July 31, 1917

CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

I never heard of any such scheme until my hon. friend read this telegram, and I know nothing whatever about it.

Topic:   SYDNEY, N.S., INDUSTRIAL SITES.
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SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.

THIRD READING OF BIDR.


On the motion of Sir Georgo Foster for the third reading of Bill No. 83, relating to the Honorary Advisory Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.


LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Halifax):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to repeat what I said yesterday when I expressed doubt as to the wisdom of constituting the board at this time and with its present personnel. I do not think this country can expect any practical or useful results from a commission constituted as this is. It is true that the services of most of the members are rendered gratis to the country, but some are being paid, and I wish to say that those who are being paid are not, in my judgment, competent to carry on the work which is to be assigned to them under this Bill. I trust that the Minister of Commerce will reconsider his decision. This is a very important work which the Government has in mind. Most valuable work may be done for the country by a commission of this kind if its membership is composed of men. who will devote their entire time and energy to the work, and if they are men of competency and energy. I do not wish to make personal reference to any members of this board. I said yesterday that you could not hope for any results from a board composed of representatives from the large universities, who can only come here three or four times a year, and give a very transitory consideration to these matters. I think the head of the board should be a young man with administrative and executive experience. Any good that could possibly be hoped for from the commission will be lost if the work is left in the hands in which it is proposed to leave it.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. BOULAY (Rimouski) (translation) :

Mr. Speaker, I wish to add a few words to what has been said by my hon. friend from Halifax (Mr. Maclean) in connection with this Bill No. 83. It seems to me that the expenditure resulting from this war-which we are called upon to meet- is so heavy that we should refrain from appointing further commissions of practically no use, for the time being at any rate. I am unaware of the reasons that may have caused the introducing of this Bill, but we are going through such a crisis that it seems to me to be altogether untimely to impose new burdens upon the people of this country, especially when we

261i

already have a rather costly commission-I mean the Conservation Commission -which, strictly speaking, might attend to this work, and I wonder what that commission will have to look after when this new measure is put into force. If there is one thing that may well be put off until peace has been concluded, I think it is this Honorary Advisory Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It seems to me, moreover, that instead of striving hard to impose new obligations upon this country, the Government should bend all their energies to the task of lightening the burdens now lying heavy upon our population.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

The hon. member from Halifax (Mr. Maclean) has simply repeated what he said yesterday, and what I answered yesterday, ais I thought, fairly well. If he sought to create the impression that these gentlemen weire being paid for [DOT]their services I can assure him that only the administrative chairman is paid. The others give their services free. The amount that can be done, taken year in and year out, is a matter of opinion, and will best be proved by actual results. My hon. friend * starts off with the assumption they can only meet two or three times .a year; they are to meet once a month. He says that they can only .give an hour or two at each meeting, or something of that kind. I think that each meeting they have already held has continued fox three or four days. That is a record of work quite different from the suggestion made by my hon. friend. I am between two fires. My ihon. friend to my right is against this Bill because it creates a new charge in war time, while the hon. gentleman from Halifax is against the Bill because it does not create charge enough.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MURPHY:

The hon. gentleman from Rimouski (Mr. Boulay). advanced another very cogent argument, when he said the work which it is proposed that this Commission shall do can he done by the Conservation Commission, which already exists.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I do not think it could be done by that Commission.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

Did I understand the _ hon. minister to say that all these gentlemen gave their services free?

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Except the chairman. I stated yesterday and to-day that the only member of the Commission who was paid anything was the .administrative chairman. All the rest give their services free.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

What does the chairman do?

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

If the hen. member had been, here yesterday he would probably have known.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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LIB
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

If the hon. gentleman will read the report of my remarks, he will see what the work of the committee is. .

Motion agreed to and Bill read the third time.

Topic:   SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH.
Subtopic:   THIRD READING OF BIDR.
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SUPPLY.

PARCELS TO PRISONERS OF WAR IN ' GERMANY.


