Mr. Chairman, I wish to respond to a number of the questions raised by the hon. member.
He is advocating that we base ourselves on other formula for establishing what the salary increase of members of parliament should be. It gives me a good occasion to raise something which I had not before. I draw to the attention of all hon. members page 12 of the Lumley commission report, table 3.1.
The consumer price index between 1991 and 2000 has increased by 21.6%. The average industrial wage increase was 23.6%. The general public wage settlement was 15.2%. The general private wage settlement was 22.4%. The Conference Board survey of wage increases was 31.9%. Members of parliament increases were 6.0%.
I do not know if the hon. member had an opportunity to read that table. If he had, he would know that what he is saying would probably result in a greater increase than the one we have now.
Second, let us look back at a few things historically. I shared some of this with a few colleagues across the way, albeit not all of them but a few. I will give an example, and it is not the be all and end all of examples, but it is certainly one.
In 1963 a judge of the federal court earned $21,000 a year and an MP earned $23,700, 12% more. In 1971 a judge was up to $36,000 and an MP at $33,000. These are the MP salaries grossed up, assuming that everything would be taxable, so that we can compare apples and apples. In 1980 a judge was at $70,000 and an MP was at $66,000. We were still reasonably close. In 1992 a judge was at $155,000 and an MP was at $106,000. In 2000 a judge was at $179,000 and an MP was at $108,000. From 1992 to 2000 the MP's salary had gone up $1,900 a year and the judge's salary had gone up $25,000.
In response to a question from the hon. member from Calgary, I indicated that Bill C-12 was retroactive to April 1, 2001. That is not correct. It is April 1, 2000 that the retroactivity provision of Bill C-12 applies. What that does is it gives a salary now, April 1, 2001, of judges at $204,600 and MPs at $109,000. Today an MP earns 45% of the salary of a judge. Even with this so-called generous increase, MPs will still only make 55% of the salary of a judge. That is how far the salary structure had fallen behind.
Yes, we could say that the amount is excessive. We can say all these things. They are easy to say, a lot easier than defending the bill perhaps, but it does not mean they are right. What is proposed in the bill I believe is right. The Lumley commission proposed the amount. We did not deviate from the 20%. We did not say that it should be 25% or 30%. Using some of the indices it should have perhaps been higher. Using the index that the hon. member wants to propose perhaps would have been lower, but we used the objective one produced in the report. That is why we used that one.
Why are we offering chairs and vice-chairs greater remuneration than others? They are positions with greater responsibility, as are the positions of the House leaders, the leaders of each party and anyone else who holds some of these offices. It is not a matter of whether the Prime Minister appoints them. I could turn around and ask the member about his leader appointing the vice-chairs, which would be equally silly.
What about the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party then allegedly appointing the chairs and vice-chairs in the Senate, and so on? We could spread that nonsense all over the place. It does not accomplish anything. The fact still remains that a chair and a vice-chair of a committee are positions that are, according to the commission, worthy of further remuneration, which is something that exists at the provincial level in many if not most of the provinces in Canada.
In terms of the opt in clause, hon. member wants to know if that means that some members are not deserving of the salary? No. I think all colleagues in the House deserve the salary. That is why I said a while ago, and I do not know whether the member was in attendance when I said it, that I hope everyone will opt in. I also hope that all members will vote for the bill. However, I repeat that even if they vote against it I hope that they opt in anyway because in my view they are still worth the salary.
On the retroactivity, the hon. member asked why we used that date. I answered that in a previous question. It goes back to January 1 because in past reports it went back to the date of the last election. I did not go quite that far back because it was only a few days prior to the beginning of the calendar year and it caused probably greater aggravation than it was worth. So I stopped after January 1.
This report is about the present parliament which started after the last election. That is why that date was used.
Finally, if members do not opt in, they remain opted out. It does not change after the next election.