LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. . Tuesday, Dec. IG. In the Council to-day the whole sitting was occupied by the debate on the second reading of the Property Tax Bill, which was carried —after a discussion which was at times’very heated, lasting nearly 14 horns—by 14 votes to 10. The Council rose at 9.50 p.m.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Monday, Dec. 15. THE PROPERTY TAX. Mr. Dick said be fully admitted there would he a deficiency, and in bringing forth the motion he did, he had kept that in view. He maintained, however, that the deficiency could be made up in another way, for instance a tax on colonial-made beer. The question— “ That id stand part of the question, as against J-d,” was then put, the division being—Ayes 24, noes 29. On the question—“ That J-d be inserted,” Mr. Sheehan moved—That the Chairman leave, the chair.” He looked upon the whole tinny os a mere sham. It was not necessary that any tax should be imposed at all.
The motion for leaving the chair was withdrawn, and the motion for was then put and carried Progress was then reported, and leave asked to sit again. ' Major Atkinson moved—“ That the Bill be recommitted, with a view of increasing the sum from seven-eighths of a penny to one penny.” Messrs. MriiOan and Dick spoke in opposition, contending that the amount likely to accrue under the tax would exceed the amount calculated upon by the Treasury, and at the reduced rate would be sufficient to meet the probable deficiency. The motion for recommittal was put and carried on the voices.
In Committee clause 2 was again con sidered.
Major Atkinson proposed “That the words ‘ seven-eighths ’ be struck out and the words ‘ one penny ’ inserted. ”
The House divided on the question that seven-eighths of a penny stand part of the question—Ayes, 18 ; noea, 34. Ayes—Messrs Ballance, Brown, De Latour, Dick, George, Harris, Johnston, Levin, Macandrew, M'Lean, Murray, Pitt, : Reid, Shrimski, Speight, Tole (teller), Turnbull, Wallis (teller). Noes—Messrs Andrews, Atkinson,Bain, Barron, Beethain, Driver, Fisher, J. T. Gibbs, Hall, Hirst, H. Hurst, W. J., Hursthouse (teller), Ireland, Kelly, Kenny, Lundon, Masters, Montgomery, Moorhouse, Oliver, Pyke, Reeves, Richmond, Richardson, Rolleston, Saunders, Shanks, Sheehm, Swanson, Tawhai, Trimble, Wakefield (toller), Whitaker, Wright. On the question being put “That one penny stand part of the question,” Mr. Barron moved “ That one-half penny be inserted.” The House divided—Ayes 13 ; noes, 34. The Bill as amended, with the original sum of Id. as printed, was then reported. On the motion leave chair to n-nto Committee of Supply,” division too olaco—Ayes, 37 ; noes, 22. Early in the • .ruing the House went into Committeo supply and passed the remainder of the public works estimates, striking out ■y- ono item, that of Thames Orphanage, in aid of building fund, L9OO. Tuesday, Deo. 16. AFTERNOON SITTING. The House met at 2.30 p.m. PROPERTY TAX. On the motion for the third reading of tl e Property Tax Bill, a division took place—Ayes, 32 ; noes, 23. file Bill was read a third time and passed. MISCELLANEOUS. The amendments by the Legislative Council in the Land Act, 1877, Amendment Bill, were considered. A number were adopted, and a Committee appointed to draw up reasons for disagreeing to the remainder. The Special Powers and Contracts Bill was further considered in Committee, and on being reported with amendments, was read a third time and passed. The Public Reserves Sale Bill was read a second time. On the motion for going into Committee on the Bill, Mr. Do Lautour called attention to the great hindrance reserves were becoming to settlement throughout the country. He hoped Government would see its way to get many of them abolished. The Hun. W. Rolleston admitted the existence of the difficulty, and promised to give the matter consideration during the recess.
