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MORE HEAT

FEELING IN THE HOUSE

WAGE CUT PEOPOSALS

THE DEBATE RESUMED

The heat of the concluding proceedings in the House of Representatives last night was still apparent when, the House resumed this morning to make further progress with the Finance Bill, winch affects the salary and wage cuts. The Prime Minister (the Eight Hon. G. W. Forbes) moved for urgency for the Finance Bill, to be put through all remaining stages at the present sitting. The motion was challenged from the Labour benches and was carried by 42 votes to 24.,! , The House was then declared in Committee on tho Bill. Mr. W. E. Parry (Lab., Auckland Central): "No further Marquis of Quccnsbury rules now." The Hon. S. G. Smith: "We would never get you into it." Mr. Parry: "You would get me thero all right, make no mistako about that." The Chairman then ,put the Labour amendment on clause '2 of the Bill, that the cut be not applied to Civil Service salarios of £210 and under. This was defeated by 42 votes to-27, Captain 11. M. Eushworth (Country Party, Bay of Islands), Messrs. C. A. Wilkinson (Independent, Egmont), J. T. Hogan (Independent, ,' Eangitikei), G. 'C. Black! (Independent, Motueka), lit A. Wright (Reform, Wellington Suburbs), J.. N. Massey/(Reform, Franklin), and J. A. Young (Reform, Hamilton), voting with the Labour Party. THE BASIC WAGE. Mr. J. M' Combs (Lab., Lyttelton) said he did not like discriminating between married men and single men, more especially when they were on the bread line. It meant semi-starvation. He therefore moved that the cut do not apply to the wages of married men, or single men with dependants, in receipt of £4 0s 8d per week or less. He hoped that the Government would see the reason for the amendment, although the only people who seemed to be able to get anything from the Government were the members of tho Reform Party. The Government was in office, but' tho Reform , Party was in power. "The honourablo gentleman has spoken pcrvenlly, but he has not stated the position fairly," stated the Prime Minister. "With-the previsions we havo made in this Bjiil^the cost of living will come down." ■ Labour voices: "Rubbish! Nonsense!" ■ ' "LET THE COUNTRY SINK." Mr. Forbes, speaking with heat: If wo were looking for votes we would stand by and let the country sink.' He said that it was absolutely necessary to keep the finances of the country sound, and if this was done the workers would be in an infinitely better position for everybody. If those people who make demonstrations outside think they are going to deter us by threats from doing our duty to a British country, they don't know the British race. If we,do not bring down legislation to put the finances of the: country on a , sound footing, there -will not be 30,000 unemployed, but 100,000. Labour cries of "Ee?ign." "Go to the country," "Eobber," persisted for several seconds, and all the efforts -by the Chairman of Committees (Mr. W. A. Bodkin) to gain order were unavailing. Mr. Forbes said that ho had promised a Commission which would deal with cases of hardship. When making their protests the Civil servants did not say that tho Government was finding £4,500,000 per annum for superannuation. This money was1 provided by tho taxpayers. If the reductions .in wages were put into effect tho fall in tho cost of living would ,be more than 10 per cent., the workers would bo better off- than before, and the country would be in. a sound position. UNEMPLOYMENT POSITION. "I am not a foreigner," said' Mr. J. S. Fletcher (Independent, Grey Lynn). "I am as much imbued with the spirit of fair play as anyone else. The men who are fighting for the lowpaid'workers have no right to be talked to in that fashion, even by the Prime Minister." ■ The Minister of Labour (the Hon. S. G. Smith): "He was talking about demonstrations outside.'' Mr. 'Fletcher: "Ho was talking about the people here. If the Minister of Labour knew his job1 there would be no unemployment." The Minister of Labour: "What has the honourable gentleman done?'' You cleared out to Canada and left the unemployed to themselves." Mr. Fletcher: "If I had been Minister of .Labour thero would bo no unemployment. I have made suggestion after suggestion, but none of them have been accepted. If, they had' been the country would not be in the position it is 'to:day." To reduce the basic wage was not the only way to meet the situation. He wondered whether it was possiblo to appeal still to those on the Treasury benches. "THE SAME OLD DRUM." ■Mr. Parry said he had looked to the Prime Minister to give a lead i" tho matter,' but he was still beating tho same old threadbare drum. If the Government persisted in cutting tho wages of the man on the basic wage, he would be left with only 9s a week above his fixed charges. "It is a damnablo shame that the Governmout should do a thing of this kind," said Mr. Parry. Mr. Chairman: "Order!" Mr. Parry: "Well, I withdraw it. We are going to reduce the basic wage man with a family to the state of living of prisoners." The Leader of the Opposition (the Eight Hon. J. G. Coates) said there was no need 'to get heated. Mr. R. Semple (Labour, Wellington East): "What! Pinching the children's food!" Mr. Coates: "If the cost of living falls 10 per cent, thero will be no hardship." Mr. Semple: "Show some logical reasons why it will fail." Mr. Chairman.:"Order! I will haveto name the hon. gentleman." Mr. Coates pointed out that the Prime Minister had promised a hardship commission, and he was prepared to accept that as the word of a gentleman. The Eeform Party contended it was logical to allow exemptions on the basis of the number of children in a family, the graduation to disappear if tho cost of living fell 10 per cent. "EXTRAVAGANT LANGUAGE." "To listen to the member for Auckland Central," said the Minister of Labour, "one would.think that nobody but himself and his few colleagues had any sympathy with the man on £200 a year and under. But whatever extravagant language may be used in order to lead unthinking people into believing that the only friends of the man on £200 a year and less are the honourablo gentleman and his colleagues, that does

