March 23, 1925

TAX COLLECTIONS

PROPOSED INQUIRY BY PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE

IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr W. C. GOOD (Brant):

I should like

to know if I may proceed now with the motion that I made on Friday last regarding the investigation of certain matters before the Public Accounts committee. This motion stood at the request of the Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb).

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Go on.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

What are

the terms of the motion?

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I should like to move:

That the standing committee on Public Accounts be instructed that they have power to investigate the methods by which the business profits and income taxes, especially in the case of large concerns, have been assessed and collected.

This is simply a renewal of the instructions given to the committee last year, -the committee not having secured a quorum last year, and not having performed the work that wa3 assigned to it.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

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

I do not wish to unduly delay

my hon. friend in presenting his motion and reaching a conclusion on it, but I think it fair to point out to the House, and for the information of the Public Accounts committee, before which committee I suppose my hon. friend will bring these matters for investigation, certain considerations. I was a member of the House at the time when the business profits tax and the income tax were introduced. I think that both these taxes are based upon the legislation of the British House, and that it was the desire of the representatives of the people in parliament that in so far as possible we should follow the British practice. My recollection-and I stand in the judgment of hon. members who were then in the House-is that parliament at that time unanimously decided that there should be secrecy, that confidential reports made to the government either by firms or private individuals should be treated as confidential. For the information of the House and of the Public Accounts committee, I especially desire to direct their attention to section 14 of the Business Profits War Tax Act, chapter 11 of the statutes of 1916, and my recollection is that the same clause will be found in the Income Tax Act:

No person employed in the service of His Majesty shall communicate or allow to be communicated to any person not legally entitled thereto any information obtained under the provisions of this act, or allow any such person to inspect or have access to any written statement furnished under the provisions of this act. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding two hundred dollars.

I am not going to oppose the resolution of my hon. friend. This is a new House, and the Public Accounts committee is constituted from members representing all parties in this House, and it will be for the Public Accounts committee, having regard to the

Immigration of Labourers

law as laid down by parliament, to determine how far they should go. I should like to say that so far as this government is concerned, we have endeavoured to carry out the principle of the law and to maintain secrecy so far as possible in connection with these reports. I have had the honour of presiding over the department administering these acts, and although personally I had the right, under the rule that the Minister of Finance is an officer of the department, to look into these matters, I have never attempted to dig into the affairs of firms or individuals making these reports.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

May I ask whether the minister does not recall that this matter was pretty fully debated last year? The resolution as it stands does not necessarily imply that private files are to be gone into. I think that matter was pretty fully considered and settled last year.

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Motion agreed to.


RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY


On the Orders of the Day:


PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. E. J. GARLAND (Bow River):

I desire to ask the Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) if the report from Dr. Tory has yet been received, and if so, when it will be tabled.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

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

It has not yet been received, but

I expect, to receive it on Tuesday of this week. Dr. Tory has been very busy the last few days attending the sittings of the Industrial Research Council, but I understand that he is now rounding out his report, and I expect to receive it shortly.

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EXPENDITURE AND COMMITMENTS


On the Orders of the Day:


CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON (West York):

We are to have the budget, I understand tomorrow. There is a question on the order paper, question No. 10, standing in my name, the answer to which would give information which, I think, the House would like to have when considering the budget. The question refers to outstanding claims for capital expenditure for the current fiscal year, and the total amount of commitments as yet unpaid.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

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

I shall direct this matter to the

attention of the Deputy Minister of Finance. I am not sure that we have that information

available in the department. It refers to all the different departments of the government, does it not?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Yes. In other words, the country's claims, commitments and the like.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I will try and get the information for my hon. friend.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I would also

like ordinary as well as capital.

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March 23, 1925