When a minister conies to Parliament he takes his responsibility for the fairness of the salaries. He is in a position to say, "The Civil Service Commission recommends these salaries, they believe they are fair and right, and I have behind me their support.'' But he cannot say, "I am bound to put these salaries in the Estimates because that is the view of tlie Civil Service Commission"-not at all. He may come to Parliament as a new minister and say, "I have the Civil Service Commission's recommendation of this schedule as a fair one. I do not understand the department fully. I have not had an opportunity of reviewing the duties of office, and, therefore, I do not feel justified in coming to the House and asking for an alteration." There might be some reason in that, but if he comes to the House and says, "I have no responsibility in this matter at all, the Civil Service Commission has done it, and that is an end of it", what is the good of coming to Parliament at all? Are we here merely to put our imprimatur upon what the Civil Service Commission says? Not at all. The minister's responsibility is that he recommends these salaries to this committee, each and every one of them, and he cannot escape that responsibility. He may appeal to the Committee not to ask him to take the responsibility of modifying any of these estimates because of his inexperience in the department. It will be for the committee to decide the value of that plea. But do not let him come here and repeat over and over again that he has not the responsibility; because he has.
The minister now says he has the responsibility, but I am sure no one in this House ever thought that he admitted the responsibility until he got up the last time. If the hon. minister came to Parliament and struck twenty per cent off each of those salaries, the reduced amount would be all the civil servants would receive, and there would be no violation of any law whatever.
changed. The government come to Parliament and say "We recommend salaries which the Civil Service Commission recommended to us. We accept them and take the responsibility to ask Parliament to pass them. We think they are right."
Would the hon. gentleman answer me one question: Has the matter ever been handled, in the case of one individual, as the hon. gentleman indicates? If I thought for a moment of doing what the right hon. gentleman, no doubt, would like to have me do, would it not be necessary for the entire schedule and every salary in the classification so dealt with to go back to the Civil Service Commission for re-arrangement and re-classification before being submitted here?
Not at all. If the hon. minister feels that he would be right in recommending to this House the reduction of $1,000 in any one salary, then the action of this House is final, and the reduced amount would be all that the official affected could receive. The minister would take the responsibility of doing so, out of line with the classification of the commission, but his decision, supported by this House, would be final. Suppose, for example, a motion were made to reduce the salary of any one, and that motion carried, that would prevail. The hon. gentleman would have to take the responsibility of saying whether he thought it should be reduced or not, acquiescing in the motion or not, but whatever the decision of the House is on these Estimates, that fixes the salary to [be paid.
Why, certainly it has been done. Votes have been struck out and votes reduced. But the Government asks for a certain vote. That is a Government motion, and, if it is not carried, the Government itself on that vote is defeated. If the hon. minister wants to stand by his estimates, let him do so, but it is his responsibility to stand by them. Do not let him lead hon. gentlemen to believe that he is powerless to reduce his estimates, because he is not powerless by any means.