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Thursday, 8 September 1949

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister is entitled to make his speech without interruption. I ask the honorable member for Warringah to observe the Standing Orders.

Mr DEDMAN - The honorable member indulged in unruly and undignified conduct, and for that he was suspended.

Mr Spender - What did I do?

Mr DEDMAN - The honorable member can read the record in Hansard for himself, and if he does not realize then that he was unruly I shall be very surprised. After the honorable member had been named and suspended, another honorable member was similarly dealt with. That is the most recent incident upon which this motion expressing lack of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker is based.

The honorable member for Richmond, the honorable member for Warringah and the honorable member for Parramatta were named by the Deputy Speaker for refusing to resume their seats while he was on his feet attempting to maintain order. For thus upholding the authority of the Chair, the Deputy Speaker was made the subject of a motion of want of confidence by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Chair should be supported rather than condemned for the action that was taken. Each of the four incidents that I have mentioned followed the same pattern. In three of the four, the honorable member for Richmond was involved and I think in two of them the honorable member for Warringah was also involved. The honorable member for Richmond and several other honorable members opposite should make a special study of Standing Order 278. In the final analysis in each of the cases to which I have referred, the trouble has arisen from disregard of that standing order, which states -

Whenever the Speaker rises during a debate, any member then speaking, or offering to speak, shall sit down, and the House shall be silent, so that the Speaker may be heard without interruption.

The principle embodied in that standing order is dealt with in May's Parliamentary Practice, in the following terms : -

When the Speaker rises to preserve order or to give a ruling on a doubtful point he must always be heard in silence, and no member may stand when the Speaker is on his feet.

Instead of observing this fundamental principle of orderly conduct, all of the offending honorable members remained standing and attempted to speak in defiance of the Chair. Such defiance of the Chair deserves no support from any member of this House. I suggest that if the Chair has erred in the past it has been on the side of leniency. If I had the temerity to make any criticism of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker or any other honorable member who has occupied the chair in this House in recent times it would be that he has not been strict enough.

While the occupant of the Chair is on his feet, any honorable member interrupting should, in my opinion, be named without any argument or warning whatever. After all, Mr. Speaker or his deputy is the umpire and he should not be placed in the position of having to argue with the players when he gives a decision. Motions which attempt to censure Mr. Speaker or any of his deputies for upholding the authority of the Chair have been launched by the Opposition without thought and as carelessly as a stone is thrown by a small boy. Let us compare the record in this House with the record in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. As I have said, four motions directed against the Chair have been moved in this House within less than five years. In the British House of Commons, the last motion of censure against Mr. Speaker was moved in 1902 by an Irish Nationalist member who had been named and suspended for an offensive interruption directed against Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary. The previous instance occurred in 1822, and the one before that occurred in 1777.

Mr White - We can beat that.

Mr DEDMAN - Yes, the present Opposition in this House can beat the House of Commons for disorderly conduct. That is perfectly true, and the honorable member for Balaclava is one of the worst offenders. That is not a record of which he should be very proud.

Mr White - I ask the Minister to withdraw the statement that I am one of the most disorderly members in the House. It is offensive, and I ask the honorable gentleman to apologize.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I think that the Chair will have to agree with the Minister. I have repeatedly called the honorable member to order in the last half hour, but he has continued to interrupt.

Mr DEDMAN - The records show that there have been three attempts to censure the Chair in the United Kingdom House of Commons in the last 170 years, and that there have been four such attempts by the Opposition in this House within a little over four years. The British tradition in this matter is expressed in Redlich's Parliamentary Procedure as follows : -

It need hardly be said that a motion to censure the Speaker is abnormal and happens rarely, and that such a motion would only be acceded to by thu House if the circumstances fully justified it. To an Englishman it would appear seriously to undermine the exalted position and dignity of the Speaker, if, in addition to his application of the rules being open to challenge upon special and important occasions, it was competent for every member to call in question the Speaker's authority whenever he choose, and if he was liable at all times to defend the correctness of his decisions. It is true that the House is the Supreme Court of Appeal, to which the Speaker like all others, is subordinate, but the authority of the Chair is equally firmly established as against the individual members. Until the judgment of the House is appealed to in the prescribed form the authority of the Speaker must override the doubts of a single member and he final. According to English ways of looking at things the parliamentary umpire would be as much lowered by a dispute with a number about his ruling as a judge would bc in a court of law, if, after giving his decision, he allowed himself to be drawn into an argument with the parties whose case he had disposed of, or with the public about the correctness of his judgment or the grounds upon which it was based.

It is not Mr. Deputy Speaker who is deserving of censure. If any censure is due it should be directed against the coterie of members on the Opposition side, who consistently challenge the rulings from the Chair with great displays of indignation, and then, when the authority of the Chair has been upheld' by the House, attempt to censure Mr. Speaker in an attempt to excuse their own conduct. With them the umpire is always wrong and they accuse him of bias against them. I think the House should express its disapproval of these tactics. Accordingly, I move -

That all words after "That" be left out. with a view to insert in Heu thereof the following words: - "this House declares its determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair, and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with ability and impartiality, has not at all times received the support from all members which he is entitled to expect in maintaining that dignity and authority."

If the amendment is carried, the motion will read -

That this House declares its determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair, and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with ability and impartiality, has not at all times received the support from all members which he is entitled to expect in maintaining that dignity and authority.

Mr Holloway - I second the amendment.

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