I do not desire to delay the committee; but in considering this question erf saving banks I have formed a very strong opinion, and I made up my mind some time ago that I would express it. The truth is that we have had only 820,000,000 odd in the postal savings banks of the country for a number of years. In New Zealand the Post Office Department maintains the following services: First, the post office; second, the long distance telephone; third, telegraph services in any fairly large community, and, fourth, the savings banks. The manager of the New Zealand postal service, Mr. McNamara, deals with this whole service as a matter of business. No interest is allowed on money taken in during the broken part of the month; that is, the interest does not begin to run until the first day of the succeeding month. No interest is paid upon broken sums of money; that is, the interest is paid only on even amounts. This money is loaned to the treasury of the Dominion of New Zealand, which pays interest upon it. The result was that in one year a substantial amount of money was earned, and there were loaned to the government very substantial sums of money which proved quite useful.
In Canada the delay in getting money out of the savings 'banks is so great that they have, I am sorry to say, [DOT] served no useful purpose. I realize it is quite unfair to direct these observations to the acting Postmaster General-we all regret the illness of the Postmaster General-but I want to put on record the suggestion that we should do something to increase our postal savings facilities. The need for these facilities is growing greater, in western Canada especially, as the chartered banks can no longer maintain many of their offices in the small communities, especially since these distressing days have arisen. The post office would always be in a position to receive deposits as they do in New Zealand and permit them to be withdrawn easily and quickly up to a certain amount. They have done something in this direction up to $50, but in practice there are apparently undue delays and it occurs to me that possibly something might be done to provide additional banking facilities, if I might use that term, for the population that has been denied the services of the chartered banks.
The present rate of interest is two per cent, and with all deference I suggest that if we want to do the right thing we should pay at least two and a half per cent to these depositors. That is the way in which it occurs to me. I believe if these facilities were increased, this would prove conducive to thrift in communities where thrift is desirable and where such facilities are no longer available. That is my conviction with respect to the matter, and I thought I would bring it to the attention of the department.
I was impressed when one day I stopped in a remote community in New Zealand to have lunch, went into the post office and found that the postmaster was a trained telegrapher. He also had long distance telephone facilities, the post office and the savings bank. All these conveniences were under the one roof. When I came back to Wellington I saw Mr. McNamara who operates the whole postal service as an enterprise under his immediate control. I found that the sums of money that he was able to lend to the dominion were very large. A useful purpose was being served in New Zealand, and I do not think we have extended these facilities in Canada to the extent we should. I think we could strengthen our position considerably, just as has been done in Great Britain, where the postal savings amount to substantial sums of money and where the savings certificates also bring in large sums.
Then in the United States, a very rich country, we find the treasury in Washington providing facilities throughout the country for the purchase of certificates paying rates of interest higher than two per cent and maturing at the end of five or ten years, as the case may be. These certificates are sold in multiples up to 810,000, but I do not think we could go as far as that. However, this might be a matter for consideration by the Minister of Finance.
I do not suggest that the acting minister is in a position to-night to deal with this matter of savings banks, nor do I expect him to, but he might consider the question from all angles. The first useful purpose to be served would be the providing of facilities to people who had no other facilities, and the next purpose would be the inducing of people, even in the little communities where small sums of money are saved, to acquire habits of thrift. What has been done in other countries could be done here.
In former years a bulk amount for printing and stationery appeared in the estimates for civil government and the outside service respectively. This year the item appears under post office and five other votes. Under the law the department is required to secure all printing and stationery from the government printing bureau. Therefore, practically the whole proportion will be utilized to reimburse the government printing bureau for printing and stationery required by staff post offices and the headquarter units which administer those offices. These requirements include all kinds of printed forms used by post office and at headquarters, as well as the regular items of stationery. A small increase is due to the increased needs from expansion of business.
I see the position of supervising dead letter clerk. What trouble is taken to determine the destination of these dead letters after they come to the dead letter office? Are there specialists who work on them and try to find the proper destination, or do they simply remain in the dead letter office after reaching Ottawa?
If there is no indication whatsoever of the address, no reasonable indication to whom the letter belongs, it is destroyed immediately, and if there is any money in the letter it is placed in the consolidated revenue fund. The government makes that much out of it.