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Standing Orders Committee - Senate - Report - Second (Standing Committee)


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THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

1970-Parliamentary Paper No. 2

The Senate

REPORT FROM THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

RELATING TO

STANDING COMMITTEES

DATED 17 MARCH 1970

Laid on th e Table by rhe Presiden t and ordered to be printed

17 March 1970

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE CANBERRA: 1970

8

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

The President, Senator the Honourable Sir Alister McMullin, K.C.M.G. (Chairman)

The Chairman of Committees, Senator T . L. Bull, O.B.E.

The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Honourable Ken Anderson

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator L. K.

Murphy, Q.C.

Senator J. L. Cavanagh

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, K.B.E.

Senator R. H. Lacey

Senator R. G . Withers

Senator the Honourable R. C. Wright

Printed by Authority by the Government Printer of the Commonwealth of Australia

THE SENATE

REPORT FROM THE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

During the 26th Parliament the Standing Orders Committee began a con­ sideration of the standing committee system and that consideration has con­ tinued during the present 27th Parliament. To assist a consideration of this matter, the Clerk of the Senate was asked

to prepare a Report on Standing Committees. The Report was submitted in three Parts, dated November 1969, January and March 1970, respectively. The Standing Orders Committee resolved that the Clerk's Report be referred to the Senate for consideration. The Report is appended.

The Committee makes no recommendation in regard to the Clerk's Report and submits it without comment.

The Senate March 1970

13316!70--2 Ill

A. M. McMULLIN President of the Senate

83

The Senate

REPORT FOR THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE ON

STANDING COMMITTEES

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

CLERK's 0FFICB

MARCH 1970

85

REPORT ON STANDING COMMITTEES

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

In August 1969 the Standing Orders Committee asked the Clerk of the Senate to submit a Paper on Standing Committees. The essence of the Report is that a standing committee system is standard and essential equipment of the modern legislature. Work-load alone is a com­ pelling reason. Equally important to Parliament in its consideration of public

affairs is that the legislature may, through its committees, call upon scholarly research and advice equal in competence to that relied upon by the Govern­ ment. The Report is in three Parts:

PART 1, dated November 1969 (see p. 5), is limited to a consideration of certain specialist or 'watchdog' type of standing committees to inform the Senate on matters of public importance and to examine the organ­ isation and working of particular aotivities of government. Subject­

matters selected are relatively neglected areas, including statutory corporations, science and technology, peti-tions, broadcasting and tele­ vision, and national publicity and public relations. However, if the Senate favours a comprehensive committee system comparable with the highly successful committee systems in other

Commonwealth countries, which is the recommendation of this Report, then the specialist subjects referred to in Part 1-with the particular exception of statutory corporations-could be effectively embraced by the legislative and general purpose committees proposed in Part 2.

PART 2, dated January 1970 (seep . 31), offers the blue-print of a compre­ hensive standing committee system. It proposes for consideration what the Report describes as legislative and general purpose committees, which would largely combine the functions of specialist and 'watchdog'

committees and, in addition, include in their jurisdiction the considera­ tion of Bills, Estimates, petitions, inquiries, papers, etc. These legislative and general purpose committees, which would broadly ·cover the activities of all the departments of government, are :

• The Standing Committee on External Affairs and Defence; • The Standing Committee on Transport and Communications; • The Standing Committee on Trade, Industry and Labour;

• The Standing Committee on Legal , Constitutional and Home Affiairs; • The Standing Committee on Health, Welfare, Education and Science; and • The Standing Committee on National Finance and Development.

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The Repo.rt does not propose that these committees should be empowered to inquire into any matter at will. They would stand ready to inquire into and report upon any Bill, problem or other matter referred to them by the Senate, on motion.

A feature of this proposed committee system is the consideration of the annual Estimates. Following the general Budget debate, the Estimates would be referred to the standing committees, when depart­ mental officers may be called to explain proposed expenditure. The Reports of the standing commiHees , together with the Hansard record, would be presented to the Senate for information and reference during the floor consideration of the Appropriation Bills. It is thought

that thi;s procedure would lead to a more orderly and effective examina­ tion of the annual Estimates.

PART 3, dated March 1970 (see p. 47) , sums up and recommends the appointment of: ( 1 ) A Standing Committee on Statutory Corporations as proposed in Part 1; and

( 2) Six legislative and general purpose committees as proposed in Part 2. The recommendations, which reflect the best features of the United King­ dom, Canadian and New Zealand systems, suggest no assumption of Senate powers which cannot be exercised under existing Standing Orders: they are merely proposals for the development of existing procedures to meet the

demands of the times.

The Senate

REPORT FOR THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE ON

STANDING COMMITTEES

C LERK'S O FFICE

NovEMBE R 1969

Part 1

89

Contents-Part I

The role of Committees

The Standing Committee on Statutory Corporations­ A case for List of statutory corporations

The Standing Committee on Science and Technology­ A case for House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology Canadian Committee on Science Policy

The Standing Committee on Petitions-

page 7

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12

15 16 17

A case for 18

Paper on the investigation of petitions presented by the President of the Senate at the Second Conference of Presiding Officers, Brisbane, April 1969 19 Speech by the Deputy Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament at the Second Conference of Presiding Officers, Brisbane, April 1969 22

The Standing Committee on Broadcasting and Televi sion-A case for

The Standing Committee on Narcotics­ A case for

The Standing Committee on National Publicity and Public Relations­ A case for

Draft Standing Order 36AA for giving effect to these Standing Committees

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25

26

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29

STANDING COMMITTEES: PART l

Part 1 of this Report is limited to suggestions for the appointment of certain specialist and 'watchdog' types of standing committees. Part 2, however, will deal more comprehensively with the general subject of parliamentary com­ mittees and will propose for consideration what this Report describes as legislative and general purpose committees, which would largely combine

the functions of specialist, 'watchdog' and legislative committees. Part 1, therefore, will consider only the following suggested specialist and 'watchdog' types of committees: Standing Committee on Statutory Corporations ;

Standing Committee on Science and Technology; Standing Commit·tee on Petitions; Standing Committee on Broadcasting and Television ; Standing Commit-tee on Narcotics; and Standing Committee on National Publicity and Public Relations.

THE ROLE OF COMMITfEES

While Part 2 will refer more fully to the role of parliamentary committees, some general observations are made as an introduction to a consideration of standing committees. During the last session five Senate select committees were appointed,

namely: Air Pollution; Canberra Abattoir; Medical and Hospital Co&ts ;

Off-shore Petroleum Resources ; and Water Pollution. Two, Off-shore Petroleum Resources and Water Pollution, have not yet reported.

These ad hoc select committees, set up to inquire into and report upon a Bill or some special matter, go out of existence when report is made to the Senate. There will always be a very real place for this type of special committee, but it is submitted that standing committees are the strength of

any committee system. They: ( 1) permit a continuing surveillance of defined fields ; (2) from time to time make progress reports on chosen matters coming within their prescribed jurisdiction; (3) do not suffer from the handicap of select committees which are

under pressure to complete inquiries by stated dates ;

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( 4) create an awareness, both within the Public Service and at large, of Senate 'watchdog' functions in certain fields of government; ( 5) create within Parliament certain defined areas, as with regulations and ordinances, where there develops a willing disposition to 'leave

it to the Senate', thus enhancing the status of the Upper House; and ( 6 ) provide a unique opportunity for organisations and others to make representations and submissions to Parliament regarding the adminis­ tration of the laws coming within the jurisdiction of the committees. The type of standing committee to be chosen for an Upper House needs careful consideration. It is submitted that factors to be taken into account in the choice of standing committees for the Senate include:

( 1) the role of committees is not policy making, nor policy criticising except in an administrative sense, but rather of inquiry and counsel and of throwing light into dark corners (and see p. 40); (2) hot and controversial political iss ues , which might only transfer party

warfare from the floor of the Senate to the committee room, should be avoided; and (3) neglected areas (e.g. statutory corporations) are particularly appro­ priate for committee activity. The Regulations and Ordinances Com­

mittee is a classic illustration of this. Until the establishment of that committee in 1932, there had been no real oversight of the Execu­ ·tive's regulation-making power.

Appointment of Standing Committees A draft Standing Order which would give effect to these standing committees is appended at page 29.

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A CASE FOR PARLIAMENTARY CONTROL OF COMMONWEALTH STATUTORY CORPORATIONS1

Definition: A Commonwealth statutory corporation is a body corporate created by a Commonwealth statute, having a legal personality with perpetual succession and a common seal and the capacity to hold and dispose of real and personal property and to sue and

be sued in its corporate name.

1. There are three compelling grounds for parliamentary control of Common· wealth statutory corporations: ( 1) The constitutional and legal status of these corporations.

(2) Control of these corporations is a parliamentary matter. (3) The public interest in a democratic society.

2. Constitutional and legal status of Commonwealth statutory corporations ( 1) Pursuant to its incorporating statute each statutory corporation has the constitutional status of: (i) an integral part of the executive organ of government with the

legal status of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth; or (ii) an agent of the executive organ of government with the status of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth; or (iii) an agent of the executive organ of government without the status

of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth.

(2) There is a crisis in the control of Commonwealth statutory corpora­ tions which is a central constitutional problem. The so urce of the problem arises from the difference in quality between the two types of Commonwealth governmental administrative agencies:

(i) the ministerial departments ; and (ii) the Commonwealth statutory corporations. This difference in quality rests in the fact that the statutory corporations are outside the normal system of control and accountability to Parliament which operates in respect of the Departments of State, i.e. the operation of the principle of ministerial responsibility to Parliament.

Speaking of the need for the constitutional lawyer to watch the growth of the development of statutory corporations, the learned authors of Wade and Phillips: Constitutional Law (7th ed .) 2 , pointed out th at the central constitutional problem of the rel ationship to Parliament of the industrial and

commercial corporations is still in process of evolution and th at the urgent question was how the already weak parliamentary control can be strengthened. 1

This section contributed by Mrs K. I. Inglis, Senior Resea rch Officer. 2

Ch. 21, p. 292.

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(3) The law in the Australian federal system is that: 'the executive body is at all times subject to the control of the legislature'. 3

Since the 1939-45 war the Commonwealth Government has greatly increased the use of statutory corporations as a means of performing certain of its expanding functions with the result that a growing area, comprising the day to day administration of these statutory corporations for which account­ ability cannot be made to Parliament by the traditional means of ministerial responsibility to Parliament, is in effect screened from accountability to Parliament unless Parliament itself provides the manner in which this sector of the Executive is to be held directly responsible to Parliament for that

administrative field for which it is uniquely responsible.

3. Control of Commonwealth statutory corporations is a parliamentary matter

Under the Australian federal system:

( 1) The political principle of ministerial responsibility is ineffective to secure full accountability by statutory corporations to Parliament. The very purpose of the statutory corporations is to separate their operations from control by Departments of State and to free them from surveillance by a Minister responsible to Parliament for their administrative operations.

