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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Consideration of Report of Standing Orders Committee

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Consideration of Report of Standing Orders Committee.

Mr. Griffith, in moving—

"That the standing rules and orders prepared by the Standing Orders Committee, appointed on the 26th of January, be adopted by this Council,"

said: Mr. President,—The standing orders are framed under the provisions of the 23rd section of the Imperial Act, which provides that "the Council may from time to time adopt such standing rules and orders as may be necessary for the conduct of its business, and that such rules and orders shall be binding on the members of the Council." For the most part the rules that have been framed by the select committee do not differ materially from the standing orders ordinarily adopted by the various Australian legislatures. I need not call attention to those standing orders which fellow the common form, but there are one or two matters in which they differ from those of other Legislatures, and it may be convenient to briefly call attention to them. The first section of the standing orders relates to the opening of the Council; and having regard to the fact that many of the members of the Council are appointed during pleasure, and that there may, and probably will, be changes in every session, provision are made for the verification of the commissions of the various members before the Council proceeds to business. It is clear that there must be some officer to act on that occasion, for the purpose of reading and recording those documents, and it is proposed by the standing orders that the Cleric of the Legislative Council of the colony in which the session is held shall act, unless some other officer is appointed by the Governor for that purpose, to perform those formal functions necessary before the President can be elected. It is proposed then that the commissions shall be handed in, together with the oath of allegiance or a certificate from the Governor before whom it was taken, and that a roll shall be kept on the table to be signed by each member in each session. Then it is provided that the President shall be elected, and that the Council shall proceed to appoint its officers. Nothing is said in these standing orders about a speech from the Throne, nor anything relating to the Queen or her representative. It is not the practice in the standing orders of Legislatures to provide for matters of that sort. Standing orders are for the conduct of ourselves in this House, and do not regulate our communications with Her Majesty. The next matter to which I will call attention—a minor one—is a rule recognising that the President shall be entitled to take part in the debates. The 75th Standing Order is that—

"When the President takes part in a debate, he shall speak on the floor of the House."

That is the practice in some of the Legislative Councils of the colonies, and of course the term "floor of the House" means beside the chair. The Imperial Act provides that questions shall be decided by a majority, including the President, and Standing Orders provide accordingly that in case of a division the President shall declare whether he votes with the "ayes" or the "noes," and that in case of an equality of votes the President shall declare the question to have passed in the negative. These are merely giving effect to the provisions of the Act. Under this heading of "Bills" there are two provisions to which I would call attention, as they are peculiar to the proceedings of this Council. Standing Order No. 171 relates to bills dealing with subjects specially referred to the Council by the Legislatures of two or more colonies, and it provides that "The Acts or ordinances by which such reference is made shall be ordered to be read before leave to bring in such bill is given." The 172nd Standing Order provides that the form of statement of the enacting authority shall be as follows:—

"Be it enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Federal Council of Australasia assembled at, in the colony of, and by the authority of the same, as follows."

Then, with respect to what is to be done with the bills when they are passed, it is proposed that there shall be as many fair prints of the bill on vellum as there are colonies represented in the Council, and one print in addition. It is then proposed that the bill shall be presented for the Royal assent by the President, and that afterwards one of each of those prints shall be forwarded to the Governor of each of the colonies re-presented in the Council, the other copy being forwarded to the Governor for transmission to one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State. By that means each colony will possess an authentic record of the bills passed by the Council affecting it The most important, however, of the standing orders are those contained in the 17th chapter, relating to the formation of a Standing Committee. It is proposed, in pursuance of the powers conferred by the 24th section of the Imperial Act, which provides that "the Council may appoint temporary or permanent committees of its members, to perform such duties, whether during the session of the Council or when the Council is not in session, as may be referred to them by the Council "—it is proposed that a Standing Committee shall be appointed, whose duties and functions are defined in sections 213 to 218, which are of sufficient importance to justify me in reading them at length to the Council. Standing Order 213 provides that:—

"The Council shall in each session appoint a Permanent Committee, to be called the Standing Committee, whose duty it shall be—

"(1) To consider and prepare for the consideration of the Council in its next session such bills and other business as they may deem desirable, and to consider and report upon any bills which any member proposes to bring in in that session;

"(2) To receive returns to addresses presented by the Council to which no return has been made during the session, and to cause such returns to be printed and distributed to members of the Council;

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"(3) To take such action while the Council is not in session as may appear to the committee desirable with respect to matters of general Australasian interest;

"(4) To advise the Governor of the colony in which the next session of the Council is to be held as to the time at which the Council is to be summoned to meet;

"(5) To perform such other duties as may be referred to it by the Council."

