LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. Wednesday, Nov. 19. A large amount of general business was done by 'he Council to-claj', but none was of great interest. Among the notices of motion was one by the Hon. Mr. Chamberlain to abolish all the fencing laws of the colony, and one by the Hon. G. M. Waterhouse—- “ That in view of the likelihood of much increased taxation, there should be new facilities afforded for appeals against one’s valuation. ”
Sir F. D. Bell asked the AttorneyGeneral whether the attention of Government had been called to a letter from the Agent-General in the “ Times ” Sept. 26, respecting his position a Director of the New Zealand Agricultural Company, and whether there is any objection to inform Parliament of the circumstances which may have justified Sir Julius Vogel in publicly declaring that he had the authority of three Ministers for assisting in organising that Company. The Hon. F. A- Whitaker said that Government had sent a telegram asking Sir Julius Vogel for an explanation of the point. He would lay the answer on the table.
There was a long discussion on the position of the Otago University Bill, but nothing eventuated. The Council carried the following motion —“ It is desirable that Government should take into consideration the present tariff of charges on the railway, so as to make the working of the several lines realise a fair profit, or at least contribute their full share of receipts in aid of the revenues of the colony.” The following were read a third time ; —Building Societies’ Act Amendment Bill, Triennial Parliaments’ Bill. The Council rose at 5 o’clock.
Thursday, Nov. 20. In the Council, after a large amount of small formal business, Colonel Brett withdrew his motion relative to the Armed Constabulary Force on the West Coast. The Animals Act Protection Amendment Bill, District Courts Act Amendment Bill, Timaru Waterworks Bill, and Hamilton Volunteer Hall Site Bill, were read a first time.
On the Hon. O. M. Waterhouse’s motion for better facilities to appeal against the over valuation of taxed property, there was a long debate, during which many alleged acts of injustice under the Land Tax Act were mentioned. The Hon. F. A. Whitaker accepted the motion, and mentioned that the Government would do its utmost to make the taxes be felt as easily as possible. The motion was carried.
A great part of the sitting was occupied in Committe on a number of small Bills, and the Council adjourned at 5 p. m. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Wednesday, Nov. 19. AFTERNOON SITTING. The House met at 2.20 p.m. NOTICE OF MOTION. Mr. Pyke gave notice that he would move—“ That this House will not consent to the abolition of local subsidies until adequate provision has been made for carrying on local works.” Replying to Mr. Gisborne, The Hon. J. Bryce said that Government was afraid it was too late in the session to bring in a Bill to amend the existing land purchase system. The Hon. W. Gisborne asked the Colonial Treasurer to what specific American Act he referred, when in his Financial Statement he asked the House to impose a property tax upon the American model ?
Major Atkinson replied, to the New York Statutes for the year 1859. Replying to Mr. Kelly, Mr. Bryce said that a return had been laid on the table showing the blocks-of Native land purchased from the Natives in the North Island since 1870, indicating their position, acreage, and cost; also, a return and map showing the blocks of Native land for which negotiations have been entered into, showing the position, acreage, and price per acre agreed on. Mr. Shanks asked what steps Government intended to take with the view of supplying the Volunteer Artillery Batteries with the proper complement of field guns, and whether a sum would be placed upon the estimates this session for procuring the necessary guns; also, if Government propose to make any increase on the capitation at present paid to Artillery Corps, and if so, to what extent. The Hon. J. Hall replied that Government had the matter under consideration, and hoped to be able to make some effectual provision. Government recognised the importance of increasing the capitation paid, biit in the present financial state of the Colony, no increase could be made. CUSTOMS RETURNS. On'the motion of Mr. George, Government agreed to produce a return in a tabulated form showing the value of the duty paid to the Customs on spirits, tea, and sugar which had been cleared from the various bonds in the Colony for the respective weeks ending Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1,8, and 15 ; and also value of the duty paid on the abovenamed articles for the corresponding period of the year 1878. THAMEB-WAIKATO RAILWAY. Mr. Murray moved —“ That the Law Officers of Government be instructed to prepare and submit a case to the Judges to decide as to the legality or otherwise of certain expenditure by Government upon railway and reclamation works at Grahamstown, and between Grahamstown and Te Aroha, ” Mr. Macandrew suggested that the motion should be withdrawn. It would open a party question, and lead to endless discussion. The Hon. J. Hall thought the motion would not bear any practical result. At the same time he did not think it would lead to any party question. Mr. Murray withdrew the motion which was agreed to. PUBLIC WORKS IN AUCKLAND. Mr. Whitaker moved —“That this House will, to-morrow, resolve itself into Committee of the whole, to consider a respectful address to be presented to His Excellency the Governor, praying that he will cause the sum of £200,000 to be placed upon the Estimates as a grant to the Provincial District of Auckland, for the formation of roads and bridges. ”
Mr. Murray moved the adjournment o tile debate.
