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Wednesday, 17 August 1921

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens (QUEENSLAND) - The Minister for Repatriation is right in saying that this is the first time that the point on which I am asked to rule has arisen. In my opinion, the Standing Orders are clear regarding it. They say that in Committee no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time on any one question, the object being to prevent the making of long speeches on questions in detail. In Committee it is to matters of detail that discussion is directed, and this necessitates the making of frequent rather than of long speeches. The Chairman of Committees says - and it has not been contradicted - that on this occasion Senator Lynch addressed him, not on the question before the Chair, but on a matter of procedure - that is, that he simply asked for information. It is obvious that, were such an intervention taken to constitute a break of the discussion sufficient to enable a previous speaker to resume, the Standing Orders could be defeated by an arrangement with senators that they should occasionally intervene with questions of procedure. This would allow a speech to be continued for an hour, or even longer. The rule, if it is to have any force, must be respected in the spirit as well as in the; letter, and I hold strongly that it is the Chairman who must be the judge of whether any interruption was sufficient to permit of a senator again having the right to speak. If a casual remark or two in the nature of an interjection were regarded as a sufficient break, the object of the standing order would be defeated. I am certain that honorable senators have sufficient confidence in the Chairman to feel sure that he will give fair, play and due consideration to every member of the Committee.

Senator Wilson - During Senator Crawford's speech last week there were several short breaks.

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