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Wednesday, 21 April 1915

Mr FOWLER (Perth) .- I am well aware that this is not a very opportune time to suggest to the Government and the Committee an increase in any particular item; but I determined some time ago, as the result of personal experience, that as soon as I was in a position which would free my action from any personal significance, I would direct the attention of the Government and the Committee to the allowance of the Chairman of Committees. It is set down at £500, but in reality the Chairman draws only £300 for his work in the chair, since, under the Act dealing with the allowances of members, his salary as a private member goes back to the original one of £400 per annum. I do not wish to make any comparisons between the position of the Chairman of Committees and that of the Speaker, but I may be allowed to make one or two suggestions. I do not intend again to occupy the position of Chairman of Committees, and I therefore think I shall be in order in asking the Committee to give some consideration to this matter. The Speaker has a net salary of £900 per annum, and his services are undoubtedly of that value to the House. We require as Speaker an individual of wide experience and knowledge of the rules of debate and of the Standing Orders. But the Chairman of Committees requires an equally thorough knowledge of parliamentary procedure. I am aware that Mr. Speaker has, outside the chamber, other duties that require attention; but, even taking into consideration the additional duties falling upon him, I think there is too great a discrepancy between his allowance and that of the Chairman of Committees. The Chairman of Committees has a position quite as responsible as that of Mr. Speaker, while he is in the chair. He has to give his decisions upon his own responsibility, and, so far as the strain "of the work is concerned, I think it will be admitted that he has to be on duty quite as lon» as Mr. Speaker, and under circumstances that are frequently even more trying than when the House itself is discussing a general proposition. The Chairman, even when he is not in the chair, has still to be on duty, since he never knows when he may be called to his position; and he has also to be ready to relieve Mr. Speaker. I think, upon consideration, the Treasurer, who alone has the power in this matter to give my proposition any direct shape, will recognise that we have here an anomaly that requires to be adjusted.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 3 (Parliamentary Reporting Staff), £8,072; division 4 (the Library), £6,351 ; division 5 (Refreshment Rooms), £1,216; division 6 (Water Power), £175; division 7 (Electric Lighting, Repairs, <£.c), £1,070; division 8 (Queen's Hall), £520; division 9 (Parliament Gardens), £665; division 10 (Miscellaneous), £1,466, agreed to.

Prime Minister's Department.

Division 11 (Prime Minister), £19.756.

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