This, it will be seen, is a matter of very considerable importance. It is quite clear that if the Federal Council is to be of use, if it is to do its work satisfactorily, there must be some preparation for that work, just as there is for the work of every other Legislature. It must be somebody's business to make that preparation—to get the work ready. I do not see any reason why the speech with which future sessions of the Federal Council may be opened should not indicate the nature of the business to be brought forward, and the nature of the business that has been transacted during the recess, just as is done in the speech from the throne in the case of any other Parliament. But when there is no one specially charged with that duty of preparing the work, it would be very difficult for the Governor who, by the Act, is simply charged with the formal duty of convening the session to make any speech of that kind. The functions of such a committee in that respect, would, I conceive, be extremely useful, and indeed essential to the satisfactory working of the Council under its present constitution. Whether a committee of this kind will always remain a part of the unwritten constitution of the Council is another matter altogether. Perhaps we may devise some better scheme after we have had a little more experience. Another duty of the Standing Committee will be to receive returns to addresses not laid on the table during the session. It may very often happen that returns for which we have asked may not be ready until after the session is over, and in that case it should be somebody's duty to receive them, and see that they are bound up with the "Votes and Proceedings," and distributed to members. It is, of course, extremely desirable that any committee appointed should use great discretion in taking any action, and not to take any important step until all the colonies in the union have been consulted. The committee will, in effect, be the centre of communication during the recess as to matters of general interest. If the committee acts with discretion in these matters it may, I think, perform very useful functions, but the need for discretion will be very great. The duty of advising the Governor when the next session is to be held is a very important function. It is difficult to see, unless somebody is charged with that duty, how the Governor would know when the Council should be called together. Of course this will have to be a matter of arrangement for the convenience of the colonies represented, and if it was nobody's duty in particular to make those arrangements, it is difficult to see how they could be carried out satisfactorily. Rule 214 is as follows:—

The Standing Committee may perform its duties when the Council is not in session, and it shall not be necessary for the members there of actually to meet together for the transaction of business, but such business may be transacted by written or telegraphic communication between the members.

That, of course, is essential, considering the present circumstances of the colonies. Otherwise it would be quite impossible for the committee to do anything unless the members were in personal communication, and their usefulness would be very much diminished. Rule 215 provides—

The Chairman of the Standing Committee shall be appointed by the Council. If a vacancy occurs in the office of chairman the members of the committee shall elect one of their own number to be chairman.

These are, of course, unusual provisions, but considering the constitution of the Council I think they are necessary. I think the chairman should be appointed by the Council in the first instance, but it may easily happen that during the recess that person may cease to be a member of the Council, and then another appointment would have to be made. Then is proposed in respect to bills by Rule 216

Any member who proposes to bring in a bill must, one month at least before the commencement of the session in which he proposes to bring it in, send 10 copies of a fair draft thereof to the chairman of the Standing Committee, otherwise such bill shall not be allowed to be brought in without the special leave of the Council.

The object of this rule, of course, is that such bills shall be circulated, so that every member of the Council may have an opportunity of forming a mature judgment upon them before they are brought in, and, having regard to the important nature of the functions we have to perform, and the short time ordinarily at our disposal, I think it is extremely necessary that the greatest care be taken beforehand in preparing those matters.

Rule 217 provides:—

When the Standing Committee have agreed to a bill which they propose to recommend to the Council, the chairman shall send a copy thereof to every member of the Council, with such report or explanation as the committee may think fit.

That will ensure full deliberation before acting, then it is proposed by rule 218.

The proceedings of the Standing Committee shall be reported to the Council at the opening of the next session thereof.

