February 12, 1912

OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE DEBATES.

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Mr. J. D.@

TAYLOR (New Westminster) moved the adoption of the- first report of the Select Standing Committee to supervise the debates of the House, which reads as follows:

Your committee have had under consideration the subject of the organization of the office of the official reporters, and, with a view to promoting efficiency and economy, would recommend:-

(1) That the official heretofore styled the

chief reporter be henceforth designated editor of debates, and be given the direction and supervision of the reporting and of all other matters connected with the preparation and publication of the official report other than the translating; and that he be exempted from the work of reporting except in cases of emergency. , .

(2) That one of the reporters be designated associate editor of debates, and, in the absence of the editor, discharge his duties and

have his authority, but when not so acting continue as at present to take his turn at reporting.

(3) That the official, at present styled assistant to the chief reporter, be designated assistant editor.

(4) That, to enable this arrangement to be carried out, it is advisable that an additional English reporter be appointed.

(5) That, with a view of attaining greater efficiency in connection with the reporting, the proper authorities be requested to give effect to the application of two members of the reporting staff who are applying for supex

annuation.

(6) That the analytical index to the English and French editions of the official .report of the debates of this House be discontinued forthwith.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I would like to have a word of explanation on this report.

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CON

George Taylor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

There are three recommendations in this report. The first deals with the organization of the ' Hansard ' staff and it is precisely the same as contained in ia report presented to this House last year by the Debates Committee and which stood over because exception was taken to it in that the committee thought tit to recommend certain of the reporters by name, it being considered that in that respect the committee was exceeding its *authority. The report is presented again this year and there is omitted from it anything that seemed to be in excess of the authority of the committee. The first recommendation is that the chief reporter, as he has been called, shall be relieved from duty on the floor of the House and assigned to duty in the ' Hansard ' office as editor and controller of ' Hansard.'

The next recommendation is that another member of the staff shall be known as associate editor, who will take the place of the editor in case the latter is absent; the associate editor to do duty as usual on the floor of the House. In place of the editor an additional member is to be added to the reporting staff. The next division of the report deals with the application for superannuation made by two very old members of the ' Hansard ' staff who have rendered faithful service in their time. They were the very best men in the country, but they are no longer equal to the arduous duties imposed on them, and after . long years of -service they ask to be retired. The committee recommends that the proper authority should give effect to these two applications for superannuation. The last section of -the report d-e-ails with what is known -as the -analytical index. This index was discussed in the House not long ago by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mir. Foster), who stated he -had examined it -and found it was of no use. He -appealed to the Minister of Finance for an opinion and Mr. Fielding replied ias reported in ' Hansard V ' If it is not held against me, I -must s-ay that I have never seen it.' Upon inquiry we have found that this analytical index is some years behind and that the last copy for the session before last was -only delivered in the office of the King's Printer in January of thi-s year. The fact -that no person has noticed that the index i-s two years behind seems . to show that no interest whatever is taken in it. Upon finding that this index cost $4,600 l-ast year to -prepare and print, the committee thought they were performing their duty iu recommending that the index be discontinued. Summarized, the report recommends: the superannuation of tw-o reporters well entitled to superannuation, the -addition of one member to the staff and the abolishing of the index which cost $4,600 a ye-aa: and which is of no use.

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Right Hon. S@

May I -ask the hon. gentleman who are the reporters who are recommended for superannuation?

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CON
LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I think nobody will object to the superannuation of Mr. Abbott and Mr. Duggan. They were very good reporters, as everybody knows, and the House will regret that they have been obliged to ask for superannuation, but of course, as with everybody else, the years of service have told upon them, and they feel they are no longer equal to the arduous task of reporting on the floor of this House. May I ask, if the analytical index is discontinued, whose services will be dispensed with?

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CON

George Taylor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

I am sorry to say that I cannot tell upon whom this will fall, because, as nearly as I understand it, the persons who have done the work are not the persons to whom the cheques issue.

I think I can tell the persons who have done the work, but I do not know in whose name the cheques issue.

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. W. FOWLER (Kings and Albert).