(2) The constitutional and legal limitations of the Federal system ensure that Parliament must provide for the public accountability of statu­ ·tory corporations in every aspect of their operations. 'Public accountability means that information must be published about the

performance of the industries, and that the public, and particularly the representatives of the public in Parliament, should be able to test the success of the industries and to measure their management.'4

(3) A standing committee for statutory corporations would not be con­ cerned with policy formulation which is for the executive organ of government.

But it is a parliamentary matter and nothing to do with policy as such for Parliament to examine:

( i) how far the statutory corporations are carrying out their statu­ tory duties ;

( ii ) how their functions and administration impinge on the rest of the economy: and

(iii) to what extent they are free agents financially and to what extent they are accountable to the Treasury. 3

Attorney-Ge neral of the Commonwealth of Australia v. The Queen (1956) 95 C.L.R. 529 at 540. 'The House of Comm o ns Select Committee on the Nati onali sed Industries, Session 1967-68 . First Report. p. 38 , s. 154.

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4 . Parliamentary control of statutory corporations in the public interest ( 1) A continuing inquiry by a parliamentary standing committee to make information publicly and authoritatively available concerning the day to day activities of statutory corporations in our democratic society is over­

due and has nothing to do with policy decisions as such. (2) Co-operative legislative-executive approach in other democratic countries. (i) In the Uni·ted Kingdom there are two active Parliamentary Commit­

tees inquiring into administration by the two sectors of the executive organ of government: (a) the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries; and (b) the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissio ner for

Administration . The Commonwealth Parliament is without any Committee to meet needs similar to those for which the House of Commons has made provision. (ii) President Nixon in his Reorganization Message to Congress on 30

January 19695 drew at·tention to the fact that in the United States of America the executive organ of government together with its admin­ istrative branch is created to serve, not to exist as an end in itself. The Presidential Message concluded with a reference to the

co-operative executive-legislative approach to the administrative organs of government regardless of party alignments. This same co-operative executive-legislative approach is much in point in Australia for dealing with the present need for a proper public accountability by statutory corporations. (iii) The outstanding feature of the Swedish system of government is the

separation of Ministries responsible for assisting with policy matters and the agencies which are alone responsible for the execution of policy. Commonwealth statutory corporations have much in com­ mon with their counterparts, the Swedish agencies, but the dis­

tinguishing feature is that the Swedish agencies must conduct their business with full accountability direct to the Swedish Parliament, whereas, in a vital area covering the administration and interpreta­ tio n of policy by statutory corporations, public accountability is

lacking in Aust ralia.

Submissions: (i)

(ii)

Parliamentary control of the administrative functions of Common­ wealth statutory corporations is imperative if the power of the legis­ lative organ of government as established under the Constituti on is not to be subverted.

A Senate standing committee would be effective to ensure public accountability by statutory corporations to Parli ament for the adminis tration of their statutory du ties. • Congressional Quarterly. Weekly R eport, vol. xxvii , pp. 235-6.

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COMMONWEALTH STATUTORY CORPORATIONS-1969

Corporation,

1. A ust ralian Apple and Pear Board

2. Australian Atomic Energy Commission 3. Australian Broadcasting Commission 4. Austral ian Broadcasting Control

Board

5. Australian Canned Fruits Board

6. Australi an Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Committee 7-9. A USTRALIAN CAPITAL T E RRITORY 7. Canberra College of Advanced

Education

8. Electricity Authority

9. National C apital Development Commission 10. Australian Coastal Shipping Commission 11. Australian Dairy Produce Board

12. Australian Dried Fruits' Control Board 13. Australian Egg Board 14. Australian Honey Board

15 . Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studi es 16. Australian Meat Board 17. Australian National Airlines

Commission 18. Australian National University 19. Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority 20. A ustral ian Tobacco Board 21 . Australian Tourist Commission 22. Australian War Memorial Fund

Board of Trustees 23. Australian Wheat Board 24. Australian Wine Board 25. Australian Wool Board 26. Australian Wool Testing Authority 27. Bankruptcy Trustees 28 . Commonwealth Banking

Corporation 29. Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia 30. Commonwealth Savings Bank of

Australia 31. Commonwealth Tracling Bank of Australia

Statute

Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1966 Atomic Energy Act 1953-1966

Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1969

Broadcasting and T elevision Act 1942-1969

Canned Fruits Export Marketing A ct 1963-1968 Canned Fruit (Sales Promotion) Act 1959

Canberra College of Advanced Education Act 1967 Australian Capital Territory Electricity Supply Act 1962-19'66 National Capital Development Commission.

Act 1957-1960 Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act 1956-1969 Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924-

1966

Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924- 1966

Egg Export Control Act 1947-1966 Honey Industry Act 1962-1966 Australian. Institute of Aborigin al Studies Act 1964-1966 Meat Industry Act 1964- 1969 A.ustralian National A irlines Act 1945-1966

Australian National University A ct !946 Stevedoring Industry Act 1956-1966

Tobacco Marketing Act 1965-1966 Australian Tourist Commission A ct 1967 Australian War Memorial Act 1962-1966

Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1968 Wine Overseas Marketing A ct 1929-1966 Woo/ Industry Act 1962-1967 Woo/Industry Act1962-1967 Bankruptcy Act 1966-1968 Commonwealth Banks A ct 1959-1968

Commonwealth Banks Act 1959-1968

Commonwealth Banks A ct 1959-1968

Commonwealth Banks A ct 1959-1968

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Corporation

32. Commonwealth Bureau of Roads 33. Commonwe.alth Railways Commissioner 34. Commonwealth Scientific and

Industrial Research Organization 35. Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission 36. Defence Forces Retirement Benefi ts

Fund

37 . Director of War Service Homes 38. Export P ayments Insurance Corpor·ation 39. Housing Loans Insurance

Corporation 40. Joint Coal Board 41. The Minister of State of the Commonwealth of Australia

administering the Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Act 1968 42. Ministerial Retiring Allowances Fund 43 . National Library of Australia

44. Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) 45. Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust

46. Repatriation Commission 47. Reserve Bank of Australia 48. Royal Australian Air Force Veterans' Residences Trust

49. Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority 50. Superannuation Board 51 . Trustees of the Royal

Australian Air F orce Welfare Trust Fund 52. Trustees of the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund

53. Trustees of the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund 54. Trustees of the Services Cantee ns Trust Fund 55. Tasmanian Joint Coal Board 56. Tea Importatio n Boa rd

Statute

Commonwealth Bureau of Roads Act 1964 Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1968

Science and Industry R esearch Act 1949-1968 Common wealth Serum Laboratories Act · 1961 -1966

Defence Forces R etirement Benefits Act 1948-1969 Wa r Service Hom es A ct 1918-1966 Export Payments Insurance Corporation

Act 1956-1966 Housing L oans Insurance Act 1965-1966

Coal Industry Act 1946-1966 4borigin al Emerprises (Assistance) Act 1968

Parliamentary R etiring Allowances Act 1948-1966 National Library Act 1960-1967 Overseas T elecommunications Act 1946-

1968 Parliamentary R etiring Allowances Act 1948-1 968 R eparriation Act 1920-1 969 Reserve Bank A ct 1959-1966 R oyal Australian Air Force V eterans'

R esidences Act 1953-1965 Snowy M ountains H ydro-electric Power Act 1949-1966 Superannuation Act 1922-1969

Services Trust F.unds Act 1947-1950

Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1 950

Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1 950

Services Trust Funds Act 1947-19 50

Coal industry (Tasmania ) A ct 1946-1966 Tea Importation Act 1951

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (63 and 64 Viet. Ch. 12.)

2. Commonwealth of Australia v. Rhind (1966-67) 40 A.L.J.R. 407, at412. 3. Spratt v. H ermes (1965) 11 4 C.L.R. 226. 4. Roche v. Kronheimer (1921) 29 C.L.R. 329. 5. Victorian Stevedoring and General Contracting Co. Pty Ltd and Meakes v.

Dignan (1931) 46 C.L.R. 73 . 6. Attorney-General of the Commonwea lth of Australia v. The Queen (1956). 95 C.L.R. 529 at 540. 7. l ui/li ard v. Greenman ( 1884) 110 U .S. 421 at 439. 8. Bank of New South Wales a nd others v. The Commonwealth (1948) 76 C.L.R.

1 at 333.

9. Woodww Wilson : 'The Study of Administration·. Politica l Science Quarterly , 18 87, reprinted P.S.Q. vol. 56, December 1941.

10. Commonwealth of Australia Parl iamentary Debates : H . of R. 18 M ay 1967 at p. 2336. H. of R. 26 August 1958 at p. 741. J I. D. N. Chester: 'Public corporations and the class ification of administrative bodies'.

Poli!ical Studies, vol. J , 1953.

12. Professor Friedman: 'The New public corporations and the law'. M.L.R. vol. 10, Jul y 1947, o. 3.

13 . The H ouse of Commons Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries. Se sion 1967-68 , First Report. Ordered by House of Commons to be printed 24 Jul y 1968. H. C. 37111.

14. H . of C. Debates. Parli a mentary Commiss ioner Bill. Debate on the Secon d Reading-18 Octobe r 1966. 15. The H ouse of Commons Select Committee on the Pa rli amentary Commissioner for Administration. Session 1967-68, Second Report. H .C. 350. 16. J. R. Odgers: R eport on th e United States Senate. Commonwea lth of Aust rali a

Parliamentary P aper 36 of 1956. 17. J. R. Odgers: Parliamentary A ccountability of Sta/utory Corporations. 19 August 1959.

18 . Australian Presiding Officers and Clerks-at-the-Table. Report of Second Con-ference, Brisbane, 8 Apr il 1969. 19. Congressional Quarterly. Weekl y Repor t, vo l. xxv ii , pp. 235-6. 20. Report of the Fulton Commit tee on th e Civi l Service. 1966-68 (Cmnd. 3638). 21. Wade and Phillips : Constilutional Law. 7th ed.

22. Michael Ryle . 'Committees of the House of Commons'. Political Quarterly, vol. 36, 1965.

23 . M. Webe r : Essays in sociology. Ed. H. H. Gerth and 0 . W. Mills. pp . 233 -4. 24. H . of C. Debate on the atio nalised Industrie . I I February 1969. pp. 1181-1274.

