November 27, 1952

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An hon. Member:

Oh, quiet.

The Address-Mr. Claxton

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

I am glad to see that the hon. member is here and he will no doubt support what he said in 1949.

The next note I have is: how far you go is a matter of opinion and a matter of judgment. In arriving at that judgment you take into account your experience in previous wars and your experience since the second world war. The officers responsible for drawing up the schedules-and we have complete schedules for every one of the 15,000 items of clothing and barracks stores required in the event of mobilization-have drawn them on the basis of that experience. From time to time we get different experience, as is the case with Korea. Manufacturers may deliver things faster than we expect and therefore we do not need so long a lead time-the time it takes to begin production on a considerable scale after we have an approved design, new machinery for production, and an order to go.

As I say, with the increased or changed experience then we modify our ideas. I will tell the house quite frankly that we have made some quite important modifications during the last year and no doubt will make others.

In the department we use a term-and I do not know whether it is in general commercial use or not-to differentiate between things that are easy to make and which are generally similar to those in civilian use, and those which are usually of metal and consist of weapons, ammunition and the like. The first category we call "soft" goods as opposed to weapons, equipment and ammunition, etc., which are "hard" goods. The time taken to produce goods from beginning to end will vary with the article but, by and large, our experience in peacetime has been that in the case of soft goods it takes from nine months up to secure a flow of production from the time when we make the requisitions on the Department of Defence Production; and in the case of hard goods it may take as long as five years for a new aircraft or eighteen months for a gun. Generally speaking the time for hard goods is of the magnitude of eighteen months up-that is the lead time for weapons, equipment, motor vehicles and ammunition. In placing orders for anything we have to take into account the fact that deliveries of most of these soft goods will begin about nine months after requisition, and of the hard goods about eighteen months.

You can see that orders placed in the spring and summer of 1951 for soft goods have been largely delivered and those for hard goods are still in process of being delivered. Consequently, of our total defence program, as announced on February 5, 1951, we have completed a very much larger proportion of the category of goods falling under the heading

136 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Claxton of clothing and barracks stores and so on, and a smaller proportion of weapons, equipment and ammunition.

Now, sir, had a war occurred during this period I can just hear the ringing tones in which the Leader of the Opposition, and members of the opposition opposite, would have criticized the government, criticized the department and criticized the armed forces for not doing just about what we have done.

The question then arises: Have we been right in ordering the things in the quantities and at the times when we have? Here again there is room for difference of opinion and the decision must vary with the article. There is no point, to my mind, in stockpiling anything that can be bought off the shelves from civilian sources of supply or produced by ordinary suppliers by the time that it is needed for use. The general idea was that we should stockpile those things with which it was necessary to equip the forces that would be available. No neckties whatever have been stockpiled-only those items that would be necessary to equip the forces that would be mobilized within the first three months or so of a general war. Now, mark that.

It is important that we should see this. The general object in stockpiling clothing and barracks stores was to get those things which we could not get from civilian sources and which were necessary to equip the troops that we expect to have to mobilize during the first three months of an emergency, and that is all.

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Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Is a necktie necessary for mobilization?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxlon:

I have Just said that we are not stockpiling any neckties.

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An hon. Member:

They are good for hanging.

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An hon. Member:

What about Sam Hughes?

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Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

That all brings me to the way in which the Globe and Mail and some other newspapers have used the figures which they have obtained from the published reports of the Department of Defence Production. They have taken orders generally placed with the intention of rebuilding stocks for the four purposes I have mentioned; they have related them to a single issue to 100,000 men; and they then arrive at the result that each man is to have fifteen pairs of boots. They have left out of account every trace of recognition that to a large extent the stocks of clothing we are acquiring are for both active and reserve force purposes of supply next year, partly the following year, and then for mobilization should it occur.

In 1939, three months after we started to mobilize to meet the needs of the second world

war, the strength of the armed forces had increased from their peacetime level by over 60,000. I mention that figure to show something of the magnitude of the job that is faced when you begin to talk about mobilization stores. I am not in a position to give the figure of men we would expect to take on in the unfortunate event that there is a third world war, but the figure is likely to be considerably larger than in 1939.

Before going into the figures I want to emphasize again the fact, made so abundantly plain by the Prime Minister, that this defence operation is big business. Ten per cent of the national income is taken for purposes of national defence; and 10 per cent of the population, if you take members of the active force working full time, members of the reserve force working part time and those engaged directly or indirectly in defence projects, together with those in servicing industries, and their dependents, are involved.

