February 8, 1955

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

They will have to go into supply before they can go anywhere else.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER CERTAIN ESTIMATES
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

But have not external affairs estimates been referred to that committee on a motion with Mr. Speaker in the chair?

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Maclnnis:

I quite agree that the estimates of the Department of External Affairs, as far as this particular motion to refer them to committee of supply is concerned, are a little different, because on those occasions the motion was made with Mr. Speaker in the chair. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) has a much better memory, but I believe on

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Special Committee on Estimates occasions Mr. Speaker has left the chair. However, the purpose of that debate was to give the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) and others in the house an opportunity to discuss external affairs and not necessarily the estimates of that department. If we can be quite sure that there will be no interference with debate in taking these estimates into committee I believe we can get over any other difficulty. I quite agree with the minister in his statement that there is no reason for two debates.

I have been discussing the matter with some of my colleagues and they are concerned as to whether we would have an opportunity to debate these estimates when they come back to the house. My understanding is that we will have such an opportunity, in the same manner as we will have an opportunity for discussing the estimates of the Department of External Affairs.

I believe a great deal of good can accrue from referring these estimates to a special committee. I believe everyone who has had the opportunity to serve on the committee for external affairs has found that committee very useful indeed. I can recall outstanding explanations that have been made on the operation of government policy to that committee, and such explanations alone justified any time spent there. We had an extremely useful explanation during last session when Mr. Cavell outlined to us the work being done under the Colombo plan, and I am sure everyone found that information-information we could not get easily in the house- extremely useful. Last year and the year before that we had a most interesting three or four days with Mr. McNaughton who explained to us the workings of the international joint commission. It is questions of how policies are put into operation that take up time on the estimates, and not the scrutinizing of how the money is paid out. For that reason I believe the committee should be set up.

The hon. member for Greenwood mentioned that private business could not possibly carry on its operations in the same manner as we do here. But if private business had 265 members insisting on talking on every matter that was brought under consideration by the president or general manager, and insisting on giving publicity to all that took place, I do not believe private business could handle its affairs as it does now. I am not saying that they handle their affairs particularly well now, but they certainly could not do so under those circumstances. That is what happens in this house. Everything that the government does is supposed to be done in a goldfish bowl. That may be a good

thing or it may be a bad thing, but we must realize that that is the way public affairs are carried on. There are some people, I assume, who would like to make the work of these committees a matter of determining particularly whether such and such an expenditure should be made-and I find nothing wrong with that-or whether economies could be made. But in a quarter of a century of experience here, I do not think that I have ever heard of a member complaining- in fact, I am sure I have not-that the appropriation for his constituency was too large and that it ought to be reduced. It is my opinion that until we come to the state of mind that will enable us to criticize appropriations for our own constituencies, it ill behooves us to be too virtuous in our criticism of other estimates.

Over the years I have noticed the two papers here that criticized the government- and particularly one of them-unmercifully. I do not mind that. I think it is a good thing for the government even if the criticism is not always justified; but I think it is justified in most instances. But if you put in the estimates an appropriation for Ottawa, there is no criticism. If there is any criticism at all, it is that the appropriation is not enough, and that a great deal more could very well be spent in the city of Ottawa with good effect.

It seems to me that economy is not so much a matter of the saving of money as it is of the proper expenditure of money, or the getting of proper value for the money that we spend. I do not want to revive another debate, but the other evening someone said that we, in this group, were always ready to spend the other fellow's money. I am not particular whether or not that accusation is made against me, as long as I am trying to save the other fellow's life or to improve his life; and that is what we have been trying to do here with a great deal of the money that the government spends.

As to the matter of economy, I am reminded of a story I heard about a Scotsman, the head of a family. It is rather strange, but the Scots are about the only race left about whom you can have a joke without giving offence. This Scotsman bought a barrel of apples. When he took the lid off the barrel, he found there were a few bad apples on the top. Being thrifty, he insisted that his family consume the bad ones first before they consumed the good ones. But lo and behold, when they had taken off this layer of bad apples those that were previously good had now gone bad, so they had to eat them also. Eventually they consumed the whole barrel of apples but they ate them

all in a state of decay, more or less. That is not good economy, in my opinion; it is poor economy indeed. It is that kind of economy that we ought to try to avoid.

I do not know that there is anything more I want to say on this matter. As an experiment, I think this suggestion is worth trying. It is not a matter of policy but rather a matter of procedure. If we can make it work, it will be to the benefit of all of us. But it is an experiment that is not breaking entirely new ground because, as I said before, we have had the external affairs committee for several years and I think no one would wish to abolish that committee.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Victor Quelch (Acadia):

Mr. Speaker, I think that most members in the house will agree that the present method of dealing with the estimates is not a satisfactory one. I think one of the reasons for that situation is that in committee of supply a great many unnecessary questions are asked. I use the word "unnecessary" because, in many cases, the answers to the questions asked can be found in the back of the book of estimates. In the second place, you have members wandering in and out of the house, with the result that members come in late and ask questions that have already been asked and answered. That is something that is happening repeatedly every day while the estimates are under discussion. That sort of thing would not be so likely to happen if the estimates were dealt with by a committee.

We in this group have always favoured a policy under which the estimates of a department might be sent to a committee dealing with matters relating to the department whose estimates are under discussion. For instance, that is done in the matter of external affairs. Officials are present before the committee. Any questions may be asked. As a result of that procedure, I think a great deal of time is saved in the house. The reason that time is saved in the house is that the other members who are not on that committee know that on the committee are members who are especially interested in external affairs and that those members will have made a fairly good job of investigating the estimates. I believe that similar action could be taken in the handling of the estimates of many other departments such as agriculture, veterans affairs, defence and finance. That is, the Department of Agriculture estimates could be sent to the committee on agriculture, the estimates of the veterans affairs department could be sent to the special committee on veterans affairs and the estimates of the finance department could be sent to the banking and commerce committee. On those committees you would have members who

Special Committee on Estimates were especially interested in those subjects. Hence the rest of the members of the house who are not on those committees would know that those members would be making a fairly good job of investigating the estimates. For that reason, they would not be likely to ask a great number of questions or at least would not be likely to ask as many questions as they would otherwise ask when these estimates were referred back to the committee of supply.

As to the suggestion before us, the minister has stated that some members are sceptical about it. I will admit that I am one of those members who are sceptical for the very reason I have just mentioned, namely that on that committee you are going to have members who will not be especially familiar with the matters referred to it. Consequently, when the estimates of a department are referred back to the committee of supply other members who are interested in it and who have not had a chance to ask questions, are going to start asking questions, I think, to just as great an extent as they would have asked them before the estimates had been referred to that committee.

