July 3, 1935

CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The hon. gentleman will recall that part of it was under a committee of the house last year and part of it under a royal commission. The actual cost of the two was in the vicinity of $475,000 plus some printing, the actual amount of which I have never been able to get. I do not know that my department is specifically responsible for checking the matter because it did not come through us. The first part was entirely a House of Commons matter

rMr. R. B. Hanson.]

and was in last year's vote, but my understanding is that the actual cost of the whole, including the printing, which of course is under the printing bureau, was about $475,000. It may be a little more or a little less.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

A half million, in round figures.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

A little less.

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LIB

Samuel Factor

Liberal

Mr. FACTOR:

There was a rumour among the commissioners-I -could never trace it- that the government succeeded in collecting arrears of taxes from certain corporations. Will the minister make a statement in that regard?

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

We do not generally deal in rumours, but I have it on good authority that as the result of the activities of the commission there was turned into the coffers of the country a very Large sum of money.

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

Large enough to pay all the expenses of the commission?

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It is a matter of rumour; the money was not paid to me, so I do not know.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I believe this question was asked the Minister of Finance not long ago and he said there was not.

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LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

Mr. GOLDING:

I asked the Minister of National Revenue that question on March 12, 1935. The question and answer were as follows:

Mr. Golding: Have any sums been collected by the income tax departments as a result of revelations before the price spreads and mass buying commission, and if so what is the amount?

Mr. Matthews: I am informed that the

answer is no; no amount has been collected.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

That is four months ago.

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LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

Mr. GOLDING:

If any sum has been collected the committee ought to have that information. This investigation has cost the country a lot of money and I would call the attention of the house to the fact that when 'the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. McKenzie) proposed a resolution asking for an investigation into the spread between the price received by producers and the price paid by consumers for certain goods and agricultural commodities-that resolution was

Supply-Governor General's Warrants

brought in on February 6, 1933-he suggested that the investigation be made through the research council. In view of the enormous expense in connection with this affair, I think that wa9 a very wise suggestion; and had it been acted on the same information could have been obtained at a fraction of the cost. Hon. gentlemen should pay some attention to the statements that- have been made inregard to the questions that were answered. Take some of the witnesses who were brought heTe. It is interesting to take the report of the proceedings and read the evidence given, by these witnesses, and then, to reflect upon the expense involved in bringing them here. We find that one witness coming from the west and giving evidence was paid-this was part of one day-S149.15, and it would not have required more -than a three cent postage stamp to secure from him all the information he gave. About all he did in a constructive way was ,to recommend that we should1 have a policy of inflation, and that is what we have had to a certain extent. Another witness brought down cost $150 or a little over, and the only constructive suggestions he offered were these two: first, that the farmer should not sell any of his products on the farm, and secondly, that we ought to have hogs graded on the rail, which has been in effect for some time, in Ontario at any rate, where it is optional. I should like this same gentleman to go to the farmers of Ontario'and tell them they should not sell anything on their farms; I fancy he would not get a very good reception. But the point is -that that evidence cost over $150, whereas all that was needed was a three cent postage stamp-and you would not have needed that.

I do not think the price spreads commission finished their work at all, because in my opinion they should have investigated some of the prices in connection with the commission itself. This was a price spreads investigating commission, and we have Mr. Sommerville receiving $150 a day and $15 expenses, and Mr. Parry receiving $35 a day and $15 expenses. I think they should have had an investigation there to find out the reason for this spread between these two prices. Further, Mr. Sommerville was paid for 196 days while the committee and the commission sat for only 124 days; in other words, he was paid for 72 days when neither the committee nor the commission was sitting at all.

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LIB
LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

Mr. GOLDING:

No; I checked that. I asked some questions in regard to this matter. The first was:

How many days did Norman Sommerville, K.C., act as counsel for the committee and royal commission on price spreads and mass buying?

The answer was this:

Mr. Norman Sommerville, K.C., acted as counsel for the committee and the royal commission on price spreads and mass buying for 196 days; 124 days of this period were spent in actually attending public sessions of the committee and the commission, while the balance of 72 days was devoted to interviewing witnesses-

Mark you!

-consultations with auditors, investigators, and in preparing the evidence to be adduced before the committee or commission.

The second question was:

What was his remuneration per day?

The answer was:

Mr. Sommerville's remuneration was $150 per day for the above period. This rate of remuneration was authorized by the committee and later confirmed by the commission. During the summer Mr. Sommerville-

Listen to this.

devoted a considerable amount of time to the gathering and preparation of evidence for submission to the commission, to consultations with auditors and investigators, and to interviewing of witnesses, but for this work no account was submitted and no remuneration paid.

The answer to the first question told us that for those seventy-two days when neither the committee nor the commission was sitting, he was paid, and it gave what he was doing during that time, namely, interviewing witnesses and having consultations with auditors and investigators. In the answer to the next question we are told that he was doing that during the summer and was not paid at all for that work.

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CON
LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

Mr. GOLDING:

I can quite understand that may be the interpretation of the answer, but I was under the impression that this was an investigation, not a prosecution; and what I and the country would like to know is why those witnesses were approached, interviewed and no doubt consulted and prompted before they came before the committee or the commission.

1210 COMMONS

Supply-Governor General's Warrants

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Be careful.

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LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

Mr. GOLDING:

I have not any doubt

that is what happened. My opinion-and I think this is the opinion of the people generally-is that those witnesses should have come before the committee or commission without any interference whatsoever and given their evidence. Furthermore, we find a list of witnesses that were paid and a large number of witnesses that were not paid at all. If this was an investigation and the whole object was to ascertain the facts and the truth of the situation, one witness ought to be paid just as well as another; I think that is a fair submission. We have the spread between the fees Mr. Parry and Mr. Sommer-ville were paid. I would like to ask the minister this: What did the firm of auditors, Clarkson, Gordon, Dilworth, Guilfoyle and Nash put in for the services of their auditors per individual per day? That is the first question.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Without

questioning the hon. gentleman's right to discuss this matter at all under this vote-

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CON
CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

If the

hon. gentleman will allow me to continue, perhaps I can make the position clear; I do not know that it calls for any interruption at all. I would like to point out to the hon. gentleman and the committee that the expenditures of the house committee and of the royal commission were not under the control of any department of government, and the information, if it is necessary, ought to be sought from the committee or the royal commission itself. We had no control over the amount paid to witnesses or to counsel-

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July 3, 1935