AYLESWORTH moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 159) to amend the Exchequer Court Act.
EXCHEQUER COURT ACT AMEMDMENT.
I am not able to state with exactness the provisions of this Bill as I have not seen a copy of it, but I understand that the shape in which it finally passed the Senate was an extension of the jurisdiction of the Exchequer Court to include the case of accidents which may happen not merely upon the line of government railways, but, speaking generally, in consequence of the operation of such railways. That is the scope of the enactment as it is now presented to this House.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.
VOLUNTEER BOUNTY ACT-AMENDMENT.
Hon. FRANK OLIVER moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 163) to amend the Volunteer Bounty Act, 1908. Some lion. MEMBERS. Explain.
The purpose of the Bill is to extend the time during which the scrip issued under the Volunteer Bounty Act may be located from the end of the year 1910 to the end of the year 1911. There are two minor amendments which do not affect the principle of the Bill, and which can be explained fully in committee.
Does this extension apply to scrip that is already sold and in the
hands of speculators, or does it apply only to scrip in the hands of volunteers?
There is no distinction in the original Act between scrip that is in the hands of volunteers and scrip that is in the hands of speculators, and neither is there any distinction in the amendment to the Act.
I might point out to the minister what he very well knows1 that owing to the very short time that was given a great many of these volunteers to locate their land they found it absolutely impossible to do so. This war was brought to a close in 1902. Year after year this matter was brought to the attention of the government, and year after year we were met with the statement that the government had not decided whether they would retain control of the northwest lands or hand them over to the provinces. Finally, in 1905, the government decided to retain control of these lands, the matter was pressed on their attention again, and it took us three years to get this scrip issued. Meantime, the volunteers had lost heart, they had no notion that they were likely to get this scrip, and when at last the minister did justice in the case, or a certain degree of justice, and decided to issue this scrip, the announcement came upon the volunteers so suddenly that, not having saved up their money, they were not in a position to go out and take up their homesteads. I know many volunteers who, if they had had any notion that they were going to get even one year's extension, would not have sold their scrip. The matter was taken up by a number of speculators!, gentlemen who are well known to us, and some of whom are not more than a thousand miles away from this House, they have secured this scrip practically for a song, for a dollar or a dollar and a half per acre, and they retailed it, in many instances, at two and three times what it cost them. I maintain that it is unfair to the volunteer who sold his scrip under the conditions laid down by the old Act that the speculator, who secured that scrip, should have the right to this extension. He will only stand in the way of the honest volunteer who wants to secure a homestead. I maintain that this extension should only be given with respect to scrip already issued to bona fide volunteers who wish to settle on the land themselves. Had they been given the right to take this scrip in 1902, and had they been allowed until 1911 to settle on the land, 95 per cent of the volunteers would have gone upon the land. Had they known that they would have six ur eight years to get ready for settlement upon the land they would have gone upon the land, and would to-day as farmers be assisting in the up-building of the Northwest. As it is the
scrip has largely fallen into the hands of speculators, and I very much fear that the result of one year's extension-I certainly would have preferred two years-will be to cause this scrip still further to fall into the hands of speculators.
I would like to ask the minister whether the class of persons to be benefited by volunteer scrip is to be extended to others. The Imperial South African Volunteer Association, I understand, have applied for a grant. Is it the intention of the government to extend this grant to those persons or to any others who served during the war?
As I have already explained, the Bill simply provides for an extension of time during which the scrip which was provided for under the Act of 1908 may be located. That is the only important provision of the Bill. It does not provide for any extension of the principles of the Act of' 1908, or give the benefit of the Act to any other persons than those provided for in the Act of 1908.
Mr. J. A. CURRIE.
I understand that one hon. gentleman on the other side of the House introduced a motion or a Bill into the House permitting volunteers who had taken up their land and found the land worthless to exchange it for better land elsewhere. I would like to ask the minister if this Bill covers the point, and if it is the intention to grant such a privilege. I understand that quite a number of the volunteers went to the Northwest in good faith to locate their land. They had very little money, and less time. Immediately they landed there they were in the hands of men who were interested in townsites, and land corporations, and they were led off into desert country, in some cases thirty and forty miles away from the railway, and were induced to locate on this land in order to increase the value of other land held by these corporations. After locating, they discovered that their land was of very little use, and in addition that it would be perhaps years before they would be in a position to take advantage of the market being so far away from the railway. One of the hon. members from the west introduced a measure to correct that, and to permit them to exchange their homesteads for other lands more suitable to their purpose. I would like to know if the minister has included a provision in the Bill to meet cases of that kind.
Again I have to say that on the introduction of the Bill I stated its provisions. The Bill does not make any provision for the case which my hon. friend has mentioned.
Mr. J. A. CURRIE.
Will there be another Bill introduced that will?
I cannot answer that, but I presume there will not.
I am sorry to hear the minister state that there are not going to be any extensions or privileges granted to others than those already mentioned in the old Act. In my opinion, Sir, there should be included in the bounty Act the men who enlisted and started on the journey to South Africa, but who met with misfortune of some kind on the way and had to be invalided. I think these invalided men have just as good a right to the privileges as those who went forward and served in the war.
Once they were enlisted.
Yes, I refer to the enlisted men. If there are any changes made in the Act these men should be included in it.