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Wednesday, 6 December 1905

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator will excuse me for pointing out that the report of the Standing Orders

Committee is to the effect that the (Committee is not "at present" able to make any recommendation.

Senator BEST - That means the same thing. If there was any hope of the Committee coming to an agreement, I should say that the subject ought to be referred back to it.

The PRESIDENT - The Standing Orders Committee never had this proposal submitted to it.

Senator BEST - But it had before it the question involved in the proposed new standing order. It was felt that by reason of certain decisions that had been given honorable senators were unduly limited in dealing with Bills by the Standing Orders themselves, which stated that only matters relevant to the subject-matter could, be discussed. It was ' suggested to the Standing Orders Committee that greater liberty might be given. At present, the Standing Orders practically amount to saying that it is competent for the Committee of the Whole to deal with instructions which have been given to it relevant to the Bill before it. Such an instruction is of no use whatever. The Standing Orders at present, therefore, are of no assistance in the way of granting further liberty. It was, consequently, considered that we might provide that power should be given to the Committee of the Whole to consider such amendments as did not deal entirely with the subjectmatter of a Bill. When the Electoral Bill was under consideration, certain amendments were moved affecting portions of the principal Act. Those amendments were held to be irrelevant. It was felt to be a hardship that we could not, in considering a Bill amending a large number of machinery and other sections of the principal Act, turn back to other sections for the purpose of amending them. Of course it is very difficult to determine exactly the form of words which would enable us to obtain the increased liberty that we desire. Senator Pearce has now drafted an amendment to meet tlie end in view. The Standing Orders Committee, having considered! the subject without coming to a decision. Senator Pearce appeals to the Senate itself to carry out its own wishes in this regard. So far' as I have been able to gather, his motion does not carry out the wishes of the Senate. I think, therefore, that we should take the responsibility of 'affirming this proposed new standing order. If anything would be gained by referring it back to the

Committee, I should agree to that course. But if the general sense of the Committee is taken, and it is conclusively indicated by the majority that we must have a standing order to this effect, then will be the time for the matter to be referred to the Committee, upon whom the duty will be incumbent to determine the form of the new standing order. Senator Dobson is hardly consulting the best interests of the Senate in the amendment which he has moved. Let us take the sense of the Senate. If it is determined that we ought to have a standing order in the direction suggested, we can refer the matter to the Committee to settle the form. If objection be taken to the verbiage of "this motion, let an instruction be given to the Standing Orders Committee to prepare a standing order to the effect desired.

Senator Dobson - Would the President not understand that to be an. objection to the report?

The PRESIDENT - I have already said that I am in entire sympathy with the object of the motion. The only question is as to the verbiage - how to frame the standing order, so as to get rid of the difficulty presented, and, while giving further power to a Committee of the Whole, not to land us in other difficulties.

Senator BEST - If there is practically unanimity of opinion that a standing order should be prepared, the amendment may be altered accordingly, with a view to the Standing Orders Committee framing a standing order to the effect desired.

Senator Dobson - I have no objection to that.

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