March 27, 1944

STANDING COMMITTEES

RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-CHANGE OF PERSONNEL


Mr. J. P. HOWDEN (St. Boniface) presented the first report of the standing committee on railways and shipping owned, operated and controlled by the government, and moved that the report be concurred in. Motion agreed to.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved:

That the name of Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury) be substituted for that of Mr. Hazen on the standing committee on railways and shipping.

Topic:   STANDING COMMITTEES
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-CHANGE OF PERSONNEL
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Motion agreed to.


REVISED SUBSIDY POLICY AFFECTING WESTERN DOMESTIC FIELD

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Munitions and Supply):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to make a statement on production subsidies on coal.

During the period of acute shortage of domestic coal in western Canada, subsidies were paid to certain high cost producers of coal, to stimulate production. The subsidies paid covered all losses, plus an item of profit, and were justified as a basis of assistance when coal had to be obtained at any reasonable cost, but left no incentive on the part of the operator to reduce his cost to a minimum.

The situation in western Canada has now completely changed. Domestic coal is in surplus supply and it has been necessary for the government to consider a more equitable method of assisting those mines that might collapse if all government assistance were withdrawn. On the recommendation of the emergency coal production board, the following revised subsidy policy affecting the western domestic field has been adopted:

Effective April 1, 1944, coal mine operators who have been operating at'a loss will be paid a maximum subsidy as follows:

Sixty-five cents per net ton for mines operating in the Edmonton area.

Thirty cents per net ton for mines operating in the Drumheller area.

Thirty cents per net ton for mines operating in the Camrose area.

Thirty-five cents per net -ton for mines operating in the Lethbridge area.

Thirty-five cents per net ton on shaft mines in the Coalspur area.

Thirty-five cents per net ton for mines operating in the Saunders area.

Fifteen cents per net ton on shaft mines operating in the Saskatchewan field.

The above subsidies represent the average increased cost incurred by operators in the various fields due to wage increases and the cost-of-living bonus.

In cases where the operator has been able to absorb part of the increase in cost, an alternative subsidy of a flat rate per ton equivalent

Coal

to the average subsidy approved during the months of October, November, and December, 1943, plus cost-of-living bonus, will be paid, provided such bonus is not greater than the maximum subsidy per ton named above for the various fields.

The revised subsidy will be paid for the government fiscal year 1944-45, but subject to review at the end of each three months.

Subsidy may be reduced if the review shows that a profit greater than the company's standard profits is earned.

The foregoing is an attempt to meet the present situation of coal production in western Canada. It is recognized that the war has had the effect of changing and disturbing prewar arrangements for the production and marketing of coal in all parts of Canada. It seems probable that the dominion coal policy will require revision as it will apply to post-war years.

Therefore, the government will appoint a royal commission, charged with the duty of studying all .aspects of the production and distribution of coal in Canada, to report to the government with recommendations for such alterations of the pre-war coal policy as its findings may indicate as necessary or desirable.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Do I

understand that this applies only to the western coal field, and that there is to be no change of policy with respect to the maritime field? I understood this change was coming, but that it was to apply also to, say, the Minto field. It should, because the present policy puts a premium on inefficiency and a penalty on the efficient operation of that mining area.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I expect to be able to

announce a policy for eastern Canada within a few days. The situation in the Minto field has been studied, but I was not ready to make an announcement to-day.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Will the minister be in

a position soon to announce the personnel of the inquiry board?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Give us a little time.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I presume that will be announced shortly.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Will the minister explain the low subsidy in the Saskatchewan coal fields as compared with Alberta?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I cannot say. It is the recommendation of the emergency coal production board.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

SUSPENSION OP SPECIAL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO SITTING OP WEDNESDAY NEXT

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I should like to say a word

to the house about the proceedings of the present week. As the house will be adjourning on Friday for the Easter vacation, I think it would probably suit the convenience of members generally if instead of sitting on Friday night we were to sit on Wednesday afternoon. If that is agreeable, I would move:

That the resolution passed by the house on February 21 last with respect to Wednesday sittings be suspended in relation to Wednesday next.

On Friday night it was announced that this afternoon we would continue with the munitions and supply items under the war appropriation resolution and this evening take up some minor bills. I feel, however, that we should, before adjourning for Easter, make as much headway as possible with the war appropriation measure. The government therefore would prefer to continue this evening with the discussion of the war appropriation estimates on munitions and supply, and if they are not concluded to-night continue with those estimates to-morrow; the only exception being that in the last part of the evening, between half past ten and eleven, we would seek again to get an item or two into supply.

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Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OP SPECIAL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO SITTING OP WEDNESDAY NEXT
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

That is to-night.

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Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OP SPECIAL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO SITTING OP WEDNESDAY NEXT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That will be to-night, and if we do not succeed to-night we shall try again to-morrow night.

It might assist hon. members were I to indicate what perhaps could be taken up on Wednesday afternoon. The house has already considered one or two financial measures. Item 14 on the order paper is the second reading of bill No. 38, to authorize the raising by way of loan of certain sums of money for the public service. This might be the first item on Wednesday, and the second, the resolution that it is expedient to bring in a measure to provide for the refunding of certain obligations of the Canadian National Railways. There are two or three other measures that have been considered in part, one respecting the Exchequer Court Act, one with respect to an amendment to the Judge's Act to provide an additional judge, and a very small measure with respect to the Water Meters Inspection Act. These might also be taken up on Wednesday and, if an opportunity should be afforded, item 13 on the order paper which is the resolution respecting the city of Ottawa.

The Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. Ralston) has an announcement which he wishes to make. My reason for my preceding him was that I thought I should clear the way for a statement he intends to make regarding interim supply.

Wednesday Sittings

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Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OP SPECIAL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO SITTING OP WEDNESDAY NEXT
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Leader of the Opposition):

I think it is wise to go as far as we can in expediting the war appropriation resolution debate, and I simply want to say this to the Prime Minister. I should like very much if the government, during the Easter recess, would consider the advisability of restoring Wednesday afternoon sittings.

I do not bring this up in any desire to quarrel with the government over this matter; I did so once before, and I think perhaps one quarrel is enough. In my opinion, however, members generally have found that the suspension of the Wednesday afternoon sittings has not worked out in the best interests of parliament, although I must confess that the argument which the Prime Minister put on record before, from the point of view of the work of the war committee of the cabinet, is one which of course should also have serious consideration. I am prepared to give that consideration to the right hon. gentleman and his cabinet.

The fact is, however, that from the point of view of committee work, I have checked the work that has been done by the committees, and I find that of the standing committees, up to date, only three out of fifteen have met at all and only one of these met for part of one Wednesday. The situation with regard to the other special committees is that the majority of them have met on Wednesdays, but very few of them have worked on either Monday or Friday and very few on Tuesdays. That means, as I think most members will agree, that we have not been utilizing Wednesday afternoons in the manner anticipated by the government.

I suggest to the Prime Minister that there must surely be some way by which the cabinet's work can be arranged to provide that neither the members of the war committee nor the Prime Minister need be in the house on Wednesday afternoon. We would be prepared to facilitate that arrangement as far as possible, and perhaps some of the cabinet ministers whose work is possibly not so important, or at any rate so heavy, could be utilized for that purpose, so that we might have Wednesday afternoon for ordinary house work.

We have felt that it retarded the work of the session to have Wednesday taken out of the week, and that has been borne out by the experience we have had in the last few weeks during which the new practice has prevailed. I would ask the Prime Minister to give serious consideration to the suggestion, because with the tremendously heavy agenda I think it would be of great help in getting the work under way and the business of the house coming up in proper sequence.

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Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OP SPECIAL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO SITTING OP WEDNESDAY NEXT
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March 27, 1944