not alter tho fact that tho money is not available to enable us to go on paying | tho present rates of salary in the Public ' Service.'' Mr. Langstone: "Slobber." ' '' The Standing Orders prevent mo from putting tho honourable gentleman in. the right category," retorted Mr. Smith. Mr. Somple: "Do it outside." , Mr. Smith: "I am not afraid'of him ontsido the House either. The honourable gentleman talks about the Government being in a hopeless minority, but he himself, in his electorate, is in a hopeless minority." Mr. M'Combs: "Wo have suggested to you where the money is." The Minister referred to the uncinploved, and said there wore hundreds of "men amongst them who had been paying income-tax, and no longer wcro in a position to do so. Mr. C. Carr (Labour, Timaru): "How much?" (Government and llui'orm laughter.) The Minister: "Tho honourable geutlomen are careful to avoid tho fact that there is a, largo number of the Public Service who are single men and women who under present conditions will feel no ill effect from the proposed cut in salary." He went on to say that a hardship commission had been promised by the Prime Minister to give relief. Mr. M'Combs: "In isolated cases." THE UNEMPLOYED. Mr. Smith said he had a list of 33,000 unemployed who had no permanent jobs. Of that number, last week the Unemployment Board placed 5280 in jobs. Mr. Carr: "How long will tho work bo permanent?" Mr. Smith: "Much longer than the honourable gentleman will be a member of this House." Mr. Carr: "I will last a long time longer than you." Beplying to Mr. Carr's question, Mr. Smith said the work would last as long as there was money to keep tho unemployment relief schemes going. Tho Leader of the Labour Party (Mr. H. E.- Holland) said that the Minister had used every argument that had been used against himself in 1922, and the amendment was similar to one that Mr. Smith had voted for in that year. Ho made ■ the excuse to-day that the money was not available. If that was so/ the Labour Party was i)repared to help the Government to' get it, but not from the pockets of the working people who had a living income at present. The' Minister had avoided the fact that he was cutting down the wages of the unemployed. He talked about a hardship clause, but he and his Government had created the hardship. "In other words," said Mr. Holland, "they arc going to hit sorneoho over tho head with a club, and bandage the head up afterwards." Having endeavoured to save everybody from the cuts, the Labour Party was now forced to try and save the wages of the lower paid workers. They were simply fighting a logical battle which they had fought previously. If tho cut took place, tho sufferings of tho people with £4 a week and less would bo intense, and tho Prime Minister knew it. . Mr. H. T. Armstrong (Labour, Christchurch East) further argued that the man on tho basic wage would be hard hit,'and Mr. W. J. Jordan (Labour, Manukau) asked for some definite proof that costs would fall in proportion to the wage cut. Beplying to Mr. Smith, Mr. J. W. Munro (Labour, Duncdin North) argued that money was available to the Government through taxation moans. He appealed to the Bcform Party to support tho amendment, and to tako no notice of what was said in the newspapers, the mouthpieces .of vested interests. It had been said that the Labour Party had been "gingered up by Jim Bobcrts, of the Alliance of Labour." ■ Mr. Chairman: "Tho honourable gentleman's