On that Bill, speaking on the general debate to-day, Senator Douglas drew attention to an objection he had to the terms in Section 8 of the Agreement. The terms of that section are that when the Prices Commission has examined any tariff and makes a recommendation, say, for the reduction of that tariff, that the reduction will be brought about. The Emergency (Imposition of Duties) Act was produced in 1932, principally for the purpose of giving the Executive Council at that time very strong powers to impose duties for the protection of industry in this country. I think the circumstances of the economic war were the ones out of which the introduction of that Act particularly arose. Powers were given in that Act by which the Executive Council can, by order, either impose or vary a customs duty on any goods coming into the country.
The terms of the Act do not require that order to be presented for immediate parliamentary consideration. It requires the order to be presented to Parliament inside a period of eight months, but it may be that the duty would be imposed and that Parliament would not have an opportunity of discussing it from the point of view of completing the legislative position until the period of six or seven months applied. I propose to move an amendment to the Bill to-morrow, that where the variation of a customs duty is recommended by the Prices Commission in such circumstances that there are Treaty obligations on us to bring about that variation, that the Emergency (Imposition of Duties) Act will not be used for the purpose of varying the duty by an Executive Council order.
Senator Douglas pointed out the difference in the terms of similar clauses in the Agreement with Canada and other places where parliamentary control is completely safeguarded. In view of the changed circumstances and the undesirability of removing completely over a period of months from Parliament power to control the varying of the duties examined and reported upon by the Prices Commission, I suggest that where such variation is recommended that it should be brought into operation by parliamentary action and not by Executive Council order.