On the Orders of the Day:
Right Hon. Sir ROBERT BORDEN, (Prime Minister): My right hon. friend,
the leader of the Opposition, in his speech in the debate on the Speech from the Throne, referred to the course which might be taken with regard to the business of parliament in view of the invitation which has been extended to the First Ministers of the overseas Dominions to participate in a conference which will begin in London in the early future and in which, for the purpose of that conference, the ministers alluded to will be regarded for the time being as members of the War Cabinet. Before the debate on the speech from the Throne had been initiated, the subject, of course, had received some consideration from my colleagues and myself, and I am disposed to think that the course which my right hon. friend suggests is the course which it would be proper to adopt under the circumstances, subject to one or two considerations which I shall mention. I should think that it would be proper to vote the Supplementary Estimates as they would be required before the probable date at which Parliament could resume. I think that there should be a vote on account, such as is ordinarily given, say to the 30th of June. It would seem to me appropriate, and indeed my right hon. friend suggested it, that the vote for war purpos'es should be passed in its entirety in order that we might ensure absolutely the participation of Canada in the war if it should continue for the full period of the next fiscal year. In addition to that, I understand from my colleague, the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) that a Borrowing Bill, which I think will not be controversial, ought to be passed in order that adequate financial provision for certain necessary purposes may be made.
That is all the programme that we would propose before adjournment, with one exception which was suggested to me some time ago from different parts of the country, and as to which I wrote to the right, hon. gentleman about five or six weeks; ago. He will remember that in 1914 the Railway Act with its amendments was consolidated; a Bill was introduced by the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Cochrane), and was referred to a Committee of this House, and a Committee of the Senate was also appointed which, under arrangement, met with the Committee of this House in order that consideration might be given to that Bill by a Committee of the Senate and by a Committee of the House of Commons at the same time, acting indeed as one committee, although not formally or technically one committee. It has been suggested to the Government and especially to myself during the past autumn that, although the war is in progress and there are very important matters connected with its prosecution which continually engage the attention of the Government and of Parliament, nevertheless this Bill is of so important a character that its consideration ought not longer to be delayed, and I would therefore propose, so far as this Bill is concerned, to have it introduced, to have it read the second time without discussion, and then to have it referred to a committee constituted in the same way as the committee of three years ago. That would comprise all the programme which the Government would propose beforp the adjournment.