Mr. Chairman, I do not know whether it is the fact that for a long time it has more or less been my business to listen but my hearing is pretty good. A few minutes ago, and I am not going to say from where it came, a remark did reach my ears. I can understand why some people might have fears on that basis. The farmers, of course, are pretty well organized across the country and there are a great many such organizations. Perhaps some people might feel that the things that would be discussed in a committee of this kind might find their way out into the open and be the subject of rather general discussion as the result of which difficulties might arise. I simply want to say that the committee set up during wartime, as suggested by the minister, and afterwards made a continuing committee when the Agricultural Prices Support Act was first passed, was composed right from the beginning of 16 individuals and the number reached as high as 19. In the committee there was a general understanding on a very similar basis to the understanding there is in council. Cabinet members who attend council meetings and discuss questions express all kinds of opinions when the discussion starts but the only opinion that counts and the only one that comes out of such council meetings is the final decision and all agree to it.
The committee was established much on that basis. The members were not paid officials of the government of the day. Our officials always sat in for the purpose of giving them any information they desired, but in all the years that the committee was in operation I never heard of one single thing said in the committee being repeated outside to the press or spread throughout the country in any other way indicating that so and so said so and so about anything.
They sat and discussed these matters on the understanding they were discussing them behind closed doors in the same way a meeting of council is held. We discussed all kinds of questions, some of them with a political turn to them and some of them purely business matters. We discussed such matters as what was going to happen to a price of a commodity if we did so and so.
I repeat that not even once did I ever hear of anything getting out of that committee that affected the results of any action that might have been taken. I just want to say I think the same situation will hold true if the committee is set up properly. I am not thinking so much of the individuals. I have found them all to be very honourable.
They came there and, no matter what their views might be, when they left they never expressed any opinion outside in opposition to anyone who was associated with the meeting. I simply wanted to say that.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.