Mr. Speaker, I think
that at this stage I should say a word on the amendment, reserving my right to close the debate on the main motion later on. It seems to me that the wish of the various organizations that came before our committee is being realized; this problem is being threshed out on the floor of Parliament just as they desired. We have had a fairly lively debate so far and a very interesting one. I presume that the debate will continue for some length of time and that probably further light will be shed on the situation.
I rose to make clear to the House the effect of this amendment. During the recess a number of members spoke to me who apparently did not understand what its object was or what the result would be if the amendment- were adopted. In order to clear up the situation, in order that every member of the House may clearly understand the purpose of the motion, I desire for a short time to have the attention of the House.
Let me go back and refer to the motion itself. The motion is to the effect that the report of the committee, tabled in the House on a certain day, be received and that the expenditures, which would be required for carrying out the recommendations made in this report, be commended to the consideration of the Government. The main motion does not ask the House to approve of the recommendations that are contained in the report. The motion is that the report be received and that if there are further expenditures in connection with these recommendations that are made, these expenditures should be taken into considera-
tion by the Government with a view to adopting them and making whatever provision is necessary in order that they majr be put into effect.
Since then, the Supplementary Estimates have been brought down. The Government has taken these recommendations into consideration and in order to carry them out a sum of $40,000,000 appears in the Estimates. Now, the amendment is to this effect:
That all the words after the word " therein " toe struck out. That the report tabled be received, and that the recommendations therein
Everything else disappearing.
-be struck out, and the following substituted therefor.
The main motion if thus amended will read in this way:
That the recommendations therein are not sufficient for the purpose of adequately reestablishing all former members of the forces in Canada in a comprehensive and equitable manner, and that the said report be returned to the said committee with instructions that they have power to amend the same by striking therefrom the recommendations contained under sections (d)-
and so on. Those recommendations refer to the series of suggestions covering vocational training, the grants to students, the loans for housing, and provisions for young medical practitioners, whose practice had ' been interfered with by enlisting-it is proposed by the amendment that that whole series of recommendations be struck from the report. Also, that the recommendations regarding pensions, and life insurance, and also the recommendations in reference to the taking care of the unemployment situation this winter, be struck from the report and that there be substituted instead this:
That is, in place of all these recommendations made by the committee-
-the principles of the plan of re-establishment as set out in appendix 1.
That refers to the plan submitted to the committee by the Great War Veterans' Association. In other words, the suggestion under the amendment is that this report be sent back to the special committee with instructions that it have power to include in these recommendations the plan submitted to the committee by the Great War Veterans' Association for re-establishment; and for this purpose, it is recommended that instead of the expenditure contained in section (e) thereof-that is the section of our report which sums up what we
thought it would take to carry out our suggestion-instead of that
$50,000,000 which we provide, we should insert whatever estimate we thought would be suitable to carry out the suggestions of the Great War Veterans' Association committee that appeared before us. In other words, what is asked by the member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Andrews) is that the committee simply take the report back and embody in it the plans submitted to us by the Great War Veterans' Association. What does it mean?
It means that if the House commits itself to the principle of a further general distribution of cash grants or gratuities to all returned men, and if we carry out the suggestion as it came to us from the Great War Veterans' Association, we are committed to an expenditure in the neighbourhood of $400,000,000, not $200,000,000. As I explained in the statement which I made to the House the other day, the two deductions taken from the estimate made by the Great War Veterans' Association will not stand close scrutiny. Their suggested deduction of 25 per cent, because the money is to be applied on land settlement or because bonds are to be given to the soldiers, will not stand scrutiny at all. You can therefore eliminate that 25 per cent, leaving at least $300,000,000 to be provided. The other 25 per cent deduction they proposed was because certain of the men would not claim the gratuity-certain- men, they said, would not claim the gratuity, or would not be entitled to it, because they could not establish need. Well, as I said the other day, I am afraid there would not be very much opportunity to make a large reduction there, when you give " need " the definition that was given to us in the com-'mittee. So I think the conclusion we came to was the correct one. That is, if the plan as submitted to us by the Great War Veterans' Association is carried out, it would involve the expenditure of approximately $400,000,000. I do not know whether the member for Centre Winnipeg suggests that the committee should take into consideration the advisability of adopting the principles -of that plan, or reduce the amount; that is, instead of paying a man who went to France, for example, $2,000, pay him $1,000, and thereby cut the estimate in two. I do not know whether the hon. gentleman has that in mind or not. The amendment simply proposes that the committee be instructed to include [DOT] in the estimate of the cost a suitable amount to carry out the plan suggested.
Now, the proposition before the House is a comparatively simple one. It is simply a question as to whether or not the majority of the members of this House consider, in view of the circumstances that have been urged to-day and yesterday, that provision should be made whereby a further general distribution of cash-not loans, but cash in the way of grants or gratuities-should be made to all ex-members of the forces for re-establishment purposes. Is it the desire of the majority in this House that the committee should be instructed to bring down a recommendation of that character? That is exactly what the amendment means, and when the division takes place, that is the question upon which the vote will be cast.
I must say a word or two in reference to some remarks that have been made by several hon. gentlemen, namely, the member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Andrews), the member for North Simcoe (Mr. Currie), the member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt), and the member for Peterborough (Mr. Burnham). These hon. gentlemen said in effect that the Government should not throw out suggestions that it has decided upon a policy or come to a decision on a certain phase of this question. I think the member for Peterborough said we should not be " huffy." Well, it is not a question of (being huffy. I am sure every member of the House realizes tfiat the form of government under which we are working is a well-established one.
When a large problem like this comes up there are naturally questions of policy involved, and the Government as a government collectively must come to a decision on those questions of policy, and I say, Mr. Speaker, that it is only fair, it is only right, and it is only proper that the Government should take the earliest opportunity to acquaint the members of the House with its decisions on those questions of policy. We should state to the House very distinctly where we stand on a matter of that kind. If we were discussing the tariff there would be no. question about it at all, the Government as a government would have to know where it stood on the issue; if we were discussing a general question of railway policy the same would be true; if we were discussing the question as to whether or not we should launch out into a shipbuilding programme, the Government as a government would have to come to a decision as to the policy involved, and it must stand or fall by that decision. That always has been and will be our form of government unless our constitution changes. Now, in reference to 1164
this matter, such a stand by the Government does not bind hon. members. Every hon. member is free to do as he pleases; he is responsible for his own vote, and he can vote as he likes. But at the same time if the Government takes a certain position on any large question of policy of this kind, and the majority in the House do.es not sustain the Government, then but one thing follows-some other government must carry on. But if that should happen, that is your will.