Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Munitions and Supply):
Mr. Speaker, I desire to make a short statement. In my statement of November 7 to the committee I pointed out that the present system of controlling gasoline consumption by cutting deliveries to service stations, while effective from the viewpoint of reducing gasoline consumption, is not satisfactory either to the service stations or to the public. The system places the problem of rationing supplies on the shoulders of the service stations, and rationing to the public may or may not be equitable, depending on the policy adopted by the service station operator. At the same time I stated that a system of coupon rationing will be introduced as soon as necessary preparation for so doing can be completed.
The situation has been reviewed in the light of present stocks of gasoline, prospects of future deliveries, and lower gasoline consumption through voluntary conservation, and account has been taken of the fact that winter weather is in itself effective as a control on use of gasoline for pleasure driving. Fortunately, there has been no recent change for the worse in the prospect of transportation facilities, on which our supply situation depends.
Taking all these factors into account, it has been decided that regulations restricting
deliveries of gasoline to service stations will be suspended, pending introduction of the coupon system of rationing. The restricted hours of sale will continue as now in force.
The present situation still demands conservation. In my recent statement I pointed out that our refinery inventory position as of October 1, 1941, is 1,422,721 barrels less than at October 1 of last year. I also pointed out that the transportation facilities necessary to meet our requirements are short 3-5 ocean tankers of 100,000 barrels capacity each, after giving effect to the savings accruing from the Portland-Montreal pipeline. It is in view of the reduction in the normal demand for gasoline for private motor cars during the winter months, and my confidence in the willingness of the public to continue to cooperate, that the decision to eliminate quota restrictions has been arrived at. The lifting of the quota restrictions is directed toward saving public inconvenience, embarrassment to station operators, and inequalities that undoubtedly arise from the rough and ready system of curtailment that was improvised in an emergency, both in Canada and in the United States.
I make the strongest possible appeal to the public to continue voluntary conservation of gasoline during the winter months. I urge that no step that has been taken in the direction of voluntary curtailment be retraced, on account of action now being announced.