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"MR. SPEAKER."

LAST SESSION.

INTENTION TO RETIRE.

THIRTEEN YEARS' SERVICE.

FIRMNESS ANl> FAIRNESS.

(By Telegraph.—Own Correspondent.*

WELLINGTON, this <lay.

Sir Charles Statham, Speaker of the House of Representatives, will preside in the coming session for the last time, as to-day he has indicated to the chairman of his election committee that he will not contest Duncdin North at the forthcoming general election.

There are four other members of the present Parliament who will not seek re-election, the Hon. A. D. McLeod (Wairarapa), Mr. McSkimming (Clutha), Mr. W. H. Field (Otaki) and Mr. K. S. Williams (Bay of Plenty).

The decision of Sir Charles Statham is evidently brought about by the difficult position in which Parliament places one of its members when by its vote it signifies its desire that he shall impartially conduct its proceedings. This divorces "Mr. Speaker" from ordinary Parliamentary activity, though in practice he is able to approach Ministers and others privately on matters of importance to his constituency, but any party tendencies must be completely submerged while he holds office. Seat Contested By Labour. The British House of Commons has recognised this problem by giving its Speaker an unopposed return so long as he holds the confidence of the House. The former United and Reform parties in New Zealand have endeavoured to follow a similar ideal, but the Labour party has three times contested Dunedin Central while Sir Charles Statham was Speaker, and he won the last election by a much smaller majority than the thousands he formerly enjoyed. He then showed recognition of his difficult personal position by declaring that if he again fought the election it would be "with the gloves off." This, of course, would place him in a definite party category, and make' it difficult, if not impossible, for him again to fill the Speaker's chair. Weighing all these considerations, Sir Charles Statham has decided to retire from the political contest, and he has made it clear that there is no foundation for a rumour that he will accept an invitation which has been given to stand for a North Island constituency. He intends to devote his full time in future to his legal practice. Record of Continuous Office. Sir Charles Statham's service as Speaker will at the end of this coming session total 13 years, a record for continuity in that high office which has not been equalled in New Zealand, though Sir Maurice O'Rorke was Speaker for 22 years, broken by a three-year period. Another interesting personal feature is that Sir Charles Statham is the first New Zealand-born member to hold the Speakership. He was elected in exciting times. When he stood as an Independent in the 1923 election the Government majority was reduced to such an uncertain point that a special session wae necessary to decide a no-confidence issue. It was won by Mr. Massey with the aid of three Liberals, whose continued help enabled him to maintain a precarious political advantage until his death two years later. Secret Session in Wartime. Sir Charles was Speaker throughout the war years, wrien lie had the unique distinction of presiding over a secret sitting of the House. It was held for the purpose of deciding whether the Main Body of soldiers should be brought back to the Dominion on leave, following their hard and dangerous service on Gallipoli. Secrecy was necessary so that members could be frankly informed on the position of the Allies, which at the moment was not viewed optimistically. [ When the House had heard the official explanations it reluctantly decided not to pass a motion in favour of relieving the Main Body men. Standing Orders Revised. The Standing Orders of the House were completely revised under Sir Charles Statham's direction five years ago, and a number of innovations were introduced making for the more expeditious transaction of Parliamentary business. At a later date the closure procedure was permanently included, throwing on -Mr. Speaker the responsibility of deciding when such a motion can be accepted. He will not put it if —to quote this portion of the closure rule—"it shall appear to the Chair that such motion is an abuse of the rules of the House or an infringement of the rights of a minority." Otherwise, if accepted by Mr. Speaker, a closure motion is put forthwith, without debate or amendment, and the House is obliged immediately to decide the question which was under discussion. The present Speaker's administration of this drastic power has been tactful, and it is an open ecret that there have been several occasions, particularly when highly controversial private members' bills were before the House, that Sir Charles Statham indicated to critical members desiring to end the discussion that he would not permit the closure to be utilised for the purpose. Its actual operation is generally greeted with strong protests, though they are directed at the mover, and have never involved reflections on the fairness of Mr. Speaker. The former abuse of the privilege of -king urgent questions which Ministers ere required to answer verbally has sen firmly handled by Sir Charles '»t ham, " who decides beforenand

•whether the proposed question justifies lts urgency. Otherwise, it is placed on the Order Paper for a printed answer. Inis has saved a considerable amount of Parliament's time. Respected by All Parties. While Mr. Speaker's rule is generally regarded as strict, members appreciate that under hie control the New Zealand House of Representatives stands high as a dignified Parliamentary assembly. His sense of humour, shown discreetly on occasion, has sometimes relieved tense situations, and all sections of the House have put on record their appreciation of that blend of firmness and fairness which has made him a successful Speaker.

DUNEDIN CENTRAL SEAT.

MINISTER'S NAME MENTIONED.

(By Telegraph.—Press Association.)

DUNEDIN, this day.

The name of the Rev. L. B. Neale is freely mentioned as the possible National party's candidate for Dunedin Central, from which seat Sir Charles Statham is withdrawing. When questioned Mr. Neale was not prepared to either substantiate or deny the report.

BAY OF PIiENTY SEAT.

MR. J. T. MERRY SELECTED. (By Telegraph.—Press .association.) GISBCRNE, this day. A meeting of supporters of the National Government was held at Matawai to-day to select a candidate to represent the party for the Bay of Plenty electorate, Mr. K. S. Williams having intimated some time ago that he did not intend to stand owing to illhealth. All areas in the widely-spread constituency were represented at the meeting, and after discussion Mr. J. T. Merry, of Opotiki, was unanimously selected as the official National candidate.

The delegates present also passed a resolution expressing sincere appreciation of Mr. Williams' long service as member for the Bay of Plenty, and sincere wishes for his early recovery.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19350725.2.92

Bibliographic details

"MR. SPEAKER.", Auckland Star, Volume LXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1935

Word Count
1,123

"MR. SPEAKER." Auckland Star, Volume LXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1935

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