Hon. Sir THOMAS WHITE (Minister of Finance) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 117, to authorize the levying of a war tax upon certain incomes.
He said: This is the Bill founded on the resolution which I introduced yesterday.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.
THE DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
On the motion of Hon. W. J. Roche (Minister of the Interior), Bill No. 107, to amend the Dominion Lands Act, was read the second time, and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Rainville in the Chair.
On section 1-Cancellation and compensation for- improvements.
This Bill contains a large number of details, and it may be that I have been remiss in not following up the work, but I would not like to be compelled to consider all these many details to-day, not having seen them before.
There is no need of going into any of those sections to which my hon. friend objects. We might run over the Bill and see what part is not controversial. There is no other business ready just at the moment.
That bears out my point. I was saying that the Bill contains a large number of details which require careful consideration before hon. members can be in a proper position to assent to or dissent from them. I would very much rather have had some little time to study these details before being compelled to take the Bill up and go through it in committee.
Under the circumstances, the Bill having just been distributed, it being a Bill of detailed amendment and we not having had an opportunity to compare it at considerable length with the present Act, we shall have to ask you, Sir, to be good enough to read each section.
1. Subsection two of section fifteen of The Dominion Lands Act, chapter twenty of the Statutes of 1908, is amended by inserting after the word "latter" in the tenth line thereof, the words "or to any other person or persons adjudged by the minister to be entitled thereto as dependents of the former holder of the land," and by adding the following at the end thereof:
"The person who may subsequently secure the land, either under entry or by sale or otherwise, may be required to pay any and all amounts due for principal and interest then charged against such land for seed grain, fod- ' der or other relief advanced by His Majesty to the former or any preceding entrant or holder of such land, in such manner as the minister may direct."
House will see that in the Bill as it has been distributed, in addition to the amendments that the Chairman has just read, there is in one column the reading of section 2 of the present Act and in the oppo-' site column the reading of the section as it will be afteT amendment, the portion that has been added being in darker type. The explanation of the first change is to clothe the minister with authority to order that moneys collected for improvements made by a former entrant shall, instead of being refunded to the said former entrant, be paid to his wife. In many cases of desertion the woman is unable to obtain an assignment from her husband, although it may be shown in some instances that she has advanced money to her husband to effect improvements. As the law now stands, she has no redress.
There may be other cases where it would be advisable to make a refund to the father or mother or some other near relative of the former holder of the land, on proof being furnished that such relative is the person most entitled to receive the money.
The practice of the department, where the wife has been abandoned, is that after she has been abandoned* for two years, she will be allowed to make entry for the land in her own name. At present the practice is that a woman who is allowed entry is supposed to have her residence count from
the date of entry, but we desire to take the opportunity of allowing the woman to have her residence count even before she has received her entry if she has been residing upon the land subsquent to her desertion. This particular provision means that where the husband has made certain improvements under the existing Act, those improvements may be collected from the next entrant. We do not desire to collect from the deserted wife, but to have authority to pay over the value of the improvements to the wife.
Yes, if there was anything due. The second change is in connection with the advance of seed grain, fodder and relief made in 1914 and 1915. In'
[DOT] some cases the party obtaining the adv .nee failed to complete the duties in connection with his entry, and such entry has been cancelled. In cases of this kind it has been decided that any one taking up the land later on will have to pay the amount of the advance. In every case, a person obtaining entry for cancelled land is required to pay the value of the improvements remaining upon the land at the time he secures the entry. The amount so collected for improvements is applied on the seed grain debt, 'but if the value of the improvements is not equal to the amount of the seed grain indebtedness, the party securing the land is required to make up the remainder of the indebtedness. For instance, we have a lien on the land of any one who received advances from us in 1914 and 1915 under our seed grain distribution. If the homesteader abandoned that land and we had no lien upon it, the next entrant who applies for cancellation would receive a free entry for that homestead. But when we have -a lien upon the land, in order to protect the treasury we insist that whoever takes up the land must assume the indebtedness over and above the value of the improvements.
correctly gather the purport of the minister's remarks, I would say that the first change with Tegard to the dependents of a homesteader is a very proper one. But there js no doubt in my mind, in regard to the second change, that the charging of the whole indebtedness against the subsequent entrant for an abandoned homestead will in many cases have the effect of preventing the entry from being made. There ,
are many cases in which a large indebtedness has been incurred on account of seed grain and fodder, and if another bad season occurs this year-and I ami afraid that some parts of the country may be facing a bad season-many homesteads may be abandoned, particularly those on which the Government has a lien. I think the Government would be well advised not to charge against the incoming settler the indebtedness incurred by the previous homesteader in regard to seed grain and fodder relief, beyond the fair value of the improvements upon the homestead, because if more than the value of the improvements is charged against the incoming settler he will to that extent be deterred from taking the homestead. I am quite sure that the amount of the lien will not be sufficient to deter the homesteader in all oases, but I aim equally satisfied that it will be sufficient to deter him in a large number of cases if the indebtedness is greater than the actual value of the improvements. In that case he will foe required to pay for something that he does not get, and there are very many, people, of course, who object very strongly to paying for. something which they do not get, but which somebody else gets. That sentiment, apart from the actual values, will have a serious effect in deterring the reoccupation of abandoned land. If, on the other hand, the Government undertook to collect from the incoming settler the value of the improvements only which the previous homesteader had made, and which the incoming homesteader would have the benefit of, there would be no such impediment to the re-occupation of the land, and the Government would in all probability get all they possibly could get out of the transaction in a large number of cases. That would encourage the re-occupation of the country, and not deter it, as I am afraid it will be deterred by the provision which the minister is placing in the Act.
Unless we take some means of protecting the treasury, we are liable to lose a very large .amount of money. I do not think we should leave any stone unturned to protect the country against such loss when we have at our hand this method of collecting the indebtedness. I do not look at the matter in exactly the same light as my hon. friend, when he says that the subsequent entrant is paying for something that he does not get. In one sense that is true, but the incoming settler does get the land, and land in a thickly settled portion
of the community-and it was here that the distribution of seed grain was made-is more valuable than far-distant homestead land. Our experience thus far would not lead us tc believe that this provision will be a deterrent against the re-occupation of the land. We have had a number of cases where men were only too pleased, in fact volunteered, to pay off the seed grain indebtedness for the privilege of being allowed priority of entry. The land is valuable, though in some cases there are very few improvements. If the improvements were valued at $300 and the indebtedness at $400, the incoming settler pays the $300 for the improvements in any case, and he is then called upon to pay the other $100 in order to release the Government lien. As we have already had many cases where men were only too pleased to assume this indebtedness, I do not imagine this provision will be a deterrent to the re-occupation of the land, and if we do not have such a provision I fear that the country will be liable to a very serious loss.