November 6, 1957

IND

Donald Cameron

Independent Liberal

Mr. Cameron:

Mr. Chairman, as a relic of the first world war I must confess that when I hear hon. members speaking in the vein that the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo and the hon. member for Fort William spoke this afternoon I rather feel that the man with the scythe is creeping up behind me. But, of course, they are perfectly right. We are dropping off at a very quick rate each year and will be doing so at an accelerated rate in the future.

I think that is really one of the major arguments against any opposition, if there is opposition, to increasing the permissible earnings ceilings of war veterans. In my constituency we have a great many war veterans and quite a number on the war veterans allowance. Because of climatic reasons these people go there to live and the problem is brought very forcibly to our attention. There are a number of great hardships at work due to the present rather low levels of permissible income. Many of these men are unable to hold even comparatively ill-paid jobs if they are going to hold them all year round. I have known of instances of men who had to arrange to be laid off for a certain length of time in order not to exceed the permissible income.

Another factor that I think we should consider is that the money incomes that people are getting today are in purchasing power very much lower than that same number of dollars was ten or fifteen years ago. Therefore we should at least try to be as generous as we have been in the past, which we will not be unless we are prepared to take into account the depreciation of the dollar. Of course, as I say, I do not know if there is going to be any opposition to this one point, and like the hon. member for Fort William I think one should concentrate on one point. To my mind the most important of the demands of the Canadian Legion and the one that affects most veterans is the raising of the level of permissible income.

I had hoped that there would be no question, since the events of last June, that when the act was amended it would be amended in line with the demands of the Canadian Legion. Last night I was a bit disturbed, in the same way that the hon. member for Acadia was, by the interjection of the minister which suggested that he and his colleagues were not accepting the levels suggested by the Canadian Legion as the proper

War Veterans' Allowance Act levels. II that is so, I would hope that the members of the present government would perhaps do what my colleague, the hon. member for Kootenay West, apparently has been doing and consult the records of Hansard for previous years. For instance, I hope that the present Minister of Trade and Commerce will consult Hansard of March 7, 1955 in which he will find these words included in a very moving speech he made on that occasion with regard to the position of veterans. He makes reference to the then minister's remarks and says, as found at page 1769 of Hansard:

The minister's remarks the other day I thought were cold, unsympathetic, confusing and unconvincing. He attempted to equate the ceilings of war veterans allowance with the rates for disability pensions. What purpose this procedure served I am at a loss to know. He then went on to estimate the additional cost to the treasury if the ceilings were placed at $1,200 and $2,000. He estimated that these would open the way to placing 14,750 new applicants on the rolls and would increase the cost by $13 million over and above the present proposed increase.

Here is a place, Mr. Chairman, where I think the present ministers should give their attention because the present Minister of Trade and Commerce on that occasion went on in this vein:

This is a familiar dodge practised by some cabinet ministers. We are supposed to accept these statements as gospel truth. No detailed analysis was given by the minister. All that was given was just a bland assurance that this would be the result and that consequently there was no further argument. I hope that the committee will pursue this matter and get a detailed breakdown of these figures.

In connection with that, Mr. Chairman, I want to support the suggestion made by a speaker earlier this afternoon that a standing committee on veterans affairs should be appointed because I notice that among other eminent members of the present cabinet the Minister of Public Works very flatly and plainly came out and stated that when his party became the government they would immediately establish a standing committee on veterans affairs. I hope that is going to be done.

Then perhaps we could get away from these rather vague estimates of what the increased cost would be if we raised the permissible allowance to $1,200 and $2,000. I am not going on the assumption that there may be some opposition to the Legion's position in this regard. We have not yet been told definitely whether that is so, although I would think that the present government would hardly throw aside the Legion's representations when the present

Prime Minister had this to say in 1955, as set out at page 2592 of Hansard of March 31, 1955:

Mr. Chairman, the veterans of this country would be interested if they were here this evening in hearing the applause by Liberal members when it was indicated that the government does not intend to act upon the recommendations and suggestions of the Canadian Legion and the national council of veterans. If they were here tonight they would be interested in hearing the applause that greeted the words of the hon. gentleman as he spoke rather disparagingly of the fight which we in the opposition have put up on behalf, not of something ephemeral and fantastic but of something that is asked for, and reasonably asked for, by the Canadian Legion and the National Council of Veterans Organizations.

I would suggest that the members of the Canadian Legion will be equally interested to know what the position of the new government is going to be with regard to these requests. I share their interest. I trust that the action of the government will not lead us who are still in opposition after the events of last June to remember the old proverb, "Plus ga change, plus c'est la meme chose".

