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The Bill for the alteration of the constitution of the Legislative Council so bristles with objectionable points that even if it passes through the Council itself, which is very improbable, it is scarcely within the range of possibility that it wifi be assented to by the Honse in anything like its present form. The title is in itself a misnomer, for it should be fitly designated “ a Bill to lessen “ the powers and privileges of the Honse of “Representatives.” Two innovations are proposed—viz., the limitation of the number of members of the Council, and the restriction of the appropriation of expenditure by the Representative Chamber. Sir Fbedeeick Whitaeee’s Bill doubly ties the hands of the Ministry ; and not only is it proposed to limit the number of Legislative Coimcillors, but also to prevent any addition being made for some years to come. It is only when the number is reduced below one-half for the time being of the members of the House that a vacancy can occur. There are at present nominally forty-three members of the Council, although, from one cause or another, only about thirty are in attendance. As the number of members of the Honse will in future be only seventy-five, the “ quota,” contingent on the provisions of the Act; will be not more than thirty-seven, for the number of the latter being uneven, one has to be omitted from the reckoning. Those who are already seated in the Council are to retain their seats, so that until at least seven of them resign or shuffle off this mortal coil there will not be any vacancy. _

Equally objectionable, if not more so, is the proposal to restrict the House as to the form and contents of the annual Appropriation Act. The times have been, and may occur again, when the addition of what is termed a “ tack ” to the Appropriation Act has been made as the only means of causing compliance with the popular will. It is a power which the House is not likely to part with. Sir Frederick's proposals recognise this, and there is an attempt to provide a substitute by exacting that if there is anything contained in such Act, which “ in the “opinion of the Council is not in conformity with these restrictions, they “ rr\ay. request that such extraneous matter “may be struck out, and be dealt “with by a separate Bill.” If this is refused the House and Council are to sit together as one legislative body and deal with the matter in dispute. The same device, however, when applied to other than a money Bill, in the event of a disagreement between the two Chambers, has much to recommend it. Where a Bill has on two occasions been passed by either branch of the Legislature and rejected by the other, then both branches may sit together; and if a majority consisting of at least one-half of all the members of the Legislature vote in favor of the passing of the Bill, it will thenceforth become a valid enactment.

One provision of the Bill, limiting the tenure of office by members hereafter elected to the Council to seven years, commends itself to the judgment; but how elections made by members.of the General Assembly as a whole would work is very doubtful.

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Bibliographic details

UPPER HOUSE REFORM., Issue 7949, 3 July 1889

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UPPER HOUSE REFORM. Issue 7949, 3 July 1889

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