(per press association). HOUSE OF_ REPRESENTATIVES. Monday, July 19. The House met at 2.30. THE HW OP LIBEL. Mr. Reid gave notice that he would ask if Government proposed to bring in a Bill amending the law of newspaper libel this session 1 QUESTIONS. Replying to questions, it Was stated that Government had under its consideration the propriety of remitting the duty on chaff. Replying to a question from Sir. George Grey, Mr. Bryce stated that Tawhai, on coming to Wellington to join the West Coast Commission, applied for an advance of money towards his expenses, such as paying for a survey and buying a watch, which had been refused. Before making that application, he was perfectly aware of the names of the two other members appointed on the Commission. MAORI PRISONERS BILL. The debate on the second reading of the Maori Prisoners Bill was resumed by Mr. Montgomery, who spoke against the measure. - : - Mr. Bowen contended that the prisoners had not been merely arrested for trespass, but because the country was in a state of war. All technicalities ought to be dispensed with, and the question faced as one of detention in consequence of war, or of the threatened outbreak of War, The measure was one which should not be dealt with as a party question, but treated as an exigency arising out of the preservation of peace. Mr. Ballance disputed the idea that a disturbance would be created if these men were liberated, considering that war was more likely to result from their unjust detention than otherwise. Te Whiti was mainly responsible for the trespass, and it
was he who should be punished. He (Mr Ballahce) criticised the Native Commission report, and showed that the recom men dations contained in the report were not at all proportionate with the promises and professions made re confiscations by successive Governments. He charged the Government of 1869 and 1870 with being responsible for the present position of affairs on the West Coast. He professed no. sympathy with the native prisoners. He desired to know how long they were to be detained in prison. He could not accept the respon- • - sibility of refusing to vote for the measure, still he wanted it to be understood that he did so because Government had assured them it was absolutely necessary for the preservation of the peace. : • ■ Mr. Gisborne said the principle of the Bill was not postponement of the tfial, but an abolition of the trial altogether, , It was not, as had been asserted, a trivial * offence the natives stood charged with ; it was riot, if not treason, and as such, would be smartly dealt with by a Court of law. He objected to the power proposed to be given to the Government of saying whether or not the prisoners, when liberated, had violated the conditions of liberation, and contended that this should rest solely in a Court of law. He maintained that provisions .should be made in the Bill for bringing the prisoners to trial, ; - otherwise it would encourage the belief that Te Whiti had been instrumental towards their liberation. He,, too, would, not oppose the Bill, but relied solely on the representation of the Government. Mr. Hall said Government was anxious to allow the prisoners that freedom as soon as possible, and they would be liberated the moment that could be done with safety. The powers sought for, by the Government would be carefully and constitutionally exercised. It was absurd to describe the natives as an oppressed, people. All the oppression to which they’ were subject came from their professed but false friends. The condition of affairs was exceptional, so much so that no. law in existence could meet them. That' was the reason they had to ask the House for - exceptional legislation. Mr. Brown spoke in opposition to the Bill, and the debate was interrupted by the 5.30 adjournment. ;
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