The iron bounties have hitherto amounted each year to a comparatively small sum. I presented to the House last year, the reasons why we are now proposing to charge the iron bounties to capital. Let me tell my hon. friend (Mr. Sproule) that as respects the operations of the past year which I am speaking of, we had not begun to charge these bounties to capital, but the old method continued. I think, however, that this old method was a very mistaken one. I impute nothing but the best of motives to the gentlemen who preceded me in charge of the department. What they did was to treat these iron bounties as a drawback, and to be paid as such by the Customs Department. I do not see how you can pay a drawback when no money has been paid into the revenue, and I think the idea of treating this as a drawback and simply deducting it from the customs duty, and making the customs duty appear a good deal less than it really was, was a mistake. From the 1st of July last, we have changed that method. But up to that date and covering the period of which I am now speaking, as regards the surpluses, we continued the old method, and therefore the suggestion of my hon. friend is not important.
As I have said, some hon. gentlemen have made the criticism that these surpluses were brought about by some peculiar method of bookkeeping, but more recently1 I have noticed in some of the papers, a tendency to argue that even if the method was an old one, it was a bad one, and we had better get rid of it altogether. I entirely dissent from that. I think, in a country like Canada, we shall always, certainly for a long time, require for the construction of public works and things of that kind, special sums of money which cannot be obtained from the ordinary revenue, and there is every reason in the world why these should be charged to capital account. There is just the same reason that would obtain with a man in his private affairs. If a man were paying rent he would charge the rent against the income for the year, but if he bought a house he would not expect to charge it against iu-come, but would open a special account | and make some provision for paying for
Subtopic: THE PUBLIC DEBT.