May I ask a question with regard to the appointment of officials upon the ' Hansard ' staff. As I understand it there are now some vacancies, and I noticed in the last issue of the ' Gazette ' an advertisement to which I would call the attention of the House. It is headed ' Civil Service Commission ' and it gives notice to the public that there are vacancies on the ' Hansard ' staff, and it states the requirements for the position of a ' Hansard ' reporter. Some of it is rather amusing. In the first place I had always supposed that vacancies on the ' Hansard ' -staff were to be filled from class ' B ' of the second division, which includes the gentlemen who ere now acting as reporters for the various

committees of the House. There are three gentlemen acting in that capacity, and they are very competent. I think any person who has had experience in the committees of this House for a number of years will bear me out in saying that these gentlemen are most competent. I always supposed that the reporting of the committees was a sort of training school for reporting on the floor of the House, but I find that the Civi'l Service Commission has advertised far and wide throughout the country for persons to come forward and pass the examination. There is no doubt but that some of the questions specified by the Civil Service Commission are necessary, and perhaps the one to which I am going to call attention is necessary too, but it does seem to me that the Civil Service Commission might have been more sparing of the feelings of the members of the House and left this requirement out:

4. Sufficient literary skill to reconstruct in correct and concise form, with proper paragraphing and punctuation, passages containing awkward or ungrammatical expressions, or words inaccurately used.

The Civil Service Commission possibly from practical experience in listening to the debates in this House, seem to think it necessary that a high degree of skill along the lines of reconstruction of sentences should be possessed by any person appointed a ' Hansard ' reporter.

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LIB
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

However much the Civil Service Commission may be impressed by that idea, it would perhaps have been just as well to have said nothing about it in the advertisement, but to have examined the candidates upon it when they presented themselves for examination.

There are many other things in connection with these examinations which seem peculiar. It is laill very well to pass these examinations, and you may ask what objection would the gentlemen who are now' in Subdivision ' B ' have to pres*enting themselves for examination for promotion to Subdivision ' A ' as ' Hansard ' reporters, but when one comes to look over the list of subjects of which a knowledge must be possessed by candidates, one is not surprised that these gentlemen would rather not present themselves for examination, however well equipped for the general duties of ' Hansard ' reporters they might be. For instance here are some of the subjects: They are to

write an essay on: * The Follies of Fashion.' Now what in the world 'that has to do with any qualification for a ' Hansard ' reporter I do not know. Some of the members of the ' Hansard ' staff we know are of the ' glass of fashion, and the mould of form.' I have one in my mind's eye at the pre-Mr. FOWLER.

sent time, but 1 think we can leave that to the individual preference of the gentleman himself rather than ask him to be proficient and efficient along those lines. Then also they are to w'rite an, essay on the ' Boy Scouts ' or ' My Favourite Recreation ', w'hether that be at the Golf Club or at the bar, or w'here. Bicycling is another subject. The great snow storm is another.

I suppose, as my hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries suggests, that was on the 21st of September. The ' First Money I Ever Earned ' is another that the examiners may see whether or not the candidate is economical in his business affairs.

It does seem to me that this promotion should be by merit and should be made from the service. I am sure I will be supported by every member of this House who has knowledge of the subject in the statement that the gentlemen who now occupy the positions in Subdivision ' B ' are thoroughly competent and efficient in every way and they have had experience as ' Hansard ' reporters. I think it might very w'ell be left to the chief of the ' Han-. sard ' staff to say whether or not these gentlemen are competent. He would be a better judge of the subject than would be the Civil Service Commission, because he has had a far greater practical experience along these lines than has any gentleman who is an examiner for the Civil Service Commission. The gentlemen now in Class ' B ' have had the very best possible experience to qualify them as ' Hansard ' reporters. They have sat for years in the press gallery of this House. They have gone around the country reporting the speeches of members and the long experience they have had has given them an insight into the political history of this country which it is most essential to any ' Hansard ' reporter to have in order that he may do his work correctly, intelligently and well. It is important, I suppose, that the ' Hansard ' reporters should have the ability to reconstruct sentences because many of us are apt to make errors in hasty extempore speech, but the great essential, it seems to me, is to have a close and in tiraate knowledge of the political history of the country. I hope that the government who have charge of this matter will allow these examinations to go on as the Civil Service Commission have advertised them, but that they will be for men to take the place of the gentlemen now in Subdivision ' B ', who will be promoted to Subdivision ' A '.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I noticed this advertisement in the ' Gazette,' and my attention was brought to this matter in another way. Without wishing to at all interfere with the functions of the Board of Civil Service Commissioners, I must say that, to my

