This Bill provides for two principal amendments:, one is in reference to the matter of pre-emptions, and the other is in reference to proving up on homestead pre-emptions, and purchased homesteads that are not suitable for agricultural purposes, by keeping a certain number of stock. When I was in the West last summer, and since then, a great many representations were made to me that people in the pre-emption area are labouring under certain disabilities in the matter of pre-emptions, which they desire to see removed. The first request was that they would not be charged interest the first three years. The present Act provides that interest shall be charged during the first three years, but not collected until the end of the third year, when the homestead patent has been earned, Although they ate charged interest during that time, they are not allowed to pay either interest or any portion of the principal until the expiration of the three years. We are making provision to throw off the interest for the first three years. The preemption area is located in what was formerly known as a semi-arid district, and it was considered by the minister who created this pre-emption area that 320 acres in that particular district would not do more towards sustaining a farmer than 160 acres in a more productive part of the country. For that reason the lands were sold at |3 per acre, interest to be charged from the first. The first request made to me was to throw off the three years' interest. As time went on the requests became a little more drastic in character, and we have been asked to throw off the principal as well as the
interest, allowing them to spend the same amount of money on fencing and to keep a certain number of stock. The third request was that we should treat the preemptions exactly as we treat the homesteads; that is that we should charge them nothing for them and give a refund to those who had already paid up in whole or in part. That was rather too radical a step, as it would mean the refunding of upwards of two or three million dollars to those who had already paid for their pre-emptions, in whole or in part. However, I am taking power under the amendments to shorten the time in which they may receive patents for their pre-emptions. By doing their cultivation and residential duties they may, if they desire to pay up m full, obtain their pre-emption patents at the same time they are entitled to receive homestead patents, or at any time between the three years and the six years as at present. These are the principal amendments. In connection with the amendment relating to stock, we are merely taking power to allow them to prove up by keeping a certain number of stock on lands not suitable for cultivation purposes. There was a time in the history of the Land Act when we had a stock provision, but it was abolished some years ago-possibly for good reasons. I have no doubt it was abused to a certain extent. ' However, we are safeguarding as far as we possibly can against abuses like occurred in the past. There are other minor amendments, not very important, to which I shall not refer to-night.
On motion of Mr. Borden, the House adjourned at 11.57 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5, 1914.
Subtopic: DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.