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Mr. Chairman, I have

listened with interest to the discussion which has gone on concerning the proposals which the present minister is making. As the hon. member for Acadia has pointed out, we in our group are glad to welcome those suggestions but we are extremely conscious of the deficiencies which are still to be found in considerable number in the whole scheme of things under which we seek to take care of our veterans.

I can well remember when world war II began to develop hearing ministers representing the Liberal party say on the floor of the house, "We shall so manage the affairs of this war that no one shall be any worse off because he went overseas and no one shall be any better off because he remained at home". In the light of the almost ghastly picture which has been painted, even here this afternoon, that statement was almost full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Although many things were done by the Liberal administration for the soldiers of world war II, nevertheless many things were left undone.

I remember, and will always do so, one experience I had with a friend in my constituency whose home I occasionally visit. This man loved to keep chickens. He was a chicken fancier. He was able to produce eggs successfully. He was a successful gardener. I went to his home one time and he said to me, "You know, Mr. Blackmore, I have got to sell all my chickens and plow up my garden because they have been around to see me and they are going to cut off my

pension because of my chickens and my garden". He was a man who had risked his life and lost his health in the struggle for his country. Yet his country was so mean and niggardly that it could not even let him raise chickens and have a garden without penalizing him by a deduction or a threatened deduction from his war veteran allowance. Probably no more needs to be said.

I am told by the hon. member for Acadia of one experience he had while he was overseas. Hon. members no doubt know that the hon. member for Acadia had a distinguished career in the army as he has had in this parliament. He told me that one time after a hard day they were visited behind the lines by Mr. Arthur Meighen, about whom we all know. Mr. Meighen warmed up to the occasion and said, "Now, men, when you get home your country will assure you that you will never lack for anything". Nothing more needs to be said.

Mr. Chairman, I hope that before very long we shall have removed many of the painful and rankling inequities or injustices which now fill our whole scheme of things in taking care of our veterans.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryce:

Mr. Chairman, I want to take only a couple of minutes in order to say that I am in support of this legislation. My colleagues have said most of the things that I would have liked to say. I am glad that we have the present Minister of Veterans Affairs. He was the one man in the new cabinet who I thought fitted into the position better than did anyone else. I have been able to cooperate with the minister for a great number of years. He has supported some of the things I wanted to do for the veterans, and I had the opportunity to support him. I now support him in connection with this bill.

I do not think we should waste any time on this matter. I think it is something of which everybody is in favour. I think we should be careful not to delay it. If we do so, we may find that some minister is going to get mad at somebody one of these days, we are going to be out on the hustings and the veterans are going to have no legislation passed. Do not let us make that mistake. Let us get this legislation passed when we have the opportunity to pass it.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Winch:

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to repeat a great deal of what has been said before in support of this bill because I believe we are all in favour of improvements. However, there is one matter upon which I desire to speak. Through you, Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask the minister if he will introduce an amendment to his own bill. I have never been able to understand why a

War Veterans' Allowance Act government should set a definite date as to when love ends. To my own knowledge, I have in Vancouver in my own constituency one person who joined up in 1914, went all through the war, was made a commissioned officer on the field of battle and came out of the war. He joined as a bachelor and he came out as a bachelor. He was not entitled to any pension because of wounds of battle but, because of the rigours of war, he reaches a point where, under the present act, at age 60 he is entitled to a pension. He joins up in 1914, goes through the war and does not until a year ago meet the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. I imagine that is not for biological reasons but affection and companionship and they then find because they did not marry before a certain month in the spring of 1953 the wife is not entitled to any allowance. Now would the minister tell me how he establishes a date in 1953 as the date when love ends for a veteran of the war of 1914-1918?

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I did not do it.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Winch:

Why can a person who is a veteran of the 1914-1918 war if he married before this month in the spring of 1953 draw an allowance for his wife, but, not if he married after that date? I am not being humorous at all; to me this is an extraordinary arrangement. On investigation I find it is not by any regulation. A change is required in this act to say that a veteran could be married after 1953.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but I think he is discussing a section of the Pension Act and so I am sure he will be very pleased with a section which it is proposed to put into the new Pension Act.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Winch:

In the War Veterans' Allowance Act?

