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Thursday, 26 November 1931

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (Prime Minister) .-by leave-I place on the table of the House for the information of honorable members a copy of the bill to give effect to the Statute of Westminster, which is now before the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Honorable members will note that the bill does not contain the second part of paragraph 2, of clause 4 of the resolution passed by both Houses of this Parliament in July last. These words were added to the resolution when it was before this House as a further assurance against any possible interference by the Commonwealth Parliament with matters solely within the authority of the States. As a still further assurance, this Parliament last month passed a further resolution, the terms of which are contained in clause 9 (2) of the bill.

The Government in the United Kingdom informed the Commonwealth Government that the omission of the words to which I have referred was based upon the view that the omitted provision was fully covered by the later resolution, which was intended to be in. substitution for it. In reply, the Commonwealth Government informed the Government in the United Kingdom that that was not its intention, but that in its view there was a distinction between the two provisions. Whilst both refer to legislation by the Parliament at Westminster in respect of matters within the exclusive powers of the States, the omitted words provide that the statute does not authorize a request by the Commonwealth for such legislation without the concurrence of the States, and the supplementary resolution means that a request by a State for such legislation does notrequire the concurrence of the Commonwealth, where such concurrence is not required by the existing constitutional practice.

The Government in the United Kingdom has proposed that the clause be omitted for the present, and that the question of its later insertion be considered after the consultation with the States, which has been promised before the statute is brought into operation in Australia. As the Government in the United Kingdom is, advised that the omission of the clause meanwhile cannot affect the rights of the States, the Commonwealth Government has acquiesced in this proposal.

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