April 9, 1945

LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I am afraid, no matter

how willing the hon. member for Parkdale may be to expedite the matter, once the order is passed by the house-and I point out we are now in committee-no member moving a resolution asking for a return, without consent of the house, would have any right to vary that order. I presume the ordinary procedure is to put a question on the order paper. I do not think we could accept the willingness of .the hon. member for Parkdale, no matter how great it might be, and treat that as an abrogation of the order the house itself has passed.

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NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

If I do that, it would take

two days before the question would appear on the order paper and a further delay before the answer would be received in the house. Of course that would defeat the object I have in view.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

My hon. friend's motion

was one for the production of papers. I allowed the motion to pass, with the usual reservation, that any correspondence which was

confidential was privileged, in accordance with the recognized rule, and therefore would not be produced.

I think the return in question will probably be brought down to-morrow. I find, however, on examination of the correspondence between General Pearkes and the minister and officers of the department, that all of it, without exception, is marked confidential and secret-apart altogether from the general rule that so far as I know it has never been accepted practice that correspondence between senior officers of the department and other officers of the same department would be producible in the house.

This happens to be a military department. General Pearkes was a district officer commanding. I can tell my hon. friend now that the return which will be brought down will not include any of the correspondence between General Pearkes and the minister or other officers of the Department of National Defence.

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NAT
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

No; we are not afraid of

it; and if my hon. friend insists I shall be glad to make a statement as to General Pearkes' position.

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NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

The parliamentary assistant

has replied in part to the question standing as No. 1 on the order paper, but he has not answered Nos. 2 and 3. Will he bring down that return to-morrow?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

It is not in order to ask it now. I shall do my best, certainly.

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NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

I should like now to refer

to a statement the Minister of National Defence is reported by the Canadian Press to have made on March 18 while visiting the London military hospital:

My biggest job at the present moment is to see that hospitals throughout the country are ready as soon as possible so that the men from the hospitals overseas can be brought back to Canada. I want to get those men over as fast as I can.

Is there any change in the regulations from those that existed before when the Minister of Veterans' Affairs or his department was responsible for the wounded men who returned from overseas?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I am not aware of any change. As my hon. friend knows, some men who come back from overseas go first to military hospitals before they are sent to Department of Pensions and National Health hospitals or Veterans' Affairs hospitals, but so far as I know there have been no changes in the regulations.

69S

War Appropriation-The Army

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NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

Is it a fact that there is a very great shortage of those hospitals available, and as a consequence men are not now able to return home for treatment and are therefore kept overseas for a longer period than necessary?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

No; I do not think that is correct. Of course, in common with a good many other things, we are facing problems of hospitalization for our returning service men. My. hon. friend referred to a statement that the minister made in London. It certainly is a difficult problem and is one which is receiving the most constant and earnest attention. It will involve real difficulties, particularly in the period where a good many of our medical men are serving in the armed forces and are not yet available for veterans affairs hospitals. That was touched on a moment ago by the hon. member for Mackenzie. These are the difficulties that we are having to meet.

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NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

Is it not a fact that this refers to hospitals under the Department of National Defence and not under veterans affairs?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I do not know. I have not seen the statement to which the hon. member is referring. I am afraid I cannot offer any comment on it.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Earlier in his remarks I believe the parliamentary assistant said or admitted that a number of the N.R.M.A. personnel who had not volunteered before leaving Canada, on arriving in England still persisted in refusing to volunteer to go France.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

No; I did not say that.

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NAT
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I think the hon. member for Lake Centre asked mei how many men converted overseas, and I said my latest information was that 189 of them converted en route and ninety-four after they got over there. None of them refused to serve as soldiers. There are still 11,000 of them over there who retain N.R.M.A. status.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

What happens to those who refuse to volunteer?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Nothing. They are soldiers. They are over there. They will be sent to the front. Some of them already have been. There is no distinction between them and the G.S. troops.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

They are not kept in England until they do volunteer?

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April 9, 1945