September 14, 1950

LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Is it the pleasure of the committee to have that done?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink
LIB

James Sinclair (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Sinclair:

Senate and House of Commons

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Before the section carries, I should like to register a protest against the imposition of this impost upon soft drinks. I spoke on candy this morning. My general impression with regard to soft drinks is this: They give to the people a great deal of relaxation from strain. I cannot account for the great popularity of soft drinks except on that assumption. If that is the case, and that seems to be the effect on those whom I know best, it is most unwise to attempt to deprive people of the use of soft drinks. I do not think that we are going to be endeavouring to use, in the conduct of the war, any of the commodities or ingredients that enter into the making of soft drinks. I doubt greatly if we shall have to use for that purpose any of the effective personnel who are now employed in the making of soft drinks. If we should, however, have to use them, I think their place could readily be taken by elder people who now cannot find jobs or by people who are less physically fit. I therefore see no reason at all for imposing this tax upon soft drinks. Consequently I would oppose imposing it. I have already indicated how the revenue which will be derived from such an impost might be made up. I would suggest to the government that it seriously consider cancelling this impost.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink

Section agreed to. Sections 2 to 6 inclusive agreed to. Schedules I and II agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported.


LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

When shall the bill be read a third time?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Now.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

By leave.

Mr. Fournier, Hull (for Mr. Abbot!) moved the third reading of the bill.

Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   EXCISE TAX ACT
Permalink

SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS


members' sessional allowances and TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES


LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Alphonse Fournier (for the Prime Minister) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 7, respecting payment of sessional allowances and transportation expenses of members of the Senate and the House of Commons.

He said: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) will be in the chamber in a moment.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, there is very little I can add to what I said this morning. This would be necessary in order to permit this house to adjourn and be on call at the direction of the Speaker, instead of proroguing, without increasing the expenditure to the public that would result otherwise from the application of section 36 of the Senate and House of Commons Act.

I hope hon. members have seen the text of the bill. It provides that if this session, which commenced on August 29, is adjourned for more than a week, the days of such adjournment will not be counted as days of attendance for purposes of allowances to members; but that if after any adjournment of a week or more the members were recalled the provisions applying to the payment of their travelling allowances and expenses from their residences to Ottawa would apply in the same way as if it were a new session. Of course then the ordinary rules would go on until there was another adjournment of more than a week.

It was drafted so as not to exclude from computation the Saturdays and Sundays which intervene while the house is actually proceeding with its current work, and so as not to exclude any adjournment more than a week at a time. That would allow parliament to remain in session, subject to the call of Mr. Speaker, without increasing the public expenditure. The same results could be achieved by proroguing the House of Commons and, if it were necessary to come back, issuing a new proclamation, as was done this time. But that might occasion some little delay; and I thought that the public generally would feel that in these times things can happen so rapidly that it would be advisable to have parliament subject to call for the resumption of its sittings, should there be circumstances which would make that advisable.

The bill would have to be acceptable to both houses of parliament-not only the House of Commons, because of course it affects both houses. If it is passed by parliament, then that makes it possible, without expenditure to the country, to have parliament resume at the call of His Honour the Speaker at such time as events would make it desirable that the sittings be resumed.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, as there has not

been an opportunity to examine this bill in the ordinary fashion, I should simply like the

assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) that, as it stands, this bill does not provide for any additional allowances, except for days that members have actually attended in session.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

That is right, but with

this qualification, that it does not exclude the two Sundays that intervened while we have been proceeding with the business of parliament, and it would not provide for any allowance whatsoever from the time a long adjournment came into force until such time as is fixed by that adjournment, or until such day as the Speaker might recall members to resume the sittings.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink

Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Dion in the chair. On section 1-If either house adjourned for more than one week.


SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Mr. Chairman, in connection

with a bill of this kind I fancy I detect among members the feeling that, should they rise and speak to it, they would run the risk of becoming a sort of goat. I have run that risk before, and I do not think my constituents have held it against me. I am not now speaking for this group. I am speaking on my own responsibility. I am not going to complain about the bill, but I do believe there is a feeling among the members that perhaps, because of the long hours we have put in, and the fact that some members have had to leave their businesses, a little bit in addition to the $25 a day might have been granted to us.

I would not stand here and ask for anything more than we deserve-but I do not believe we should be required to take any less, particularly when one considers that we have been sitting from eleven in the morning until eleven at night, six days of the week, which ordinarily would amount to two or three days more than our ordinary sitting weeks. Then we have had to do our other work in addition to that, some hon. members having found it necessary to get to this building at eight o'clock in the morning. I do not come here that early, but there are some who do. Sometimes I have been detained until after midnight.

Having these points in mind I had thought that perhaps, under the circumstances, we might have expected a little more consideration. However, as I said I am not one who would ask for more than we deserve-but I do not believe we should be given any less. If we counted the extra hours which, in labour circles, might have been considered as overtime, I should think we might have expected some further consideration.