On motion of Sir Thomas White for Committee of Supply:


LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. J. G. TURRIFF (Assiniboia):

Before the Speaker leaves the Chair I wish to bring up a matter which is of very considerable importance to the people of Canada, in connection with preventing the sending of parcels to the Canadian soldiers who are now prisoners of war in Germany. I gave notice to the Minister of Militia that I would bring up the matte|r to-day. As hon. gentlemen are well aware, prior to last Christmas Canadians who had relatives who are prisoners in Germany were allowed to send parcels of food, clothing and comforts of all kinds. Suddenly, about last Christmas, a change was made, and our people were prevented from sending parcels to their relatives who unfortunately were prisoners in Germany, unless they were officers, there being no change made in connection with the sending of parcels to officers. That is the ground of my complaint. In this democratic country, where one brother may be an officer and a prisoner in one city in Germany, and another brother, a private, may be prisoner in another German city, the relatives can send parcels to the officer, who does not need parcels to the same extent that the private does, but they are not allowed to send anything to the private. To my mind, that is a most unfair and unreasonable discrimination. I presume this policy is dictated by the War Office in England, and if so, it seems to me that the Department of Militia should not assent to such an arrangement. One of the reasons given why parcels should not be sent to private soldier prisoners is that contraband goods were being sent. When we consider that

there are some three hundered officers prisoners in Germany, if persons wanted to send contraband goods they could send them to those officers. There is no question that if anything contraband, or any information were being sent to a private, that information would never get to him because it would be taken by the German military authorities as soon as the parcel arrived in Germany. But what is to prevent the German authorities from taking the contraband goods or the information enclosed in a parcel addressed to a Canadian officer, who happens to be a prisoner in Germany? To my mind it is a most unfair and unreasonable law that makes fish of one and flesh of another. The Canadian officers who are prisoners are not in the same need of parcels from home, for the simple reason that, in a military country like Germany, the officers who are prisoners are treated very much better than the privates who are prisoners, no matter what their nationality or from what country they may come. There is a great deal of feeling throughout the country in regard to this matter. When the change was made, the whole matter of dealing with parcels to soldiers was handed over to the Red Cross authorities in London, England. While a great many people working in connection with the Red Cross are doing good work, yet, judging from the results that have attended the efforts of the Red Cross in handling the parcels for Canadian prisoners in Germany, I must say that their work in this respect has been anything but satisfactory. That is not to be wondered at. The branch of the Red Cross that is attending to this matter in London is in charge of persons who are giving their services voluntarily; who can come 'and go just as they please; nobody is there to see that the work is done thoroughly. As a matter of fact, the work has not been, done thoroughly, with the result that our Canadian soldiers for months after the change was made were left practically without a satisfactory parcel service. In many cases the parcels sent to them by relatives in Canada were sent back. In oases where money was sent to the Red Cross branch in London for the purpose of supplying parcels, very inferior parcels reached our Canadian soldiers. I have a great deal of evidence here from different persons throughout the country- parents, 'brothers and sisters of these unfortunate Canadians who are prisoners in Germany-complaining that they have difli-*culty in sending parcels to their relatives overseas, and that the parcels sent 'by the

Red Cross authorities are not satisfactory and are irregularly sent. I do not know just what change can /be made to remedy this matter, tout I toring it to- the attention of th'e Government, and particularly to the attention of the Minister of Militia, in the hope that some further effort will be made to see that the authorities across the water change this regulation and go back to the old system. No more harm can be done by a change than is done under the present arrangement, under which anybody who wishes to do so may send parcels to. the officers who are now prisoners in Germany.

I do not know that I ought to take up the time of the House in reading the complaints which I have here from people in Canada in connection with the suffering of these men at the front. There are letters and postcards here from men at the front complaining of the manner in which this change in the regulations has affected them. Conditions may be somewhat better now, but at the beginning of the year many of our Canadian soldiers who are prisoners in Germany were more or less on the verge of starvation, and they were kept in health largely by the parcels of food that they got from Canada. That supply was suddenly cut off, and -the parcels which they received did not amount to very much. It was proposed that the unfortunate Canadian prisoners of war in Germany should assign a further amount of their pay to the Red Cross in London in order that they might get more food. Imagine a soldier who has been fighting for Canada and who has been taken prisoner being asked to subscribe out of his pittance of $1.10 a day to the Red Cross Fund in order that food may be sent to him in Germany, while at the. same time the authorities refuse to allow his parents and friends in Canada to send him the necessary food and clothing to afford him some degree of comfort!

