Mr. STEWART (Leeds):
When the house adjourned last evening I was endeavouring to address myself to this item and a statement of the Minister of Finance in connection with the tariff advisory board which he described as a fact-finding board. That is exactly what I think every hon. member would like to have. We would like to have the facts in connection with this and the other items that are associated with it. The minister said: "The
evidence is on the table." That is quite correct, but it is very bulky and I am sure no hon. member could undertake to read it. When we have a fact-finding commission, surely it ought not to be the duty of hon. members to find the facts from a perusal of the evidence. The commission should discharge that duty, and particularly in connection with these controversial items we should have from the commission a sort of precis or review of the evidence and the proceedings taken before it, and a statement of what has been found, as a result of that investigation, to be the fact. Imagine a commissioner or a judge being asked to investigate and find facts and then coming into court or this parliament and putting the evidence on the table, asking us to assume that he had discharged his duties! For the minister's own protection and for the benefit of hon, members he ought to ask the board to make a short review or precis of the evidence and a statement of facts found in connection with each one of these cases.
We have established this board at great expense; it has set up machinery; it should be well equipped to discharge this duty, and if it does not do so, then we have set up a piece of machinery that is very expensive, that is to a large extent useless, and, worse still, that is dangerous, because these investigations may go on and all the information that the house is to have in connection with them is a statement of the Minister of Finance that he met the tariff board some time about two o'clock in the morning and discussed these items with them. Apparently when these items come before the house we can get very
little information in regard to them. This board was not intended to be a smoke-screen behind which the minister could hide, or behind which there could be private discussions and manipulations in connection with the tariff. What we expected was that we were to be furnished with findings of facts as ascertained by the commission, and; if the commission fails in that respect, then it fails entirely in the discharge of its duty. I know every hon. member desires to know the fact, and if we had the fact we would be relieved of a great deal of discussion, a great deal of this suspicion would be cleared up and we would be able to discuss these items intelligently. I suggest to the Minister of Finance that he allow these items to stand and ask the tariff board, even at this late date, to make a finding of fact for the information of the members of this house, as it was intended they should do in connection with all these items. This resolution covers many items. Some of them are not controversial; some of them, I believe, in no way change the existing tariff, and perhaps therefore we can dispose of them; but I do suggest that as to these important items which are undoubtedly controversial, and upon which the house desires information, the minister should procure a finding of fact and a report on the facts from the tariff board.
Subtopic: CUSTOMS TARIFF, 1927, AMENDMENT