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Thursday, 28 April 1921

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I have given some consideration to the point of order raised by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). The Bill, in clauses 7, 10, and 11, contains provisions dealing with the appointment and promotion of officers, and the amendment proposed by Senator Elliott is to a section of the Act relating to the appointment of officers. Standing order 201 provides -

Any amendment may be made to any part of a Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill ....

Standing order 332 states -

An instruction can be given to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to. amend, . . . .

Presumably, therefore, no instruction is required where the proposed amendment is relevant to the subject-matter , of the amending Bill. Our Standing Orders are provided to prevent what I might term irrelevant redundancy in discussion and in the proposing of amendments, 'and, while I must observe their spirit for the purposes indicated, at the same time it is beyond my province to interpret them in such a way as to materially impair the privileges of the Committee during a discussion of a clause in any measure. I am of the opinion that the amendment submitted by Senator Elliott is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and, therefore, the' point of -order taken by the Minister cannot be sustained. In support of this view, I should like to quote a ruling by a former illustrious

Presidentof this Chamber - I refer to the late Sir Richard Baker - .

Amendments in Committee must be relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill as read a second time. The question to be considered is whether an amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. If so, it can be moved whether it contains a new principle or not. Neither the title of the Bill, nor the scope or intent of the Bill is the test.

To be fair, I must say that another ruling exists in connexion with amendments moved to a Customs Tariff Bill, but, although it would seem to be quotable in opposition to the ruling I have just read, the nature of a Customs Tariff Bill is such that it is practically a schedule, and the relation of each item one to the other is so clearly defined that the analogy between such a Bill and the measure now under discussion is not complete. The ruling given by President Baker is more applicable to the point of order raised by Senator Pearce.

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