May 13, 1958

MAIN ESTIMATES, 1958-59


A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting estimates for the financial year ending March 31, 1959, was presented by Hon. Donald M. Fleming (Minister of Finance), read by Mr. Speaker to the house, and referred to the committee of supply.


FINANCE

STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS

PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Donald M. Fleming (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, may I make a statement to the house concerning some of the financial matters with which the government has had to deal since February 1, and indicate to the house how it is proposed that those matters be treated in the house from this time forward.

Since dissolution on February 1, three special warrants pursuant to section 28 of the Financial Administration Act have been issued. One of these was for the balance of the fiscal year 1957-58. It is No. 1958/222, dated February 7, 1958, and was for the sum of $544,290,332.32. It was published in the Canada Gazette, part I, page 558 of February 15, 1958. The second and third warrants were in respect of the fiscal year 1958-59. The first of these warrants is P.C. 1958/492, dated April 9, 1958, for the sum of $203,368,605. It was published in the Canada Gazette, part I, of April 19, at page 1416. The third warrant is No. 1958/641 and is dated May 1. It is in the sum of $107,191,590. It was published in the Canada Gazette, part I, May 10, at page 1705. The schedules to the warrants as published in the Canada Gazette show the amounts involved by items in the relevant estimates.

The statement required by section 28 of the Financial Administration Act I have today deposited with the Clerk of the house in accordance with order No. 40 of the standing orders of the house.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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CCF

Murdo William Martin

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

Mr. Marlin (Essex Easl):

My hon. friend mentioned the date of May 1; the third category was May 1. Is it May 1 to the present time?

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinion):

I will touch on that point a little later in my remarks. I am drawing attention, Mr. Speaker, as deliberately as possible to the terms of these warrants and the provisions made by them.

I should like now to point out the way in which the government has studiously avoided going one iota beyond what was immediately required to meet the necessary expenses of government, with the result that the supply appropriated by these warrants is intended to provide sufficient to meet the urgent expenses of government only until the 16th day of May, which is this Friday. Such supply will be exhausted by that date. It is proposed to ask the house tomorrow to grant interim supply for the needs of government until the 31st day of May. That means that early in June a further request will be made of the house by the government for a vote of interim supply. We have in this way sought, to the limit that the circumstances existing would permit, to assure to the house the fullest control over the expenditure involved.

In order that the house may have full information when considering the estimates and the matters to which I have referred I should like briefly first to describe the use made of the warrants during the period in question; second to indicate the manner in which it is proposed that parliament shall have opportunity to discuss fully the use of the warrants in respect of the fiscal year 1957-58 and the fiscal year 1958-59; and third, to relate the warrants of 1958-59 to the forthcoming interim supply bill.

As to the first point concerning the warrant of February 7, 1958, may I say this. At dissolution parliamentary sanction had been obtained to the extent of five-sixths or, to relate it in terms of months, ten-twelfths of all the estimates with the exception of the final supplementary estimates, and in some cases sums in excess of ten-twelfths. There had been passed a series of interim supply bills which appropriated sums required to meet all expenses of government to January 31, and the warrant which was issued on February 7 included the cash needs, and the cash needs only, to complete the programs of the fiscal year ended March 31, 1958, including the elements provided in the final supplementary estimates which had been tabled iff January.

Finance-Special Warrants

In determining the immediate cash needs in accordance with the provisions of section 28 of the Financial Administration Act the government had to consider the maintenance of employment and the necessity of meeting promptly, as they fell due, the bills incurred by the government. We succeeded in reducing the amounts of the estimates which had been drawn up and tabled by the previous government, by efforts in the various departments of government, by the sum of $73.6 million. Under the Financial Administration Act provision is made for the appropriation of money to meet the cash needs of government but no provision is made there for dealing with those items in the estimates which we commonly call the legislative items, the so-called one dollar items, nor with those items which have as their purpose the authorization of the crediting of accounts in the consolidated revenue fund. It will be the intention of the government at a suitable time in the session to present to the house a measure in respect of the accounts for the year 1957-58 to deal specifically with these items, and on that occasion there will be afforded to the house, it is proposed, the fullest opportunity in committee of supply to discuss, to obtain information and to pass any judgments that may be required on the sums appropriated and expenditures made under the provisions of the governor general's warrants.

With reference to the fiscal year which commenced on April 1 and in respect of which provision has been made by the second and third warrants, I should again like to stress that in the warrants we have appropriated only those sums directly and urgently required to meet the expenses of government. There has, of course, been no attempt made to deal with the items that are legislative in their character or which involve transfer items.

Had the house been meeting, let us say, on April 1 the government would have asked the house under the circumstances to vote two months' interim supply based upon the estimates. I wish to point out that the amounts which have been appropriated pursuant to the two warrants I have mentioned are not as large with respect to these items, subject to one or two exceptions which I will mention, as would have been involved had we been asking at the beginning of this fiscal year for a vote of two months' interim supply. The exceptions are those cases in which construction was involved. Because the season has been favourable to progress in the construction programs of the government, it has been necessary to proceed somewhat in advance of the pro rata basis measured in terms of months. That is not

unusual; that has been the practice followed in past years, and in the bill which will be presented to the house tomorrow those items will be singled out and any explanations required will be fully given in regard to them.