I think there is a step that could be taken to prevent that happening. If the estimates of a department are dealt with until finished in that committee, then each group could change its representation on that committee before the next department brings its estimates to it. But if you are going to take one department for a few days, then jump to another department, and then come back again, it will be impossible to follow a sequence of that kind, and I think you are going to run into a great deal of trouble. But if you carry the estimates of one department through to a finish and then, before changing to the estimates of the next department, you allow a group to change its membership on this committee so as to have on that committee men who are especially interested in that department, I believe that many of the objections I have raised could be overcome. I hope the minister will say that the procedure I have suggested will be followed and that the groups will be allowed to change their membership on this committee without too much difficulty. The minister has stated that the committee is to be set up as an experiment. We realize that the present system is not satisfactory, and although we would prefer the method to which I have referred, nevertheless I think we are prepared to support the proposal as an experiment and do our best to help to make it succeed.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, I think I might be less than frank if I did not say something in regard to this

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Special Committee on Estimates subject, for both in the house on various occasions in previous sessions and in the committee on rules for several years I have advocated, though perhaps in somewhat different form, the establishment by the house of a committee on estimates for the purpose of reviewing the estimates of the government submitted in the annual blue book.

I am not going to enlarge at undue length on the subject of the historic responsibility of the elected representatives of the people sitting in the House of Commons to pass on public expenditures, both past public expenditure and contemplated expenditure. There is, both historically and in fact, no higher responsibility resting upon members in any parliament modelled upon the mother of parliaments.

Sir, I have felt as a member of the house over the past ten years that that responsibility is not being adequately discharged. Indeed, I go further and say that under the procedures obtaining in the house today it becomes virtually impossible for the members of the house to discharge that high and important responsibility. How are they to do it? The vehicle is the committee of supply, perhaps the clumsiest of all the elements of parliamentary machinery at Ottawa today. If you wish to make a serious attempt to review proposals for expenditure you do not in the first place send the matter to a body of 265 members. In the second place, you attempt to have some order in the deliberations of the reviewing body. You would not have questions of policy, questions of detail, questions of amount, all mixed up. You would not have questions flying from all parts of the house with little relation to one another, nothing consecutive and very little that is coherent.

This committee of supply, sir, is a clumsy, awkward vehicle for the discharge of an important public responsibility. It takes up a great deal of time. I wish to make it quite clear that in my approach to this problem the saving of time is not the most important element. For me the most important element is the discharge of the public responsibility to review these proposed expenditures. But the saving of time is, I think, one of the results that would follow, not at the expense of efficiency but with an increase in efficiency if a different procedure were adopted.

Another of the patent disadvantages of our present procedure in committee of supply is that any information obtained by members must come through the mouth of the minister. That again is an awkward, time-consuming procedure. The minister

very often acts as a fence between the member who is seeking information and the official who has the information, when time would be saved and efficiency would be served by permitting the question to be asked directly of the official. Members very often come into the committee primarily to seek information. Others wish to make speeches in reference to policy. Others have speeches they wish to make depending upon the information they obtain in reply to questions asked for the purpose of eliciting the information that is needed.

On these various counts, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that our present procedure in committee of supply just cannot be permitted to continue in its present form if we are to make any serious pretence at all of discharging this important responsibility. We do spend a great deal of time of the house in committee of supply. For my part I do not begrudge the time that is spent there, but I wish to see it spent in a way that will enable members to reach the meat of the problem and will permit a differentiation in the procedures of the committee between policy on the one hand and questions of detail on the other. At the present time these important questions of policy are confused with the minutiae of questions having to do with detail or questions in regard to amount, questions that have a very limited effect. No one here, I am sure, is going to pretend that when these little questions are mixed up with speeches in regard to important aspects of policy the result is a sensible or coherent procedure.

Now, sir, it is said at times by the government to us in the opposition: Well, these estimates have all been reviewed by the treasury board. In effect they say to us: You do not need to concern yourselves unduly with the details because they have already been combed through by the treasury board. Sir, this House of Commons can never abdicate its responsibility in this matter to the treasury board or any other board. It must assume its responsibility; it must discharge that responsibility. The only way it can discharge that responsibility is by a review of the details of the items that are submitted to it in the blue book.

We are not without experience in this regard in the House of Commons. For the past ten years now, beginning with the appointment of the committee on external affairs in the fall of 1945, the house has every year since followed the practice of referring to that committee the estimates of the Department of External Affairs. I have had the privilege of being a member of that committee since it was first appointed in the fall

of 1945. As one who, I think, can say that he has shown some concern about these estimates and the way they are handled, I want to express the very firm opinion that the estimates which have had the best review in the House of Commons in these ten years have been the estimates of the Department of External Affairs.

I think the reason is that they have been sent to the committee. In that committee there has been full opportunity to question the officials of the department. The minister has followed the practice of making an introductory statement in the committee, but then the details of the review of the estimates, the answering of questions and the submission of further information, tables and statistical data have been left to the officials of the department. Witnesses have not been confined to officials of the department. We have had men like General McNaughton and Mr. Cavell come before the committee, men associated with particular work, the international joint commission in the case of General McNaughton and the Colombo plan work in the case of Mr. Cavell. We have had other similar witnesses from time to time, sometimes people who are not connected with government at all. There has been freedom there and the estimates have been thoroughly reviewed. I think that the time of the house has been saved at the same time as a more efficient review of the estimates has been achieved.

That was not done, Mr. Speaker, by curtailing debate in the house, and here it seems to me that the minister is proposing today, if I apprehend his thought correctly, a departure from a procedure that has been found to be salutary and effective over this period of years in connection with the estimates of this one department.

When the motion has been made to take the estimates of that department out of the committee of supply and refer them to the select standing committee on external affairs, that motion has been made the occasion of a debate on policy; for, sir, this House of Commons is the place where policy should be discussed. That is the procedure that has been followed there and it has been a very useful procedure. When the estimates of that department have come back to the committee of supply then in some cases where there was need of a general debate on policy that debate has taken place on the first item. But usually where there was not some immediate occasion for a debate on external affairs policy in general, because we all recognize that there must be certain occasions for debate on external affairs from time to time during the session, what we have had

Special Committee on Estimates has been a very quick review in the committee of supply of the estimates of the department when referred back to that committee. The house, sitting as committee of supply, has known that these items had been reviewed in detail.

Now, there is nothing in the procedure of the house that obstructs any member at that point if he wishes to raise some question or to ask for certain information. I believe it has been the experience of the house, sir, that the questioning in that committee has been quite comprehensive. The information has been obtained and it is in the printed proceedings of the committee. There is no occasion for repeating it in the house. But if something arose in that committee which, in the opinion of any hon. member, called for special comment, there is no reason why that comment should not be made then in committee of supply, and made with the assistance of information. There is no occasion at that stage for speeches going off at tangents based on erroneous information, because that information has been sufficiently elicited in the committee.

I feel, sir, that the experience this house has had now over an extended period of time is an experience which should assist the house greatly in connection with this question, and should be a useful guide to the committee.

We have the proposal that an estimates committee should be established. The estimates committee is not the only committee to which the estimates of any particular department could, or for that matter should, be referred. I trust that because a committee on estimates is to be appointed, there will be no suggestion that the estimates of the Department of External Affairs should not be referred, as in the past, to the select standing committee on external affairs. I would have hoped that having our experience with the external affairs estimates to guide us, some thought could have been given to referring the estimates of some other departments to committees of this house that happen to correspond to those departments.

