HARBOUR BOARD BILLS.
(To the Editor.) Sir, —Under the above heading, "Franchise" asks for a public pronouncement on the result of the disagreement in the statements made by Mr. E. W. Alison and Mr. W. J. Napier at the recent meeting of the Citizens' League, at which the question of the Harbour Board Franchise was discussed. "Franchise" states:—''The questions in dispute, as far as I can remember, were as follows: (a) Were two Harbour Board bills introduced in the session of 1907? (b) Did either provide for direct representation, of the shipping and commercial interests? Mr. Alison's statement was in the affirmative, and Mr. Napier contradicted it." Sir, "Franchise" has stated tihe questions in dispute correctly. As Chairman of the meeting, which was a large and' representative one, my remembrance of the disagreement in the statements made by Mr. Alison and Sir. Napier is briefly as follows:—
In the course of ibis remarks, Mr. Alison stated that in response to representations made from time to time by the people of Auckland, the Government in 1907 brought down a Harbours Bill, in which provision was made for an. alteration of the constitution of the Auckland Harbour Board and the election of its members, but that the existing nominative system was perpetuated, the members for Auckland and suburbs being elected by the local bodies as now. The bill was not well received, and most adversely criticised, members generally contending that the Harbour Board members should be elected by the people. Subsequently, the same session, the Government introduced another bill, by which the whole of the members were to be elected by the people, with the exception of two nominees to be appointed by the Government. Mr. !Napier, in his remarks, said that it was a pity the mover of the motion was not better informed with regard to the bills which were introduced into Parliament. If he had been he would have known that only one Harbours Bill had been submitted to Parliament —not two, as the mover of the motion had said. In the one bill, which the Government had placed before Parliament, it was provided that the members of the Auckland Harbour Board were to be elected on democratic principles by the vote of the people. Mr. Napier then spoke of the part he had taken in advocacy of an alteration of the constitution of the Auckland Harbour Board' to secure the election of its members by the people. He adversely α-iticised the latter part of the motion, which provided for three members being directly elected by shipowners, and three by payers of dues, and said that neither Parliament nor the Government would agree to such a proposal, which would be undemocratic class legislation, and that to pass a resolution embodying such proposals would be useless, as the present democratic Government would not consider such proposals for an instant.
Mr. Alison, in reply to Mr. Napier, maintained that two Harbours Bills had been introduced into Parliament during the session of 1907 — one bill, the first one, provided for the election of c majority of the members of the Auckland Harbour Board on the nominee system; the second one made provision for the election of members on an elective system; also that in the second bill provision was made for one member to be elected directly by shipowners, and' one to be elected directly by payers of dues. He was prepared to stake his reputation that his statements were correct, and was prepared to submit the two bills to the Chairman, or any five, ten, or twenty persons whom' the .meeting might appoint, to decide whether his statements were correct, or those of Mr. Napier— and challenged Mr. Napier to "disprove the correctness of his statements." As the disagreement in statements was expressed so decisively and emphatically by both gentlemen, several members of the League have requested, mc to investigate the facts, and thus ascertain which gentleman's statements are correct. The result of my investigations prove clearly and conclusively that two Harbour Board bills -were introduced during the session of 1907, and that Mr. Alison's statements are indisputably confirmed in every particular. —I am, etc., CHAS. P. MURDOCH. April 1. 1909. (To the Editor.) Sir, —At the recent meeting of the Citizens' League in St. James' Hall, at which I was present, Mr. E. W. Alison, in speaking to a motion for a change in the present constitution of the Auckland Harbour Board, stated that "the Government had brought in a bill a couple of years back and made no change whatsoever in the constitution of the Board." In following Mr. Alison, I disputed his statement, and affirmed that the Harbours BUI of 1907, which the Government had introduced in the House of Representatives, and had had referred to the Harbour Boards' Congress at Wellington, of which I was a member, made extensive alterations in the constitution of the Harbour Board, and among other changes the bill provided for the election of the borough and county members by direct vote of the people on the parliamentary roll. Mr. Alison contended that I was wrong. I have now before mc a copy of the bill, and in order that your readers may judge of the accuracy of my remarks, and to show tha-t Mr. Alison's charge against the Government was unfounded I subjoin the portion of the first schedule of the bill, which refers to Auckland:—"Auckland Harbour Board, 14 members: Two appointed by the Go\-ernor; three by the electors of the City of Auckland and the electors of the Borough of Grey Lynn; one by the electors of the boroughs of Devonport and Birkenhend; one by the electors of the boroughs of Parnell, Newmarket, and Onehunga; one by the electors of the county of Eden; one by the electors ef the county of Manukau; one by the electors of the county of Waitemata; one by the electors of the counties of Raglan and Waikatoi one by the electors ef the oounty of Waipaj one by and cut, ef the persons who have severally paid to the Board £3 or upwards of harbeur dues on ships during the year ending the 31st day of Deoember last preceding the election; and one by and out of the persons who have severally paid fa the Board £3 or- f»f harfcau? dues other than dues aB ships during the year ending the 31st day elj
December last preceding the election." " It will thus be seen that Mr. Alison was, as usual, wrong, and that I was, as usual, right. Q.E.D.—I am, etc., W. J. NAPIER. March 31, 1909.
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