The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Prevalebit. TUESDAY, JULY 18, 1882. Payment of Members.
One Qt ibe blessings which our re-
presentatives owe to this age ot “ progressive democracy ” is payment for their services while attending to their legislative duties, and it is a fact to which many of them attach no small importance, as witness the unseemly scramble which annually takes place over the “ honorarium.” This session there was an attempt made to increase the amount —some of the chosen of the people assessing their time and talents for the three months at the comparatively modest sum of L 250, while others, again, appraised the like commodities at an increase of LSO on the first-mentioned sum. But, diverse as might be the opinions as to the proper amount to be paid, there was a consensus of opinion that the amount should be fixed by statute, and thus do away with what had come to be known as the “ honorarium scramble ” every session. The Government recognised this, and on Friday a Bill was sent down, by message, dealing with lhi s _^. w hat is to many members, “ a burning question.” The Bill, which, we are told, is very brief, provides for the payment of L2lO to those members who reside more than ten miles from the seat of Government, while to those who have their abiding places within the charmed circle embraced within a radius uf ten miles of that favored spot, ,£l4O is the sura proposed to be allowed. The expenses of one journey to and from the capital city is also proposed. An attempt is also made to keep the members “up to the scratch," by “ docking ” them to the tune of £3 per day for every sitting day they may be absent from the House,' from any cause other than sickness. This provision—taking, of course, payment of members as a necessary evil—is as it should be. With regard to the amounts which the Bill proposes, we think them ample. It must be remembered that payment of members is a leading plank in the colonial Liberal’s platform. A foremost exponent of the Liberal cause in a sister colony has declared that to abolish payment of members is to starve Liberalism—in fact, without the annual douceur the colonial Liberal could not live. It is a concession to the “ ’orny ’anded,” in order that he may send the man of his choice to represent him. Now, it is to be presumed that the working man will not choose as his representative one of the wealthy class. He will not look for his member in a bank parlor, nor will he seek him from among the bloated squatters, and land monopolists of whom we have lately heard so much. These representatives of a bloated oligarchy are by no means the people whom the rank and file of “ the great Liberal party” would send to do battle on their behalf within the walls of the Parliament buildings. And, as we have pointed out, it was solely in order that the working man should not be confined in his choice of an M.P. to the wealthy classes that the honorarium became an accomplished fact. The much-abused squatters and so forth did not ask for payment ; on the contrary, among the few who have steadfastly devoted their honorarium to public libraries and such like institutions we could name more than one who has always been found under the so-called Conservative banner ; but, so far as we know—with one honorable and solitary exception not one of the exponents of Liberalism has devoted his honorarium to other than the benefit of No. r. Merchants and others in a large way of business undoubtedly sacrifice more than £2lO during their stay in Wellington for the session, and these might reasonably ciaim more. But they, for the most part, do nothing ot the kind. It is amongst these self-dubbed “ working man’s friends ” that the “ scramble ” lies, while those whom the absence from their private business costs the most look on in quiet disgust. When we consider the class of men for whose behoof this measure is sought to be placed on our Statute Book, we cannot but think that the sums proposed are ample, and hope that the Government will strenuously oppose any attempt to increase them. And we have little doubt such an attempt will be made. We could name several among the members of the present House to whom a year would be ample remuneration, even if they devoted their time to carrying bricks, or some other occupation to which they had been accustomed ; and we are sure that in giving them a year for their services as law-makers we are paying very dear indeed for what is, in many cases, a worse than useless article. We were recently tcld by one hon. gentleman that had it not been for his anxious desire to see the Bible read in our public schools he should never have sought a seat in the House. That may have been quite true in his case, but we will stake our very existence that the —and it seems that some of them had a possible j£z°° i° view—was by far the most potent factor in inducing many of those at present dubbed M.H.R. to burn to serve their country. We hope the Bill, as brought down, will pass into law.