These rules were considered very carefully by the committee, and I hope they will be adopted. The Standing Committee will, as I pointed out the other day, in some respects, stand in the same relation to the Federal Council that the Executive Council stands to the Parliaments of the colonies. In some respects, of course, as far as Executive Government and expenditure of money is concerned, they have not analogous functions, but as far as some of the other functions are concerned they will stand in a very analogous position—it will be in effect a committee of the Council to act for the Council in matters in which they cannot act for themselves. A practical question will arise as to the appointment of the Standing Committee. Probably having regard to the fact that members appointed on the committee may cease to be members of page 82 the Federal Council during the recess, it will be necessary to make the appointment not by name but by designation, as, for instance, to describe the members, say, as the senior representative for the time being of such and such a colony. Then, if for any reason a member of the committee ceases to be a member of the Council, his place will be taken by the senior representative for the time being of his colony. I do not see any other way in which we can secure that there will always be a committee. Another question may arise whether the President should be a member of the Standing Committee. That is a question which has not been discussed, and much may be said on both sides of the question, and it is probably a question which can only be decided by experience. With respect to strangers, it is proposed that, if notice is taken of the presence of strangers, the President shall put the question that strangers be ordered to withdraw, that is, that strangers may be ordered to withdraw only by resolution of the Council, and not at the instance of one member. These are the rules to which I think it necessary to direct special attention. I beg to move that the Rules as brought up by the committee be adopted.

Mr. Dodds: I second the motion.

Mr. Lee Steere: On looking over the standing orders, especially with reference to two of them, to which attention has been called by the hon. member for Queensland, it strikes me that two slight amendments might be made. Thus, in rule 171 it is provided "When a bill is proposed to be brought in in pursuance of a reference made by the Legislatures of two or more colonies under the provisions of the fifteenth section of 'The Federal Council of Australasia Act, 1885,' the Acts or Ordinances by which such reference is made shall be ordered to be read before leave to bring in such bill is given."

Now, I ask, is it necessary that the reference should be made either by "the Acts or Ordinances "—the Imperial Act indicates that this may be done by an address. (No.) But I say, yes. Section 16 of the Imperial Act says:—

"The Governors of any two or more of the colonies may, upon an address of the Legislatures of such colonies, refer for the consideration and determination of the Council any questions relating to those colonies or their relations with one another, and the Council shall thereupon have authority to consider and determine by Act of Council the matters so referred to it."

I think, therefore, that very frequently that this could be done merely by an address, and not merely by Acts and Ordinances. He moved that the words "or address" be inserted in clause 171.

Mr. Griffith suggested that the objection might be met by the addition of a reference to the 16th section, which would read "under the provisions of the 15th and 16th sections."

The President: Perhaps I may be permitted to call attention to the fact that under the 16th section of the Act, which is remitted, is supposed to be some matter of difference between two Legislatures, which is submitted, as it were, to the arbitration of the Council, and not bills for legislation in a general sense. It is quite true that even in that view of the question the matter must be dealt with by an Act of this Council, and a bill must be brought in; but, nevertheless, a subject might be discussed at considerable length, and a decision come to that would only require to be a resolution in the first instance.

Mr. Griffith: Mr. President, I do not think that any amendment is, after all, necessary. The object of the standing order is this, that the Council may be reminded before a bill of this kind is brought in of the provisions of the Acts under which it is brought in. They are bound to take official notice of them, but it may be convenient that they should be reminded. But the reference under the 16th section of the Act really provides for this itself. The references under that section will be made by messages from the Governors of two or more colonies to the Council, and those messages will be read before the bill is brought in, and it docs not require a standing order to say that it must be so. The reference provided for by the standing order is a general reference to Acts of Parliament. The other reference referred to is a special one made by the Governors to the Council, referring a matter for decision, and on the message being received the Council would proceed to act. That would be a special reference in each case, but this standing order deals with a general reference from the Legislatures, in which case it may be years before it is acted upon, so that the reminder provided for is necessary. If the matter brought forward is to be dealt with at all, it must be by a special standing order, but for the reasons I have given I do not think that it is necessary.

Mr. Berry: I do not intend, sir, to deal with these standing orders generally. I may say that I think the explanation of the hon. member who brought up this report is highly satisfactory in regard to most of the rules, but I wish to call attention to the powers proposed to be conferred on the Standing Committee.

The President: Allow me to point out that there is an amendment before the Council.

Mr. Berry: I understood that it was withdrawn.

Mr. Douglas: I think you had better dispose of the amendment made by the hon. member for Western Australia before proceeding further.

The President: Perhaps hon. members will permit me to direct attention to a point of order. I am afraid that the procedure is rather awkward. The motion before the Council is that the standing orders be adopted, and there is no amendment on that question. An amendment, however, has been made in one of the standing orders itself. It would almost seem to me that, in order to get into the matter properly, we must go into committee, that is if we are going to deal with the rules in debate; be- page 83 cause the proposal to introduce an amendment in a particular section is really no amendment on the question before the House. I am inclined to think, if I may be allowed to make the remark, that the explanation given by the hon. member for Queensland is the correct one.

