Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister) :
Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the
Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) I desire only to point out first of all that this matter was carefully considered) by the banking and commerce committee last year, and the subject matter of the present discussion was then much debated. The conclusion of the oommittee was that the section should) be incorporated in the Bank Act as it now is.
I cannot say that the practice of bringing to the attention of the house in a succeed^-ing session a measure that was carefully considered less than a year ago and on which a conclusion was reached, has very great merit, nor do I think the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. Ooote) has quite made himself familiar with .the provisions of the new Bank Act and the Bank of Canada Act. The old1 fashioned appeal that was formerly made, that we must vote against the banks that have a monopoly of .the issue of bills, no longer has substance, because we have provided that ultimately the Bank of Canada will be the only issuing bank in the country. Therefore the last argument [Mr. Coote.l
made by my hon. friend was one that might have found1 force and place some years ago but which perhaps cannot be taken too seriously now.
I wonder what would happen in the country if this bill were to be enacted. I wond'er just what would be money. I sent the page out for Palgrave's Dictionary of Political Economy and turned up the word "money" because I recalled that there was a time when oxen were the standard of money; that in other cases iron bars were used as money, and that at other times various substances and commodities passed as money. But according to Palgrave we are thus able to give a full and final definition of money:
-namely, that it is that which serves (1) as the common medium of exchange: (a)
dispensing with the double coincidence of *wants and' of possessions involved in barter; (b) furnishing a price-current of all the commodities in the market. (2) As the
standard of deferred payments. To put it in another form, money is that which passes freely from hand to hand, in full payment for goods, in final discharge of indebtedness, being accepted equally without reference to the character or credit of the person tendering it. and without the intention on the part of the person receiving it himself, to consume or enjoy, or otherwise use it than by passing it on, sooner or later in exchange.
I wonder what sort of money we would have in Canada if this bill were to pass. There would1 be scrip at Calgary, scrip at St. Paul, scrip at Red Deer, scrip at Winnipeg and at Regina, and the very essential idea of the word "money" would have perished and vanished. I do not think this bouse desires to have it seriously argued that the enactment of legislation such as this would turn our whole monetary system, such as it is, into a farce; I am sure the hon. gentleman has no such object as that in mind.
For the moment I need say nothing further on that phase of the matter. The hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote) does object to the provisions of the act that state that the possession of certain things constitutes a presumption against the person who is in possession of or who tenders certain things as money. There is nothing new in the law in that regard. For example, if a man is walking down the sidewalk and a barrel of flour falls on his head there is presumption- of negligence, and he need not prove it. That is res ipsa loquitur; the thing speaks for itself. In criminal or quasi-criminal cases there are certain things that in themselves constitute a presumption which it is essential that the person who is
Trade Commission-Mr. Kennedy (Winnipeg)
affected should discharge by evidence indicating that the presumption was not warranted. All that is said in this case is that if any such instrument is made for the payment of a less sum than S20, and is payable either in form or in fact to the bearer thereof, or at sight, or on demand, or at less than thirty days thereafter, or is overdue, or is in any way calculated or designed for circulation, or as a substitute for money, the intention to pass the same as money shall be presumed. It is not that the man is presumed to be guilty but that the intention is presumed, and there is a vast difference between a presumption of guilt and a presumption of intention. It is so difficult to prove intentions, however honourable they may be. It is so difficult to prove them even when they are dishonourable, and when the law says there shall be a presumption of intention that is an entirely different thing from asserting that there is a presumption of guilt. All this section says is that certain facts shall constitute a presumption of intention, and that only.
I do not desire to do more than indicate the views of the government with respect to the matter, in the absence of the Minister of Finance. In order that the matter may be presented from his viewpoint, since I understand that he has some views with respect to it, I think I might content myself with merely moving the adjournment of the debate and permitting the matter to end there for the moment.