deal of work for which there is no charge. Apart from the annual inspection fee, the inspector goes aboard frequently to make interim inspections for which no charge is made. Replying to my hon. friend's question, I think we would be justified in increasing the fees in order to make the steamship inspection branch self-supporting. I shall be glad to have our officers look into the situation and make recommendations.
I am glad to hear the minister say that. It seems to me that the value of this service to shipping is so very important from the point of view of insurance rates, safety and the hazards encountered, that the department should make it self-supporting or make a profit out of it if necessary.
The boats that ply out of Toronto harbour, the Kingston and the Toronto, are forty or fifty years old, and while they look seaworthy I think they should be inspected, seeing that they are so old. I suggest that all these passenger boats on the great lakes should be equipped with the latest type of radio. That is important.
The law requires all passenger boats to carry radio and those of more than 5,000 tons to carry radio in the fall of the year, and in addition to that we are providing telephone service. We have expanded that a great deal within the last year. We have radio and telephone services at a number of points along the shore on the great lakes, and a great number of very small boats are installing telephones. This allows the shore stations to communicate with the boat and vice versa. The boat can connect with the Bell system so that the master may talk with head office or with his wife at home. This service is attracting a good deal of attention, and we are ahead of the United States in this regard. The United States, however, have this year made a considerable appropriation for a similar service on that side. I rather think that by next year we shall be able to make the use of either the telephone or the radiotelegraph mandatory for all shipping of any size on the lakes.
There is another matter that should be attended to. The lifeboats on these steamers are forty or fifty years old. The boats are pretty well worn out, having been painted and repainted, the paint having been burnt off frequently. Is there a rigid inspection of these life-boats, or is there a time limit for their replacement?
There is an annual inspection of life-boats. The regidations are similar to those of the British Board of Trade, and they are rigid. I can assure my hon. friend that the life-boats are in first-class condition. I cannot believe that the life-boats on these steamers are of any great age.
All passenger boats, however small, are inspected, but cargo boats up to 15 tons are exempt. The cost of inspecting these small boats adds considerably to the cost of the inspection service. We found it desirable to charge a small fee. It costs a good deal to inspect a small boat, and the real loss by the department is on account of the fact that the fee charged for the inspection of small boats is inadequate. But the desirability of the service from the point of view of safety of life warrants our doing the work at a small fee.
These men inspect all kinds of tackle and examine especially the chains for flaws. They also inspect methods of loading. We have doubled the number of inspectors because we thought there were too many accidents where ports did not have tackle inspectors.
The minister said that he would take into consideration a proposal to increase some of the tariffs charged for inspection services. Personally I am not very much in favour of any increase for inspection services unless it is absolutely imperative. Last year we passed certain legislation which put a good many carriers under considerable handicap. Personally I was in favour of that legislation, but I hardly think it would be an appropriate time to place further handicaps by way of increased tariff tolls on the people engaged in that traffic. It is a service for which the government have a responsibility, the same as many other inspection services which the government owe to the public for its protection. The government ought to bear part of the responsibility, and cannot make the service entirely self-supporting. There are many other services given by the government, such as inspection of weights and measures, for which we do not charge. It is done for the protection of the public, and the same applies in a sense in regard to the load-line and so on. I feel that we should not make the cost too onerous, particularly for the smaller boats.
Then my argument in that respect is not sound, but there are other phases of government inspection in which service is given practically free of charge because in some measure it is for the protection of the public.
I moved for a return to an order of the house in this connection, and I have not received the return. The order relates to conventions for safety at sea, and the load-line. I have asked for that return four or five times.
In connection with this item I wish to ask two or three questions. There are United States ships now carrying Canadian grain; in view of the amendments to the Canada-United States trade treaty, have we any control over those ships or load-lines? What inspection is there?
Supply-Mines and Resources
The minister's department has in the last few years sold for $50,000 a number of ships costing $1,000,000, $1,500,000, $1,750,000, $2,000,000. Did he look into the load-line there; were they inspected before the sale, and did lie consider that in an emergency we may need those very ships to carry food and supplies to the old country? They could have been converted into merchant ships. Why were they sold? The admiralty has announced that they are 2,000 ships short at the present time.
Another question was regarding representations which were made by marine bodies, navigators, the engineers' and mates' association and others regarding aids to navigation and the safety of crews on the great lakes. Under the British North America Act there has to be equality of treatment for ships on the great lakes or the St. Lawrence or the ocean regarding registry and aids to navigation. Surely men on ships on the great lakes are entitled to some inspection and regulation of load-line.
The minister said that they have doubled Canada's navy, I asked for a return on that too as correlated to this item. What is the fleet?