Per our Special Wire.
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. Friday, Dec. 5. AFTERNOON SITTING. In the Council to-day, after the customary routine business, Mr Whitaker proposed to introduce a general Harbor Amendment Bill, and Captain Fraser gave notice to move that no more local Bills be taken up this session. Mr. Whitaker’s motion to meet on Monday was agreed to. Mr. Mantel’s motion—“ That Sir Julius Vogel was justified in believing he had the approval of Government to join the Land Company,” was shelved by the previous question, on the motion of Mr. Whitaker, after a short debate, in which there was a heated political argument between Sir F. Bell and Colonel Whitmore. THE BANKRUPTCY LAW. Mr. Wilson moved that in the opinion of the Conncil the Bankruptcy Law required amendment. There was an important debate on this, many valuable suggestions being made by different members. Mr. Whitaker said the law was bad, because it was founded on the basis that the creditors should have the dealing with the estates ; whereas they should be in the hands of independent parties. He would not promise to bring in a Bill next session, though strongly urged ; but would bo glad to do so if he saw any chance to carry a measure in accordance with his views. Mr. Wilson notified his intention of moving for a committee next session to enquire into the whole subject. ADULTERATION OF FOOD. Mr. Waterhouse carried a motion that the police should be instructed strongly to enforce the Adulteration Act. REGISTRATION OF ELECTORS BILL. The Council then went into Committee a second time on the Registration Bill, and had not finished on adjourning at 5 o’clock. EVENING SITTING. The Registration Bill was finished in Committee. The Auckland Loans Consolidated Bill was also passed through Committee. After several Bills had been advanced the Council rose.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Friday, Dec. 5. AFTERNOON SITTING. The House met at 2.30 p.m. PRESS TELEGRAMS.
The Select Committee appointed to enquire into the question of what facilities can he given by the Government for the use of the telegraph by the public press reported as follows—lst. That arrangements having been made for the amalgamation of the two companies by whom special vires had been leased from Government, the Committee recommended that every facility should bo offered by Government for carrying out such amalgamation without delay; that until the expiration or other determination of contracts now in force, it is unnecessary to make any recommendation on the subject of the facilities afforded to the morning papers. 2nd. That evening papers should be allowed 1000 words during the day at the present rate, and 100-word messages to take precedence of all others, except urgent messages, between 1.30 and 2.30 o’clock. 3rd. That, as it has been suggested in evidence, it would be desirable to provide a wire especially for the use of the press night and day, the reprt sentatives of various morning and evening newspapers in the colony be invited to unite in making a proposal which would warrant the department in providing such a wire. THE “ KR OWSLEY HALL.”
Mr. Hall announced that information had been received from England that the steamer Gomua was about to leave for China, and that she would call an route at the Crozots. It was desired to know if Government would erect a refuge steamer on these islands. Mr Hall added that Government did not feel called on to contribute towards the erection of such a steamer THE LYTTELTON 11. M. Mr. Allright asked when the Government intend to appoint an E, M, in Lyttelton. Mr. Eolleston said the present E.M. had been located elsewhere in consequence «f the neighbouring KM. having been called away to do duty at Poverty Bay. The R. M., however, would shortly be ordered to return to take up his residence at Lyttelton. NEW ZEALAND TIMBER AND FORESTS. Mr. Wakefield asked Government (1) whether they will, during the recess, cause inquiries to be made as to the possibility of introducing New Zealand timber into European markets : (2) whether they will bring in a measure next session for the conservation of forests, and the systematic disposal of timber as a sp.urc-c of public revenue.
Mr. Haft replied that Government would cause enquiries to be made on the subject. They would consider the question of protecting forests, but judging from past experience they were not by any means smguine of the result.
