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Friday, 5 April 1946

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - I direct attention to a paragraph in yesterday's Sydney Sun because it confirms something I learned a little while ago in regard to new conditions prevailing in the British Parliamentary Labour party. It appears that the party has suspended what are known as party standing orders, not the House Standing Orders, to permit every member of the party in the House to speak and vote against the Attlee Government, if he feels disposed to do so. The statement published last night was made by Mr. Herbert Morrison, one of the foremost members of the party. He said -

They have had a great time calling Labour members a collection of dummies, robots, lobbyfodder, and so on.

Henceforth, it appears, they are to be relieved from the caucus rule that they must vote in accordance with the party decision. I raise this because it is high time that freedom of speech in this Parliament, although it was defeated at the last referendum, should be allowed to members of the Labour party. I am appalled at what might happen in certain conditions. For instance, if an honorablemember of the Labour party happened: to say something in public which was not in accordance with the party's policy, the poor devil might be sent to Coventry.. Many members of the party are travelling; overseas. He might have to go, too. Or he might be forced, like Sir Francis Drake, to dine alone. The only difference between him and Sir Francis Drake: would be that, whereas Sir Francis dined to music, the offending member would dine to discord. I address this matter to the Prime Minister Mr. Chifley), but, as he is a very busy man, he might delegate his authority to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell),. and ask him to ascertain whether that report is correct, and whether there is any prospect of our having this control on the statements of Labour members in this Parliament lifted in order that they might openly say whatwe know from a study of their faces they have in their minds.

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