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The House met at 2.30 p.m. ME HUTCHISON'S CHARGES. Messrs Bell and Stafford were ushered into the House by the Sergeant-at-Arms, and Mr Bell addressed the House at great length on behalf of the Bank of N^v Zealand, m reference to the production of the bank's books, re the charges of the member for Waitotara. He said that he appeared with Mr Stafford as counsel on behalf of the Bank of New Zealand. Referring at the outset to the summons, he said that it required the bank to produce its books containing original and all other entries of the balances of the three members of the present Government who were named. No question was raised by the bank either directly or indirectly as to the right of the Committee to call for documents, but with regard to private accounts of the bank, the bank had been advised that, having regard to the pledge of secrecy which its officers have taken, and having regard to the duty which the law imposes upon them not to divulge the confidence of its clients unless by the proper authority, it ought not to produce the records containingtheprivateaccounts. Counsel quoted authorities to show that such a demand as this would not be made by an order by a Judge werethe matter before a court of civil judicature. He submitted that Parliament, following the rule laid down for the guidance of courts, would not go beyond the bounds which Judges had set as the limits to their own jurisdiction. At the conclusion of his address Mr Bell and Mr Stafford retired from the chamber.

Mr Withy, Chairman of the Hutchison Committee, moved on behalf of the Committee, the following resolution :- " That Mr John Murray and Mr Richard Potter Begg do attend before the Select ..Committee on the accusations of the member for Waitotara, and 1 ring with them such of their banking books or documents, as the said Committee has already ordered to be produced, or may hereafter require." If the Committee reduced its demand at all, Mf Hutchison might have reason to say that they had cut off his chances of making good his case. Besides, if they did so they might, when the inquiry had advanced to a certain stage, find it impossible to complete the investigation for want of the books, and so be unable to report this session. The Committee would bow to the decision of the House, which must, however, share with the Committee the responsibility for whatever action was decided upon.

Mr Macarthur moved to add to the motion the words " provided that the bank shall only be compelled to disclose books, accounts, and other papers and information, of a private nature on the Committee reporting to the House that, as alleged m the speech of the member for Waitotara, public funds have been improperly used and raised by Ministers to the advantage of the Bank of New Zealand and the detriment of the colony." No business man would say that the charges against the Government, went further than that of administering the public funds wrongly.. If that were shown, it would be time enough to try to prove the existence of the relations of debtor and creditor between the bank and Ministers, and to enquire as to whether the dealing with the public funds resulted from anything further than ignorance or carelessness.

Mr Seddon refuted the charge that unnecessary delay had occurred. Alluding to Mr Bell's address, he said that when Mr Bell was before the Committee he seemed to be appearing more on behalf of Ministers than of the bank.

Mr Hislop—-"That's not true." The Speaker said that the expression must be withdrawn. Mr Hislop at once withdrew the words. Mr Seddon charged the Minister of Education with having been disrespectful to the Chairman of the Committee, at that day's proceedings. Mr Hislop said that the remark was untrue.

The Speaker insisted on the withdrawal of the remark.

Mr Hislop withdrew the words. Mr Seddon said that he did not see why Ministers should not consent to their accounts being produced before the Committee, as the present case was one m which there should be no delicacy. The Houße adjourned at 5.30 p.m. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m. Mr Perceval regarded the whole proceedings connected with this Committee as a succession of blunders, and now they were asked to commit another blunder by voting for Mr Macarthur's amendment. Sir John Hall contended that clearly the Committee must first determine whether a case had been made out by Mr. Hutohison before the evidence asked for Bhould be produced. There was never a statement more deviod of foundation than that Ministers were trying to burke this enquiry. Mr Hutchison said he wished emphatically to deny the statement that he had obstructed the proceedings of the Committee. He had formulated his charges three weeks ago and had not been allowed to approach the Committee's doors since. The amendment proposed by Mr Macarthur was moved m Committed ' day and negatived by the casting vote of the Chairman on the ground that it was mos* improper at the present stage. Th Government, therefore, were now about to contest a motion brought up by their own committee, and would use their majority to make it a thorough party question. Had he had the opportunity, lie could have stated to tho Committee that the government had assisted the Bank of JJew Zealand m many ways ; that the JLttomey-General as president of the bank, and chairman of the directors had been under heavy obligations to the bank. He could also have shown that the Premier was under a heavy guarantee to the bank for another person, and that the Native Minister was under a heavy obligation to the bank. Even if they had since been discharged he could prove that they had previously existed. After a lengthy discussion Mr Hislop said that what Mr Hutchison asked for was a Committee to enquire into the dealings of the colony with the bank: for the past few years, and he defied anyone to point out a single line m Mr Hutchison's speech to indicate any other persons as being connected with the bank except Sir F. Whitaker, but m the charge formulated to the Committee the hon gentleman had taken the essence out of the speech he originallydelivered m the House, and he had shown altogether a want of appreciation of the yrnvity of the charges he had made. Mr Hutchison had further abused Ins privileges by making an altogether new charge as to the personal indebtedness of Sir H. Atkinson and Mr Mitchelson. He challenged the hon gentleman to abandon his privileges as a member of the House, and not take advantage of uny technicality, but allow the Government to meet his charges m another place. The Government hud given him every opportunity of proving his charges, but lie had .shown no inclination or desire to have the jnatter investigated. pjvft sit&if? 'to 2 a.m.)

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Bibliographic details

PARLIAMENTARY, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2481, 2 August 1890

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PARLIAMENTARY Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2481, 2 August 1890

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