FURTHER INVESTIGATED TO-DAY, .- CHARGES AGAINST MR. MAJOR AND MR. SYMES. EVIDENCE OF OFFICIAL FILES." The allegations made by the membef for Stratford, Mr. Hine, were further investigated before the special committee appointed by the House- of Representatives to-day. Mr. Hine was represented by Mr. Myers, and Mr. C. P. Skerrett, K.C., with him Mi. Sharp, appeared for Mr. Symes. Mr. J. A» Hanan presided. The following charges were first investigated : — "(1.) That Charles Edwin Major, ift oi about the year 1904, while a member of Parliament, conducted the salei to the Government of a property oi Frederick Bayly, at Toko, and. received from the said Frederick Bayly; a commision or sum of money for ec doing. "(2.) That Charles Edwin Major and Walter Symes, or one of them, in. or about the year 1906, while both members of Parliament, conducted the sale to the Government of the property previously _ refeired to and divided the commission received front Alfred Bavly."' Mr. Major ,vas not represented by counsel. / Mr. Myers Isaid he gathered that Mr. Skerrett proposed reserving his defence until all the evidence on Mr. Hine's behalf had been led, but he understood that the Premier had seme evidence to call in reference to the newspaper charge investigated yesterday. Sir Jqseph' Ward 'answered that Ai& proposed to call two witnesses— Mr W T. Jennings, M.P., and Mr. W. HAtack, manager of the New Zealand Presa Association. PURCHASE NEGOTIATIONS. « John Douglas Ritchie, land purchase inspector, said that Mr. Frederick Bavly s property at Toko was offered through Mr. Major to the Government ior closer settlement on 9th March, 19Q3 at £12 10s per acre. This offer waa communicated by Mr. Major to Mr Barron in a letter in which the former pointed out its suitability for dairy iarms. Mr. Barrou wrote to the late Mr. Seddon on 18th March, forwarding the offer of the 953 acres, and expressing his doubts as to the suitability of t\i« land for dairy farms. Shortly after' wards Mr. Seddon authorised the Lane* iurchase Board to negotiate for tiia property. On 14th April Mr. Barron (Grown Lands Ranger, and brother of the chairman of the Land Purchase Board) made a preliminary valuation (foil 10s per acre), and reported that the land was well-watered and grassed, and, being suitable for dairying, it conic! be cut up into six dairy farms. He added that there bo no expense for roading. Further progress in negotiating was delayed for a time owing to the inability of the Land Purchase Board to inspect the land at the time, and on 22nd April and 3th May, Mr. Major wrote to Mr. Barron, stating that if the Government did not wish to purchase he would like a notification to that effect, as Mr. Bayly could enter into other arrangements. Mr. Barron replied on 10th May, stating that the price "-was rather high, and he would not advise Mr. Bayly to wait if he could find an-" other purchase**, Mr. Ritchie read a number of other letters which formed part of the negotiations, and the chairman of the committee asked the object, if all this waß admitted by Mr. Major. Mr. Major: I admit it all Mr. Myers said ho wished to go through the whole file, and this course was adopted. LAND BOUGHT. _ On 12th June Mr. Barron wrote, stating that the offer would be considered' as soon as possible. Next there , was a memorandum from Mr. Seddon to Mr. Barron — "Repurchase Vt. land from Mr. Bayly : • -How ' does ' the matter stand?" The Taxanaki Land Pufcha.se Board, consisting of Messrs. Barron, J. F. Mackenzie, and. John Heslop, met on 29th July, and resolved that an offer of £12 10s per acre should be made for SBO acres, £-150 for improvements, and' £20 per acre for five acres. This recommendation, was reported to Cabinet on Ist August, considered on 2nd August, and approved*' 'The estate of the "late 'Alfred Bayly was first offered to the Government by) Mr. Arnet, of Stratford, on 19th November, 1905, at £12 10s, but nothing was done until 16th April, 1904, when the late ft]* 1 . Seddon forwarded a letter io Mr. Barron, stating that he had been communicated with by Mr. Major with reference to the suggested purchase of the- estate. "I replied to Ms. Major," he concluded, "that I would mention the matter to you." On 6th July Mr. Barron reported on the estate to th« then Premier at considerable length. The estate was offered at £12 10s p«J acre, and the land tax value was a little under £7 per acre. The report concluded by the statement that if the land could bo purchased "at. say, £9 per acre it could