March 8, 1948

POLISH ART TREASURES

TABLING OF LETTER TO CHARGE D'AFFAIRES OF POLISH LEGATION IN OTTAWA


Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Secretary of State for External Affairs): On Friday I cited two paragraphs of a letter written by the Under Secretary of State for External Affairs to the charge d'affaires of the Polish legation in Ottawa. The hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) asked that the letter be tabled, and I now wish to table this letter which is dated February 13 last.


TARIFFS AND TRADE

UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

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

I should like to say just a word about the Geneva agreement, which has been before the house for consideration. Hon. members will recall that some time ago I introduced a motion respecting this agreement. The motion appears as item No. 3 under government orders:

That it is expedient that parliament do approve the general agreement on tariffs and trade, including the protocol of provisional application thereof . . .

In the course of the debate the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) moved an amendment with a view to separating the part of the resolution which referred to the British preference from the rest of the motion so that there would be two resolutions instead of one, in order that these matters could be debated separately. The idea was that the part relating to the Geneva agreement would go to a committee. I indicated at the time that the government would be prepared to facilitate the agreement going before a committee.

The matter has been gone into carefully and there has been some conference with hon. gentlemen opposite who lead the different parties. As a result of what has been considered it seems that the best means to bring about what is desired would be to have an amendment moved to the amendment which

the hon. member for Vancouver South has moved to the original motion. The amendment would have as its purpose to divide the original resolution into two parts and have them appear on the order paper as two separate resolutions. This is a matter of procedure.

Perhaps the best course would be for me to leave the matter at the moment as I have explained it and to say that tomorrow, if the house is agreeable, I shall ask that we proceed to divide the original resolution in the manner I have directed. In order to do that I will ask one of my colleagues to move an amendment to the amendment of my hon. friend in the following words:

That the amendment be amended-

(a) by deleting the words "referred to the committee of the whole house with instruction to divide" and substituting therefor the words "divided as to"; and

(b) by adding at the end of the said amendment the following:

"the said resolutions to be expressed as follows:-"

The first resolution would read:

That is is expedient that parliament do approve the general agreement on tariffs and trade, including the protocol of provisional application thereof, annexed to the final act of the second session of the preparatory committee of the united nations conference on trade and employment held at Geneva from April 10 to October 30, 1947, together with the complementary agreement of October 30, 1947, between Canada and the United States of America; that the house do approve the same, subject to the legislation required in order to give effect to the provisions thereof;

The second resolution would read:

That it is expedient that parliament do approve the complementary agreement of October 30, 1947, between Canada and the United Kingdom relating to the general agreement on tariffs and trade, and that the house do approve the same, subject to the legislation required in order to give effect to the provisions thereof.

I give this as a notice at the moment. If hon. members would look carefully at what I have said between now and tomorrow, if it is then agreeable to the house we could proceed tomorrow with the suggested amendment to the amendment. This would facilitate having the Geneva agreement referred forthwith to a committee. The government would be glad to facilitate that procedure and would wish to take it. I might say that I understand

Tariffs and Trade

the committee to which hon. gentlemen opposite would wish to have the Geneva agreement referred is not a special committee of the house or a joint committee of the two houses; it is the standing committee on banking and commerce. That would be quite agreeable to the government if that is what is desired.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

What the Prime Minister has said involves two points. One is a question of procedure and the other is a question of content. As to procedure, he proposes that the government will proceed tomorrow with the discussion of the resolution relating to the Geneva agreement.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Only to allow the division I have suggested' to be made. That seems to be the only way in which it could be proceeded with, to secure the objective I have mentioned.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

Yes, only in order that the resolution, which as we think includes two matters, shall be divided into those two; then both come back to the house for discussion later.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is it.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

The Prime Minister has been good enough to indicate the exact form in which the two resolutions will come back to the house and speaking for the opposition we have no objection to that procedure.

Mr. HOWARD C. GREEN (Vancouver South): May I ask the Prime Minister

whether it is the intention of the government also to refer to the banking and commerce committee the second resolution which will deal with the imperial preference?

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The first resolution regarding the Geneva treaties is the only one it has been decided to have referred to the banking and commerce committee. As to the other the government has reached no decision. I would have to consider that further.

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Big-gar)1: Mr. Speaker, we can give general

approval to the procedure suggested. All it seems to do is what the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) suggested, to cut out the reference to the committee of the whole house. That procedure seems more expeditious and, if I may say so, less cumbersome, and is probably more satisfactory.

