September 14, 1903

CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

We might pass a rule providing that in such a case the letter of credit would go, but it would not be possible to use it to pay the' disputed account.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

That would not be practicable, and we have never had the Auditor General make such proposal. He has simply failed to make application for the letter of credit, and, under the statute, his application appears to be necessary. What we propose is that the Auditor General shall have his right of representation, criticism or protest, just as he has now, but that the people to whom money is due shall get their money within reasonable time.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Will there be a return brought down of the cases in which the treasury board deem it advisable, in the Hon. Mr. FIELDING.

public interest, to override the Auditor General ?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

The statute provides that within a few days from the opening of parliament, we must bring down a special return of every matter in which the Auditor General has been overridden, and we do not propose to depart one iota from that.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

There appears to be considerable stringency in some of the departments, through the course taken by the Auditor General. Has any action been taken to relieve that stringency other than that which is now proposed ?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I know of no other means whereby we can relieve the stringency. The Auditor General will no doubt make his representations and put on record his view before parliament, and I do not know of anything we can suggest because the government must take the responsibility for everything in relation to the public affairs of the Dominion. Right or wrong, there is no help for it.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

The Finance Minister did not catch the drift of my question. In certain departments of the public service there is a stringency now, because of the Auditor General's action affecting those departments. Is any special action being taken to relieve that stringency before the passing of this Act ?

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

There is this Bill.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

But in addition, and pending the passing of this Bill ?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I can only say that the Auditor General and myself-who, I may remark, are on the best of terms ; I have the highest respect for that officer-have discussed this matter pretty fully. I have ventured to suggest that he should issue the credits in the meantime ; but he, in the exercise of what he deems, not merely his right, but his duty, declines to do so. I do not know of any other method of dealing with the matter except the introduction of this Bill-if I did, I certainly would not propose the measure.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMES CLANCY (Both well).

Of course, we can discuss the Bill to better advantage at a future stage. But, in the meantime, I can only say that, if I understood aright what the hon. Minister of Finance has said, this Bill involves a very-startling proposition. The very' purpose of the Audit Act is to afford a check on the government of the day. The hon. Minister of Finance now proposes to limit the responsibility of the Auditor General, who is the officer of parliament, and take the

responsibility upon the government which the Auditor General is to eheclc.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

We do not object to the check ; we do object to the stoppage.

I

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CON
CON
L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

There has

been a change, I presume, in the relationship existing between the Finance Department and the Auditor General's Department with regard to the issuing of these letters of credit ?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

No, there has been no change.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

Then, there

has been a change in the manner of conducting business to bring about the delays of which the Finance Minister told us?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

In the matter of statements sent in by the banks- yes.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

On whose side is the change made? Has the Finance Minister undertaken to bring about a change or has the Auditor General done so?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

The commissioners who made the examination after the defalcation referred to recommended a change; and we are simply carrying out the recommendations they made. '

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September 14, 1903