Mr Lee Steere: I am quite willing to withdraw my amendment if it is considered that the explanation of the hon. member for Queensland is the proper interpretation of the order. But there is another amendment I wish to propose in the succeeding order, and if you say it would be out of order to move an amendment with you in the chair, I will move that the Council go into committee.

Mr. Griffith: Not to reconsider the whole lot.

Mr. Lee Steere: The only one I wish to have reconsidered is No. 216, but if any member wishes to move an amendment in any one, he will have the opportunity of doing so.

Mr. Douglas: It will be to reconsider those clauses which any member may wish to call attention to, and unless we do something in the matter we shall never get on.

Mr. Dodds: I do not think that is the right course, or at any rate the course contemplated by the rules. Hon. members are all aware that although those rules are not in force, yet they are framed with a view to guide our future deliberations, and we cannot do better than follow them out. Now rule 58 says:—" A question having been proposed, may be amended by leaving out certain words only; by leaving out certain words in order to insert or add other words; or by inserting or adding words." That seems to say that the proper mode is to move, as the hon. member for Western Australia has done now, and the question should be put from the chair that certain words be left out or added. Rule 59 again says:—" An amendment proposed but not seconded shall not be entertained by the Council, nor entered in the votes and proceedings." Rules 60, 61, and 62 show the method in which an amendment may be made, either by leaving out, substituting, or adding words to a clause. The subsequent rules all go to show that in case of an amendment, full power is given to the Council to deal with the amendment in the manner I have stated.

The President: The hon. member forgets that the amendment proposed in the section is not an amendment on the question before the Council. That is where the difficulty comes in. The motion I have before the chair is that the standing orders be adopted, and there is no proposal to leave out or add words in any shape or form. The only proposal is that certain words be added to rule 171, which is not an amendment on the question before the chair. The difficulty of procedure is that we cannot proceed in this case, because there is no objection made to the motion before the chair at all. I expect that in one or two matters of detail it is desirable these standing orders should be amended, and therefore the necessity for going into detail entails the necessity for going into committee.

Mr. Dodds: I am unwilling, Mr. President, to take any course which appears to differ from your ruling, but as I presume the expressions of opinion we are giving now are given with a desire to ascertain what should be the practice. I hope you will consider if I make any remarks which appear to differ from your ruling, that I do not do so in the sense of disputing it. The difficulty suggested seems to shew that the form of motion is wrong. If we are to submit a motion by which the mouth of the Council is to be shut, it will be a most embarrassing mode of procedure. If the motion implies that we should adopt the report of the committee or not, that it must be either accepted or negatived as a whole, it would be a most inconvenient mode of procedure. The proper course to be followed would be for some member to move that the rules and standing orders as submitted be the rules and standing orders, and to this such an amendment as that proposed could be very properly submitted. If the motion of the hon. member for Queensland is that these rules should be the rules of the Council, it is quite competent for the hon. member for Western Australia (Mr. Lee Steere) to say, "I desire to omit certain words, and substitute other words." In point of fact, it is quite within the rules laid down by the standing orders quoted. That appears to me, if only on the ground of convenience, to be the proper mode of proceeding; but it is just as well, if there is any doubt in the minds of hon. members upon the question, that we should have it settled at once.

The President: That was not my dictum. You can move an amendment on any motion, but to submit an amendment in this form is to deal substantively with a particular motion whilst another is before the Council. It is quite right for the hon. member to say, "I support the motion of Mr. Griffith," but if you were to add another motion to this motion it would be a very clumsy way of doing it. The hon. member will see that if half-a-dozen members were to get at the same thing it would finally become of the most conglomerated form. The motion, as originally put, may be formally amended in respect to its original proposition, but for everyone to select any particular amendment he wished to make in the bill, and move it as a substantive amendment in the Council, would be a violation of all the standing rules and orders.

Mr. Douglas: We will never get on unless we go into committee, when what is required can be dealt with. The only way we can come to any finality is by going into committee, and each member moving what amendments he may think desirable.

Mr. Dickson: It is undesirable for this Council to perform the functions of a committee. I support your view entirely, Mr. President, that there is nothing to prevent the hon. member for Western Australia, Mr. Lee Steere, in moving any amendment he wishes when the House has resolved itself into a committee upon the bill. The hon. gentleman referred to clause 171, which I presume he intends to go into committee upon, and I trust he will extend his motion to include clause 215, dealing with the question of the position of the chairman or the standing committee. It is a matter worthy of consideration.