My colleague, the Minister of Defence Production, and I have not been able to scrutinize personally in detail, as we would have liked to, all the requisitions made or contracts placed. Since March 31, 1947, 527,000 contracts have been placed. We have seen the larger ones and have also overseen the general policy. I repeat that the contracts placed, the requirements we work out and the estimates we make are subject to constant review; and I add that what is surprising is that in this huge volume of business, done under great pressure and with staffs inadequate in size, without any previous experience of so rapid a peacetime build-up, or in maintaining the very considerable forces we have had in the Far East and in Europe at the same time, the errors discovered so far have proved so small relative to the total operation.

I want to make one other point and it is this. If there have been errors or if errors are discovered in the future, either in our estimate of our current requirements or in the estimate of requirements for stockpiling, we can consume the excess of articles to meet recurring needs. I do not think that in many fields we will have stockpiled more than we would have required in about a year or a year and a quarter of ordinary current needs. In other words, not a single article has been or will be wasted; everything will be used.

Against this background, let us see what the charges are that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition and others. It is not necessary for us to search far in order to see what the bases of his charges were. There used to be an old rule against reading newspaper articles, and it was a fairly good one. The Leader of the Opposition referred

to this subject himself in a speech in Toronto quoted in the Globe and Mail for November 5, 1952, with the headline "No Ghost Writers for P.C.'s, Drew Tells Ontario Rally". The article reads in part:

Commenting on an article by a U.S. columnist in which the writer stated he "knew" every man in public life employs ghost writers, Mr. Drew said it was a sad commentary on public life. He did not suggest that either presidential candidate had reached that point, but in Ottawa it has reached such a state that some cabinet ministers had not read over their speeches before they delivered them.

"It is a remarkable departure from the idea that democracy was based on the free interchange of ideas by which individuals express their convictions," he said.

With that foundation, Mr. Speaker, let us see what the Leader of the Opposition said on these various heads and from where he obtained his material. In his speech in the house, as reported at page 22 of Hansard, he said:

In the last few weeks articles have been appearing throughout Canada in some of the most responsible of Canadian newspapers, analysing facts and figures in regard to defence purchases, which are a challenge to every member of the house.

I agree that they are a challenge to every member of the house. They are a challenge to every member of the house to look at the records of the house before he uses such statements. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition would have been better briefed had he taken the trouble to consult the minutes of proceedings of the special committee on defence expenditures set up in answer to his request.

On the subject of clothing in general, as reported at page 23 of Hansard, the Leader of the Opposition said:

Since November 20, 1950, it is stated that clothing orders alone have amounted to some $142,150,000. The total strength of the three armed services just exceeds 100,000 which works out to approximately $1,400 for every member of the three services. That is not, of course, the amount which has been spent to provide uniforms for each of the members, because the department did estimate that the average cost of the kit of a soldier, sailor or airman is about $390. That seems high enough in itself, but the figures also show that orders are out of all relation to the number of those now in the services, or for the target figure of 115,000 which has been set for 1954.

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the Leader of the Opposition's authority for those statements. I wish that the rules relative to printing Hansard permitted the statement of the Leader of the Opposition and the source from which he quoted to be printed in parallel columns, but we will do that later.

The authority for this is George Bain, in the Globe and Mail of November 18, 1952, who said:

Since November 20, 1950, the first date covered by the contract information clothing orders alone have amounted to some $142,150,000.

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The Address-Mr. Claxton

The total strength of the three armed services has only recently edged past the hundred thousand mark; the target is 115,000 by 1954.

According to figures contained in "Canada's Defence Program 1952-53" published by the Defence Department, the average cost of a sailor's, soldier's or airman's kit is about $390.

As will be seen, Mr. Speaker, there is a fairly close resemblance between the two statements.

As I mentioned earlier, since April 1, 1949, and up to October 31, 1952, we have enrolled approximately 227,000 men and women in the active and reserve forces and in the cadet services. We have outfitted them with clothing at an average cost of $224.43 each or $50,955,000 in total.

During the same period all the forces, active, reserve and cadets, have put in a total of 701,182 man years-that is the service of a man for a year, an actual figure-and it has cost an average of $77.06 to maintain their clothing and to establish depot stocks, or a total of $54,035,000.

I should explain that takes into account the fact that during the first year the man has had his original issue and needs very little maintenance. If we were dealing with maintenance alone, after the first year the cost of maintaining a member of the regular forces would be $156.34; of the reserve force, $57.72; a cadet, $27.86; or an average of $77.06.

In the same period we acquired special clothing such as Arctic clothing, winter clothing, aircrew clothing, protective clothing and similar clothing that is not ordinarily issued as part of a man's outfit, at a cost of $16,721,000.

Finally, $37,786,000 has been expended on the provision of mobilization stocks of clothing. Those stocks are in store ready to be issued should there be a mobilization. But if there is no mobilization, or if the international climate changes, or if we decide that it is no longer necessary to have mobilization stores of that character, then all these articles can be issued to meet current requirements and would be used up in about a year after that operation started.

