It seems to me that we have too large an interest in this undertaking to go on with such a very heavy expenditure without knowing whether or not the allegation just made is correct. If it be a fact that the Eastern Extension Cable Company have the contract to lay our cable, they certainly have in their hands great power to control its destinies in the future. I think that in the interest of Canada the hon. minister ought to be able to give us some further information in regard to that.
I might point out that this company is so strong that it not only controls the Eastern Extension Cable Company in the matter of cables, but it has cornered every steamship and factory that can be employed not only in the manufacture but in the laying of cables ; so that if we did not make a contract with them to-day, the probability is that we would not get a cable for years, until the factories could he got ready to produce the necessary material. There is a practical monopoly in both the manufacture and the laying of cables, and this company controls that monopoly. So that there is every reason why the minister in charge of the project should see that the interests of the country and the interests of the empire are protected. This great monopoly, as I told him before, will try at every stage to balk the building of this line and its completion within the proper time ; and I trust that the minister will tell ns that there is a
strong penalty clause in the contract for the completion of the work within the specified time. If there is not such a clause, this great monopoly will attempt to balk the line and do everything they can to prevent its realization.
I am very glad indeed that we can at last assure ourselves that the cable is a reality. I am sorry to learn that one of the colonies, New South Wales, thought fit to vary the terms under which the land lines should be worked after the agreement between the colonies and Great Britain had been signed. To some extent that may affect the working of the cable ; but it is well,. I think, that (lie matter, has been closed, and I should judge that after this no other colony will enter into an agreement with a rival company. which would render its own liability greater. With regard to the increased cost over the estimate, I think that is quite natural, because materials have advanced in price, rubber especially. With regard to letting the contract to a company which has more or less interest in the Eastern Extension Cable Company, I understand that that can hardly be helped, because that company has practically a monopoly of the work of laying cables, and if you advertised for tenders for the work, and that company did not get the contract, I dare say that it would advance the price of rubber and other materials to such an extent as to increase the cost of the cable by 40 per cent or 50 per cent. This is a construction company. I understand, and under their contract they must hand over the cable to the government. It is a very wealthy company. I do not see any ground for fear that the fact of their having the contract for laying the cable will give them any control over it afterwards. For my part. I am delighted at the prospect of having the Pacific cable laid within the period named.
The contract calls for payments as the cable is manufactured. It is to be made in three sections, and as it is made the government pays for it. There is a certain sum reserved. which is to be paid for the laying. So that it is like a contract for goods which are delivered and paid for as the work goes on.