Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Prime Minister) :
Mr. Speaker, I hope that
I will not again be misinterpreted if
I say that I see nothing in the remarks of the hon. gentleman that would warrant the high tone of voiee and apparent indignation with which they were delivered. It is quite true that the law calls for the presentation of the Auditor General's report within a week of the opening of each session; and it is quite true that that is most desirable if it can be procured; and, further, it is quite true that the presence of the Auditor General's report for the preceding year is of much value in the discussion of the Estimates for the succeeding year. But alongside those considerations must be set the fact that the Auditor General's report is not prepared by the members of the Government or by officers directly under them. That report is prepared by the Auditor General and his officers, and they bear a relation to the Government of any day under the constitution of this country that I think hon. members fully understand. Nothing has been done on the part of the Government, and nothing has been withheld so far as I am aware-and I am sure I am right, for I think I know all the facts connected with the. case-designed to deter the presentation of the Auditor General's report. What would be the object of the Government in so acting? And if wc had none, does the hon. gentleman want to insinuate that the Auditor Geheral would withhold his report at the instigation of the Government? It is merely a matter of getting through the physical labour that must be accomplished before the Auditor General's report comes down.
Now, while it is better and, indeed, essential, that before we proceed far with the materials which we are presenting to the House by way of Estimates we should have the Auditor General's report relating thereto before Parliament at the time, that is the case now. Three volumes of that report are down, two of them have been down for some time, and we are quite content that those departments -and those alone-as respects which the Auditor General's report is down shall be now considered by the House in the way of Estimates.
My hon. friend says there are certain estimates-if I understood his remarks correctly in connection with a quotation he made from some reports that have been brought down-there are some items in the report which bear reference to volume 4. If that is the case, certainly the Government would not ask, if anybody objected, that anything relating to that item be gone
on with in the Estimates. Indeed, it is not necessary that we should go on with them; we have three volumes here and we have ample reason to proceed. Surely the time has come when we should start upon the Estimates. I am not able to understand the logic of my hon. friend's argument when he says: "In previous sessions we have not had time to discuss the Estimates, therefore this session I am going to hold up the House and not let it get to the Estimates."