APPENDIX J.

BUDGET SPEECH DELIVERED BY HON. F.C. ALDERDICE, PRIME MINISTER, ON THURSDAY, 29th JUNE, 1933. (continued)

Fiscal Year 1933-34.

  I proceed now to the budget for the financial year beginning on 1st July next; and I will first read to the Committee the figures which show the estimated expenditure of the different Departments of the Government for the year.

        Finance ..................................................        837,302
        Secretary of State ..................................          57,270
        Public Welfare ........................................        905,362
        Public Health ..........................................        271,800
        Justice ....................................................        459,971
        Education ................................................        500,000
        Agriculture and Mines ...........................          60,642
        Marine and Fisheries ............................        363,826
        Post and Telegraphs ...............................        741,063
        Customs .................................................         414,840
        Public Works ...........................................        588,612
        War Pensions ..........................................        548,690
        Assessor ..................................................          13,687
        Labour .....................................................            1,540
5,764,605            
        Interest on Public Debt ...........................     5,200,000
$10,964,605           

  I have certain comments to make on these figures, but I will begin by saying that each item of expenditure, of which each of these totals is composed has been scrutinised with the utmost care. I hope and believe that, apart from circumstances which it is impossible to foresee at the present time, it will not be necessary to ask for supplemental votes during the course of the year. On the other hand, it would be a matter of extreme difficulty, and indeed in my view impracticable, to carry on the proper administration of the country, even at a minimum level as at present, by an expenditure less than that which is set down under the head of each Department.

  In the case of interest on the Public Debt, the sum estimated is $5,200,000. This total takes account of the premium in respect to those coupons which are payable in New York; and it also includes the additional amount compared with the Estimates for the previous year which, on the present level of exchange, will be required to purchase sterling in order to cover coupons payable in London.

  I have given particularly serious thought to the estimates for Public Welfare and Public Health. Great reductions have been made in the cost of these Services during the past twelve months. I have some hopes that further reductions can still be made; but the situation at the present time is somewhat complicated by the fact that this Government, at the beginning of the financial year 1932-33, took over a large arrears of accounts from the previous administration; and although these have now been paid, this has only been done at the cost of certain postponements in the case of accounts since incurred. It is the object of the Government that there shall remain no accounts outstanding by the end of the year now under construction.

  In the estimate for Public Welfare is included the sum of $500,000 for able-bodied relief. As I have said, the corresponding estimate for the year 1932-33 was of $50,000 only, a sum far too small to take care of accounts which had already been incurred still less to provide for the continuance of the system of relief already established, which it was impossible to terminate at short notice. The great proportion of the sum of $500,000 in the Estimates for this year is for the purpose of liquidating outstanding accounts incurred under this system; the remainder we shall use as poor relief in order to deal, on a minimum scale, with proved cases of necessity and destitution as they arise.

  In connection not only with able-bodied relief, but with the Welfare and Health votes generally, I wish to emphasize, in the strongest terms, the extreme necessity that for the future the population of this country must be taught not to rely, as they have done for so long in the past, upon the expectation of financial assistance and subvention from the Government in the case of every difficulty, of however small a nature, which is liable to befall them. During the last decade, and indeed longer, this mistaken system of what I may call paternalism has, most unfortunately, done much to sap the initiative of our citizens and to bring them to the frame of mind in which they look upon Government aid as not only available as a right to which they are undoubtedly entitled. This is not merely an incorrect view of the functions of Government; it is a canker which is eating out the hearts of our people, and is a grave menace to the proud spirit of independence on which Newfoundland has been built up in the past. From the budgetary point of view it has only been possible for this aid to be provided at the cost of a continual excess of annual expenditure over annual revenue, and the resulting necessity for raising loans in order to cover these deficits. This practice cannot, and must not, be continued. The only possibility of a real and lasting revival of prosperity in this country depends upon the realization by every member of the population that the qualities of self-help and self-reliance are not a very precious possession, but are indispensable qualities for ensuring the future welfare and independence both of the individual and of the Dominion.

  During the last administration, two Departments of the Government, namely, that of Agriculture and Mines and that of Marine and Fisheries, were combined under one Minister. This appeared to me at the time a retrograde measure, and I gave an undertaking that upon this Government coming into office they would proceed to the reconstitution of each of these Departments as a separate entity. This has now been done; and has also been done at a reduction in cost compared with that of the two Departments when they were combined. It seems to me indisputable that, if the management of these Departments is to be efficient, each one must have at its head a man of proved experience in the matters in which the Department is concerned, who is capable of taking a direct and considerable personal share in the Department's administration and in the constructive solution of the problems with which both our agricultural and our fishery industries are confronted at the present time. Lines have now been laid down for a constructive agricultural policy. Further, I have confidence that the provisions of the Salt Codfish Act, which has recently become law, will ensure the co-operation between every section of the fishing industry which I am sorry to say has been sometimes lacking in the past, but is indispensable if we are to regain and maintain our position in the markets of the world. The Committee knows, I expect, how near to my heart is the satisfactory working of the provisions which the passing of this Act has brought into force. When all is said and done, it is upon the fishing industry that the prosperity of the Dominion primarily and nearly exclusively demands; and, if I know our countrymen, I do not think that my appeal for willing and whole-hearted support in the restoration and progressive improvement of this industry will fail.

  With a view to furthering the fishing industry during the present season, I am arranging that a sum shall be included in the Estimates for providing outfits and similar necessaries for a number of men of reliable standing who would otherwise not be able to proceed to the fishery; these advances to be repaid, either by the transfer to the Government of fish, or in cash, at the end of the season. The Government also proposes to award prizes in some cases for fish of first-class quality and curing; as to which further details will be issued later.

  There appears in the Estimates for the first time a heading for the Department of Labour. As the Committee is aware, this Department was established upon my Government taking office a year ago, and its establishment was recently confirmed by the House. In the view of the Government, the results which are being achieved by the Department amply justify the small expenditure involved.

  In regard to the Education Vote, it is unfortunately necessary that for this year it should be maintained at a total not exceeding $500,000, that is to say, the sum to which it was reduced last fall from the sum of $700,000 voted in last year's budget. The necessity for maintaining this low figure is a most unpleasant one, but it is dictated by the present and immediately prospective financial situation. I am glad to acknowledge gratefully the services rendered in difficult circumstances by the fine body of men and women who constitute the teaching profession of this country, and to undertake that restoration at any rate in part of the decreases in salaries which have inevitably been made will be one of the first considerations to which the Government will apply themselves upon an improvement in the financial outlook. At the same time, however, I think it cannot be denied that the present system of teachers' pensions, as distinguished from salaries, is framed on somewhat too generous lines, and I ought to say that I have in mind, not just at the present time, but in the not too distant future, a decrease in the scale of contributions now supplied to the pension fund by the Exchequer, which it appears to me can properly be made. In this reference to Education I would like for a moment to speak in my other capacity as President of the Bureau of Education, and to take the opportunity of recording that I am by no means satisfied that the educational curriculum at present in force, combined with the present system of annual examinations, is entirely in accord with the needs of the children of the country and the employment in which it is hoped they will find themselves when their education is completed. I am hoping that changes will be introduced which will bring the present system into more intimate relation with the country's requirements.




Partnered Projects Government and Politics - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home