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A CASE FOR A STANDING COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Apart from departments and agencies obviously devoted to scientific and technical work, such as the C.S.I.R.O. and the Atomic Energy Commis­ sion, other government departments, such as the Department of Supply, undertake important science-based work, so that a large proportion of public effort and public money is expended on science. As technological develop­

ment continues, there is every reason to believe that the role of government in scientific work will increase. 2. By examining the actual and possible scientific activities of govern­ ment, a standing committee could be of assistance to Members of Parlia­ ment, to the Government, and to scientists and technologists:

(a) Members of Parliament would benefit from having factual informa­ tion, gathered and presented in a form to suit their needs, concern­ ing the scientific activities of government departments and signifi­ cant developments in science and technology. This factual informa­ tion is necessary if Members of Parliament are to have an informed

opinion upon the role of government in sc ience and upon legisla­ tion with a scientific element. ( b ) The government would benefit from the gathering of ideas and opinions concerning its role in scientific work, for this type of evi­

dence could be used in the formulation by the government of future policies. (c) Scientists and technologists would benefit from having an outlet for their ideas on the role of government in science. By di splaying the

interest of Parliament in science, the Committee could give valuable encouragement to the scientific community. 3. It is often said that every country ought to have a national science policy, in the sense of establishing priorities in research, and co-ordinating scientific work with long-term social and political goals. But every country

has a science policy in that decisions on these matters, if not made by the government, will be made piecemeal at a lower level in the departments and agencies responsible for scientific work. Such piecemeal and lower-level decision making could result in wastages and imbalances in the national science effort.

A committee on science and technology could, by its inquiries and sug­ gestions, help to bring more questions of science policy to the highest level of decision-making, the Cabinet and the Parliament. 4. By examining in some detail the annual reports of government agencies which undertake scienti fic work, the committee could suggest to such agencies which matters in -the reports Members of Parliament would

like further elucidated, thereby helping the agencies to perform adequately their function of reporting to Parliament.

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5. There are two overseas models of parliamentary committees on science, namely the British House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, and the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Science Policy. These committees have been very successful and an account of their work follows.

GREAT BRITAIN: SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology was set up on 14 December 1966, as an experiment by the Government, to see if select committees on particular subjects could help Parliament to perform its duties. The chief speaker for the Opposition supported without reserva­

tion the decision to set up the Committee (H. of C. Debates, 14 December 1966, p. 500).

The Committee was given the full powers of a select committee, to send for persons and papers, to sit during the adjournment of the House, and to move from place to place. It has generally opened its meetings to the press the public, and has published its minutes of evidence before preparing its reports.

The Committee was charged with considering science and technology. It interpreted these broad terms of reference to mean that it should under­ take to: 'examine national scientific and technological expenditure together with the

skills and use of manpower and resources involved, in both the public and the private sectors, in order to discover whether full value for money is being obtained; to examine the relative merits of priorities, and to make recommenda­ tions' (Second Special R eport of the Commit tee).

As its first subject for examination, the Committee chose the most expen­ sive of Britain's scientific efforts, the nuclear reactor programme. Through its hearings it initiated a complete public stocktaking of the programme. The report of the Committee suggested some re-organisation of the nuclear power

industry, and provided Parliament wi th the first comprehensive account of the industry.

The Government accepted the main contentions of the Committee. and announced a re-organisation of the nuclear power industry, along lines sug­ gested by the Committee's inquiry, in July 1968.

While its investigation of nuclear power was proceeding, the Committee was given by the House the task of looking into the problem of pollution of Britain's coastline by oil after the Torrey Can yon disaster. A Sub-committee on Coastal Pollution was established and was given full select committee powers by the House. In its report on the subject. th e Committee's evid ence caused it to be highly critical of the methods previously adopted to deal with oil spilled on the sea. The report helped to bring about a complete re-thinking

of techniques of dispersing the oil, and will be valuable in dealing with any future oil tanker or maritime oil well accidents.

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In March 1969, the Committee presented its second major report, on defence research. The report covered the purpose, formation, implementation and budgeting of defence research policy, and the structure and management of defence research establishments and major projects. The report was highly

praised by scientific circles, Nature regarding it as 'the best account so far of the workings of the machinery of defence research' (10 May 1969, p. 505). The Committee has since formed a number of sub-committees and · is now pursuing several subjects of inquiry simultaneously.

The 1966 experiment of two specialist committees (one on Science and Technology, one on Agriculture) was considered by the Government to have been a success, and other specialist committees have since been appointed (see Part 2 of this Report).

CANADA: SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE ON SCIENCE POLICY

The Special Committee of the Canadian Senate on Science Policy was set up following a motion in the Senate on 2 November 1967. This motion was moved by a Government backbencher and the Senate established the Committee on its own initiative.

The motion gave the Committee detailed terms of reference relating to the field of 'the scientific policy of the Federal Government', and was part of an expansion of the committee system of the Canadian Parliament, which in 1969 had twenty-four specialist committees ( see Part 2 of this Report).

Unlike its British counterpart, the Canadian Committee undertook a general inquiry into science policy and the scientific activities of all govern­ ment departments. Its hearings are held in public and its transcripts of evi­ dence are presented to Parliament and published as they are prepared.

The Committee's inquiry has stimulated a vigorous discussion of science policy inside and outside government, and has brought to light new ideas and hitherto unknown facts. The inquiry has now been extended beyond the time originally laid down for report, and the Committee has virtually

assumed a permanent status.

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, 01

A CASE FOR A STANDING COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS

1. In the Senate during 1969 the President was asked whether the presentation of petitions was merely a futile exercise or has it some signi­ ficance; also, was there any follow-up procedure to inform the Senate of the results of petitions, just as answers are given to Questions. The President

stated that there was no special follow-up procedure. 2. With a view to ascertaining the procedures in certain other Parlia­ ments, the President presented a paper on the investigation of petitions to the Second Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks, held at Brisbane in April 1969. For copy of the President's paper, seep. 19 .

3. The New Zealand representative at the Conference stated (see copy of speech at p. 22) that, in his country, petitions are given very serious consideration. A Petitions Committee has functioned since 1866, but the consideration of petitions is not confined to that Committee. Petitions may be sent to the most appropriate of a number of other committees, regard being had to the subject matter. The committee clerk sends copies of the petitions to the departments concerned for report. In due course a time is fixed for the hearing. A petitioner may, if he wishes, appear in person, be represented by counsel, or may leave the explanation of his grievance to the

member who presented the petition on his behalf. The Committee makes its report and any recommendations are considered by Cabinet. 4. It is to be noted that most petitions to the New Zealand Parliament are of an individual nature, only a few being of a public nature. It is further to be noted that, if a petition is within the competency of the New Zealand Ombudsman, it cannot be received.

5. In the Australian States it appears that petitioning Parliament largely fallen into disuse and that those petitions which are presented relate to matters of public importance, not personal matters. 6. Generally, the view expressed at the Brisbane Conference was that, rather than petition Parliament, better results are to be gained by raising matters through other forms of the House, such as Questions, substantive motions and grievance debates.

7. It was the unanimous view, however, that petitioning Parliament is a time-honoured and fundamental privilege of the citizen and , as such, must be preserved. It i submitted that the best way to preserve the privilege is to make petitions more me aningful by establish ing a follow-up procedure for their consideration.

8. In a consideration of whether the Senate should establish some follow-up procedure, such as a Petitions Committee, the nature of petitions to the Senate is to be noted. They have been more concerned with public than private grievances, including such matters as education, export of merino rams, television facilities, and for or against proposed laws. Thus it

18

has to be said that there has been no demand, through petitions, for an investigation of personal grievances, but this may follow if a Petitions Committee were set up.

9. It is suggested that all petitions received by the Senate stand referred to a Standing Committee on Petitions for consideration and, if necessary, report thereon. ·

10. It would not necessarily follow that the Petitions Committee would conduct a hearing and make a report on every petition. Probably it would be considered by the Committee that every petition should, in the first instance, be referred to the department concerned for report. On receipt of such report, the Committee could determine what further action, if any,

should be taken.

11 . The proposed Petitions Committee would make meaningful the historic privilege of petitioning Parliament. In addition, it would add prestige and importance to the Senate as the House with the special function of seriously considering petitions and the grievances of petitioners. In this

respect it is to be noted that, in recent years, the Senate has achieved some recognition as the guardian of civil liberty and the proposed Petitions Com­ mittee would give impetus to that Senate function.

SECOND CONFERENCE OF PRESIDING OFFICERS AND CLERKS-AT-THE-TABLE: BRISBANE, 8-10 APRIL 1969

SUBJECT : THE INVESTIGATION OF PETITIONS

(Paper contributed by Senator the H onourab le Sir A lister M cMullin , K .C.M.G., President of the Australian S enate) fn the Senate recently I was asked whether th e presentati on of petitions was merely a futile exercise or has it some significance. The Senator wa nted to know what happened to petitions and asked if there 'Was any machinery established in the

Parliament to inform Senators of the results' of petitions, just as answers are given to question s. M y repl y was th at there was no special machinery to follow-up petitions. Ministers whose departments are involved may take whatever action they desire on petitions and, of course, the forms of the House are open to Senators to take further

action-such as legislation , motions and the debate on the adjou rnment of the House. But certainly there is no special machinery. It was a valid question and has given ri se to some consid eration as to whether the Senate might adopt the pattern in certain other Parli aments and establish a Petitions Committee or other machinery to consider and , if nece sary. report upon the action or

redress sought in petitions. I submit this matter for discussion at the Presidin g Officer s· Conference with an open mind as to the need or desirability of a Petitions Committee or other procedure. What I wish to do is to refer to the present practice in the Senate, make some

reference to practice in certain overs'eas Parliaments, add some ge neral observations for discussion, and invite my colleagues to describe the practice in their own Parlia­ ments. Such an exchange will, I am sure, be most helpful in a consideration of modern day attitudes to petitions.

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Research shows that, in some Parliaments, the procedure of petitions has fallen into some di suse, while in other Parliaments petitions continue to be numerous.

In the early years of the Senate hundreds of petitions were presented. In 1968 the number was eighteen. Perhaps the petition has to some degree been superseded by the parliamentary question as a means of airing grievances. The parliamentary question is certainly simpler and, in our Parliament, it is generally more satisfactory in that it entails an answer.

Petitions presented to the Senate over the years have referred to matters such as: Opening of the proceedings of the Senate with prayer. Customs tariff. Aboriginal rights. Nationalisation of banking. Pensions. Television facilities. Rural industries. Proposed legislation, against and in favour.

Petitions have been more concerned with public th an individual grievances. Both types of petition are allowed in the Australian Senate, provided always that petitions relate to matters in which Parliament has competence to interfere. A type of petition which is unknown to the Senate, although allowed by Standing Orders, is that of a petition for a private bill. These are unlikely for the reason that matters requiring

private bill legislation would tend to relate to State rather than federal competence.

