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THE OPINIONS OF THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, The Hon, the Minister for Defence, in a conversation with a representative of the ‘Lyttelton Times,’ gave some information in relation to defence matters which will, doubtless, be of interest to volunteers, as well as the public generally. INCREASE OF THE CAPITATION. In reference to the question of capitation, Mr Fergus had something to say which goes to show that an increase may be looked for if the improved prosperity of the country warrants it. “ With the improved position of the country,” said he, “there will, no doubt, be an improvement in the capitation. It was with great reluctance that I was compelled to ask for only a thirty-shilling capitation lush year. Had it not been for the fact that I knew it was impossible to hope for more, I would not have done so.” IMPROVEMENT IN ARMAMENT. “ The Government do not intend to arm the volunteers with Martini-Henry rifles,” said Mr Fergus, “ for they are now practically obsolete weapons. General Stewart is acting as our adviser at Home in regard to the question, and in accordance with his opinion we will wait for the improved weapons which are to be issued to tho British Army. The Snider is not at all a bad weapon, and will do for us till we can get tho new arms. We shall have good ammunition for it, as Captain Whitney’s factory is now turning out cartridges which all who have tried them pronounce first-class.” THE PERMANENT FORCE. “ Wc wish to encourage the volunteers in every way that our means will allow, for on the efficiency of the volunteers depends the whole of our defence system. The Permament Force I look upon as a recruiting ground for the police and prison warders, and that force is to be recruited exclusively from efficient volunteers. Tho men who pass through it will form a reserve, accustomed to the restraints of discipline and trained to manage artillery, which we could call out for active service in case of need. During tho past two years we have taken no fewer than forty men out of the Pcrmaneht Force for the police and prison services, and a finer lot of men vve could not have got anywhere.” FORT TAKAPCNA. The Minister gave an emphatic denial to the statements which have been circulated anent the unhealthinesa and discomfort of Fort Takapuna, at Auckland. “No man stationed there,” said he, “has complained, and I have no idea where the complaints came from. No official complaint has been made in any shape or form. An officer of the Naval Squadron who recently visited the fort paid it a high compliment, and said ‘ you do consider the comfort of your men well.’ There are no barracks in the colonies which compare with these. The barracks there arc as safe as can bo from hostile fire, and they arc as wholesome as possible. There never was a case of illness of any sort taken from them. Altogether there arc no grounds for complaint about them.”

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DEFENCE MATTERS., Issue 7922, 1 June 1889

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DEFENCE MATTERS. Issue 7922, 1 June 1889

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