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POLITICAL GOSSIP.

[Feou Oob Paella iientaby Ekpobteb.l WELLINGTON, Jolt 16. 'lire Representation BUI, The proceedings which took place in the House this evening after the motion for the second reading of this measure sufficed to show that a long and bitter struggle over the town and country difficulty is certain to follow. In moving the second reading of the Bill, The Colonial Secretary said it fixed the quota at 25 per cent,, instead of 18 per cent, as at present, and provided for the amalgamation of city electorates. The population of the principal cities and their immediate suburbs Irora which the reduction was to bo mads would bo —Auckland, 41,508; Wellington, 26,700; Christchurch, 34,112; Dunedin, 44 223, He asked the count y members to accjpt the allowance of 25 per cent, as a fair settlement of their demands, for to give more would be unfair to the rest of the colony, Mr Moss described the Bill as one of the most tortuous and cunning measures ever introduced, and pointed out that subtracting 25 par cent, from the towns really amounted to increasing the country representation by 33J per cent.

The Colonial Secretary gave this assertion a prompt denial, but later in the evening be said that be had made a calculation and found that what the member for Parnell had said was co; root.

Mr Taylor, Dr Hodgkinson, Messrs Taiwhsnga, E. H. Reeves, Verrall, and Fish spoke; the last-named dealing with the Bill at considerable length, and intimating that while not anxious to be factious in opposing the second reading, he would do everything he could to oppose its passage through committee. At this stage Mr Allen moved the adjournment of the debate till to-morrow, which the Government supported, and in spite of the strenuous opposition on the part of Mr Seddon and other country members the adjournment was carried by 56 to 22. This Representation Bill, seemingly innocently drawn, and without bearing on tho face of it any pretentious to mystery, has veritably proved a fifteen gem puzzle to lion, members, nuny of whom describe it as one of the cleverest pieces of legerdemain Sir Hany Atkinson ever bad a band io. He manipulated the figures beautifully, and for a short time completely “bluffed ” the towt party. It had been int-mated that the city members were willing to accept an increase of the quota from 18 per cent, to 25 per cent, as a compromise, but the country party replied: "No, we will take nothing less than 33J per cent”—that is to say, they wanted ICO to towns 13% while the town members were willing to concede 100 to 125. The country members’ proposals gave them one-fourth advantage over the towns, while the town members’ proposals reduced the allowance one-fifth. Your readers will understand my meaning when they divide, and find that 33J ia one-fourth of 13% and that 25 is one fifth of 125.

When the Government this afternoon brought it own their measure, deducting 23 per cent, from the towns, the town members at the first blush thought that they had carried their point, but Mr W, P. Reeves soon unravelled the skein and unmasked the cleverness of the Government proposal, which was virtually conceding the country demands, while apparently meeting the concession agreed to by the towns. Ho showed (and Ministers afterwards admitted it as correct) that taking 25 per cent, from the towns was really equivalent to adding 33J per cent, for the benefit of the country districts. This can clearly be seen when it is explained that by taking ?5 per cent, from the towns there is still a fourth advantage given to the country districts, and this is what the country party have all along been fighting for. The Otago Central. The supporters of the Otago Central Railway Bill will do well to learn from the opposition that was shown to tho measure this afternoon that they have a giant’s task before them in piloting the Bill through, The discussion arose apropos of a question asked by Mr Smith whether the Government would provide for the construction of the Woodville-Eketahuna line in the same way as the Central, The Premier replied emphatically in tho negative, as tho two lines weio not in any respect similarly situated. Ur Kewraan moved the adjournment of the House iu order to discuss the matter. Then ensued a vigorous onslaught upon the Government proposals relative to the Central lino, in which its most conspicuous assai-ants were Messrs Seddon, Smith, and Goldie. The member for Kumara declared that Otago bore off the palm for works secured of late, probably because she was strongly represented in the Cabinet. As to the line itself, it would not for years pay for the grease for the wheels, and if the work were really required the Government should borrow the requisite money. The disousnon was of course devoid of result, but the pointed hostility of every member who Is log rolling for any railway partly constructed and not further provided for should pat our Southern representatives on the alert, The Dunctlin Exhibition. The Dunedin Exhibition Street Closing and Licensing Bill was reported, read a third time, and passed at the evening sitting. In its present form it will go through the Upper House without any difficulty. Public Work* Statement. After the representation debate had been adjourned last night the Premier announced that the Government did not propose to bring down the Public Works Statement until the representation question had been settled. As things are at present this may mean another month. Second Sendings. Tho Chattels Transfer and Fire and Marine Insurance Companies Bills (both Government measures) were read a second time last night and referred to committees. The Law of Libel. This measure, which has passed the Upper Chamber, was read a second time in the House last night. In the debate, Mr Downie Stewart raid the Bill contained some very objectionab’e innovations, which, he hoped, the House would not agree to. He especially oppo-red the sections which made the speakers of libellous words responsible for the libel when their utterances were published in newspapers. As to the security for costs, he thought that the Court should be limited to Ll5O. Resident magistrates should not be entrusted with the hearing of libel cases. Subject to these remarks, he approved of the Bill. The Hon. Mr Ballanco thought there were many desirable features in the Bill, but agreed that the clauses relating to published utterances would place publia speakers in an awkward position. Wild language was often indulged in by the members of local bodies, and whether they could be published with immunity was a matter for the Government to consider seriously. The responsibility of dealing with libel cases was toq great to be thrown upon the resident magistrates. He agreed that security for costs should be limited to LSO, Messrs Izard and T. M'Kenzie supported the Bill.

