April 5, 1945

LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I referred to Alberta only because my hon. friend happens to come from that province. I can assure him that my department cooperates with all the provincial governments, and we have had no better cooperation than we have had from Alberta. But while we are defreezing positions, to use my hon. friend's language, the teaching profession will be in A priority.

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SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. FAIR:

That is not exactly what I wanted to find out. I want to know whether that restriction, if it has been due to a shortage of teachers, will be removed when the requirements have been fully met.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

These matters should be left until the Department of Labour comes up. They have nothing to do with the air department.

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PC

Wilfrid Garfield Case

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CASE:

I want to make representations to the minister on behalf of the dependents of air force personnel. This really applies to all services, but since we are dealing with the air minister's department I would urge these representations upon him. I was pleased to note from the statement made by the Minister of Veterans' Affairs that the gratuity portion will go to the deceased veteran's estate. I would urge the government to consider paying the rehabilitation credit to the widow of the deceased soldier, airman or naval rating. I can understand the great necessity for this in view of their position, where they are left practically on their own. I would also recommend that the government give consideration to a policy which would make provision for small loans to small businesses. I understand that the provision at the present time is quite extensive and makes allowance for large sums of money, but at the moment there are in my own riding individuals who could use credit to good advantage and who would be worthy of it. I think that consideration should be given to the question of small loans for small businesses.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I will refer these matters to the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, seeing that they come under his department. In answer to the hon. member for St. John-Albert-(Mr. Hazen), who asked for the total number of prisoners of war in the air force, the number of prisoners of war and interned as at March 31 was 2,216.

Mr. MAYBANK. I desire to revert to the subject of men who have been discharged from the air force and called into the army being required to pay back the S100 clothing allowance. What is the situation with reference to men in the air force who

War Appropriation-Air Services

have been placed on the reserve list? If they have been granted the $100 allowance and are called back into the air force, are they required to return that $100 as is now done when they are called up by the army? It is not so with reference to men off reserve.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

Those who are transferred

to reserve get the clothing allowance. If they are called up it is proposed that it be not deducted.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

There is a matter upon which I should like to secure some information. It has to do with the retirement of a number of senior officers in. the air force during the past year or so. Recently there was the retirement of Air Marshal Breadner, and not very long ago the retirement of another high officer. What is the basis upon which retirement allowances are made? These senior officers have given years of service-22, 23, 25 and 28 years-and are retired at the age of 49, 50 and 51 and in the main they receive allowances that are exceptionally large.

I am going to bring to the attention of the minister certain of these officers who have retired, to ascertain from him why their services should not have been utilized. I mention particularly at the moment Air Marshal Edwards, Air Vice Marshal Kenny, Air Vice Marshal Croil, Air Vice Marshal Godfrey, Air Vice Marshal Cuffe, and Air Vice Marshal Shearer. These men retired in 1943 or 1944, prior to March 17 of the latter year. The minister pointed out last evening that they retired under a system whereby they contributed five per cent of their annual salary to a fund from which the pension was payable; but the striking point in connection with these officers is the fact that if at the outbreak of war, in 1939, Air Marshal Edwards, for instance, had been retired at his then rank, the amount he would have received as pension would have been $2,484 a year. In a matter of less than four years, as a result of his service and the boosts in rank that took place during that period, his pension became $5,744.61 a year. In the case of Air Vice Marshal Kenny he would have received $2,464; when he retired his pension was $4,170.40. In the case of Air Vice Marshal Croil the amount would have been $3,450 at the beginning of the war; by the time he retired it was $5,600. Air Vice Marshal Godfrey would have received $3,024; at the time of his retirement he received $5,720.15. Air Vice Marshal Cuffe would1 have received $3,072, in 1939 and at retirement it had increased to $5,026.80, while Air Vice Marshal Shearer's pension increased from a possible $2,376 to $5,027 at time of retirement in 1939.

Could not some use have been made of the services of these men? It may be argued that when they were moved out of the way it created an opportunity for the advancement of others. But these are experienced men. When the minister replied to the leader of the' opposition in regard to the retirement of Air Marshal Breadner, on March 20, he mentioned rumours. Why would a man with the ability and training of Air Marshal Breadner be retired at a time when his services could not but be valuable to the country? The explanation given by the minister was not very reassuring. He was asked whether or not Air Marshal Breadner agreed with the decision that had been arrived at under which the unusual arrangement-to use the minister's words-that had previously existed for reporting was changed after the present minister took office.

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LIB
PC
LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

Am I correct in my recollection that after the incident mentioned by my hon. friend Air Marshal Breadner declared publicly that he agreed with his retirement, as a proper step to have been taken?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Well, Mr. Chairman, now we have another under-secretary. I am directing my question to the minister, and I do not think he will need the assistance even of the hon. member for Parry Sound. The minister will be able to answer without that help.

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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

As I understood him, the hon. member said he would permit a question. Now he evades the answer. He can do that if he wishes.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I am not under cross-examination by my hon. friend.