The House divided, with the result, Ayes !!j, Noes 20. The motion for the adjournment was carried.
EVENING SITTING. The House resumed at 7.80. NATIVE MATTERS.
The interrupted debate was resumed on the question that there be laid before the House a return of all persons who have been employed since Jan. 1, 1870, on matters concerned with the purchase of Native lands or any other Native matters, whose salaries have not been voted by the House, showing the amount of salary or allowance paid each ollicer since that date, the amount now due to each, and whether payments have been made out of loan or general revenue. The motion was put and carried. PAYMENT TO MR. REES. Mr. Sutton moved —“ That there be laid before the House (1) a copy of the voucher for £4OO, or thereabouts, paid Mr. W. L.lßees in July or August last, on account of legal advice on some matters on the West Coast. (2) A copy of any correspondence that may have taken place between Mr. Rees and the Government in reference to any legal opinion supplied to the Government. ”
Mr. Kelly argued that the question involved the application of the Disqualification Act —Mr. Rees, at the time the payment was made, having been a member of the House.
Mr. Sheehan said that when the money was paid, Mr. Rees had ceased to be a member of the House.
The Hon. J. Bryce said that so far as he knew, Mr. Rees had not supplied Government with a legal opinion, and no corres pondenco had taken place such as that referred to.
The previous question was put, and carried on the voices. THE MARQUIS OF NORMANBY AND THE HXNEMOA.
Mr. M'Lean moved—“ That a respectful address be presented to his Excellency the Governor, praying that he will cause to be laid before the House all correspondence detween the Marquis of Normanby and the Premier, relative to the refusal to grant the use of the Hinemoa to convey his Excellency and family to Melbourne, together with copies of all enclosures therein.” The motion was carried. SALB OF LAND ON DEFERRED PAYMENTS.
Mr Ormond moved for a return of all lands disposed of on deferred payments in each provincial district since the passing of the Land Act, 1877, such return to specify the acreage of each selection, the price paid, and where situate ; also, what expenditure has been incurred, if any, in opening such lands for occupation. The motion was carried. PAYMENT OF MEMBERS.
The House went into Committee on a message from the Governor, recommending that payment of members’ expenses be provided for by statute. The recommendation was adopted, and on resuming, a Bill to that effect was introduced, providing for the payment of members on the scale at present in force. NEW COUNTY OF TIMARU. The adjourned debate on the proposed new County of Timaru was resumed. The Hon. J. Hall moved —“That the proposed County should not come into operation until the close of next session. ” On a division, the amendment was carried—Ayec, 44 ; Noes, 25. Mr. Tamoana drew the attention of the Government to an epidemic raging in his district, and hoped that something would be done for its abatement.
The Hon. J. Bryce promised that enquiries would be made for that purpose. The Licensing Further Amendment Bill (No. 2) was further considered in Committee.
After a short discussion, a motion “That progress be reported and leave granted to sit again,” was carried. The District Courts Act, 1858, Amendment Bill was further considered in Committee. The Bill was passed with amendments, and on being reported was read a third time and passed.
Wellington, Nov. 20. In the House early this morning the Imprisonment for Debt Abolition Bill was shelved in Committee by 22 to 25. Progress was reported without leave being asked to sit again.
Thursday, Nov. 20. • AFTERNOON SITTING. The House met at 2.30. notice of motion. 'Mr. Reeves gave notice that he would ask Government to take steps for extinguishing a fire which had been burning for some time at Port Elizabeth on the West Coast. QUESTIONS. Mr Stewart asked if Government would state the area of land belonging to Government at Addington, from whom purchased, the amount and date of purchase, and through whom the purchase was affected, the estimated cost of Addington workshops, stating separately the amount incurred in levelling and forming the land, the expense of the buildings, machinery, Ac., the value of the available plant belonging to old workshops, the value of rolling-stock ordered last financial year, and whether such orders were provided for in last year’s appropriations ; from what countries such rolling-stock was obtained, and where manufactured 1 The Hon. R. Oliver said the estimated cost of the levelling and forming the ground was £250, aiding £275, buildings £II,BOO, drainage £4530, estimated value of machinery and plant in the old shop £3075, of new machinery ordered £9778 The area of land was 25 acres 2 roods 6 perches, and cost £8545 13s 4d. There was also 1 acre 1 rood 25 perches, the price of which was not agreed upon. The land was acquired by the late Provincial Government of Canterbury. Six acres cost £1575. The original cost for forming the ground and erecting buildings at Addington was £53,470 ss. No estimate had been received of the cost of machinery nor the value of available plant belonging to the old shop. Including the order sent Home on June 22, 1878, the value of rolling-stock and machinery ordered last year, for working the railways in Canterbury and Otago, was about £270,000. The amount of additional rolling stock on the Estimates was £21,000. , Six locomotives, ten carriages, and all the workshop machinery had been ordered in America, the remainder in England. SECOND READINGS. The following Bills were read a second time :—Registration of dogs, Canterbury Rivers Act, 1870, Amendment, Municipal
Corporation!;’ Act, _IS7O, Anmndment, Maori Members’ Election 'Validation, Counties’ Act Amendment Act, 1877 Amendment, Forest Trees’ Planting Encouragement Act, 1871, Amendment. Sir G. Grey moved the second reading of the Prevention of Corruption Bill. The Hon J. Hall said that, while ho would not oppose the motion; he did not think the Bill was required. In Committee he would move an amendment.