Mr. Berry: Do not discuss that subject now.

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Mr. Dickson: I am only asking the hon. member for Western Australia to extend his amendment, so as to deal with clause 215.

Mr. Berry: As the hon. member for Tasmania has told us, the terms of the motion are scarcely correct. Instead of the motion that the rules and standing orders be adopted, it should be, "That the rules and standing orders be now considered." That would have the effect of placing the orders seriatim before the Council, and it would have been perfectly competent to make alterations either by striking out or adding to any one of the orders. The course would be the same with any other report. The whole of the standing orders would be placed before the Council, and if one hon. member wished to deal with standing order No. 24, and no other member desired to deal with the previous ones, those previous ones would be considered as passed up to No. 24. Then we might go on to 48 and 96, and the intermediate ones might be considered as passed. If any amendment was made in the standing orders, the motion would be that they be adopted as amended, or printed, as the case may be. I suggest this mode, that the motion of the hon. member for Queensland be altered from the adoption of the standing orders to the consideration of the standing orders, thus leaving an opening for any amendments that may be desired to be made.

Mr. Griffith: The matter must clearly be referred to a committee if the discussion is to be brought to a result. Whether the amendments can be moved in any particular form, seems to me to be beside the question. It is a matter more of convenience than form that we should go into committee to consider amendments upon this report. If it meets the approval of hon. members, I will move, instead of the motion I have moved, that the House now resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider the rules and standing orders brought up by the Standing Orders Committee, and they can then all be considered seriatim.

The President: The course suggested by Mr. Berry is a perfectly legitimate one. The only difference between that course and going into committee, is that in one case the members can only speak once, whilst in the other they can speak as often as they like. The hon. gentleman has withdrawn his first motion, and submitted another, I understand, for the purpose of considering the rules and standing orders in committee.

Mr. Griffith: Yes formally.

Mr. Dodds: What opportunity will the Council have for expressing its opinion upon these new rules?

Mr. Berry: It will have to agree with the committee.

Mr. Dodds: That ought not to be a case which should be allowed to obtain. If the Council had to adopt or reject as a whole, it would be extremely inconvenient, and the Council ought therefore to have an opportunity of expressing its opinion on each one of these rules.

The President: The course suggested by Mr. Berry will admit of that.

Mr. Dodds: The course suggested by Mr. Berry will, of course, admit of that, but not the course proposed by the hon. member for Queensland. It will be seen that if the Council goes into committee to consider certain rules, it must come back in the same position in which it went in. The Council wants to express its opinion upon an individual rule. In this particular instance a majority of members constitute the select committee, and there is not likely to be a difference of opinion; but if we had a larger chamber, and were discussing the provisions of a bill, is the Council to be precluded from expressing its opinion upon each clause or rule, and have to go into committee and come back in the same position? The most convenient course, is certainly that suggested by Mr. Berry.

The amendment was carried, and the Council went into committee.

Rules 1 to 17 were passed as printed.

On Rule 171,

Mr. Lee Steere renewed his contention that reference of matters to the Council was not necessarily, under the Imperial Act, to be done by resolution, but might be done by address.

Mr. Berry asked if that was in the Western Australian Adopting Bill? The Victorian bill made reference by Act compulsory, but if the Act of any colony allowed reference by address, it should appear here.

Mr. Lee Steere said that reference to his Act showed him that there was no allusion to it. He thought they might refer by resolution.

Mr. Griffith: No Legislature has done so yet. It will be time enough to make the standing order when they do.

Mr. Lee Steere: Such a step would be rendered unnecessary by making the provision now, and there could be no harm in it. He believed that a resolution would be the form of reference preferred in Western Australia, and he moved that the words, "or resolution" be added.

Mr. Berry thought there could be no objection to this. Their standing orders ought to be sufficiently elastic to take in the mode of action of any colony in which the Act was in force. If any colony thought the resolution sufficient to refer any subject to the Federal Council, why should they refuse it? In that case the colony would be compelled to pass an Act which the Imperial Act did not command. Any two Legislatures could refer by joint resolution.

Mr. Griffith: I am quite clear it cannot.

Mr. Berry: Addresses to the Queen are frequently adopted by joint resolution.

