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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr COOK - I did nol sign "any pledge of any party at all.

I object to the omission of those words from Hansard. I did not charge the honorable member with having struck them out, as the report of my remarks will show.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member did make that charge against me.

Mr WEBSTER - I did not. I refer the honorable member to the report of what

I said yesterday. I referred, first of all, to the editing of Hansard generally ; not to its editing by any particular individual.

Mr SPEAKER - I presume that the honorable member is to be taken as making a personal explanation?

Mr WEBSTER - Yes. What I said was this -

I desire to bring under your notice, Mr. Speaker, a matter which seems to require attention, and that is the editing of the speeches of honorable members before they are published in Hansard.

Then 1 illustrated the point which I desired to make, namely, that certain essential remarks of an 'honorable member had been omitted. I did not say that they had been struck out by the honorable member for Parramatta. I said that, instead of those remarks appearing in Hansard, the words 'recorded there were -

I have no recollection of having signed any pledge.

I referred to this method of revision as being of a certain character, and, later on, I said -

I think that Hansard should be a true record of what is said by the members of this House ; and whatever honorable members may do with regard to altering the verbiage of their remarks, they should not be allowed to take out of the report essential matters that have been openly .stated and amplified in speeches in this House.

That was a general observation.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And an impugning of the Hansard report.

Mr WEBSTER - That was a general observation covering my views as to what should be the nature of the Hansard record. It does not matter whether an honorable member who has spoken desires to alter his speech by the elimination of some essential statement, or whether the Hansard reporters, at their own discretion, decide to eliminate it, I object to either course. The Hansard record should contain the remarks uttered by honorable members on essential matters. With regard to mere matters of detail and. verbiage, there is room for the alteration which Mr. Speaker has indicated.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who is to decide what is essential?

Mr WEBSTER - In this case I complain of the reply to an interjection which was essential being omitted. The honorable member for Parramatta has, time and again, charged honorable members on this side of the Chamber with many things ap pertaining to the caucus pledge, and I say that his remark was essential, since it affected his position, and it should therefore have appeared in Hansard as it was uttered.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not utter the remark which the honorable member attributes to me.

Mr WEBSTER - There are witnesses here who say that they heard the remark.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that I did not utter it.

Mr Watson - Get the shorthand notes.

Mr WEBSTER - The Argus does not generally report in an incorrect manner honorable members on the Opposition side of the Chamber, and, therefore, I think that I can rely on the statement appearing in that journal as supporting my contention that the remark I speak of was deliberately uttered by the honorable member for Parramatta in reply to an interjection from me. I think I have justification for complaining of the- non-insertion of that particular remark in Hansard.

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