THU WAKA MAORI.” Replying to Te When, Mr ijryce . aid it was not intended *■ take steps to re-establish the “Waka Maun ’ for the purpose of information tor natives! A NP'.W ZEALAND EXHIBITION". Mr. Levin asked Government whether they will place a sum of L 50,000 on tl e supplementary estimates as a preliminary grant towards an exhibition of 1884, and on condition that a similar sura is raised by the people of New Zealand. Mr. Hall replied that whatever the opinions of Government as to the advisability of the proposal, in the present financial state of the colony they would not be justified in incurring the responsibility proposed. THE PROPERTY TAX. On the motion for going into Committee on the Property Assessment Bill. Mr. Macandrew said that the measure was one which he looked on as being utterly undesirable, and if those on his side of the House would follow his advice they would have nothing to do with it They would act on the principle “ Touch not, taste not, handle not.” It was a measure on which no material improvement could be wrought. Mr. He Latour said he hoped they would see their way to strike out the tax on personal property. He blamed Government for not having replied to the speech delivered by the hon. member for Wanganui. Mr. Reeves said the Bill was simply a blind so as to get the Land Tax Act removed from the statute book. Had Government been honestly desirous of raising the revenue by taxation, the Land Tax ought to have been increased. A beer tax might also be imposed. On beer alone a revenue of LIOO,OOO could have been raised. That would have been a voluntary tax, as no man need put himself outside a pint of beer unless he liked. Mr. Speight said it was quite obvious it was never intended to bring the measure into force. They were told that all round the lobbies. Members bad been virtually coerced into voting for the second reading by the aspect of affairs presented by the Treasurer. The speech delivered by the Treasurer on the second reading proved conclusively that the measure could not possibly be brought into operation before Parliament met again. It would be the small men in business and the small men in farming upon whom the Bill, if brought into operation, would hear heavily. Altogether ho thought there was no real intention of bringing it into operation. Under these circumstances he did not see that it was necessary to give the measure any active opposition. Mr. Swanson did not think Government had hit on a wise proposal for getting money, but still money had to be got, while he did not like the Bill he did not see his way clear to oppose it. His object was to reserve his opinion. That measure was not a sham, on the contrary it was to his mind a most disagreeable reality, and it was their bounden duty to treat it as such. Mr. Reader Wood said the deficit was £600,000 and the Treasurer had told them there was no other way of meeting that deficit than by placing a loan. If they went away without making some arrangement to meet that deficit this year, the difficulty next year would be still more serious. One aide of the House might differ from another as to the method to be employed, but still there could be no diversity of opinion that money would have to be raised. Everyone felt that the imposition of this tax was a serious matter, but it was a thing they were bound to face. Tliere wasnotax but pressed unfairly on the community as a whole. In this case the tax would unhappily cause many complaints. The Mosgiel Woollen Factory, for example, paid no dividends on a large amount of capital invested. There were many other concerns in exactly the same position, and it was their duty to lay their heads together and see if some plan could be devised for relieving the affairs of these concerns from the operation of the tax. They had been told that the estimates should be reduced, but he remarked that the efforts already made in that direction had failed. If the imposition of this tax had no other effect, he believed that it would have this effect—it would rouse public attention to the fact, and members would be actually compelled to consent to the reduction of expenditure. By making the tax £d instead of Id, as proposed, they would get L 237,000. The Estimates could vary well be reduced L 134,000, and by reimposing the tea and sugar duties, or imposing a duty on beer, the balance of the deficit would be made up. Mr. Macandrew designated the imposition of the tax as most iniquitous and expressed an opinion that the difficulties could be provided for some oth«r way. Ho had never looked on the laud Tax with too much favor ; still, be was not blind to the fact that all their efforts towards progress and improvement had tended to increase the value of land. Ho promised that he would give all assistance in his power to p’ace the tax on as fair and equitable a basis as he could. Mr. Seddon protested against the tax as being unfair to community h© represented. The debate was interrupted by the 5.30 adjournment. EVENING SITTING. The Hens© resumed at 7.30 p.m. The debate on the motion to go into Committee on the Property Assessment Bill was resumed. Mr. Seddon argued that at the late period of the session it was necessary that the Etill should be taken back, and an Income Tax Bill ii.tro lueed.
