Yes. At the request of
the Minister of National Defence. The suggestion that there was no disclosure is unwarranted because it is untrue, and in all the calumny of the personal attack that has been made upon the Minister of National Defence, the most contemptible is that he failed to disclose the facts which are so fully reported to the government in this report.
As desired by you-
That is, the Minister of National Defence.
-a report on the Bren light machine gun question is respectfully submitted:
As far back as the summer of 1936 the Department of National Defence came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to arm the forces with the Bren gun and that 7.000 of these guns would be required. A few model or specimen Bren guns were ordered and it early became clear that Canada could not look to the manufacturing establishment of the government of the United Kingdom as a certain or timely source of supply reasonably safe from possible enemy action. The two model guns which we now have were not made in England but in Czechoslovakia where they were invented; the Enfield plant near London cannot satisfy the United Kingdom government's requirements before several years. You will not want me to go too deeply into the difficulties
Bren Gun-Mr. McGeer
which have been encountered in this connection by Great Britain, but the fact that the United Kingdom is not only willing but anxious to order 5,000 Bren guns from a Canadian manufacturer is of the utmost significance. Direct advice to this effect, with corroboration from our Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps officer stationed at Canada House, London, has been received, also similar advice to the effect that the treasury in London has approved the war office proposal.
In view of the present situation, as mentioned in the next preceding paragraph, which, although anticipated here long ago, materialized slowly and after long and unexpected delays, it was deemed advisable, even in 1936, to consider the possible necessity of having our requirements manufactured in Canada. The probable difficulties of the position of the United Kingdom were surmised here from the beginning. Because of known variations in cost factors (labour, for instance), heavy outlays for machinery, et cetera, that would be required if the guns were to be manufactured in Canada, it was known that Canadian production costs would be much more than the English production cost, if only 7,000 guns were to be made in Canada it was believed that the cost would be prohibitive under normal conditions. Such has turned out to be the case, to the extent that the placing of the 5,000 order in Canada will save something more than $1,000,000 in cash to Canadian taxpayers. It is impossible to translate into dollars the other advantages to Canada whether financial, or, very important, the extending of our means of defence. Perhaps to mention one other advantage will suffice, i.e., that we will get the guns more quickly than would otherwise be possible; there will remain in Canada the plant and acquired skill in the production of this weapon.
When the matter was first considered, it was not then believed that there would be long delay in receiving favourable or at least definite advice regarding the placing of an order by the government of the United Kingdom, the advisability of having the guns produced in a dominion arsenal, by private industry following invitation to tender or by a selected manufacturer who would produce the guns under the close financial and technical supervision of the Department of National Defence, on a cost-plus basis, was carefully considered. The latter method was chosen as the one which would bring quickest results, would be the most economical, would most easily permit of termination of activity, and would be one which would commend itself to the w'ar office.
It is the practice in England to select the contractor when, as in the case of the Bren gun and many other articles required for defence purposes, to have the contractor proceed on a cost-plus basis. This, when it is not possible to say what a fair and reasonable firm price is. This procedure permits sound planning against an emergency or war. In the case now under discussion, the president of Messrs. John Inglis Company Limited. Toronto, Ontario. James E. Hahn (Major, D.S.O., M.C., Canadian expeditionary force) called at the war office in October or November, 1936, and undoubtedly created a most favourable impression there and with the technical officers of the Enfield plant, with the result that of a number of Canadians who have displayed an interest in armaments. Major Hahn is one of
the few who has proven satisfactory to the war office if an offer of a contract is to be taken as the indication. The prospective contractors were equally acceptable to the department and their continued interest in the matter, despite delays vexatious to all concerned, was reassuring.
It may be added that Major Hahn has visited England several times and has acquired a great deal of extremely valuable information concerning the manufacture of the Bren gun. The departmental proposal was brought before the interdepartmental committee on the control of profits on government armament contracts and there given minute attention which has resulted in a draft agreement which would limit the financial returns to the company to an extent greater than the agreement which has been found acceptable by both the war office and the treasury people of the government of the United Kingdom.
Mr. MANION; Whose statement is that?