Possibly now that the member for Quebec South is in the house he might explain after I am through why Air Marshal Breadner should not report to the chief of air staff in this country, and why a man who is as young as,Air Marshal Breadner should be allowed to retire at this time merely because of the fact that he does not wish to report to the chief of the air staff in this country. It seems to me that men in high positions in the forces, particularly in the permanent force, are allowed to do things which junior men of the forces are not allowed to do. Why should Air Marshal Breadner be given the opportunity of retiring when there is a war on? A man with his talents should be retained in the service of his country. I do not think that personal convenience should be taken into consideration in this matter at all. After all, the war is still on and we should take advantage of the services of these men.
Last year I took up the matter that has been referred to by the hon. member for Lake Centre, the substantial pensions now being paid to members of the permanent force owing to the fact that we have had a war. I know that the public do not understand why anybody or any particular branch of the service should be able-may I put it this way, and not unkindly?-to profit to the substantial
extent they can do because of the promotions in rank that they have had in the last four or five years. The public just do not understand why a man who, if he had retired five years ago, would have received a pension of $2,400 is now allowed to retire on a pension of over $5,000 when he is still around fifty. Most of us in this house who are fifty think we are still young and capable of performing useful service to our country. I think these men could have been retained in the service with profit to Canada. I would ask the minister to let us know the total amount being paid in pensions to permanent members of the air force who have retired.
The minister referred to war service gratuities coming under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, which department has to look after the big problems that arise in connection with the veterans. I wish the minister would give some consideration, if he has not already done so, to the Canadians who joined the R.A.F. either before the war or after the beginning of the war and subsequently were attached to the R.C.A.F. I have a communication from the minister's department to the effect that these men, or their widows in case of their death, are not entitled to the war service gratuity that is being paid to members of the R.C.A.F., despite the fact that in some cases they have been attached for a number of years to the R.C.A.F. and have been performing duties with the R.C.A.F. The matter was particularly drawn to my attention by the case about two years ago of a man from my own city who had been attached to the R.C.A.F. for about two years, although he was a member of the R.A.F., having gone over to England either prior to the war or at the beginning of the war. As the minister knows, the difference between the pension that the British government pays to the widow and what the Canadian government normally pays in respect of a man killed in the service of his countiy is made up by the Canadian government. What happened in this case was that the British government paid a gratuity to the widow, and when the Canadian government started to pay the difference in the pension they deducted so much per month to take care of the gratuity that had been paid to the widow by the British government. The point I am trying to arrive at is this. In view of the fact that this government and other governments have taken the stand that the widow of a man killed in the service of his country is entitled to be pensioned at the rate this countiy pays, it seems to me that the same stand should be taken in connection with war service gratuities, and that this widow should be entitled to the war service gratuity she would have received if
War Appropriation-Air Services
her husband had joined the R.C.A.F. instead of going over to England and joining the R.A.F. at the beginning of the war. I draw that to the minister's attention because it seems to come within the purview of his department, and I think should be drawn to the attention of the Minister of Veterans' Affairs.