1 __ » 1 midland The news which we pubrailway. lished m yesterday's issue, puts quite a new face on matters m connection with the great trunk line which is to connect Canterbury with the West Coast. Authority has, it appears, been received by Mr Scott, the Company's representative m the colony, to proceed immediately to the completion of the surveys at the Springfield end of the line m order that contracts may be at once let. This is, indeed, excellent
news, and all the more welcome that it was unexpected, following so closely as it does upon the recent intelligence that the contractors on the "West Coast side had suspended operations. It may reasonably be inferred that the difficulties thrown m the Company's way by some meddlesome person or persons m the colony have been surmounted, and that the necessary financial arrangements have at last been made, Jf so, we presume that the good news of to-day will speedily be followed by news that the West Coast contractors have resumed operations, and that the work will novr proceed from both termini without further interruption. " All's well that ends well ; " and we hope that the Company will now push on vigorously with the great enterprise which it has m hand, and that within two or three years at most, irom the present date, through communication will be established. But there is another thing which would give great public satisfaction, and that is, to he informed of the name or names of the person or persons who have been putting difficulties m the Company's way, by sending Home representations calculated to damage its prospects. Surely it should be possible to bring this to light, and no pains should be spared to accomplish it, for we quite agree with a Christchurch contemporary that "it is quite time that some of 1 those ill birds who m New Zealand are I so fond of fouling their own nest should meet with their deserts." tobacco We observe that the tobaclicensb. conists m different parts of the colony have brought under the notice of the Government the question of the expediency of charging a license fee for the right to vend tobacco and cigars. It appears that it is a known fact that smuggling is carried on to a very large extent m these articles, and it is urged that one of the best checks which could be devised would he to render it necessary for anyone vending them to produce a license if called upon to do so. That * large amount of tobacco comes into the colony without paying toll at the Customhouse is clearly shown by the circumstance mentioned to us the other day by a tobacconist, namely, that m a certain town m the colony manufactured tobacco was readily to be bought at 3s 9d a pound, although the duty itself is 3s 6d. Not only is the revenue defrauded by this state of things, but the honest tradesmen is injured because undersold by the dishonest. It is for this latter reason that we see the otherwise unaccountable spectacle of a particular branch of trade coming forward and asking to be allowed to pay money into the Public Treasury. To this we should imagine there can be no objection on the part of the Colonial Treasurer, who would, it is estimated, receive from a tobacco license several thousands a year. The real objection is on the part of a number of small shopkeepers who sell tobacco as one of a large numbers of article, and who would find a £10 licenße-fee (the amount suggested) altogether more than they could afford. Possibly this difficulty might be met by a differential license-fee, charging the £10 to tobacconists, that is persons with whom the sale of tobacco, cigars, and smoker's requisites is the sole or principal branch of their business, and a smaller license-fee for a "grocer's tobacco-license " issuable to persons who carry on business as grocers or general ! dealers, and with whom the sale of tobacco is only incidental to their business. The objection to this of course is that some grocers sell more tobacco than most tobacconists, and that m such a case the tobacconist proper would be placed at an unfair disadvantage. As an alternative there might perhaps be a differential fee m proportion to the amount of tobacco sold. Even here the question is one not by any means so simple as might at first sight appear, but the main thing desired, viz., to check the illicit traffio m smuggled tobacco would be gained by the introduction of the license system, quite irrespectively of the amount of fee charged. The matter is one which certainly deserves consideration.
medical Writing of the proposal practitioners, to restrict the sale of tobacco to licensed persons brings to mind that, from what we can gather, there is likely to be submitted at next session of Parliament a Medical Practitioners' Bill. The measure m question is, we believe, promoted by the Medical Association, and is intended among other things to protect the profession and the public against quacks and quackery. At least so we are informed, for'we have not had the opportunity of seeing a tiraft of the proposed Bill. Probably, however, it will follow pretty much the lines of a similar measure which was to have been introduced some two or three sessions ago but which somehow lapsed— why we do not just now remember. If so it will contain at least one very debateable provision, namely, with reference to (he rights and privileges of chemists. Unless our recollection fails us, one of the clauses of the Bill we refer to proposed to forbid any chemist prescribing for any ailment whatever, no person being allowed to give a prescription other than a duly-quali-fied and registered medical practioner. Whether that were so or not as regards the Bill referred to, is, however, not so much to the point as the information which reaches us that the Bill to be introduced next session will contain such a provision. If it does, then it is quite certain that Parliament will have to consider the matter very carefully, for while on the one hand the public needs protection against quacks and quackery ; on the other hand, a hard and-fast line such as this would not only seriously interfere with the businesss of duly registered chemists and druggists, but would bo highly inconvenient to .the general public, For there are prepriptions and prescriptions, and m hosts of little ailments Such as toothache, burns, scalds, and a hundred other things nobody thinks it necessary to call m a medical man, and everybody posts off to the nearest chemifft for some simple remedy, as to the 'nature of which tUe
chemist is, nine times out of ten, every bit as capable of n^ vising as the doctor. We are quite willing that the privileges and status 'of the profession of medicine should be guarded m ev<»ry possible way, but it won't do m effecting this to give the doctors a monopoly of everything connected with medicine.
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