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Wednesday, 4 August 1920

Mr SPEAKER - No. The motion now before the Chair is, in effect, that the House do not sit on Monday next, and Icannot allow the honorable member to discuss the question of sitting on Mondays generally.

Mr WATKINS (NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would it not be competent for the honorable member to move, as an amendment, that, after next Monday, we do not sit on Mondays at all? It will not be necessary for the Government to move in the matter to insure further Monday sittings, because of the motion which we have already passed, and no private member will have an opportunity to raise the question.

Mr SPEAKER - Such an amendment as the honorable member suggests could not be moved. The only amendment permissible on the motion before the Chair would be an amendment fixing Tuesday or some other day as the next day of meeting, or altering the hour of meeting. The only amendment that

I can accept is an amendment relating to the next sitting day. Standing order No. 41 provides that a motion for fixing the next day of meeting may be moved at any time, without notice, by a Minister of the Crown; but there is nothing to prevent any other member of the House from moving a similar motion upon notice.

Mr WATKINS (NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But he could never reach it.

Mr SPEAKER - That is not a matter which I am called upon to consider. Upon the motion now before the Chair I cannot allow more than an incidental reference to anything beyond the next day of sitting.

Further debate took place, and Mr. J. C. Watson, who was member for Bland,, put this suggestion, which is practically the same as that made in the case we are dealing with-

I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it will be in order to move an amendment, adding to the motion the following words: - " And shall thereafter, until otherwise ordered, meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays only." I would urge that standing order No. 41 does not preclude the possibility of an amendment being moved. My sole desire is to have the matter discussed in. an orderly way, and there is no suggestion of want of confidence in the Government, or any desire to take the business out of their hands.

Mr. Barton,who was then Prime Minister, said -

On the point of order, might I suggest that this is a motion for a special adjournment, and that the sole question before the Chair is as to what shall be our next sitting day? Therefore, any mention of the other sitting days would be irrelevant to the motion.

This is the ruling of Mr. Speaker Holder-

I am prepared to give a ruling at once.; and I desire to give it forthwith, because it is practically a repetition of the ruling I have already given. Standing order No. 41 does not preclude the moving of an amendment. I quoted standing order No. 41 in connexion with quite another point; but the whole practice of Parliament is entirely against permitting any such amendment as that suggested by the honorable member for Bland. Further, the amendment is irrelevant to the question at issue, which is whether the next sitting day shall be Tuesday. I would suggest to honorable 'members that, if it is the desire to ascertain the will of the House upon the general question of sitting days, there is a very easy way of doing so. If the Government discern that it is the will of the House that an opportunity should be given for discussing the question of sitting days generally, they can easily afford that opportunity next week, on an honorable member bringing forward a motion specially dealing with the matter.

I find, on reference to the practice of the British House of Commons, quite a number of decisions in conformity with the ruling I gave. I now quote from Peel's Decisions, 1884-95, page 8,- on the relevancy of amendments -

An amendment to a question before the House must be relevant thereto. In this case, on a motion " That the House at its rising do adjourn until Thursday next" (Derby Day adjournment), an amendment was moved to leave out all the words after " That," in order to add, " to-morrow Government business have precedence over all other Orders of the Day." Mr. Speaker ruled that the amendment was out of order as irrelevant.

There are other decisions in regard to amendments which are a negation of the motion itself, and another decision, on page 10, of Denison & Brand's Decisions, 1857-84, dealing with relevancy. I might quote quite a number of other decisions, but I have given the House the information at mv disposal as to Mr. Speaker Holder's ruling, and I now leave the matter to honorable members for their decision.

Mr. NICHOLLS(Macquarie) |"3.35"|.The decisions quoted by you, sir, may come from very reliable authorities on standing; orders; I take it for granted that they do, but I draw your attention to our standing order No. 128, which is as follows -

A question having been proposed may 'be amended (i) by leaving out certain words only; (ii) by leaving out certain words, in order to insert or add other words; (iii) by inserting or adding words.

The amendment which! you ruled out of order was to insert certain words in the motion by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and add others at the end. I have no desire to take up the time of the House, but I must say that, in my opinion, your ruling was not in conformity with the Standing Orders. There did not appear to me anything in the amendment which was not permissible, and, consequently. I moved that your ruling be dissented from. The amendment was certainly not a direct negative of the motion, and the words proposed to be inserted and added appear to me quite relevant, and should have been accepted by you. However,. it is for the House to decide, and I shall not delay honorable members any longer. I move: -

That Mr. Deputy-Speaker's ruling - that on the motion of the Prime Minister - " That on each sitting day, unless otherwise ordered, Government Business shall take precedence of General Business " - the amendment moved to insert "save one" after "day" and to add at the end of the motion " and that there shall be an additional sitting day on Tuesday of each week " - was out of order - be disagreed to.

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