mind, an examination such as appears to be aimed at there, is not the best means of getting the proper men to discharge the important duties of ' Hansard * reporters for this House. I realize, as probably most of the older members realize, that our sentences at times require to be reconstructed, and that a mere slavish report of the proceedings of the House would be very unsatisfactory, particularly to the members who have been guilty of the utterances, and for that reason, I think that a mere competitive examination is not the best means of securing just the men we require as ' Hansard ' reporters. I have a good deal of experience with the three gentlemen who have already been alluded to, Mr. Dickson, Mr. Matthews and Mr. Blue. I know that one or two of these gentlemen received a very bad early education upon ' The Globe 3 reporting staff, but I had experience of them since, and I have great pleasure in certifying to the splendid character of the work they do in the committees where they report. With the experience they have had, I would be very sorry indeed, to see them passed over at this time, when we have an opportunity of placing them upon our regular ' Hansard 3 staff. I believe that the training in the press gallery here, a practical experience of these inaccuracies committed by some of the other members, I am not speaking of myself, and their experience of public life, fit them in the highest degree for ' Hansard 3 work, and I believe that we will be wise in getting from the ranks of those who report our speeches in the gallery, the men to report them on the floor of the House. We have had a happy experience of the aippointment of men from the press gallery to the 'Hansard3 staff, the men thus recruited to that staff have been most efficient reporters, and the three gentlemen to whom I have alluded, are men of that class. I think I am expressing the feeling of a good many members, when I say that I hope no system will be pursued which will compel men who have had that amount of experience and have given such proof of efficiency as they have given, to enter the lists upon a competitive examination, which may be a fairly good test of rapidity and slavish exactitude, but which is not a test of the editorial skill and judgment which is required in a ' Hansard3 reporter.

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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR.

I am sorry to hear that the committee have decided to discontinue the analytical index. I have found the index very useful myself. It gives a short synopsis of the speeches. _

And it is much easier to refer to it than wade through so many volumes of ' Hansard '. I was surprised to find, on looking through the index, that tlhere were only three or four years in which the English edition was printed at all. I thought at

first that it was continued right from the time the analytical index started, but I find that the English edition was printed one or two years, then discontinued, then started again and kept up a couple of years and then again discontinued. 1 do not know what other hon. gentlemen may-think, but I have found the analytical index very useful, and I trust that it will be continued. I would suggest therefore that the committee should reconsider their report. I think it would be well worth their while to devote some further consideration to this matter, look over it again before coming to the conclusion that this index should be abolished.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT (Simcoe).

I have before me a copy of the analytical index, and I must say it is a most useful compendium of the proceedings of the House. For my part I shall certainly be at a loss in hunting up statements made by minis-terfe and others should this recommendation to abolish the index be adopted. Take, for instance, the second session in 1906 when the policy of constructing the National Transcontinental was being discussed and when the Minister of Railways (Mr. Graham) had, as was naturally to be expected to answer a great many questions, how could one turn up any of these without this index? Do away with it and if you want to refer to any statement made on any subject, you will have to look through three or four volumes of ' Hansard 3. Why should any hon. gentleman he obliged to attempt this if he wanted to find out what was said on any particular occasion or subject? With the aid of an analytical index however he can find without any trouble the particular page where the statement is printed to which he wishes to refer. Take again the naval policy of the late government. The right hon. the leader of the opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) answered a great many queries on that subject, which are to be found scattered through hundreds* of pages of ' Hansard Without the aid of this index, it would be impossible to discover any particular one of these without going to the almost impossible labour of wading through every page of the reports. This index costs about $4,000, and possibly that cost might be cut down by judicious condensation and some of the time be saved that is now taken in making it, but I think the expenditure serves a most useful purpose. If any hon. gentleman wishes to refresh his memory at any time in regard to any debate, he has in the analytical index the most ready adjunct for that purpose. As regards the filling of vacancies on the reporting staff, I think it would be grossly unfair to the gentlemen who are now on the reporting staff of the House of Commons that they should not be given the preference and

the promotion to which they are entitled. Messrs. Dickson, Matthews and Blue have had long experience in this House, they are well known to the members of this House, and have proved themselves most competent at their work. Every hon. gentlemen, particularly from the province of Ontario, who has had anything to do with politics in the past 20 years will know that these gentlemen have attended all the large political meetings in that province and consequently should be more at home in reporting the debates than any new man could possibly be.

I hope the committee will be pleased to withdraw their report, consider the matter and bring down another report, leaving the matter as it was, namely, that the Debates Committee shall consider any applications submitted to them, and then let the House adopt that report as they see fit, and leave out the recommendation to do away with the analytical index.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER.