We do not have committees in every case corresponding to a department of government. There are some and the committee on external affairs is, of course, one obvious example. Another example is the industrial relations committee, to which the estimates of the Department of Labour could be referred. Whenever a special committee on veterans affairs is appointed for a session, it seems to me there is no reason why the estimates of the Department of Veterans Affairs should not go before such a committee for review and report. Some serious consideration might be given as well, Mr. Speaker, to referring the

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Special Committee on Estimates estimates of the Department of Agriculture to the select standing committee on agriculture for review and report. In this way I believe we would achieve the purpose of having a more thorough review of the proposed expenditures of those departments, and then we would have an intelligent discussion of policy in the house.

During the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) said that this proposal was being put forward by the government at this session as an experiment. Now, that is fair enough. I have been urging in the past that if the government was not prepared to go the full way, at least it might consider experimenting. I am glad that the government is prepared to experiment with this idea.

I wish to say, however, that the experiment ought to be conducted on an absolutely fair basis. Apparently we are to have the estimates of four departments referred to that committee. These four departments have already been selected by the government. The opposition has had no voice whatever in the selection of these departments whose estimates are to be referred to the committee- not the slightest voice whatever.

It seems to me, sir, if there is to be a fair experiment on this basis, if we intend to give a fair and reasonable trial to the suggestion that has been seriously put forward in this house over a period of some years, the opposition should have had some voice in the selection of the departments whose estimates are to go to this committee for review. I hope that it is not too late for the government to listen to the voice of the opposition in that respect, because surely no one is going to pretend that the trial is fair if the opposition has not been consulted in any respect in the selection of those departments whose estimates are to be so referred.

I wish also to say a word about the experience in the United Kingdom with the committee on estimates. It is not just a recent experience; it is a very long experience according to our ideas of time in this younger country. It is because there has not always been a clear understanding of the functions of the estimates committee at Westminster that I wish to read to the house several passages from a speech that was made at the commonwealth parliamentary conference at Nairobi, Kenya, last August. At that time one of the main subjects for discussion was the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. The question arose there as to how the elected representatives of the people could discharge their fundamental and inescapable responsibilities in controlling public expenditure.

The spokesman for the United Kingdom delegation, Mr. Derek Walker-Smith, M.P., had a word to say about the procedures followed in the United Kingdom with reference to expenditure. I put this before the house and ask the house to follow the difference between the way they have found over a period of years they could best handle this responsibility, and the way in which I understand the minister is proposing that these estimates be handled in the committee on estimates. I am reading from the official record of the conference, and Mr. Walker-Smith proceeds:

So far as the traditional methods of financial control are concerned we still have in the United Kingdom 26 days set aside under Standing Order 16 for debates on the estimates, known as supply days, but those 26 days on the estimates are not now concerned, or scarcely at all concerned, with the question of a detailed scrutiny of the departmental estimates. On the contrary, they have become over the process of time debates relating to the policy and the administration of the particular departments whose votes are set down for debate on any of these 26 days. Similarly, our consolidated fund and appropriations bills are still, of course, a very vital part of the financial machine; but they are made the occasion not of financial debates but of debates varying over wide points of policy and administration. That being so, it is, I think, clear that the old traditional methods of financial control are not of themselves very effective for that purpose today.

We have however evolved certain other methods, new methods, in comparatively recent years. When I speak of new methods, one of these methods has been going on since 1861 and the other for 30 or 40 years, but they are comparatively new, speaking against that background of seven centuries of parliamentary government . . .

Then further down he says:

But in fact we have a dual system, a public accounts committee to make a detailed examination of past spending, and an estimates committee to make a detailed scrutiny of proposed expenditure. So far as the public accounts committee is concerned, that is the one which has existed since 1861. It is composed of 16 members of parliament and always has a prominent opposition member as chairman,-nearly always, in fact, a former financial secretary to the treasury. The public accounts committee has power to send for persons and papers and to call for attendance of senior civil servants for the purpose of examining them, but there are two things that they may not do-they may not call for ministers and crossexamine them and they may not challenge the policy of the government. And so you see the ambit of our public accounts committee is narrower and more functional than the ambit of those exciting congressional committees about which we read in our newspapers.

So far as the estimates committee is concerned, this is a very useful body, at any rate for us. It has been in existence for about 30 to 40 years and it examines the estimates, that is to say, the proposals for spending money and reports what economies consistent with the policy of government might be effected. This is a rather large body consisting of 36 members of parliament and in this case the chairman is drawn not from the opposition but is a private member of the party supporting the government. It is a very effective body, split into five sub-committees, each of which work on different departmental estimates. There-

fore I think it is broadly true to say, Mr. Chairman, that, taken together, the public accounts committee and estimates committee do much of the detailed financial scrutiny which was traditionally done by the house in committee of the whole house and which circumstances have made no longer possible by the traditional machinery.

Now, it seems to me there is much there to which we might hearken today. Nobody has in mind, I am sure, importing anything from the congressional committees system into our system here. But we are actually away behind Westminster in shaping our procedures to accomplish the fundamental purposes of parliamentary government and parliamentary responsibility.

And so, sir, I am glad that a committee on estimates is going to be set up; I am glad that it is going to be experimented with. I wish to see that system given a fair trial. And I do not think if the government is going to have the exclusive voice in selecting the work for that committee the trial will be altogether fair.

I come now-and I shall be brief-to what I conceive to be a departure in the recommendation of the minister from what it seems to me has been sound policy in the House of Commons, in the light of its experience with the external affairs committee, and the experience of the United Kingdom.

The minister said, in effect, "We are going to make the estimates committee a little committee of supply, a committee of supply in miniature." As I understood him, that committee is going to start its review of the estimates of a particular department with the kind of discussion of a general nature that we have in the house, in committee of supply. And then, as I understood him, the estimates committee will go on with the same mixture -the same baffling mixture-of detail and policy, amounts and policy, administration and policy, all mixed up, from which we suffer now in trying to bring any order out of the chaos which exists in the deliberations of the committee of supply.

It seems to me that that is just deluding ourselves, inviting confusion in this experiment. What we ought to do, as a house, is to discuss questions of policy in the house, sitting in committee of supply. This is the place to do that. The House of Commons, sitting in one of the committees of the whole, is the place where policy ought to be discussed. A select committee is no place to discuss policy.

Similarly the committee of the whole house, such as a committee of supply, is no place to discuss detail. The select committee is the place to discuss that. If I followed him

Special Committee on Estimates correctly, the minister seems to propose that the committee of estimates be made a sort of committee of supply in miniature, with questions of policy and questions of detail all mixed up.

