I too would like to support the suggestion advanced by the three speakers who preceded me, that the veterans affairs committee should be set up this year and that it should be made a standing committee of the house. I think perhaps you will agree, Mr. Chairman, that at any rate for purposes of argument sufficient reasons have now been advanced to make it unnecessary to go into the matter again in detail. I suggest sufficient reasons have been advanced for the purposes of argument, but in my view sufficient reasons have been advanced to justify the setting up of the committee, and I hope sufficient reasons have been advanced to ensure that the government will in fact accept the suggestion and proceed along these lines.
I would point out just one fact that is very relevant to this discussion. There are some thirteen standing and select committees of the house which are set up from year to year. These are not all included in the little book you have in your hand, Mr. Chairman, but I took the trouble to go into the lobby and check in order to see how many of these select committees are appointed each year. Of the thirteen, some half dozen meet only once or twice a session. Some have not met for years. So it could be said with a great deal of justification that these half dozen committees, if they could not be dispensed with, at least could be consolidated into one committee. It is extraordinary that in this house we should have half a dozen committees serving virtually no purpose, or whose work could be done by one committee, while we do not have a committee on veterans affairs as a standing or select committee of the house. A great deal more could be said on this score, but I do think our whole committee system needs overhauling, and that a number of committees should be consolidated into two or three new permanent committees, to keep pace with the changing conditions throughout the country. Perhaps this is not the time to develop that argument at length, though the suggestion that there should be a veterans affairs committee certainly comes within the compass of that whole subject. I believe the need for a revision of our committee system reinforces the present demand that we should have, if not a permanent standing committee, then a yearly select committee on veterans affairs.
There is only one detail in connection with the administration of the department that I should like to mention in support of the general request for a veterans affairs committee. It is one of the things that could be and should be discussed in that committee, in order to protect the commission from the pin pricks and minor difficulties
Supply-Veterans Affairs that occur in the administration of the various acts, to ensure that the good will of the veterans will be preserved, and to assist the department in administering the acts as in fact we know they would like to administer them, in order that the best interest of the veterans may always be served.
This question was discussed in a previous committee. It concerns those disabled pensioners who are unable to have children of their own and who wish to adopt children in order that they may have the joys of family life which are otherwise denied to them. It is extraordinary to find that while a married pensioner is perfectly free to adopt a child, as far as the authorities are concerned, he is denied any additional allowance on behalf of that adopted child, while people who are fortunate enough to be able to have children of their own are quite properly granted an additional allowance in respect of those children. The reasoning behind that rule is quite incomprehensible to me because its only effect, whether or not this is the deliberate intention, is to deny to people unable to have children of their own the joys of married life surrounded by children. It is an additional penalty imposed upon those who are already unfortunate, which I think is quite unjustified and unjustifiable.
I could not understand the reasoning given in the committee in support of that regulation. I am still unable to understand it. Since that time I have come across another case, that of a married pensioner who wishes to adopt a child and is going to do so. He is not in good circumstances, but he is a man of the finest order with the best type of home, where children will be given the very best care and will grow up to be useful citizens. That man is already under the misfortune of not being able to have children of his own, and now is discriminated against further by that regulation under the Pension Act. Now, that is only one question which should, I think, be further discussed in the veterans affairs committee. I would ask the minister, however, whether or not we have a committee, if he will approach this question sympathetically, as I am sure he would every question. I am certain that if he will approach it in that attitude, he will see his way clear to surmounting the technical obstacles in the way of removing this regulation.
If it is found necessary to limit it to six children, that would be some gain. I believe the reason was given for the present regulation but it seems to me quite ridiculous, if I may use that term. It was said that this might develop into a racket and that veterans would adopt children just for the purpose of
getting the allowance. Can you imagine anything more ridiculous? There might be a half dozen cases in which people might turn it into a racket, but I doubt it. Are we tc penalize the legitimate case merely because there may be some hypothetical case of a man adopting fifteen children just to benefit from the increased allowance? There are social service agencies in every part of this country who make it their business to see that only suitable persons adopt children. That being the case, the possibility of adoption becoming a racket is so unlikely it is hardly worthy of our attention. I believe it is an argument that cannot be given any weight in considering this matter.
I ask the minister again, whether or nol he sets up a committee, if he will take that matter into consideration and see if the regulation cannot be changed, even though it will involve the necessity of submitting amending legislation to this house. If he would submil such legislation I believe it would go through this house without a dissenting vote.