I am * not going to defend the present banking system at all. I do not suggest that it is perfect or anything of that sort; on the contrary, I think there is plenty of room probably for improvement in the system, but I was simply discussing credit.
I am not going to discuss banking, the gold standard, or the different types of money. In fact, and I say this without any reflection on my hon. friend, I have the idea that a debate of this sort is absolutely useless in the House at the present time. The very fact that during this debate there is a very small attendance in the House shows that certainly the idea is not accepted by the House generally that any great change from the system of private banking to national banking is necessary
National Banking System
The Minister of Finance, who has just sat down, says he has no objection to this question being referred to the Banking and Commerce committee. Neither have I, but I have objection, which the Finance Minister apparently has not, to this question being investigated again now after we have just had two years of the same type of investigation. I do not see any reason why at the present time the people of Canada should be saddled with the expense of bringing before the Banking and Commerce committee, from a long distance, and at heavy expense, witnesses who in very many cases have nothing but a superficial, theoretic knowledge of banking, or of any other problem I have heard many of them discuss, simply to expound in many cases futile theories. I well remember a couple of years ago a witness who was brought before that committee, at great expense, whose theories were so thick that nobody could understand them at all, and I do not think even he had any idea of what they meant himself.
What I am opposing is the nationalization of banking. I am not upholding the banking system as it exists in Canada to-day, nor saying that it cannot be improved; I willingly admit it can, but I am opposing the idea of nationalization of our banking system, or, for the matter of that, the nationalization of anything else that we have not already nationalized in this country. The function of government is to govern, not to trade, whether the trade is in money or in goods of any kind. I think we have too much government at the present time. We are continually passing legislation much of which is useless. Somebody is continually proposing that we should nationalize this or that. My good friend who has moved this resolution (Mr. Woodsworth).has another resolution on the order paper to nationalize coal mines. I have no doubt that if we nationalized the banks, and then the coal mines, my good friend from Winnipeg North Centre would go on nationalizing until finally he had nationalized every line of endeavour in this country. Russia tried that; in fact they did it, and they made a pretty rotten mess of the whole job, so far as we are able to find out. There are certain lines of endeavour which a government alone can properly handle -the mails for instance, hygienic and sanitary questions, the supplying of cities and towns with a safe water supply, and other lines of endeavour of that nature affecting the whole community of a city or province or the citizens of the who!; country, and which can
be properly dealt with only by a government. But there are other lines of endeavour which should be left to private initiative. Most of us believe, and I am sure the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre will agree with this, that practically everything that is done by governments is done more extravagantly than if the same service were performed by a private corporation. That is true, I believe, from a municipal, provincial, and Dominion standpoint-
Subtopic: NATIONAL SYSTEM OF BANKING