I therefore stress to the house that the steps which the house will be asked to take tomorrow will include the sums appropriated for this period from April 1 to the middle of this month and the provision will contemplate the vote of two months' interim supply in the ordinary way, less the sums already appropriated and expended in pursuance of these two warrants.

I can assure the house that every effort has been made to limit just as far as possible within the usual proportions the sums thus appropriated by the warrants. Where these have been exceeded in the exceptional cases to which I have referred, the items are in one or other of four categories. The first is the works program which I have mentioned and related urgent problems-for example, the gift of wheat to India which is all to be taken up in the present crop year; the second is the work attributable to the fact that we have had the advantage of an open winter; the third is the action we have taken to pay the accounts promptly. We have made no attempt to delay payment of accounts so as to carry them over into the later period; we thought it proper that these accounts be paid as they fell due. The fourth factor is the lower turnover and better recruiting up to personnel establishment of the various departments of government.

I stress that all the items in these warrants have been provided in the main estimates which I have today tabled, with one exception. That exception concerns the interim financing of Trans-Canada Air Lines. This interim financing has become necessary by reason of faster deliveries of aircraft purchased and these were altogether desirable.

The funds that are provided by the warrant for loan are intended to meet the needs of Trans-Canada Air Lines up to June 30 next. The usual Canadian National Railways financing and guarantee bill to be introduced this session will cover the loan provided by warrant for Trans-Canada Air Lines. This is not an item which appears in the book of estimates.

I stress again that the items do not include any grants except those that could be considered obligations, and do not include any legislative or accounting items.

As hon. members will recall from the terms of the speech from the throne read yesterday by His Excellency, it is the intention

of the government to introduce during the course of this session a bill to amend the Financial Administration Act.

Therefore I think the house will realize that we have done as much as was possible in the circumstances to avoid spending one cent more than was strictly and absolutely necessary to meet the urgent expenses of government. In the procedures that have been proposed the fullest opportunity will be afforded to all hon. members to obtain all information required and which they may desire in reference to any of the items involved in these appropriations by governor general's warrants, and to pass on the actions of the government such judgment as may commend itself to them.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, there will be a more appropriate opportunity to discuss this matter tomorrow when the interim supply bill is brought down, and in the light of that we will be able to make up our minds on this side whether the commitments to which the hon. gentleman has referred have in fact been carried out. For that purpose the information he has given us will be helpful.

I take it from what he has said that expenditures of between $850 million and $900 million have been made under governor general's warrants and that he is giving the house an assurance-an assurance which we were not able to secure in the last days of the previous parliament when this matter was under discussion-that there will be full opportunity to consider all these expenditures, whether they have been made under governor general's warrants covering the estimates for the current financial year or for the previous year.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Hazen Argue (Assiniboia):

Mr. Speaker, we welcome the statement of the Minister of Finance. We understand him to have assured the house that the government will make it possible for members of parliament to pass on the action of the government in procuring very large sums of money by means of governor general's warrants.

I think hon. members realize that the provision of supply to Her Majesty and control over the supply of funds is one of the main prerogatives of the House of Commons, one of the prerogatives which must be protected at all costs. I think the apparent change in attitude of the government as compared with the last day of the previous parliament is a change which commends itself to the house, but we will have further remarks to make when the appropriations and the bills are presented.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

Mr. Speaker, may I ask a

question?

Inquiries of the Ministry

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I think the custom has been for one spokesman for each group to comment on a ministerial statement, and if my hon. friend would keep his question until the question period we will preserve the practice.

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING SPECIAL WARRANTS
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CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY

REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON STRIKE SITUATION


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make in regard to the railway strike.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON STRIKE SITUATION
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing further to report other than what has already appeared in the press, which included a statement by the Minister of Labour to the effect that the negotiations are still continuing between the two parties. I think the field of dispute has been very materially reduced. I felt that was the situation late Saturday night and Sunday morning, and I feel that since then there has been further advance made. As soon as there is anything to report the house will immediately be made aware of it.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON STRIKE SITUATION
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TRANSPORT

KETTLE VALLEY RAILWAY


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to transport a question to the Minister of Transport. In view of the fact that when replying to the vehement protests made by representatives of many organizations in Kootenay West against a reduction of passenger service on the Kettle Valley railway the minister's main political trump was to say he would consult with Messrs Crump and Rump, would the minister inform the house if as a result of his consultations with these gentlemen the present inadequate Budd car service on the Kettle Valley railway will soon blossom forth into an adequate passenger train service?

Topic:   TRANSPORT
Subtopic:   KETTLE VALLEY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   REPORTED REDUCTION IN PASSENGER SERVICE
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May 13, 1958