Senate and House of Commons

I agree that we should not adjourn and receive a full indemnity, but I do think there is a danger of cheapening our parliamentary institutions. I am not referring particularly to this bill when I say that I think it is a shame that we pay the Prime Minister of Canada such a small salary, especially when we stop to think that there are officials running governmental institutions who are paid two, three and perhaps four times as much as is paid to the Prime Minister for running the whole country. That does not add up. The ministers of the crown bear heavy responsibilities and I am quite sure that if they applied their abilities to the running of a corporation or in other ways they would earn much more. There are members of parliament who are lawyers and doctors or who follow other professions who lose money every day they sit in this house.

That does not go for clergymen. I could say that I am quite content as I do not suppose there is a church that would pay me the same salary I receive as a member of parliament. Therefore I can speak with some authority and feeling on this matter. But I repeat that there is a danger of cheapening parliament in respect to these things. I do not think the time should be far distant when this act should be overhauled. Let us pay members of the cabinet and members of parliament an amount commensurate with that paid by business organizations of this country for similar responsibilities.

Pensions for members have been referred to in days gone by. There are some members of parliament who give their whole lives to their parliamentary careers, and I am one of those. I do not serve any particular church and when I do go out to serve-perhaps I should not say this-it costs me money. Quite often they say, "Oh, yes, Hansell will come, he is a member of parliament and we do not need to pay him". Many of us give our whole lives to our parliamentary careers and we cannot look forward to a pension until some pension scheme is brought in for members of parliament.

Perhaps in mentioning these things I shall be dubbed the goat, but I am quite certain that I am voicing the feelings of a large majority of hon. members.

There are one or two questions I should like to ask under this section. Will members be paid for one week of adjournment? I realize that they will not be paid if the house adjourns for more than one week, but will they be paid for one week of adjournment? Shall we be paid before leaving here? Some of us may be broke. I am not broke exactly. I do not want all of you to come to me now and borrow money from me in order to get

Senate and House of Commons home. I am not broke, but I am badly bent. Ordinarily we would not be paid until the end of the month. These may be considered trivial questions, but they are in the minds of some hon. members.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

The bill as drafted does not provide for an indemnity for one week of adjournment if the house is adjourned for more than one week. If it is adjourned for a week or less the allowances will run on but if the adjournment is for more than a week, a week's adjournment is not paid for. The second question was whether the members will receive their allowances immediately or have to wait. I am informed that the treasury officer is prepared to issue cheques immediately at the $25 rate for the days we shall have been here.

I just wish to enter this one divergent view with respect to the other matters mentioned by the hon. member. I do not pretend to be running the country and I do not think any of my predecessors pretended nor will any of my successors pretend that they have run or will be running the country. They discharged, I am discharging and they will be discharging heavy responsibilities; but those are responsibilities which are shared not only with their colleagues but with all members of parliament. Together we try, not to run the country but to help our fellow citizens operate its economy in a manner that will be to the advantage of all.

With respect to the insufficiency of the indemnities that are paid, it may very well be that some day parliament will have to consider this whole question. But at this time I do not think the public would expect us to be thinking of ourselves but rather to be thinking of the general situation as it exists.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I am not going to extend my remarks except to say that it is a nice spirit that the Prime Minister manifests when he says that he is not attempting to run the whole country. I realize that he and his colleagues do not do that, but I realize also that if anything goes wrong with the country they will be blamed. Perhaps that is worth some consideration in the way of compensation.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
?

Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Mr. Chairman, because of the remarks made by the hon. member for Macleod it may be that some of us would be misunderstood if we did not say something. I did not say anything because the bill proposed by the Prime Minister is in my opinion quite reasonable. Because it is quite reasonable and because I felt that I understood the meaning of the words therein there was no reason to make any remarks or to ask any questions. Although I have not

'Mr. Hansell.]

consulted with other members of our group I think that I can speak for our group as a whole. As I listened to the remarks made by the hon. member for Macleod, I was greatly tempted to follow him, but I shall content myself with saying that I do not believe members of parliament will come into disrepute because of the size of their indemnities. Members of parliament will come into disrepute, if they do so at all, because of their conduct. There is nothing that makes me feel worse than to hear in many quarters today people like the Prime Minister and other members of the house who have been here for a long time, and who have given their lives to political affairs, referred to sneeringly as politicians. There is something wrong either with the actions of members of parliament or with the thinking of the community when members of parliament are referred to sneeringly as politicians. If we are ever going to get away from that we shall do so only through our own conduct and not because we decide to pay ourselves a higher indemnity. The hon. member for Macleod also said that the government would take the responsibility or take the blame. I do not think that is right. We may attempt to charge them with the blame, but they are not going to take the responsibility.

(Translation):

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Arsène Bonnier

Liberal

Mr. Bonnier:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to point out that we have no French copies of the bill under consideration. Twice I have asked the messenger to bring me a copy but it is impossible to get one. I would like to know the reason for this. It is always the same story; we always have a hard time getting the French version of the bills. I wish the French and English copies of the bills were distributed at the same time.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink

September 14, 1950