Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):
Mr. Speaker, this has a little more to it than met the eye when one looked at the resolution. I have referred to the salaries of the civil service commissioners several times as an example of something that needs to be tidied up in our financial administration. The Secretary of State has just pointed out their salaries are fixed by statute at a certain amount, but in addition to that they have been receiving a further $2,000 by virtue of items in the estimates. For example, in the estimates of the current year, passed in the session that ended last June, there is item 76 which includes $2,000 for each of the commissioners additional to the amount provided by chapter 53 of the statutes of 1947. I have pointed out several times how the Auditor General has frowned upon this practice. He has stated that we should not legislate by having an item in the estimates year after year. If there is something we want to make permanent it should be written into the statutes. I have suggested several times that that recommendation of the Auditor General should be implemented, namely that this statute should be amended so as to provide therein for the full amount of salary being paid to the civil service commissioners.
When I saw this resolution on the order paper I complimented the Secretary of State (Mr. Bradley), when I was speaking on the Financial Administration Act, upon what I felt was the intent of this resolution. From what has just been said I gather that this resolution goes a great deal further. It will take the question of the salaries of the civil service commissioners right out of the statute, right out of the control of parliament, and make them subject only to the governor in council. I strongly object to that being done.
We have just had a debate on two measures which fixed salaries by statute. There was no change in the general principle of parliamentary control over those salaries. Earlier we
passed an amendment to the Judges Act in which the salaries of judges are fixed by statute. The salaries of cabinet minister are fixed by statute. I realize that the salaries of deputy ministers are not, and in fact I was surprised the other night when 1 learned that the salary of a certain deputy minister had been increased over and above what was indicated in the current estimates.
I think we should have some explanation as to why we are being asked to change the statute in this way. I think the government should tell us also whether they have any intention after this bill is passed of increasing the salaries of the civil service commissioners. At the present time they receive by way of statute and an item in the estimates $12,000 for the chief commissioner and $10,000 for the other two. I was sympathetic with the hon. member for Queens (Mr. McLure) a while ago in his attitude toward raising these other salaries, but those were salaries in brackets lower than these now under review.
As I say, I am wondering whether the bill to be based on this resolution will increase these salaries. At least we in parliament know in most cases what is happening, whereas this proposal seems to take this matter right out of our control. I question whether we should be asked to accept this without further explanation, without the government taking parliament completely into their confidence as to their plans.
Subtopic: AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS