July 12, 1944

NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I have

taken some trouble to ascertain what the position is in the United States. The senators and members of the United States Congress get a yearly salary of $10,000. I suppose -that is subject to income tax, I do not know; I am taking it for granted that it is. In addition, each member of the senate and house of representatives gets free postage and free telegraph service. We get free postage under certain conditions here, but certainly my telegraph bill is substantial. When I had the honour of leading the opposition for three sessions the telegraph bill and the telephone tolls which I had to pay out of my indemnity grew to such proportions that I suggested to officials of the house and to my friend the finance minister that as I was an official of parliament the government should pay the telegraph and telephone tolls, which they did, and for which I thank them. But as a private member I get no such consideration, and I am not at the moment arguing for that here.

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LIB
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I do not know. You will have to ask them yourself. I am not in their confidence.

In addition, the members of the United States Congress get travelling expenses t-o Washington and back home. Of course we have a certificate of membership in this house which carries the members free on the railways. The members of the United States Congress also get a grant for stationery and supplies, and for clerical help-and I want the members to listen to this-for clerical help a j member of the house of representatives gets ^ $6,500 a year and the senators $15,120 a yeayr.

jg Mr. ADAMSON: Free of income tax.

Income War Tax

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

All those items are free of income tax. The duties of a member of the United States senate and of the members of the house of representatives may be heavier and take up more months of the year than do the duties of members of the House of Commons here. Nevertheless we are here for six months every year, and I can remember when it used to be only three months. I can recall having made a sporting offer to my friend the Prime Minister in the early 1920's that if he would limit the session to two months I should be glad to serve for 12,000 a year, and if for three months I would be glad to serve for $3,000 a year. It would have paid me in those days to take much less if I could have been freed from attendance in Ottawa. ,

The disparity between what is paid by our rich neighbours to the south to the members of congress and what is paid to members of parliament in Canada is so glaring that I thought I ought to call attention to it. The country ought to understand what the situation is, and I invite hon. members, if they will, those who are feeling the pinch of this situation, to get up in their places and fearlessly tell the country just what their financial position is having regard to the extremely heavy income tax imposed upon their indemnities, which they have accepted without a murmur so far as I know because of the exigencies of war.

Let me say this as a tribute to my fellow members of this house, that taking them by and large there is no more patriotic group of citizens in Canada than the membership of the House of Commons. We may differ about principles and practice, about what we should do and would do in a given case, but there is not a man in this house who does not want to see this war won and won as quickly as possible, and who would not give his last red cent if he could help win this war one day quicker. The country ought to understand that.

In addition, in the United States if a member of congress takes ill, if he has to have his tonsils or his adenoids out or be operated on for appendicitis, he is sent to a government hospital free -of charge and gets the best medical care and nursing in the United States, all free of charge, all at the expense of the taxpayer. I am not suggesting that we have that here, although I would like to see the government of this country do something for the health of the members of this house by reconditioning the air in this chamber. That would be a very fine gesture that we could 'make, and I commend it to my friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fournier) if

he is here and is receptive, or to his successor whoever he may be, and I have no idea who that will be. There is no specific authorization for this free medical treatment at Washington, but it is a custom of long standing, and that is something to be taken into consideration, because it costs money to be ill in Ottawa. I know that from personal experience. It costs a lot to die here in Ottawa, too. I do not suppose any of us has had that experience, but if you wrant to find out about it, you had better inquire at some of the undertaking establishments and see what it will cost to be outfitted to be sent home.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

You are not going to die here!

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Not if I

can help it. I am serious about this matter. I commend the situation to the members of the administration, and I do not want them to say: Oh, this is a most inopportune and

inappropriate time to bring this matter up. It is brought up only because the matter has come to a head.

