I am glad to see that both the spokesman for the official opposition and the C.C.F. party agree that the legislation should be referred to a committee for study. There is, however, some disagreement as to which committee it should be referred to. While it is true, as stated by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra, that on one occasion, if not on more than one, I indicated to the house, first that the subject matter of this legislation should be referred, or might well be referred, to the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, still, after giving it further consideration, I came to the conclusion, with which my colleagues agree, that it would be a better and a more efficient procedure to send it to a special committee. I want briefly to speak about the two points raised by the hon. members. First, I would deal with the one having to do with the subject matter. The moment the subject matter was referred to the committee, and the bills were reported upon, then it meant that entirely new bills would have to be introduced in this house. That action would have been required, because it had not been decided what form the $7 million subsidy should take. In other words, it had not been determined at the last session of parliament whether we would cover it by a section in the bill or place an item in the estimates.
Having decided to do it by way of a section in the bill, it was necessary to introduce a resolution. So that it was therefore no longer possible to refer the subject matter of the Railway Act amendment, if not the whole legislation, direct to the committee. It was necessary on that account to refer the actual bills; and that is the procedure which, so far, the government has followed-by placing the bills on the order paper, and considering today the second reading thereof.
Now, with respect to the other point, it is true that the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines has done an excellent job on railway legislation, both public and private
bills dealing with matters concerning railways generally. But I should like to submit to the house that it is a fairly large committee, so far as numbers are concerned, and it was felt by the government that a smaller committee composed of some thirty-one members which could be representative- and which I am sure will be representative of all parts of Canada, because I have seen the list prepared by those responsible from this side of the house and I know it gives representation to every area in Canada- would be more satisfactory.
Because of that, the government was of the opinion that this committee might be in as good, if not-and I say this with all respect- a better position to give its full time to this legislation. Because if, perchance, it were not possible to deal with the bills during this session, and we had to go over to the next session-which I hope will not be so-then the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines would perhaps be extremely busy dealing with other bills of a public and private nature.
For that reason we hope this procedure will commend itself to the best judgment of the house, and I trust the suggestion will be adopted.
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE