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OBITUARY

MR. J. M CCOMBS, MJ.P.

PROMINENT IN LABOUR PARTY

(By Telegraph.—Press Association.) CHBISTCHUKCII, This Day. Tho death has occurred of Mr. James McCombs, M.P. for Lyttelton. Ho had been suffering from a heart attack during the past week and was undor medical attention, but his death was unexpected, as yesterday his health appeared to bo generally satisfactory. Mr. McCombs leaves a widow, Mrs. Elizabeth McCombs, a membor of the Christchurch City Council, a daughtor, Miss Patricia McCombs, and a son, Mr. T. McCombs, who is on the staff of Canterbury College. Mr. MeCombs became unwell last woek and had a slight stroke on Satuvday, from which he rallied and appeared to be recovering. His* condition yesterday was causing no concern, but he died from heart failure in bed early this morning. The funoral will probably take place on Friday. Expressive tributes havo boon paid bj many public men and former colleagues. Tho Lyttelton Harbour Board carried a motion of sympathy, several of the members remarking that Mr. McCombs's death meant a national loss. Mr. E. J. 'Howard, M.P., said that Mr. McCombs was a likeable and lovable man, and it was remarkable that ho was so often misunderstood.

News of tho death of Mr. McCombs will be received with general regret, for apart from his long association with politics he played a prominent part in other walks of life. Mr. McCombs was born in County Leitrim, Ireland, in 1873, and he arrived in New Zealand with his parents at the age of three years. He received his early education at the Sydenham and East Christchurch Schools, and later studied for the Anglican Ministry. A wide (•fading in philosophy and sociology, "however, turned his attention to phi! anthropic and political work. Al.ways radical in his outlook, Mr. McCombs joined tlio old Progressive Liberal Association, of which Mr. H. G. EII was president. His first, experience of a political, contest came wheti he was secretary of Mr. Ell's election committee, but later on Mr. McCombs was destined to be t connected person ally with many stern fights in the political arena. He first stood for Parliament in 1908, when he unsuccessfully contested the Christchurch Bast sear, and ho was again unsuccessful in 1911, when he endeavoured to win the Avon scat. Just prior to the war ho experi onced something of a change in political- faith and joined up with the Social Democratic Party. In 1913, as a Social Democrat, he entered Parliament as member for Lyttelton, and he retained the seat in the Labour inter ests up to the time of his death. In recent years Mr. McCombs had found it to be anything but an easy task to retain his seat, and in 1925 he was actually defeated 'by Mr. M. B. Lyons, on the casting vote of the returning officer. Subsequently, however, he was declared elected by the Electoral Court. In 1928 ho secured a comfortable victory in a three-cornered fight, but vn 1931 he had only 32 votes to spare over the Coalition candidate (Mr. F. W. Freeman), the voting being: McCombs (Lab.), 5404; Freeman (Coalition), 5372; Page (Ind.), 83. During the whole of hia term in Par liament Mr. McCombs played a lead-; ing part in the activities of the Labour Party, and it was to him that tho party largely \looked for a lead in financial matters. Although in recent years he had not been one of the most frequent, speakers from the Labour benehos, he was regarded as one of the most force ful, and his contributions to debates were always logical and well-reasoned He seldom spoke to empty benches, for the-fact that "McCombs was up" in variably brought, members from the lobbies. He was an uncompromising critic of the Government, and in latter years was one of the most vigorous op poncnts of a deflationary policy. He was one of the strongest opponents of wage reductions. Not only did ho fight them on the'floor of the House, but he took a leading part in opposing the employers' application for reductions in the Arbitration Court. He was a master of the Standing Orders of t.hn Houso of Representatives, and on one occasion was nominated by the Labour Party for tho position of Speaker._ Always an ardent / Prohibitionist, Miv McCombs was not content to play a passive part in the fight for the abolition of the liquor traffic in New Zealand. For somo years ho was president of tho Canterbury No-licence Counf.il, and on two occasions he organised the election campaign for the council. Ho also took a prominent part in the work of tho New Zealand Alliance. He strongly opposed the postponement of tho licensing referendum. In local body government, also, Mrs MeCombs played an . important part, and at the time of his death .ne was chairman of the finance committee of the Christchurch City Council. He was first elected to the City Council in 1913 and remained a member until 1917.: He was returned again in 1931 and retained his seat at the last municipal elections this year. Mr. McCombs was an ardent advocate of the system of proportional representation. Mr. McCombs was for some years employed in the drapery trade, and held tho position of president of the Canterbury Drapers' Assistants' Utaion. The flags at Parliament House and Government Buildings are being flown at half-mast today as a mark of respect to the late Mr. MeCombs. The Acting Prime Minister (tho Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates) this morning forwarded a telegram of condolence to Mrs. McCombs. .

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19330802.2.135

Bibliographic details

OBITUARY, Evening Post, Volume CXVI, Issue 28, 2 August 1933

Word Count
924

OBITUARY Evening Post, Volume CXVI, Issue 28, 2 August 1933

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