I will go a good deal further. I will say that it is a perfect disgrace to Canada, the meagre salaries she pays to certain public servants of this country.. When you consider that the salaries of the Prime Minister and of the chief justice of this country are only $15,000 a year, and that you are paying many men I have no doubt down in the Bank of Canada a good deal more than $15,000 a year-[DOT]

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LIB
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The member for Vancouver-Burrard asks what for. I suppose I could counter by saying, to counteract the member for Vancouver-Burrard.

It is nothing less than a scandal that the Prime Minister should receive only S15,000 a year-and that is subject to income tax. True, he also gets the $4,000 indemnity and an allowance for motor car, which he more than spends. The salary of a cabinet minister under the present income tax rates is wholly inadequate. I asked one of my friends in the cabinet how much net he had after he had paid his income tax. I am not going to name him, but he told me that it was less than $7,000 a year, and he had to to live on that as a cabinet minister should. You just cannot do it, keep up the position on that salary in the manner that custom, usage and everything else demand. I commend to the members of the treasury benches a serious consideration of the plight of the private member.

You may say that this is no time to do anything about it when everybody else is making sacrifices. I say that there is no other class

Income War Tax

in Canada which is making sacrifice of time and of ability and of capability and of money comparable to the sacrifices made by members of this Canadian House of Commons. I stand by that statement, notwithstanding the criticism that I expect may come to me from certain portions of the public press. I am willing to take whatever criticism comes to me. I can justify the plea I am making on behalf of the private members of this house and on behalf of the cabinet ministers of this country.

I suggest to the members of this house that if they approve the lead I have endeavoured to give them in a wholly non-partisan way, they frankly tell the house and the people of this country what their plight is. The hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell), who is not in his seat, has had something to say on this matter in days gone by. I am sure the thinking people of this country will react properly to a suggestion that some measure of relief be granted to members of parliament, because they know that a professional man cannot leave his business for six months in the year and come down here to Ottawa and perform his duties as a member of parliament without seriously affecting his professional income. A medical man, for instance, might just as well fold up his practice. I am sure that the medical men in this house will bear me out. How much money can a practising lawyer earn at the bar and attend to his duties as a member of parliament? Yet lawyers as a class are sent here in greater numbers than men of any other vocation, because they are expected to have-and have, I assert with great confidence-capabilities and abilities which commend themselves to their constituents who send them here to help make the laws of this country.

I appeal to the Minister of Finance to do something, not for himself but for the common members of this house. They are the people who are suffering most; and I think it is time that somebody stood up in his place in this house and said what I have tried to say, however inadequately I have said it.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I think that this might easily become a political issue-

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I hope not.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

-if one group alone expressed the opinion which has been expressed by the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson). Consequently I am rising to say that I agree with what the hon. member for York-Sunbury has said. I know what the position of the private member of this house is. Not all of us are required, perhaps, to live on the standard which the hon. member

for York-Sunbury as a former cabinet minister is required to maintain in this city; but I think that every one of us fully realizes the position in which private members have been placed during the last two or three years. There have been no complaints on the floor of this parliament. There have been discussions-I have heard them-among members in groups. I have even heard some hon. members say that if this condition were to continue they would have to withdraw from the house when the next election comes. I know too that many hon. members during the past two or three years have been compelled to exist- and I use advisedly the word "exist"-upon the savings of former days, if they have any. I know hon. members who have had to forgo their life insurance, who have exhausted their savings, and have had to do a number of other things which ought not to be expected of the membership of this house.

We are all mindful of the situation in which the rest of the country finds itself at this time, and the necessity for doing everything we can financially in order to win this war. But there is a time when public service should be recognized and when, if it is not recognized, some of the men best equipped to carry on the duties of a member of parliament-

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UNITY
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

-and women, yes-will be compelled by force of circumstances to withdraw from that service.