The minister has said, "We do not want any discussion on the motion to refer the estimates of a particular department, or to take those estimates out of the hands of the committee of supply and to refer them to the committee on estimates." It seems to me we are only stultifying ourselves if we follow that proposal. Surely what ought to be done in this situation is to invite on such a motion a general discussion on policy in relation to that department, such as normally we now have on the first item. Have that general discussion of policy here in the House of Commons, a discussion that would not consider detail, and after that discussion of policy send the estimates for the department to the committee on estimates for detailed review. In the committee there would be the detailed review, but there would not be discussions of policy.

The next fact that I think ought to be kept in mind in this regard is that in the committee, in seeking full information, and in discharging that particular responsibility to get information with regard to amounts, and to seek economies, there should be complete freedom not only to send for papers but to send for persons; and such persons should not be confined simply to those in the government service, if there is good reason to send for persons outside. This afternoon the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) referred to a case where, in relation to the review of a department under whose jurisdiction fall, we will say, crown corporations, there should be power to seek intelligent advice from other sources as well.

The next point I should like to make is that when the review of the estimates of a particular department has been concluded by the committee on estimates, it should then be reported back to the house. There should be no thought of holding back a report on the review of estimates until the committee has reviewed the estimates of all the departments referred to it. It ought to complete its work as far as possible on any particular department, and then send its report back to the House of Commons on that department and its estimates.

The subject of rotation of personnel was mentioned earlier by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch). It seems to me that only time and experience will bring the house to a right decision as to whether it

Special Committee on Estimates is better to follow the method in the United Kingdom, that of having subcommittees, or to follow the system which I believe is in the mind of the minister when making his proposal, that the committee should function as a unit and that, if necessary, when the estimates of a particular department have been reviewed, then by decision of the house the personnel of the committee could be changed so as to bring into it some others who would be more particularly concerned with or more expert in the affairs of the next department to be considered. I do not think we ought now to arrive at a final conclusion in either respect, but that we should keep an open mind and should be guided by the results of our experience.

Finally, I do not think we are doing any offence to our respect for parliament or the value we attach to traditions with which not snly the powers but so many of the procedures of parliament are attended, by conducting the type of experiment we are proposing here today. Mention was made of the fact that at Westminster they have had a committee such as that now proposed- speaking generally-for the last 30 or 40 years. When the House of Commons becomes so large and when its business becomes so involved that existing procedures are not adequate to enable members to discharge their duty, then it seems to me there is a responsibility incumbent upon the house to search for such procedures as will enable it to become more efficient, while at the same time retaining and performing the traditional duties and responsibilities that attach to it under our system.

Therefore, sir, in what we are proposing here today it seems to me we are simply trying to find a method by which we may better adapt the procedures of this house to the discharge of our duties. And while the motion before us provides simply for the setting up of the committee, and there is no motion yet before us to refer the estimates of any particular department to that committee for review, I hope that in the interval, before such latter motion is put before the house, the government will give consideration to the suggestions made here today- suggestions which I think, if given effect, will offer a much better opportunity for giving a fair trial to this suggestion and experiment which has in it very great promise of usefulness if given a fair trial.

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LIB

John Horace Dickey (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Defence Production)

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

I have two questions I should like to ask the hon. gentleman. I understand he quoted with approval the rather lengthy passage that he read from the proceedings of the British commonwealth parliamentary

association. In dealing with the debate on the motion to refer the estimates of the departments to this proposed committee, did I understand him to mean that the debate on policy would be a substitute for the debate on the first item that we now normally have, and that there would be no debate of a general nature on the first item when the estimates came back?

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Speaker, on the first question, I read this somewhat lengthy quotation from this interesting and quite authoritative speech of Mr. Derek Walker-Smith, M.P., because I thought it was highly instructive. We have not in Canada quite the same situation, as I sought to make clear in my following remarks. The type of committee on estimates that is proposed by the government is not precisely the same as they have in the United Kingdom. But what I was trying to draw from the remarks of Mr. Derek Walker-Smith was this twofold instruction. First of all, their committee on estimates has been found, over a lengthy period of time, to be a very useful committee in relation to the discharge of the duty of control of public expenditure; and in the second place, to make clear, as he did, that that committee concerns itself with detail, and that in the committee of supply, according to the prevailing British system, the discussion is confined to policy. That is what seems to me a sound differentiation between the function of the house in the committee of the whole and one of those select committees. Let us discuss policy in the house but not detail and in the committee let us discuss detail but not policy.

The second question that my hon. friend asks is as to the status of item No. 1, following the general discussion. He will recall that, according to our procedures in the house today, in committee of supply, on the first item of general administration in every department we have first of all a general discussion. That is a policy discussion, and then after that there is, if anyone is concerned with the details of the item of general administration, an opportunity to go into them.

It seems to me that the proper course to follow is that when the general discussion on policy is concluded that is the point at which the estimates should be referred to the committee. You have had your general discussion on policy. Now, in committee, item No. 1 is not approved nor is the committee debarred from reviewing such details of the estimates of the item of general administration as may be required. My hon. friend will recall, for instance, in some departments there is very little outside the general administration item. Take the Department of National Revenue. There are

only a couple of items in each branch of that department, including general administration. Therefore, if the general administration item were carried in the house there would be very little for the committee on estimates to deal with. If, for instance, any department's estimates were referred, what that committee should do is to go into the detail of the item of general administration, the money amount, if they have any questions then remaining that they wish to ask on that item. My impression is that the bulk of the discussion in the committee on estimates on most departments would not revolve around the item of general administration. It would revolve around the later items in many of the departments, certainly in the departments which have a great many items. We have some departments which have scores and scores of items.

I have done my best to answer my hon. friend. It may be in his mind that there is going to be some duplication in discussion. I do not think so for one minute. That certainly has not been our experience with external affairs. We have had the general discussion here, and when the items have come back to the house, in some years we have gone through those items in a matter of minutes in committee of the whole when they have been referred back to it.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

As one

who for many years has been urging that estimates be sent to a committee, I rather welcomed the statement made by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) this afternoon and the discussion which has taken place; but I do believe that there are some things which arise out of the discussion and some perhaps have not been mentioned, which should be clarified by the minister before we finally adopt with enthusiasm his suggestion.

I am somewhat confused as to just what the procedure is to be in the special committee on estimates. I think I should say it would appear that in the minds of many speed is the requirement and speed is what we should be aiming at. I would suggest that really time is not the important element in this as much as efficiency.

With respect to the procedure in the committee, it would appear that all parties seem to be in agreement on one thing anyway, namely, that policy is the business of the government and the responsibility of the minister, and that officers of the department should not properly be questioned on matters of policy. I do not think anyone will deny that under our system of government the minister is responsible for all the details of his administration. He cannot foist on the shoulders of his officers the

Special Committee on Estimates responsibility for his administration any more than the responsibility for the policies that he advocates.

Now, coming to the procedure in the committee, I am inclined to agree with the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Mac-donnell) that the business of carrying on by whispering or sotto voce suggestions will be impracticable if not futile in the narrow confines of a committee room. Pretty nearly all the members of the committee will hear the replies that the deputy minister whispers to his minister and naturally the members of the committee will say: "Well, Mr. Minister, ask him this or ask him that", which would be a sort of three-handed form of questioning which would finally finish up by being a bit ridiculous.