time is up." As Mr. W. Nash (Labour, Hutt) rose to speak, tho Prime Minister left the Chamber, his seat besido the Chairman of Committees being taken by the Minister of Education. "Whenever anything is said to tho Primo Minister," Mr. Nash remarked, "he gets up and leaves tho Chamber. "THE LAST VESTIGE." Beplying to the Minister of Labour, Mr Semple said that thero were many members on the United Party side of the House who represented minorities; moreover, the Government was a minority Government. '.'There is one member over there," ho said, "who represents 200 Maoris, and was returned on the casting vote of the returning officer. Ho was used for the purpose of bludgeoning this legislation through the House." Kef erring to the hardship, provision, he asked how the Labour Party could be expected to trust a Government which had broken every pledge it had made. Mr. Semple said that the Government was going to reduce wages and then set up a Commission to find out why the peoplo were suffering. A Government who did that was destitute of the last vestige of decency. The Chairman: "Order!" The Minister of Railways (the Hon. W. A. Veitch) said that he had never heard such language in the House. No member had any right to say that a number of members had lost all vestige of decency. The-Chairman: "I have called the honourable gentleman to order, and I must.ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw." Mr. Semple: "I withdraw, and will say that the Government is destitute of the last vestigo of human pity. Thero are members of the United Party who afe ashamed of what they are voting for, but the party whips have been cracking—not only the whips, but tho economic lash." Mr. Langstone said that the Government lacked courage. ■ The Minister of Kailways again rose to a point of order, and the remark was ordered to be withdrawn. . Mr. Langstone: "I withdraw. It is not necessary to say it, as all the evidence is there." Ho said that the Government was being'influenced by the financiers, whoso interests were detrimental to those of the workers. TEST OF SYMPATHY. Mr. C. H. Chapman (Labour, Wellington North) said that if tho Government had real sympathy for tho workers it would not impose the cut if the cost of living did not fall. Mr. E. M'Keen (Labour, Wellington South) said that the usual rent a'working man in Wellington had paid was from 35s to £2 per week, and one could imagine how much he had left to provide for his family on the basic wage of £4 0s 8d per week. What guarantee had tho Prime Minister, that the cost of living would come down? What influence did he have with the merchants and traders? The Christchurch drapers had stated that the Government's policy would not affect the price of their goods. The solution of the problem was the expansion of consumption, and that could be done only by increasing the purchasing power of the workers. '.'■■' Mr. Carr said that the Minister of Labour had stated that the Civil Servants were more secure than he (Mr. Carr) was secure in his seat. The speaker theu quoted a statement by the Minister of Public Works that there might have to be further retrenchments, and added that at the last election ho had received a majority of 467, whereas the Minister's majority had been 106, .'•■-. ' Mr. C. A. Wilkinson: "It was over iooo." ■■ . " ■■; .. Mr. Carr:. "I am giving the'abso-J lute. :m:ijovily. lie (•erta'inly h-id hvq moil' i'jpiuist li'im. I Will s;iy this: 1

