February 12, 1947 (20th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative


This resolution is to introduce a measure designed to put into force one of the aspects of unification of the services and I think it affords a proper opportunity to bring up again the question of appointing a defence committee. This matter was first raised in my hearing in the session of 1945 by the hon. member for Vancouver South, and it was raised again last session by myself and also by the hon. member for Nanaimo and various other hon. members. Every time the suggestion was made the minister for the time being replied that the suggestion merited the most careful consideration, that it had a great deal to be said for it, but as other considerations had to be borne in mind the committee was not appointed.
I do not think it is necessary to take a great deal of time to go over again the purposes which this committee would serve and the advantages which would follow. Hon. members on this side of the house-and I imagine this applies to private members on the other side-have a feeling of frustration in that we cannot find out anything about the defence policy of this country. There is one result that will follow. There will be in the minds of hon. members, and I am certain it will be in the minds of the people of 'this country, when the estimates of this department are brought before us covering hundreds of millions of dollars, a feeling that they should be slashed, that $20,000,000 should be taken off here and $50,000,000 taken off there. On the other hand, when certain cuts are made, such as a reduction in the forces, we have not a sufficient knowledge of defence policy upon which to base our criticism.
Last session I suggested that it was the duty of hon. members to acquaint, not only themselves but their constituents, with the necessity for an adequate defence force and how it could best be maintained. I drew attention to the fact that we were not in position to do that because of this lack of adequate information about defence matters. In answer to my question, the Minister of National Defence at that time said1 that he was sympathetic to the appointment of such a committee, but that during that session.-this was the last session -it had been simply impossible to appoint the committee. I should like to quote what the minister said, as reported on page 5269 of Hansard:
-so that at the beginning of another session,-
He was referring to the session which is just commencing:
-which we could perhaps regard as our first normal session of the new parliament, it should be possible to give early consideration to that question. The real reason why it was not

Standing Committees
actively considered this time was that there were so many other matters which had to be dealt with that it would not have been possible for members to serve on another committee.
I suggest that that was the only possible reason which could be given for not appointing that committee, and) therefore it should be appointed now without further delay.
Another reason is that another defence measure is coming up and we do not want to be in the position we were in, with regard to another bill and not be able to refer it to a committee. Will the minister say whether he is prepared to appoint this committee and, if so, when it will be appointed? If he is not prepared to appoint it, will he give the reasons governing his decision?

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