Hon. DOUGLAS ABBOTT .(Minister of Finance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement in reply to certain questions which have been addressed to me concerning war savings certificates.
On February 19 last the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) asked me whether consideration had been given by the government, in the interests of convenience on the part of holders of war savings certificates, to the cashing of these certificates at local post offices.
I wish to assure the house that this is a question to which we have given serious consideration during the past year. As hon. gentlemen know, the terms under which these certificates were issued and which are printed on each certificate require that they be endorsed and forwarded to Ottawa for redemption. On several occasions we have considered whether we could not overlook this requirement and allow them to be cashed at local post offices or banks. On each occasion we have been forced to the conclusion that it would be impossible to justify such a procedure.
The primary reason for this decision is the very large number of duplicate certificates which are outstanding. During the last few years a very large number of certificates has been reported lost or stolen and in order to save a lot of trouble and expense to their owners who in so many cases are persons of small income who have not previously owned securities of any kind, we have followed the practice of duplicating the lost or stolen certificates without the production of a bond of indemnity. Hon. gentlemen may be aware that before a bond or coupon which has been reported lost or stolen may be replaced, the owner must arrange indemnification for the Bank of Canada and the government of Canada against any claim in respect of the items reported lost or stolen. This enables us to provide for the cashing of bonds or coupons at local banks.
The number of certificates reported lost or stolen is much too great (it is of the order of sixty thousand) to permit bank tellers or postmasters to check through a list before making settlement, nor could such a list possibly be kept up to date. Even the publication and distribution of such a list, which would run into the size of a book, would be of no use to safeguard against overpayments as it would be perfectly possible that identification would not prevent duplication of payment if the original certificate and the duplicate certificate were presented at different times or different places. The only way in which such overpayment can be prevented is to have the certificates sent to Ottawa and to have them checked against a central registry maintained at Ottawa before payment is made.
I have now explained the main reason why the suggested change in procedure cannot be made. I wish to go on and emphasize how simple and inexpensive the present procedure really is.
All that the holder of a war savings certificate needs to do to get payment for it at maturity is to endorse it on the back as required, insert it in an envelope addressed to the registrar, war savings certificates, Ottawa, and drop the envelope in a mail box. He does not need to send a covering letter, he does not need to send the certificate by registered mail, and he does not even have to put a postage stamp on the letter. If there has been a change of address, it can be noted
War Savings Certificates