Mr. SOLON E. LOW (Peace River): We are prepared, Mr. Speaker, to facilitate the division suggested by the Prime Minister. I

have already indicated to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. St. Laurent) that we prefer to have the one resolution covering the Geneva agreements sent to the banking and commerce committee.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

Are the peace treaties with Canada now of no effect, since Hungary and Roumania are only Russian satellite countries and Finland and Italy are also in turmoil through Russian demands upon them? Will the proposed treaties with these countries not now be obsolete?

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

We are not on the orders of the day as yet. The question my hon. friend has asked might be more appropriately asked at that time.

Topic:   TARIFFS AND TRADE
Subtopic:   UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE AT GENEVA, 1947- APPROVAL OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
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VETERANS AFFAIRS

APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER PENSIONS, TREATMENT AND RE-ESTABLISHMENT


Hon. MILTON F. GREGG (Minister of Veterans Affairs) moved: That a select committee be appointed to consider the legislation relating to pensions, treatment and re-establishment of former members of His Majesty's armed forces and of other persons who have been otherwise engaged in pursuits closely related to war, and to make recommendations from time to time in respect thereto. That the committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee. That the committee shall have leave to sit while the house is sitting. That eighteen members of the committee shall constitute a quorum. That the committee shall consist of Messrs. Baker, Belzile, Benidickson. Bentley, Blair, Blanchette, Brooks, Croll, Cruickshank, Dickey, Dion. Emmerson, Gauthier (Portneuf), Gregg, Green, Harris (Grey-Bruee), Harkness, Her-rid'ge, Isnor, Jutras, Langlois, Leonard, Mac-Naught, McKay, Marshall, Moore, Mutch, Pearkes, Quelch, Ross (Souris), Skey, Tucker, Viau, White (Hastings-Peterborough), Wright, and that paragraph li of standing order 65 be suspended in relation thereto. He said: Mr. Speaker, in presenting this resolution it is not my purpose to enter into a full report of the work of my department since last year. I shall be very glad to submit all matters affecting that work to this committee and at appropriate times to the house. By setting aside today to discuss this resolution the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has already indicated the desire of the government to have this committee set up, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I shall *953 Veterans Affairs Committee not kill the hope I have that it may be set up today by entering into a long discussion at this stage. First I should like to say a word about the former parliamentary committees dealing with veterans matters. During the twenty years between the great wars a good deal of ground was broken relating to questions arising out of the old war. Some hon. members will recall that during the period when the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) was my predecessor in this department certain advances were made, but even so, when the committee appointed during and immediately after this last war came into being, hon. members who sat on the committee were faced with a, task of great importance. The new situation introduced many new features, and I think, Mr. Speaker, a word of tribute might well be paid to those committees for the way in which they approached those problems, for the evidence they sifted and the non-partisan manner in which they went at their task, and lastly that they were able to bring in the foundation for a comprehensive program for the veterans. I think it was important that that program was comprehensive from the very start and did not come in piecemeal after demobilization had begun. It was also important that it was ready in good time, and for that result the committee which sat during the war deserves credit. Being ready in good time, the information arising out of the committee s report and the legislation of this house, in liaison with the Department of National Defence, was carried to service people in all parts of the world, and in that way a receptive spirit was built up before service personnel came out of uniform. When they did come back, as soon as their demobilization was completed the plans were there ready for them to enter into. There is another fact worth mentioning, and that is the relation of the work of the committee to the whole Canadian population. At the end of this war the people as a whole throughout Canada were determined that this time nothing should be left undone to make rehabilitation and re-establishment work. A good many old veterans of the first world war looked with a good deal of concern on their past experience and wondered whether the fervour at the end of this war would have as short a life and become swallowed up in materialism as it was in the early twenties. The work of the committee carried forward to parliament and interpreted to the people in Canada did much to crystallize that desire on the part of the Canadian people, and1 I am glad to say that that co-operation on their part has been sustained down to the present time. I should like also to pay tribute to the happy relations that existed between these committees, during the war and after, and my department. The department, under the vigorous and able leadership of my predecessor, had a terrific task with which to cope. Hon. members will recall that in 1945 the tempo of demobilization was greatly accelerated when compared with that which was anticipated. This afternoon we are proposing a new committee. In that committee there will be the opportunity to find out how this plan has been working. I am free to state that as minister I shall welcome any well-conceived and constructive suggestions on how to improve on the plan administratively. The committee may also want to hear and consider representations regarding the plan from persons and bodies in various parts of Canada. May I say a word or two on points of detail. Following the resolution a bill will be introduced reflecting the announced increase in pensions. The government will be very glad to have that bill pass through all stages as early as possible. Whether all hon. members agree with all the details of the bill as forecast, I am sure that that would be their wish. I have looked into the' matter, and if it is possible for this bill to pass through all its stages in a short time it will be possible administratively for the approximately 200,000 files to be checked and brought up to date for the mechanism to be carried out to convert them into cheques and for those cheques to be received by veterans in the early part of April, if authority can be given by Easter. If we could obtain unanimous consent I would be prepared to recommend the approval of the bill this afternoon, and then submit it to the committee on veterans affairs for study or adopt any other procedure to make it possible. The other legislation forecast will move forward without delay. So far as the increases in the allowances to the dependents of student veterans in training is concerned I should like to state that these increases will be reflected in the cheques going out at the end of this month. I am quite certain that this committee will approach its task with earnestness of purpose and energy, and I commend it to the favourable consideration of this house.


PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. J. BROOKS (Royal):

Mr. Speaker, may I first offer my congratulations to the minister on his maiden speech on veterans affairs. We have now been sitting foT three

Veterans Affairs Committee

months. We had hoped, of course, that this very important matter would have been before the house long ago. I am glad that we are now taking steps to see that the veterans of this country receive in some measure the rights to which they are entitled. I do regret, as I know other hon members in this house have regretted, the long time it has taken to set up this committee. When the house met last December it was recommended by myself, and by many other hon. members on this side of the house, that a veterans committee be immediately set up. We are anxious that the veterans of this country should receive the benefits to which they are entitled and which we all know they need.

I mentioned some few weeks ago that the great rise in the cost of living had imposed many hardships on the veterans, and as I said a moment ago, we had hoped that a veterans committee would be set up and that these bills would be passed through the house and that the veterans would have received this relief which I know they are all waiting for.

The minister has said that it is his intention to submit all matters of the department to the veterans committee. That is as it should be. The veterans committee has worked on veterans affairs for a great many years. I join with the minister in congratulating the committees which have worked in the past. His tribute to them today is well merited. He said there had been happy relations between the different parties. As a member of a number of veterans committees I can state with a clear conscience that so far as I am concerned there have been very happy relations between the different parties that worked on the different veterans committees.

The minister also mentioned a bill having to do with increases in pensions and said that he hoped it would be passed as quickly as possible.

I would point out to him that his hurry now does not seem altogether in keeping with the actions which the government has taken during the past three months. Today, after three months of delay, the minister tells us that they are very anxious to rush through legislation. I would point out to him and to the government that this could have been done, and should have been done, many weeks ago. The minister has also emphasized the great change in veterans legislation. Year after year we note that veterans legislation is never finished. Something is always coming up; new situations arise which make it necessary to make changes in veterans legislation. I suggest now-it has been suggested by many hon. members on different occasions-that there should be a standing committee of the house on veterans affairs. If a standing committee had been

appointed last year when it was suggested, we would not be waiting until almost the middle of March, although the house met in December, to deal with veterans affairs. Instead of receiving these cheques, which the minister mentioned, in April, they would be receiving them now. I do impress upon the minister and upon the house the great necessity of setting up a standing committee on veterans affairs.

The minister reviewed somewhat the history of veterans committees. We all remember that the first committee was set up in 1916, I think. This committee started from scratch. They had no precedent to follow so far as their work was concerned, but we all agree that they did splendid work. Many committees have been set up since. That is another point which bears out my argument that we should have a standing committee. Since the first committee was set up in 1916 to the outbreak of this war there have been sixteen committees. There have been four committees since, making some twenty in all, which only emphasizes the fact that a standing committee is a necessary committee in this necessary work.

I need only mention the names of the men who headed the first committee to show the prominence that has been given to veterans affairs. We had such men as the Hon. W. F. Nickle, the Hon. Newton Wesley Rowell, Hon. Hume Cronyn, the Hon. Sir Herbert Marler, the Hon. Cyrus Macmillan, the Hon. C. G. Power, and last, but not least,

I am sure, the hon. member for Rosthem (Mr. Tucker), the present leader of the opposition in Saskatchewan and who, I am sure, will attain to that honourable position of leader of His Majesty's loyal opposition in that province after the next election.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER PENSIONS, TREATMENT AND RE-ESTABLISHMENT
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

I hope to do better than that.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER PENSIONS, TREATMENT AND RE-ESTABLISHMENT
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

What a hopel

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER PENSIONS, TREATMENT AND RE-ESTABLISHMENT
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March 8, 1948