Mr FERGUS at QUEENSTOWN
+- The Hon the Minister for Defence and Justice, or, as he is termed m Parliament, the Minister for " Might and Right," m his address to his constituents at Queenstown a day or two ago vouchsafed some additional information as to the programme intended to be submitted by the Government at the forthcomiDg session. Adding this to what had been previously intimated, we now know that the chief items are to be Bills dealing with the Electoral Law : with the question of Hospitals and Charitable Aid, the Reform of the Legislative Council, and the amendment of the laws relating to Bank ruptoy and Libel. This is not a verj extensive programme, but no doubt it will be largely supplemented by t number of Bills of minor importance and it is safe to predict that this modesi quintette of measures will be multiplied by ten before the session is over. Ever then it will fall far below the average o most sessions, and if it does, so muct the better, for we quite agree with Mi Fergus m deprecating what he term; " fancy legislation " and m the opinioi which he expresses that quality is fai preferable to quantity, and that a few well-considered, useful measures ar< infinitely better than a host of crud< ill- digested ones. I here are, however some noteworthy omissions from th< "little list" of the Minister, which, to (re reverse the couplet of the Lord Chancel lor of " lolanthe)" will most certainly b " missed," and among them is the ITai Kent Bill. It may be that the Bill o last session went farther than there ,ii any chance of getting both branches o the Legislature to go, but most certainb the Goverment should attempt an instai ment m this direction, and we hope tha Mr Fergus' omission was accidental, am does not imply the entire abandonmen by the Government of a Fair Rent Bil m any form. Again, nothing appeari to have been said, that is to say so fai as oan be gatherered from the telegraphic •precis of the speech, as to the subjeci of Juvenile Criminals, although it migh have been, and was indeed expected that as Minister of Justice, Mr Fergui would have stated whether the Govern ment intended to submit a Bill to giv< effect to the suggestions recently for warded to him by Magistrates m differen parts of the colony. As to the matter mentioned as the intended subjects o legislation, the piice de resistance of thi Ministerial mbiu is undoubtedly th< Electoral Bill, under which th< grouping of the electorates and the adop tion of a modified Hare system o election is to be proposed. Unlesi we greatly mistake the poaition, whil. the former feature (that of groupet electorates) may perhaps be accepted bj a majority of the House, the latter wil be rejected as altogether too theoretical and (to coin a word) faddical t< suit jthe wishes of the people; ant though doubtless some Electoral Bil must be passed we fancy it will beai little resemblance to the measure &i proposed by the Government. All th( other subjects mentioned need to be dealt with , though whether as regards bank ruptcy any Government or Legislature will erer be able satisfactorily to, dea with it is a moot point, the probabilities, ii we are to judge from the experience o! the past m all countries, being distinctly on the negative side. As to the law ol Libel tho adoption of the recent legislation of the Mother Country will meet most, if not all, the necessities of the case, and that reform of the law as novs obtaining m the Colonies is absolutely required is too patent a fact to admit ol any argument on the subject. With respect to Hospitals and Charitable Aid the demand for a reform of the present system is loud and general, but until the Government proposals are before us m detail it would ba premature to express an opinion as to how far they are likelj to be an improvement upon the existing state of things. Laßtly, as to the reform of the Legislative Council, it will be time enough to judge of the sincerity of the Government m this matter when we see the attitude they assume with reference to the promised Bill. If it is merely to be brought down to give the House something to talk about, and then sholved for a future occasion, as has been the case before over and over again, then it cannot be regarded as of any importance, but if the Government stand firmly by it as a policy measure then the matter is one of very groat interest to the colony. That a measure of reform is badly required is generally admitted, and the lines of the Government Bill seem to be such as should meet with general approval, the main features being the election of memqers of the Counoil by the House of Representatives, with a fixed terra of years of office instead of the present highly objectionable system of appointment for life, We sincerely hope that the Government are this time really m earnest about the matter and will do their beßt to carry the reform they indicate. Altogether there appears to be a promise of a useful if unexciting session, and it is to be hoped that the event will justify the expectation, though it is always unsafe to prophecy as to tho characteristics of any session of Parliament, for m matters Parliamentary more than m any other it is proverbially true that it is always tho unexpected which is the most likely j
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