■will bo in this House longer than the ! honourable member is a Minister of: the Crown. The Minister has lived in New Plymouth all his life, and I was only a stranger to Timaru. I had a real Minister of the Crown opposed to me." . Tho amendment was lost by 41 votes to 30, the division list being as follows: — '■■.■'■■' ■ , For the amendment (30): Armstrong, Barnard, Black, Can-, Chapman, Fletcher, Fraser, Harris,.Hogan,,H. E? Holland, Howard, Jordan, Langstone, H'Combs, M'Keeji, Martin, Mason, Massoy, Munro, W. Nash, O'Brien, Parry, Bus.hvrorth, Savage, Semplo, Sullivan, Sykes, Wilkinson, Wright, Young. Against the amendment (41): Ansell, Atmore, Bitehcnor, Broadi'oot, Burnett, Campbell, Glinkard, Coatos, Cobbc, do la Perrello, Donald, Endoan, Field, Forbes, Hull, Hamilton, Hawke, Healy, H. Holland, .Tones, Jull, Linklater, Lye, M'Donald, M'Dougall, Macmillan, Macpherson, Makitanara, Munns, Murdoch, Ngata, Poison, Bausom, Smith, Stallworthy, Tavorneiy To Tomo, Veitch, Waite, Ward, Williams. Mr. Parry then moved that all salaries 0f.£200 and under bo exempted. He said that the wage reductions would only, moan that unemployment would increase. PRIME MINISTER BLOCKED. After he resumed his seat the Chairman of Committees put the question, and there was the usual challenge from the Labour benches. Tho Prime Minister, than roso and was about to give the particulars of the number of married men on £200 when the Leader of the Labour Party rose to a point of order. "The motion has been put," said Mr. Holland. The Chairman: "I called on the Prime Minister first.'' Mr. Holland: "You stated that the 'noes' have it.". Mr. Forbes: "If you want to take advantage of the position, I won't make tho statement." ' A Ecform member: "They don't want it." Tho amendment was lost by 41 votes to 30. A similar amendment was then moved by Mr. W. Nash in an attempt to limit the reduction to wages above £190. The Prime Minister then 'rose. "When the gag was applied on mo by the Leader of tho Labour Party," he began, "I was about to —." Mr, Holland: "A point of order. Tho Prime Minister alleges that I prevented him from speaking. 1 submit that when tho Prime Minister roso to speak, you, Mr. Chairman, had put the question. You had definitely stated that the 'noes' had it, and when tho Prime Minister sat down it was you who sat him down. I submit that the Prime Minister is now reflecting on the Chair." THE MEN AFFECTED. Mr. Forbes: "As I was saying, when the gag was applied I was going to make a statement as to tho number of inon'affected hy the amendment." Ho quoted figures supplied by tho Public Service Commissioner showing that the number of Civil servants, with a few exceptions, who were onthc £200 mark and below, did not include any married moil. Thero was no question, he said, that a single man getting £190 a year was in a.far better position than' a married man who was on the £209 a year mark. "If I could not dp better than the Primo Minister is doing," remarked Mr. Armstrong, "I would drop the Primo Minister's job quick and lively and hand it over to somebody who could do it properly." Mr. Forbes had been lauded to the skies as a big man and a strong man, a fitting successor to Seddon and the old Liberals; but Mr. Armstrong said he was a sorry looking representative of that party. Mr. Fraser: "la the honourable gentleman trying to amend tho Prime Minister?" Mr. Armstrong: "No, he is beyond that." Mr. E. J. Howard (Labour, Christchurch South) said that if tho amendment was lost the effect would bo that the- Arbitration Court would have grounds for reducing wages ■ below £190. "IRRESPONSIBLE MINISTERS." Mr. Langstono said" that balderdash had been thrown across tho floor of the House by irresponsible Ministers. The Chairman: "Order! Order!" Mr. Langstone: "I will withdraw 'balderdash' and substitute 'crude illogical statements.' " Ho said that if tho honourable member for Mutaura (Mr. M'Dougall) had made the statement the Prime Minister had made they would leave it at that, but it was amazing when such remarks came from the leader of tho Government.. Mr. Fletcher said that ho -wanted to know how a man on £190 could keep a wife and family. If .a man had a State Advances loan he had to pay from 25s to 30s a week in interest and principle. Tho cost of living woiU<t have to drop not 10 per cent, but at least 16 per cent., and as much as 25 per cent, in order that tho disparity might be made u[\ Mr. Fletcher said that he did not agree with tho cuts and considered that the money could be found in other directions. To-day New Zealand was paying £200,000 per annum to America in excess profits for petrol. Mr. .J. Linklater (Reform, Manawatu): "How could you get it cheaper?" . Mr. Fletcher said that it cost the same to ship petrol to England as it did to New Zealand, and yet the oil companies were making 7-Jd more profit in New Zealand than they were in England. ■ The Minister of Industries and Commerce (the Hon. P. A. de la Perrellc): "I1 will have that inquired into at once." Mr. Fletcher said that the Government could give a guarantee to one company to distribute all the petrol in tho Dominion at a profit of 6 per cent., and any excess profits over that percentage could be divided on a 50-50 basis. FALLING PRICES. Mr. D. M'Dougall (United, Mataura) said that the Prime Minister need give no guarantee that the cost of living would come down, because it had already dropped. He had investigated the position in Wellington, and had learnt that mutton had dropped 35 per cent, and groceries from 10 to 14 per cent. Butter was now only Is Id per pound and eggs only Is 2d per dozen, and ho mentioned other commodities which had fallen, including sugar, which was lower than ever^he had known it. If a housewife found the price of bread too dear, she could bake her own, and make a big saving. (Proceeding)

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Bibliographic details

MORE HEAT, Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 76, 31 March 1931

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MORE HEAT Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 76, 31 March 1931

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