A fortnight ago, during your absence, Sir, a question was raised dealing with the Standing Orders with regard to the reading of speeches in this House. The matter was not raised in a way in which there could be a ruling, but Senator Connolly suggested that it would be a good thing if a ruling was given. I think he was right there. I am putting the matter to you now to know if any decision has been come to in the matter. I am sure members on all sides are anxious to keep within the recognised practices of the House.
Public Business. - Senators and the Standing Orders.
There is, of course, a Standing Order which provides that "No Senator shall read his speech," but it has been the custom to allow Ministers or Senators introducing an important measure or making prepared statements on grave issues, to read their speeches and in my opinion this is a desirable practice. I have always used my discretion as to when I should allow speeches to be read and I intend to continue to do so. So far there has been no abuse of this practice, but should any abuse arise I shall certainly deal with it. Meanwhile I am of opinion that this is an occasion of exceptional gravity and if anyone has thought fit to prepare a careful statement of his views on the Bill before us I shall not interfere if he chooses to read it.
Do I understand from what we have heard that on this particular Bill you propose to allow speeches to be read?
I think that is what can be gathered from my statement.
What I was referring to arose over the introduction by Senator Douglas of Constitution (Amendment No. 25) Bill, for a Referendum. I was not referring so much specifically to that Bill as to the fact that I had noticed on a number of occasions the reading of speeches by Senators. I have no particular objection to the reading of speeches but in face of the Standing Order I felt that some ruling should be given. I am still at a loss to know where we stand as regards our Standing Order. If you decide now, on this Bill, or on any other Bill, that we may on occasions be allowed to read speeches, I think it would be preferable if we all knew the position. Senators would then know whether they were going to be able to read speeches or be debarred from doing so. It is merely a personal opinion I am expressing. The matter is entirely one for you, but I think that when there is a Standing Order it should be obeyed or ruled out.
Colonel Moore rose.
I cannot allow a debate on my ruling.