Mr. LEWIS moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 297) respecting bank officials, employees and creditors. He said: It is obvious that at this date of the session it will be impossible for any one to put this Bill through the House without the consent of the government. But the purpose I desire to serve in introducing this Bill is to lay before the government and the people, in concrete form, certain remedies for certain grievances which have been found to exist in the Bank and other Acts, to be considered during the adjournment, and the feeling of the people respecting same ascertained. They are not contained in the old Bank Aet of 1890, or in the ' proposed new Bank Act. I have con-fered with the counsel who had charge of the criminal prosecutions in the province of Ontario in reference to the Sovereign Sir WILFRID LAURIER
Bank and the Farmers' Bank, and it is at their request that some of these clauses have been put in this Bill. The first clause is in reference to punishment for any person forcing or coercing a bank manager to give a fraudulent preference. There were two men charged with having aided and conspired, in the Farmers' Bank case, with the manager and other officials, to give a fraudulent preference, who were released because the Act at present does not render the creditors of any bank or any other person liable in such cases. The first clause reads:
Every one is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years who, being the president, vice-president, director, manager, cashier or other officer of a bank, wilfully gives or concurs in giving any creditor of such bank any fraudulent, undue or unfair preference over other ereditors, or who, being a creditor, forces or assists in forcing, coerces or i uduces any president, vicepresident, director, manager, cashier or other officer of a bank to give any creditor of such bank any fraudulent, undue or unfair preference over other creditors.
You will see, Mr. Speaker, that it goes further than the new Bank Act, It is a concrete statement. I think that a provision like the following has been asked for by the people of this country. There was a strong feeling in the province of Ontario, and particularly in the city of Toronto, when the president of one of the banks who was charged with an offence like this, was not found guilty simply because it was not proved that he knew the document he signed was untrue.
2. The president, vice-president, director, manager or other officer of a bank who makes or assists in making any false or deceptive statement in any account, return, report or other document respecting the affairs of such bank, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, whether or not he knew such account, return, report or other document to be false or deceptive.
3. Any official or director of a bank is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years who, by himself or through any other person, accepts a loan, discount or other accommodation from the bank of which he is an official or director.
I think it should be provided, as it is in the Independence of Parliament Act, in reference to accounts with the government, that any one who is connected with a bank, or who is an official in a fiduciary capacity, should have no power to accept accommodation from that bank. If he is a private person and desires accommodation, he has a right to go to other banks, so should a bank official. But his hands must be clean.
4. Any director, manager or other official of a bank or other corporation is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years who, by himself or
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through others, assists in the creation of what is commonly known as watered stock for the bank or other corporation of which he is such director, manager or other official.
I have conferred with the law officers of the Crown in drawing that clause, and we discussed the question as to whether we should put in a definition of watered stock. I hope that the government will take charge of this Bill, or draft legislation in reference to it, and will then make the necessary definition as to what is watered stock, although we all know what it is.
5. Any director, manager or other official of a bank who makes a loan on the security either wholly or partly of a mine or mining company, or on the stock of such mine or mining company, which has not been listed, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
2. In case of a loan on security on listed stock, the value of such stock shall be taken at the listed value up to par.
I think that the clauses 1 have read are in the interest of the commercial integrity of the business people, and of the plain people of Canada, as well as the hanks, and will he welcomed by bank managers. I have added another clause in this embryo Bill, and that is in reference to employees of a bank. Formerly, as was well known to the public, the young bank clerks were supposed to have what is known as an easy situation. They went to work at half past nine, and left their office by half past three or four o'clock. But to-day things have changed absolutely. The banks are making money much faster than formerly, and as, like other corporations, they have no soul, they have contracted miserly habits, and are reaching out after the dollar. To-day there are hundreds and hundreds of young men being worked to death in the banks at $300 or $400 a year, and are doing the work of men who usually draw $1,000 or $1,200; and they are being injured materially, mentally and physically. Almost every day we see in the daily papers that Mr. So-and so, the manager of the bank in the Northwest, or somewhere else-I have a number of such items in my possession-has committed suicide, but his accounts were all correct, &c. What has been the cause of it? What has been the cause of that? Why, overwork and worry, and long hours in close confinement. So much has this been the case that the banks have been unable to procure enough young men in this country, and they have had to go to the old country for them. Not long ago one of the chief banks brought fifty young men from the old country to take the places of our own young men, and 1 am credibly informed by a bank manager that these young men brought out from the old
country receive $600 a year, while our young men get only $200 to $300 to start with, and the young men from the old country are not as capable as our own young men. I do not say anything against these young men, but, not having been brought up in this country, and not being familiar with the ways of the country, they cannot be as capable as our own young men at first. I have drawn a clause to this effect, and I think it will be welcomed by young bank managers and old bank managers too, except probably those in the head offices of the banks:
6. Any manager, agent or directing officer of any bank, or of any agency, of a bank, who causes any clerk or employee under him to work within any office or building longer than eight hours in any one day, such eight hours being divided by one hour, between the hours of noon and two in the afternoon, during which such clerk or employee may go outside of such office or building, is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not less than $200. „ ...
2. The provisions of subsection 1 ot tnis section do not apply to tellers, nor on the day upon which the monthly return is made up.
While it may be hard enough for the labouring man to work eight or ten hours a day in the free open air, it is very much harder for a clerk in an office where a large number of these young men are assembled together. Go into any office in Toronto or Montreal, and you will find probably 200 young men from 16 to 20 years of age, white faced and anaemic, toiling over their ledgers. I was in the city of Toronto the other day j,nd,_ passing the banks and similar institutions, I saw these young men, although it was not at the end of the month, grinding away at half past eight in the morning and the same hour in the evening. They have no intermission. Unlike the civil servants with their hour and a half in the middle of the day, these bank clerks are given fifteen minutes to go downstairs and get a cup of tea and a bite to eat. I am merely stating the facts, and I would ask the Minister of Finance, who has the Bank Bill in charge, why such things should be.^ The banks are granted their powers by this parliament, they are making money, and they should no-t interfere with the health and physical well-being of any persons in their employ.