The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas, Et Prevalebit TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1881. An Unpopular Measure.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 4.30 p.m. j
Mr E. G. Wright’s defence of the Gaming and Lotteries Bill, made last night in the course of his address to the electors at the Town Hall, cannot be considered a satisfactory one, and we do not think it satisfied half-a-dozen people present. Mr Wright told his hearers that he had voted for the measure at its every stage, and would be sorry to see it repealed. He went on to inform the audience that it was not intended to make the Bill oppressive—oh dear no ! That, according to Mr Wright, was the very last thing, the measure was intended to be, but whether it was intended to be oppressive or not, there can be little doubt that it is both oppressive and arbitrary, and as we have had occasion to remark before, we consider it an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject. And that this is thegeneral opinion was evidenced by the hearty applause which followed the query last night. “ And you voted for a measure which interferes with a man’s playing a quiet game of cards in his own house, Mr Wright?” Yes, Mr Wright had done so. But although admitting that the police had the power to enter a private parlor and interfere with cardplaying, Mr Wright did not think that any inconvenience would arise to the public. In cases where they suspected gambling or high play was being indulged in, the police should be allowed to drop in, in the interests of the rising generation. In other words, the police have the power of intruding upon the privacy of a quiet inoffensive household at any time, but are not expected to exercise that power. Mr Wright concluded his remarks on this head by observing that the Lotteries Bill had been unde very stringent because without stringency a measure was no good. But surely this
preposterous measure has been made harshly and unduly stringent, so stringent, in fact, that it is intolerable. “ You can never make people religious by Act of Parliament,” said Dan O’Connell, and the saying has become a stereotyped one. The Gaming and Lotteries Bill may do a certain amount of good, but is it worth while that for the sake of that good the public should be subjected to so much inconvenience and annoyance ? We say no; and we are of Mr Wason’s opinion, that the Act will never work satisfactorily, and that next session will see it repealed.