Mr. Griffith: Yes, addresses. That is done.

Mr. Berry thought a joint resolution of the two Houses of the Legislature, or of one House where there was only one chamber, would be a compliance with the Act. If the hon. and learned member for Queensland said it could not be done, probably the hon. member for Western Australia would not persevere with his amendment.

Mr. Douglas: Look at clause 16 of the Imperial Act.

Mr. Berry said by that matters might be referred by address to the Federal Council, and the Council might act upon it. The address was a resolution of "the House. The matter referred by Queensland and Tasmania to the Council, was that done by resolution?

Mr. Griffith: No; by Act.

Mr. Dodds: So did we.

Mr. Douglas said this standing order page 85 only referred to a bill, and not to section 16 at all.

Mr. Service said if there were any doubt at all as to the meaning of the term legislature the Council should take care to do nothing which would have the effect of rendering nugatory any of its acts hereafter. For example, suppose the Legislature of Western Australia and the Legislature of Queensland had referred the question of the status of corporations to the Council, and it was done in Western Australia by resolution, and in Queensland by Act, and the Council proceeded to pass an Act upon the subject, it might be contended afterwards that the reference was not complete on that account. If it were therefore possible to raise such a question in one of the higher Courts by any uncertainty he thought it should be avoided, and he would therefore ask the hon. member for Western Australia whether there would be any difficulty in the way of his Legislature passing an ordinance instead of a resolution. If there were any such difficulty there might be some reason for the amendment, but it appeared to him that an ordinance could be carried through just as easily as a resolution, and if that were so there could be no reason for raising this question at all or of discussing it, and perhaps eventually making it a bone of contention in some of the Supreme Courts hereafter. Therefore, unless the hon. member could point out to the committee that disadvantages and serious inconvenience would be caused to the Legislature of Western Australia by having to make their reference by ordinance instead of by resolution, he should feel inclined to vote against the proposed amendment.

Mr. Griffith said the Legislatures of the colonies had powers conferred upon them by the 6th and 15th sections of the Act. The 6th section authorised the Legislature of any colony to make such provisions as it thought fit for the appointment of representatives of that colony, and for determining the tenure of their office, and the 15th section enabled them to refer certain matters to the Council. He could not conceive anybody contending that the terms used in the 6th section meant that representatives could be appointed by resolution—it must be done by an Act of the Legislature—by a bill passed into law; so the delegation of legislative powers to the Council, under the 15th section, could only be done by Act of Parliament. By inserting the words proposed by the hon. member they would be expressing an opinion in their standing orders that it might be done by resolution, which, to his mind, it was perfectly clear it would not be. If the Legislature of Western Australia should enact some day that it would do by resolution what at present it can only do by Act of Parliament, they might then add to the standing order the words, "or in the case of Western Australia by resolution." He hoped the hon. member would not press his amendment, for, if carried, it would be a very serious blot on the standing orders indicating that they thought it possible that a thing could be done which lawyers, at any rate, would clearly say could not be done.

Mr. Lee Steere said that as in Western Australia the same number of members who could pass a resolution could also pass an Act of Parliament, he would, in deference to the opinions of hon. members, withdraw his amendment.

Amendment withdrawn accordingly, and question put and passed.

On the section dealing with the Standing Committee of the Council being put from the chair,

Mr. Berry said the first objection he took to that portion of the standing order was with regard to the power proposed to be given to the committee in regulating the bills to be brought before the Council. By standing order No. 216 it was provided that—

"Any member who proposes to bring in a bill must, one month at least before the commencement of the session in which he proposes to bring it in, send 10 copies of a fair draft thereof to the Chairman of the Standing Committee, otherwise such bill shall not be allowed to be brought in without the special leave of the Council."