As I have said, I rise because I feel that a statement of this kind emanating from only one group in this house might be misconstrued, that the outspoken remarks of the hon. member for York-Sunbury might be used by some as a political weapon; and so far as I am personally concerned I would not under any circumstances allow that to be done. I endorse the plea which has been made by the hon. member for York-Sunbury, a plea which perhaps ought to have been made in this chamber long ago; which, perhaps, because of his own personal circumstances he was in a better position to make than some other hon. members. I appreciate what he has said, and congratulate him upon the courage he has shown in saying it.

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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

I concur in everything that has been said by the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) and the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell). I do not speak from a personal standpoint.

I do not propose to reiterate any of the considerations which they put forward so carefully and, I believe, so conservatively, but I want to refer to three factors which have not

Income War Tax

been touched oa, and1 then to make a suggestion to the Minister of Finance and his advisers.

My first consideration is that it is, in my view, the duty of a member, in so far as he can do so between sessions, to travel about into all parts and comers of his riding. In city ridings that is not such a task as far as out-of-pocket expense is concerned. In the rural ridings it is different. I am not thinking of myself as suffering in this matter, but in my riding, which extends 150 miles one way and 100 miles the other way, there are many portions which are not accessible by railways or boats, so that you can travel there only by motor car; and in order to perform this very important duty of a member of parliament, to learn at first hand what our people are thinking in order that we may better serve them, there is a substantial cash out-of-pocket outlay, which is made in honestly earning our indemnity. That is one point.

My second point is this. Frankly I believe -and I speak of this matter entirely of my own volition-from informal discussion, that some hon. members are going to find it necessary to retire from public life because they can no longer do their duty to their families or sustain their home obligations if they continue to serve in this parliament. It seeems to me that as we progress we should make service in this house ever more possible for men of integrity and ability occupying the humbler roles in life where they are not blessed with incomes that provide any backlog, where they have not been able to accumulate any savings, and perhaps have a mortgage on their home and are to some extent in honest debt. Our present system with the existing tax burden encourages the well-to-do and even the wealthy man to come to parliament, while to some extent discouraging the common man or the relatively poor man from seeking to find a place in this chamber. There is no one but will agree that that is all wrong, if my diagnosis of the situation is correct.

One other factor. We know that the younger men, from the very nature of the struggle for life, have not been able to provide a reserve of savings, or backlog, as it has been called, to the same extent as older men have been able to do. As one of the members of this house who in years, at least, although I hope not in all respects, must be reckoned among the older men, I recognize that this is more and more becoming a young man's day so far as public life is concerned. That is as it ought to be. It is becoming more and more so in the mother country and in our sister

commonwealth nations of Australia and New Zealand. In the parliaments of those two commonwealths, as far as years recorded on the calendar are concerned, the average is a greater number of younger members than in the Canadian house. These are three points that are worth keeping in mind.

I have a suggestion to make to the minister, and he and his advisers will know whether it can be acted upon or not. If it can, then if there is the courage-well, it is not a matter of courage; it should be the duty of the government to bring it to pass at this session, if they can. If they can properly do it in this way I think the country will be content with it. The suggestion is this. Why should we not divide the present amount-not increase it but divide it-in a fair manner as between what may be regarded as remuneration and what may be regarded as expenses, the latter being an amount to cover the necessary out-of-pocket cash one has to spend. If that were fixed at say $1,500 or $2,000, leaving the balance of either $2,500 or $2,000 as supposed remuneration, only that sum would then be subject to taxation. I leave that with the minister as a modus operandi, if he and the treasury board and the administration believe that this is a matter that ought to be corrected for the reasons that have been placed before the committee this afternoon.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

The member for MacLeod (Mr. Hansell) spoke on this question on a previous occasion and therefore I will not take up much time discussing it. I could never understand why a member of parliament should be the one individual to pay income tax on his gross income instead of being allowed to charge legitimate expenses against it.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

All gross income is taxed on salary income.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

But you are allowed to charge expenses against it.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

Not on salaries.

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?

Leslie Gordon Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

This is not a salary, surely.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

They have made it a salary by the income tax law.

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July 12, 1944