In Committee, the Bill was considered, reported, read a third time, and passed. The Otago Beads Ordinance, 1871, Amendment Bill was read a third time, and passed. The Harbors Act Amendment Bill was read a second time, passed through Committee, read a third time, and passed. The Electoral Acts Repeal Bill No. 2 was read a second time, passed through Committee, read a third time, and passed. EVENING SITTING. The House met at 7.20 p. m. PUBLIC WOUKH BILL. The Hon. 11. Oliver moved the second reading of the Public Works Bill. Mr. De Lautour said the provision in the Bill for aiding Companies was one which required fuller explanation. A sum of L 408,000 was asked to be appropriated fn the purchase of district railways, and they were don . 1 reasonable information about the line* reposed to be purchased, and the disiii dir which this money is to be appro -I. These lines would only benefit mi that had already been sold. Consul' - ng the position of the colony, it r. ■ oecessary that such large sums as this soould be disbursed so as to add correspondingly large sums to the revenues. The hon. member then wont into details of the promoters of the various lines, and showed that these promoters were the persons whoso lands were the most extensively benefited by the construction of these lines, and the majority of these holdings were wholly unimproved. Indeed, the owners themselves were nonresidents in the district. It was evident that the promoters of these lines were solely actuated by a design to cut up their properties, and throw the burdens entailed by the making of the lines upon the purchasers. He had no wish to detain the House, but it was right they should know these facts,, in order that they might be on their guard. These companies were promoted by the owners of land which was of such a character that it would not pay them to turn it to any practical use. All they aimed at was to get quit of the land at such an advance as a railway line would give them. Messrs. Moss, Driver, M‘Lean, M‘Caughan, Studhohn, and, he believed, the Minister of Public Works himself were all pecuniary interested in this question, and he would submit that these gentlemen ought not to remain in the House and vote on this question. He quoted from Parliamentary authorities, to show that it was the duty of the Speaker in such circumstances to direct that members SO interested should not be allowed to remain and vote on the point. These gentlemen had entered into large engagements in connection with-their lines, not only for formation works, but also for rolling stock, and it was also asked that Government should relieve (hem from the responsibility of these crg-'i' cmenta. Mr. Stud holme said it was incorrect to state that ho was either directly or indirectly interested in any of these lines.
The Speaker ruled that it would not be right for any member interested in these works to vote on the subject. Mr. Montgomery said he won!- do his best to prevent the clause providing for this expenditure becoming law. The money proposed to be sent, could be much more judiciously expended in finning main trunk lines, so as to complete through systems. The proposal could not possibly sutler from being delayed until next session. At the risk of delaying the House much longer than it desired, he would resist the Bill. . Mr. Maeandrew said it was to be regretted that the Bill had not been brought down earlier in the session, so that they might have had more time to consider its effect. When the through system of railways had been completed, it would be time enough to talk about purchasing these lines. He could see no good reason why the colony should not assist these companies in completing their lines. In Committee, he would move—“ That clause, 30, 31, and 32 of the Bill be struck out, and in lieu thereof, a new clause inserted, to the effect that the Governor in Council may from time to time advance, by way of loan to District Railway Companies, when the lines are partly or in course of construction, or who may have imported rails or rolling stock, sums of money to the total extent of the amount expended by these companies, such loan or advance to bear interest at the rate of 7 per cent perannurn, proper security being taken for repayment of such advances, and all interest accruing thereon ; such security being taken in such form, and upon such conditions: as may from time to time he presented by the Governor in Council.” He would support the second reading on that understanding.
Mr. Fyke condemned clause 30, and said the Government might just as well bring down a Bill with the few words “ the Government may and is hereby empowered to do as it likes.” He also objected to the powers asked for by clause 28, empowering the Government to modify the contract and construction of the Tapanui railway. Mr. Turnbull spoke in opposition to the Bill, and expressed an opinion that it would ho a mistake to adopt the suggestion thrown out by Mr. Macandrew. He pointed out that in addition to the appropriation asked, it would take nearly five millions more to complete these Sines. The Ashburton line was nearly completed, and there was no good reason why Government should interfere with its operations. Again, nothing whatever had been done to the Waimate line except preparing the plans. The Waimea line was made for the sole benefit of one or two large landed proprietors, and not for the convenience of a body of settlers in the neighbourhood. In the present state of the country large sums will be required for completing main lines, and they would have absolutely nothing left to complete the branch lines. Messrs J. T. Fisher and Shrimski both spoke in opposition to the Bill. Sir G. Grey asked Government to say •whether or not they would withdraw this 30th section. He was sure it would never get through the House. The Bill had been introduced at a period too late in the scission. At the very time they were doing other districts injustice, by telling them they had no money to pay for their lines, they brought down a proposal fur purchasing these out of the way lines. In reply to the,suggestion of the member for Port Chalmers, he would say that if Government had money to lend, they might find much more advantageous investments. It would be better to lend the money so as to settle population in the rich swamps, the money to be used in draining these swamps. He thought the clause should not be passed. Delaying it till next session would not prejudice the circumstances of the case. The Hon. J. Oliver admitted that he was interested to the extent of 75 shares in the Waimea line. It was a matter of no importance to him whether he was able to realise upon those shares or not, but others were less favorably situated, and they found a difficulty in paying the continued calls upon them. He did not think a member of the House could allow his private interests to clash with his public duty. It was a singular fact that while both Sir G. Grey and the member for Mount Ida pretended great solicitude for the men who proposed buying land, no sooner bad they done so than they seemed to become the object of these two gentlemen’s bitter antipathy. Government recognised that money invested in these lines would lie idle, but if the lines were not completed, it would be very disastrous to the Colony. It was certain that either the proposal of the Government, or that of the member for Fort Chalmers, would have sooner or later to be adopted. He had told them that Government would not under any circumstances agree to pay such sum for any one of these lines as would leave a profit to the promoters. The motion was then put and carried. The House went into Committee on the Bill. On clause 30, Mr. Macandrew suggested that LIOO,OOO should bo advanced for the completion of these lines for a period of 12 months, after which they would be enabled to float their debentures. He proposed a motion to that oll'ect. Mr. Montgomery proposed that the clause be struck out altogether. The House sat in Committee till 3.15 a.m., on the Public Work's Bill. Ultimately progress was reported, clauses 30, 31, and 32, relating to purchase of district railways, being postponed.