I would say that there should be nothing in the order of reference nor in the intentions of the government to preclude officers of the department from being examined and cross-examined. But I would say this: If any minister believes that he on his own can answer all the questions which an ingenious opposition can put to him, well, then, let him try it.

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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser (Peterborough):

He would have to be good.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. Power (Quebec South):

He would have to be good. I do not know whether the question arises or not, but out of these circumstances it would appear to me that inevitably the questioning would be addressed to the officers of the department. In any case, I would suggest to the minister that he make it perfectly clear to the house there will be no prohibition on officers being asked questions if the minister cannot reply to them himself.

I am not quite sure whether the order of reference should not be altered to meet those conditions. Perhaps, as has already been said, when the individual estimates are referred, the ministry may adopt the idea of stating in the order of reference that matters of policy are not to be discussed in the committee, but I do not think I would go as far as the hon. member who last spoke. I would suggest that matters of policy could be discussed in this special committee, and that questions respecting policy should be addressed only to the minister and not to his officials.

If the order of reference is not wide enough and does not go far enough I suggest to the minister that it should be widened. This is something new; it is an experiment. If in the government's mind it is a reform let us treat it as a reform and see that it is properly framed so that it operates. If it is

Special Committee on Estimates only a concession to my hon. friends of the opposition then let us make our concession freely and willingly, not grudgingly.

Reference has been made to the United States system of committees, and to the British system. With respect to the system in the United States it should be quite clear to all of us that on account of the differences in our parliamentary and constitutional practices it would not be easy and indeed might be very difficult for us to adopt anything like the United States system.

In the first place, in so far as I am able to judge their system does not carry any ministerial responsibility. The ministers are not even in the house. There does not appear to be any governmental responsibility for appropriations since any member of congress may move to add additional expenditure to appropriations. One reads of dozens if not hundreds of bills being introduced by private members for the purpose of giving pensions to worthy soldiers or civil servants. One also hears a great deal of the practice known as log-rolling, whereby certain members of congress agree with certain other members to obtain larger expenditures in their particular regions of the country. In view of these things any attempt to import the United States system would, I believe, be useless in this country.

With respect to the British system, it is worthy I believe of consultation and should perhaps be consulted, but I am reminded of a book I read recently with reference to the British House of Commons. It is a house, as we all know, replete with respect for customs, usages, and tradition. But something like 100 years ago they had to alter the rules of that house very radically indeed. Up to that time it had been known as an English gentlemen's club. Unfortunately, a large group of Irish arrived. The Irish were not Englishmen, and they had no ambitions whatsoever to be gentlemen.

With respect to us, we are not Englishmen either. We have our own traditions and 80 or 90 years of parliamentary government. Surely with these traditions back of us we can feel a way or invent a way whereby we can make our parliamentary system work without slavishly following that of any other country.

Going back to the story I mentioned, with respect to the Irishmen-though perhaps I had better not make any invidious comparisons in connection with the second qualification. However, I should say that owing to our own hypersensitivity with respect to the language used in the house, and owing to the decisions of successive Speakers, we have to some extent lost the flavour and saltiness of

the forthright language of our pioneer forebears, and in our attempts to become gentlemen quite a number of us have become little Lords Fauntleroy minus the lace collar and well brushed curls.

However, and be that as it may, I should say there are very great advantages in referring estimates to a special committee. These advantages have been enumerated by hon. members on all sides of the house, though I confess I was a little surprised that the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) did not appear to share the enthusiasm of his neighbour who last spoke and favoured referring these estimates to the committee.

Nevertheless the control, criticism, and scrutiny of the estimates is one of the bulwarks of the opposition. The opposition should, if it is doing its duty, take every possible step to see to it that these expenditures are appropriate and in the interests of the country. May I say as one who enjoyed being in the opposition for two parliaments that I have great sympathy for the opposition, and believe it is the duty of the government and the house to give the opposition every opportunity to scrutinize these estimates.

With respect to hon. members on the government side, perhaps it should be said that there is no constitutional or legal bar to their scrutinizing the estimates also. Such scrutiny is not by law, practice, or the constitution the sole prerogative of members of the opposition. I suggest to many hon. members on the government side that they too would learn a great deal about the function of government, they would learn a lot about the inner workings of departments, if they would take the time and trouble to scrutinize the manner in which estimates are prepared and brought to this house.

From the standpoint of the government I can think of no better procedure than to have deputy ministers appear before parliamentary committees. Anyone who has been in the government must be aware of the almost intolerable pressure brought upon ministers to increase the estimates of the departments. Whether it be the natural tendency to empire-building which exists in all departments and which is very difficult to control; whether it be the pressure to have new gadgets in departmental offices; or whether it be only keeping up with the Jones's in some other department, the ministers have only one way of protecting themselves against this pressure from their officials and that is to be able to say, "No, I cannot get by with this in the House of Commons." If the departmental officers are brought face to face with members of the house and made to understand the reluctance of members to give in to their

whims and fancies, then perhaps the minister would have a much easier time with his department. Without being derogatory in any way to our civil service, I think it would be a good idea to match bureaucracy face to face with democracy as represented by the members of this house.

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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. W. Ross Thatcher (Moose Jaw-Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, this subject has now been thoroughly discussed, and I do not intend to take time rehashing the arguments that have been made. However, I rise to support this resolution enthusiastically. No matter how badly this experiment may turn out, it cannot result in a situation worse than what we have today. Every hon. member, I think, realizes that members of parliament simply are not in a position to properly examine our estimates under the present system. All they can do is a superficial job. I am hopeful that when this committee is set up we can do much more effective work.

Speaking personally, I am going to judge the success or failure of this committee by whether or not we are able to save the taxpayer any money. Some hon. members seem to look upon speeches advocating economy as a kind of joke. They do not seem to be much interested in saving the taxpayer's money. I was rather surprised to hear a Scotsman rise in his place this afternoon and take such an attitude. I always thought most Scotsmen watch their money carefully; and if they watch their own money carefully, I think it is fair to expect them to watch just as carefully the money of the people they represent. As I say, I think this committee will be judged, at least in part, by the amount of money we can save the taxpayer.

I think this may be a task at which many backbenchers can make themselves useful. Early in the session there is usually a period of about two months when there is not too much work at hand. I think that backbenchers can be particularly useful on this committee. We can go into these estimates in some detail, and give them a thorough examination.

The hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) made some reference to the United States system. There may be some features of the United States system that we do not like, but there is at least one practice that appeals to me. As I understand it, in their committees the opposition are given experts or paid officials who can help them go into

Special Committee on Estimates the matters being discussed in detail. If, as the hon. member for Quebec South suggested, the government are anxious to help the opposition with their task, I suggest they copy this United States practice. If we are discussing the Department of Finance, for example, may I suggest to the minister that he should give us two or three of his officials, tell them that whatever they do or suggest will not be held against them, and let them help the opposition examine and criticize the finance department's estimates. My understanding is that in the United States that is done, and I think it is sound.