He had grave doubts whether such a power ought to be conferred upon the Standing Committee, especially as the Council would, in all probability, be constituted from the leading members of the various colonial Legislatures. To give to a small committee the power to say what bills should, and what should not, be introduced would, he thought, be frequently objected to by members who wished to judge for themselves what bills they should submit to the Council. It was no doubt desirable that copies of bills to be brought forward should be sent to the committee, so that it might be known what business was likely to be brought on at the next session of the Council. Such a course would tend to facilitate business, and to shorten the prodeedings of the Council. But to say that any bill should be assisted or retarded in its progress by the report of the Standing Committee would certainly be objected to by individual members of the Council, who, it seemed to him, had a perfect right to introduce any bill they thought proper unprejudiced by any report of a committee of the Council. A member bringing forward a bill that had been reported against by the committee would be unfavourably handicapped by the report of what would be really the Executive Committee of the Council. He therefore thought they should not take away by their standing orders, any of the inherent powers which the members of the Federal Council did, and should enjoy. They might be trusted, he thought, being what they were, to bring forward only such measures as were deserving of the consideration of the Council, and it would be unfortunate if any obstacle—in the shape of a standing order—were placed in the way of their doing so. There was certainly a proviso that a bill rejected by the committee could be introduced by special leave of the Council; that a member asking for such leave would be met by a committee who had already expressed an opinion that the bill should not be introduced. In fact an overwhelming reason for its introduction would have to be made out. Such a course was adopted in no legislative body that he was aware of, and it would be highly objectionable to introduce it there, especially as the members of the Council would always be experienced public men either holding or having held high office in the State. The granting of such a power to the committee, having regard for the shortness of the session, page 86 would create disappointment and dissatisfaction on the part or members of the Council. It was, of course, highly desirable that bills should be submitted to the executive committee, and that all possible information should be obtained, with the view of facilitating the transaction of the business of the Council, but it was quite possible that even after the opening of a session some question might crop up on which the Council might deem it desirable to have a law—some question which did not appear to be urgent a month before the meeting of the Council. His objection was against tying the hands of the Council in any way, and the present proposal was an innovation such as no other legislature has ever adopted.

Mr. Griffith: Of course it is.

Mr. Berry: In my opinion such a course is less required by a body constituted as the Federal Council is than it would be by ordinary legislatures where new men, unused to public life, are constantly being introduced, and who might fairly be put under some control. He hoped that what he had said would induce the Council to amend this portion of the standing orders in such a way as to leave every member of any future Council at full liberty to bring in any measure that he might consider desirable, leaving the Council to deal with it under their ordinary rules, rejecting it on the second reading, or giving such reasons as may induce the member to withdraw it, and that liberty be granted to bring in any measure up to the last day of the session.

Mr. Griffith said that there was a great deal of force in what the hon. member had just said. He was not aware that similar rules were in force for any other Legislature, but he was not aware that any other Legislature was constituted like the Federal Council. They must remember also that they did not yet represent the whole of the Australian colonies, and that they were anxious that they should represent them all. One of the arguments adduced against federation was, "Why should we entrust a small legislative body with such powers? They will meet, and before we have time to hear what is proposed they will bring in and pass hurriedly into law Acts which will bind us irrevocably." And so they said, "We will not entrust you with such powers." The one great danger that stood in the way was undue hurry and haste in their legislation. If they were to hope to get the other colonies in, they must satisfy them that there was no danger of that being done without the colonies knowing what the Council were about. Otherwise it might happen that one of the colonies would be bound by legislation brought in and passed in three or four days before even they had ever heard of it. He could not say that he would like to see an Act brought in and passed in three or four days, that would bind Queensland before he heard of it. He would object and oppose such a thing in every possible way unless there had been some opportunity of considering it before. It was expressly to avert that danger, and show the outside colonies that they were determined not to do things without mature consideration, that that standing order was proposed. He did not think that a month was too long. What had been the practice of the Imperial Parliament of late? They had now delegated to this Council powers previously exercised by themselves alone, But as a matter of practise for some years past a bill affecting the colonies was not introduced without first sending a copy of it to every Australasian Government, and waiting for a report from that Government giving their opinion on the subject. That had been the practice for many years of the Imperial Government. To make a complete analogy a bill should not be passed into law by the Council unless it had been laid on the table in the previous session. That would, however, cause undue delay, but he thought they should incorporate some such provisions to guard against undue haste. He hoped, therefore, that section 216 would not be interfered with. Exception had been taken to the phrase "by special leave," but that provision was required to meet cases of emergency. A bill would not be considered unless the month's notice was given, but in cases of emergency, if a bill commended itself to the Council, it would no doubt be allowed to be brought in. There was no matter more carefully considered by the committee, and he hoped that the Council would not reverse the decision of the committee in that respect. With respect to rule 213, making it a part of the function of the committee to consider and report on any bill which a member intended to bring in, that was not of so much importance, and he thought it might be left out without affecting very seriously the functions of the Standing Committee. Considering that he was likely to be a member of that committee, he would be glad to see it omitted as far as his personal convenience was concerned.