Per Our Special Wire. ]
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. Wednesday, Dec. 17. The Cornicil met at 11 a. in. The Special Powers and Contracts Bill and Public "Reserves Sales Bill were passed through all stages. There were several meetings and adjournments during the day, waiting for Bills to come from the Lower House. At 10 o’clock a free Conference having been held on the Land Bill, its result was stated to be that the managers had agreed on their differences, except as regards the 14th, Lottery on Auction. The Council adjourned to allow of consideration of the report of Conference by the House of Representatives. HOUSE CF REPRESENTATIVES. Wednesday, Dec. 17. The House met at 11 o’clock, and went into Committee of Supply on the Supplementary Estimates.
The following votes were passed :—For services chargeable on Consolidated Fund, Lit,243 11s. sd; Colonial Treasury, L 0,337 Cs. (id ; Minister of Justice, L7,!123 ; Poitmastoi -General and Commissi mor of Telegraphs, L 559 ; Commissioner of Customs, 1.5,861 ; Commissioner of. Stamps, 1555 ; Minister of Education, 4.0500; Minister of Native affairs, L 12,557 : Crown Lands, miscellaneous services, L 1204; Railways, L15.80517s 8d; Minister of Defence, 1.09,498 ; Minister of Public Works, L 109,379 ; unauthorised expenditure of Consolidate'! Fund, year 1878-79, L 62.518 15s Id. AFTERNOON SITTING.
On the House resuming at 3 p.m., a message was road from the Governor recommending the House to make provision for the purchase of District Railways.
Sir G. Grey moved the following reply to the Governor’s message on the subject; —“ The House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, represent as follows—They are willing to proceed to the' consideration of the subject read in your Excellency’s message during this session of Parliament, but humbly pray that they may not be required so to do until next session, for the following among other reasons:— (1) The Bill making provision for this matter was not brought before the House for consideration by the Government until the very last days of the session, when membershad either retired or were preparing to retire to their homes. (2) It was brought down in a wholly different form from that set forth in your Excellency’s message. (3) It proposed, in fact, to authorise Government to purchase four District Railways which were private property, in manner, which would 'entail a charge of considerably more than L 1.00,000 upon the colony (4) None of these i railways had previously or subsequently to commencement of their construction been submitted to or proved by Parliament. (5) Throughout the session Government has steadily declined to entertain proposals for, or to give assistance to, railways or lines of communication which many members considered of great public importance, on the ground" that there were no funds available for additional public works, and members have therefore refrained from making proposals, for several railways or public works for fear of uselessly delaying public business. (0) That the expenditure of any moneys on those district railways, until the claims of other parts of the colony have been fully considered, would bo an act of great injustice. (7) That various other Mans for the expenditure of any surplus public funds —such as settling famines of settlers, many of whom are now out of employment, on public lands should be considered before large sums of public money are disposed of, without due notice to the House or county. (8.) That to the present, moment no information of a definite kind has been afforded to this House by the Government of the sums which have been expended upon these several railways; how far they are completed, or what sums will be necessary for their completion ; what Crown land they open up ; whether they run through public land, or private property, though there is reason to believe some of them run wholly through private property ; nor is there any information before the House to show the number of the inhabitants iff the districts through which they run or are proposed to be carried, for we do not even know that they have all been commenced. (9) That some members of the House are largely personally interested in these district railways. GO) That the Minister for Public Works, the Hon. Mr. Olive’’, who is promoting the measure in the House, is personally interested in one of them. Ill) That the sudden manner in which the Government has varied its proposals for dealing with the question shows bow imperfectly it has been considered. (12) That therefore, on the unexpected manner in which the question has been brought before us, the insufficiency of the information afforded, the injustice it would inflict on other parts of the colony, and on the people of New Zealand at large, the magnitude of the sums involved in it, the fact of members of the House who are supporters of Government being so largely personally or indirectly interest’ d in it, and for various other good and sufficient reasons, we respectfully nray that the consideration of this question may be delayed until next session, that is, for a period of little more than five months, that this House and the people of all parts of New Zealand may in the meantime have an opportunity of considering and discussing a question in which so many and such large interests are involved.