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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

That is the usual alibi when a gentleman permits a question and then refuses to answer.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

After all, Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman can make his speech, or even carry on some cross-examination. The fact remains that it is unusual to see him here, and I am glad he is in his seat today. I am directing my question to the minister and asking him whether there was any disagreement.

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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

In reply to that intended slur, let me tell my hon. friend that his eyesight is very bad because I am in my place as frequently as he is in his.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

The question asked by the hon. member for York-Sunbury, at page

16 of Hansard, was as follows:

Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury): But the fact

remains that he did not concur in the new arrangement.

Mr. Gibson: I did not say that.

Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury): I am saying it.

Mr. Gibson: I would not say that.

Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury): Did he agree or did he not agree?

After some further words by the hon. member for York-Sunbury the minister replied:

Mr. Gibson: I did not say he did not concur in the new arrangement. I said he did not wish to remain on under the new arrangement.

I think some clarification is due in this case. Air Marshal Breadner gave great service. It is true, as the hon. member for Parry Sound says, that after this discussion took place in the house Air Marshal Breadner did make the statement the hon. member mentioned. He did say that; but in the way he answered the question the minister left the impression that all was not well in this regard. I think the country has a right to know why the existing arrangement was changed. What \yas the reason for the change? What allowance will Air Marshal Breadner receive following his retirement from the force? I should like also to obtain from the minister a list of all officers of the rank of air vice marshal and senior thereto who have been retired from July 1, 1944, to date, and the amount each receives by way of pension.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

Those who have been retired since July, 1944, were Air Vice Marshal Cowley, Air Vice Marshal Stephenson, Air Vice Marshal Ferrier, Air Vice Marshal Anderson, and Air Marshal Breadner. Air Vice Marshal Ferrier receives a pension of $5,027.65. Air Vice Marshal Cowley receives $4,730.93, and Air Vice Marshal Stephenson, $5,566.32. The pensions of Air Vice Marshal Anderson and Air Marshal Breadner have not yet been fixed. I understand an approximation is that Air Vice Marshal Anderson will receive in the neighbourhood of $5,148 and Air Marshal Breadner in the neighbourhood of $7,028.

I was asked on what basis these pensions are fixed. I would say they are set both in consideration of length of service and also the rank and appointment the man was holding at the time of his retirement. Those matters are all laid down in pension regulations, and I should say they are more or less automatic. It has been suggested that if these officers had retired prior to the war they would have received lower pensions. Of course that is quite true, and they would be retired with considerably lower rank. It must be remembered that the air force has expanded tremendously during the war. Those who had 32283-33

been in the permanent force before the war naturally received promotion in order to hold senior positions in the greatly expanding air force. And with those promotions and additional responsibilities they, of course, became entitled to higher pensions upon retirement.

It has been suggested that we should not retire senior officers. In a young force, such as the air force, in which the men comprising the force are youthful, it would be most discouraging if they felt that all the positions at the top were filled, and that when they reached an age when they would cease flying there would be no staff positions available for them. Consequently there has been a progression in the senior ranks, making way for those down below.

I am sorry indeed that any words of mine should have created an impression that there was any disagreement with Air Marshal Breadner upon his retirement, because there was certainly none at all. As I said before, when he went to England he went on a special arrangement whereby he reported directly to the minister. He had been chief of air staff in Ottawa, the highest position in the air force. When he went to England he was overseas chief of staff and reported direct to the minister. It was decided that the overseas representative should come under the chief of staff here. Air Marshal Breadner agreed with that, and also agreed that his retirement should be proceeded with, that he had reached the top, and that he should make way for others coming along. There was no disagreement whatsoever. I think the statement Air Marshal Breadner himself made in England cleared up that point very well indeed.

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NAT

Alfred Johnson Brooks

National Government

Mr. BROOKS:

I should like to revert to a question I asked the minister last night. I was not altogether satisfied that I understood his answer. My question had reference to the young men joining the army from the reserve air force. I know there are many officers and many non-commissioned officers involved. In his reply the minister stated:

If a man transfers to the army he would not be subject to recall to the air force. He would sever his connection entirely; because the army could not operate if we had strings on a large number of its officers. .

That applies to officers. Does it apply to sergeants? My question is whether the same rule applies to sergeants as applies to officers who join the army from the air force. Could the non-commissioned officers return later to the air force if they received a call from that branch of the service?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

It is rather indefinite, in this way: We have sergeants who are on aircrew. Those sergeants on aircrew are transferred to

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the R.C.A.F. reserve, and if they went into the army they would not normally be callable back to the air force. If an officer washed out for his commission he would be taken back to the aircrew reserve of the air force. Respecting non-commissioned officers who are ground crew, and who are being demobilized I would say that they are not put on air force reserve. They are given their discharge, and if they go into the army they are in the army and there is no return for them to the air force.

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April 5, 1945