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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr HECTOR LAMOND (Illawarra) . - This clause gives power to any member of the Committee to ask any question, and all the penalties in the Bill attach to the person who refuses to answer. I submit that that is an exceedingly dangerous power to place in the hands of any one man.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - It is a usual power.

Mr HECTOR LAMOND - And it has been abused more than once. In the case of this Committee, which is one to inquire into the public accounts, and so forth, it seems to me that, if a member is unable to get a majority of the Committee to approve of a question he wishes to ask, he should not have the power proposed by the clause. The question should be asked with the approval of a majority, or be one relevant to the inquiry.

Mr Maxwell - The clause gives the power only in the case of a witness refusing to answer "without just cause."

Mr HECTOR LAMOND - All the same, the proposed power appears to me most dangerous and unnecessary.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.

Schedule and title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Standing Orders suspended.

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