In 1961 the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments, which is an autonomous section of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, published some comparative information relating to petitions. Its report1 reveals that there is a marked difference bet,ween the number of petitions received by various Parliaments. The main reason seems to be that, where petitions for redress of personal grievances are not allowed, it is found that citizens do not petition Parliament so often. Some annual statistics

were reported as:

German Bundestag-! 0,000. Japan: Upper House-3,000 ; Lower House-5,000. United States of America-several hundred during a two-year Congress and as many as 10,000 in the past. Netherlands-in the Second Chamber about 300, two-thir-ds of which concern

personal grievances; in the First Chamber about 40. France-about 100. Belgium-80-1 00 in the Chamber of Deputies, about 20 in the Senate. India-40 or 50. Italy-about 25. Switzerland-20 or 30. United Kingdom-about 25 in the House of Commons; hardly any in the Lords.

The Association's report then examined the approximate percentage of cases in which the petitioner through his petition reached complete or partial reli ef of perso nal grievances . The figures· are interesting. France gave an approximate percentage of 2 or 3, the Netherl ands 4 or 5, the German Bundes tag about 6, Switzerl and from 5

to 10 and India about 10. A reason advanced for the small percentage was that

petitioners as a rule only apply to Parliament after having exhausted all other means which could lead to redress and, moreove r, it is thought probable that many petitions 3ent to Parliament are not well founded.

1

See Constitutional and Parliamentary Information, October 1961.

20

I refer now to the limited manner in which petitiOns are, in fact, considered in the Senate. Petitions, provided they bear the Clerk's certificate that they are in con­ formity with the Standing Orders (they must be respectful, decorous and temperate in their language), may be presented by Senators at the commencement of each day's

proceedings and th e· usual motions moved are (1) that the petition be received, and (2) that the petition be read. No discussion is allowed on presenting a petition, other than a statement by the Senator pres enting th e petition, wh ich is confined to a reference to the parties from whom it comes, of the number of signatures, and of

the material allegations contained in it , and to the reading of the prayer of such petition. In addition, the rules provide that all ·petitions st :1 nd re ferred to the Printing Committee, which reports only as to what petitions (and other papers) ought to be printed. There is, however, no special fo llow-up procedure.

The follow- up procedure adopted in a number of ove rseas countries is investi­ gation and report by parliamentary committees. Countries known to have a special committee on petitions include the United Kingdom (House of Commons) , New Zealand, the German Federal Republic, India, Switzerland, Israel, Belgium and the

Netherlands (both Chambers). Generally, a though not universall y, these committees: (a) have permanent staff; ( b) rn a y hear witnesses and experts; (c) may ask for information f rom the responsible Minister and other authoriti es; (d) may he ar the petitioner if -thought desirable; and

(e) report to the House. It does not follow, of course, that the follow-up procedure of the petitions com· mittees of overseas countries is necessarily adaptable here. Differing systems of govern­ ment, different forms and practices, and other local procedures for the investigation of grievances, are considerations. For those reasons, it is useful to examine the

petition procedures in ·Coun tries like the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, where the parliamentary system is comparable. Canada, however, has no Petitions Committee, but the U.K. House of Commons and New Zealand have.

In the United Kingdom petitions may only be presented by Members on behalf of citizens. In practice, they are mostly 'tossed into the bag' be hind the Speaker's Chair. The presentation of a petition is nowadays no more th an a form al act since no action can be taken thereon, nor is there opportunity under the Standing O rders fo r a debate to pursue remedial action. A Petitions Committee does exist, but its

only fu nction is to record the number of petitions received du ring the session and enumerate the number of valid signatures attached to each. Jt is to be noted that petitions complaining of a personal grievance requiring immedi ate remedy are not referred to the Committee on Publ ic Petitions. However, in the U nit ed Kingdom

grievances may be in vestigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner. It is understood that this officer acts only at the instance of a Member of the House of Commons and on a complaint of perso nal injustic e suffered b y the complain ant. The Member decides whether a complaint appears to be one for reference to the Commissioner. Broadly ,

the Commissioner is concerned with faults in administration; he does not cntlc1se poli cy or examine a decision on the exercise of disc retionary powers, unless it appears that the decision has been affected by a fault in administration . Before leaving the United Kingdom sce ne , it is of interest to refer to a recent question of order in the House of Commons rel ating to the counting and checking of signatures and addresses on petitions. Probably you are all familiar wi th this event through Sir Barnett Cocks' del ightful monthly reports to hi s fellow Clerks-at-the-Table .

The circumstances· :were that a petition was presented protesting at the disbandment

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of certain Scottish Highland regiments. The House was told that there were 1,086,590 signatures to the petition. An honourable member, noting that under the rules every one of the signatures had to be counted and rechecked, told the House that he calcu­ lated that, were 1,000 signatures to be counted and checked by one clerk every

day, including Sundays, the operation would take that one clerk 2t years to complete. The honourable member questioned whether a clerk should spend some 24,090 man hours in deciding whether, for example, Mr and Mrs McTavish of Cape Wrath are the same Mr and Mrs McTavish of the Mull of Kintyre. In reply, the Speaker ruled that

it was not within his power to direct that signatures need not be counted, because the House ordered, when setting up the Committee on ·Public Petitions, that the report of the committee should set forth in respect of each petition the number of signatures which are accompanied by addresses. The office clerks examining the petitions have, he said, to satisfy themselves that each signature appears to be a valid signature with an address; otherwise, it is not counted.

In the Australian Senate the clerks check the number of signatures before a petition is presented. As in the Commons, not ·all signatures appear genuine, but the clerks do their best to arrive at a figure which is not over estimated. No doubt thank­ fully for the clerks, rwe have never reached anything like a million signatures. The highest number in the last decade has been about 500 signatures.

While some critics regard petitions to the U.K. House of Commons as a waste of time, things appear to be different in New Zealand. It is understood that the New Zealand Petitions Committee bas been in existence for over 100 years, so it bas obviously stood the test of time and experience. It is fortunate that we have represen­

tation from across the Tasman at our conference and we may look forward to ·an interesting account of New Zealand practice. I would also like to persuade our distinguished colleague to tell us something of their Ombudsman and the relationship between the functions of that officer and the petitioning of Parliament for the redress of grievances.

So much for overseas practices·. To round off the survey, I invite all my colleagues at this Second Presi ding Officers' Conference to describe the procedures in their own Parliaments in connection with the investigation of petitions. As a traditionalist, I cherish the concept of Parliament as the citadel of civil rights and liberties and think it would be a pity if the right of petitioning Parliament,

with its roots deep in history, were to fall into disuse for want of any parliamentary consideration. Whether a fo llow-up procedure, such as a petitions committee or some other machinery, is desirable must, I think, depend for its determination upon the forms and practices of respective parliamentary assemblies.

SPEECH BY THE DEPUTY SPEAKER OF THE NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT, MR J. H. GEORGE, AT THE SECOND CONFERENCE OF PRESIDING OFFICERS HELD AT BRISBANE, APRIL 1969 MR GEORGE: I am sorry to hear Sir Alister say th at this practice of petitions being

pres'ented to Parliament is falling by the wayside in that they get into a pigeon-hole and are forgotten. That does not happen in New Zealand where petitions h ave been part of our constitutional practice for many years. We have had what we call a special Petitions Committee for over 100 years. The work of that Committee was so great at one time that we had to form two special committees, one called the 'A to L Committee' a nd the other the 'M to Z Committee' and they dealt with petitions accordingly. Petitions are given very serious consideration in our Parliament; they just not put in a pigeon-hole. These Committees investigate every petition that

Is presented to Parliament in a very thorough way. They ·have power to call all

22

the evidence that they require, they have power to call on all the departments of State and get reports from them to see whether the complaint that has been made in the prayer of the petition is just or otherwise. We have long looked upon Parliament as being the last resort of John Citizen to place his case before someone: his last oppor­

tunity to gain some redress for some alleged or imaginary wrong that he feels has been committed on him.

Most of our petitions would have been of a private nature where private individuals feel that some State official or someone else has unjustl y wronged them. We do have a few of a public nature. Last year we had one on Scientology, and others relating to licensing and so on which are more of a public nature. H owever, the of our

petitions would be of an individual nature. L as t year the fewest number of petitions ever were presented in our P arli ament. The number dropped to the low figure of twenty-five. We know tha t this has co me about because we now have an Ombudsman who has been operating for five yea rs; he was appointed to wa rds the end of 1962 and he has now had five years' experience. He has taken a lot of the off the

shoulders of the Petitions Committee in Parlia ment. The work of the Petitions Com­ mittee has lightened to such a n extent that we have only o ne Petitions Committee in Parliament instead of the two that we previously had before the appointment of the Ombudsman. After we appointed the Ombudsman our Standing Orders were altered and we now make it a practice th at before a petition ca n come to P arliament the

petitioner must have tried out the Ombudsman. He must have paid hi s pound to get his case heard and to have the Ombudsma n investig ate hi s complaint. If he has placed it before the Ombudsman and cannot get any redress there he can still , as a last and final resort, petition P arliament. As I said , the number of peti tions has gradually decreased since we appointed the Ombudsman.

I do not know if notes on the Ombudsman come under thi s cate go ry but, as he is closel y linked with the work of the Petitio ns Committee and the p resentation of petitions in New Zealand, J feel l am quite in o rd er in speak ing a little about the

Ombudsman at this time. We feel th at the appoin tme nt of the Ombudsman has been well worth -while. We have in New Zealand an Attorney-General who is always very conscious of upholding the rights of the individual- of J ohn C itizen. He studied the position in Sweden and it was largel y as a result of hi s initiati ve th at the Ombudsman

was appointed in New Zealand. A lot of people w ere quite scept ica l about it when he was appointed but I think everyone agrees now th at it was a move in the right

direction. I might say that the effect on the people may have been more psychological than real because of the mere fact th at they know there is an in dependent person to whom they can now take their complain t in stead of goi ng to P arliament; and they can still come to P arli ament later with a petitio n if they cann ot get redress from

the Ombudsm an. This has a wonderful effect o n the people in that there is just that person there. We were very fortunate in the type of person appoin ted as Ombudsman. He is held in the highest regard by th e people of the country. He re ports to Parliament each year on the number of cases and in vestigations he has handled .

That is laid on the table of the H ouse and ca n then be debate d as to the worth

of his position. He, at the moment, feel s that h is department needs enlarging because his work is increasing while Parliament's work is decreasing, 8nd we are in the dilemma now as to whether we should increase the opportunitie s availa bl e to him for

investigation.