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

No, in the Pension Act.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Winch:

No no, it is the veterans allowance act that we are discussing now. The burned out pension, that is in the veterans allowance act.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

That is right, that is the veterans allowance act. Perhaps I have not quite followed the hon. member too closely but I believe the matter he is discussing does come under the Pension Act and I think I can tell the hon. gentleman that an amendment will be introduced which will meet the point he has raised.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Winch:

But it is the same in the veterans allowance act and that is what I am discussing. I have two cases in my own riding where they got married in August,

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War Veterans' Allowance Act three months too late, and so the wile is not entitled to any pension. Both acts come under the minister, do they not?

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

Yes.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Winch:

Well then will the minister make the necessary change so that love does not have to end at a certain date in 1953.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

As I am very anxious that love should never end I will look into the matter.

(Translation) :

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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LIB

Louis Deniset

Liberal

Mr. Denisei:

Mr. Chairman, may I add a few words in connection with this discussion? I shall do so in French, because I want to stress the fact that, of course, the large family of veterans comprises Canadians speaking one or both of our official languages. If I had a gift for the tongues, I would also add a few words in several other languages, out of regard for those of other origins who are nevertheless Canadian veterans.

I want to greet the veterans and I really think there is no better opportunity to do so than now, when Armistice day or rather Remembrance day is near and when we shall be called upon to lay wreaths of flowers on cenotaphs and memorials to our dead brothers.

I am happy to say, Mr. Chairman, that the resolution before us augurs well for the future.

I am also pleased about the non-partisan position of hon. members with regard to our veterans. This attitude confirms our national unity which was welded on the battlefields, and which, I hope, will endure forever.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Roland Léo English

Progressive Conservative

Mr. English:

Mr. Chairman, I have the honour to represent here the beautiful constituency of Gaspe which, considering its population, is among those that gave the greatest number of soldiers to the country. Gaspesians are not slow to answer the call of duty. Those brave people were not afraid to leave their homes, relatives and even their children to defend our country, our democracy.

Many of those valiant men died on the battlefields and we shall have a thought for them next Monday.

Many of those veterans came back, and they had every reason to expect special consideration on the part of the government. However, Mr. Chairman, such consideration was not always commensurate to the courage they displayed on the battlefields. I wish to congratulate and thank the hon. Minister of

Veterans Affairs (Mr. Brooks), as well as the government for the special consideration they are now giving these veterans in the course of this first session.

However, in my constituency there is a rather peculiar situation, one which indeed appears really strange to me. A large number of ex-servicemen who were classed A-l on enlistment have returned in no condition to do any further military service. However, when they apply for a pension they are told simply that the disability they have is a pre-enlistment condition. That seems to me to be an extraordinary situation. If these people were classed A-l, it would seem that after enlistment they should draw a pension worthy of the gallantry with which they served on the battlefield.

I have seen even more than that in my constituency. I must say that I have always paid particular attention to Gaspe ex-servicemen. There is one case which I would like to refer to especially. The man in question is aged 64, served during the last war and was captured in Hong Kong. As he is now ailing, he asked to be treated at the Veterans' Hospital in Quebec. He had to travel a distance of 500 miles and then pay for the treatment which he thought he was entitled to receive free of charge. Had he thought for one moment that he would have to pay for his hospital care, I am sure he would have gone to a Gaspe hospital.

What happened? At the time he was receiving a monthly pension of $22.90. His hospitalization bill amounted to $182, and each month the authorities deduct $20 from his pension and send him the balance of $2.90.

Well, Mr. Chairman, this is a situation which the government should correct. So I say that if the government wants to give special consideration to Gaspe veterans, it must first of all appoint officials who will look after them. It should also appoint a pensions advocate for the veterans of the Gaspe constituency, so that they will not have to travel 500 miles to interview the department's advocate at headquarters.

Mr. Chairman, I wanted to bring this situation to the attention of the house and I am confident that, with the good intentions of the government and the beneficial legislation it now proposes, it should find it possible to open an office in the Gaspe constituency where an advocate will be responsible for looking after the veterans of that area.

(Text):

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to take up the time of the committee for very long by speaking about the legislation which is now before us, but I do wish to go on record and thank the Minister of Veterans Affairs for the manner in which questions relating to veterans have been dealt with during the present session. The many letters which I have received from veterans in my constituency justify my standing up and saying a grateful thank-you for what the Minister of Veterans Affairs has done, and also to the government for the manner in which these questions have been dealt with. This is but one of the many items which the Conservative party desires to put forward in the present session, and again I offer my very best thanks to the government and to the Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. Tucker:

Is it the intention of the minister to make any statement?

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

Mr. Chairman, I intend to make a statement on second reading but there are a few remarks I should like to make at the present time. I have taken note of the many points which have been raised by hon. members, and there will be full opportunity given, of course, to debate and to discuss these points later on on second reading.