Mr Kerr thought that some protection should be given to persons who were lampooned in certain small papers. The Colonial Secretary briefly replied, and the second reading was agreed to. The Half-holiday Movement.

The Bill introduced to day by Mr Turnbull to amend the Employment of Females and Others Act, is intended to get over a difficulty which the Timiru people have got into. Their mayor and councillors have appointed Thursday as the public half-holiday under the Act of 1885; but this does not suit those employed in Pactoiies where steam power is used, and action has been taken against them for working their hands on tho half-holiday. Mr Turnbull’s Bill has been introduced for the purpose of allowirg the Borough Council, where one day does not suit, to appoint another. Neglected Children. An important variation cf the Charitable Aid Bill is beirg considered by the Government. It 's in regard to dealing with the maintenance of neglected but innocent children. Mr Tyke has been moving in the matter, with the object of having these inoffensive waifs separated from criminal youngsters. The Colonial Secretary informed the hon. gentleman that if their Bill passed, the Government hoped to amend it so as to give local bodies the guardianship of ncg’ectcd children, eo that there would be homes gradually created for tho purpose of receiving children who were not criminals. They thus hoped that separate institutions would be established to receive both classes of children. Strained Relations. The relations between the Premier and Dr Newmau have lately grown markedly in asperity, and matters were brought to a climax this afternoon through Sir Harry charging the member for Thorndon with making a speech to bis constituents in the House on the subject of the Eketehuna ■ Woodvillo Railway, The doctor bided bis time until an opportunity for replying came, and he then stated with a good deal of warmth that the Premier had on several recent occasions used towards him expressions which were on the verge of Parliamentary decency. He did not intend to put np with this any longer. If the Premier again attacked him he would bring np an hour’s list of performances the Premier had addressed to his constituency, and in tfbieh the hon. gentleman' hacj used his influence in Parliament for the benefit of his constituency. Having delivered himself of this threat, the doctor eat down with a defiant glance directed towards the Government benches. Jottings. Mr Fish says that economy was carried to a ridiculously mean and beggarly degree when the

honorarium and Ministerial salaries were re* duoed.

Ti e Mercer volunteer embroglio is to be discussed in the House, as Air Ward intends asking the Minister of Justice to lay on the table all the papers and reports connected with the scandal, together with a copy of the evidence taken at tie inquiry. Petitions praying for grants of land for military services still continue to come in.

Mr M‘Gregor is inquiring what steps the Government propose taking to supply rifls clubs with rifles, argeta, and ammunition at a iheap rate, as suggested by General £chaW. The Dunedin Exhibition Street Closing and Licensing Bill Laa passed its last stages in the Lower House,

Sir George Grey wants to know if Ministers are responsible for the letter written by the Governor to the Vice-Consul to France at Wellington which is published in the Parliamentary papers, relating to the Gasparini incident.