At the moment he is confined to State departments, and last vear we extended his activities to include education departments and hospital boards ·whi ch draw all their finance from Government. There is agitat ion in ma ny circles at p resent that they should be further extended to include local author ities. We would get into a more

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dangerous field if we include local authorities but there is fairly wide ·demand for it in New Zealand, on the experience we have had over five years of it operating in State departments, hospital boards and education departments. There is a division of opinion amongst local authority people themselves, but, strangely enough, some local authority people have expressed the opinion that they

would welcome the idea of the Ombudsman having some jurisdiction over the actions of their officers if someone laid a complaint. But, at the moment, the New Zealand Government has not gone as far as that. It is under consideration. I just wa nt to say in conclusion that the petitions system in New Ze aland has aLways been held in fairly high regard as a right of John Citizen to make his last

complaint. When the committee has dealt with it , and has made its report back to Parliament-the committee that investigates must make a report back to Parliament­ it will report its recommend ation that no action be taken or that favourable considera­ tion be given. If a most favourable consideration report is brought back to ParliJment

then the Government of the day-that is, Cabinet, is more or less obliged to take some action on petition. In m any cases with a favourQble report back to Parli::l­ ment Cabinet again will take some action, and we have also a Standing Order now which says that Cabinet itself must report back to Parliament every year on th e action it has taken on every petition. At that stage that report can then be debated in the House as to whether the Government has given ·due consideration to the various reports th at have been made back to it from time to time from the Petitions Committee.

There is no chance whatsoever of the operation of the petitions system in New Zealand fa lling into disrepute or falling by the wayside because it is recogn ised by the John Citizens of our country as a good way for th em to make their last complaint and to try to get some sort of redress. It is not pigeon-holed. Petitioners get a fair

hearing ; they are allowed to bring along counsel to the committee to put th eir case for them; they can depend on their Member of Parliament to present the petition or they can do it themselves, but they can bring along counsel and have their case fully investigated.

24

A CASE FOR A STANDING COMMITTEE ON BROADCASTING AND TELEVISION 1. In its report to the Senate, the Select Committee on the Encourage­ ment of Australian Productions for Television recommended that a Standing

Committee of the Senate on Television be established. The Committee observed: 'The Parliament has set up the two statutory authorities (the Austraiian Broad­ casting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board) with a

high degree of independence. This imposes upon the Parliament a significant responsibility to ensure that the authorities function in the manner intended by the legislature. In other words, Parliament must accept the ultimate respon­ sibility for the effectiveness of the authorities. The Committee cannot avoid

the conclusion that Parliament might hav e been far more active heretofore in a scrutiny of the work of the authorities. So that Parliament can in the future maintain a more intensive investigation into the affairs of the authorities, the Committee makes the recommendations set out in the following p aragraphs.'

The powers which Parliament has bestowed upon the responsible authorities are extremely wide powers when compared with the control exercised over other mass media, such as the press, or with the control exercised by comparable countries over their television and radio. Because

£he powers delegated are wide, there is greater need for close Parliamentary supervision of the administration of those powers. A standing committee could assist the Parliament in exercising this super­ vision through its factual investigations and reports.

2. Lord Willis, in his report to UNESCO on television and film pro­ duction in Australia, stated that there was an urgent need for action on a national level to develop the television industry in Australia. A Standing Committee could provide the Government with valuable information and

ideas should the Government decide to take such action.

3. In Canada, which of all cabinet-government countries has the most highly developed system of parliamentary committees, there is a House of Commons Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance of the Arts, and a Senate Special Committee on the Mass Media. Testifying at the opening session of th e Canadian House of Commons Committee in 1966,

the responsible Minister stated that it was important that there should be a parliamentary committee to supervise those government agencies which were concerned with cultural matters such as radio and television. There is some overlapping of the responsibility of these Canadian House and Senate specialist committees with the Standing Committee of each House on Transport and Communications.

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109

A CASE FOR A SENATE STANDING COMMITIEE ON NARCOTICS 1. Since the enactment of the Narcotic Drugs Act in 1967, drug misuse has been recognised as primarily a federal concern and Commonwealth­ State Ministerial conferences during the past year have stressed the need for co-ordination on a national level of government policies on the illicit

drug trade.

2. Although it is agreed that drug abuse is a large and growing social problem, very little is known about it. The United States Attorney-General was recently reported as informing an American Senate Committee that drug control authorities were in a 'never-never land' because of the dearth of information on the nature of narcotics misuse.

In Australia there are no reliable statistics concerning the extent of drug abuse, nor its rate of increase, although the various estimates are generally alarming. Experts in the field disagree on basic questions, such as whether the use of 'soft' drugs necessarily leads to the use of 'hard' drugs, and research into the social causes of illicit drug-taking has just begun.

3. The comprehensive and continuous inquiry of a Senate Standing Committee could: (i) help to overcome ·the lack of information on the pattern and causes of drug abuse by revealing gaps in existing knowledge, and by

stimulating research into these matters by interested persons; and (ii) continually gather information and results of research which are most relevant to the political and social problem of controlling drug abuse, and keep both the Parliament and the public informed by

means of reports based upon this material. The Government could use the Committee as a source of information on which to base its future policies on drug misuse.

4. The drug problem is one on which there is a high degree of consensus among the political parties. This has been indicated by the reception given to various ministerial statements on drugs, including that of 24 September 1969. The proposed Standing Committee would be able to perform its information-ga thering and publicising functions without its inquiries being restricted by di sagreement over fundamental policy issues.

5. The Senate may wish to give the proposed Standing Committee terms of reference covering an area wider than narcotics abuse, and then refer narcotics abuse to the Committee as its first subject of inquiry.

26

A CASE FOR A SENATE COMMITfEE ON NATIONAL PUBLICITY AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Definition: National publicity and public relations is that work undertaken through all publicity media including those of press, radio, television, film, audio-visual presentation and personal appearances, whether controlled by the Government and its agencies or by private enterprise, the object of which is to present a national image of Australia, the said work being paid for by

the Commonwealth Government or its agencies.

1. The Commonwealth Government is spending annually an increasing sum for national publicity and public relations.

2. The Government operates to establish a national image by the use of diversified authorities of which the most important include: ( 1) The Australian Broadcasting Commission and Radio Australia; (2) The Australian Broadcasting Control Board;

(3) The Australian Council for the Arts; ( 4) The Commonwealth Council for National Fitness; (5) The Australian News and Information Bureau; (6) The Australian Tourist Commission;

(7) The Australian Wool Board; ( 8) The Department of Civil Aviation; (9) The Department of Immigration; (1 0) The High Commissions; ( 11) The National Capital Development Commission; ( 12) The Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia); and ( 13) The Trade Commiss ioners.

3. With the exception of the Australian News and Information Bureau, national publicity and public rel ations work is only a part of the duties of other governmental authorities. No study in depth has been made of the co-ordination of the various efforts currently being made in national publicity and public relations work and the success or otherwise of the overall effort in relation to its cost.

4. A Senate Standing Committee would operate: (i) to focus attention on national publicity and public relations as a whole and by its very existence lead to a continuing re-definition of the Government's aims in this field; ( ii ) to inquire into the co-ordination and successful operation of the

diversified efforts undertaken by the various responsible authorities in this field;

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(iii) to establish an informed body of opmwn in the Parliament, on which if required the Government could draw, which would be kept abreast of the implications for publicity and public relations work of such changing methods in communications as frequency modulation broadcasting and satellite television relays; and ( iv) to effect greater co-ordination between the Authorities concerned

in the field by means of periodical reports by the Standing

Committee.

Proposed order of reference: To inquire into and make recommendations on the institutions and procedures within and through which control of national publicity and public relations is exercised and the efficiency of the means which are used to effect this purpose.

28

STANDING COMMITTEES-PROPOSED NEW STANDING ORDER 36AA.-( 1.) At the commencement of each Parliament the following Stand­ ing Committees shall be appointed: (a) The Standing Committee on Statutory Corporations, to inquire into

the purpose, extent, nature and methods of Commonwealth statu­ tory corporations and their administrative control; (b) The Standing Committee on Science and Technology, to inquire into scientific research and technological development, the co-ordination

thereof, and the promotion of closer co-operation between scientists. and Parliament; (c) The Standing Committee on Petitions, to consider all petitions which, when received by the Senate, shall stand referred to the Committee; ( d ) The Standing Committee on Broadcasting and Television, to inquire

into such aspects of broadcasting and television as the Committee­ thinks fit; (e) The Standing Committee on Narcotics, to inquire into the extent , pattern and causes of narcotics abuse, and the co-ordination of

governmental efforts to control and overcome it; and (f) T he Standing Committee on National Publicity and Public Relations, to inquire into the institutions and procedures within and through which control of national publicity and public relations is exercised

and the efficiency of the means which are used to effect that purpose.

( 2 .) Unless otherwise ordered, the Standing Committees shall consist of seven Sen ators.

( 3. ) Each Committee shall have power -to appoint su b-committees. consisting of three or more of its members; and to refer to any such sub­ committee any of the matters which the Committee is empowered to consider. The quorum of a sub-committee shall be a majority of the Senators appointed

to the sub-committee.

( 4. ) The Committees or any sub-committees, shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to meet and transact business notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament.

( 5.) The Commi·ttees shall have leave to report from time to time their proceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as they may deem fit.

29

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The Senate

REPORT FOR THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

ON

STANDING COMMITTEES

CLEll'S OFFICE JANUARY 1970

Part 2

11 5

Contents-Part 2

Proposed Legislati ve and General Purpose Committees

The British Parliamentary Committee System: Types of Committees-

page

33.

Domestic Committees . 37

Legi slative Committees 37

General 'Watchdog' Committees 38

Specialist Committees . 39'

Composition and Powers of Committees 40

Committees a nd Policy 40

Relevance fo r Austra lia 41

Appendix !- Select Committee on Science and Technology-Order of reference 42

Appendix li- Select Committee on Race Relations and}Immigration- Order of reference 43

Canadian Senate Committees 44

32

·sTANDING COMMITTEES: PART 2 PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE AND GENERAL PURPOSE COMMITTEES The need for Parliamentary committees, with power to send for persons,

papers and records, is greater today than it has ever been, because of: ( 1) increasing governmental responsibilities and activities; (2) the impact of the tremendous progress in science and technology; ( 3) the complexity of legislation whjch cannot always be satisfactorily

considered within narrow Parliamentary time-tables; ( 4) the inadequacy of opportunities and means on the floor of the House to discharge fully Parliament's important duty to probe and check the Administration; ( 5) the inadequacy of present -day means for the ventilation of citizens'

grievances against administrative decisions or acts; ( 6) growing Executive expertise and secrecy; and (7) the need, in an increasingly expert world, for parliamentarians to be able to call upon scholarly research and advice equal in com­

petence to that relied upon by the Admiillstration. Part 1 of the Report on Standing Committees was limited to a considera­ tion of specialist committees to inform the Senate on certain matters of public importance and/ or to examine the organisation and working of certain departments or agencies.

Part 2 is concerned with legislative committees to which matters in addition to Bills (Estimates, petitions, inquiries, papers, etc.) may be referred, on motion. The Standing Orders of the Senate already provide for the reference of Bills to standing or select committees, but little use has been made of the

procedure. It has even been regarded as a hostile procedure. In many over­ seas legislatures, however, including Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom House of Commons, Bills are referred to standing committees and experience has shown that this leads to a more detailed examination of the

legislation. In Canada and the United Kingdom the overwhelming majority of Bills are referred to standing committees, while in New Zealand the number is about one-third.

