February 5, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


Charles Gavan Power (Associate Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Air; Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence)


Hon. C. G. POWER (Acting Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, I was not in the house last night when the hon. member for Cape Breton South made the observations he did, but representing for the time being the three armed services, and being in a sense their mouthpiece so far as the interests of the members of the armed forces are concerned, I feel that I must express on this question of privilege the resentment which I am sure the members of the armed forces will feel in view of the reflection cast upon them by the hon. member. The members of the forces who attend the meetings of parliament do so on their regular leave of absence. That has been the custom not only in this war but during the last war, a custom which has been sanctioned during all the years since the last war; for this House of Commons every year has voted a pension to the relatives of Harry Baker, M.P., who was killed in action in 1916. It is also the custom in the British house at Westminster. It is true, as my hon. friend has said, that members of the British house of parliament are in the front line when they are in London. But time after time, as press reports show, members of the British House of Commons have become casualties while on duty in the middle east or in India or elsewhere, and no one to my knowledge has ever raised in the British house the question of their right to sit in the commons.
So far as we are concerned in the administration of the armed forces this matter was very carefully considered at the beginning of the war. It was thought that if any hon. member of this house wished to devote some of his time, or the greater portion of his time, to the service of the state in the armed forces, and his constituents were willing to allow him to do so, the administration of the services had nothing to say about it, more than we have anything to say about members of parliament who carry on outside the house their profession of lawyer or doctor or preacher or labour organizer or school teacher.

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