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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr Brennan - I rise to a point of order. I wanted to raise a question of privilege a while ago On the matter of privilege and order I wish to direct attention to certain standing orders relating to the matter. Standing order 111 states -

An urgent motion, directly concerning the privileges of the House, shall take precedence of other motions, as well as of Orders of the Day.

Standing order 283 says -

Any member may rise to speak " to order," or upon a matter of privilege suddenly arising.

Standing order 284 provides -

All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.

There is no reference to the powers and duties of the Committee of the House, but I submit that the Committee is for the time being the guardian of the privileges of the House, and that a matter of privilege suddenly arising, as it has in this case, must be decided as the standing order provides in precedence of every other matter. A little while ago I rose to put this point, but before I was able to put it the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), with characteristic discourtesy, plunged in and interrupted me. I ask the Temporary Chairman (Mr. Watkins) to take counsel with those who may be presumed to know something about the matter, and without any disrespect I suggest that the point I raise is unanswerably in favour of my being able to bring forward any question of privilege, and submit it for the immediate decision of the Committee; because the matter to which I refer is very urgent, and because I think the Committee would be careful to be the guardian of its own rightsand privileges. Withthe military and the secret service of the police surrounding us, I should say that the matter is an urgent one, if ever there was such a thing, requiring immediate decision.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Watkins - The standing order dealing with the moving of the closure distinctly lays down the following -

After any question has been proposed,either in the House or in any Committee of the whole, a motion may be made by any member, rising in his place, and without notice, and whether any other member is addressing the Chair or not, " That the question be now put," and the motion shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.

As to the question of privilege arising in Committee, May says on page 258 -

If complaint of a breach of privilege be made whilst the House is in Committee, the Committee reports progress thereon; or, upon an act of disorder committed in his presence, the Chairman has quitted the chair and sent for the Speaker.

Mr Brennan - It is clear that when I raise a matter of privilege of substantial character it is the duty of the Committee to report progress with a view to having it considered and decided by the House. Obviously, it would be absurd for the Speaker to remain in his room looking atthe disturbance outside while we are here helpless to do anything.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Matters of privilege must be brought before the House with the Speaker in the chair. The Committee is sitting as a committee for the purpose ofconsidering the Bill in detail.

Mr Brennan - Seeing . that fifteen minutes have elapsed since the last motion to report progress was submitted, and with a view to having the matter considered by the House with the Speaker in the chair, I move -

That progressbe reported.

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