THE REPRESENTATION DIFFICULTY.
THE TOWN v. COUNTRY FIGHT.
[From Oca Parliamentary Reporter.]
WELLINGTON, July 10.
There was quite a flutter of excitement in the House when Mr Speaker took his seat this evening, which was more marked when contrasted with the dull and dreary aspect that has pervaded the Parliamentary Chamber since the session began. The galleries wtre filled, and nearly all the members were in their places. It was rumored that with a view to getting tho second reading of the measure passed as quickly a3 possible, no speeches would be deliveied on behalf of the country members, but that the talking would be confined to the city and suburban representatives, all of whom were expected to enter their protest against tho proposed alteration in the quota. THE CITY MEMBERS' HOPE. | In conversation with one of the town members this afternoon I gathered that they incline to the belief that it will be potsible to kill the j Representation Bill by remaining firm and re sisting its passage through committee by a con" eerted " stonewal 1 ." Their only fear is that the Government may get together two-thirds of the House at one time, which would enable tho Premier to pass the cloture and burke discussion. At any rate, it may be taken for granted that there will be a full and complete protest on the part of the city members, each of whom will speak, and various amendments will be moved in committee, so that there U not the faintest ohance of the Bill passing for some tim«, if if it passes at all in its present shape. THE COUNTRY PARTY. The country members, on the other hand, feel sanguine that the Bill will be passed, l'hey j have appointed Messrs Lance, Wilson, Mac- j arthur, and Major Steward a Vigilance Committee to watch their interests; and this quartet will control the party's proceedings. The following "whip"—which i 3 a customary form in the Imperial Parliament, but has not J hitherto been introduced here—had been sent to every member of the party:—" You are requested to be in your place at 7.30 p.m., and not to leave without a pair on the Representation Bill.-(Signed) J. D. Lance, W. J. Steward, D. H. Macarthur, J. E. Wilson." lam further informed that at a meeting of the country party's I executive it was decided to hold out through | thick and thin for the increase of the deduction from the city populations from 25 per cent., provided in tho Bill, to 33 J per cent. A SOLUTION OK THE DIFKIOULTY. A suggestion .that has been made as a probable solution of the representation difficulty, and one I regret to say that has met with a deal j of favor in the lobbies, is that members should break their pledge to maintain the reduction cf members with a view to returning to tho status quo; failing this, an effort will be made to gtt eighty members in Jieu of seventy. But it is hoped that whatever the outcome of the present disoussion may be, the majority of the House will not stultify themselves by reversing tho vote of two sessions ago. IRRITATION WITH THE GOVERNMENT. The proposals of the Bill, the more they are thought out, lead to greator irritation with Ministers on the part of the town and surburban members, some of whom have almost servilely followed Sir Harry Atkinson. They allege, with considerable acerbity of feeling, that the Premier has allied himself to the majority rather than stick to his c Jors. A PRELIMINARY SKIRMISH. Almost on the House meeting at 7.30, the town members had to gird their loins in anticipation of the struggle. The proposal of the Premier to meet on Monday at 7.30 for the despatch of Government business caused a perfect storm of disapproval from the town representatives. Mr Fish deprecated the Premier's haste in this unholy cause, because he had a majority at his back. It would seem that he now had his big boots on, though it was rumored that there was a movement in progress that was going to be effected and consummated by brute force, and not by reasonable argument. The city members had already humbled themselves by asking the Premier to postpone consideration of the question till next week, so that, through the medium of the Press, an opportunity might be given for the expression of their views on the quota question; and he was surprised and amazed that the request did not meet with the Premier's approval. An effort waß being made to thrust the Bill down members'throats. It meant the extinction of the city electorates, and between tneirtrialand indictment the town members should be given sufficient time to prepare and matures properdefence. The proposal for adjourning till Monday was supported by most of the country member, but was opposed by Mr Ballance, Mr R. H. Reeve?, and the town representative'. The Leader of the Opposition characterised the proposal to begin Monday sittings three weeks after the assembling of Parliament as most unusual. The motion for adjourning till Monday evening for despatch of Government business only was carried by 52 to 29. THE FIGHT BEGINS. Mr Allen, resuming the debate on the second reading of the Bill, made an earnest protest against it, and hoped that every city and suburban member would do likewise. There had not yet been time to work out its real results as between the city and the country. The Bill was deceptive in its present shape. Apparently there was an allowance of 25 percent, to the country instead