That the Public Accounts of Canada for the year ending June 30, 1901, and the report of the Auditor General, volumes 1 and 2, for the same year, be referred to the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Speaking generally all those recommended by the deputy ministers in all the departments for an increase are receiving the statutory increase. These increases are being received pretty generally and are only withheld for special reasons.
Department of Printing and Stationery.-Clerical and other assistance, $2,000, printing and stationery, $1,300, sundries, $1,700.
Will the hon. minister give some explanation regarding the policy of the government in connection with this department. I believe that a large sum is now being paid to outside offices for government printing. If that be the case the government should outline a policy. The government should declare whether they have confidence in the Printing Bureau as established, or whether that Bureau is not competent to do the work. In the latter case, is it the intention of the government to extend the bureau, or do they propose adopting year by year the policy, which they condemned in former days, of subsidizing political supporters through job printing ? The expenditure on job printing outside the Bureau is this year much larger ; and the charge is made that the government are securing political support by means of job printing contracts given to newspapers for work which should be done by the Printing Department. In former days such contracts were called subsidizing the reptile press. Can this government be doing that which they formerly denounced ? I am not making any charge, but I am simply asking the hon. minister to say whether the Printing Department has lost the confidence of the government, or if not why should the government pay out so much public money to the reptile press, which is the term by which these gentlemen were wont to describe the newspapers supporting the late government.
I do not like to make any rash statement as to what we may do in the future. I am aware that Mr. FRASER.
there is a strong opinion in some quarters that the Bureau should be enlarged and also that there is a considerable question as to whether the Bureau is the most economical place in which to do the printing. I would not care to define any policy just now, but my hon. friend can have a general discussion on the question at a later stage if he thinks one necessary. In any case, if we enlarge the Bureau, my hon. friend will have to vote more money, and he is objecting to the expenditure now.
We are paying the hon. gentleman to advise us on these subjects and the government ought to have a definite policy. They have been in office six years and do not seem to have any settled policy with regard to public business except to give as much public money as they can to their supporters in the press, or to what they used to call the reptile press. We must conclude that the policy of the government is not to extend the Printing Bureau and not to investigate whether the Printing Bureau is the best means of giving us value for our money, but simply to go on spending as much as $50,000 on job printing given to one newspaper alone. What a contrast between the speech of the hon. Finance Minister today and those which these gentlemen opposite were wont to make in days gone by. It is only another case of broken pledges, and of the worst possible policy beiug adopted.
Since we have had of late years such a departure from the custom which heretofore prevailed of having the printing done in the Bureau, the government ought to be prepared to tell us how much printing is done outside so that we may understand whether it is advisable or otherwise to enlarge the Printing Bureau so that it may do our printing work entirely. If our work costs us more than it ought or more than we can get it done for outside, the sooner we know it the better. Until the last few years the work was done by the Bureau and done more expeditiously than at present, and there was a less baneful influence exercised over the press of the country. But this constant departure, during the last few years, and increasing in ratio every year, from the principles laid down by these hon. gentlemen when in opposition, cannot but attract our serious attention. The government should tell us what percentage of the work they have done outside, what the cost has been, and whether they have made up their minds to depart from the usual custom of having the printing done in the Printing Bureau.
So far as the future is concerned, that is a matter I do not wish to speak about too decisively. But as to the other point raised by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sproule) that is a reasonable one. I shall deal with it. If the information brought down in the Auditor
General's Report does not cover the point, I shall be glad to have a statement made showing the proportion of printing done in the Bureau, and the proportion done outside.
And the minister should also give us a statement showing which system is in the public interest and which the government intend to follow. Government is government, and should be run on some principle. The principle in this case is, either that we have a Printing Bureau which we intend to maintain at a high plane of efficiency and to have the government printing done there, or else that this is an impossibility and the intention is to distribute the work among the job offices of the country. When the minister gives us the report he has referred to-he has promised it and we will hold him to his promise-he must come here with a policy and he must let us know if he intends to maintain and equip the Bureau as it ought to be or whether he intends to wind it up.
But I want further information. I want some policy announced.' This is an important question and one upon which we have a right to criticise the conduct of the hon. gentlemen opposite who, in this House and all over the country cried aloud about the iniquity of the Conservative administration with regard to government printing. But if they themselves have no policy in regard to the matter, but simply intend to use the government printing to the best advantage from their own party point of view, we should be informed that such is the case.
As the hon. gentleman has consented to give us the information I think, perhaps, it should be made a little fuller and a little more intelligible than in the form he has suggested. I think we should have the various items of printing, showing where the printing was done and what it cost. This would enable us to make a comparison of that which has been done in the Printing Bureau with that which has been done outside. It may be true that all this is in the Auditor General's Report, and that by going through that very large volume we can gain the information, but we would rather have it in more convenient shape.
Hon* Mr. HAGGART. The hon. minister has promised more than that. He hinted that the work outside had been done cheaper than in the Bureau. What we want particularly is a comparison of the cost in the Bureau and the cost outside. The hon. gentleman could easily furnish that. He
must have had some authority for-I can not say the statement, but the inference that he leaves us to draw from the statement-that the printing in the Bureau would cost more than the work that we are getting done outside.
What I said was that it is contended that printing was not done more economically in the Bureau and in some cases not so economically. On that point I expressed no opinion. I have no doubt but that the authorities of the Bureau will say that it is done cheaper, and that outside printers will say the contrary.
Yes, but what does the Minister of Finance say ? He is here to tell the country about these things. He and his colleagues have asked the country to trust them with the management of public affairs on the plea that they would conduct those affairs in the public interest. He should tell us whether it is in the public interest to get the printing done in the Bureau or to give it out on political lines.