May 24, 1951

PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

What is the name and the salary of the temporary director of public relations which the minister mentioned?

Topic:   PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Subtopic:   VISIT OF PRESIDENT OF FRANCE-SUGGESTED PLACING OF FLAGS IN MEMORIAL CHAMBER
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

The name is William Dumsday. He is not a temporary director, he is the director of public relations. His salary is $6,000, but he is still a temporary civil servant. He was a wing commander during the war and did the same kind of work with the air force.

On looking at the public accounts for 1950 I find that Mr. W. H. Dumsday, of the Department of National Defence, is listed as receiving a salary of $6,600. The first question I want to ask the minister is whether Mr. Dumsday received the increase which most civil servants received this year.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Yes, he received it.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

How much did that increase amount to?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

I have not the figure for his increase. It would not be ten per cent at that level. His present salary is $6,780.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

I should like to ask the minister what the explanation is for giving a com-

pletely inaccurate answer to a very straightforward and simple question. Can he answer that?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Certainly. I asked the official in front of me; the official, speaking from memory, gave me the answer, and I gave it to the committee. I have filed the correct answer.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

The correct answer was filed only because I brought up the question just now. I think this brings out the importance of our going into every single item of the estimates one by one, and perhaps if necessary checking every answer with other records such as the public accounts. Does the minister feel that the kind of answer he gave me, which was more than ten per cent wrong, is the kind of answer members of the committee should receive to questions they put to him? Would he mind answering that?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

I am not infallible, particularly when I ask an official, he gives me the answer and I give it, incidentally, at about eleven o'clock or 11.01. I might have said that I would wait and give the answer later. In future I shall have to do that, although it will take a longer time, and I do not think the public profit therefrom will be very great.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

This seems to me to bring to the fore a question I wanted to ask the minister with respect to the procedure in dealing with these estimates. I do not wish to revive a debate which has taken place a number of times as to the extent to which a committee of the house can go into defence policy, or even the extent to which this committee should go into defence policy. However, I want to refer to the question whether the defence estimates, the financial details, and the financial results of the defence estimates should not be studied by a committee other than this committee of the house, to effect the saving of time to which the minister himself has just referred. He has indicated he doubts whether the public benefit will be promoted by the kind of detailed checking and inquiry which the hon. member for Broadview has indicated he feels should be made.

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Subtopic:   VISIT OF PRESIDENT OF FRANCE-SUGGESTED PLACING OF FLAGS IN MEMORIAL CHAMBER
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

I can answer that right off by suggesting-

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I have not finished the question yet, so I do not know how the minister can answer it.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

I thought you had.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

No, I am sorry. It may well be argued-

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxlon:

Then, Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order. This matter has already been decided by this committee at this session. It has also already been decided by the house to refer these estimates to the committee of supply, and I suggest that the hon. member's remarks are out of order.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Surely that is not the kind of suggestion that is going to help to advance the discussion of these estimates. There is no time during the session when it is not open to the ministry to recommend to the house that appropriate steps be taken for the reference of items to another committee. There is no reason within the rules or practice that would prevent the minister at this point from moving that the committee rise and report progress, if it can be called that, and then indicating that he had asked the committee to rise in order to move that the items be referred to such a committee as deals with similar items in the case of the Department of External Affairs. I simply rise to point out that the answer the minister has just given is inconsistent both with the rules and with the practice.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

Mr. Chairman, may I speak to the point of order? The leader of the opposition surely has not overlooked the fact that the house has referred these estimates to the committee of supply. We got into supply by order of the house, and, having done so, it is not proper for us to do anything but pass an item, or reduce an item, or rise and report progress.

In the second place, on May 11, as reported at page 2942 of Hansard, a motion was made that the committee rise and report progress pending reference of defence expenditures to a select committee. On that motion there was a vote, and the

committee itself voted it down. That being so, that matter cannot be further discussed by this committee. So I submit that on both grounds any reference to any method of dealing with defence estimates except the method parliament has decided upon and the committee has confirmed is entirely out of order, completely useless, and a waste of the time of the committee.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I find it difficult to believe that the minister is putting forward this argument at all seriously. After all, these items have come before the committee on previous occasions, and the motion has been made that the committee rise and report progress. The minister is now suggesting that once a motion of that kind has been made it cannot be repeated. The motion to rise and report progress can be and is made over and over

Supply-National Defence again. I am pointing out that if the minister became convinced that it would be the wiser and more sensible course, as we believe it would, to have these estimates referred to a committee, it would only be necessary for him to move that we rise and report progress, and then, with the Speaker in the chair, move that these items be referred to such a committee as deals with similar items in the case of similar departments. That was the point I made, and that has not been answered in any way by what the minister has said.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

On the point of order may I indicate that the motion on May 11, at page 2942 of Hansard, to which the minister has referred, suggested that the estimates be referred for detailed study by a select committee. The point I wished to bring to the minister's attention was that the motion to refer these estimates to a standing committee, namely the standing committee on banking and commerce, has in no way been decided by the motion to which reference has been made. I say this particularly in view of the fact that in the other place the estimates of all departments are referred to a committee. There is no objection to the estimates going before the committee on finance of the Senate, one of the standing committees of that body which is now examining deputy ministers in connection with their estimates. No objection is raised by any department to the procedure being followed there. It seems to me the only committee of this house that would be qualified to deal with the estimates in that way so far as this house is concerned is the standing committee on banking and commerce.

My purpose in rising was to ask the minister, in view of the fact that in the other place estimates are referred to the standing committee on finance, whether he would object to having these estimates referred to our standing committee on banking and commerce, particularly since the minister himself raised the point that the type of questioning which we feel should be pursued in connection with these estimates, and which I think the public feel should be pursued to get all the details of expenditures-and the last details, if necessary-would not be conducive to the public benefit. If that is the feeling-and there may be an argument in favour of it in committee of the whole- why not refer the estimates to the banking and commerce committee, in exactly the same way as the estimates are referred to and examined by the committee on finance in the other place?

Supply-National Defence

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LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Does any other hon. member wish to speak on civil salaries and wages? I understood we had agreed to proceed with this item by item.

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Subtopic:   VISIT OF PRESIDENT OF FRANCE-SUGGESTED PLACING OF FLAGS IN MEMORIAL CHAMBER
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May 24, 1951