March 12, 1915

DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF THE DOMINION OF CANADA FIFTH SESSION-TWELFTH PARLIAMENT 5 GEORGE V., 1915 VOL. CXX.

COMPRISING THE PERIOD FROM THE TWELFTH DAY OF MARCH TO THE THIRTIETH DAY OF MARCH, INCLUSIVE.


PRINTED 15Y J. ok L. TACHlj, PRINTER TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY 1915 ) \ '



Douse of Commons Debates


OFFICIAL REPORT-REVISED EDITION.


Speaker: Hon. Thomas Simpson Spiioule. Friday, March 12, 1915.


WAR APPROPRIATION EXPENDITURE.

LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Halifax):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to move the resolution of which I gave notice:

That sessional papers numbered 122 of the present session of Parliament, being copies of correspondence between the Auditor General and the Department of Militia and other departments of Government in respect of the expenditures under the War Appropriations Act, be referred to the Committee on Public Accounts, with power to investigate the matters therein referred to and to report thereon to this House: that the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, and to examine witnesses on oath or affirmation, and to report from time to time.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION EXPENDITURE.
Permalink
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The last portion of the resolution, with regard to examining witnesses under oath, is not necessary, as the committee already has that power.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION EXPENDITURE.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Rt. Hon. Sir ROBERT BORDEN (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, the question as to investigation by the Public Accounts Committee into matters that have not been referred to that committee in the ordinary way has more than once engaged the attention of the House since I became a member of Parliament. I may say a word as to the practice adopted in the past. First, as to accounts of past years the committee would be empowered to inquire into matters referred in such previous years only if the committee itself reports that this is desirable; and probably without such a report the House would make the reference to the extent to which the investigation into matters transpiring in previous years might prove necessary to an investigation of the accounts referred to the committee in the regular way. This is 60

not a motion to investigate matters referred to in previous years, but it is a motion to investigate matters which have transpired during the current year. Up to the present time I have been unable to find that such a course has been taken. I observe that as far back as 1902 a member of the late Administration, speaking for the Administration, laid it down as an absolutely unheard of thing that matters which had transpired during the then current fiscal year should be referred to the Public Accounts Committee, inasmuch as, in ordinary course, they would come to that committee during the ensuing year.

However, the correspondence that has been brought down indicates that some of the questions which have been raised by the Auditor General demand consideration, and, under the circumstances, I am not disposed to offer any opposition to the motion which has been made by the hon. junior member for Halifax. My hon. friend the Minister of Militia and Defence, whom I * consulted on the subject, informed me that he desired to welcome the fullest possible investigation into the matters which are referred to in the correspondence with the Auditor General. He reminds me that in the return there does not seem to be any direct correspondence between the Auditor General and himself. In relation to that, it is pointed but in some of the documents brought down and laid on the table of the House yesterday that certain letters that are printed as having been sent by the Auditor General to the Department of Militia and Defence are alleged by the officers of that department never to have reached them at all.

I am also the more inclined to accede to the motion of the hon. member for Halifax for the reason that a member of this House, the hon. member for Carleton, Ont. (Mr. Garland), came to me some time ago and asked that matters in this corespondence that have been commented upon especially in the press of this country as touching

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION EXPENDITURE.
Permalink

M6 COMMONS


his own position in the House should be fully investigated at the earliest possible moment. When the hon. member for Halifax intimated across the floor of the House some time ago that he desired to make a motion for the purpose of referring this correspondence to the Committee on Public Accounts, with the view to investigating the matter referred to therein, the hon. member for Carleton at once came to me and asked that, so far as he was concerned, no objection should be made to that motion, and that the fullest opportunity of investigation should be afforded in the Public Accounts Committee. If, therefore, the hon. member for Halifax will be good enough to add to his motion suitable words to include the documents that were brought down yesterday by the Minister of Militia and Defence, I shall be very glad to agree that the motion pass.


LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN:

May I ask the right hon. Prime Minister if he will allow to be included in this motion two returns which I moved for-one in reference to the purchase of tires for motor trucks for the Militia Department, and another in reference to commissions paid to P. W. Ellis & Company. I think the latter is included in the correspondence.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink
CON
LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN:

I understand that the

Minister of Militia is preparing these re turns; it seems to me that the whole might be referred to the Committee on Public Accounts.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

So far as concerns all matters referred to in the return, full power will be given to the Public Accounts Committee. As to any matter outside of that, I would prefer that my hon. friend let it stand until I see precisely what the position is.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Would the motion in this form meet the point taken by the right hon. Prime Minister:

That sessional papers numbered 122 of the present session of Parliament, and all other papers in relation thereto, being copies of correspondence between the Auditor General and the Department of Militia and other departments of Government, laid upon the table of the House, in respect to expenditures under the War Expropriations Act, be referred to the Committee on Public Accounts, with power to investigate the matters therein referred to, and to report thereon from time to time.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Yes, I think that will cover it.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Is this motion understood by the right hon. Prime Minister to be broad enough to include my inquiry regarding the purchase of two submarines? This matter is referred to in the correspondence, and if it is understood that it will be included in the reference to the Public Accounts Committee, that will be satisfactory to me.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I really do not know precisely what is in the return, but I want to assure my hon. friend that if he is desirous of making any charges in regard to the purchase of submarines, we are prepared to grant him the fullest possible investigation. I have already brought down and laid upon the table of the House a telegram from Sir Richard McBride, in which he asked that, in view of the observations made by the hon. member for St. John, inquiry should be made into that matter. I replied that it did not seem to me that the observations which had been made in the matter merited the notice which he thought should be taken of it; to which, in reply, he said that he would very greatly regret that any suggestion should go abroad that he did not desire an investigation. He said that in view of what I had said he would leave the matter to my colleagues and myself. My hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries has brought down and laid on the table of the House the telegram alluded to, as well as a letter from Sir Richard McBride, confirming the telegram, and including the observations which he felt called upon to make in the legislative assembly of the province of British Columbia, in which he repudiated in the most cogent terms the suggestions which were made by the hon. member for St. John of improper conduct on his part in connection with the matter.

Topic:   M6 COMMONS
Permalink

March 12, 1915