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Friday, 15 June 1906

The PRESIDENT - My attention has been called to this point. We must not only consider the Standing Orders referred to by the honorable senator, but must also consider standing order 14, and the practice of Parliament. According to the ordinary practice of Parliament, as a matter of courtesy to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, no business is taken until the Add ress-in-Reply has been disposed of. That was the general rule. In many Parliaments the first reading of a Bill was movedto vindicate the right of Parliament to conduct its own business in its own way ; but as a matter of courtesy, no other business was done. When we framed our new Standing Orders, it was found to be inconvenient to strictly adhere to that rule, and we altered it to a certain extent by providing that certain motions should be taken before the Address-in-Reply was agreed to. Those motions are the fixing of the days and hours of meeting and the appointment of Standing Committees.

Senator Col Neild - May I draw your attention to the word "includes " in standing order 14?

The PRESIDENT -If it had not been for that word, we could not have taken any business whatever until the AddressinReply had been disposed of. Clearly that word " includes " enables us, according to our own Standing Orders, to do certain formal business before we agree to the AddressinReply. When we come to the other Standing Orders to which Senator Neild has referred, we find that? the word " formal," as there used, has a different signification altogether. It refers to business which the Senate has declared shall not be discussed. There, as I say, it has a different signification to what it has in standing order 14. I think we should get into difficulties if I were to submit a great many of these motions which can be put after the Address-in-Reply has been disposed of, before that has been done; because, having put the question of whether they are " formal " or " not formal," it is for the Senate to give the answer; and we might go on with a great' deal of business before the Address-in-Reply was disposed of. I think it would be far wiser to adhere to our former practice.

Senator Col Neild - With great respect, may I submit for your consideration whether, assuming the strict accuracy of the views you have just enunciated, it will not be equally inconvenient and equally likely to lead to the difficulties you have suggested as to dealing with purely formal motions, for questions to be asked and answered ?

The PRESIDENT - There can be no discussion on questions.

Senator Col Neild - Nor on formal motions, with great respect.

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