Mr. Moss said with the machinery in his hands under the land tax, the Treasurer was in a position to raise L 400,000. Sir G. Grey said he felt so averse to the measure that he would offer it resistance at every start. Asa piece of taxation it aimed at everything that produced wealth. First of all, it a ; med at man, the highest of Nature's machines. TTnder that system that machine would be ground dw.wn. The man not doing well would be ground down still lover. In New Zealand they had landholders whose land yielded nothing at all to them, and yet their cattle and produce would he taxed. Industries expected after a time to yield profit would be crushed in everyway. It appeared to him the property of the poorer classes would fall into hands of others move fortunate in worldly circumstances. There were gentlemen who drew large pensions from this colony. They went to England, and were taxed in England; why was it that they should not contribute
to tha funds of the place from whence they derived their pensions. The same with persona who derived large incomes from the colony and resided at Home. .Healing with such gross in justice, as this he felt as if he were in a nightmare Surely, tVs state of things was not retd. He vas told the measure was not to be put in force. There was not a day he did not get letters informing himthatoheinhabitantsweredeterminednot to remain under such a system of taxation, he would simply enter his protest against a measure he conceived to be quite unfitted for the country, and which would entail ruin on the colony. While it was in power of the colony to retrace this step and substitute an income tax he conjured them to do it. A measure of that kind would be sufficient to meet the exigencies of the case and sustain the credit of the colony in the money market. Mr. Wallis had come to the conclusion that it was an unjust and one sided measure.
Mr. M‘Lean said he agreed wi*h the Opposition that the measure was a bitter pill to swallow. But it was forced on them by the maladministration of the late Government. He draw a close comparison bitween this and the land tax, and pronounced in favor of the former. The member for Hokitika had told them that only three men on the West Coast contributed under the land tax. That of itself went to prove it Was unfair in its operation. The present financial difficulties he attributed to the Government, and reminded the member for Wanganui that 12 months ago, when delivering his statement as Colonial Treasurer, he pointed out the progress made, and described the state of affairs in glowing terms, and actually went tlio length of attempting to reduce the tax. Mr. Hall agreed that what could be done in the way of retrenchment should be done. It was out of question, however, to think of striking out one sum after another indiscriminately. It was a thing requiring to be handled very caie fully, and by men who knew something about it. He could assure ’ them that what could be done in that way Government was anxious to da Had they brought in a beer tax, the cry would have been whispered about robbing the poor man of his beer. Had they-pro-posed an income tax, they would have been ta Anted with robbing the poor professional man and hard worked civil servant. In Committee Government would be quite prepared to consider any reasonable proposal made in a friendly spirit. He believed that whatever they put on under this tax, and which was shown to be necessary, would be cheerfully paid. If they found that the proposed amount could be reduced they would be very glad to do so, but the public credit would have to be maintained.
Mr. Montgomery reviewed the measure and peinted out its objectionable features. Mr. Trimble spoke in favor of the principle of the bill
Mr. J. T. Fisher spoke in opposition to the Bill. He had listened to the aivuments for and against it, and to his mind the latter were overwhelming. Major Atkinson said he could not conceive how it should be stated that they did not require the taxation proposed. No authority on the subject of finance haci seriously impugned the correctness of his estimates. After weighing all the circumstances of the colony he contended that a property tax was preferable to an income tax. The Bill before the House was no shani, and Government intended to bring it into operation. Government would accept reasonable proposals, but they would not, as the late Government had done, submit to unreasonable and mere factious amendments. The proposition made by the member for Thames about levying income tax on Now Zealand land owners at Home was most absurd, and one which would effectually defect colonial loans in the Home country. He could hardly believe that the proposition was made in earnest. The proposal about imposing such a tax on absentees was equally untenable. By applying themselves seriously to the Bill he believed that they would succeed in producing a by no means unpopular measure. On the question forgoing into-com-mittee the House divided—-Ayes, 36 ; Noes, 25.
The House then went into committee, and was left sitting at 12.30 a. m.
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