[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.]
WELLINGTON, Juse 26, The Opposition.
There neems to be altogether a want nf cohesion on the part of the opponents of the Government, and so far no leader of the party has been appointed, nor is there any talk of any move on their part; while in the place of having two whips, as is the usual custom, they are content to leave their whipping in the hands of Dr Fitchett. Reduction of Members. It is feared that the question of the " quota " will be made a catspaw of by some members to enable a reversal of the decision of the House re the reduction of members to be arrived at. At the meeting of town members Mr Fish said that the "quota" question presented a good opportunity of upsetting the reduction of members. He had voted against the reduction at first and then pledged himself not to disturb it, but if the quota in favor of country members were increased ho considered that he would be justified in breaking that pledge, and in so doing would be acting to the perfect satisfaction of his constituents. Mr Barron thereupon jumped up and said that if any attempt were to be made to upset the reduction of members he would leave the room. North Trunk Railway. On Hit that the proposals of the Government with respect to the North of Auckland
Trunk Railway, and the utilisation of the Puhipuhi Forest (near Whangarei), which will be disclosed in the Public Works Statement, will be on a very liberal scale, and will prove as satisfactory to the Aucklanders as the Otago Central proposals appear to be to the Southern members. A Batch of Bills. Several new Bills have been introduced into the Legislative Connoil by the AttorneyGeneral. The Marriage Act Amendment Bill entitles the Registrar-General in certain cases to supplement the official records of marriages from evidence in the possession of private persons. The measure is being introduced to legalise marriages contracted in Collingwood (Nelson) some years ago by the late Rev. Mr Gaskin, and since whose death no marriage register-book has been found. The Post Office Bill gives power to issue post cards for transmission to foreign countries in place of postal notes, being made payable only at the post offices which are also money-order offices. Regulations may be made by the Governor-in-Council authorising the payment of postal notes at
any post office. The Otago Marriages Bill merely legalises some marriages contracted in Oamaru by the Rev. Dr Macgregor before he was duly registered as an officiating minister. I have already placed before your readers the main provisions of the Bill to amend the law of libel. Fair and accurate reports of proceedings in tho Law Courts and of local bodies, commissioners, etc., are to be privileged, and a defendant may plead iu mitigation of damages that the plaintiff has already been indemnified in respect to the same libel. Two or more defendants in different causes for the same libel may apply to have the cases amalgamated, and in many respects the law is assimilated to that now in force in England. Where the libel is of a trivial character, and the defendant consents to be tried summarily, the Court may convict him and fine him not more than LSO; but there is no provision, as it was hoped there would be, requiring a plaintiff in civil cases to lodge security as to costs, with a view to preventing vexatious actions being instituted. A Bill to protect the wages of mechanics and others, on the lines of the mechanics lien laws of America, has been drafted by the Government, and tho Premier has informed Dr Fitchett that ho hopes to introduce it this session. The Sweating System.
The Premier stated this afternoon that a commission would have to be appointed to inquire into the sweating system, and the Government would be willing to to extend the ecope of its inquiry, aa suggested by Mr W. P. Reeves, so aB to include the working of tho Factory Ants, and the necessity or otherwise of granting further protection to females or youug persons employed in factories. They thought, however, that Mr Taylor's proposal to iix the minimum of wages in factories at six shillings per week was impossible, and they were not prepared to legislate in the direction suggested. Some amusement was subsequently caused by Mr Taylor moving for a Koyal Commission to inquire into the sweating system and declining to withdraw tho resolution when asked to do so by the Government, seeing that they had already given a pledge. Tho bell was rung for a division, and the motion was carried on the voices. An Interesting Return. Mr Barron lias given notice that he will move for what promises to be a very ÜBeful and suggestive, as well as an inexpensive, return. During last session the Controller and Auditor-General laid before Parliament a statement of accounts, from which could be gathered, what waH already well-known, viz., that large amounts of loan money had year by year been expended to enable the colony to pay its way. Mr Barron's return has for its object the comparison of one year with another in this'respect so as to show in each year when and how far we are perpetuating or receding from this pernicious system of finance.
