February 13, 1939

CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Will the minister

explain why not?

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

My hon. friend is fully

aware of the fact that the arsenal at Val-cartier deals with the manufacture of ammunition but to my knowledge, at any rate, has nothing to do with the manufacture of guns. The plant at Lindsay was dismantled at the close of the war and was not equipped to produce Bren guns; and for a government to set up an entirely new factory to manufacture guns of this kind-

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Sit down.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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CON

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOMUTH:

I just want to ask this

question. Is it not a fact that they have built and are equipping an entirely new factory for the purpose?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The question of policy

has been discussed before in this house and will be discussed again. It may be discussed very properly before the public accounts committee. The negotiations with respect to this matter, let us remember, continued over a period of two years.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Three years.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Three years, if you will.

The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) stated that in theory he favoured government manufacture of munitions, but at the same time he was obliged to take account of practical necessities. Can my hon. friends point to any other country such as Great Britain or the United States, which under the conditions that have existed during the last few years have taken the position that all munitions should be manufactured directly by the government. I know of no such country. It has been found necessary in both Great Britain and the United States to mobilize private enterprise in order to ensure that there shall be that constant supply of munitions which is absolutely necessary to maintain the security of the country.

(

Bren Gun-Mr. Rogers

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

France is doing it.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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LIB
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

France is not dependent on that alone. In recent months France was faced with a complete stoppage of munitions probably because of the very policy which she had then adopted. I admit without question that there are strong arguments to be brought forward on the side of government manufacture of munitions, but so far as the immediate need is concerned I am not convinced by any means that it would have been feasible for this country to have manufactured Bren guns in the manner thus indicated.

I want to go further. If you rule out government manufacture of munitions, there is only one other method I know of which excludes completely the possibility of the kind of charges of patronage which have been brought against the present contract. That other method would be open tenders by public advertisement. I have not heard it suggested by anyone in this house that this would have been either a wise or a practicable method to have followed in the present instance. What has been suggested in this house as an alternate procedure which might have been followed in connection with this contract? The other day the hon. member for Leeds {Mr. Stewart) when discussing this matter Suggested that the proper way to have dealt with it would have been to invite tenders from half a dozen industrial companies. Am I correct in that?

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

That was just one method. There was also that of public tenders.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I think I am correct in Eaying that he thought it was the best method.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

It would be better than only one.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Would the hon. member for Leeds suggest for one moment that by inviting tenders you would exclude the possibility of patronage? I ask that question deliberately. Some years ago my hon. friend presided over the Department of Public Works at a time when the Public Works Construction Act was passed. I am sure he is fully aware of the fact that by inviting tenders from a number of selected contractors not only do you not exclude patronage, you promote it.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

I want to say to the hon. gentleman that I am not aware of anything of the kind. In the Department of Public Works the method was public tenders; I do not know about the other departments.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I have no desire to labour this here because I want to deal rather with the question of principle, but my hon. friend did suggest that the proper way to avoid patronage was to invite tenders rather than to give a contract to some particular person who was selected for the purpose.

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CON
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I suggest that by no means is his method a remedy. I have in my hand a long list of contracts which were let by him during 1934 and 1935. In each instance the contract was either not awarded to the lowest bidder, or given at the lowest price to someone who was not the lowest bidder.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Exactly. I said the reason for doing that was to prevent one contractor from having too great a number of contracts, but the contract was always given at the lowest price.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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February 13, 1939