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Thursday, 13 April 1972
Page: 1664

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) - It is with a certain degree of reluctance that I make comment upon this measure which we are debating tonight because, of course, as a member of the Standing Orders Committee I was present when this matter was discussed and the recommendation that appears in this report was made. Additionally, I do not want to appear to be saying anything against any of my colleagues or any honourable members who have been appointed as Assistant Ministers. How ever, at this moment I want to say something about these appointments and the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee. I will not vote against those recommendations. 1 make that perfectly clear.

One of the elements of our democratic way of life - one of the elements of our parliamentary system - has been the responsibility of members of the Ministry to the Parliament for the subject matter and for the legislation which a Minister brings before this Parliament. This is part and parcel - an important part - of our system and I would hope that the acceptance of this proposal does not and will never mean any lessening in the responsibility of a Minister to this Parliament. I am thinking now particularly in terms of the Committee stages of a Bill when questions are being asked. I know that my colleagues who are Assistant Ministers will not take my remarks as any personal reflection upon them, their ability or their capacity to fulfil the duties and responsibilities of their posts and in giving assistance to the Ministers to whom they have been appointed as Assistant Ministers. When a Bill is at the Committee stage the Minister must accept full responsibility for that legislation. It is at that time that supporters of the Government and perhaps, because of the circumstances, members of the Opposition particularly are entitled to ask questions of the Minister and to have the Minister responsible for the legislation responsible for the answers to those questions. This is all that I want to say at this moment. I want to record the fact that I hope the acceptance of this motion will never result in the lessening of ministerial responsibility because Ministers of this Parliament must accept full responsibility for the legislation they present and for the departments of which they are the heads. If this responsibility is ever weakened then our parliamentary system also will be weakened.

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