There is one other point I should like to make. The minister today named four departments which would be referred. It seems to me it might be better if the estimates committee met and then themselves chose the department they were going to call. In that way the particular department would not be all ready; they would not be prepared, and you might get a more effective examination.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that government is the biggest business we have in Canada. We are spending about $5 billion. In that expenditure there surely must be many places where we can save the taxpayer money. I am hopeful that this estimates committee will be a real step in the right direction. I say again that I heartily support the setting up of the committee.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prince Albert):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure hon. members listened with attention to the words of the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) as he gave to the house his experience that goes back over more than 38 years, during which time he was not only a member of the opposition for two parliaments, as he said, but was also a minister of the crown.

As I listened to him I could not but recall an incident that took place I think it was in 1941, when I was a member of the war expenditures committee. At that time the hon. member was the minister of national defence for air. I spoke one evening and offered strong criticism against the training of air personnel by civilian authorities, indicating that in my opinion profit was being made at the expense of the state of war.

I was young in the house in those days, and I received a castigation from the hon. member for Quebec South. Next morning he called me on the telephone and told me-

Special Committee on Estimates and in saying this I do not believe I betray any personal confidence-that he had found that the remarks I had made were in accordance with fact. That afternoon he rose in the house and stated that he had made an error the night before in his criticism of my criticism, and in effect said, "This thing will be ended once and for all", and it was ended. To me that was an example of what can be achieved when ministers of the crown have some regard for the criticism offered conscientiously and seriously by members of the opposition.

The Minister of Finance, with some suggestion of pride, referred to the fact that in 1921 there had been before the House of Commons a motion to provide for the setting up of a committee somewhat analogous to the one envisioned by the motion now before the house. It is interesting to go back and to read that motion, which was moved by a distinguished predecessor of yourself, Mr. Speaker, the late Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux. The resolution read as follows:

That, in the opinion of this house, in order to co-ordinate and expedite the business of parliament in a more intelligent and practical way, the estimates of the various departments should, before being laid on the table, be scrutinized by a special committee of the house, where officers would be summoned to appear with plans and reports bearing on each appropriation.

Among those who participated in the debate was the then leader of the opposition, Mr. Mackenzie King, who gave considerable support to the views then expressed. The members of the government who spoke in the debate took the stand that a committee such as that which was asked for by Mr. Lemieux might invade the prerogatives of the cabinet inherent in our constitutional system. That committee would have had much wider powers than the one now contemplated.

As one looks back over the years one cannot but see that, year in and year out, less and less often is there a careful, penetrating examination of expenditure. A few moments ago my friend the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre (Mr. Thatcher) expressed the hope that a committee such as that which is contemplated by this resolution may be able to help discharge a needed responsibility in the examination of expenditures and expressed the hope that something in the nature of the practice followed in the United States congress would be adopted here.

I hope not. Committees in the United States congress, as the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) has pointed out, are not similar to ours. Indeed, one of the major criticisms of the system in the United States is that while partisan politics are forgotten in committee there is grave danger of log-rolling, resulting in expenditures that otherwise would not be made. Members of the committee separate themselves from their political parties and, voting either one way or the other regardless of any party considerations, do on occasion advance their own ideas for their own pet expenditures by supporting the pet ideas of other members of the committee. The result is not control of expenditures but additional expenditures.

Under the United States system there is of course no control by the legislature over the expenditures made. Our controls over expenditure as I understand them are as follows; first by the cabinet, and then through the treasury board. Then when grants are sought from parliament discussion takes place and in theory at least an examination is made of the expenditures that are asked for by the government. There is criticism in the committee of supply but, as the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) said a moment ago, seldom if ever is there any reduction. I know of only one instance in the last 15 years, and I think there was one other case between 1935 and 1940. But, generally speaking, after the criticism is over the item goes through either by virtue of the majority or by reason of the exhaustion of the opposition.

There is one further protection, and that is in the report of the Auditor General. All the expenditures of parliament, except a very limited number, are audited by him. During recent years-and the trend has been an accelerating one-more and more crown corporations have been established. In my opinion there is no proper examination possible in parliament of overexpenditure by crown corporations. They enjoy a peculiarly isolated protection from examination by parliament.

There are two examples I might bring to the attention of the house to indicate the degree to which the difficulty of careful examination of crown corporations has been shown. One has to do with the Auditor General's report of last November in connection with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The Auditor General pointed out

that he had made certain criticisms of expenditures of the C.B.C. in previous reports but apparently no attention was paid by the C.B.C. to the criticisms offered. His report read:

Still applicable is the comment in previous reports to the effect that the appropriateness of the accumulated allowance for depreciation and obsolescence is open, to question for the reason that the rates used through the years have never been scientifically established or consistently applied.

Weaknesses having been noted in the accounts, this office wrote to the chairman of the board of governors on October 23, 1952, with supporting details . . .

The words he used were:

... it is suggested that the system be carefully reviewed, and appropriately revised and coordinated so that there may be no need to qualify the audit certificate in this regard.

That was proper criticism. What did the C.B.C. do? It simply ignored it. I say that as far as crown corporations and emanations of the crown are concerned there is need for an examination to take place in parliament. I mention something that took place yesterday, not for the purpose of discussing the decision made but to indicate just how far removed these institutions are from the control of parliament and responsibility to parliament. Whenever they need money they come to parliament, but whenever we endeavour to ascertain whether they have overexpended or recklessly wasted, then they hide behind the fiction that parliament has no right to know.

Yesterday I made a motion for the production of all letters and communications that had passed between the Department of Transport and the C.N.R. respecting the lease of the Queen Elizabeth hotel in the city of Montreal to the Hilton interests. The answer was that it was not in the public interest to produce the correspondence. The $20 million for the construction of the hotel came from the Canadian people, Mr. Speaker; and it seems passing strange that with such an expenditure, and having in mind that parliament will ultimately have to put up any deficits on the railroad, parliament should have no opportunity of controlling expenditures made by this and other crown corporations and emanations except as now provided for in a limited manner.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

As it is five o'clock, the house will now consider private and public bills.

Industrial Relations INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

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AMENDMENT OF CHAPTER 152, REVISED STATUTES OF 1952 VOLUNTARY REVOCABLE CHECK-OFF OF UNION DUES

CCF

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

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 7, to amend the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act (voluntary revocable check-off).

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to speak at any length in proposing the second reading of Bill No. 7. My reason for such self-denial is that I am sure hon. members will agree that just about everything that can possibly be said about the voluntary revocable check-off, both for and against, has been said during the debates that have taken place over the last number of years. But, Mr. Speaker, even in the breast of an opposition member hope springs eternal, and I dare to believe that one of these times-it might be this year-we will reach the point when the government will decide that the time has come to implement its own promise in connection with this matter as set out in the Liberal platform adopted at the Liberal party's last national convention, which was held in 1948.

