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[From Ocr Parliamentary Reporter.]

WELLINGTON, Junr 18. An interview took place in the Parliamentary Buildings this afternoon between the Premier and a deputation representing the friendly societies of the colony. The deputation comprised representatives of the Oddfellow?, Foresters, Rechabites, and Druids. They asked that the Friendly Societies Act of 1882 should be amended by the inclusion of the following new clause :—" The properties of all friendly societies, or registered branches thereof, used by them as offices or places of meeting, shall not ba subject to local or general taxation, and this provision shall be retrospective." The deputation wished that the proposed new clause should be made retrospective because the societies were being sued for rates on buildings on which none had hitherto been collected. The societies thought that tbis was very bard, as they were assisting a great many people to keep off the charitable aid list, and they were anxious that the Government should introduce a clause exempting their halls from local and general taxation. Mr F. H. Fraser (Wellington) said that an absolute and not a permissive exemption was desired. Of course the questioa might be asked : Why did the societies invest their money in balls ? It was a difficult thing to induce people to b'come thrifty, but when the societies possessed halls of their own there was induce* ment for men to join them. Then again, by having halls they mide more money than if hey had the money in the Savings Bank, and they were thus enabled to keep down the amount wbioh each member was called upon to contribute to the funds. If the contributions were raised there was a chance that members might be frightened away. In Great Britain most societies held thtir meetings in public-houses, which was a very objectionable practioe.

The Premier agreed that it was not desirable for societies to meet in hotels.

A Member of the deputation mentioned that in Wellington summonses had been issued against the societies for the recovery of rates not paid, but in order that there might be an opportunity of getting an exemption clause passed the hearing was put off till August. If the proposed clause were passed by Parliament it would be retrospective, and the societies would have nothing to pay. The Premier said that the proposal seemed to be a very reasonable one. and he should be ghd to give effect to it. He understood that it waa only halls used for meetings, etc., which the societies asked should be exempted, and he would endeavor to get the clause through this session. He added that in other ways he would be pleased to assist the friendly societiea of the colony.

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