April 12, 1918

SALARIES ACT AMENDMENT.


On motion of Sir Robert Borden (Prime Alinister) the House went into committee to consider the following proposed resolution : Resolved, That it is expedient to provide that the provisions of clause two of iBill thirteen, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and the provisions for preserving the Independence of Parliament, shall be deemed to have come into operation on the twenty-third day of October, 1917, and to apply and extend to the Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Labour Problems and to the Vice-Chairman of the Reconstruction and Development Committee, and that they shall be deemed to have been named by the Governor in Council under the provisions of the said clause on the said date, and shall each receive a salary of seven thousand dollars ger annum.


UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

This resolution is necessary in order to make an amendment to the Bill for the purpose of conforming with the Orders in Council upon which the Bill is based. -

Topic:   SALARIES ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

We can have

the discussion on the Bill.

Resolution reported and concurred in.

Topic:   SALARIES ACT AMENDMENT.
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REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.

SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.


On motion of Hon. J. D. Reid (Minister of Railways), the House went into committee to consider the following resolution: Resolved, That it is expedient to provide that the receipts and revenues of the Canadian Government railways and of any railway under the charge, management or direction of the Minister may be deposited in a Suspense Account, and the working expenses of the said railways may be defrayed therefrom, and in the event of a deficit occurring at any time, the amount of such deficit shall be payable out of any unappropriated moneys in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, and in the event of a surplus the amount thereof may be transferred to the said Fund; the Suspense Account and all payments therefrom being subject to the audit of the Auditor General of Canada.


UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. J. D. REID:

I wish to move that the resolution be, amended to read as follows:

Resolved, That it is expedient to provide that the working expenses of the Canadian Government railways and of any railway under the charge, management or direction of the Minister of Railways and Canals shall be paid out of the receipts and revenues of the said railway, and in the event of a deficit occurring at any time during any fiscal year the amount of such deficit shall be payable out of any unappropriated moneys in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, the said deficit to be voted by Parliament at its first session following the close of suoh fiscal year.

This change is made at the suggestion of the Auditor General, and is for the purpose of giving Parliament control in case there is a deficit.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

I think this resolution is open to one objection. When I first read the resolution I was favourably impressed with it as a businesslike arrangement, but on further consideration the impression I have is that it will withdraw a very important matter of public business from the consideration of Parliament, lit proposes to set apart a portion of the Government business and say that that shall not be managed as other Government business, but shall be treated as a separate account. It might be argued with some force by the minister that putting this annual appropriation in the estimates swells the total, and that it is, after all, a mere matter of book-keeping. The Government railways on the whole will probably pay their expenses, but in many years they have not, although we are all hoping for better things. It is only in the event of. a deficit occurring that

Parliament would be asked to vote the money, but in the event of there being do deficit the consideration of the railway situation would probably be withdrawn from the consideration of Parliament. I hope the minister will give the matter further consideration. Perhaps, the view I take of it is1 not correct, but it seems to me, where the appropriations for the railway will run into so many million dollars, that there ie no good reason why Parliament should not have the opportunity every year of considering the appropriations, and that would necessarily open the way for a general criticism and inquiry, which, after all, is one of the chief purposes for which Parliament is assembled. There may be another side to this question, but fOT the moment I ask the Acting Minister of Finance whether he is- not, as a mere matter of convenience-and it would be no doubt a convenience to the department-taking aw-ay from Parliament one of its most valuable and important duties.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The principle

which the hon. member (Mr. Fielding) enunciates would no doubt be a sound one if it bad reference to taxation. Beyond doubt Parliament should possess of itself the sole right of appropriating any moneys collected from the people of this country by means of taxation, but I submit that the revenues which are obtained by the Government railways of Canada from the people of Canada, for services rendered by that railway, are in a different position altogether from revenues received by wray of taxation. I think a fair test of the fairness of the proposal contained in the resolution is this: Does the continuance of the practice of voting a general amount in the estimates after all mean anything? Last year I think we were asked to vote a sum of about thirty-five millions under the heading "Operating Expenses of the Government Bailway Systems of Canada." That, of course, gives no particular information to Parliament. No questions, therefore, are ever asked under that item. The amount cannot be approximated by the Department of Railways with any accuracy whatever. I am told by the officers of the department that this year they cannot estimate within five to ten million dollars what would be the operating expenses of the Canadian Government Railway system during the present fiscal year. My objection to the inclusion of the amount in the annual estimates is that it swells our general estimates unduly/ and no good purpose is served by it.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

What harm is done?

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

It leaves the impression abroad tbat our annual expenditure as shown to be in the estimates is greater than it actually is. I think it is only a fair proposal that the revenues of *a railway system should be used to pay operating expenses, without Parliament being asked to vote that amount. If the amount could be voted with any degree of accuracy, possibly some good might come ou't of it, but it has never in the past interested the House, and I say it is unfair to the railway system. It is unfair to the estimates to load them with this amount. The Canadian Government are to-day the owners of the Canadian Northern railway system. *

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

And they do not operate it.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Our operating expenses will not be voted, in this manner. They were not voted this way last year. We voted a certain amount to take care of the deficit. We shall ask Parliament to do the same thing this session. If the resolution is adopted by the House, I think the financial position of the Intercolonial will really be presented to Parliament, in a better form than heretofore. If there is a deficit Parliament will be asked to vote that deficit, and a very definite and clear cut discussion may then take place upon, the administration of the railroad, because Parliament is asked to vote a deficit which it has never been asked to do before. The principle is not a new one. The Intercolonial has what they call a store account. The minister is permitted to. provide a certain sum for the purchase of railway supplies and material, and while there is a limitation of 81,500,000 to that account, still the principle is exactly the same. The same principle applies to the King's Printer.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. W. S. FIELDING:

We increased

the store account to 16,000,000 last night.

Mr. .A. K. MACLEAN: The principle

is just the same, and it applies to the King's Printer. The principle in the Bill is this: that the Government railway system ,be permitted to pay, out of its own revenue, its operating expenses. I submit that is a fair proposal, and I hope it will be accepted by the committee.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Suppose it is a surplus?

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Do not suppose

that

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

We must suppose all kind of things now.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mt. A. K. MACLEAN:

The book-keeping system is not interfered with. Every dollar and every cent that goes to the system are credited to the Receiver General. Every cent paid out -by the railway is paid by cheque at Moncton upon the Bank of Montreal, Ottawa, where the Government account is kept.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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L LIB

Frank S. Cahill

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

I am glad to hear the

Minister of Finance state to-day that we have the Canadian Northern, because last night apparently we had lost it.

Topic:   REVENUES OF CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Subtopic:   SUSPENSE ACCOUNT PROPOSED.
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April 12, 1918