I remind hon. members who belong to that party that in their convention of that year they went on record as favouring legislation providing at least some form of union security. I remind them too that when they adopted that plank at their national convention in 1948 it was only a few months after a concrete proposal for union security in the form of the check-off had been dealt with here in parliament.

The concrete proposal was the amendment to the then new federal labour code which was moved in the industrial relations committee by the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Croll). Every year since then the wording of that amendment has been the basis of a bill which has been presented to the house in my name. As for what happened in 1948, the amendment was written into the labour code in the industrial relations committee on the motion of the hon. member for Spadina, but when the bill came back to the committee of the whole house, on motion of another Liberal member the voluntary revocable check-off was deleted from that bill. We have had a difficult time ever since trying to get the proposal back into the legislation.

Industrial Relations

I have mentioned what happened in 1948 so as to remind Liberal members in particular that when they decided at their national convention in the latter part of 1948 that they stood for union security, it was in the light of the proposal to that effect which had been made in parliament by one of their own members. So I say, Mr. Speaker, I dare to hope that this year the government might have reached the decision that it is time to implement a promise made in 1948. I realize this is only 1955, only seven years since that promise was made, and that would be lightning speed for the Liberals; but who knows, such a thing might happen once in a while.

Another hope I have, Mr. Speaker, is that by now something might have developed as the result of a report that was made to the House of Commons in 1953. In the session of that year this same bill of mine was before the house, and on the motion for second reading the minister moved an amendment that the bill be not then read a second time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the standing committee on industrial relations. After considerable study that committee made a report to the house in which it said this:

Your committee endorses the principle of Bill No. 2-

I interject to say that Bill No. 2 of 1953 was identical with Bill No. 7, which is now before us.

-and recommends that the principle of the said hill, together with the submissions included in the printed minutes of proceedings and evidence of the committee on the subject matter of this bill, be considered by the government in its review and proposed revision of the provisions of the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act, which the committee is informed is now under study.

That report was made by the industrial relations committee on Tuesday, April 28, 1953. On May 5, 1953, on the motion of the then chairman of the committee, this house concurred in the report of the committee and made that recommendation its own. As I say, that is another reason for the eternal hope that springs within me that one of these days this measure will be accepted by the government and will become law.

Despite the fact that full details are on the record as to what this bill calls for, perhaps I should take just a moment to spell it out. It asks for what is known as the voluntary revocable check-off. It asks for a provision to be written into the federal labour

code making it the law that if a union which is certified under the provisions of that code wishes to have the check-off on a voluntary and revocable basis, it shall be given that check-off on that basis, as a matter of right. Even after that right has been given to a union, under the provisions of this bill it becomes necessary for each individual member of the union who wishes to have his dues deducted and paid over to the union to sign a card to that effect. Even after that, each such member has the right under the provisions of this bill to revoke that request if he wishes to do so. In other words, Mr. Speaker, this is the minimum of what is known as union security that any legislation could possibly provide.

I point out that the railway workers of this country, who are the largest single group to come under federal labour jurisdiction at the moment, have more than this. They have the Rand formula, which is an even more far-reaching form of union security. I point out that legislation similar to the bill now before us is on the statute books of a number of provinces in this country. Therefore this is not legislation that is very radical in character. I point out as well that this has been requested repeatedly by the major labour congresses of this country. I would remind the house also that more Liberal members have voted for this bill than for any other opposition motion or bill that has been before the house for a long time. In other words it is quite clear that there is a strong sentiment for this kind of legislation when a dozen or more Liberals, on occasion, can stand up and vote for a measure of this kind, despite the fact that up to the present the government has not seen fit to endorse it.

As I said at the outset, I feel that on this occasion it is not necessary to speak at length on this measure. It is well known and almost everything that could be said either for or against it has been said, and said a good many times. I suppose if the government is not prepared to accept this bill, the debate may continue. It could be subjected once again to the talking-out process, and I imagine in that case certain members on the other side will make the same speeches they have made before. If the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Dickey) for example makes his speech, which I know so well, no doubt I shall make the same interruptions at the same points. We have been through it over and over again

Surely the time has come when the government should accept this measure on its merits. It is, I submit, a gesture to labour in recognition of the extremely important role that labour plays in our economy.

I have pleasure once again, Mr. Speaker, in proposing second reading of this bill for the voluntary revocable check-off, and I hope this time it will be accepted by the house.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. Milton F. Gregg (Minister of Labour):

My hon. friend has been commendably brief this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, in presenting the motion for second reading of this bill. I suppose he would include me amongst those who will give the well known speech and cover the well worn ground. I shall be commendably brief too, I hope, but I think I should refer to the fact that the meat of the recommendation of the standing committee of 1953 to which he referred was to the effect that the principle of this bill, together with the submissions included in the printed minutes of proceedings and evidence, be considered by the government in its review and proposed revision of the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act.

The committee had been informed this act was under study. I indicated to the house on February 23 last that the study recommended by the standing committee was going forward. I indicated at the same time that the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act was not a very old act and that the officials of my department wanted to take time to review the amendments that were based on very useful years of experience. I made no apology then for going slow and I make none again this afternoon.

Following the discussion of the bill last year came the vote on second reading. I watched the result of that vote with interest, because it was the first opportunity on which the twenty-second parliament of Canada had a chance to express itself on this particular legislation. As my hon. friend said, there were members from all parties in the house who voted for the bill, but the fact that the total vote showed 107 against and 51 for did not indicate that the house as a whole was, at least then, in favour of this particular bill. I think it would be worth while to let the house know that I have had a survey made concerning the incidence of the check-off in

Industrial Relations

all its various forms in industrial establishments which come under the federal jurisdiction. Figures showing the number of employees in crown companies and in industries under federal jurisdiction who were covered by collective agreements providing for a voluntary revocable check-off, or some other form of check-off of trade union dues, revealed that the question of the check-off has become, in truth, a common subject for collective bargaining in those activities under federal labour laws. This of course is where my predecessor in this department, and I, have stated from time to time the present government feels this matter of check-off really should be decided, namely by collective bargaining.

It appeared to me that members of the house might like to have the general picture of how the unions under federal jurisdiction appear to view this alleged boon, the voluntary revocable check-off. The author of the bill has constantly called it the "very minimum of union security". I think we have a right to infer from his speeches that there must be a very great many workers under our jurisdiction deprived of something that we should see that they have, as a minimum of union security.

Well, I was very curious, and set in motion a survey designed to find out just exactly how the situation stood. If I have your permission, sir, I should like to place on Hansard the schedule I have prepared, and in doing so I shall indicate what it contains. This schedule bears the heading "Employees Under Federal Jurisdiction". It has four subheadings, the first of which sets out the total employees under federal jurisdiction; the second shows total employees under agreement; the third shows total employees under agreement providing for check-off of some kind, and the fourth shows total employees under agreement providing for voluntary revocable check-off. Then down the left side are set out the various activities coming under the federal labour laws. The total of those in the first column, namely, the total employees under federal jurisdiction, is given as 392,500; the total of the second column, showing the total employees under agreement, is set out at 277,800; the total in the third column, the total employees under agreement providing for check-off is shown as 223,400, and the total in the fourth column in which are shown the total employees under agreement providing for voluntary revocable check-off is

Industrial Relations

shown as 35,488. I am giving all these totals Mr. Deputy Speaker: Has the minister in round figures. leave?