The motion was put, and carried on the voices. NATIVE INDUSTRIES. The question that in the opinion of tl e House, His Excellency should be moved to issue a Commission to take evidence at the principal commercial centres of New Zealand, and to report on the operation of the present tariff, with a view to such a re-adjustment of the Customs duties as may be considered best calculated to foster the various branches of industry in the colony, was put to the vote, and negatived on the voices. ENDOWMENT SCHOOLS. On the motion for going into Committee on the Wanganui Endowment Schools, a lengthened discussion arose. The opposition shown to the measure was founded on the fact that, the trust in this as well as many other similar cases had been abused, and that, therefore, the measure should be dropped, and a more comprehensive one brought in, dealing with the whole subject of these trusts. Mr. Montgomery pointed out that it cost £35 per head for educating children in this school, and that this was an abuse of the trust, which expressly stipulated that the endowment was granted for the education of poor and orphan children residing in the district. The Bill required amendment, still, it should not be thrown out, and for that reason lie would support the motion for going into Committee. Mr. Ballance said that the whole object of the Bill was to get the trust placed on a proper footing. The House divided—Ayes, 37 ; Noes, 25. The motion was carried.
In Committee, Mr. Hamlin moved — “That progress be reported, and leave asked to sit again.” On division, the Ayes were 25, Noes, 31. The Bill was contested by a division being called on for each clause, and eventually it was agreed to pass the first three clauses. Progress was then reported, and leave asked to sit again presently. MISCELLANEOUS. The Union Company Act 1872 Amendment Bill, and the Mines’ Act 1877 Amendment, were reported, and the former read a third time and passed.
The House then went into Committee on the Wanganui Endowment School, but the opposition was again repeated. The House sat till 4.30 in Committee on the Wanganui Endowed Schools Bill, which was then reported with amendments. * Per our Special Wire. LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. Friday, Nov. 21. In the Council to-day, Mr Whitaker stated, in reference to a motion re harbor defence, that the Ministry had been written to by Col. Scratchley, who would visit the colony in January After he had inspected the harbors and reported, the Government would be enabled to state his views on the subject. The Oamaru Harbor Land Bill was read a second time and passed. The Native Expenditure Investigation Committee obtained an extension of time till 3rd December, to bring up their report. The greater part of the afternoon was spent in debating the Qualification of Electors Bill, and when the Council rose at 5, the Hons. Mr. Whitaker, Bell, Whitmore, P. Buckland, Fiaser, Grace, Pharazyn, Ngatahe, Reynolds, Taiama, Waterhouse, Wilson, and Wood had spoken, all very shortly, and generally in favor of the Bill. The arguments used, however, on the other side were chiefly repetitions of those brought forward in the Lower House.