I would like to take this opportunity, though, of thanking the hon. member for Rosthern, the hon. member for Kootenay West, the hon. member for Acadia and many others who have spoken for the very kind remarks they have made concerning myself. I do not think they are altogether deserved, but I must say that in the many years I have been in this house and discussed veterans affairs in committee and in the chamber it has been a great pleasure for me to have been associated with the hon. members I have mentioned and the others who have spoken. We are all interested in one thing, that is, the benefit of the veterans, and I think it is our intention to do the very best we can for them under the rules and regulations, and under the circumstances as we find them.

The one matter I wish to discuss today has to do with the setting up of a veterans committee. I have been interested in listening to the remarks made by different members on past history. One of the greatest sports in this house over the years has, I find, been the discussion of what hon. members said years ago. I may say I am not in the least embarrassed by anything I have said in the past regarding veterans affairs or regarding the setting up of a committee. I have always been in favour of a permanent committee on 96698-53

War Veterans' Allowance Act veterans affairs being set up in the House of Commons and I am still of the same opinion.

However, Mr. Chairman, I may say that I feel that this is rather a special session, if I may call it such. This session, as has been pointed out by various hon. members at different times, has been more or less a session devoted to dealing with unfinished business, the unfinished business of the last session when the estimates of the house were not dealt with except, I believe, the post office estimates. As a matter of fact these two bills which I am introducing, and other bills which were introduced, indicate that the business of the house was not finished at the last session of parliament. The War Veterans' Allowance Act would have had to be amended this session under any circumstances. Hon. members opposite will recall that a bill was passed called an omnibus bill which provided for increases in old age security, provided for certain changes in the War Veterans' Allowance Act and also for certain changes in the Pension Act. As I said a moment ago, this unfinished business has to be dealt with by us this session.

The two acts which the Department of Veterans Affairs is bringing before the house are not controversial. The subject matter of these bills have been discussed in this house and in the veterans affairs committee on many occasions. There is the question under the War Veterans' Allowance Act of making Great Britain a theatre of war; there is the matter of the imperial veterans; there is the matter of deleting section 8 of the War Veterans' Allowance Act. All these matters have been discussed time and time again in this house and in committee. As far as the proposed pension amendments are concerned, the same applies, as hon. members will see. I would ask them to wait until they get the bill, and I am sure they will agree with me that there is no great reason why the veterans affairs committee should be set up during this session.

I may say, and both the hon. member for Kootenay West and the hon. member for Selkirk have pointed this out, that we are faced with an unusual situation, and it is our feeling that it is most desirable in present conditions to ensure that the additional benefits given to veterans by this bill are made available to them without delay. The social security acts have been passed providing for pensions and allowances for older citizens. It is, I think, quite right that without delay the same benefits should be provided for our war veterans. We all know that to set up a committee takes time; we all know that it is necessary to bring in different organizations from different parts of the country, and this, to my mind, would only delay the passing of this measure and only delay the opportunity

War Veterans' Allowance Act tor veterans to receive the benefits which we wish them to have as early as the recipients of benefits under the other acts I have mentioned.

As I said, Mr. Chairman, there is nothing controversial in these two bills. I have spoken to the head of the Canadian Legion and without divulging to the Legion what is in our bills I learned that the Legion is of the opinion that it would be more satisfactory if a permanent committee on veterans affairs were to be set up at the beginning of the next session at which time veterans legislation which might be submitted to it including the Veterans' Land Act, the War Veterans' Allowance Act, the Pension Act and others could be reviewed. The Legion indicated it would much prefer to have a permanent committee established at the beginning of next session and I believe the various veterans organizations across this country are of the same opinion. If this were done there would be no loss of time and, as I said a moment ago, we would not withhold from the veterans for some time the benefits accruing to them under the proposed amendments.

I wish to make it clear that I have not changed my opinion as far as the setting up of a permanent committee on veterans affairs is concerned. I am of the same opinion today as I was when I sat on the other side of the house. However, I do not think any good purpose would be served by setting up a committee at this time and, as a matter of fact, I think it would be to the detriment of the veteran.

I am satisfied that when hon. members opposite see the bills which are to be presented containing the amendments to the War Veterans' Allowance Act and the Pension Act they will agree with me in this respect. I hope every effort will be made by all hon. members of the house to expedite this legislation as quickly as possible.

I do not say this in a critical manner but it does seem rather strange to me that some of my hon. friends on the government side of the house should say that we should set up a committee to study this legislation.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCES, INCOME, COVERAGE, ETC.
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November 6, 1957