March 15, 1928

CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

Do these figures enable us

to say whether item 522, cotton yams, not exceeding 20's single, 10 per cent, 15 per cent and 20 per cent, constitutes an increase or a reduction in the tariff?

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

A number of the items are

obsolete. It is chiefly a reduction.

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CON
LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

If my hon. friend picks out

522 alone-

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

That is the one we are

discussing, according to the chairman.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

We have been discussing the items generally. I do not know whether my hon. friend wants to get on the record at this late hour all the facts bearing on the matter. In this particular item alone there is an increase.

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CON
LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Yes, but taking them altogether there is a very considerable decrease.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I thought we would take

them one at a time. The minister has referred to the assistance he received from the tariff board, which it was stated earlier in the evening was a fact-finding body. It is advisory, apparently, in connection with the fixing of the tariff schedules.

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LIB
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I should be very glad if

the minister could recollect those recommendations made by the tariff board, not in writing but at those conferences of which he told us, which extended into the late hours of the night. What was the basis upon which the tariff board made a recommendation for the increase of any duty? Was it on the basis of taking care of or protecting, if you like, the particular industry under discussion? If so, was that communicated to the minister and was it used by him in arriving at the schedule rate?

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Not in any particular industry. If my hon. friend will say the industries throughout Canada I will repeat what I said this afternoon, that in the case of some industries, some particular items, the government did not go as far as the tariff board thought they might go. The tariff board, having heard all the evidence both from the manufacturers and from the other side, thought there might be an increase in some cases, but the government determined differently.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Because that was not the business of the tariff board.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I am afraid I am not quite

answered yet. I am anxious to know the principle upon which advice was given by the tariff board. In making their recommendations or reports, whatever you call them, did they indicate that they were proceeding on the principle of protecting industry generally? Did they indicate that some particular industry required for its protection from competition from abroad, or for various reasons, some increase in the tariff schedule, or is the report or advice of the tariff board a hit and miss affair? Do they say, "We think this industry can stand a little and this other industry cannot stand it so well"? If there is no principle at all behind the recommendations of that board, what possible system have the government in arriving at a definite figure?

Ways and Means-Customs Tariff

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The system of common sense, as far as we understand it; the same system hon. members opposite would follow if they had the responsibility of office. The idea is to do what we believe is in the best general interests of the people of Canada.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

All I can say to that statement is that I am very grateful for the implied compliment that because we did it it is right, but the point I am making in regard to this or any other item is this: If you are going on the advice of the tariff board, that advice to be valid and worth acting upon must be founded on some principle, otherwise it is a hit and miss affair. In the hands of a government which wanted to make use of it the tariff could be very readily used, under these circumstances, as an instrument for imposing upon industries and getting money from them, if you will. I am not suggesting for a moment that that has been done, but the tariff board, constituted with no definite principles upon which to make these recommendations, can be more readily made a toll gate than a tariff board. I am not speaking of the personnel now. So I say that the temptation to any government of having an instrument such as this ready to its hand is too strong, unless the recommendations of that instrument are to be based upon some definite principle. I should like to know if they have been so based.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I do not like these insinuations, which come up from time to time, that the tariff board might 'be a toll gate. If my hon. friend advances that argument he might as well say that the government he supported when they were in office carried on a toll gate, and I do not believe they did. They used their best judgment at the time.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

No, I particularly said that

I was not speaking of the personnel of the tariff board or of the government at all. I am only speaking of the uselessness of a tariff board which is constituted with no definite principle. A tariff board was set up in India and another in the United States; I prefer to speak of the one set up in India, which was constituted on the definite principle of protection as the guide to the recommendations they should make. They knew where they were; they knew what facts they wanted to get and the government had a finding based on some policy upon which to act. Now I say that as long as our tariff board is not properly constituted in that regard, there is the danger that it may be made just what I have indicated. I am making no insinuations; at the moment I am just trying to discuss the functions of the tariff board which brought in a report favouring an increase of the duty on this particular item 522.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I did not say they advocated it in this particular item; I do not recall whether or not they did, but I think I have caught my hon. friend's point now. He says that the United States board received instructions and was created as a method of protection. Am I right in that?

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CON

March 15, 1928