be disposed of. * It is difiicult to say what demand there will bo for butter next season, but the property could bo let for graaing in large areas." Mr. Myers: The land tax value was £7 per acre was it not? Witness replied that it was slightly, under £7. He went on to read through the files. On 31st July, ISC '4. when the before mentioned letter was submitted to Cabinet the Government declined to go further with negotiations for the purchase of the property, and on 4th a.ugust, Mr. Bayly i\as notified to that effect. Negotiations were re opened on 31st August, 1905. when Mr. Arnct *\aa written to. The tiles did not show how the matter came to be re-opened. The department's letter stated that the preVlOU non o° ft ' er of ■ Mr - Al Bavl y" s at £12 10s per acre was considered to be in excess of its value to the- Government. The. department v ished to know if this was the lowest price which MivBayly would accept. It not would he quote the lowest price. Nothing further seemed to nave been done until 28th June, 1906. on which date- Mr. Walter Symes forwarded a petition to the Hon. W. Hail-Jones, then acting Prime-Minis-ter. The petition was from 49 settlers u-om Toko,- asking that Mr. A. Bayly's property at Toko be acquired by *,ho Government. In his accompanying letter Mr. Syme6 pointed out to tho" Minister the advantages, of the land for closer settlement, and especially its adaptability for dairying. The present owner ' (he wrote) had assured him that he was tired of the share system, and would not renew his agreement with these milking on the share principle. The owner intended to sell all the cowe and restock with sheep. If this were done 4 Mr. Symes pointed out a number of settlers would be driven away. The pries at which Mr. Bayley was willing to sell was £11 10s per acre, which wa* reasonable and cheap, as land in that district ran to £14 and £16 per acre. Mr Symes urged' the necessity for immediate action ac the milking season started in August, and some of J.he agreements
were on. the point of* expiry. Ho strongly - recommended the acquirement of the >"' estate.'." ~ -;■. AGENT OR M.B fl 2 - « Proceeding, witness said the letter did ,' not bear any indication that it was sent - to Mr. Hall-Jones by Mr. Symes /■as- >aiu. lagedt,. It was written, on -'"General Assembly Library "- -■ paper. On 11th July Mr. Hall- < Jones wrote to Mr. Symes saying that * , Mr. Barron would enquire into it. On ■ 24th July,- 1906>the property was valu- - ed"'at"£2o',Bob capital value, or £11 per '. acre. The Land Purchase Board met, the .members being Messrs. Barron, Remington, Simpson, aiid'Hislop, and'recommended that a price not exceeding £11 per acre should be offered for the pro- . perty. Cabinet approved of the recommendation on 11th August, and My. ' Bayly duly accepted when it was communicated _to him. The purchase price -" for the 1911 acres was £21,000 odd. In reply to Sir Joseph Ward, witness said he had been land- purchase officer "" for one yen*. During that -time he had been subjected to no interference whatever, by any member of the Ministry, no pressure was exerted, no Minister • ever attended nieetirigs'of the board, and no purchase had ever been made at a 4 higher price than that recommended by • the board. ' . .To Mr. Millar : In some cases the prices, asked, for properties exceeded the valuation as much as £10 per acre. He '- ,had no experience of the difference in 1 . land tax valuations and" the ' awards - sometimes made by assessment courts. • • Answering a question by Mr. Allen, witness said there was no .record of Mr. 'Barron having valued 1000 acres of the land at £14 per acre. Mr. Reid : In what capacity did Mr. \ Major write those letters— as a member or as an agent ? ■ .Witness : I think as an agent. ' Mr. Skerrett: The letters are written - on business paper in an ordinary busi- '- .ness* way.' , To the Chairman: There was nothing - on the file to show that Mr. Major was connected with the sale of Alfred Bayly's property. Mr. Seddon had written • to Mr. Barron, stating that Mr. Major ' liad written to him in reference to the '. property, and suggesting, that the pro- . per«y might be inspected "with a view to .purchase. After acknowledging that letter there appeared to be no further communication with Mr. Major. HANSARD QUOTED. Mr. Myers put in a quotation from Hansard of a speech delivered by Mr. . /Walter' Symes, then member for Stratford, in the House of Representatives on - 9th October, 1905, on land tenure and - settlement. The