. I do not know bow reliable the Gallup poll is. It seems to have been pretty reliable in many instances in the past. But a Gallup poll taken before Christmas indicated that seventy-six per cent of the Canadian people wanted the reimposition of price controls. That seventy-six per cent is one per cent more than three quarters of our population, a very substantial body of opinion, if it is representative; and it has been in the past. That is a very substantial section of Canadian public opinion demanding reimposition of controls.
Years ago the Prime Minister himself made speeches respecting references to committees. I do not think that on occasions anyone was more critical than he was respecting references to committees. I do not think, really, that it was necessary either for the leader of the opposition or myself to make a speech this afternoon on this particular point. We could merely have quoted.
However, I brought with me Hansard for February 2, 1934; and I rather suspect the Prime Minister had that particular page of Hansard in mind this afternoon when he said that, under different circumstances, he had made speeches opposing references to committees. But may I say to him that, while I agree with him, at the time the price spreads committee was set up, prices were depressed; today prices have gone sky-high. The situation is reversed.
But the methods the government should use are in some respects quite similar to those which were recommended by the price spreads committee. I believe that powerful interests in this country have been able to increase prices abnormally. Indeed, I read only a short time ago that the government had forced down the price of fertilizers. The price of fertilizers was high. Why? Well, because there is no effective competition in the production of fertilizers. It is in the hands of a giant monopoly, a monopoly which is part of a great international cartel, Canadian Industries Limited. The government took action to force the cost of fertilizers down.
Some of the revelations in the price spreads report were that certain restrictive practices and certain monopolistic practices of certain combines were operating in Canada. And, perchance, the scarcity of some goods we produce in Canada has given the same kind of people an opportunity to do the same kind of thing. This is what the Prime Minister said at that time, because it was well known to most Canadians why prices had been driven down in Canada to the level at which they *were at that time. Said the Prime Minister on February 2, 1934, as reported at page 190 of Hansard:
The motion indicates that there is to be an inquiry by a committee with the possibility of the matter being followed still further by a royal commission.
And I think that is what has also been said about this problem.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) has just indicated that in all probability a royal commission will be appointed. I would take that to mean that so far as this session of parliament is concerned, if we are to judge by the length of time parliamentary committees and royal commissions usually take to do their work, we shall hardly be able to look for much in the way of legislation that will help effectively to meet what apparently at last the government recognizes to be a very serious condition. The motion is in large part one of postponing action. What the country is interested in is not so much further inquiry with respect to matters about which nearly everyone knows a great deal, but legislation, if more is required, to meet a situation that is already understood.