Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege affecting the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Gibson), myself, and every member in the house who comes from a distance to attend parliament. At the beginning of the last session we went to the accountant of the House of Commons and submitted our travelling expenses, along with receipts, in accordance with the Senate and House of Commons Act, section 43(1) of which states:
For each session of parliament, there shall also be allowed to each member of the Senate and of the House of Commons his actual moving or transportation expenses, and reasonable living expenses while on the journey between his place of residence and Ottawa, going and coming, once each way.
When we applied to the House of Commons accountant for payment of those expense accounts we were informed that Your Honour had ruled our accounts out of order. No reason was given, but the inference was that because we travelled by air our accounts were not in order.
I submit that the House of Commons Act makes no limitations as to the type of transportation to be used. When the first British Columbia members came here they came by sailing ship to San Francisco, across the continent by rail and then north by stage, for a matter of twenty-six days. Since that time we have had rail transportation; and since the advent of the Trans-Canada air lines, cabinet ministers, businessmen and civil servants have travelled back and forth by air. But we have been limited to travel by rail. If Your Honour will examine the public accounts for 1944 you will find that one Vancouver member travelled by air and at Easter adjournment in 1946 and 1947 members travelled by air. The hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Black) informs me that he regularly travels by air and his accounts are approved. For the pre-Christmas session, the British Columbia members who travelled by rail had to spend eight days
travelling to attend a session lasting eleven days. Moreover, those who went home by rail arrived only the day before Christmas.
We suffer enough by being absent from our homes for six months without having to drag ourselves across the continent by rail, and as a member of parliament I request that Your Honour give the reason which you gave to the accountant of the House of Commons as to why the expense accounts for the hon. member for Comox-Alberni and myself were refused.
Subtopic: MB. SINCLAIR-TRAVELLING EXPENSES OF MEMBERS BETWEEN RESIDENCE AND OTTAWA