Speaker, I think the objections urged against this resolution' are unanswerable, but there is another which now occurs to me, namely, that there should be no distribution of this fund until all claims are adjudicated upon. The effect of any distribution in the meantime would be to give some an advantage over others. We ought to know the particulars of all the claims and the full amount of each, we ought to know the full amount involved in all these claims, before any distribution is made or before deciding what should be done with the money.
There are, I think, two major principles in this bill to which I object. The first is*that the parliament of Canada is not to be consulted at all as to the payments which shall be made, to whom made and upon what grounds made. The second objection I have is that the reparations received by the Dominion of Canada
are to be paid over, without consulting parliament, to private individuals, without those individuals having been called upon to pay their share of the cost of administration. Both these principles are unsound, in my opinion. I submit that the minister would be well advised to withdraw this resolution for the time, or at least to let it stand until he takes the matter into more mature consideration. I submit, first, that none of this money received on reparations should be paid to any of these individuals who have not suffered extreme hardship as the result of the war; secondly, that it should only be voted after parliament has adjudicated upon it. thirdly, as the hon. member for Leeds (Mr, Stewart) has said, that there should be a full settlement before the courts, or, shall I say, better still, that all cases should be adjudicated upon and found just, before any of the money is voted.
I thought at first that I would wait until we got into committee before asking the minister some questions, but so many have been asked that I think I have now pretty well the light I have been looking for in connection with this resolution. I want in a very brief manner to express my views and my opposition to the measure passing at this time. In the first place it is a resolution to make provision for the paying out of these reparations. It is making such provision before any decision in a complete form has been arrived at as to what the claims are and to what degree they are justified. That is my first objection. My second objection is that it is authorizing the transfer of very large sums of money, occasionally as they come to hand, from the Dawes Commission to the Canadian government, and the transfer of these moneys from the Receiver General and the Minister of Finance to the Secretary of State. I ask myself the question, and I think it is a pertinent one, whether or not the payment of these moneys by the Receiver General to the Secretary of State will not answer all the necessities of the Audit Act and the Auditor General will have nothing more to say about any further distribution of these funds. That appears to me to be the effect of one clause. In other words, the distribution of these funds will be removed from the scrutiny and control of the Auditor General. Then the third section of the resolution authorizes the Secretary of State to proceed to disburse these funds. I think that ought to be done only after a report to parliament on the claims and a careful consideration of them. Then I object to the inclusion of the word "expenditures" in the last clause. I have no objection to the Secretary of State reporting annually to the House, ais to the minister, but I do object to the word "expenditures." I therefore desire to place myself on record as being opposed to the principle of this resolution. I contend that there is no need for such legislation at this session; that the Minister of Finance and the Receiver General are now authorized to- receive these moneys, and can receive them without any order from this parliament. The Secretary of State under previous legislation, has all the powers that he requires to investigate these claims and until the claims are fully investigated and brought before parliament I do not think we are justified in authorizing the distribution of the funds.
I rise in protest against this resolution at this particular time. It does seem to me that we have not the proper opportunity of studying the situation within a week of when we may expect the session to close. Moreover, we have not been given definite information in regard to those who claim moneys which are proposed to be paid out of this fund. It does seem tc me that not only shipowners have the right to claim money under this resolution, but what about those people like the soldiers and theii dependents? They have lost homes and theii loved ones in the war, and it does seem to me that humanity is of more importance than the material wealth of shipowners or of anybody else who has lost money or other material possessions. What aibout the nation's cost of the war? Are we as a nation going to put in our claim, and have damages distributed pro rata under this agreement? I think before we pass on this resolution we should first have definite information as to what the government intends to do. I think we should also have a list of all the claims so that we may know among whom this money is going to be distributed. For these reasons, if this cornea to a vote, I shall vote against the resolution.
