The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, JULY 26, 1889. THE MIDLAND RAILWAY TRUSTEESHIP.
Some of our very virtuous members of Parliament have been exercised m their minds over the acceptance by the AgentGeneral, Sir Francis Dillon Bell, of the position of one of the trustees for the New Zealand Midland .Railway Company. It has been assumed that the Agent General took the position on his own responsibility, bnt it appears from the correspondence on the subject whioh has been laid befort Parliament, that Sir Francis asked and obtained the consent of the Government to his acceptance of the position. There is no payment attached to the office— the law of England forbids a trustee to aooept payment for his services ; and Sir Franois writes that he can resign the trusteeship at any time— which the English law equally forbids, unless an express provision for snob, resignation is embodied m the deed of trust. A month or so after the Premier had cabled his consent he seems, characteristically, to hare been seized with a desire to know what it was that he had consented to, and cabled for the information to be sent to him by the first mail. The Agent-General replied that a copy of the trust deed would ba sent, and meantime states that the Chairman ot the Company had assured him that there was practically no responsibility beyond that of seeing that the company dealt with monies received for land m accordance with the prospeotus on which the amount they reoently raised was lent. Those who have taken exception to the conduct of the Agent General claim that the Government, by allowing the AgentGeneral jfco aot, Jhave given a moral en dorsemenfc to Jbe accuracy of the calculations m the proßpieptys. We think this IB straining a point, but still a glance at the prospectus will not be anrsß. It states that the Government is pledged to give the company land to the i value of £1,250,000, and that it is anticipated when the whole line is finished that this land will realise £2,500,000 at the least. Mr Thomas Pavitt, of Christcnurcb, an experienced timber valuer, had also estimated the timber alone on 61,000 acres m Canter bury m the viciuity of the line a8 ?™rth I— "apart from the value of the land when cleared "—£G3s,ooO. The prospectus also states that the Greymouth Government line, of which this was a direot extension, earned £8003 per mile for the year ending 81st March, 1888, and for 1889 was expected to maintain that figure. It wan intimated, the prospectus adds, that an annual gross receipt of £1100 per mile on the Beefton section of their railway would pay eight per cent, on the capital cost. Certain spepffio security is then offered for the issue of five per cent debentures, to be sold at £92 10s, to the amount of £745,000. This security is: 1. The railway already constructed, and on which £220,000 had been spent. 2. The railway to be constructed out of the loan then issued, £545,000. 8. About 800,000aores of land to be granted by the Government for this portion of the line, £150,000. 4. The timber abovementioned which Mr Pavitt had valued on the ground at £685,000. It would appear from Sir Dillon Bell's letter that the trustees have only to deal with 300,000 acres, but we presume the "growing timber " is also included m their deed, We are well aware that there are many who look upon the land grants to the company as next to valueless, and de clare that before the railway is con structed fresh concessions will be demanded, but on the other band we have the cry that the colony i<a "parting with a valuable heritage " without receiving an equivalent, We look upon the bargain between the Government and the Company as te ng upon the whole a fair one, and do not anticipate that any difficulties will arise which may place Sir Francis Dillon Bell, m his dual capacity of Agent-General and Truotee, m an invidious position. The Agent-General is one of the shrewdest men connected with New Zealand, and he might well have been trusted to take care that he did place himself m any position m which conflicting interests might lead him into embarrassment. Still it ia as well that he should preserve a free hand, howerar ungraoious has been the action which has led to his being asked to resign the trusteeship, As usual the Premier comes worst out of the matter, and it may well be wondered at Home what sort of Government we have wh«n their head does not know his own mmd — if he have such a thing—for a month at a time.