In both Canada and ew Zealand, committees have power to take evidence from interested persons and organisations. In addition, the officials who prepared the legislation, and those who will be administering it later, may be questioned thoroughly enabling the Members to get first hand information. At Westminster, Government experts such as draftsmen and

departmental officials usually attend standing committees.

33

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If legislative committees of the Australian Senate were appointed, it is unlikely that a great many Bills would be referred to the committees. A number of Bills are of a machinery nature and attract no debate in Com­ mittee of the Whole. In 1969, as an illustration, 75 per cent of Bills were agreed to in Committee of the Whole without any debate. It is important, therefore, that Bills should not be referred automatically, but only by resolu­ tion of the House. If desired, the resolution may impose a time limit for inquiry and report.

It is true that, under present Australian Senate procedures, standing com­ mittees may be set up as and when required but, if committees were appointed at the commencement of each Parliament, as in Canada and New Zealand, the Senate would have committees standing ready to consider any Bills, problems or other questions that may be referred to them. Expert 5taff, too, would be readily available, together with other established committee facilities. Furthermore, Senators, by their continuing membership of particu­ lar committees, would themselves acquire considerable expertise.

It is accordingly recommended for consideration that the Standing Orders be amended to provide that, at the commencement of each Parliament, the following six standing committees be appointed to which Bills and other matters may be referred by the Senate, on motion:

• The Senate Committee on External Affairs and Defence; • The Senate Committee on Transport and Communications; • The Senate Committee on Trade, Industry and Labour; • The Senate Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Home Affairs; • The Senate Committee on Health, Welfare, Education and Science; and • The Senate Committee on National Finance and Development. These committees would broadly cover the activities of all the depart­ ments of government, e.g. the Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Home Affairs is seen as including immigration. Any Bill or other matter not falling within the subject matters assigned to a standing committee would be referred, as the Senate may decide, to any committee.

In some countries standing committees take the place of Committee of the Whole procedure, but this is not proposed. Bills could be referred to standing committees before or after the second reading, and report made to the Senate, when a future time would be fixed for the next stage of the pro­ ceedings. Wh at the present proposal means, therefore, is the setting up of standing committees ready, staffed and equipped to inform and advise the Senate on matters referred to such committees, but working within existing procedures as provided in the Standing Orders.

The proposal that these legislative committees be also empowered to consider, on reference by the Senate, other matters in addition to Bills is strongly recommended. It is the modern practice in Canada and New Zealand, where it works well. As an illustration, the Standing Orders of the

Canadian Sen ate provide for the appointment of a Committee on Health,

34

Welfare and Science, to which may be referred on motion all Bills, messages, petitions, inquiries, papers and other matters relating to health, welfare and science generally ; other committees have similar provisions.

It would follow that, if legislative committees of the type suggested above were set up by the Australian Senate with power to consider other matters, on reference, then separate committees on such subjects as petitions would be unnecessary, because petitions could be referred to the committees having

jurisdiction in the subject matters of th e petitions. However, a standing committee on a matter such as statutory corporations is considered to be desirable because of the scope of the su bject.

It is further recommended that committees be authorised to appoint sub­ committees. In Canada and New Zealand the House may authorise a com­ mittee to appoint sub-committees and to delegate to those sub-committees any of the powers of the main committees, except that of reporting to

the House.

In the United Kingdom, six sub-committees are employed by the Estimates Committee to examine particular estimates, and in recent years the Estimates Committee has used its examination of the estimates as an occasion for wide-ranging inquiries into Government administration. The

reports of this Committee may be debated by the House on supply days.

However, the Canadian procedure of referring the estimates of depart­ ments to the appropriate standing committees has more appeal than the United Kingdom practice. In Canada, the Minister responsible and those officials he may delegate are invited to appear before the committees to

explain the monetary requirement . The committees are at liberty to request that other departmental officials appear, and if they feel that outside opinions from the public or business world wo uld be of ass istance the committees may call whom they wish.

If the Senate agreed to refer th e Estimates to the six proposed legislative and general purpose standing committees, as in Canada, it is suggested that the overall procedure for the consideration of th e Estimates be as follows: ( 1 ) Tabling of Budget P apers in the Senate followed by the general

Budget Debate, on motion to take note of the Papers, as at present; (2) When the general debate is concluded, reference of the Estimates of departments to th e appropriate standing committees (see p. 49) for examination and report;

(3) Tabling of Reports from the standin g committees; and ( 4) Consideration of the Reports of the standing committees during the Committee of th e Whole and other stages of th e Appropriation Bills. This suggested procedure would eliminate the present Committee of the Whole consideration of the Particulars of Proposed Expenditure and replace

it by standin g committee examination of the Estimates. Departmental officers, and Ministers as required , woul d attend the meetings of the standing com­ mittees to explai n proposed expenditure, other persons could be examined

35

11 9

if need be, the proceedings reported by Hansard, and subsequent reports made to the Senate for its information and reference when the Appropriation Bills were being considered. It is thought that this proposed procedure would lead to a more orderly and effective examination of the annual Estimates.

A development of our committee system in the foregoing ways, compar­ able with Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. House of Commons, may make desirable a reconsideration of the times of sitting of the Senate. A specific period of the Sen ate's normal hours of sitting could be allocated for committee meetings. The major part of Thursdays, for example, could

be set aside for committee business, with the Senate not sitting, say, until 5-p.m. To assist the Standing Orders Committee in its consideration of the· most useful way in which the Australian Senate committee system might develop, a more detailed reference will now be made to committees in the: U.K. House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.

36

TilE BRITISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMIITEE SYSTEM'

Since the mid-1960s the committee system of the British House of Com­ mons has been greatly expanded as part of a deliberate attempt to improve the effectiveness of Parliament and involve backbenchers in the process of legislation. 2

Types of Committees House of Commons committees are traditionally divided into Select Com­ mittees, which report upon particular topics, and Standing Committees, which examine Bills. These term s thus have a meaning different from Aus­ tralian usage. Select Committees at Westminster include Sessional Com­

mittees, which are appointed at the beginning of each session, either by a standing order or by an order regularly renewed, and ad hoc committees which are appointed to report upon particular subjects when they arise and which may go out of existence when they have presented their reports. In

Australia, Sessional Committees would be called Standing Committees. A more useful classific ation of th e committees, however, would divide them according to their main function into four groups, as below. The com­ mittees shown are those wh ich have operated during 1969-70.

1. Domestic Committees, which are concerned with the affairs of Parlia­ ment, rather than public affairs . This group includes the Committees on Privileges, Procedure, Petitions, Selection, Standing Orders, Members Interests (Declaration) , and House of Commons (Services).

These are Sessional Committees, with the exception of the Select Com­ mittee on Members Interests (Declaration ) which reported during 1969 upon certain rules of the House. The Petitions Committee abstracts selected petitions and reports upon the number of signatures, etc. , but does not com­ ment upon the subject matter of petitions or make any recommendations. The Selection and Standing Orders Committees have certain duties relating

to private Bills, and the Selection Committee also selects members to serve on Standing Committees . The names of the other committees in the group are self-explanatory.

2. Legislative Committees, whose main function is to consider Bills in detail as part of the process of passing legislation. This group includes the Second Reading Committee, Standing Committees A, B, C, etc ., and the Scottish Grand, Scottish Standing and Wel sh Grand Committees.

These are all Standing Committees. The last-named three consist of members from the respective regions and consider Bills relating to those regions. The unnamed committees consider Bills regardless of subject, as does the Second Reading Committee.

1 This section contributed by Mr H. Evans, Senate Research Officer. 2 See the debate on reform of procedure and committees, 14 December 1966, H . of C. Debal.ei.

37

121

These Committees consist of from twenty to eighty members, and their party composition closely follows that of the House. Occasionally they behave like miniature Houses of Commons, debating and dividing on party lines, but generally the details of Bills are discussed in a fairly non-partisan fashion. Ministers often attend their deliberations, which are open to the public

unless the committee in question explicitly decides otherwise.

The main purpose of the legislative committees is to allow several Bills to be considered in detail simultaneously, and to prevent the House itself from becoming cluttered with Bills.

Under Standing Order 40, all public Bills, except certain financial Bills, stand committed to a Standing Committee unless the House otherwise orders.

3. General 'Watchdog' Committees, whose task is to scrutinise particular areas of administration, but which are not confined to particular subjects or departments. This group includes the Estimates and Public Accounts Committees, and the Select Committees on the Nationalised Industries, on Statutory Instruments and on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Adminis­

tration (Ombudsman).

These are all Sessional Committees.

The Public Accounts Committee examines the Appropriation Accounts, and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General thereon, to ensure that moneys appropriated have been applied to the objects which Parliament prescribed, and to consider the implications of any of the Comptroller and

Auditor-General's findings.

The Estimates Committee examines such Estimates as it thinks fit and considers if and how the policy implied in those Estimates could be carried out more economically. It also considers variations in the Estimates from year to year and reports upon the form in which the Estimates are presented to the House (Standing Order 80).

The Estimates Committee is large (forty-three members), and divides into a number of sub-committees (usually six or eight) , each of which examines that part of the Estimates allocated to it. There is a Steering Sub­ committee to co-ordinate this work, while the sub-committees have all the powers of full committees.

In recent years the Estimates Committee has become more active, using its examination of the Estimates as an occasion for wide-ranging and probing inquiries into Government administration, and discussions of its work have become more frequent inside and outside Parliament.

A recent Report from the Procedure Committee recommended some radical changes in the structure of those committees designed to ensure Par­ liamentary control of finance, including an enlarged Estimates Commjttee with more sub-committees, each examining a group of with

related functions.

38

The Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries was established in 1955 after a great deal of discussion about the problem of ensuring account­ ability to Parliament for the administrative acts of the large statutory corpora­ tions. The Committee usually examines one statutory corporation in detail each session, but has also presented reports on the problems of administration

and of mini•sterial control common to all of the nationalised industries. The Select Committee on Statutory Instruments examines all statutory instruments laid before the House, but is empowered to investigate only certain aspects of them, e.g. whether their provisions are open to challenge

in the courffi, whether they make unexpected or unusual use of the powers conferred by Statute, etc. The Committee is otherwise similar to the Austra­ lian Senate's Regulations and Ordinances Committee.

The Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Adminis­ tration (Ombudsman) examines the reports of the Ombudsman and has general oversight of the working of the legislation under which he operates. As the Ombudsman is regarded as an agent of Parliament and not of the Government, a Select Committee was thought to be the appropriate body to examine his work.