I think hon. members will agree that the figure of $156 as the figure of maintaining a soldier's, sailor's or airman's clothing for a year is not an excessive figure. It is about 4J per cent to 5 per cent of the average personnel costs per man per year. The dominion bureau of statistics informs me that they estimate that the average cost of a male's clothing per year is about 7 per cent of his wages. The Toronto social welfare council estimates that last year there should have been spent on a manual worker's clothing a total of $152.50. On our service personnel it was $156, and he required a good

The Address-Mr. Claxton deal more and better clothing. Now, on the average, our soldiers, sailors and airmen receive each year in cash or kind $3,022. That is for all other ranks, from the newest recruit to the most senior warrant officer first class tradesman, an average of $3,022 for pay, allowances, pension, clothing, food, medical, dental and hospital services. That is the equivalent of a civilian wage. In the United States it is far more of course. Therefore you will see that the figure of $156, the cost of maintaining his clothing, is about 5 per cent of that amount, and less than the dominion bureau of statistics estimate.

I should now like to pass on to the subject of boots and shoes. On this the Leader of the Opposition said on November 24, 1952, as reported at page 22 of Hansard:

Since these have appeared throughout the whole of Canada, they are the kind of examples which it would seem necessary for us to examine. During a single ten-month period orders for boots and shoes for the armed forces totalled $15,292,241. Even at the very high estimate of $15 a pair, which would indeed be a high cost for service footwear, this would mean more than one million pair of shoes for 100,000 members of the armed forces. The suggestion that orders of this kind are necessary for the reserves simply does not hold water, because plenty of shoes have been available for the reserve army for some years. Orders are still being placed.

The authority for this is Arthur Blakely of the Montreal Gazette of October 30, 1952:

During a single ten-month period, orders for boots and shoes in the armed forces had totalled about $15,292,241. Even at $15 a pair-high for service footwear-this works out to better than a million pairs. Yet there were fewer than 100,000 personnel in the armed forces to wear them . . . the explanation didn't satisfy anyone. Meanwhile, boot and shoe orders are still being placed.

It seems to bear some similarity. Now, sir, the story about boots and shoes was spread on the record of the defence expenditures committee by the deputy minister of national defence on June 10, 1952, and it appears at pages 385 and 392 of the proceedings of that committee. I am not going to go into that again, but I should like to describe to you in summary what the situation is.

From April 1, 1950, to September 30 of this year the services received 1,563,539 pairs of leather footwear, with further deliveries due of 52,059 pairs. In addition there have been substantial purchases of other articles of footwear such as rubbers, gym shoes, overshoes, mukluks, and so forth. The total amount is based on requirements which, if examined objectively, will, I believe, be found to be sensible and prudent. Everything I have said about the increased personnel, about distribution, about stock levels, about lead time and about stockpiling applies with particular force to boots, ankle. It will be appreciated that requirements for footwear,

particularly boots, ankle, will be different for the different categories of footwear and for each of the services, and often according to the area where a man is serving. For example, our experience is that a man wears out four pairs of boots a year in Korea, two a year in Germany, and generally speaking less than one and a half per year in Canada. We vary the issue for the navy and air force because they use less footwear than does the army.

Trade figures on footwear give an estimate that the average male in Canada buys 2-38 pairs of shoes or boots each year. The amount we provide for the armed forces of boots, ankle, is less than that.

As boots represent the largest item, perhaps I might give some figures with regard to them. At September 30, 1952, depot stocks were 479,643, and stocks held against possible mobilization amounted to 361,971. Further deliveries will be 6,928. The annual consumption in 1952-53, both initial issues and replacements, is estimated at 263,000. Maintenance stocks are therefore the equivalent of less than two years expected consumption. Having regard to the lead time for manufacture and the necessity for having at all times a minimum stock for distribution and sizing, this seems to be about right for this time of the fiscal year.

Now, may I take up neckties? Speaking in the House of Commons on November 24, 1952, at page 22 of Hansard, the Leader of the Opposition said:

During the last session it was found that orders have been placed for $1,150,000 neckties. Not satisfied with this incredible accumulation of neckwear, orders are still being placed for more neckties. One might well wonder what particular military service these additional ties are supposed to perform.

The authority for this seems to have been Arthur Blakely of the Montreal Gazette of October 30, 1952:

By early last session, arms orders had been placed for a total of 1,150,000 neckties. A prejudiced and sceptical Conservative M.P. gibed that there were plenty to, 'bound hand and foot any number of aggressors who might attempt to land on our shores'. But the defence department isn't taking any chances. Orders are still being placed.

It will be noted that the Leader of the Opposition's speech, as reported in Hansard, has the dollar sign before the number of neckties. I have checked up with the text of the speech from which he read on Monday, and I find that the dollar sign is not there, so that this is a typographical error in Hansard.

