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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Interpretation Bill

Interpretation Bill.

Mr. Berry: In rising to move the second reading of the Federal Council Interpretation Bill, I wish to point out that it is more a formal enactment than anything else, the clauses of which will be fully explained in committee. It is not necessary for me to offer any further remarks, beyond moving that the bill be now read a second time.

Dr. Macgregor seconded the motion.

Mr. Griffith: I regret that the hon. member from Victoria (Mr. Berry) has not thought it worth while to give us any information in reference to the bill of which he has just moved the second reading. It is important in all bills introduced at the present time for those who introduce them to remember that there can be no very long time for deliberation when we once begin to deal with a bill, and that the subjects brought before the Federal Council this session should be only such as have not only have been fully considered, but are clearly right and free from objection. This is the more important because our functions are limited by this statute, although within those limits we have a large jurisdiction. This bill, as I understand it, is intended to be a sort of dictionary or glossary for the future legislation of the Council. It is necessary, I think, or convenient, at any rate, that some such Act of this kind should be passed. This is an Act which enables shorter language to be used in Acts of the Federal Council. Those who are familiar with the old Acts of Parliament are aware that in order to prevent any loopholes of escape being found the language used was, to say the least of it, of a very redundant nature. "He" was never used without "she" being also added, and the singular was never used without the plural being thrown in also. For many years past it has been the practice of legislatures to use shorter language in their enactments, and it is not by any means desirable we should go back to the old form. That in order to avoid questions as to construction it may be necessary that an Act of this kind should be passed. I have nothing to say with regard to the particular definitions in this bill, as I saw it before it was introduced, and I believe it supplies all necessary definitions. I am disposed, however, to take exception to the last clause, which is more a matter for standing orders than statutory for law. The clause states that all Acts shall be numbered arithmetically without any reference to the year of the reign in which they are passed. There are numerous advantages in the system of calling an Act by the year of the reign in in which it was passed, but that is not a matter which need be considered now. I also entertain some doubt as to the necessity for the 7th clause, which provides for the citing of acts of great antiquity before the seventh year of the reign of King Henry the Seventh. I know of nothing in our functions in which these acts are likely to be required to be mentioned, but the latter part of the section may be very useful. I confess that my familarity with the legislation of the reign of King Henry the Seventh is not sufficient to page 39 enable me to explain an apparent contradiction in this clause which, however, will, I believe, be found in the Imperial Act from which it is taken. I shall be glad if the hon. gentleman (Mr. Berry) who introduced the bill will inform us what changes took place between the fourth and seventh years of the reign of King Henry the Seventh (laughter).

Mr. Berry, None whatever (renewed laughter).

Mr. Griffith: But that I presume the hon. gentleman can do in committee. (Hear hear.)

The bill was then read a second time.

The President: Does the hon. gentleman propose to take the committee now?

Mr. Berry: Yes, pro forma.

Mr. Griffith: I suggest that it would be better to defer the committee until Monday next. It is not desirable to have even the appearance of haste in any of our proceedings.

Mr. Berry: I do not wish to give the appearance of haste to any of our proceedings, but at the same time it is necessary for us to make haste—with judgment. I thought a bill of this kind could have been considered at once. It has been under consideration for two days between the motions for introduction and second reading, but if the hon. member for Queensland desires a postponement until Monday, I have no objection. It only means our sittings being longer.

Mr. Griffith: Oh, no; it won't make any difference at all.

The President: The usual way is to commit bills pro forma.

Mr. Dodds: Better to move that the committee stand an order of the day for Monday next.

Mr. Berry: We always commit pro forma, and postpone the preamble.

Mr. Dodds: As I understand there is a doubt as to the practice on this point, I will say that it is the practice in this colony to move that the committee stand an order of the day for some future day. I suggest that the practice, being a convenient one, should be adopted in this case.

Mr. Griffith: Hear, hear.

Mr Berry: That will do. I will move that the committee stand an order of the day for Monday.

Mr. Dodds: I will second that.

Question put and passed.