extract ran: "I know ' mext to nothing about, the Land for - Settlements Act. There is only one .estate in my district that has been acquired under the Land for Settlements •■ 'Act. That estate was not wisely ac.quired, and whether it was the -Govern ■ ■jnenfc or the^ board" who were 'to blame, I am not sure ; but whichever it was, they -• ■ gave £2 10s per acre more for that land than I could have bought it for; and the strange thing is that when they ■bought that land the owner of it was cutting it up, whilst lands that had been - offered to them that were not being cut up they would not look at. lam not ' quite certain whether it is the head of the department who is at fault, but the - c Government seem to be quite powerless, or quite indifferent, about the whole matter so far as my district is concerned. I am .satisfied that if- they had - asked my opinion in regard to the estate they acquired, I should at once have advised them not to buy it at the pride '■•they gave for it." Mr. Myers added that the estate referred to must have 'been F, Bayly's estate. .VALUER-GENERAL'S EVIDENCE. Mr. Flanagan, Valuer-General, stated that the property of Fred Bayly was *Z valued at £4144 (unimproved) and £8496 (capital) in 1900, the same in •1901, at £8404 (unimproved) and £12,602 (capital) in 1903, on a special '""Valuation ihade for loan purposes for the Public Trust Office, and in 1905 for taxation purposes at £7246 (unimproved .value) and £12,360 (capital). In the case of Alfred Bayly's property the vali nations were as follows, unimproved and capital, for the years named: — 1§97, £5000 and £10,374; 1901, £5773 and - £12,292; 1937, £6107- and £13,009; 2809, £13,258 and £23,377.OWNERS' METHODS. r V In reply ,ix>. Sir Joseph Ward, witness said, his... experience was .that the prices asked*; by owners of estates were invariably considerably in excess of the Government valuations , for taxing - gur- - 'poses. When people wanted loans "they desired to have their valuations raiscv. "•but reduced when it was a question of .taxation. , , Mr. Buchanan: Do you know of the case of an estate of 10.000 acres at .. Masterton? Sir Joseph Ward (interrupting) : Well, -if- you are- going into thqse matters I will bring up the case iof Mr. Buchanan waiting upon me with a deputation and asking that an estate should be purchased at £8 over its value. Tha Chairman said the matter had been referred to before, and he could not - ' disallow the question.' Mr. Buchanan : Would you be surprised to know that a property of 10,000 ( aores near Masberton. was offered to- the Government at £7 per acre, and refused, and that it has sinee -been cut up a.nd mostly disposed of at £11 to £13 per acre? Witness : I am not aware of it. A PROMISSORY NOTE." Charles Bayly, brother of the late 'Alfred Bayly, stated that he was an ex&cutor in the estate. Amongst the documents of his late brother v/as a promissory note, dated ldth September. 1906, from A. Bayly to Walter Symes', for £300, due 13th November. ..^r. Myers wished to ask the witness .what the £300 promissory note was for, but Mr. Sketrrett objected, and said that -the question in the form it was pub was inadmissible. Mr. Massey asked whether the enquiry was a court of law, a court of equity, or a court of parliament? The Chairman said he had to "rule on judicial lines-. In answer to a fnrfher question, the ■witness said he could not cay whether his brother had any business dealings with Mr. Major. Hifl brother kept no books, ON HIS DEFENCE. Charles E. Major, land agent, now residing at Auckland, and ex-M.P., said 'he sat in the House from 1902 to 1908. , He was defeated at the last election by Mr. Pearce. As to th© charge in reference to the Alfred Bayly estate, that -..he divided a commission with Mr. Symes, he denied it absolutely. He wrote a letter to the Premier at the instance of Mr. Arnet. Arnet asked him to bring the matter under the notice of the Premier. Beyond that he liad no connection with the matter whatever. He knew nothing of any commission being paid. The statement that he had divided a commission was Untrue. In reply to Sir Joseph Ward, he said he had not attempted to influence the purchase of any estate by the Government, nor had he ever received any <v payment from the Government in reference to the sale or purchase of any land. To the Chairman : ,He wrote the letter to Mr. -Seddon as a friendly action towards Mr. Arnet. FRED BAYLY'S PROPERTY. Concerning the sale of -Fred Bayly's property fre said that he was within his.