4. Specialist Committees, which inquire into particular subjects and the effect of government policy thereon. This group includes the Select Com­ mittees on Agriculture, Science and Technology, the Education and Science Department, Overseas Aid, and Race Relations and Immigration. The Select

Committee on Scottish Affairs also belongs to ·this group rather than any of the other groups, because of its extremely broad terms of reference. These are the 'new' Committees for which advocates of Parliamentary reform had long pressed befo(e the Government established two as an experiment in December 1966. Although still experimental, some of them

have now virtually assumed the status of Sessional Committees. The concept underlying specialist committees was that not only would Parliament benefit from having certain Executive acts subjected to close and continuing scru tiny, but members of the committee would develop expertise in their field and would help to close the 'information gap' between Ministers and backbenchers.

Notable features of the Specialist Committees are their extremely broad and general terms of reference within their subject area (see Appendix I for an example), their freedom to choose their own specific topics for inquiry, and their freedom to report whenever they choose.

The Select Committee on Science and Technology has been an outstand­ ingly successful committee. An account of its work was given in Part 1 of this Report. The Select Committee on Agriculture was, together with that on Science

and Technology, the first specialist committee to be set up in 1966. Its reports covered such important matters as the agricultural implications of Britain's entry into the Common Market.

39

12 3

The Select Committee on Education and Science was named after the Department which it was to scrutinise. Apart from its investigations of depar­ mental administration, it has presented an extremely valuable report upon student unrest.

The Select Committee on Overseas Aid also examines the Department after which it was named. The Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration has oversight over 'policies but not individual cases' in regard to the Race Relations Act

and the bodies established thereunder (see Appendix II). Although the Specialist Committees are still regarded as being in the experimental stage, the Select Committee on Science and Technology is almost certainly now a permanent feature of the Commons, and Specialist

Committees as such have been accepted. Early last year the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, speaking for the Government, told the House that he was ever cognisant 'of the vital need to provide new Parliamentary checks to executive Government and th e

importance of Select Committees in that role', and that the Government was 'vigorous in pursuing the experiment of specialist Select Committees'.'

,composition and Powers of Committees As well as reflecting the party balance of the House, the membership of committees also reflects the interests and special experience of the members. In the case of the Select Committees, the Whips take careful soundings among backbenchers before nominating members.

The motions for the appointment of all Select Committees now follow a fai rly uniform pattern and a typical example can be seen in Appendix I. Attention is particularly drawn to the Committee's power to admit the public to its hearings unless it decides otherwise, and to report (i.e., in effect, to publish) its minutes of evidence when it chooses to do so. Other

notable features are the power to appoint any sub-committees, and to engage expert advisers.

Committees and Policy In Britain the general principle has been followed that committees inquire into matters of administration and not matters of policy-unless so empowered by the House. However, committees are seen as having another

role: that of inquiring into policy matters wh ere the Government has not yet formulated the details of its policy. Thus Bernard Crick, the noted academic advocate of Parliamentary reform, sai d that the main argument for specialist committees was the need to 'involve experienced specialists in the

political processes of administration that tell us what people are likely to do and how much they can be influenced'. 2 Crick assumes that the Govern­ ment will decide the broad lines of policy, but will use specialist comm ittees as a means of working out details of policies and of seeing that the public

is prepared to accept them.

1 H. of C. Debates, 11 February 1969, col. 1181. • Observu, 23 October 1966.

40

The members of the specialist committees themselves thought of their committees as having this role. What should be noted is that the Government accepted this as one of the legitimate uses of specialist committees. Thus the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration is explicitly em­ powered to review policies (see Appendix li), and t he possibility of policies

being decided upon after a public discussion initiated by the Government is admitted by the publication of the Green Papers on such subjects as fiscal and economic policy. Green Papers derive their name from their green cover. They represent a most significant development in the United Kingdom in the relationship between Parliament and the Executive, in that Parliament is given a special

opportunity--{)n motion to take note of the Paper-to address itself to policy matters before decisions are taken. Recently, at least seven Green Papers have been introduced, including those on parliamentary supervision of public expenditure, economic affairs,

and the future of the national health service. The first of the debates on public expenditure, as proposed by the Green Paper on that subject, took place in January 1970, when the Commons for the first time in its histo ry had the opportunity to express it s views on the Government's 5-year strategy for public expenditure before it was too late to influence its decisions.

These new-style debates followed a recommendation by the Procedure Committee, which proposes as the next step in Commons reform that the 'grand assize' on the floor of the House be followed up by detailed standing committee examination of departmental plans and performance.

Relevance for Australia The foregoing survey illustrates the extent of parliamentary reform at Westminster, designed to improve the effectiveness of Parliament and to extend the scope of parliamentary and public participation in decision­

makin g. It represents an appreciation of the fact , as Bernard Crick says in the article cited previously, that parliamentary scrutiny 'is not th e enemy of effec­ tive and efficient government, but its primary condition'. In the development of the British committee system , however, there appears to be some overlappin g of fun ctio ns between the committees ; the House of Commons can no doubt affor d this as it has 630 members. The le gislative committees, Estimates sub-committees , specialist committees and

'watchdog' committees have, in effect, divided between th em the t as ks of the scrutiny of proposed legislation and of parliamentary oversight of administration. In the Austra lian Sen ate, most of the functi ons of th ese va ri ous British

committees mi ght be combined under a set of standing committees as pro­ posed on pp. 33-36.

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125

APPENDIX I

SELECT COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Extract from the Journals of the H ouse of Commons, 14 November 1969

Ordered, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider Science and Technology and to report thereon from time to time. The Committee was nominated of-Mr D avid Ginsburg,

Mr Arnold Gregory, Mr Frank Hooley, Mr Robert L. Howarth, Mr Michael Jopling, Mr Ted Leadbitter, Sir Harry Legge-Bourke,

Mr Eric Lubbock, Mr Patrick McNair-Wilson, Mr Eric Moonman, Mr Airey Neave, Mr Arthur P almer, Mr Brian Parkyn, Mr D avid Price.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from pl ace to place, to admit strangers during the ex amination of witnesses unless they otherwise order, and to report Minutes of Evidence from time to time.

Ordered, That Five be the Quorum of the Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to appoin t Sub-Committees and to refer to such Sub-Committees any of the matters referred to the Committee.

Ordered, That every such Sub-Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, to report to the Committee from time to time, an d to admit strangers during the examination of witnesses unl es·s they otherwise order.

Ordered, That Three be the Quorum of every such Sub-Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to report from tim e to time the Minutes of Evidence taken before such Sub-Committees.

Ordered, That the Comm ittee have power to appoint persons with technical or scientific knowledge for the purpose of particular inqui ries, either to suppl y informa­ tion which is not readil y available, or to elucidate matters of complexity wit hin the Committee's order of reference.

42

APPENDIX II

SELECT COMMITTEE ON RACE RELATIONS AND IMMIGRATION Extract from the Journals of the House of Commons, 11 November 1969

Ordered, That a Select Committee be appointed to review policies but not indi­ vidual cases, in relation to-( a) the operation of the Race Relations Act 1968 with particular reference to the work of the Race Relations Board and the Community Relations Com­

mission, and (b) the admission into the United Kingdom of Commonwe alth citizens and foreign nationals for settlement:-Ordered, That the Committee do consist of Sixteen Members. The Committee was nominated of-

Mr Sydney Bidwell, Mr Arthur Bottomley, Mr William Deedes, Mr Percy Grieve,

Mr Eric S. Heffer, Sir Barnett Janner, Mr Arthur Jones, Mrs Jill Knight,

Mr Wallace Lawler, Mr Kenneth Lomas, Mr Edward Lyons, Mr Roland Moyle,

Mr Gordon Oakes, Mr Norman St John-Stevas, Sir George Sinclair, Mr David Winnick.

Ordered, That so much of the Minutes of the Evidence taken before the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration in the last Session of Parliament as was reported to the House on the 16th day of October las t, in th e las t Sess ion of Parliament, be referred to the Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records; to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House; to adjourn from place to place; to admit strangers during examination of witnesses unless th ey otherwise order; and to report Minutes of Evidence from time to time.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to report from time to time.

Ordered, That Five be the Quorum of the Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to appoint Three Sub-Committees and to refer to such Sub-Committees an y of the matters referred to the Committee.

Ordered, That every such Sub-Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records; to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House; to adjourn from place to pl ace ; to report to the Committee from time to time; and to admit strangers during the examination of witnesses unless they otherwise order.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to report from time to time the Minutes of Evidence taken before such Sub-Committees.

Ordered, That Three be the Quorum of every s·uch Sub-Committee.

43

127

THE CANADIAN SENATE COMMITTEES The committee system of the Canadian Senate is of particular interest, first because the Canadian and Australian Senates are Upper Houses in federal systems, and second because the Canadian committee system was re-organised in 1969.

In the Canadian Senate, there are six standing committees which reflect the character of the departments of government. They are: The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs; The Senate Committee on National Finance;

The Senate Committee on Transport and Communications; The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs; The Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce; and The Senate Committee on Health, Welfare and Science.

Speaking on 6 November 1968 to the adoption of the Special Com­ mittee's Report on the Rules of the Canadian Senate, the Chairman (The Hon. Mr Molson) said: 'Your committee is unanimously of the opinion that the committee work of the

Senate is without doubt the most useful contribution which the Senate makes to the legislative process. I doubt if there is any senator who has not been told by an outsider who attended one of our committee meetings how impressed he was with the thoroughness and competence demonstrated and bow well its per­ formance stands up in comparison with any other body. We suggest a new

approach to these committees in that certain specific matters or subjects will , by rule, be referred to them for considerati on . with the expectation that as a result the matters most commonly dealt with will be referred without question to one of these six.'

On motion, all Bills, messages, petitions, inquiries, papers and other matters relating to the subject matters of the several committees may be referred for inquiry and report. The committees are appointed at the commencement of each Parliament

and the Senators nominated to serve on the several standing committees serve for the duration of that Parliament. In addition to the consideration of Bills, public questions or problems of economic life are regularly referred to standing committees or, if there does not appear to be an appropriate standing committee, a special committee may

be authorised to carry out the necessary study. There are joint committees for the library, printing and restaurant, but on other matters the Houses show their independence and both Houses have their own committees on such matters as foreign affairs and defence, transport and communication , finance, health and welfare, and legal affairs.

The Canadian Senate consists of 102 Senators. Standing Committees are composed of thirty Senators and the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition are ex officio members of all standing committees. The quorum of a stan ding committee of the Canadian Senate is 7 of the

30 members.

