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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W Elliot Johnson - Since my conversation with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) I have received a copy of the official programme of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and I see, from the arrangements set out in it, that my suggestion that a part of the building common to members of both branches of the Legislature has been decided upon for the reception of the Prince. That arrangement is in conformity with established precedent and CUStOm in connexion with this' Parliament. .1 have not heard any reason advanced why our wellestablished practice should be set aside. The first intimation I had of the proposed departure was a paragraph in one of the newspapers to which the attention of the House was drawn by an honorable member, who asked me a question from his place in the Chamber, concerning it. Subsequently I was handed by the President of another place a typed copy of suggestions concerning the matter, which were similar to the programme in the newspaper report.

Briefly, the main1 points were that the address should be a joint one first passed in the Senate, and then sent on to this House for its concurrence.

That both Houses should be called to meet again, on the day of the official dinner to the Prince, half an hour before the time fixed for the dinner. That the Senate should then invite the members of this House to attend in the Senate Chamber to receive His Royal Highness, and that after the Prince had been ushered into the Senate Chamber by the Prime Minister, the President should read and present the address to His Royal Highness, after which both Houses should adjourn.

Apart from the cumbersomeness of the procedure, involving as it did unnecessary special sittings of each House, and the presence of a number of visitors whom it would not be easy to prevent from afterwards crowding into the Queen's Hall, already arranged for the dinner, there was the very serious objection - a fatal, one in my opinion. - that the adoption of the proposed innovation on our established procedure involved a serious encroachment on the undoubted, rights .and privileges of the House of Representa tives. I did not question for one moment the right of the President to present an address om behalf of the Senate, but I certainly disputed his assumption of the authority to do so on behalf of the House of Representatives, which, elects its own "Speaker," who is the only authoritative "mouth-piece of the House.""

I think it well, perhaps, to read a copy of a letter I addressed to the President on the subject, which was as- follows: -

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