SECTION 4.

(1) As soon as may be after the passing of this Act the Executive Council may by order establish a council to be called the Statistical Council to give advice and assistance in regard to the execution of this Act and any other matter relating to statistics to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and to any other Minister in whom the powers and duties conferred by this Act on the Minister for Industry and Commerce are for the time being vested in relation to any particular class of statistics.
(2) The Statistical Council, if and when established, shall consist of such number of persons, not being more than nine nor less than four, as the Executive Council shall from time to time think proper.
(3) The first members of the Statistical Council shall be appointed by the Executive Council in and by the order establishing the Council and the subsequent members of the Council shall be appointed by the Executive Council, and every member of the Statistical Council shall, unless he previously dies or resigns, retain his membership of the Council for two years only from the date of his appointment but shall always be eligible for re-appointment.
(4) The Statistical Council shall meet whenever summoned by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on his own motion or at the request of any Minister in whom any powers or duties under this Act are for the time being vested and on such other occasions as the Council may from time to time determine.

The following amendment stands in my name:—

Section 4, sub-section (4). To add at the end of the sub-section the words " Provided that such Council shall meet at least once in each year."

That amendment is put down merely to enable the Committee to discuss the section which deals with the establishment of a Statistical Council. Reading through this section, one is struck by the type of man who will be required to advise the Minister on important matters. The duties of such an individual are defined. There is no statement as to the office being a paid office. I can hardly think of anybody of standing in the country who would fill that post. The Executive Council establishes the Statistical Council. What will be the position of the members of that Council? What will their opinions be worth? There is no suggestion that their advice would ever be acted upon. As far as one can see, they could not be a body of men whose advice would be worth having. In other Dominions the collection of statistics is managed by a definite Council established for the purpose. A Statistical Bureau is the body that really carries out the work similar to that embodied in this Bill. The difference between the other Dominions and this country is that this Council will be established and governed entirely by the Executive Council. As a Council it may be of some use, but personally I cannot see what good it will do.

The constitution of the Council was intended to be representative of important interests, for instance, agricultural, transport, banking, and so on. Much the same clause is in the South African Act. There it runs:—" There shall be a statistical council consisting of not less than four and not more than eight persons, who shall be appointed and shall hold office during the pleasure of the Minister, and it shall be the function of the Council to advise the Minister in matters in connection with this Act."

I would have exactly the same objections to that as I have to this.

Is it to the council or to the constitution?

I cannot see any man of outstanding ability or expert knowledge fulfilling such duties. It is the same thing as if you were employing a man in your own business to give you an expert opinion. You have to make it worth his while by giving him some authority, some position or some pay. I do not honestly believe in getting a few gentlemen together and getting their opinion on a number of questions in the way that is here proposed.

We have got that class of opinion up to this from almost every class of person. We have got it from men in business, in law, in banking, from men engaged in agriculture and so on. We have got it from business men of various classes as well.

But not under a Bill at all. You would get that just as well without putting it into the Bill at all.

At least one of the bodies I have in mind has been set up under an Act.

This is such an important Bill that it seems to me this particular section is not up to the quality of the rest of the Bill. I believe the Minister can get the advice he wants. He would have to consult individuals connected with these things, but this clause cuts him out from doing it.

I do not think it does. It enables him to do it. There are many people who would be desirous of acting if there were statutory authority through which they would act; but they are not so much inclined to act if you do not make it statutory. I think the body such as I have named is a rather advisable body. There are three or four things that are important, so far as the business of the country is concerned. While the Minister would know banking men better than anyone else, you would find that the banking men would be restricted by other interests concerned, such as commerce, agriculture, transport, and so on.

The difficulty I see is this: that this Statistical Council would be, so to speak, at the beck and call of the Minister concerned. The man whose opinion would be really valuable would be a man engaged in some business or other, and he would be so busy that you would find that he could not attend when the Minister might summon the Council. He might have plenty of time at other times. I do not think you would get such people to put themselves in the position of being called upon at any time that the Minister wanted. Their own business might preclude them.

Under this Statistical Council they would all need to meet together, whereas if the Minister wanted to meet these men individually he could always get them to come.

A half an hour from a man who is really an authority on the subject is far better than hours from people who would not be complete authorities on the matter.

You might as well say that one good man is better than a dozen other men, but that has nothing to do with this. Senator Bagwell's case is that there are great experts available but that they will not come in. How is this section going to keep these people out?

I say if such a man is to be on the Statistical Council he may be called any time from his office. Now the many whose opinion is most valuable is not the sort of man that you can easily get, because he is not going to tie himself down to attend on a Council like this.

That is to say he is an absolutely selfish man and will not come unless he is paid. Now that is not my experience of these men.

He will not bind himself to attend the Council, but he will give you his time if you call on him when he is available. He might give you a week one time if you required him, but he might not be able to bind himself down to attend the Statistical Council.

The only point that can be urged against this section is that the men will not agree to come together at one time, but that each of them may meet the Minister separately. That is extraordinary.

That is just it.

There are times when a man, say in my business, could attend, but at other times it would be impossible.

We do not mean that this body is going to sit the same as a Corporation or a Board of Directors. A few meetings in the year would be all that we would require. If a man were unable to attend he would resign and someone else from his business would be appointed. If such a man is really interested in the matter he would give whatever advice he would have to his successor.

I think the object of creating this Council is to get the advantage that you lose by not having a bureau with very highly qualified expert opinion. Here you have got a Minister who is not actually an expert. You are working the business by your Civil Servants who would not always be experts.

The statistician would be an expert.

The man at the head would be an expert. This section was to give you an opportunity of getting outside advice.

I think we have very largely discussed this section (4), but we have not discussed the amendment as yet.

I think Senator Jameson said he put down the amendment so as to enable us to discuss the section. I would accept the amendment with one reservation " if established."

But could you not take powers for the Minister to get the advice he wants from anybody by appointment at any time he wants?

It is open to the Minister to do that at present. What is to prevent me from sending for any expert on Governmental science and bringing him into my office and putting questions to him? This enables the Minister to invite persons connected with various activities in the country.

There will be all sorts of different interests and it would be much more difficult to get opinions from a body of men meeting together. For instance, take agriculture. If you have a banker present, he knows nothing about agriculture. You have to teach each of these men the other men's business, whereas, if you had an agricultural man only you would find that he would give you his opinion. If you take banking and distilling or any other industry you like, you will find it will work out in the same way. You will deal with these matters much better in the way I suggest, than by gathering these men together in a group.

No, that is not the intention. One man represents agriculture; another commerce; another banking, and another economics.

I do not know how that works out in practice, but I think that in a discussion on banking the agricultural man would not contribute much. He would rather spoil the ground, andvice versa.

That is just what the President has been arguing all the time.

I think we have discussed it enough. The President knows what we are at. With your leave, I beg to withdraw the amendment. It has served its purpose by the discussion that we have had.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

There is no amendment down for Sections 5, or 6.