Messrs Mr, can drew and M'Lean spoke against the resolution. Mr. "Reid supported the motion. TTe did not oxpect it could be carried, still he desired it would he placed on record, as a protest against what he considered to be a most unjust pronosal. T)r. Waif's said he had paired with Mr. Hurst on all subjects involving want of confidence in the Govern men*. He would vote for the address unless ho was assured by the Premier it would be an. copied by the Ministry as a no confidence motion.
Mr. Hall faid it imputed censure on the Government, ard as such it would be accepted by the Ministry as a no confimotion. Mr. T)e Hauteur said it had been admitted bv the member who introduced the Public Works Bill Mr. Oliver was interested in one line to the extent, of L 250. The sum might bo comparatively speaking, small, still, in Parliamentary practice no degrees of that kind could be taken into account. He would vote for each of the twelve propositions, which he sa’d won; literally true in fact. He line! followed a party in the House for years, and it was with deep regret he saw the loader of that party now aiding in carrying through this very questionable proceeding. He woidd now consider himself relieved from all party tics. Sir G. Grey said he had only one object in view, and that was to give time for the fair consideration of the proposal to purchase these railways. He looked upon the fact of these four railways having been selected to the exclusion of all other private railway lines with grave doubts. No one had canvassed him for Ids vote in the matter. He bad been told other members bad been pressed on in a way disagreeable to themselves. He did not regard this matter as a party question ; all ho contended for was that the question he delayed. Mr. Hall said the tenor of the address in reply left no doubt but it must be accepted in the light of a party question. He
would not say-the statements set forth in the address were incorrect; they were simply, however, those half truths which were the worse of all lies.
The question was then put and negatived.
The question was put “ that the House go into Committee on the Governor’s address ” and a division took place—Ayes, 39 : noes, 14.
Before going into Committee, the Land Bill was reported from the Upper House, with amendments. These . amendments not having been agreed to, the Committee was appointed to draw up reasons for dissenting to .these amendments. EVENING SITTING.,
Mr. Oliver moved to go into Committee on the Governor’s message, recommending the House to make provision for guaranteeing the.debentures of the under, mentioned District Railways Companies to the extent of seventy-five per centupon the amounts which they shall respectively prove to the satisfaction of Government to have been expended in construction, or in procuring rolling stock for such railways:—Schedule, Waimate Plains Railway Company, Duntroon and Hakaterarnea Railway Company, Waiinat'e Branch Railway Company, Ashburton Forks Railway Company. On the motion for going into Committee
Mr. Barron saidthatalthoughhe objected to the principle of taking over private railways, he would support Government in carrying through the proposal. Still he hope ! they would see their way to withdraw the objectionable clauses. Mr. Turnbull objected to the proposal in toto.
Mr. Macandrew, spoke in favor of these Companies being aided in carrying out their work rather than a proposal for purchasing the lines. In Committee considerable discussion took place, and the Hon. Minister for Public Works explained tht- views of Government at considerable length. They would make the best terms as business men which they could. The House then adjourned in order that there might be a conference of two Committees from both Houses on amendments made in Council on the Land Bill.
■ After an interruption of an hour, the Committee on the Public Works Bill resumed, and the Minister for Public AVorks continued his explanation as to the course Government intended to pursue. Several hon. members followed and expressed their opinion in regard to the Bill very generally, but particularly in reference to.the 30th clause.
Sir G. Grey considered the, explanation of Government insufficient, and said he would oppose the proposal at this stage. The report of the Free Conference on the Land Bill was brought up and adopted. It was to the effect that the Council had abandoned its amendments to all the clauses except 14, and that the House should not persist in its objection to the amendment on the latter, clause. On the Committee resuming consideration of the Governor’s message re District Railways, Mr. Montgomery moved an amendment to the effect that the information available on the subject was insufficient to enable the House to come to a conclusion on the matter, and therefore respectfully submitted to the Governor that Ministers should, during the recess, obtain information which would enable his Excellency to recommend more acceptable proposals next session in regard to these lines of railway. The question was then put that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question, on which the House divided—Ayes, 24 : noes, 13. The resolution being unexpected, waS reported and agreed to, as no new business could be taken up by the House, it being 12.55. Mr. Hall said instructions had been given to detain the steamer Hinemoa until 2 p.m. for the convenience for members who wished to remain until the business was concluded. He moved that the House adjourn till 11 a.m. Mr. Pyke proposed the adjournment be for one month. The adjournment till 11 a.m. was put and carried. The House rose at 1 a.m.
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