It occurs to me that possibly the hon. the Minister of Agriculture has not in his department men who may be regarded as experts in, marine matters. It seems a strange combination that a farmer should be called upon to purchase a vessel. To my mind, instead of the hon. gentleman undertaking the purchase of a vessel through the officers of his department, it would be better to hand it over to some other department where there are men experienced in marine matters, and let them furnish the vessel for the hon. gentleman. I am aware that the hon. gentleman's deputy is a lawyer, and consequently w oil Id not be able to give an opinion on a vessel any more than he would on matters of agriculture. I do not think the hon. minister is going about this matter in the right way.
My hon. friend has not been listening to what I said. I said a few minutes ago that I had not in my dej>art-ment experts on such matters, and that just as I would consult the Department of Justice on a legal question, so I will consult the Department of Marine in regard to the purchase or building a vessel. The vote is in my estimates simply because it is a vote for the administration of my department. I have already got vessels there. When 1 chartered the vessels which I have at present, I took the opinion of an officer of the Marine Department as to her fitness, her seaworthiness, and her condition. All that my officers were able to say was what they needed, then the expert had to decide whether such * and such a vessel was fitted for the work. So it will be in this case.
There are two boats at Grosse Isle quarantine station-one belonging to the government and this other one which is chartered. We have a crew which is able to run the two boats. Sometimes one boat is lying at the wharf and sometimes they are both out together, and we have sufficient crew to take both out at the same time. The crews work interchangeably just as the exigencies of the work require. There is a captain and a first mate. When both vessels are out, the one takes charge of the one and the other of the other. It would be rather difficult to say actually how much each costs. The difference between the new and the old conditions would be simply the difference between the charter price and the interest on the cost of the new vessel and the wear and tear. "We have our own disinfecting apparatus, which we will put on the new vessel when we get it built.
My hon. friend has stated that the cost of the new boat will be approximately $30,000. What the committee is entitled to is a statement as to what it will cost to equip and run a new vessel during twelve months.
I am afraid it would be very difficult to give that. Take for instance, the' engineers, there is a staff of engineers at Grosse Isle. They are all marine engineers. That is to say, they can work an engine on a boat. They not only run the engines of these two boats but also the engines on shore, which does the work of the station. There are a chief engineer and three assistants, and a certain number of stokers and deck hands who work all around. I would have to add up the wages of these and establish what amount should be charged to each boat before I could give an answer.
My hon. friend is making a complete change of policy. The policy in the past has been to charter a vessel, but he now asks the committee to vote $30,000 to purchase one. He is unable to give the committee the probable cost of equipping and running the new vessel for twelve months. Is this a step in the direction of economy and to what extent is it such a step?
To this extent. We paid last year $4,200, the same as this year, to charter a vessel. The interest on $30,000 would be probably three per cent. Then there is an allowance for wear and tear which, not being an expert, I cannot estimate. ,
000. making a total of $3,900 for wear and tear and interest as against $4,200 rent. Otherwise the service is just the same. In addition we will have the advantage of having just such a vessel as we need, always on hand.
It is peculiar that not only on this but on other occasions, the hon. minister lays down a proposition and then when we ask for information, we find he has not studied the question sufficiently to give us the information and advice we are entitled to from one who asks for a lot of money. We had that difficulty last night, and I was in hopes we would not have it again. The hon. gentleman says the purchase of this boat is in the direction of economy, but when asked what it will cost for her maintenance from year to year-not to run her or to furnish her with supplies-but her maintenance, he says he does not know. If he does not, he is not justified in saying that this new policy is in the direction of economy. If he were to tell us that the boat was absolutely essential, no matter what it cost, that this government should own another boat, that would be another question, but the only reason he gives is that it is in the interests of economy, and he has taken so little trouble to ascertain the facts that he admits his inability to state what the annual wear and tear would cost. He should have had his statement carefully prepared so that he could have shown us what the figures were, which warrant the purchase of this boat, but the only practical information we got was from the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Earle) who said that the wear and tear would cost ten per cent. Take the life of a steamer during ten years and you have a cost at the outset of $30,000 for the purchase of the boat and then $30,000 for wear and tear, amounting to $60,000. This is an important question, and 1 think hon. members are entitled to information which would enable them to determine whether there was economy in this purchase or not.