WHEN the disorder subsided, O’Reilly finished his apology; then the Minister for Lands rase again to continue his second reading speech.
“I do not flatter myself that this measure,” he said, “which has cost me so much personal labour and trouble, will put an end to all the pauperism—all the distress and discontent that’s in the country. But I do think, Sir, that it will go a long way—a very long way, indeed—towards removing from our cities and populous centres, those who are really worth helping.” (“Hear, hear.”)
“Then, y’ can’t mean it for y’selves,” Dad interjected bluntly.
“Order!” the Speaker said, and members of the Opposition laughed and looked hopefully upon Dad.
“The village life of a Swiss peasant,” the Minister went on, ignoring the interruption, “as long as he pays his taxes and gives his quota of conscription to the army of his country, is probably as enviable as that of any race in the world; and in village communities, there, they manage their own affairs, and manage them in a most amiable and agreeable manner. They cultivate their land without as much as even running up a dividing fence, and no differences or disputes ever arise between them——”
“Well, then!” Dad shouted.
“Order!” the Speaker cried promptly.
“They’re different from——”
“Order!” the Speaker cried again.
“From the people of this——”
“Order! Order! “angrily from the Speaker.
“Order! Order! OR-DER!” (Great laughter.)
“For I knew a minister,” Dad rumbled on. (More laughter. )
Just here the Speaker came down on Dad like an elephant throwing a handspring.
“The honourable member,” he snorted, “must desist from making interruptions, and must not defy the authority of this House.” (Applause from the Government.) Then Dad jumped up and threw his arms about.
“What I came here to say,” he roared, “I’ll say!” (Ministerial cries of “Chair!” and cheers from the Opposition.) “An’ I say that I once knew a minister who owned some land—it was near a place his brother had”—(merriment)—“an’ the two of them dealt in horses, an’ so as the minister wouldn’t be takin’ an’ usin’ the wrong horses, the brother went an’ cut all the tails off his mob. “ (Loud laughter.) “But what do you think that minister did?” (Dad paused amidst more laughter, mingled with appeals for “Order! “ ) “He went and cut the tails off his lot. “( Great hilarity, and useless appeals for “Order!” from the Speaker.) “It’s true!” Dad yelled with emphasis, then sat down and leaned back contentedly on the cushions. (Renewed merriment.)
“Order! Order! “from the Speaker, who showed signs of exhaustion.
“And he’s sittin’ in this House at this moment!” Dad shouted again. (More hilarity, and cries of “Name!”) But Dad didn’t give any name. He merely glared across the Chamber at an exMinister of the Crown, who first went white, then green and red, and became the object of more laughter.
“Order! “ the Speaker shouted. “Order! “And, standing up, fixed Dad firmly with his eyes and said:
“If the honourable member for Eton continues to violate the rules of this House, it will be my duty to take such steps as will maintain order and uphold the honour and dignity of the Chamber.” (Loud cheers from the Government, during which Mr. Speaker sat back, and with great confidence and fearlessness removed his spectacles, and slowly and carefully wiped them with a large silk handkerchief.)
All eyes were directed to Dad. But Dad was imperturbable. He made no reply.
“This Act does not say, Sir,” resumed the Minister, “that every thirty persons who come along with a code of rules in their hands ‘shall’ be recognised as a group; but if the Minister of the day is satisfied it is all right, then he ‘may’ recognise them as such. Each group will bear a name. One may be ‘The Golden Grain,’ another ‘The Big Yield’——”
“Or ‘The Gooseberry’ or ‘The Angora Goat,’” yelled a sarcastic Labour member, (Laughter.)
“Even that would be preferable to ‘The equal distribution’ or ‘The Kelly Gang,’” came from an old Tory.
“Order!” the Speaker yelled to him. “Order!”
“Good God, man!” Dad broke out, glaring at the Minister for Lands, “can’t you think of something better to do than standing there talking such d—— nonsense?”
“Order!” the Speaker shouted. “Order! The honourable member for Eton is trying the patience of this House!” (Cheers.)
“I hope the honourable gentleman will try to control himself,” the Minister for Lands said, turning to Dad. “No doubt he comes into this House pregnant with knowledge of the most practical kind concerning life on the land, but it is hoped he will be gracious enough to restrain himself till he has an opportunity of expressing his views in a becoming way.” (More Government cheers.)
Then the Minister continued his argument.
“As I said before, there will be no roadways left open to litigation. (Hear, hear.) And I can only hope, Sir, that the good sense of the co-operators when they go on the land will be such that they will make a rough survey of it, and endeavour, as far as may be possible, to provide for the time when a division will take place. Possibly they may have surveyors among them who will see to a fair division of——”
“Well, I never did hear such rubbish from a sensible man! “Dad cried.
“Order!” the Speaker said.
“I never heerd such nonsense from a lunatic!” Dad said further. (Loud laughter.)
“Then it’s very evident you have never heard yourself speaking!” the Minister sneered.
“Make their own division!” Dad yelled, ignoring the sneer. “You know a lot about selectors!” (“Or-der!” and laughter.) “You have a lot of sense!” (“Order! Order!”)
“Why don’t you put in the bill that the——”
“Order!” the Speaker cried. “Will the honourable member——”
“Selector is to do the same as the German and the Irishman——” (Yells of laughter from the Labour party, and “Order, order!” from the Speaker. )
“Order! The honourable member for Eton——”
“Wanted to divide” (shouts of “Chair! Chair!” and laughter) “a paddock.”
With perspiration running off him, Mr. Speaker several times called “Order!” in a most peremptory manner.
“Well,” Dad drawled—this time rising to his feet.
“Order!” the Speaker shouted at him. “The honourable member cannot——”
“They took hold of some raw steak with their teeth——” (Wildest of merriment and “Order, gentlemen, Order!”)
“And pulled fer——”
“I ask the hon——”
“Th’ pick of th’——”
“Order! ORDER!” (Terrific laughter.)
“Paddick.” (Increased laughter, and cries of “Name him! Name him!”)
The Speaker took Dad in hand again, and cautioned him for the last time. Then the Minister for Lands was permitted to finish his speech in peace.