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Friday, 24 November 1905

Mr McCAY (Corinella) - I desire to address myself to the motion for only a few minutes, as I recognise, in common with the rest of the House, that the main aspect of the question has been sufficiently dealt with in connexion with previous debates. I have two suggestions to make. The first is that the motion should be dealt with as other complicated proposals have been treated, and that the two paragraphs be put separately.

Mr Deakin - I have no objection to that.

Mr McCAY - Then I may take it that that course will be adopted. As for the first part of the motion, I have always held that the motions therein mentioned should be put without amendment or debate. Their object is not to create debate, but to insure on the part of the House a knowledge of certain matters necessary to the proper conduct of business. Therefore, in spite of the circumstances under which this motion has been submitted, I view the first part of the proposals in the same light that I did when they were considered by the Standing Orders Committee, and believe that the motions therein mentioned may properly be put without discussion. As to the second portion of the motion, I have always believed in the limitation of the time allowed individual members, in order that honorable members generally may have an opportunity to take part in our debates.

Mr Page - Then why has the honorable and learned member been kicking up a row during the last fortnight ?

Mr McCAY - I spoke of the limitation of the individual, not of the compulsory silencing of the minority by the majority.

Mr Wilkinson - Then the proposal now before us will take the sting out of the standing order passed yesterday.

Mr McCAY - No; it will give the stern Spartans on your right, Mr. Speaker, an opportunity to apply the remedy which they have declared necessary. But I do not wish to discuss controversial questions. It is highly desirable that we should get to the week-end without further controversy. I suppose that, as soon as this motion has been dealt with, we may pack our bags and catch our trains.

Mr Deakin - I have no objection.

Mr McCAY - I say frankly that I wish to see my home again ; it seems a century since I was last there, and such a prospect in front of us should hasten our deliberations. I wish to suggest to the Prime Minister certain amendments. There are occasions when the application of the closure to individual members should not take place. I think that there should be no power to apply the closure during debates on an Address-in-Reply, the Budget, or a " Noconfidence " motion, and that no limitation should be placed on the speech' of the mover of the second reading of a Bill, or of a resolution.

Mr Watson - Then what would prevent an honorable member from occupying; half-a-dozen hours, and thus depriving other members of an opportunity to speak?'

Mr McCAY - I have never heard of any curtailment of the debate on the AddressinReply, when an opportunity is. afforded honorable members to ventilatetheir views on various political matters. Nor do I think that the closure should be applied to motions of "no-confidence,"' when, as a rule, the side which - knows it will win leaves the other side to talk. Surely the winning party may be expected! to have the grace to allow the losing party its say.

Mr Tudor - During the discussion of the last motion of want of confidence, we did not know for three weeks how the decision would go.

Mr McCAY - That added an unusual' spice of interest to the proceedings. Furthermore, I do not think that a majority should have the right to apply the closureto an individual until he has had a reasonable time in which to express his views onthe question before the Chair. I would' suggest that the closure should not be applied to an individual until lie has beenspeaking for not less than an hour in theHouse, and not less than half-an-hour in Committee. Finally, I think that the proposed application of- the closure to an individual member should1 not bake effect unless twenty-four honorable members vote for it. I do not think that that numberis enough, but it is the number alreadyadopted by the House in regard to the application of the general closure. If theseamendments are made, I can no longer object to the motion.

Mr Kennedy - The motion would beuseless if all the amendments which havebeen suggested were made.

Mr McCAY - The amendment which I suggest would prevent the application of the closure to a member before he had' exercised his right to be heard.

Mr Page - But members could moveamendment after amendment for evermore.

Mr McCAY - They could do that under the proposals of the Government ; but let me say, speaking from experience, that it is a very difficult task to frame a long series of amendments, and one which Mr. Speaker does not make, any easier. The; modifications which I suggest will take: from the proposal to apply the closure te* individuals a great many objections which* may now be urge,d against it. I understand that no amendment is before the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER - An amendment has !been moved by the honorable member for Lang, and temporarily withdrawn.

Mr McCAY - I should like to take the same course in regard to the following amendments, which I now move: -

That before the words " A motion," line 25, the words " except in a debate on the AddressinReply, or on the Budget, or in a debate on a motion of ' No-confidence,' and except when the second reading of a Bill, or a resolution is being moved " be inserted ; that after the word " speaking, " line 26, the words " and has been speaking for not less than one hour in the House, and halfanhour in Committee," be inserted; and that the words " An affirmative vote of not less than twenty-four members shall be necessary to carry any motion under this part of this standing order," be added.

Mr SPEAKER - Is it the wish of the House that the honorable and learned member have leave to withdraw his amend.ments temporarily?

Leave granted.

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