Before the vote is taken on this question I desire to say that there is a principle involved in this extending far beyond the amount that is named by my hon. friend from South Leeds (Mr. Taylor) who has just moved the reduction of the item. The principle is far reaching because what would apply to this department would apply to all the departments of government, and there is no doubt that this practice of charging up to the country Items of personal expense by ministers which to my mind have no connection whatever with the department is a growing evil and is becoming a somewhat cumbersome matter to the country. I think it is time we had some understanding and that if the government desire to continue this practice which in bygone years they denounced as being wrong they ought to place some law on the statute book authorizing it and making it clear that they have the right to take this money out of the public treasury and apply it for their personal benefit. The hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries has offered, to my mind, a very flimsy excuse indeed. He savs that because it was allowed to the late Sir John Macdonald it ought to be allowed to all the ministers who have succeeded him. Sir John Macdonald said that he was old, that he could not afford to keep a horse, and that so long as the country required his services he thought they would be obliged to pay his cab-hire. I do not think the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries will come down and make any such confession as that. He cannot say that he is too old to walk. I do not think that after the successful career he had in the municipal council of the city of Montreal and with the reputation he achieved, he will claim that he is too poor, and I think therefore that some better excuse should be offered
than that which the hon. gentleman has offered for the charge that is here made. It you can apply it to cab-hire of course you can apply it to street car fare. We find that this is a growing item. More than that, you can apply it to the use of private cars, which, by the way, is becoming rather a serious charge. Although it is indirectly that the country pays for them there is no doubt that all these private cars, whether they go to Mexico, or wherever they go, are all paid for by the people of this country. It is done by exchange, an exchange which this country has to make good to the American roads when they desire it so that practically we are paying for all these junketing expeditions of the government whether on street cars, in cabs, or in private cars.
I think it is time that some principle was laid down and that the people should know whether or not ministers have the right more than any other member of parliament to place their hands upon the public funds without the authority of law and appropriate them to their own personal benefit. I do not think it is a healthy state of affairs and it seems to me that it leads step by step along the line which eventually will bring about a very much more serious condition. I hope the hon. minister for his own sake will be able to offer some better justification for the taking of this money and applying it to his own private purposes than he has yet offered. I desire to say in reference to this pamphlet as it has been printed by the order of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries that the same courtesy should have been extended to every member of parliament and that it should have been sent to every member.