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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 7950, 4 July 1889
.» [From Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, Jdly 3. Wrongfully Convicted. In asking the Minister of Justice whether his attention had been drawn to the case of Thomas Medder, improperly convicted and sentenced at Dunedin on a charge of stealing a watch at Dunedin, Mr Fish said that Medder had been convicted and sentenced to nine months' After he had served eight months of his sentence, another man admitted that he had put " a dog" on Medder. Through the efforts of Rev. Mr Yorke, of St. Matthew's, the prisoner was released; but he had been since unable to find any work. He (Mr Fish) suggested that a sum of L 25 should be paid as compassionate allowance to the
man's family, as compensation by the State.—The Minister of Justice replied that the facts were not as stated. Medder was convicted of stealing a watch in July, 1888, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. In November of the same year it was reported to the Government that one of tho witnesses in the case had admitted having stolen the watch and subsequently handed it over to Medder. The latter was then released, having served seven months. A good case had been made out to warrant the man's arrest. He had not been a reputable character. The Government were considering whether they could grant a small sum of money to his wife.—Mr Fish suggested that if any compassionate allowance could be granted it should be given to the Rev. Mr Yorke. Justices' Justice. A matter dealing with the administration of justice in Dunedin was ako brought before the House by Mr Fish this afternoon. He stated that two young girls named Conway and Norris were convicted at Dunedin on Friday, 21st ult., of behaving in a riotous manner in Stuart street. One of them had been previously convicted of using bad language on two occasions. The other girl, however, had not been before tho Court'- before. The evidence showed that it was a very trivial offtnee of its kind; but the Magistrate who presided (Mr D. Wishart) had been newly appointed to the position, and had not occupied a seat on the bench more than six or seven times. He gave these " unfortunates " the full penalty provided by the Act, and sentenced them incontinently to three months' imprisonment, without the option of a fine. Had
he (Mr Fish) or any other Justice of experience presided, they would not have dealt in so harsh a manner with these two girls, but would have found that a fine of 40s, or a week's imprisonment, would have been ample. Although women belonged to tho class known as " unfortunate," that was no reason why they should be unduly or severely dealt with. The case was clearly one that called for th«i interposition of the Minister of Justice, and he hoped to see a remission of the sentence granted. He felt convinced that the Justice had not erred with intent, but owing to his inexperience as to what ought to be a fair sentence for such an offence. Tho Minister of Justice said that ho felt great delicacy in interfering with the administration of justice in our Courts, and that only in exceptional circumstances should ho interfere. All that ho knew at present was that these girls, having behaved in a riotou3 manner in a public place, wero sentenced to three mouths' iniprisonmeut; but he was obtaining a report on the ease.— Mr Fish said that to show that the polico did not regard it as a serious offence they had not arrested the accused, but had simply summoned them a couple of days after.
Miner*' Grievances. The Premier, in answer to Mr Scobie Mackenzie, informed the House that the Government had received copies of tho resolutions passed at Clyde on April 18 by the delegates of the various miners' associations of Central Otago, and had given the matter some attention, but it raised a very big question. The matter was still under the consideration of the Government, but whether he would be able to do anything in the matter this session he was not quite certain. Contractors' Deposits. Contractors in various parts of the colony have repeatedly had reason to complain of the unreasonably long time that deposits for Government tenders are retained, owing to their being sent to Wellington and being delayed by red-tapeism. With a view to altering this state of things, Mr Goldie is to ask tho Minister of Works whether he will
give instructions to the various local agents receiving tenders for works in the various provincial districts to open the samo and only retain the deposits of the two lowest tenderers, returning tho deposits of the others at once, instead of sending the whole to Wellington as is at present done, thus preventing men of small means from competing for other works where a deposit is required. Jotting*.
Tho Defenco Minister denies that there was any irregular volunteer demonstration on the occasion of his recent visit to Queenstown, as was reported. He says that no parade took place, and therefore no feu de joie was fired, though he did hear the firing of some guns on tho beach as tho steamer was approaching the Queenstown wharf. The Premier Makes an Amende. For using an unparliamentary term respecting the member for Waitotara, the Premier was called on to tender an apology this afternoon. The matter under discussion was a memo, by Major-general Stewart, which had been shown to Mr Hutchison while he was on a visit to England during the recess, and the contents of which he had disclosed to the House on the previous evening. Referring to his action in so doing, Sir H. Atkinson had said that if the hon. gentlemen again went to London he would not be likely to get such information as he had disclosed ; and added that no honorable gentleman would act as he (Mr Hutchison) had done. There were immediate cries of dissent, and demands from the Opposition Benches for an apology, and the Speaker at on.ee ruled that the language was unparliamentary, and demanded its withdrawal.—The Premier replied that ho would make a moat ample and unreserved apology to the Hosse and to Mr Hutchison. That hon. gentleman's conduct, however, showed that he could not be trusted in public offices. He had no right to use a public document of which he had obtained possession to damage the colony.—Mr Turnbull denied that there was anything dishonorable ii Mr Hutchison's action, while Mr Scddon deprecated tho personal tone that the discussion had taken, and resented the Premier's romarks. Ministerial House Allowance.
In a debate on the Estimates the tone of tho Houso was clearly expressed as to tho unwisdom of allowing Ministers residing out of Wellington to draw house allowance. The discussion had been promoted by Sir George Grey, who objected to the Attorney-General living in Auckland during the recess, and the principle he advocated found very general support. The member for Auckland Central then gave notice to move—" That in the opinion of this House it is not desirable that house allowance should be paid to any Minister who does not reside at the seat of Government." This resolution come on tonight, but provoked little discussion. The Premier defended the aotion of the Government, but the Leader of the Opposition warmly replied, and the motion was carried on the voices. The Cabinet will now prepare a Bill to amend the Civil List Act, so as to comply with the terms of the motion.
POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 7950, 4 July 1889
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