New Plymouth Harbor Board. It b promised that tho action of the Government in making an advance to the New Plymouth Harbor Board will form the subject of some strong comment before the session closes, A warning note was sounded thiß afternoon, when The Treasurer, in answer to Mr Hutchison, said that in October a full year's rates were advanced to the Board, amounting to L 690, which had since been repaid by the stoppage of rates. In April last L 2,200 was advanced against the accruing land fund and rates of the year, which were estimated to produce nearly L 4.000. The amount now paid of the loan was LG6I. The rates were not yet quite due, but when they were another L 650 would be paid off, and he had no doubt that the whole debt would be paid off by September. It was a very common thing for the Government to advance money in anticipation of revenue to local bodies who were in difficulties. He intended to ask the two Chambers to appoint a Joint Committee to inquire into the position of all the Harbor Boards of the colony and report as to what shall be done in the matter. The question was a very serious one—far too much so to allow it to pass over without giving a full opportunity to determine what action shall be taken.
Mr Bruce thought that there was a very important issue involved; and asked whether an opportunity would be given to the House to discuss the matter and express its opinion as to the action of the Government. He disclaimed any idea of hostility to the New Flymouth Harbor Board, with which he was credited last year.
The Premier said that the House would have a full opportunity of doing so on the motion for the appointment of the Committee, but he thought it would be better to wait till the Committee's report was received.
In answer to Mr Hutchison, the Premier said there was no doubt as to the power of the Government to stop money. He had taken the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown before making any advance.
Gasparlnl's Escape. In moving for the production of all correspondence which had passed between the late Governor (Sir W. Jervois), the late Vice-Consul for France (Count Jouffray d'Abbans), and himself relating to the escape of Gasparini, Mr Fisher said that this celebrated correspondence embodied a very serious charge against a Minister of the Crown, who happened also to be consular agent for Italy. It could not longer be regarded as secret correspondence, because after the French Consul in New Zealand had reported the matter to the Consul-General in Sydney his version of the affair was telegraphed to this colony and published in every newspaper in it. He (Mr Fisher) complained that misrepresentations of his own acts had been most deliberately made, and some newspapers had gone the length of saying that he not only aided and abetted the convict's escape, but that he shook bands with the man on the wharf, and even provided him
with funds to secure hie escape. The papers for which ho now asked contained not only this serious charge against him, but also his complete vindication of his actions. The Government offering no objection, the motion was agreed to. The Estimates. There being no private members' business ou the Order Paper, the Premier suggested consideration of the Estimates should be begun, promising that if that course were adopted to hold over any items that might be objected to. The House silently concurred in the suggestion, but no sooner had the Chairman of Committee e taken the Speaker's place than it became evident to several hon. members that a mine bad been sprung on them. Among the objectorß were Messrs Soobie Mackenzie, Dr Fitchett, and John M'Kenzie, who entered their emphatic protests against the Estimates being brought up for consideration within a few hours of their presentation. On the other hand, Mr Fish and Mr Kerr approved of the action of the Government in bringing down their Estimates in the first week of the session, and hinted that some members evidently desired a holiday in preference to discharging their Parliamentary duties. Mr Monk showed that he was again going to adopt the j rule of the skinflint economists by condemn- j ing in strong terms the proposed increases | to country postmasters, etc., and expressing his objection to the increase of j single penny in any salary. On the first item in the Legislative Council vote (L 1,550) being called on, objection was taken to the want of details previously given in connection with this vote. The Premier explained that be had been in communication with the Speaker of the Legislative Council, who was of; opinion that each Chamber should be allowed to distribute its own votes. That
was a very fair desire, and he had endeavored to give effect to it by asking for the vote in globo. It theu passed as printed. Exception was taken to the house allowance of L 2.00 to the AttorneyGeneral on the ground that he resides in Auckland during the recess, but after considerable discussion the item was passed as printed. The following votes were also assented to as printed:—House of Representatives, L 4.087; General Assembly, L 8.693; salaries in Colonial Secretary's office, L 2.095; Ministers'secretaries, L 750; messengers and office-keepers, L 4,021; Electoral Department, L9OO. On the item Audit Office being readied, progress was reported, and leave given to again go into Committee-of-Supply on the following day. The Ross Creek Reservoir. Mr Ross asks the Minister of Works to-morrow whether he is aware of the feeling of alarm which exists in the minds of the inhabitants of Woodhaugh and Leith Valley, in consequence of the alleged insecurity of the embankment of the reservoir from which the northern water supply of the City of Dunedin is obtained, and whether he will instruct the Resident Engineer to inspect and report without delay as to whether the leak in the embankment is dangerous or otherwise. Married Women as Publicans.