That portion of the notice in the official ' Gazette,' which deals with the examination of candidates for the position vacant on the ' Hansard ' staff, has nothing to do with the report of the Debates Committee at all. The Civil Service law provides that these vacancies have to be filled in a certain way. In pursuance of that law, I asked the commission to find three men competent to do the work, leaving the competition open to all. Names have been mentioned, no doubt, from their experience as newspaper men and as reporting the proceedings of this House and its committees, they will be more likely to distance their competitors. I have simply taken that which the Act provides should be taken. As regards the other portion of the report, that- is altogether another matter with which the Civil Service Commission have nothing to do, but which [DOT] is entirely in the hands of this House.

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CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIJDDLEBRO.

I would like to give the opinion to the House of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Foster), and the late Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding), with reference to the utility of this analytical index. Discussing that subject in the session of 1907-8, the Minister of Trade' and Commerce used these words:

If there is one-useless thing that comes to a member after it is two years old, it is that analytical index to ' Hansard/ which is almost as large as ' Hansard ' itself. I do not know whether anybody ever looks at it. I have looked at it only to wonder how the ingenuity of man could devise anything that could possibly be so useless. You open it and think you are going to get something, but you get a mere fragment, and you have to go to the ' Hansard.' But it comes out some two years after ' Hansard ' and is of no earthly use. It is a large volume, pretty Mr. BENNETT (East Simcoe).

nearly as large as the Trade and Navigation reports. What it pretends to do is to give a digest of what everybody says on every subject, and as it is impossible to do that to any extent or with any accuracy, it defeats the very purpose for which it was intended. It is a perfectly useless piece of mechanism, and I do not see why it is kept on. Other members may find some use for it, hut it has never been of any earthly use to me. Might I ask the Minister of Finance if he ever used it?

Mr. Fielding then said:

If it could not he held up against me, I have never seen it.

I have taken the trouble to inquire of lion, members around me, and have not found one who would say that he had ever used this analytical index. Some of them have never seen it. I certainly never did, and it seems to me perfectly useless that we should spend $4,000 a year on something that nobody ever makes any use of.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I would ask the chairman of the committee to adopt the suggestion of the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Bennett), and withdraw the report for the present. The analytical index is certainly a most valuable adjunct to ' Hansard.' In reply to the hon. member for Grey (Mr. Middlebro), it seems to me, speaking from memory, that the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. FostiCr), on the occasion to which the hon. gentleman refers, afterwards corrected his opinion and withdrew his opposition to the continuation of this index. I speak of course, subject to correction. Now with regard to the appointments on the reporting staff, the Civil Service Commissioners have only followed the law. These appointments have to be made, under the law,' by the members of the Civil Service Commission. I think, however, the commissioners would have shown better judgment if they had asked competitors to write an essay on folly and fashion, and how I earned my first money, or a snowstorm, than have asked them to give us something of the contemporary history of Canada. Messrs. Dickson, Blue and Matthews, who are at present in the employ of the House on the reporting staff of the committee, are very competent men. They are quite familiar with the. political history of Canada, and I think they should come out ahead of anybody else in any competition as regards fitness for work of this kind.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Rt. Hon. R. L. BORDEN (Prime Minister).

I would suggest that it might be advisable to adopt all of this report except the paragraph relating to the analytical index. As regards the new appointments, the Civil Service Commissioners have to follow the law and cannot take any other course. I entirely concur in the

opinion that the gentlemen on the staff of the committees have been doing excellent work, and should have every consideration possible.

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CON

George Taylor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

I wish to say that the Debates Committee are entirely in the hands of the House. We had no other idea except to serve the purpose of the House in procuring an efficient report of the debates and in eliminating what we thought to be entirely useless.

We attempted last year to influence the course of things so far as the appointment of the staff is concerned, and found to our regret that we had no power in that connection. It was only because we felt that we would be exceeding our power that we did not make r-~ suggestion this year as to the persons who should be appointed to the debates staff. Speaking for myself, I know very well the three gentlemen mentioned and should be pleased indeed to have authority to recommend their appointment, because I do not think we could get three better men. However, as to the portion of the report which deals with the analytical index, I am quite sure that no member of the Debates Committee wishes to force that on the attention of the House; therefore, _ with the permission of the House, and in deference to the wishes of the right hon. leader of the opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) I ask permission to withdraw that recommendation.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER.

Is it the pleasure of the House that that report be concurred in, with the exception of paragraph 6, which deals with the analytical index?

Report, amended as proposed, concurred in.

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February 12, 1912