March 17, 1924

GRAND TRUNK GRATUITIES


Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways and Canals): As I promised the other day, I beg to lay on the Table of the House the evidence and the report of the Royal Commissioner in the matter of an inquiry into the circumstances re payments made by the Grand Trunk Railway Company to its officers, directors, and so forth. Home Bank Investigation HOME BANK INVESTIGATION On the Orders of the Day:


CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON (West York):

I desire first to congratulate my right hon. friend (Mr. Mackenzie King) upon the renewed evidence of health and upon his being back with us again. I would ask him whether he is laying on the Table to-day the amended order of reference in connection with the commission which is to investigate the Home Bank affairs.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I thank my hon. friend for

his kind personal reference. I had anticipated that he might possibly ask the question he has and I therefore brought with me a copy of the order in council referred to, and which I will now place on the Table. I might read to the House the concluding paragraph of the order which refers to the extent to which the scope of the commission has been amended:

The Committee ot the Privy Council therefore advise that the powers of the Commissioner under the said order in council be not limited to the specifio years 1915, 1916 and 1918 referred to in the petition of the depositors, but should extend to an investigation of the affairs of the said bank during the whole interval between the issue of the bank's charter and the failure of the said bank, including any representations made to the government of the day, as to its condition, any action taken by any of the Ministers of Finance upon such representations as may have been made, and the effect on the position of the depositors of any audit under Section 56A of the Bank Act if made at any time in consequence of such representations. ... ,

In view of additional representations which have been made to the government that at divers times while the said bank was in existence deposits were made and afterwards withdrawn by various depositors, under conditions which might require explanation, the Committee of the Privy Council further advise that the attention of the Commissioner be especially directed to this feature in the course of his investigation.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I would ask my right hon. friend whether this now represents the final attitude of the government, or whether the government is still open to receive suggestions. One of the chief complaints made in connection with this bank is that the bank ought never to have received a charter. That whole inquiry is shut off by this investigation. The inquiry, therefore, cannot serve a useful purpose, if we have regard to one of the chief essentials upon which the country ought to be advised, not only in connection with the position of the Home Bank, but as regards what proper safeguards ought to be taken in connection with the incorporation of such institutions. I hope this is not a final delivery.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

This is the first time I have heard it suggested that the government should go beyond the period at which

the bank was created to inquire into its affairs; but the government is always ready to receive suggestions and to consider them carefully..

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ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY


On the Orders of the Day:


PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. ROBERT FORKE (Brandon):

I also wish to extend my congratulations to the Prime Minister on his return. I think we are all glad to see him again. I wish to ask the government the following question: Whether it is a fact, as stated in the press, that the government has already appointed a national committee to study the St. Lawrence great waterway project. If so, will the government give the House information as to the personnel and terms of reference of the committee alleged to have been appointed?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I thank my hon. friend

for his opening word. I am not less pleased to see him again. I also anticipated that the question which he has asked might be asked, and I have brought to the House the correspondence relating to the deep waterway project on the St. Lawrence. As hon. members of the House observed, the correspondence was given out at Washington on Friday night, but it was not given out at Ottawa. The explanation of that circumstance is to be found by reference to the concluding paragraph of the despatch which was sent from Ottawa to Washington and which reads:

It is suggested, subject to the concurrence by telegraph of the United States government, that this correspondence be released on the night of Friday .the 14th instant, for publication simultaneously here and at Washington on the morning of Saturday the 15th instant.

Unfortunately, no telegram was received at Ottawa from Washington until Saturday morning, and in the absence of a telegram, concurring in giving out the correspondence on Friday night, the officials of the government did not feel justified in giving out the correspondence on this side.