of the old one of 18 per ct ut., but it actually meant a 33J per cent, advantage. Dealing with the population of the four chief cities, he pointed out that the total population of Dunedin and its suburbs affected by the Bill was 45.580, or, after the 25 per cent, deduction, 34,128, He estimated that in the four eities there would be 37,023 people absolutely disfranchised under the Bill. It would take only 7,665 country inhabitants to return a member, while 10,220 would be required in the Cities. There would be 25,000 electors residing in suburban boroughs thrown into the adjacent country electorates, where their votes would be swamped or neutralised by the country votes, seventy-five of whose votes were equal to 100 of the city electors. The margin of 750 was always used to the disadvantage of the cities. After arguing in favor of the proposed amalgamation of the city electorates, and pledging himself to adhere to the reduced number of membors, he went on to protest against the majority of country members assuming the oharaota of deiroti by forcing the Bill through. He blamed the Premier for assisting them. The country members were silent and made no attempt to defend the Bill, but were appealing to lobbying and brute force instead of fair argument. They might g tin an advantage now, but there would be a reaction ere long. He warned the Protectionists that the effect of thp Bill would be to enable the country, which mainly advocated Freetrade, to reverse the Tariff adopted last year. It would place power in the ham's of the Conservative country party, and thus check the progress of the colony, while it would also mean an increase of expenditure upon country roads and bridges. Every man in the colony ought to have a vote, and all votes should be of equal value. Summing up his objections to the Bill, he said that it would result in a spread of absolute Conservatism. The Premier said he was tempted to reply to the hon. gentleman's speech, which he described M altogether illogical and laughable. He denied Mr Allen's statement that tho towns were the seat of Liberalism, and said that the real backbone of the colony was in the country, where men bad pluck to tuok up their sleeves and work. The proposal of the Government now was the same as that of 1881. Mr Moss said that the old law did not make exceptions in the case of the four cities, aB this Bill did. All boroughs with a population beyond 2,000 were treated alike. The Premier said that the Aot of 1881 was practically the same as was now proposed. Small boroughs were just made liable to a
deduction in the Act of 1881, bo that what this fuss was made about was simply a reversion to the old system. Mr Allen had admitted that there should be a difference between the town and country; and, that boing so, the Bill should go into committee, and both sides should discuss the matter in a friendly spirit. Mr W. P. Reeves : But your side won't argue. ~ . . ~ The Pkemish : Not at all. My side is in the middle.— (Laughter.) Proceeding with his address, Sir Harry faid that it was well known that the Bill providing for the Haro system was only introduced in order that it might bo debated ; but it was a great principle, and the Government thought it was within the bounds of praotical politics and that it ought to be i brought before the House for serious discussion. Having been brought before Padiament, it I would be talked of in the country, and mem- ! hers would live to see it become the law of the land. Onthewithdrawnlofthatßillbothcountiy I and city parties had waited on him, the former I tta.t tWo voter* i« U«s city W\ tbo advantage of their powerful Tress and better opportunities of combination The Government felt that the c .untry party asked too much; but that question was not one of principle, but one t imply .->f balancing between the two partic?. The Government, therefore, placed themselves between the two sides by making the difference the same as in 1881, excepting in one slight respect. Th's action, he argued, had been reasonable. He believed that a large majority of the people wore in favor of an allowance to the country, and two Parliaments had already endorsed it. Tlurc wa3 no principle involved, but b jth side 3 should agree to the second reading, and then meet in committee in a fair spirit of compromise as to what should bo the percentage between the town and country. He intended to fight against any attempt to give 3c.s to the country, but that amount munt be gained if certain n er.bcrs maintained their present attitude. Mr Jones objected to the Bill on vanoue grounds, and said it had been so badly drawn that it w»3 impossible to understand it. Mr Izai:» objected to the Bill being pressed on by the Government in the way it had been. The country had not had an opportunity of diseasing the measure, and public opinion had not been brought to beat in tho way it would be on a qucsii.n which so mateiial.'y affected onequarter of the population of the colony. He protested against tho proposed distinction between town and ountry. At midnight Mr Tanner moved the adjournment of the debate.
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THE REPRESENTATION DIFFICULTY., Evening Star, Issue 7964, 20 July 1889
THE REPRESENTATION DIFFICULTY. Evening Star, Issue 7964, 20 July 1889
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