MR. NAPIER AND THE NAVAL CRISES.
1 J ~ U "" <To the Editor.)
Sir, —Your correspondent, Mr. James 1 Nicbol, who writes in your issue of last evening criticising my alleged Inconsis-j tency in urging the Dominion to give substantial assistance ■to the Imperial Navy at this juncture, while I voted at, the Harbour Board for the acceptance of a German tender for electric cranes, is apparently unable to discriminate between politics and business. fWhen a person is placed in a fiduciary position he has no legal nor moral right to permit political or "patriotic" feelings to influence him in the discharge of his duties as a .trustee. As a member of the Harbour Board I am a trustee of public money, and when I saw that the German tender was the lowest, that its acceptance was recommended by our engineer and the British engineers, that the tenderer had a world-wide reputation for making the best electric cranes, and that the public of New Zealand would gain £1500 by accepting his tender, I- felt it my duty to vote for such acceptance. lam satisfied that the decision of the majority of the Board to throw away a large sum of money on "patriotic" grounds was illegal, and they ought to be restrained from doing so by the law courts. I would again vote as I did on the crane question, notwithstanding the "scare" as to naval matters.
I have long known of Germany's determination to ibecome a great sea Power, so as to be able, if necessary, to try conclusions with England, but that fact ought not to weigh with mc when dealing with other people's money. If I were a trustee for Mr. Nichol under a deed or a will, and I disbursed his money unnecessarily for reasons of "patriotism" I feel sure he -would invoke the aid of a Court of justice to remove mc from the trusteeship. As to Britain's commercial relations with Germany, they are very large. Indeed, Germany is our best customer. It would be a calamity to both nations if their business with each other should be disturbed by war. It is felt by the German people that a great national necessity impels them to build a great navy, and it is just as great a national necessity for Great Britain to. build a greater navy. As I said in a lectin« some years ago, the surest way of maintaining "the best possible relations -with Germany is for Great Britain to build two "warships for every one warship built by our Teutonic friends.—l am. etc., W. J. NAPIER. March 25th, 1909.
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