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Friday, 29 October 1920

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! It is almost impossible for me to follow what is being said owing to the frequency of interjections and the general hum of conversation.

Mr MAHONY - How many members of the Committee does the Prime Minister think should come from the Opposition side of the chamber, how many from the Government side, and how many from the Corner party?

Mr Hughes - When the actual personnel is brought here, the honorable member will be able to scrutinize it, and to say whether it is satisfactory or otherwise.

Mr MAHONY - But in matters of this sort there is usually an arrangement made.

Mr Hughes - I will bring along the names of the members whom it is proposed to appoint, and the honorable member will then be able to say whether they shall form the Committee or not.

Mr MAHONY - It is not a question of names, but there must be a fair representation of the different parties in this Parliament.

Mr Hughes - Will not the names show from whence the proposed members ofthe Committee come ?

Mr SPEAKER - I must ask the honorable member for Dalley to address the Chair, and not to continue a conversation with the Prime Minister.

Mr MAHONY - I am anxious to do so, but this is a very important matter.

Mr SPEAKER - It is not proper for the honorable member to carry on a private conversation with the Prime Minister across the table.

Mr MAHONY - Very well. I consider that a Select Committee should be appointed to deal with this matter-

Mr McWilliams - It should be a Royal Commission, and not a Select Committee.

Mr MAHONY - That is so. I am very glad the honorable member has reminded me of that fact, because he and I have recently had rather an unpleasant experience of the difference between two such bodies in connexion with an inquiry which we were conducting as members of a Select Committee. We discovered that, because we were a Select Committee, our powers werevery limited. I think, therefore, that a Royal Commission should be appointed.

Mr Hughes - I cannot agree to that. I brought forward this motion, but I shall withdraw it and let the matter go to law if there is to be any further objection.

Mr MAHONY - If the Prime Minister chooses to exhibit temper in regard to the matter, that is his affair, but it will involve a loss to the country. If the Commonwealth has to submit to a loss of thousands of pounds merely because he chooses to lose his temper, the Commonwealth will know what to do.

Mr Hughes - I give way to the honorable member in everything he wants, and yet he keeps on asking for more, and more, and more. Oliver Twist was a fool to him.

Mr MAHONY - Will the Prime Minister agree to the Committee being vested with the power for which I have been contending?

Mr Hughes - I will give it all the power that I can.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! This conversation is absolutely irregular, and must not be continued.

Mr MAHONY - I desire that the Committee shall have ample powers to, inquire into this matter, and shall not be restricted in their investigations.

Mr Hughes - I have said that they should have the power, and they shall. We will give them all the power that we have.

Mr MAHONY - All the power that we have?

Mr Hughes - Can I give them any more?

Mr MAHONY - If the Prime Minister will agree that the Committee shall have all the power which this House can conf er upon it, I will accept the proposal.

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