Standing committees are authorised to send for persons, papers and records, whenever required, and to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by them. A Senator though not a member of a committee may attend and par­

ticipate in its public deliberations and even question witnesses unless tho committee orders otherwise, but shall not vote. With .few exceptions, e.g. the consideration of the committee's report, committee meetings are held in public. Where sittings are open to the public and to the news media, there is no restriction on the publication of articles

respecting committee proceedings . When a Bill has been given second reading, the principle has been gener­ ally approved and the committee is not at liberty to change that principle. The committee can make substantial changes within the framework of principle. A committee can only report against the principle outlined in the subject matter of a Bill if the Bill itself is not given second reading, but the subject matter only is referred to the committee.

The Chairman presents the committee's report to the House and any amendments are set forth in detail in the report. When a committee reports a Bill without amendment, such report stands adopted without any motion, and the Senator in charge of the Bill may move that it be read a third time on a future day. When the report recommends

amendments to a Bill, motion may be made to adopt the report. The Senator presenting the report explains to the Senate the basis for and the effect of each amendment. When a committee to which a Bill has been referred considers that the Bill

should not be proceeded with further in the Senate, the committee reports accordingly to the Senate, stating its reason s. If the motion for the adoption of the report is carried, the Bill is removed from the order paper. When an important public question is referred to a committee, the committee holds an organisation meeting, establishes its general plan of pro­ cedure and decides on the precise interpretation of its order of reference and

the breadth of its inquiry. The committee then deci des the sources from which information and submissions will be received. In most cases, briefs are invited from interested national organisations as well as specialists in the particular field of study. These submissions an d opinions are usually received in the form

of prepared briefs and are later supported by oral comments from the persons making the submiss ions. The committee may call governmental advisers to enlighten the members. When the committee has gathered enough informa­ tion, it meets in camera to consider its report and the recommendations to be

made to the House. On occasions, committees have submitted draft legislation which is intended to reflect the recommendations of the committee. The staff complement assigned to each standing committee is three. The Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel attends, at least where legislation is involved, and there is invariably a Clerk of the Committee and an attendant

messenger. This complement may be consi derably enlarged if a special major project is assigned to a standing committee and the committee is empowered to hire staff.

4.5

12 9

The Senate

REPORT FOR THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE ON

STANDING COMMITTEES

CLERK' s O F FICE

MARCH 1970

Part 3

131

STANDING COMMITTEES-PART 3 To further assist the Standing Orders Committee in its consideration of Standing Committees, the following additional material is submitted: Page 49-Schedule illustrating how the depar,tmental Estimates may be

conveniently allocated to -the various standing committees. Page 50--New Zealand's committee system. Pages 53-Draft Standing Orders for ,the appointment of: and 54

A Standing Committee on Statutory Corporations; and Six legislative and general purpose committees. Summing up, the recommendations of this Report are for the appoint­ ment of:

• A Standing Committee on Statutory Corporations; and • Six legislative and general purpose standing committees, viz.: The Standing Committee on External Affairs and Defence; The Standing Committee on Transport and Communications;

The Standing Committee on Trade, Industry and Labour; The Standing Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Home Affairs; The Standing Committee on Health, Welfare, Education and Science ; and

The Standing Committee on National Finance and Development. The six legislative and general purpose standing committees would cc.ver the activities of all the departments of government and would stand nady to consider any Bills, Estimates, petitions, inquiries, papers or other

matters which the Senate may refer to such committees, on motion. The proposals, which reflect the best features of the United Kingdom, Canadian and New Zealand systems, suggest no assumption of Senate powers which cannot be exercised under existing Standing Orders: they are merely proposals for the development of existing procedures to meet the

demands of the times. ESTIMATES-CONSIDERATION BY PROPOSED STANDING COMMITTEES ALLOCATION OP DEPARTMENTAL

Standing

Standing

Standing

Standing Standing

I Standing Committee Committee Committee Committee Committee Committee on External on Transport on Trade, on Legal, on Health, on National Affairs and and Industry Constitutional Welfare, F inance and Communi- and Horne Education Defence cations and Labour Affairs a nd Science Development - Air Civil Aviation Customs and Attorney- Education and National Excise General's Science Development Arm y Postmaster- Labour and Cabinet Office General's National Immigration Health I Treasury Service Defence Sh ip ping and Primary Interior Housing 1 Works Transport Industry I External Affairs Trade and Parliament Repatriation Industry External Prime Social Servi ces I Territories I Minister's Navy I I Supply ! I I 49

13 3

A further advance on the New Zealand system would be the considera­ tion of the Estimates by the specialist general purpose committees, as in Canada. The British Parliament also appears to be moving towards this solution, with the recent proposal that the sub-committees of a re-constituted Estimates Committee specialise in particular areas of administration. By adopting the proposals of Part 2 of this Report, the Australian Senate would be drawing upon the experience of all three of these countries.

52

STANDING COMMITTEE ON STATUTORY CORPORATIONS PROPOSED STANDING ORDER 36AA.-( 1) A Standing Committee, to be called the Standing Com­ mittee on Statutory Corporations, ·shall be appointed at the commencement of each Parliament, to inquire into the purpose, extent, nature and methods of Commonwealth statutory corporations and their administrative control.

(2) Unless otherwise ordered, the Committee shall consist of seven Senator-s.

(3) The Committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees con­ sisting of three or more of its members; and to refer to any such sub­ committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider. The quorum of a sub-committee shall be a majority of the Senators appointed

to the sub-committee.

( 4) The Committee or any sub-committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to meet and transact business notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament.

( 5) The Committee shall have leave to report. from time to time its pro­ ceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as it may deem fit.

53

13 7

LEGISLATIVE AND GENERAL PURPOSE COMMITTEES PROPOSED STANDING ORDER 36AB.-( 1) At the commencement of each Parliament the following Standing Committees shall be appointed:

(a) The Standing Committee on External Affairs and Defence; (b) The Standing Committee on Transport and Communications; (c) The Standing Committee on Trade, Industry and Labour; (d) The Standing Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Home Affairs; (e) The Standing Committee on Health, Welfare, Education and Science;

and

(f) The Standing Committee on National Finance and Development.

(2) The Senate may refer to any of the Committees, on motion, for inquiry and report, any Bills, Estimates or statements of expenditure, messages, petitions, inquiries, papers or other matters.

(3) Unless otherwise ordered, the Committees shall consist of seven Senators.

( 4) Each Committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees con­ sisting of three or more of its members; and to refer -to any such sub­ committee any of the matters which the Committee is empowered to consider. The quorum of a sub-committee shall be a majority of the Senators appointed

to the sub-committee.

(5) The Committees or any sub-committees shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to meet and transact business notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament.

( 6) The Committees shall have leave to report from time to time their proceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as they may deem fit.

13 316/70 54

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COM MONWEALTH OF AUSTRALI A 1970- Par/iamentary Paper No. 85

The Senate

REPORT FROM THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

RELATING TO

NEW STANDING ORDER 36 PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE

DATED 3 JUNE 1970

Laid on th e Table by th e Deputy-President and

ordered to be printed 3 June 1970

OOMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE CANBERRA: 1970

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

The President, Senator the Honourable Sir Alister McMullin, K.C.M.G. (Chairman)

The Chairman of Committees, Senator T. L. Bull , o.B.E.

The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Honourable Sir K enneth Anderson

The Leader of the Oppositi on in the Senate, Senator L. K.

Murphy, Q.C.

Senator J. L. Cavanagh

Senator Sir M agnus Cormack, K.B.E.

Senator R. H . Lacey

Senator R. G. Withers

Senator the H onourable R. C. Wright

PrintcJ b:- .\uth ll ritv the Go"crnment Piintcr of the Comm ['nwealth of A ustra lia

THE SENATE

REPORT FROM THE ORDERS COMMITTEE

On 22 April 1970, the Senate agreed to the following Resolution: That the matter of the extension of the powers of the Printing Committee be referred to the Standing Orders Committee with a request that the Committee recommended an amendment to Standing Order 36 to give effect to recom­ mendation 67 of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications.

2. The matter has been considered by the Standing Orders Committee, which makes the following Report. 3. As stated by the Minister in moving to refer the matter to the Standing Orders Committee, the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and

Government Publications recommended in its Report, presented to the Senate in May 1964, that there should be a continuing parliamentary review of Commonwealth printing and publishing. The Committee considered that the existing Printing Committees of both Houses could not undertake the task

as they were severely restricted in their powers. It went on to recommend, therefore, that a Joint Committee should be appointed with power not only to review the printing and publication of both parliamentary and government publications but also to undertake the function of the exi ting Printing

Committees. 4. On 26 November 1968, in a statement on Government P ublishing Policy, it vvas announced that the Government had accepted the Joint Committee's recommendation and that the Treasurer proposed to seek the views of the Presiding Officers in connection with its in1plementation. The Presiding Officers advised that the proposed committee could be established

in any one of three ways:

( 1) by legislation, as in the case of the Public Works or Publ ic Accou nts Committees; ( 2) by resolution of both Houses at the commencem nt of each

Parliament, as in the case of the Australian Capital Territory and Foreign Affairs Committees; or ( 3 ) by amendment of the Standing Orders of both Houses which at present provide for the appointment of the exis ting Printing

Committees.

5. Both Mr President and Mr Speaker indicated to the Treasurer that they considered the most appropriate way to give effect to the proposal was by amendment of the Standing Orders. They suggested that the new Standing Order for each House might be framed in such a way as to enable each

House, independently, through its Committee, to continue to exerci e the existing Printing Committee function of considering which petitions and papers presented to that House should be printed whilst providing th at, when sitting together as a Joint Committee, the intended additional responsibilities

and powers may be exerci ed .

3

14 .,

6. The Presiding Offi cers proposed to the Government that the matter might be referred to the Standing Orders Committee of each House for a recommendation of an appropriate amendment to the Standing Orders. 7. The Standing Orders Committee of the Senate, having considered the proposal, recommends that existing Standing Order 36 be left out and the fo llowing new Standing Order be inserted in its place:

36.-(1.) A Publications Committee, to consist of seven Senators, shall be appointed at the commencement of each Parliament, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives. (2.) All Petitions and Papers presented to the Senate which have not been ordered' to be printed by either House of the Parliament shall stand referred to the Committee, which shaJI report from time to time as to what Petitions and Papers ought to be printed, and whether wholly or 'in part:

Provided that when a P aper has been laid on the Table, a Motion may be made at any time, without notice, that the Paper be printed. (3.) When conferring with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives, the Committee shall also have power:

(a) to inquire into and report on the printing, publication and distribution of Parliamentary and Government Publications and on such matters as are referred to it by the Treasurer, and (b) to send for persons, papers and records.

The Senate, 2 June 1970

[184 12/70)-H & I

T . L. BuLL,

Deputy-President of the Senate

C ode : PP 85. 70 Price ISc

143

WAT E R POLL TION I N A STRAL I A

Blue ll 'ar ers rum bro 1rn as rh e Pa((erson Ril'er el/( ers Parr Phillip Bay a r Cnrrum