Mr. Chairman, I shall not take long, because I do not intend to speak about any individual case. I have been a member of the veterans affairs committee since I first came here. Frankly it
was the only committee upon which I did not enjoy serving, because I do not think we accomplished anything. In my opinion the order of reference was not wide enough in the beginning and definitely it should have been widened at the request of some of us on the committee. However I was not prepared to vote against item 650. I will not go into all the details, because they have been covered by previous speakers, and no doubt will be covered again by others.
Probably the biggest trouble will be administration. I do not think the departmental officials who will be responsible for administration realize what they are up against. I hope every veteran now in receipt of thirty-five or forty-five per cent disability pension immediately puts in his application, because in my opinion it would be eight months before anything would be received. I am not saying that in any critical way, because I have great respect for the officials. However I do not think it is practicable so far as administration is concerned. It might be all right in the big cities, but not in the rural areas.
I do not think it is practicable for us to turn down the item, and I accept responsibility for voting for it, but I do so on the basis that half a loaf is better than no bread. It certainly will help those greatly in need, if it is possible to administer it.
I suggest we should concentrate upon urging the government to have the basic rate of pension increased right across the board. I hope each individual member when he returns to his riding, we hope within the next ten days, will hear from his Legion and from other organizations in his riding, including his political association, advising him to use every influence he may have to bring this about.
I believe $22 million is involved in increasing the basic pension. Surely that does not enter into the picture. I do not believe there is a taxpayer in Canada who begrudges the veteran anything he gets. And $22 million-why, heavens above, we spend $22 million on some monstrosity of a building out here, and nothing is said about it. To say that the people of Canada could not afford $22 million just would not go down with the people in the constituency of Fraser Valley.
I do not think there is anything more we can do about it at this session. However I understand we are to come back in October, and I should hope that by that time members from various parts of the country would have been strongly advised within their own ridings and by their own people to use every possible influence with parliament in this
Supply-Veterans Affairs connection-and I have said "with parliament" because, after all, parliament is supreme.