No. We make no distinction between the parties as far as telegrams are concerned. I suggest, however, that perhaps there is some advantage in not making it too easy to send telegrams because some people will send telegrams when an airmail letter will do perfectly well. It is a little easier to send a telegram, and perhaps a little more impressive, but very often the matter is not so urgent that an airmail letter would not do the trick. In the interests of economy and keeping down expenses, I do not think one should encourage the sending of telegrams from members of parliament or anyone else. There is a very real deterrent if a man has to pay for his own telegrams. I must say, however, that if a department sends a telegram to a member of parliament I would think, speaking generally, that it should be prepaid. If they feel that a telegram is not required and send a letter, that is all right; but I think as a general rule telegrams from departments should not be sent collect to members of parliament unless the member of parliament has so requested.
The Minister of Labour was partly concerned in my question, although I asked it under the estimates of the Department of Mines and Resources. Since the Minister of Finance has stated that he thought it was normal policy in replying to urgent messages sent by prepaid telegram by members of parliament, perhaps the Minister of Labour could indicate whether or not his colleague has put the matter correctly. A telegram which I received recently in Regina from the deputy minister of labour was sent collect, and I have known the same thing to happen before.
The new Minister of Mines and Resources and the former minister are not present, and if the acting minister cannot answer my question it will not matter particularly. I want to refer to the next two items, 596 and 597. According to the list on page 16 they are for buildings and equipment. Does the minister know where the buildings are being erected?
Yes. This is the construction of two temporary buildings. In the supple-
Supply-Mines and Resources mentary estimates for 1948-1949 an amount of $35,000 was included for construction of two temporary buildings to relieve congestion at the forest products laboratories in Ottawa. After plans and specifications were prepared, and tenders were called, the Department of Public Works advised that $55,000 would be required for this construction. The matter was considered by treasury board, and treasury board authorized the department to proceed with the construction immediately, and stated that favourable consideration would be given to including in these final supplementaries an item of $20,000 to cover the rest of the construction, and that is the item under consideration, item 596.
A somewhat similar explanation applies to item 597. The original estimate for the topographical surveys branch was a little bit too close, and this is the additional amount we require to cover this service.
This item pertains to the Columbia river upon which works are being constructed both in Canada and in the United States for the purpose of increasing power on the Grand Coulee dam. Are the works being planned and carried out on the Canadian side under the sole direction of Canadian engineers, or do United States engineers assist?
I am afraid I am not in a position to answer that question. This additional amount is required in order to continue during April, 1949, certain important work being done in these topographical surveys, required for a meeting of the international joint commission to be held in April of this year, which would not be available unless this work were continued. The amount of the original vote apparently was not quite sufficient to enable the work to be completed. Treasury board indicated that it should be carried on and that this supplementary vote would be requested; but this not being my own department I am not in a position to answer the specific question asked by my hon. friend.
I do not think so. The additional amount is required in connection with the purchase of what is known as a Mann offset press at a cost of some $24,325. It is required, apparently, in connection with the printing of maps having to do with the topographical surveys. Again in this particular the primary amount required was underestimated. This press, it appears, is necessary in order to complete the work, and treasury board authorized entering into the contract and agreed to approve a recommendation to include an item in the supplementary estimates to cover it.
I should like to ask what is the intention of the government in regard to the proposed revision of the Indian Act. You will remember, Mr. Chairman, that a joint committee of both houses sat during the past three sessions and spent a great deal of time carrying out a revision of the Indian Act. At great expense the committee heard evidence from Indians coming from all across Canada, as well as a good deal of evidence by government officials and other interested parties. We were given to understand that this session the draft revision of the Indian Act would be introduced in the house, after having been submitted once more to the joint committee, and that this legislation would be put through during the life of the present parliament. So far this session, however, nothing has been done. Several questions have been directed to the government asking whether they were going to set up this special joint committee again, but no conclusive answer has been given. The government has been asked also if it is going to introduce the draft bill prepared last year. I wonder if the minister who is looking after the estimates of this department can give us any assurance that something definite will be done, in connection with setting up this joint committee or otherwise, with respect to introducing the draft bill into the house and getting the legislation through.
I am afraid I cannot give my hon. friend a very definite answer. My recollection is that in answer to a question in the house not very long ago the former Minister of Mines and Resources did make a statement. I have not the reference offhand, but I believe it was within the last week or ten
days. At that time, I believe, he indicated it was his thought that when the bill now being considered by the Department of Justice was received he would ask that the committee be set up again and requested to study the bill. I am only speaking from memory, of course.