I think it is unfortunate that at this stage the minister should waste the time of the House by refusing to withdraw this resolution, after he has been apprised of the difficulties that he is bringing upon the administration, both present and to come. I think that he has been sufficiently advised already to have warranted his very speedy withdrawal of the resolution. I trust that if he has not come to that conclusion, he will do so before I am done.
I wonder if the minister would care to answer me a question as to the amount which this government have already received from the reparations fund. Has the government received any amount from that fund? Perhaps the minister does not know, or may not wish to answer. Personally I doubt whether we will be very much troubled with any large amounts. Some hon. members have expressed' the opinion that we may be called upon to disburse many millions. If we have to depend on receiving reparations from the countries of Europe, I do not think we will be overburdened with moneys to distribute. But even if we were, it does not affect the principle at all; I do not think it is possible for any body of men to arrive at a sure and just decision as to who should be reimbursed for losses during the war. If there are millions to come under the Dawes provision, I think that money should go against the national debt.
If it does not fit in there, there is another place where it would fit in admirably; it should go to augment the pensions of the wounded soldiers and war widows. That, I think, is a much more reasonable and a much more deserving cause than simply to ask a politician to hand out hundreds of thousands of dollars to individuals who may be needing money or may be able to establish some claim that they ought to get something. I think most of us could establish a claim if we wanted to make the effort. I therefore associate myself with the hon. gentlemen who have expressed so unmistakably their objections to this resolution, and I trust that the minister will withdraw the resolution so as to save the time of the House.
Hon. E. M. MACDONALD (Pictou, Minister of National Defence):
Unfortunately I was not in at the beginning of this discussion, but from what I have heard from hon. gentlemen in regard to this resolution, apparently the real facts in connection with this matter are not understood.
The moneys which come from the Dawes commission, so called, are payable under the terms of the treaty of Versailles for certain definite purposes. They cannot be put into the treasury of the country and appropriated for other purposes than those for which they are paid. The compensation is paid in connection with the following list of cases:
1. Damages to injured persons and to surviving dependents by personal injury to or death of civilians caused by acts of war, including bombardments or other attacks on land, on sea, or from the air, and all the direct consequences thereof, and of all operations of war by the two groups of belligerents wherever arising. # _
2. Damage cause by Germany or her allies to civilian victims of acts of cruelty, violence or maltreatment (including injuries to life or health as a consequence of imprisonment, deportation, interment, or evacuation, of exposure at sea, or of being forced to labour), wherever arising, and to the surviving dependents of such victims.
3. Damage caused by Germany or her allies in their own territory or in occupied or invaded territory to civilian victims of all acts injurious to health or capacity to work, or to honour, as well as to the surviving dependents of such victims.
4. Damage caused by any kind of maltreatment of prisoners of war.
5. The cost of assistance by the governments of the allied and associated powers to prisoners of war and to their families and dependents.
C. Damage caused to civilians by being forced by Germany or her allies to labour without just remuneration.
7. Damage in respect of all property wherever situated belonging to any of the allied or associated states or their nationals, with the exception of naval and military works or materials, which has been carried off, seized, injured or destroyed by the acts of Germany or her allies, on land, or sea, or from the air, or damage directly in consequence of hostilities or of any operations of war.
S. Damage in the form of levies, fines and other similar exactions imposed by Germany or her allies upon the civilian population.
memorandum from the Under-Secretary of State, and it sets out the clause from the treaty of Versailles which provides the lines upon which compensation can be obtained from Germany and the amount of money that is payable to this country as a result of what is known as the Dawes report, on account of damages arising in these various categories.
Yes, but is it not true that the Under-Secretary of State definitely asserts that while this is the basis upon which the reparations are to be collected, there is nothing whatever in the provisions of the treaty to say that these amounts should be turned over to the individual men and women who have had losses?
minister intends to convey to the House the idea that the sums of money turned over to the government under the Dawes plan on account of reparations, and referred to by the Secretary of State, were determined or fixed on the basis of claims that were being considered and reported upon by the late Mr. Pugsley?