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Wednesday, 24 May 1939

Mr BRENNAN - As the honorable member says, we have hardly become accustomed to the new portfolios and the new Ministers, and obviously, from what we have heard to-day, the present Ministers have not become reconciled to the past Ministers. I wished to discuss the constitutional method by which the Government entered upon its ministerial responsibilities. That is one of the things which, no doubt, I shall be prevented from discussing, inasmuch as we are to separate at such an early date. By the consent of the House. the Standing Orders have economized time by limiting the length of individual addresses, and I point out further that never in my 25 years' experience of parliamentary life have the Standing Orders been so rigorously interpreted from the Chair as in recent times. That being so, I think it is to be greatly regretted that the rights of individual members should be curtailed at this early date- in our sittings. Each individual member is responsible to his constituents. That is the democratic theory. The Executive is really the instrument of Parliament, but the practice is to make the Parliament the instrument of the Executive. That is an inversion of the proper order. I say that no executive can safely evade by the device of flight from Parliament its responsibilities to the people. The people will note the fact that they are cheated out of their rights insofar aa their representatives are prevented from being here in the popular assembly to which they are elected. The Parliament is not merely the instrument for voting money to enable the Executive to proceed with its work; it is a deliberative assembly. The Parliament, as its very name indicates, is a body in which men talk and are presumed to reason to the best of their ability. Of course, if they fail to take advantage of their' opportunity to do so, that is the fault of the people who send them here, and the responsibility then goes back to them. To add another to the long list of protests, I protest against the rights of individual members being filched and the rights of their constituents being invaded. In a democracy the parliament is the place where ordinary men express the views of ordinary people; it is not a place where governments obtain the passage of funds to enable a totalitarian state to operate outside the legislative walls.

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