In regard to the question which my hon. friend has asked as to the national committee, I can perhaps best answer him by explaining in a word exactly what is said in the correspondence. We have agreed that the engineering board which originally investigated matters be enlarged in accordance with the recommendation which was made by the International Joint Commission that considered the matter. The original board had two members, one Canadian and one a citizen of the United States. We have agreed for purposes of further inquiry to the enlargement of the

St. Lamence Waterway

board to six, three Canadians and three from the United States. The American government have agreed with us to this enlargement. In intimating to the American government that we were willing to enlarge the board in this way, we intimated that the government intended appointing a national committee to advise the government itself on various aspects of this important national question on which the government should be fully advised. When the Americans received our report, they intimated to us in reply that they also would appoint a national committee, and they suggested that our national committee and their national committee should meet together t'o decide what questions were to be referred to the enlarged joint engineering board. We intimated in our reply that to adopt that course would be to change the complexion of the national committee in a manner which would make it an international committee rathe: than a national committee; that we had intended our national committee to be distinctively for the purpose of advising our own government, not for other purposes, and we suggested, therefore, that for the present at least the American government should follow the suggestion which we originally made of appointing one or two representatives to confer with one or two representatives from our country to decide upon the questions that were to be referred to the enlarged joint engineering board. Our American friends have accepted that suggestion, and we are now awaiting the nomination of representatives from the government of the United States to meet with representatives of our government to decide on the questions that are to be referred to this enlarged joint engineering board. Two or three of those questions have already been set forth in the exchange of correspondence which has taken place. In addition, our government has appointed an inter-departmental committee composed of members of the Civil Service to accumulate information relating to this important project in its different bearings, to advise and'inform the government on matters that they think are important for consideration, also if so desired, to advise the national committee when it is formed.

I notice in the press that the impression seems to have gone abroad that while the United States government has appointed a national committee of representative citizens, we have appointed only a committee composed of members of the Civil Service. Our national committee has not been appointed as yet. It will be appointed in due course, and will be for the purpose of advising the

government on various aspects of this question of great national concern. The committee that has been referred to in the press as an advisory committee to the government, is the smaller departmental committee which I have already spoken of, and of which Colonel Biggar, the government counsel, has been appointed chairman. On that committee there is a representative from the Departments of Railways and Canals, Marine and Fisheries, Interior, Public Works, Trade and Commerce, and Finance. Those six officials will form a small inter-departmental committee to sift information that is already in the possession of the government and to take any suggestions that are likely to be of service and of help to the larger committee which will subsequently be appointed.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

Will the national committee have really more to say than the government in the report to be made by the joint committee?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The final say will rest with the government. The national committee will be advisory to the government.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Mr. Speaker,

arising out of what my right hon. friend has just said, the final solution of the question will depend to a great extent upon the manner in which these different subjects are left to the engineering committee. Am I to understand that this national committee is to have the sole responsibility of settling the different questions for reference? I should have though: that as what is to be left for inquiry and the manner in which it is to be left, really goes to the meat of the whole question, it ought to be submitted to this House.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The government will appoint representatives to meet the representatives of the United States to decide what questions are to be referred to the enlarged engineering board. In that way the government will be able to control the subjects that are to be covered by the reference.

It is contemplated that the enlarged joint engineering board may take a little time to do its work, and during the interval other questions may be referred to it as may seem advisable, either upon representations of the inter-departmental committee, or of the national committee, or which may come to the government from any hon. member of this House. The government will be prepared to accept full responsibility both for what may and what may not be submitted.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I wanted to

find out whether the questions would be submitted to the House.

The Address-Mr. Guthrie

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No action

which will in any way finally bind the country will be taken without full reference to parliament.

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RURAL CREDITS


On the Orders of the Day:


UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEAKMAN (Red Deer):

Has the government received a report from the commissioner or commissioners appointed last year to investigate the question of rural credits? If so, when may we expect this report to be laid upon the Table?

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

Hon. J. A. ROBB (Acting Minister of Finance):

As soon as the report is received

it will have the consideration of the government.

CIVIL SERVICE BONUS On the Orders of the Day:

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March 17, 1924