No, because the matter does not come before parliament at all until the government first takes action. I do not believe in this being done by order in council. I think I make that plain, I agree with my hon. friend from New Westminster that this more or less strikes at the independence of parliament. Some of us do not like to go and ask the government to make a special estimate and over-ride the Act of parliament for our benefit. We
must not be so toucliy about criticising these things. The general law should be amended so that it will apply automatically to all within the description of the law. The thing should be made a matter of right for the member or for his heirs if he should happen to die. I protest against this thing being done by order in council, as it is when it comes in the supplementary estimates. I think the Minister of Finance should carry out what he defends, and do it as a business man by amending an Act of parliament.
The only reason why this has come from the government is that it is a money matter. I do not think that any hon. member on either side of the House availing himself of this amendment to the law, comes under an obligation to the government. If he draws a sessional indemnity under the general Act he has to get that by the government of Canada coming here and proposing that that Act be adopted. This is an amendment to the statute. When this estimate is passed into law it becomes for the time being, as respects these people, an amendment to the statute; and if any hon. member who avails himself of the benefit of that comes under an obligation to the government, then he is equally under an obligation to the government when he draws his salary, or allowance under a general Act. In both cases he gets it upon the initiation of the government, but that does not involve any obligation to the government.
Surely the hon. gentleman sees the difference. In the one case, every session, at the dying hours of the session, we should have to have an estimate brought in by the government saying that for this session we shall be paid so much indemnity. On the other hand the statute is there and fixes the indemnity. The hon. gentleman surely does not mean that that statute can be repealed and that we should come in at the end of every session and have supplementary estimates brought down saying that we shall have so much indemnity.
I do not think after all there is much difference between this proposition, and what we have been in the habit of doing for many years. I have often thought that the statute itself was wrong in insisting that a man, in order to be relieved, had to live in Ottawa, or within ten miles of Ottawa. If he lived beyond that then he had to lose a part of his indemnity. During the present session I have been ill in Ottawa, and been prevented from attending the House. I do not lose the eight or ten days I have been ill, but had I been ill at home I certainly would have. I do not understand why there should be a distinction between a
man living in Ottawa, and a man living a hundred miles from Ottawa as regards illness. I think this proposition is more in accordance with justice thaij the Act we have upon the statute-book. I know one hon. member, whose name I will not mention, who was absent nearly two months on public business, and I do not think it is fair that he should be called upon to lose his indemnity when he is obliged to be absent. I have no hesitation in supporting the proposition. It has been an old custom ever since I have been in parliament, over twenty years, that if a member dies during the session the full amount of the indemnity which has not been paid to him shall be paid to his legal representatives. If the head of the family is taken away by death, I think it is a proper thing to see that the widow gets the indemnity. We have done that all the time, both in regard to senators, and to members of the House of Commons.
I agree with the remarks of my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson). I wish to bring up one case that occurred a number of years ago where I always felt that the member was treated unfairly, I refer to Mr. Livingstone, who was then member for North Waterloo. He broke his leg when not in Ottawa, and the House refused to give him his indemnity. I brought the matter up at the time, although he was a member on the opposition side of the House.
I have no objection to the passing of this item. But I agree with my hon. friend from Lincoln (Mr. Lancaster) that as this is a question that comes up every year, why not have a statute that will cover it, and have the thing settled? Suppose a man who lives in the far east, or in the far west, on account of illness in his family, has to remain at home two or three weeks, is that not just as serious as if he was sick at home? I believe that the fifteen days grace that is allowed by statute to members who have to come here for four or five months in the year, is not enough, I believe we should have a longer grace. I think it would be fair to say that we should have at least four or five days in the month, because it is impossible for one living as far east as I do to leave here on Friday night and get back before the following Tuesday night. I believe that a committee of this House should take the matter up and see if it cannot be regulated and a statute formulated that would cover it so that eyery man would know what he has to expect.
Yes, from the date of his return, I think, would be the proper way to treat it, and if he were prevente.d, by illness from being sworn in he would be still entitled to his indemnity. That is the way I would interpret this item, but, he would not be entitled to a full indemnity, because he was not a member for the full session.
I say this is a most improper proceeding and a most invidious ease. I do not think that there is any gentleman who was so ill that he could not come up and take the oath or take his seat in the House. It only adds force to what' I said before as to the impropriety of these proceedings. If an hon. member gets elected as a member of this Flouse, pays no attention to his election, goes away for months, comes back here and draws his full indemnity it is a most improper proceeding and one we should not countem ance. Votes of this kind should be closely scrutinized every time and not allowed to go through without discussion. What proportion of this vote is to go for days lost by absence on public business during the present session? There is no public business appertaining to the duties of a member as such which calls for his absence from the House, and I do not think that any member should be paid his indemnity as a member of this House for public business otherwise performed. We have suffered in the House of Commons this year, we have been delayed far beyond the time when we might have been expected to return to our homes because of the absence of members of the government. It seems to be rubbing it into us to ask us, after keeping us here, to vote the full sessional indemnity to ministers who have been away on business which did not necessarily call for their absence from the House, and on business which might have been performed by other per-* sons quite as well as by these ministers.
1 do not think it is a proper principle. This indemnity is paid to members of parliament for their services in parliament. If they do not perform these services, but accept other employment, whether under the Crown or otherwise, I think it is an improper principle to pay them their full indemnity. How much of this sum is to pay for days of absence caused by public business?
If any member of the government has been away attending tg Mr. J. D. TAYLOE.
other public business, it is the hon. member's contention that he might have remained in the House attending to his duties here and that some person else might have performed the duties that the member of the government performed during his absence. In that ease, is it not true that whoever else might have been employed in place of the member of the government would have been paid for his services. In that case what difference would it make?
The hon. gentleman did not say that a civil servant could have performed the duties and probably he could not have. The hon. gentleman spoke of the case of a man who had not taken the oath or taken his seat. I cannot see that thah makes any difference to a man's equitable right at all. There is only one case this session that I remember of to which the remarks of the hon. gentleman would apply. I understand that when, that hon. gentle-i man went away from the city he had to bet carried to the train upon a stretcher. Surely the hon. gentleman would not desire that a man should be carried on a stretcher to the House of Commons to take the oath in order to be entitled to his indemnity?
The hon. member for South Grey (Mr. Miller) has argued that, a man outside of this House should be paid as if he were in the House. I quite agree with my hon. friend from New Westminster (Mr. Taylor). A man is employed here just as he is employed by anybody else. The people employ that man to come here, and do the public business. If he is not here doing that business he should not be paid as if he were. The hon. member for South Grey would not employ .some one in his absence if he were ill, and pay both of them. He would not employ two men to do the work of one, and pay both. There may be reasons, as was stated by the hon. Minister of Finance, which would cause us to take a charitable view of some of these cases, but I would say to the hon. member for South Grey that surely he is not going to argue that there should be a statute saying one thing, and the sweet will of a cabinet saying another at the end of every session in regard to whether a man is to be paid who is not here. As a matter of principle the statute should speak
for itself. If it is not fair, amend it, but let the people of the country know what the rights of a member are, and do not let us have this at the end of every session.