If I have permission I should like to place

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed, the complete table on Hansard. Mr. Gregg: It is as follows:

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EMPLOYEES UNDER FEDERAL JURISDICTION


Numbers under collective agreements: Numbers under agreement providing for check-off: Numbers under agreement providing for voluntary revocable check-off: i II III IV- Total employees under federal jurisdiction (a) Total employees under agreement Total employees under agreement providing for check-off Total employees under agreement providing for voluntary revocable check-offTransportation- Railroads (including express and excluding commercial telegraph operations).. Shipping (including stevedoring) Air Motor and all other 204,400 35,200 10,100 6,0007c; Round figures 177,600 150,800 32,000(7>; 8,400 6,300 4,400 6,000 5,700 1,300 1 2,900 20 600Communications- Telephone (d) Telegraph and cable Broadcasting 37,900 11,600 5,100 31,200 6,400 2,300 31,200 6,300 2,200 25,600 100 8Terminal elevators 3,600fcj 3,600 2,600 360Mining 3,800 3,100 2,500 2,500Manufacturing 13,GOO 6,900 6,900 2,100Service (C.N.R. hotels) 2,4007c; 2,400 2,400 nilOther government enterprises (e) 11,700 nil nil nilBanks 47,100 nil nil nilTotals 392,500 277,800 223,400 35,4887/;(a) Estimated. (b) Insofar as some longshore workers move from summer to winter ports, they may be counted twice as employees under agreement. (c) Number under agreement; total figure for employment would be somewhat higher. (d) Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia only. (e) Includes Canadian Arsenals Ltd. (f ) Figures in column IV are also included in figures shown in column III. Now let us look at the prevalence of the check-off in relation to the estimated total of 392,500 persons who are employed in industries which come under federal jurisdiction. That, incidentally, includes crown companies. To begin with, this total of 392,500 employees should be reduced by an estimated total of 39,250 persons employed in a managerial or supervisory capacity, who are outside the scope of the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act. Further it should be reduced by 47,100 employed in banks, and by 11,700 employed in other government enterprises who are not organized and are not covered by collective agreements. Of the remaining 294,450 employees who are employed in industries under federal jurisdiction, in areas of employment where there is an established pattern of organized bargaining, the survey revealed that 277,800 are actually covered by collective agreements, and that 223,400 are subject to some form of the check-off. That means that slightly more than 80 per cent of the employees who are covered by collective agreements already enjoy the check-off, if one may use that expression, in some form or other. In every case it was gained by collective bargaining. In his remarks this afternoon the hon. member referred to the manifesto of the Liberal party at its 1948 convention. He said, and truly, that the Liberal party had indicated that it stood for union security. I would point out to him, however, that the Liberal party at that time did not indicate that it favoured this particular bill. I would also say that if the check-off is, in truth, the great boon to union security that he indicates, then the figures I have quoted show that 80 per cent of the workers of Canada coming under federal jurisdiction have, in the intervening years, gained that great boon by collective bargaining. The survey is even more revealing in regard to the type of union security contained in the check-off provision I have mentioned. Of the 223,400 employees who are subject to some form of the check-off, only 35,488 come under the voluntary revocable check-off, the form which the author of the bill under consideration has called "the very minimum of union security". As against this 35,488 having the minimum of union security, the remaining 187,912 employees have some form of check-off which from the point of view of the trade unions must be more advantageous and desirable than the voluntary revocable check-off. In fact, the survey shows that in relation to 166,433 of the employees in question, the check-off is compulsory for all workers affected by the collective agreement, although the condition of union membership is not compulsory. I would suggest, too, that if the check-off is a matter concerning which there is such a widespread habit of collective bargaining, as I have mentioned, then it is a matter which should be left to the parties to deal with. Further, if parliament did legislate in this matter it would seem for the first time, as I have mentioned before, to be legislating in favour of one side in the field of laws relating to the conduct of industrial relations between management and labour. This would be contrary to the general principles now embodied in our industrial relations legislation. The concept of that act is that there should be voluntary agreement by management and labour upon the terms of the contract that would bind both parties. The act is now free from coercive features relating to the substantive provisions of collective agreements, with the single exception of the requirement that every agreement shall contain a provision for the final settlement of differences as to the meaning or violation of the agreement. Of course that 50433-61 Industrial Relations provision applies to both parties concerned. This freedom should be maintained; and it should not be forgotten that collective bargaining rights exist for the employer as well as for organized groups of employees. The bill proposed by the hon. member would apply specifically in the case of "a trade union entitled to bargain collectively" under the act. The check-off provision is thus tied in with the exercise of collective bargaining rights. From our survey of collective agreements in the federal field of jurisdiction it is abundantly clear that the unions, acting as collective bargaining agents, have been able to make arrangements which, in many instances, go substantially beyond the provision for a voluntary revocable check-off and which, from their point of view, are more adequate and beneficial. On the principle of the check-off, the attitude of the federal government is revealed by the check-off provisions which have been made in numerous collective agreements entered into by crown companies. This has been left to collective bargaining by those responsible for the management of crown companies. It is significant that in many instances, covering a very large number of employees of crown companies, bargaining has resulted in provisions for various types of the check-off of union dues in favour of the unions representing the employees. The hon. member referred in passing to the fact that it had been suggested by the standing committee on industrial relations that the principle of this matter be carried along in conjunction with other amendments that it was indicated the department was bringing forward. The other day in the house, in response to a question, I stated that we were not for the present recommending those other amendments to the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act for two reasons. One of them was the case which is now before the supreme court, which I mentioned at that time. The other is this. Last summer there were some very serious discussions surrounding a dispute between the representatives of labour and management of our railways. By that time the dispute had gone through all the processes of the conciliation machinery provided by the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act. Finally both parties consented to agree to the decisions of an arbitrator to be appointed by the government on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The arbitrator made his findings which have been accepted as the basis for a new agreement, which is now practically completed. Since the first of this year the same committee representing the non-operating unions of the railways has been discussing a broader



Industrial Relations question looking toward the future of collective bargaining in railway disputes generally. It has been reported that these discussions have touched upon the effectiveness or otherwise of certain features of our Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act. It has been reported also that later discussions may be conducted on the same question between the union committee and the railway management. If, as time goes on, suggestions are put forward to improve the usefulness of the act, we shall be glad to give those suggestions consideration. In the meantime I think we might postpone opening up the act for these other amendments that I referred to a moment ago. As for myself, Mr. Speaker, I shall once more find it necessary to vote against this bill.


February 8, 1955