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Tuesday, 13 October 1931

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to make that observation.

Mr COLEMAN - I withdraw those words, and say that the statements I have in mind are made with a reckless disregard for accuracy. Nor are they in keeping with the dignity of this House. The manner in which mercenary motives are attributed by one member to another causes a bad view to be held by the public in regard to this Parlia- ment, and I deplore it. If evil motives are continually attributed, the public will begin to feel that the Parliament is permeated with mercenary instincts, and will condemn the institution.

I have been a member of the Public Works and Public Accounts Committees. They were established by the Cook Government in 1913, because it was felt that this Parliament did not exercise an effective control over the Executive Government in regard to expenditure on public works, and in connexion with matters affecting general administration. It was because it was considered that Parliament should exercise that control, and be vested with a measure of responsibility, that these committees were established. It is from that stand-point that uninformed members of this Parliament should approach this question, instead of indulging in more or less cheap jibes, and submitting arguments which are not based on facts. The British Parliament, upon which our parliamentary institutions are modelled, has standing committees established with the object ofcontrolling the Executive, and preventing the development of cabinet despotism which is condemned by administrative authorities throughout the British Dominions to-day. It is a matter of indifference to me whether fees, if they may be so termed, are, or are not paid to members of the two committees under consideration; it is the principle underlying the establishment of the committees that is valuable, and should be extended in this Parliament. We have the anomalous position of honorable members opposite seeking to make political capital out of this proposal, while the members of the party with which they are associated in another place are urging the establishment of additional standing committees. To ensure proper recognition of individual and collective responsibility in regard to public finance and administration, the committee system should be extended. Instead of havingtwo committees, we should have a number, the work of which would educate members of this Parliament, a number of whomI submit need educating in the principles of parliamentary government and administration. If they were associated with such committees they would not make statements such as they have made from time to time in this chamber and elsewhere. I presume that on the motion for the second reading of this bill I am entitled to discuss the work of not only the Public Works Committee, but also that of the Public Accounts Committee. In the matter of attendances, I admit that there have been individual cases of abuse ; but not by members of the present Accounts Committee of which I am the chairman.

Mr James - Of course not.

Mr COLEMAN - The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has expressed his opinions, and should permit me to do the same.

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