Mr Samuel wants to know if tho Agent - General has been appointed trustee for the Midland Kailway Company. Mr Valentine has tabled a question in the direction indicated yesterday with reference to a liver changing its coarse and the Government taking road lines without compensation when it does so.

Several of the city members were in evening dress in the House to-night, and Mr Seddon rays that the representation debate was adjourned in order to enable them to “do the light fantastic.”

The Premier informed Mr Verrall to-day that the Government do not intend to reduce the i duty on sugar. , The Premier says that he will be glad to give , facilities to discuss the subject of Imperial ( federation as suggested by Mr Hutchison, but that he cannot promise that there will be au opportunity. He is, however, afraid that the j question is not yet ripe for discussion by the , House. i Mr Taylor warns the Premier to beware of ; the country members lest they should turn and tend tho Government after the Representation . Bill is passed. s Local Government. ' Tho Premier will to-morrow move that the i following committee be appointed to inquire 9 into and ft port as to what form of local governr ment is best adapted to the requirements of • New Zealand:—Dr Hodgkinson, Mr Moss, t Hon. E. F, Richardson, Mr bed don, Mr Jones, 1 Mr Whyte, Mr Pyke, Mr Samuel, Mr J. > M'Kenzie, Mr Maearthur, and Mr Tanner; te i report iu three weeks. Old Soldiers’ Claims. The Defence Minister was strongly urged by , Mr Fraser this afternoon to appoint a commie- , sion to inquire into and finally dispose of old , soldiers’ and volunteers’ claims. In reply, the Minister said the Commission which was ap- , pointed last week had power to make all the , mquines the hon. gentleman asked for, but [ if it were necessary to enlarge the scope of ! their order of reference the Government uouli assent to that coarse being followed. Chinese Immigration. The anti-Chinese restriction proposition which i Mr beddon brought in last session is not to be neglected this year. The member for Kumara 1 has now tabled tho followed ques ion, which he 1 is to ask the Premier: tends this session to introduce a measure dealing with the restriction of Chinese immigration, seeing that the Act of last session wes only temporary, and expires at the end of this session? If the answer be in the affirmative, will the Premier indicate whether the measure introduced will be on the lines laid down by the Intercolonial Conference on the matter, and consistent with the legislation ef the Australasian colonies on the subject ? ” Audits of Local Bodies. It frequently happens that borough councils and other local bodies have reason to complain of the delay in having their accounts audited by the Audit Department. This matter now has the attention of Sir J. Hall, who intends to ask the Treasurer whether the Government pro* i pose to take steps during the present session to i remedy the great inconvenience to which several “ local governing bodies ere now exposid by i reason of the delay which takes place iu tho i audit of thoir accounts by the colonial Audit i Dep irtment. He also wants a return showing ; the several local bodies in the colony whoso i accounts are required to be so audited; also tho i dates on which the accounts were returned, and ; instances when the audit was completed to be i laid before tbo annual meeting of ratepayers, i A Bill on the subject of local government has 1 been drafted by Ministers, but it is not certain ; whether it will be introduced this session. Legislative Council Beform. ; The measure which the Government hare pro. 9 pared for the refer mof tho Upper Chamber wu [ under the consideration of the Lords themselves ) this afternoon. f The Attorney • General, in moving the second reading of the legislative Council ’ R< form Bill, mentioned that tho desirability of some reform of the Chamber had long been 1 urged, and that when a committee was appointed in 18S5, Sir G. Grey, Sir R. Stout, and the late Mr Macandrew pronounced decisively in favor of a single chamber. To that length he (the speaker) was not prepared to go, for in all the principal countries of the world with representative institutions a second chamber existed, and its existence had been dt emed as not only of essential importance, bat almost a necessity for the good government of the country. Having explained the functions of a legislative council, Sir Frederick said that one cf the main provisions of the present Bill was in the direct ion of limiting the number of members of the Legislative Council. That Chamber could never feel itself strong when its members were liable to he swamped at the will of the Government of the day, Without saying that there had been any tendency in former yoais to unduly increase the number of members of the Council, or without wishing to cast reflections on past Administrations, he painted out that in 1878-79 nine members were appointed; in the four following years sevm men hers were appointed; and in the next two years eleven members. v bile the Council only numbered forty-two members in 1876, in 1885 it had fifty*thrcc, though no increases had been made since. At the present time there was no check on tho appointment of members, and this was calculated to destroy tho utility of the Council. Several proposals had been considered by the Cabinet as to the form which the reform should take, and a decision bad been arrived at that the new members should only hold office for seven years, and that they should he elected by ba'lot by tho votes of the two Houses. Then the Speaker was to be appointed by the Council instead of being nominated by the Governor as at present; and in order that the business of the State should not be brought to a standstill, provision was made in eases of irreconcilable differences of opinion for a joint sitting of the two Chambers. The occasion for this was, however, not likely to arise, for the Council would never be able to withstand the

