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Wednesday, 3 August 1921

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens - The point of order raised by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is, of course, a very important one, and, although our Standing Orders are silent in this connexion, fortunately we have ample precedents to guide us. As honorable senators are aware, where our Standing Orders are silent, this Senate, as well as all other Parliaments or branches' of a Legislature, are guided by the practice of the House of Commons.

The whole question turns oh whether the matter is sub judice or not.From the statements of the Minister for Defence, speaking on behalf of the Repatriation Department, and of Senator Elliott, it appears to me that the terms upon which thisbusiness was handed over by the Repatriation Department to the trustees is a matter which is now awaiting settlement by the Court, because certain parties, according to the statement by Senator Elliott, have initiated proceedings to prevent the trustees from taking any action in regard to it. Therefore, the whole question, in my opinion, is involved in litigation. The last edition of May, on page 296, clearly lays down the practice of the House of Commons as follows : -

Matters awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law should not be brought forward in debate. This rule was observed by Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, both by the wording of the speech from the Throne and by their procedure in the House; regarding Mr.

O'Connell's case, and has been maintained by rulings from the Chair.

That ruling has been followed by innumerable others, and it is obviously a good one, because it would be highly improper for any person occupying a position of privilege in this Senate to seek to prejudice a case which is awaiting judgment by a Court. Therefore, as I gather from Senator Elliott's remarks that the terms upon which this property was handed over is a matter that will come before a Court, by whom it will, no doubt, be weighed, and a judgment given, and as the case is still awaiting adjudication, following the practice of the House of Commons I must rule that the honorable senator is but of order.

Senator Lynch - Might not a trumpedup case hamper the freedom of Parliament?

The PRESIDENT - I have nothing to do with that.

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