The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR (Hon. Clifford Sifton) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 29) to amend tne Dominion Lands Act. He said : I may say in explanation of this Bill, that its various clauses relates more or less to matters of detail in the administration of Dominion lands. The first clause needs no explanation. The second clause is for the purpose of enabling another officer to sign official documents in place of the commissioner of Dominion lands in his absence. The third clause relates to the date at which the settler is required to perfect his homestead entries by going upon the land. It provides that the entry may be declared void at the end of six months in the discretion of the minister of the department. At the present time, and for some years past, that has been the actual practice, and my attention was called to the fact that the practice has not been in accordance with the statute, and I propose to ask the House to amend the statute so as to make it accord with what has been the practice. Strictly to follow the statute at present might work a great injustice, because sometimes settlers are not able to go upon the land within the exact period of six months. The fourth clause enables the settler Who comes from the United States to have one year from the time he is making his entry to perfect it. It is found that is necessary in the case of people who come from the western states, who sometimes, after selecting their land, are not able to come back as soon as they intended. Under this clause he may have one year to perfect his entry. The fifth clause relates to an amendment made a year or two ago with respect to the homestead law under which a settler was enabled to perform his residence upon the second homestead by living upon his first homestead. It was the intention that that clause should apply only in cases where homesteads were taken up in the vicinity of the first homestead. But the settlers display considerable ingenuity in interpreting the law, and some have attempted to make it apply where the homesteads were in different parts of the countrv 14}
altogether. The amendment adds these words : ' If the second homestead is in the vicinity of the first homestead.' The sixth clause is for the purpose of removing a provision which was contained in an amendment made at the instance of the then member for Western Assiniboia, Mr. Davin, some three years ago, to enable the homesteader to get his patent for a second homestead by having a certain number of cattle instead of doing cultivation duties. The provision requiring that he shall cultivate at least one acre of land has also been found to be of no practical benefit, and we propose to remove it. The seventh section is for the purpose of removing a clerical error that existed in the amendment made a couple of years ago. The eighth section is for the purpose of removing a doubt ir. regard to the construction of a clause in the Dominion Lands Act, relating to assignments which settlers might make before they were entitled to their patent. The law does not permit a settler to make an assignment before he is entitled to his patent, but it was found in operation to be very hard, because a settler might make an assignment without knowing the provisions of the law and without intending to violate them. Two or three different provisions were made in regard to this particular subject. This clause is for the purpose of making clear the effect of the last amendment. I will go into it more fully when the Bill is before the Committee and when the legal effect of the amendment may be explained.
The 9th clause is for the purpose of enabling the Department of the Interior to issue a patent to a settler or a company who may have made an advance to a settler under the provisions of the Act which was passed a number of years ago, providing that companies might make advances to settlers upon the security of their homesteads. There have been cases in which settlers have got advances, have complied with the requirements of the law as to residence and cultivation of the soil and have left the country without getting their patents, thinking perhaps that the land was not worth any more than the advance upon it. In such cases it is quite clear that the companies are entitled to the patent for the- land so as to realize the security which was provided for under the original Act. A technical difficulty has arisen in this case by reason of the fact that some of these settlers were not British subjects and consequently the department could not issue the patents. The purpose of the amendment is to enable the department to issue a patent when the settler is not a British subject and has not taken out his naturalization papers.
The 10th clause is to enable the Department of the Interior to issue grazing leases under regulations made by the Governor in Council without each individual lease coming before council. It has been found to be extremely troublesome and to cumber