pressure of the House of Representatives, hacked up by the desires of the people at large. Thrn the 48th section of the Bill provided that the Premier might ssk that any person might temporarily be called to the Council for the purpose of representing the Government. That difficulty, however, was not likely to arise for doubtless the Ministry of the day would always be able to find a member then in the Council fit to represent and lead them in that Chamber. The time bad arrived when some reformation should take place, and unless the Oounoilattempted to reform themselves somebody else would do so for them, Tn conclusion, ha appealed to the thirty-two councillors present to allow the Bill to go into committee and see how far it concurred with the views of the majority of the Council, and not to give it the “happy despatch,” because the elective provision did not meet with their approval. Sir George Whitmore deni d that there was any real agitation in the country for a reform of the Legislative Council; on the contrary, newspaper after newspaper had commented on the good work done by it in the way of cheeking hasty and imperfect legislation. Unless the Attorney-General would consent to the Bill being referred to a select committee, instead of pressing it to a second reading, it would certainly be thrown out. He strongly opposed the proposal for a united Chamber when differences of opinion arose, as the Council would be outnumbered, and no fair representation to minorities would be given. He was also opposed to the election of members by ballot, and did not think that if tho nominative system of election were continued any abu c e of power by the Ministry of the day would be attempted, or that the Council would be swamped by an influx of new members. If the Attorney-General would only submit to advice, and wonld not be offended at being advhed by a member of the Council, then a measure for an alteration of the Chamber (he would not say for its reform) might be the outcome, The proposal for the election of Speaker by the Council had his entire sympathy. He hoped that the Attorney-General would not press him into moving that t|ie BUI be read a second time that day six months. It was a£ bad a measure as could well be conceived, and he had only abstained from moving that it get the “happy despatch ” in the hope that it wonld be remedied in committee. At this stage of the proceedings, on Mr Oliver’s motion, the debate was adjourned till the following day. The Railway Board. Voluminous correspondence between the Government and the Agent-General in reference to the appointment of ■ Chief Commissioner of Railways was laid before the House yesterday; 1 he first important despatch is one written by the Agent-General on tho 13th May, 1888, to the effect that he, Sir Edmund Watkin, and Mr Findlay (general manager of the London and North-Western Pail way (declined toraommend the appointment of any of thh applmairta for

