March 23, 1950

NATIONAL DEFENCE

CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING

LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. Brooke Claxlon (Minister of National Defence) moved

that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:

That it is expedient to present a bill to revise and consolidate in one act the several acts respecting

the Department of National Defence and the armed services of Canada, with provision inter alia for the payment of pay and allowances of officers and men of the forces, the salaries and expenses of members of the defence research board, fees and allowances of the members of the court martial appeal board, the compensation for loss or damage due to the exercise of emergency powers, advances to meet expenses and costs of calling out forces in aid of civil power, the acquisition and disposition of property and generally the costs of and incidental to the operation of the act, and all other matters directly concerning defence.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Would the minister make a statement now?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Could we not have it in committee?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Very well.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Dion in the chair.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Mr. Chairman, the purpose of the national defence bill which will be introduced if the resolution is adopted is to modernize and consolidate in one statute all legislation respecting the Department of National Defence and the armed forces of Canada.

The bill is a further step in the announced purpose to unify and co-ordinate all of the defence forces of Canada.

The bill is also a further step towards the complete Canadianization of the armed forces of Canada. If this bill is passed, all provisions governing the armed services of Canada will, for the first time, be found in a statute enacted by the Canadian parliament representing the Canadian people.

In content the bill is the largest to be put before this house since the session of 1934. It contains 251 sections but these will replace over 600 sections in the seven statutes now applicable.

During the last session of parliament the bill was introduced in the other place where it was my privilege to give an explanation before it was referred to the committee on banking on the motion of the government leader. In that committee and in the house itself, the bill was carefully and fully considered and passed with certain amendments on December 8, 1949. Since the prorogation of parliament took place on December 10, 1949, it was impossible to proceed with the bill in this house but, as hon. members are aware, the very earliest opportunity has been taken of putting the bill before you. In addition, hon. members here, many of whom have had distinguished careers in the armed forces of Canada in one or both of the world wars, have had an opportuntiy of examining the bill as it was put before the other place.

As I indicated in the house last year, it is the intention of the government to refer the

National Defence

bill that will be introduced in consequence of this resolution, and also the other two defence bills, to a special committee. I hope this suggestion will appeal to hon. members of the house as obviously it is a measure which can be dealt with most effectively in that way. I am in the hands of the committee and I can go on and make a full statement, or I can do it on second reading.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Chairman, I did not want to interrupt the minister but I think perhaps it might be as well to consider a point that should be borne in mind and we should do our utmost to avoid a certain possibility arising. You will recall that a motion was dealt with in this house which asked for a committee to be set up to deal with the broad problem of defence. Then at a later time proposals were put forward in discussion and it was suggested that there be a committee to deal with the more limited aspect of the defence problems, and that the estimates be referred to that committee. Contrary to our request and fully conscious of what the effect of that would be, we urged that this should be dealt with-

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

I am sorry to interrupt-

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Are you not prepared to listen to the rest of this?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Order. When the chairman rises it is the rule that the hon. member who has the floor must resume his seat. The chairman does not rise to his feet simply to interrupt an hon. member or for his own pleasure. There is a rule that provides that the member who has the floor should not be interrupted except for the purpose of raising a question of privilege or a point of order. In this case the leader of the opposition stood up and said that he was sorry to interrupt the minister who was speaking.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

No.

The Depuiy Chairman: One second, please. The minister sat down, indicating his willingness to listen to the remarks of the leader of the opposition. The leader of the opposition is talking about a matter which has been decided by the house by a vote and that vote stands as the judgment of the house. Later when the matter was brought up again there was an appeal from a ruling by the chairman which was confirmed by the house. I am quite willing to let the leader of the opposition continue the remarks he has started, but I want to warn him that we must not get into a discussion of a question which has been decided by the house.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Mr. Chairman, are you ruling that because-

National Defence

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

It is not a ruling. I am only warning that I do not want a repetition of the discussion of the other day. I said I was quite willing to permit the leader of the opposition to speak but I am warning him that he should not go into the question that was decided the other day by the house.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I have no thought of going into the subject. It is quite obvious that this will not come up for consideration tonight, but for the purpose of facilitating the consideration of what course should be followed I would point out that as a result of that unfortunate ruling the other night the minister should find some way in which this committee can be set up.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

I have indicated already that there will be no difficulty about setting up the committee if that is the wish of the house. I made the suggestion at the last session that we should have a committee specially set up to deal with this bill. I had indicated in the words which the leader of the opposition followed that it was the intention of the government to set up a committee to deal with this bill and with the other two bills dealing with defence. This is quite a different matter from anything the leader of the opposition had in mind.

