June 19, 1923

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I have never heard of any trouble arising under this clause, and I do not think we need look round for any.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The question is on the amendment.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I think we ought to have a better reason than that.

Amendment (Mr. Good) negatived; Yeas, 23; Nays, 38.

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Section agreed to. On section 30-Appointment of officers, etc.


LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I should like to move that section 30 be amended by adding thereto, as subsection 4, the following:

4. Such officers, clerks and servants shall have and be deemed to have the right of association for all lawful purposes.

Under the Treaty of Versailles all employed persons are guaranteed the right to organize. Canada and this government are

[Mr. Spencer.

definitely committed to the principle of that clause of the treaty. The phraseology here is, I may say, taken direct from the tijeaty. In connection with a great many other institutions and organizations the right of employees to organize is specially recognized, and it seems to me it should be in this connection. We are here providing for various things- that the directors may appoint these officers and employees, may require of them certain bonds, and so on, and it is reasonable that the employees should be definitely guaranteed their natural rights. In this act we are giving special privileges to certain corporations. We are definitely recognizing the Bankers' Association, which is, of course, an association of employers. We are recognizing professional associations such as that of the accountants. There seems to be no reason whatever why we should not recognize that the employees should have the right to organize. At the present time the employees of the bank are absolutely at the mercy of their employers. If they should wish at any time to ask for an increase in their wages or a betterment of their condition their case is almost hopeless. I know that theoretically they Imay organize, but whenever that has been attempted it has been frowned down upon by the bankers, and the men who have attempted to effect the organization have been thrown out of their positions or transferre,d to other positions or prevented from receiving promotion. This is what actually takes place. I have had various representations made to me from bank men both in the West and in the East in regard to this matter.

Take the question of wages. I am informed that in some of the leading banks a great many of the clerks are receiving, to start with, some $350 a year. Sometimes that is supplemented by living quarters, and in other cases it is not. I am informed that in a great many cases the wages of bank employees amount to only $500, $600, or $700 a year. I received a rather pathetic communication the other day, since introducing this matter, from a young man who stated his position. He is an employee in a bank, married, with children, and is receiving only some $1,500 a year and finds it very, very difficult indeed to manage on' that.

Take, again, the question of marriage, and the conditions under which the bank clerks must live. We have the banks stipulating that a bank clerk may not marry until he has such-and-such a salary. That works out in practice, I am given to understand, that certain employees who have special friends among the bankers are able to obtain this privilege, while others are not able to do so. It seems as if any employer is going a very long way

Bank Act

indeed when he undertakes to dictate to his employee what his social condition shall be, whether or not he shall have the right to exercise legitimately the normal functions of manhood. These things are vital, and these conditions are very difficult to improve or alter unless you allow the employees the primary rights of freedom of speech and of association. I cannot see any good argument against such a clause being inserted. This was proposed in the Banking committee, and I am glad to know that the Finance Minister is favourable to its incorporation. I feel quite confident that a great many members of the House, irrespective of party, will feel in favour of definitely ensuring to the bank clerks that which all other people are supposed to enjoy.

Amendment negatived: Yeas, 23; Nays, 42.

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Section agreed to. On section 32-One vote for each share.


IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

Before this clause carries, I would like to have an expression of opinion from the Minister of Finance as to the propriety of returning to a system of voting which, I understand, was in vogue in the banks some years ago, that is that there should be a limitation upon the principle of one share one vote. I think it is generally recognized among all co-operative organizations that the principle of one man one vote ought to prevail. The principle that is adopted in most joint stock companies is one share one vote. I have been informed that some years ago some of the Canadian banks voluntarily adopted a sort of compromise between the two principles so that some recognition would be given to manhood whether or not it was accompanied by dollars. I would like to have an expression of opinion from the Minister of Finance on this question.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Whatever might be said in favour of the principle of one man one vote in the political sense, I think when it comes to money matters the old phrase "money talks" has to be recognized. I do not think it is reasonable to say that the man who owns only one share in a bank should have the same say as the man who has two. I think that is too chimerical.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I think my hon. friend has misunderstood me. I did not suggest that we should adopt the principle of one man one vote, but if a man had one hundred shares say, he should not be allowed voting power beyond that amount. There should be some limitation upon his voting power.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I do not think that can be done.

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Section agreed to. On section 54-Statement to be laid before annual meeting; liabilities; assets; other particulars; profit and loss account, etc.


PRO

Henry Elvins Spencer

Progressive

Mr. SPENCER:

I notice that in the

draft of the original bill the minister had two paragraphs, one called "appropriation account" and the other "contingent reserves, including undistributed profits." Would the minister explain why these two clauses were withdrawn?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

After the bill was introduced we had many criticisms from all quarters. Whenever any suggestion was made that seemed to be reasonable I was very happy to concur in it. The suggestions made in regard to these paragraphs seemed to me to be reasonable. We discussed the matter in committee and the committee agreed to the changes as herein made.

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PRO

Henry Elvins Spencer

Progressive

Mr. SPENCER:

May 1 ask the minister

if "from all quarters" included anybody but the Bankers' Association themselves?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Oh, yes. I had letters

and suggestions from various members of parliament, from outside citizens, suggestions came to me in a variety of ways. I think even the public press undertook to give me some advice in the matter.

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PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Would the minister be good

enough to tell us why these amendments were put in the draft bill as first brought down? Was there not some good reason for having them inserted there?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

It seemed to me at that time, in the best light we had, that the way there proposed was the best way to deal with them. Better light came to us and we acted accordingly.

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PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

I was just wondering if

the minister would tell us where the light came from?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I get light from various sources, occasionally from my hon. friends, and I am very glad to avail myself of it.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

It seems to me

there should be a provision requiring an accurate statement to be made with regard to the value of bank premises. There is no such requirement in this clause. I should like to call attention to the evidence given by Sir Edmund Walker before the committee on Banking and Commerce.

He was asked:

Q. Are the figures that are given in the returns made to the Minister of Finance, showing the value of the ibank premises, exactly correct and complete?

Bank Act

He replied:

A. We tell our shareholders almost every year that our bank premises are entered at half their value, we tell them that our bank premises are worth twice as much as they are stated at in our statement in the first place, they are $7,236,000, in the last statement, those are the premises that the bank owns directly, the bank owns premises through a realty company as well-that is about half of the value of those particular premises.

Q. That is the value of the premises held by the Bank of Commerce is some 15 millions?

A. About 14 or 15 million.

Q. What was the purpose of holding bank premises in the name of a holding company?

A. We had to replace the landlord that I spoke of as existing throughout Ontario, but did not exist in the West. We created a realty company, and as we built our buildings we provided out of our currency profits for half the cost of the building, and took that in stock in the realty company, and wrote that stock off. This realty company mortgaged the premises of the bank for the other 50 per cent, and the bank rented offices from the realty company at a rental which in 20 years would amortize the last of the debt.

Q. What would be t^ie value of the holdings of your subsidiary realty company?

A. 8 or 10 millions. I think 10 millions.

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June 19, 1923