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Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

How does the minister know that the Leader of the Opposition did not use the word "dollar" in his speech delivered in the house?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

140 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Claxton provided for officers' messes and for recreation rooms on a very limited scale which in no case is extravagant at all.

It should be remembered that during this year we have built or have had under construction over 100 new barracks blocks and places where men are quartered or fed. Consequently this is in the nature of capital outlay which will not be repeated on anything like that scale in future years.

The Leader of the Opposition also referred to teapots. I see that my time is going and I shall not dwell upon it at length. However, I will say that the answer to the question raised in connection with teapots is much similar to that in connection with forks. But the scale of issue can be gathered from the fact that on June 10, 1952, when we

checked on the question when it came up before the committee on defence expenditures, we found that at Camp Borden where they have 5,526 men they had a total of 1,962 teapots. That seems a large proportion, possibly; but additional ones were needed there to take care of peak loads of reserve forces when they come in for summer training. But it indicates that, with forces of the size that we have, you need very considerable numbers of articles.

Raincoats were mentioned and almost all these are acquired for mobilization. The number actually needed for issue to members of the C.W.A.C., nursing sisters and so on is estimated at 3,950 for the current year.

Reference was made to the packaging of plumbing fixtures; this is for packaging of stores of certain plumbing fixtures that would be necessary in the prefabricated houses we are acquiring in connection with needs for mobilization.

I think I have mentioned all the articles to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, or that have been mentioned by other hon. members since the session began. There have been a number of others referred to by the press, for example paper napkins. We are accused of having spent extravagantly the sum of $11,000 on paper napkins. The newspapers said that this was a pretty large number of paper napkins. No doubt it is; but we provide a large number of meals. About

40,000 out of the 100,000 men on strength eat in, and they get three meals a day. That makes 120,000 meals per day, or 840,000 per week, or 43,680,000 per year.

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Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

Do they get fresh napkins at every meal?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Yes, paper napkins-and so do most everybody else who use them. Would you think that they would wrap them up and carry them home, or does the hon. mem-

IMr. Claxton.]

ber for Royal (Mr. Brooks) suggest that they should share them? The number of napkins covered by this order amounted to 18,400,000, so that the order, costing $11,000 for paper napkins, will meet the needs of the armed forces for about seven months, at which time we will have another order.

Now, I have spent a good deal of time discussing these articles. I did not think it would be necessary, because what we have been doing is in accordance with the policy declared and, so far as I know, acquiesced in by the house. For some five or six years members of the opposition have spent a good deal of their time saying that we are not doing enough. Now they seem to be saying that we are doing too much. But once again I ask hon. members where we would be, and where I would be in my position of responsibility in the preparation of this country to meet an emergency, should one arise, if we were not doing just about what we are doing with regard to these matters.

Once again, the matter is under continuous review. If in respect of any of these articles we have one too many, we can take it into stock, issue it, and we can get rid of the whole lot within the period of about a year of current use. This is,_ therefore, part of the cost of insurance for peace. That is all that our defence expenditures are, whether they be on personnel, on ships, on aircraft or guns or food or barrack stores and clothing. The people of this country must appreciate that with 100,000 in the active forces engaged in a war to stop aggression in Korea, and engaged as part of the integrated forces in western Europe standing there to prevent aggression, we are having to incur some rather heavy expenditures over a considerable length of time. We are doing that in cooperation with our neighbours, in co-operation with the United Nations and in co-operation with the North Atlantic alliance. We are doing this because we believe it is the one way in which we can preserve peace, have security and have that kind of country in which we want our children to live.

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Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would permit a question which arises out of a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent). In fairness to the minister, I think I should bring it to his attention. At page 39 of Hansard for November 24 after he had been speaking about the purchase of neckties, the Prime Minister said:

It may well be that the officers in the requisitioning departments, having that in mind, did order more than the minister would have sanctioned, had it come to his attention, or that the deputy minister would have sanctioned had it come to his attention.

May I ask the minister if those orders came to his attention before they were placed?

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Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

That is the kind of question we can go into very satisfactorily and at length before the committee on defence expenditures. Since the member has put it, I want to answer it. The practice with regard to these big programs is that we discuss them within the department, at cabinet defence committee and in cabinet. As a general principle, it was decided that we should acquire a certain amount of mobilization stores. I signed a requisition on my colleague the Minister of Defence Production (Mr. Howe) for certain mobilization stores. The individual orders for individual items were subsequently sent to him and reviewed by the deputy minister or by myself, either at the time or later, but they have all been reviewed at one time or another.

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?

An hon. Member:

Who is right?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

The Prime Minister said "it may well be-"

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Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

He said it may well be that it was a mistake.

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George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Oh, no, he did not.

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Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

I have it right here.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

My flippant friend.

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LIB

John Horace Dickey

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

Read about it in the defence expenditures committee.

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November 27, 1952