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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr WEST (East Sydney) .- In seconding the motion, I desire to draw the attention of honorable members to the seriousness of the matter with which we are now dealing. The ruling given, by Mr. Deputy Speaker restricts the rights of honorable members to address the House. The merits or demerits of the motion that was closured need not concern us; but it is necessary that honorable members should support this dissent lest the ruling to which exception is taken be made the means of preventing honorable members from bringing business before the House. I hold strongly the opinion that no question can be before the House until it has been stated from the Chair. Often members have risen with the intention of making a motion, but, during the course of their preliminary remarks, ,some development takes place which obviates the need for proceeding further, and the motion is not made. It is only when a question has' been stated from the Chair, and has thus become the property of the House, that it may be closured. Honorable members who voted for the closure on Friday did so in ignorance of the motion that they were closuring. May makes it very clear that a question must be stated from the Chair before it is before the House; and if the House of Commons, or the House of Lords, insists upon that procedure, we cannot go far wrong in following their example. Mr. Speaker is not infallible ; like all human beings he is liable to error. The Prime Minister is often in such a state of mind that he is not in a position to appreciate the seriousness of the things he does. That was the case on Friday, when he moved the closure, whilst Mr. Deputy Speaker, no doubt elated because of the responsible position he was filling, lost for the time being his customary levelheadedness. Any encroachment on the rights and privileges of honorable members should be resisted. I do not . say that some curtailment of debate is not wise, but when the closure is applied, its application should be in accordance with the Standing Orders. I hope honorable members will rise above party prejudices, and by their vote upon this interpretation of the Standing Orders preserve the rights and privileges of the House. Mr. Deputy Speaker delivered a hasty judgment which was fraught with great danger to this House. Therefore I hope honorable members will indorse the views enunciated by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan).

Mr Brennan - I rise to a point of order. I was under the impression that when Mr. Speaker had definitely ruled upon any point, such as that now under consideration, his ruling became the settled procedure of the House until it was altered by a vote of the House, or until the Standing Orders had been amended. Do I gather that, although Mr. Speaker has given a definite ruling, it remains for any Deputy-Speaker to give any fantastic ruling he may please in absolute contradiction of the procedure laid down by Mr. Speaker? I am reminded by interjection that the late Sir Thomas Bent once gave a ruling to which he was careful to add, " That is my ruling for to-night, anyhow." I thought, perhaps, you, sir, meant that those words should be added to your ruling on Friday.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - The ruling of Mr. Speaker Johnson was given on another question, and in accordance with his interpreta tion of the Standing Orders at that time. The House is now dealing with a motion to dissent from a ruling given by me, and I hold that it is . within the power of the House to review at any time any interpretation of its rules. That being the case, this discussion is in order.

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