Mr Fitzherbert is inquiring whether the Government intend introducing a Bill this session to amend the Licensing Act in the direction of allowing married women to hold publican's licenses.
The Hallway Board.
Mr Fitzherbert is also moving for the production of all the correspondence which has passed between the Government and the Agent-General relative to the appointment of the Chief Railway Commissioner for New Zealand. Jotting's. Sir J. Hall and Mr W. P. Reeves are prevented from attending the House through indisposition. An effort is certain to be made this session to repeal the Act providing for the reduction of members.
Some members feel very sore at the "no tick " decision come to by the House Committee, and threaten to move for the abolition of Bellamy's. The capitation to the volunteers lias been restored to 40s.
The country members feel sanguine that they will succeed in carrying thoir measure for increased representation over the cities and suburbs.
The Colonial Secretary gave a very clear exposition of the scope of Hospitals and Charitable Aid Bill, and was warmly applauded on resuming his seat. Mr Taylor considers the speech made at the sweating meeting in Dunedin by the Rev. Rutherford Waddell the moßt humaterian one that has come under his notice.
Major Steward wants to know whether it is intended to introduce a Fair Rents Bill this session. Juue 27. ])r Fitchett intepds inquiring into the intentions of the Government respecting the creation of a police superannuation fund. Leave of absence for one week has been granted to Mr W. P. Reeves, who is confined to the house with low fever. Colonel Fraser wants to know whether the Government intend taking steps with a view to abolishing or limiting the use of the totalisator.
Captain Hornes's resignation was accepted this afternoon with regret. On the motion of the Premier it was unanimously resolved that Mr Speaker be requested to acquaint Captain Home that members of this House entertain a just sense of the exemplary manner in which he has uniformly discharged the duties of the office of Sergeant-at-arms, and has devoted himself to the service of the House during the last nine years." Congratulatory references were also made by Sir G. Grey, and by the Hon. E. Richardson on behalf of the Opposition,
Sessional Committees. The following further appointments as Chairmen of Sessional' Committees have been made: Local" Bills, Mr Downie Stewart; Petitions' Classification, Mr Izard; Public Petitions, A to L, Mr Seymour, M to Z, Mr T. Thompson ; Native, Mr Kelly.
The new departure made by the Government in bringing on the Estimates for consideration before the financial debate is regarded as a further indication of their desire to make the session as brief as possible. During the last few days members have been pouring in from all parts of the colony, and there will doubtless be a full House at the end of the week. The present absentees are Messrs Beetham, J. C. Brown, Larnach, Mills, Peaoock, and Stewart. A Vacancy. The habitues of the House during session time will shortly miss the genial figure of the portly Sergeant-at-Arms, who has accepted a lucrative appointment under the New South Wales Government as gaoler at Trial Bay, about 100 miles to the north of Sydney. Captain Home leaves on Saturday by the Ringa'rooma. His present salary is L3OO a year, and he is to receive L 450, house, and allowance. T|ie same appointment was offered to Cnptain Home Bix years ago. Pnt Oft. Owing to pressure of business, the Premier has notified both town and country members that he will be unable to receive deputations re the " quota " for a few days. Sir G. Grey's Little Bills.
Sir George Grey gave notice to-day of his usual batch of private Bills. These are : Wine Growers' Distillation Act, Law Practitioners Bill, Repeal of Contagious Diseases Act, and Special Settlers' Belief Act, the latter designed to amend the conditions on which the Crown lands are held by special settlers.
Roformlng the Lords. The Legislative Council Bill provides that members of the Council in future shall be appointed by ballot, open to members of the House only, and that the term of their election shall be for seven years. Present Councillors hold their seuts till death or resignation.
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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Evening Star, Issue 7944, 27 June 1889
POLITICAL GOSSIP. Evening Star, Issue 7944, 27 June 1889
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