The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 1905. THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT.
The Governor's lengthy speech delivered ac the opening of Parliament on Tuesday contained the usual outline ofc' the work proposed to be undertaken during the coming session. The programme outlined is an extensive one, and probably a portion of it will be crowded out" through the lack of time to discuss it adequately. The thirty policy bills foreshadowed m Tuoaday's address contain some important measures?, and if they are all to be place') before the Houbo, a pretty good session's work will have ta be accomplished. Mr Sedtion has already indicated that m his opinion the Old Age Pension should be increased from 7s to 10s a B'^ek, and the Governor's speech foreshadows the introduction of legislation to give effect to this opinion. The proposals to be laid before Parliament relating to public works, will touch on some very important subjects, and it is to be hoped m the interests of the .colony generally aud the country residents m paT&icular, the bills " providing for the more expeditious construction of important railway lines, the extension of telephones to back blocks settlers, and the early completion of roads to outpost settlements" will receive the favourable attention of both Houses. Larger appropriations will also be asked for for school buildings J generally, and particularly for school buildings m newly settled districts. This is a matter that calls for attention owing to the overcrowding that exists m certain large schools, and to the spread of settlement m various parts of the colony. Last year a large area was acquired by the Government under the Lands for Settlement Act, and the Governor's speeoh states that other large estates m both Islands are under offer to the Government, and that negotiations are m progress. The question of providing workmen's homes m the larger cities is also to receive attention during this session, and the Government propose to ask for power either to erect such homes or to advance the necessary funds for that purpose. The agitation over ihe recent " iniquity" case that occurred m Christchurch has drawn the Government's attention to the question of extending the time limit during which informations can be laid charging men with assaulting girls under the age of consent, and a proposal to grant such an increase will be submitted to Parliament. This matter will require thorough discussion, and until the Government's intentions m regard to it are made public, it is impossible to offer an opinion on them. This is one of those cases, however, where caution must be exercised, as it is easy to run to extremes under the influence of popular feeling. Local Government reform, which has been referred to before m Governors' speeches, figures m the present one, and it remains to be seen whether any proposals relating to this subject will be brought forward this session. It is said the Government desire to be relieved of certain public works of minor importance, that the number of local authorities is to be reduced, and that extended powers are to be conferred on the remainder, while their financial position is also to be improved. It is also proposed to introduce a new system of valuation whereby local authorities will make their own valuations, the State to have the right of acquiring at ten per cent over the owners' valuation, all properties whose valuation is disputed. In order to cope with the large number of arbitration cases, the Government propose to establish a second Arbitration Court, and this certainly seems the only remedy for the existing difficulties, though it will mean additional expense to the colony. It is intimated that a bill will be introduced dealing with the suppression of gambling, and it will be interesting to learn how the Government proposes to cope with this growing evil. The inspection of private hospitals and nursing homes will also be provided for and this provision is needed as was shown by the recent case at Opawa. where a female mental patient was strangled by being placed m a straight jacket and strapped down m bed. The inspection and improvement of hospitals and charitable institutions will also receive attention. Mr Seddon promised to introduce a Bill to amend the much discussed Shops and Offices Bill as soon as Parliament, and he has kept that promise. The amending clauses appear elsewhere iv this issue. Proposals to increase teachers' salaries aud to provide a superannuation scheme for aged and infirm teachers are to be introduced ; but there seems some doubt as to whether the Government seriously intend to persevere with the superannuation scheme. A Bill is to be introduced dealing with the question of how to utilise the motive power provided by the colony's lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, the idea being that the stress of competition renders necessary the lessening of the cost of production. Contrary to expectations, the deliverance of Tuesday preserves an ominous silence on the Legislative Council. Altogether, the Governor's speech is one of the moat verbose and least practical that have been delivered during Mr Seddon's term of office, and if the extensive programme outlined m it is to receive justice, an early start will have to be made with the serious work of the session. It is to be hoped that the opening weeks of the present session will have more to show of work accomplished than has been the case m recent years,