1 bring this matter to the attention of the minister, knowing that tens - of thousands of people throughout Canada are interested in it. A large number of people have sent me information on this subject, letters and postcards. I sincerely hope that the Minister of Militia will make a change in the regulations. This matter is of too much importance to our boys who are prisoners in Germany to be allowed to remain as it is; something ought to be done, and done quickly.

' Hon. Six EDWARD KEMP (Minister of Militia): No one will question the importance of the subject which the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) has brought

to the attention of the House, namely, the matter of the food supplies, clothing, etc., contained in parcels for Canadian prisoners of war interned in Germany.

The member for Aissiniboia referred, I take it, to a condition which may have existed not recently, but some months ago-, or eariy in this year. On April 24 last I put on Hansard the regulations which were made effective at that time. Since then further regulations have been made, and I will read to the House a statement .which I have gathered from different sources concerning the whole subject. No one who is intimately acquainted with the magnificent work which the Canadian Red Gross Society has been doing for our prisoners An Germany can find any reason for criticism. The Canadian Red Cross Society through its London agency is responsible for keeping our soldiers who are prisoners in Germany supplied with food and clothing. Through the generosity of the Canadian public, they have ample funds thus far for doing that work, which they are carrying on in a systematic way.

My hon. friend refers to certain privileges toeing extended to officers which are not extended to the men. That may have been the case to some extent in the past, but conditions are now remedied. I will supplement the statements which, were made in the House on April 24 last in respect to this matter by reading a memorandum which I have had prepared.

I have gathered the information from different sources, and I have thought it wise to have it embodied in a statement so as to cover all the points. This is the statement:

Re despatch of parcels from Canada to British and Allied prisoners of war. Before November, 1916, the system in force did not impose any restrictions on parcels being sent to prisoners of war by any Individual or organization. Each parcel, of course, had to be examined by the Censor before it was despatched from England. This involved an enormous amount of labour and frequently injured the contents of the parcel. Under this system it was found also that while the amount of comforts in the form of food sent to Germany was more than sufficient in the aggregate for all the known British prisoners of war, it was very unevenly distributed. Some prisoners were being sent an inadequate supply, while other prisoners got more than they could consume. To remedy these conditions a scheme was brought into effect by the British authorities on December 1, 1916, to apply to ail British prisoners- of war, Naval, Military, and civilian, except officers.

The new scheme was as follows:-

1. No parcel was to be sent to a prisoner of war unless it had been examined or packed by the Central Prisoners of War Committee, or by an organization authorized by that commit-

tee in accordance with the regulations issued by the British Government.

2 Every prisoner to be sent parcels through one and only one authorized organization, or "packing association."

3. Adequate supplies but not excessive quantities of food to be sent through the authorized organizations to every prisoner. As it is difficult to censor bread, cakes, and tinned foods without spoiling them, no person other than the authorized organization to be permitted to send such articles to prisoners. Wholesale gifts of foodstuffs or money to purchase food might be sent to authorized organizations for prisoners of war. #

4. Parcels despatched by an authorized orgam-zation to be distinguished by a special label which would be regarded as a guarantee on the part of the organization that the parcel does not contravene the regulations. Any parcels bearing this label would not ordinarily be opened by the censors, and it was hoped that enemy censors would find it unneccessary to delay such parcels for the purpose of censorship.