rights both legal and moral in making the sale. He was of opinion that he had done something commendable in the interests of the State and the settlers who were anxious to acquire land. He had been instrumental in selling two properties to the Government — one, the Livingstone property before he became a member of Parliament, and Fred* Bayly's, after being a member of Parliament. The latter's land was sold through him , to the Government at less than its value. Had -it not 'been, sold to the Government it would have been disposed of to a syndicate, and the syndicate would have made a profit out of it. There was nothing secret about the affair. Everything was done in- the open, and the people of Hawera knew of the transaction. _ | His ledger showed an entry against j Frederick Bayly for commission and a credit for it. There was no enta-y with respect to Alfred Bayly or Symes. CLOSE QUESTIONING. Mr. Myers : Do you mind saying when this property was put in your hands for sale? Witness : I cannot say. Was it not in your hands for a considerable time? — I do not remember. Did you not try to dispose of it to other people ? — I am not sure. Was it not your suggestion to Mr. Bayly to try and sell it to the Government? — That I don'fc know. Were you not trying for a considerable time to sell this property' privately, and was not the proposal to sell to the Government an afterthought ?— No, I think not. I cannot answer definitely, because my memory will not serve me in respect of the details. Were you in the House when Mr. Symes made the speech I have referred to in regard to this estate? — Yes. Do you know that he complained then about "this purchase? — That is the first I heard of it. I may have knovrn of it at the time", but it is completely obliterated from my memory.' At what price were you offering this estate to private people, before you offered it to the Government at £12 10s ?— It was offered to the Government at less than it was likely to be offered to anyone else. I have offered a number of properties to the Government, and I knew the difficulties there were in getting Mr. Barron to consider them. He is a prince of pessimists. No matter how good the land is, he always undervalues it. Can you say at what price you were offering this land to private people before it was offered to the Government at £12 10s ?— lt would not be offered to any person at a less price than it was offered to the Government. Can you tell at what price you offered it to private people ? — I cannot tell you what price. In offering land to any third party outside the Government it would not be offered at a less price than it would be to the Government. You do not recollect ? — No. Was it ever in your hands at a less price than £12 10s ?— No, I think not. It may have been at a higher price, but never less. When you were trying to sell for Frederick Bayly were you trying to sell as a whole or a subdivision ? — As a whole. I could have sold it in subdivisions, but Mr. Bayly did not want to. That is one of the reasons he thought he could sell to the Government. Was Frederick Bayly himself about i tv cut up the property, not being able to sell it as a whole?— That I can't tell. The matter was discussed but nothin" definite was arrived at. ° Sir Joseph Ward: I understood you to say that you had offered a good many properties to the Government. How many do you suggest? Witness : Half a dozen. v How many properties were purchased that you recommended to the Government or the Land Purchase Board? — Two. Mr. 'Livingstone's before I became a member of Parliament, and Fred Bayly's after I became a member. • NO PAYMENTS FROM GOVERNMENT. In connection with this particular property (in No. 1 charge), which is the only one you offered to the Government as member of Parliament, did you receive any payment of any kind from the Government or any Government officer? —No. Did you make any payment out of the commission to anyone connected with the Government or any Government department?— No. Such a thing never occurred to my mind. Did you at any time inform, any member of the Land Purchase Board, or of the Government, or any Government officer, that you were putting this property under offer on condition that you received a commission from the seller of the land?— No. Did you ever bring pressure to bear on the Government in connection with the sale of Fred Bayly's estate. — No., I would like the people who think 'these things -to try it and see what chance they have. DEALING AS A LAND AGENT. Hon. J. A. Millar: You were dealing as a land agent? Witness : Yes, as a land agent. Most of the letters were written by a clerk of mine. I was not there a good part of the time. Mr. Massey : Was there any objection on the part of Mr. Bayly to pay this commission? — Hs paid less commission because ho had to accept less for the land than he expected to sell at. The original arrangement was that I should receive 2£ per cent. I received a net sum 'ef £300. A VAGUE SUGGESTION. . | The Chairman asked if the witness thought it was inconsistent with his position as a member of Parliament to .have conducted a sale to the Government. Witness : Well, I am living in Auckland now, and I don't know whether the integrity of Mr. John Bollard — There was a chorus of protest, and the chairman reminded Mr. Major that the committee was not enquiring into a charge against Mr. Bollard. He requested witness to answer the question. Mr. Major said that so far as he was concerned, it was quite legitimate business. He thought what he had done should have been commended rather than reproved. The further the facts were enquired into 'the- better it -would bo for himself and the Government. In reply tc- a question, witness said it would be better for the Government because it would show what a splendid purchase had been made. Mr. Allen : Supposing two people were offering an estate to the Government, and one was a member of Parliament whilst the other was not: who would be likely to get the business? Witness : My experience is- that it would be the man who was not. Mr. Allen : What would be the public view ? Witness : I don't know. Like some members of Parliament, they might be unable to conceive honesty in any other man. Mr. Massey strongly resented this statement, and requested that it should be withdrawn. Mr. Major complained that it would , have been only reasonable on the part of the member for Stratford to have made enquiries before launching his charges. In reply toother questions, witness said he had never offered any land for sale to the Government which ho did not think would be m the beat interests of the people if it were acquired., i
Th© committee will sit again on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The Flarbonmo case will ba taken laaS.
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HINE ALLEGATIONS., Evening Post, Volume LXXX, Issue 109, 4 November 1910
HINE ALLEGATIONS. Evening Post, Volume LXXX, Issue 109, 4 November 1910
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