Our thought is that just as soon as the resolutions relative to the three defence measures are adopted the bills will be distributed. Then on the occasion of their second reading I propose to move that they be referred to a special committee. I have indicated already that that is the procedure the government hopes to follow and I do not think the leader of the opposition or anyone else would like to object to that.

I am in the hands of the committee as to how far I should develop the exposition of the bills before us at this time. It seems to me that having one act to cover the defence forces of Canada, and which would bring up to date legislation which has been on the statute books since 1868, with few amendments, is something that would appeal to the common sense and good judgment of this house. That is the purpose of the legislation.

If it is the wish of hon. members, I can make a full statement at this stage, but it seems to me that the time for that would more properly be when the bills were before us and the intentions of the government made known. My suggestion to the committee is that the most sensible course to follow would be for me to postpone any more extended remarks until the bills have received first reading and are in the hands of hon. members in all parts of the house. Then tomorrow if the business of the house permits we could

[Mr. Green.}

proceed with them in the most orderly way possible. If that were done then it would be my hope that in consequence of the discussion tomorrow it would be possible for us to set up the special committee to deal with these three bills in order that we could have these measures, which I regard as of great importance, dealt with by a committee of the house. I suggest that, because of their peculiar character, because they are rather technical-certainly two of them-that is much the most convenient way of dealing with them.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

In view of the extreme importance of this resolution, I think the house would like to have a full explanation at this time. The minister appeared in the other place and gave a very full explanation to its members. I feel that members of this house would like to have the same full explanation now because many of them have not had an opportunity to see the bill.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

I shall be very glad indeed to respond to the invitation of the hon. member for Nanaimo.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Gillis:

I should like to make a few remarks on the question of order. I agree with the chairman's ruling that the leader of the opposition was not in order in the remarks he made, but I also agree with the leader of the opposition as to the importance of setting up a defence committee. I do not agree with the hon. member for Nanaimo as to the resolutions to which the Minister of National Defence has referred at this time. I do not think that any long or detailed explanation is required. They merely involve technical changes in the pension set-up, military law and all that kind of thing. An explanation at this time would mean very little to us. So far as I am concerned I would be quite prepared to move the whole thing along as rapidly as possible to a committee so that we may have something done about it.

At the same time I do not want the Minister of National Defence to create the impression that the bills to be based on these resolutions, and which it is intended to refer to a committee of the house, have anything to do with matters of national defence. I think there is no more serious, urgent and important problem facing members of the house today than a competent committee to sit down with the Minister of National Defence, his advisers and everyone else concerned, and go into the whole matter of defence. Personally I often feel sorry for the minister. He supervises the army, navy, air force, atomic energy, everything that has to do with the defence of

Canada, and in a very threatening atmosphere. If I were he I would welcome handing over a lot of his responsibility to other members of the house rather than be the spokesman in the house, the apologist and the one who has to take it on the chin for a lot of people outside whom he knows very little about, or about what they are doing. He must accept their word for things.

The resolutions before us do not mean anything, so far as I am concerned. I am quite prepared to proceed, let them go through tonight, and get them to a committee where the technical details and changes in regulations and so forth can be looked after. Before the minister goes any further, I should like him to tell us whether it is the intention of the government in the foreseeable future to set up a committee of the house on the whole matter of national defence.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

In view of the remarks made by the hon. member for Cape Breton South, does the hon. member for Nanaimo still insist on having a full statement?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND REVISION OF EXISTING
Sub-subtopic:   CODE OF SERVICE, DISCIPLINE, ETC.
Permalink

March 23, 1950