This scheme was included in the regulations governing communication with prisoners of war interned abroad which were issued by the General Post Office, London, in December, 1916. On January 9, 1917, Mr. Walter Dong, Secretary of State for the Colonies, addressed a despatch to the Governor General, asking for co-operation by the Canadian Government in this schem* stating that the objects were to ensure censorship, and to prevent waste and overlapping, and suggesting that the Canadian Bed Cross Society, which have an office in London be named as the authorized organization or "packing association" for Canada. Sir George Perley, the Acting High Commissioner for Canada, also cabled to the Prime Minister stating that the Director of the Central Prisoners of War Committee advised that no more parcels containing foodstuffs, tinned goods or clothing should be sent from Canada, but that instead remittances of money should be sent to the Canadian Red Cross Society in London for the purpose of purchasing such supplies and sending them to prisoners. It was pointed out by Sir George Perley that war conditions pre-emtorily imposed such action, and that it was only by adopting this procedure that it would be possible to get parcels satisfactorily through to prisoners with any regularity and equality of distribution. Sir George Perley strongly advised complying with the request of the British Authorities and stated that Australia was taking similar action.

In view of the above, regulations were issued in Canada by the Postmaster General dated January 29, which were based on those formulated by the British Authorities. These regulations were laid on the Table of the House of Commons by the Minister of Militia on April 24, 1917, and were printed in Hansard for that date.

Regarding the work of the Canadian Red Cross Society the following statement has been made to the Minister of Militia by Colonel Noel Marshall, President of the Society, (July 10, 1917) :-

The Canadian Red Cross Society is sending by mail to each prisoner of war three parcels each fortnight: Each parcel contains food to

the value of ten shillings and weighs not more than ten pounds. We have also been sending thirteen pounds of bread each fortnight, but this has been in the last month reduced to eight and one half pounds owing to shortage of

flour. These parcels of food are in addition to tobacco and cigarettes sent fortnightly. A "capture parcel" is first sent upon the receipt of a soldier's name as a prisoner of war and the other parcels follow. The "capture parcel" contains overcoat, jacket, trousers, cap, pair of boots, two shirts, two pairs of socks, canvas shoes, two suits underwear, cardigan, gloves, kit bag, three handkerchiefs and two towels. The above outfit, overcoat excepted, is repeated every six months. Every prisoner of war is sent parcels as above stated regardless oV adoption by frieqds. The Canadian Red Cross Society undertook the above duties at the request of the War Office and Sir George Perley during months of February and March, 1917. Serious interruptions in delivery have at times taken place owing to various causes for which the Society was not in any way responsible. Date reports are that parcels, which are all being sent by mail, are being satisfactorily delivered. Neither the Government nor the Canadian Red Cross Society should be held responsible for non-delivery. We do ship the articles, but cannot guarantee delivery in an enemy's country.

No changes have been made' in the regulations since the date of issue except in certain minor details with reference to prisoners of war interned in Switzerland, (see Post Office Department circular, July 3, 1917).

An important change will, however, shortly come into effect regarding parcels for officer prisoners. Sir George Perley, on July 11, cabled that the Imperial Government have decided to make new regulations, which will come into force on the 1st of August to provide that parcels for officer prisoners shall come under the same rules as parcels for prisoners of other ranks. These new regulations have been approved by the Canadian Government. The weight and number of parcels of foodstuffs to be sent fortnightly will hereafter be the same for officers as for other ranks, and will be similarly forwarded by the Canadian Red Cross Society, but the contents of officers' parcels will be selected with special regard for their requirements. In addition, officers may be sent not more than two extra parcels of foodstuffs per month up to a total gross weight of 22 pounds, if their friends so desire and provide the necessary funds to the Canadian Red Cross Society. These new regulations will not extend to officers interned in neutral countries, regarding whom the regulations are unchanged.

I do not think I need take up the time of the House in reading the "Circular to Postmasters" of the 3rd of July, 1917. It ought to be printed in Hansard. As it consists of a page and a half, with the consent of the House, I will hand it with this statement to Hansard.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PARCELS TO PRISONERS OF WAR IN ' GERMANY.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I wish it to

be read.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PARCELS TO PRISONERS OF WAR IN ' GERMANY.
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July 31, 1917