Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 29 July 1920

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member informed me of the question he intended to submit to me as Deputy Speaker, as to who was responsible for the public with members' orders being prevented from entering the galleries last night. The honorable member has referred to standing order 64, which provides that every member may each day, by written order, admit three strangers to the gallery. This is one of the Standing Orders which is very indefinite, and can be interpreted in many ways. It sets out that admission is by written order, but the practice of this, and every other Parliament with which I have been associated, has been that these orders are issued by Mr. Speaker. Entrance to this House is entirely under the control of Mr. Speaker, and that standing order refers to not only what is known as the Speaker's gallery, but also the gallery upstairs. I be lieve that, for some periods in the past, it was possible, for visitors to enter the upstairs gallery without any cards; but the practice of Mr. Speaker and his predecessors has been to issue tickets. I find that in the House of Commons admission to the gallery is entirely under. the control of the Speaker's Secretary and the SerjeantatArms - that is, in regard to the gallery which corresponds to our upper gallery - the lower gallery being reserved for the special control of Mr. Speaker. Certain proceedings with which I have no desire to deal at any length made it imperative on Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, who are the custodians of this building, and all within its precincts, to take extreme measures last night, in order to prevent the conduct of the business of this House being interfered with. I regret to say that on a previous occasion, which will be within the memory of some honorable members, people gathered outside this House, and, inflamed with certain feelings, forced their way, notwithstanding the few police who were here for our protection, through the vestibule into the Queen's Hall, and very nearly into the chamber itself. Certain indications and information given to the Government, Mr. President, and myself pointed to the probability of a very large concourse of people outside the building last night ; and, if the measures then taken had been neglected, it would have been quite possible for numbers of those people to force their way, possibly into the Chamber, and behave in an unseemly way, that would have been derogatory to the Parliament. In consultation with Mr. President, it was arranged that, in the interests of the members themselves, means of protection should be adopted. Had the friends of honorable members been admitted in the usual way, they might, in the .event of an influx of the crowd, have been maltreated, and it was therefore thought better that only ' honorable members themselves should be admitted. That course was followed, in view of what has taken place quite recently, and, as I say in the interests of honorable members themselves, in order to conserve the peace and dignity of the Parliament. The proper officer, the Sergeant-at-Arms, was instructed to see that the order given was carried out - to see that, while there was any probability of a disturbance outside, all strangers should be excluded. It was hoped that possibly about 9 o'clock the people might disperse, when the friends of honorable members could be admitted ; but that did not prove to be the case. I take the responsibilityfor acting in the absence of Mr. Speaker, and it was painful for me to agree to the order given, but it was absolutely imperative.

Mr TUDOR - But why were not honorable members informed that it was intended to issue the order? All we knew of it we heard from people outside, and I spoke to the Serjeant-at-Arms regarding the matter after hearing a rumour from another honorable member. You, sir, must have known before 6.30 last night that such an order was to be issued.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - So far as I knew, honorable members would be so informed, because the usual practice is for them to apply to the Serjeant-at-Arms for tickets. . Just very recently I remind the honorable member, Mr. Speaker issued to every honorable member a circular dealing with this question, . and asking honorable members to be exceedingly careful in the future as to the persons they admit to the House. The only information that could be given last night in regard to the decision to exclude all visitors was made available through the ordinary channel; that is to say, when an application was made to the SerjeantatArms for tickets to admit visitors, the applicant was informed of what had been done. In some cases honorable members came to me-. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) asked me if the instruction issued was a general order. I informed him that it was. Even my own daughters were excluded. Some honorable memhers had arranged to bring a number of school children to the House. They also had to be excluded. Altogether it was a very painful piece of business, and I am sure honorable members, if they regard it in the right light, will see that what was done by me, acting in conjunction with Mr. President, had but one object, and that was to preserve that dignity and decorum of the Chamber to which we have been accustomed in the past, and which I hope will be continued in the future.

Suggest corrections