Mr. Service said that he had had no conversation with his colleague in reference to the standing orders, and as a member of the committee that considered the rules, he, of course, was a party to them, but nevertheless he thought that his colleague had made out a good case as to the first section of rule 213, and he was glad to hear that Mr. Griffith did not object. He certainly thought that his colleague had made out a strong case, because any bill reported against by the Standing Committee would come down with a taint upon it before ever the member who proposed it had had an opportunity of stating his reasons. He thought, however, that clause 216 might be allowed to stand. The reasons for it given by Mr. Griffith were very strong, viz., to meet the objections taken by some of the other colonies that undue haste might occur in connection with the legislation of this Council. He thought that far too much had been made—he desired to say this emphatically—by some of the other colonies of this possibility, because they were restricted in every legislative act which they performed, with the exception of the clauses A to H in the 15th section of the Imperial Act. Upon these they could legislate of course, as they thought proper, but on every other subject there must be a reference of two or more colonies, and that reference in itself would suffice to give ample notice to all the Legislatures of the colonies. He wished to make that remark because, whilst he agreed with Mr. Griffith that it was desirable to do away as far as they could with any objection raised by the other colonies on this ground, yet he thought it well to point out that the objection was, after all, a small one. One page 87 difficulty he could see in a member proposing to bring in a bill requiring to give one month's notice was this: Supposing that the Victorian Legislature sat in session on 24th December, and three weeks after this Council meets, it would be impossible in that case to present a bill under this section, but he had consulted Mr. Griffith, and he had no doubt that to such cases the Council would give special consideration. He thought, therefore, that there could be no objection to the rule standing.

Clause 213 was passed as amended, and clause 216 passed as printed.

Mr. Dickson said that he thought they were justified in going into committee on these rules, and he had no doubt that the debate in connection with the important section just passed would be read with interest. He agreed with the hon. members who had spoken that it was very desirable to guard against surprise motions, and he thought that the section just considered furnished ample safeguards against any hasty legislation. He rose to call attention to clause 215 dealing with the Chairman of the Standing Committee. That was a most important position, and he thought that it was worthy of consideration whether the Chairman of the Standing Committee should not also be President. He thought that the President of the Council should be the mouthpiece of the Executive during the recess.

Mr. Service said that there was one difficulty suggested itself to him in connection with this matter, and that was that it would tie the hands of the Council in the election of President. For instance, they might have a Chairman of the Standing Committee in whoso capacity and experience they all had confidence, and whoso services it would be desirable to secure for a length of time, but it might not be thought equally desirable that the presidency should go in from one session to another. On these grounds he would recommend that the two functionaries be separate and distinct.

Mr. Dickson said he had no desire to move the amendment, as he simply wished to elicit an expression of opinion as to the amendment. He was not prepared to press any objection to the resolution, as he was in favour of the chief executive officer being the President of the Council. All communications he had to make from the committee would be given with more authority, and would be more satisfactory. If the offices were separated, and there were two chief officers, differences of opinion might arise between them during the recess, and a variety of opinion in the Council would be different from two chief magistrates not being in unison during the recess.

Mr. Lee Steere said that as the hon. member for Queensland would not move an amendment, he would like to make a few remarks in reference to No. 216. He thought some difficulty might arise in consequence of a member representing a colony not having been appointed a sufficient time to enable him to transmit to the Standing Orders Committee any bills his government wished to propose. The rules said that all bills should be so forwarded one month before the commencement of the session. The hon. members representing Queensland were, he believed, appointed for the term of three years, while he did not think that any of the others were appointed for longer than one session, or during pleasure. The danger arose of a member not being appointed in time to forward his acts to the Standing Committee, and the Government he represented, would thus be precluded from passing any legislation they wished to.

Mr. Griffith: Let them appoint their members.

Mr. Lee Steere: There might be some cause which prevented it.

Mr. Griffith: Oh!

Mr. Lee Steere said he would like to see the clause altered so that the notice would have to be given by the Government.

The clause was agreed to.

On the motion of Mr. Griffith clause 217 was amended, consequentially upon the amendments in clause 213, to read as follows:—When the Standing Committee have agreed to a bill which they propose to recommend to the Council, or have received from a member a draft of the bill proposed to be brought in by him, the chairman shall send a copy thereof to every member of the Council.

The remainder of the rules were agreed to.

The "standing orders and rules" were then reported to the House, with amendments, and adopted.