At 5 o’clock the Council adjourned till 7.30. EVENING SITTING. The Qualifications Bill passed the second reading on the voices. The Miners’ Rights Fees Reduction Bill was thrown out by 24 to 10. The Council adjourned at 10 o’clock. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Friday, November 21. The House sat till 5.30 this morning, in Committee on the Wanganui Schools Endowment Bill, and the Auckland Improvement Commission Bill. A determined opposition was offered to both, and progress at length had to be reported. The House then adjourned till 7.30. EVENING SITTING. Friday, Nov. 21. The House met at 7.30. Mr. Pyke, in Committee, said that in Vincent County arrangements have been made to extend expenditure over a period of years. At present the County was committed to contracts amounting to £30,000; and, if the subsidies were discontinued, where was the guarantee these contracts would be provided for. The Act provided tnat these subsidies were to extend over a period of 5 years, and on that understanding heavy obligations had been contracted for. The proposal for discontinuance was equivalent to a proposal of repudiation on the part of Government. Considering the part taken by the Treasurer in bringing the Counties Act into force, he ought to have been the last to make such a proposal as one for discontinuation. The virtue of the Counties Act was that it left district works to be dealt with by localities, and did not trouble Parliament with such matters. But this proposal was practically stultifying that virtue. Subsidies were not the best way to provide for the wants of counties. A better mode would be set aside the land fund for the purpose. He thought some provision would have been made, he urged the House to insist on a definite assurance being given. He blamed the Treasurer for his attempt to discontinue the subsidies without giving counties the slightest notice of his intention. Counties should have had at least twelve months notice of the proposal. He denied the right of Government to take the land fund and appropriate it as consolidated revenue fund. It should be applied for improvements in counties, and to the other
Sir George Gray defended the Into Government for having appropriated the Land Fund for purposes of revenue. Go vernment did not sell the land in the. pr - per sense of the word “sale.” They tax purchasers and resume possession thereof on paying a reasonable compensation. All that, it showed was t’ ! parting with the land they did it acceding to the usual acceptation of the word. They only settled population upon it, a population for which the means of bearing the burdens of the State ought to be provided. Mr. Stewart moved as a further amendment to the effect that the House, considering the circumstances under which Government took office, refuses to grant supplies until Government gave a distinct pledge that they will during present session bring down a Representation of Seats Bill. He argued that the Regulation of Elections Bill, passed by the House without a redistribution measure, placed the colony in a more illiberal condition than it had previously been. The amendment was lost on the voices. The motion for going into Committee of Supply was then put and carried. THE ESTIMATES. The Estimates were brought on for consideration. On the first item being put, Mr. Montgomery moved that progress be reported. If it was intended to pass the Estimates just now, with the meagre information they had, it would, he thought, be shown when the Public Works and other statements came down, that it would be necessary to very considerably cut down these Estimates. They had other important business to go on with, so the time would be thrown away.
Mr. Shepherd pointed out that the salaries proposed in the postal department were in excess of those paid last year. In the present state of the finances he thought it was a mistake.
The Hon. John Hall replied, and in doing so pointed out that the work had increased very considerably, and it was only fair that increased remuneration should be paid. Mr. J. T. Fisher said the increase had been proposed by the late Government, and was one which, considering the importance of the department was both fair and reasonable. Mr. Ballanco denied that these were Estimates prepared by late Government. If he was rightly informed, the Estimates now submitted had been carefully concealed in the Cabinet. They were only departmental, and no attempt had been made to ascertain how far they fitted in with the general finance of the colony. The increase in this one debt was £36,000. In the fact of that proposal they found that there was only an increase of £4OOO, so that in reality they proposed a net loss to the revenue of £33,000 —a proposal of that kind could only be justified by most exceptional circumstances, and no such circumstances had been shown. In that case he would support the views of Mr. Montgomery—that consideration of the Estimates should be postponed till they had detailed particulars of the financial proposals before them. He had been told the Land and Property Tax Bill was prepared. Why was it kept back ?It was absolutely necessary they should have that measure before taking up Estimates. Mr. Turnbull said he would feel it his duty to propose a reduction in the salaries. The proposals before them shewed that, there was paid, or proposed to be paid, in salaries over £2OO per annum, the amount of £40,000. The time had now come when it would be necessary to cut down all departmental salaries, from the highest down to the very lowest. Meantime it would be much more advisable to adopt a motion for postponement till the financial proposals were before them. The Educational department was another department that would have to be cut down. It was impossible the colony could go on paying these large sums year after year. Mr. Speight spoke in support of the amendment for postponement, Mr. Swanson thought the Estimates might very well be reduced by £50,000. He was on a Committee that day at which an exposure of the rotten state of the public service took place. It was shown that a number of highly paid civil servants were not only useless but absolutely mischevous. He warned new members from past experience, that there was not the slightest possibility of making any Ministerial reductions, unless the Estimates were sent back for reconsideration by Government.
Mr. Hall said it was the extravagant demands of the public which necessiated the larger civil service complained of A post office was demanded here, telegraph office there, and so on. That was how the service became fo large. It was not the doing of Ministers, and it was a thing for which the extravagant demands of the public were solely responsible. Mr. Adams was inclined to support the proposal that Government should take back the estimates, and make considerable reductions.
Mr. Hutchinson submitted they might fairly increase salaries paid, and reduce the number of employees. There were hosts of R.M.’s for example a great deal of whose work might be undertaken by J.P.’s. There was a Government official for every nineteen of the population. He supported the amendment.
[The debate had not ended when our message left at one o’clock.]
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