he position, as none of them, in their opinion, possessed the necessary combination of qualities. It was qaite clear that a man of that kiud would not compete. The only way was to take tim e a nd endeavor to get such a r oan. Instructions were sent ba k by the Premier that such a man should bo sought. On 22nd of September the Premier cabled asking whether a suitable man could be found at L3.0C0. Sir F. D. Bell replied on the IGth cf October that there had been a firrtt rate mail who could not be persuaded to accept L 3.000. On 29th of October the AgentGeneral cabled that ho could no longer hope to fiud for L?,*. 00 a man who came up to his ideal. Thequestiuuwaawlwiber tho Government would be content with aiea-Iy capable manager, and Mr Findlay recommendett (sir iidmuud Vratkia being away in India) the appointment of Mr Kianois Reo (deputy manager of the London and North-Western Railway), who atoal next on the list for high promotion. Mr Kco, he said, practically governed a traffic exceeding two millions and a half tonnage annually, competing with other railways, canals, steamers, etc., besides having perhaps the heaviest live stock tiaffic iu England. He did not believe that the colony could get a b.-tter man for 13,001'. On the ISth of December Mr Kee’s application was withdrawn, with an explicit statement made on bis behalf that ho did so because Iris chance of promotion bad come, and net because of any delay in deciding on the part of the Government. Here ended all hope of getting a Comtniitioner at Home, and Ministers proc:eded to make an appointment within the colony. Suspecting our Forts. The Minister of Defenca informs me that Major general Edwards will commence his inspection of the New Zealand fortifications in Keptember, beginning at the Bluff. Killing the Colonial Leech. Amove is being made in the lobbies with a view of disfranchising the city of Wellington, with its suburbs, and when the Represents ion Bill is in committee sn amendment to that effect will probably be moved. The idea is to deprive Wellington, as the permanent hi me of Ministers, of her Parliamentary seats, and to distribute the spoil among the rest of the colony. The ‘New Zealand Times’ characterises the proposal as a monstrous one, and declines to believe that r aril uncut will perpetrate so shameful an injustice as to take from th-,> people of Wellington their political tights and privileges. Put Off. The expected debate cu the constitutional paints raised by Mr Soobis Mackenzie, in eonnection with the introduction of the Private Schools Bill, did not come off last night. The Government were prepared to waive their business in favor of the discussion, provided that the Speaker r- quested, as on the previous Friday, that it should be taken ; but Sir M. O’Korke did not think lit to do so, and the Premier decided not to give way for the resolution. In Great Danger. A dead set is being made against the Otago Central Railway Bill, and tho opposition to it is daily increasing. The passage of the measure is now doubtful ; indeed one whip assures me that the opponents of the Bill reckon on a majorßy cf five against the Government proposals. July 17. The Representation Debate is not likely to be resumed before Friday, but the question is being di.icuss.cd in the lobbies to the exclusion of all other topics. Meanwhile, the breach between the town members and the majority of the country members is widening, Tho latter now insist on 3,'4 per cent, being deducted from the city electorates instead cf 25 per cent, as provided by tho Government measure. This practically means an addition of CO per cent, to the country districts, and the city members are in a state cf revolt at the audacity of the propoeal. They say _ that the country representatives, beieg in a majority, are bantling themselves to revenge their loss of power iu 1877, when the StoutVogel Government reduced the nominal quota allowed to 18 per cent. Under the Bill as intro‘need yesterday, the four chio ? centres with their suburbs get ono member fur every 11,000 inhabitants, the root of thecolony getting a member for every 8 250. At a meeting of the town members with o few country members who are in sympathy with them on the representation question, just held, a committee was appointed, consisting of Messrs Moss, Izard, Perceval, and FUb, to writ on the Premier with a view to g.tting tho measure postponed for fuither con-i-leraticn. 'Xbe object of llis proposed deiay, though not didos- d, is reaßy to get the newspapers ia the largo towns to express their views ou the rapacity of the country members. Good News. I luar on excellent authority that the AgentGeneral has advised the Government that the Bank cf England is williag to take up four millions of our outstanding debentures and inscribe them at 3Jj per cent. The matter will be brought before tho Public Accounts Committee. Shnu'd this conversion be brought a’“out it will ba an excel'eut advertisement for thecolony, as tending to show the increasing eonfidcnco tho Home people have in New Zealand. An Extra Sitting:The Homo will most probably sit on Monday next, the Premier moving in that direction on Friday. Co-operative Land Settlement. Dr Fitchett this afternoon presented a peti tion from Sir R. Stout and 214 other citizens of Dunedin who are desirous of forming a Cooperative Lands Settlement Com; any, to obtain Crown lands either in lease or by purchase for that purpose. Tho petitioners pray that the House will take such measures as will lead to effect being given to the special settlement conditions of the Laud Act, 1835.

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Bibliographic details

POLITICAL GOSSIP., Evening Star, Issue 7961, 17 July 1889

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4,247

POLITICAL GOSSIP. Evening Star, Issue 7961, 17 July 1889

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