Bill (No. 12) respecting the Edmonton and Slave Lake Railway Company.-Hon. Mr. Costigan.
Bill (No. 13) respecting the Canada and Michigan Bridge and Tunnel Company.- Mr. Cowan.
Bill (No. 14) to incorporate the Indian River Railway Company.-Mr. Bfiland.
Bill (No. 15) respecting the River St. Clair Railway Bridge and Tunnel Company. -Mr. Ingram.
Bill (No. 16) respecting the Manitoba and North-western Railway Company of Canada.-Mr. Douglas.
Bill (No. 17) to incorporate the Lake Bennett Railway Company.-Mr. Morrison.
Bill (No. 18) to incorporate the Velvet (Rossland) Mine Railway Company.-Mr. Galliher.
Bill (No. 19) relating to the Regina Law Library.-Hon. Charles Fitzpatrick.
MARCONI'S WIRELESS TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
On the Order being called for :
First reading of Bill entitled : * An Act to confirm an agreement between the Government of Canada and Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited.'
The MINISTER OF JUSTICE (Hon. Charles Fitzpatrick).
I wish, Mr. Speaker, that this Order should be dropped as the matter will be dealt with in another way.
House in Committee of Supply.
Department of Trade and Commerce, including J. P. Nutting, at $2,000, and J. Byrnes at $1,450, notwithstanding anything in the Civil Service Act, $12,690.
The MINISTER OF TRADE AND COMMERCE (Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright).
I might explain to my hon. friends opposite that, owing to the inspectorship having been added to this department, they will find an increase here of one officer in the item of first-class clerks, who has been transferred from Inland Revenue to our office. With respect to the other matters of increases they will observe they are all of the $50 order with the exception of one, a chief clerk, Mr. J. Byrnes. Mr. Nutting, who is to receive $100, is an officer of long standing in the service and has now a pretty high rank, in fact, virtually acting deputy.
My experience is not quite sufficient to enable me to answer that fully. I would just mention to my hon. friend that an item will come up under the head of grain inspection, when I shall probably be able to give the fullest explanation. Somewhere at the very close he will find that that item will come up. One complaint which was made to me, and I think it was made before I took over this branch, was that very large fees had been paid, I think amounting to as high as $10,000 or $12,000, to these inspectors ; and it was thought better to put them on salary and to have the fees paid into the general treasury, than to allow these gentlemen to go on collecting these very large amounts. That is the chief thing. Of course if there are any points in which the trade has occasion to complain, we should be glad to look into the matter and rectify it to the best of our ability. Then a complaint has been made, and is now being investigated, so far as I remember, that there is an unnecessary number of inspections, and that some of them might well be done away with. We are investigating that matter to see if it can be remedied. Of course it is our object to see that the trade is harassed as little as possible ; at the same time if the inspection is to go on at all the grain has to pass through the hands of an inspector. But later on that will be taken up. On page 87, item 276, my hon. friend will see that the whole matter will come up, and then it will be fully discussed.
I observe that on this page there are, I think, 24 items altogether and with respect to 13 of them the Civil Service Act is repealed pro tanto. Does the hon. gentleman think that is a desirable style of legislation-to have an Act which is repealed with regard to any particular item whenever it is found convenient to repeal it ? The estimates are sent up to the other House under a conditiou that they must either accept the whole appropriation Bill or reject the whole of it. I have brought the matter to the attention of the House on other occasions, and I cannot allow this to pass without putting in my protest against this practical repeal of the Civil Service Act. The Act should be amended if it cannot be observed. It does not seem to me to be a good system, and I do not think my hon. friend will say it is a good system to pursue with reference to this Act.
There is a great deal in what my hon. friend says. But at the same time he will see that often great inequalities have crept Hon. Mr. BERNIER.
into the payments of many of these officers. In the case of Mr. Nutting, for a considerable number of years he received no increase at all, and this is virtually giving him the statutory increases which in the ordinary course he would have been receiving. In the other case it is only a statutory increase of $50. But this gentleman had been, as I understand, at the head of the second service class for a considerable time, and when he was put into my department and given charge of a rather important branch, it was thought the least we could do would be to give him $50 as well- as the rank of first-class clerk. While I candidly admit that both legally and otherwise the hon. gentleman is right and we ought not to have so many of these cases, still these are very small sins, as he will observe.
These are the pin-pricks which make our life intolerable on this side of the House. I want to say to my hon. friend that I am not finding any fault with these gentlemen, or criticising the increases to them in any way, for I have no doubt they are capable gentlemen and deserving of the increases granted. My remarks are applicable to the system. It seems to me a bad system, and that we would do better to amend the Act so as to confer some greater discretion, if necessary, on the different departments, than to repeal it from time to time in a way which prevents the Upper House from dealing with it. I am not sure that the Senate would not be perfectly justified in throwing out the whole appropriation Bill on this account. They are not supposed to amend that Bill at all, but must either reject or accept it in its entirety. The result is that an Act which they have passed is being repealed by this House in such a way that they have not one word as to the wisdom or unwisdom of the proposed repeal. That is net a satisfactory way of conducting legislation, and I am glad that, so far as the principle is concerned, the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce agrees in the view I have stated.
Department of Trade and Commerce-Clerical and other assistance notwithstanding anything in the Civil Service Act, $2,500 : printing and stationery, $1,700 ; sundries, $2,800 ; total, $7,000.