THE REPRESENTATION BILL DEBATE.
[From Oua Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, July 24. _ After the manner in which the Premier had ridden the high horse on the second reading of the Representation Bill, and his avowed intention to force the Bill through, it was expected that the read stonewall would commence to-night, and these expectations have not been disappointed. The city party weie piqued over the Premier's action last night, and this hardened them in their resolve to prevent by every constitutional means the passage of the Bill. In this tbey liave the support of the * Evening Post,'for it says:—"The opponents of the Bill will be fully justified in adopting any possible means of defeating or delaying the obnoxious measure. They can do so without reproach, for it is Ministers who have shown the example of not fighting fairly. Every form and mode of Parliamentary obstruction will now be quite in order, and the town members, in justice to those whom they represent, must use every exertion to defeat the effort to dispoil their constituents to the extent of one-fourth of their political power. Those members who honestly support the system of proportional voting should also oppose to the verv last the passage of a Bill which will indefinitely postpone the adoption of that system. If the Government possessed a particle of political principle they could not, after having introduced their first Representation Bill, have presented the second one as a substitute. If this second Bill passes, the adoption of the Hare system will be rendered absolutely impossible." At the meeting of the town members this afternoon it was resolved to act on the resolution I yesterday forwarded you, which declared that they would delay the progress of the Bill by every constitutional endeavor. A deputation was despatched to wait upon the Premier asking him to postpone the consideration of the Bill until Tuesday next, on their allowing it to be committed without debate, but reserving to themselves full freedom of action when in committee. They urged that this would allow the metropolitan Press to give voice to their opinions on the measure, and also give time for the town and country parties to effect a compromise. Sir H. Atkinson, however, refused, unless the city party would pledge themselves not to delay the Bill in committee; but the deputation would not agree to that.
I The following members have pledged themselves to obstruct the passage of the Bill oc the ground that it is an act of injustice at variance with every sound and hitherto accepted principle of fair and square representation:— Messrs Stuart-Menteath, Fish, Dr Fitchett, Barron, Ross, W. P. Beeves, Sir (£. Grey, Loughrev, Dr Newman, Allen, Goldie, Peri.ceval, Moss, Jones, Humphreys, Fisher, and j Taylor. All business has been interrupted by the proceedings in reference to the Bill. On the House meeting this evening, ; The Pbemier moved that the Speaker leave the chair in order to go into committee on the I Bill.
Mr Moss said he had not yet spoken to this measure.—(Laughter.) He referred to the conduct of the Premier in forcing the measure on. He asked the Premier to allow the Bill to stand over for a few days, and go on with the other business of the Government. Was it the Premier's intention to force the Bill through ? He would pause for two or three minutes for a reply.
The Premier said that as the hon. gentleman had been asking questions for a quarter of an hour he (tbe Premier) had become a little confused.
Mr Moss asked again whether the Premier intended to force the Bill through contrary to the wishes of a large section of the House. The Premier : It is not my intention to force the Bill through unduly, unless it is unfairly resisted; but, if it is, then I shall force it—that is, ag far as lam able. I will not be prepared to submit to any adjournment unless sufficient reason is given. At present I have heard none, except that the hon. gentleman doeß not understand it, Mr Moss : Then I understand that the Premier intends to force the Bill through! Am I right in saying that 1 Tbe Premier : It entirely depends upon the hon, gentleman and his friends. If they discuss the Bill on its merits, and with fair arguments, I shall have no desire to force the Bill unduly; but if the same tactics as were pursued yesterday, and are apparently to be gone on with to-night, are persisted in, the House will undoubtedly be asked to get the Bill through as soon bb possible. Mr Mobs asked whether, if he and other hon. gentlemen agreed not to discuss the Bill at all, the Premier would agree to a postponement for a few days, and proceed with other business. Mr W. P. Rekvss : We'll go into committee without discussion.
The Pbbjiibh : Then, if I permit the hon. gentleman to conduct the business, he will behave nicely. Is that it ? If the hon. gentleman is going to resist the Bill by using the forms of the House in a way that is not justifiable, it is the intention of the Government to ask the House to push the Bill through. If the hon. gentleman will diseues the Bill fairly the Government will not unduly press it, but I am pledged to the hon. gentleman and those who support him to do no business until this Bill is passed.— (Cries of "No, no.")
Mr Moss then went on to discuss the Bill, upeabing for just over an hour in regular stonewall style. He appealed to Mr Macarthnr as the real leader of the Ministry, end described the Premier's speech on the Bill as " a rollicking speech in his best larrikin style." He discoursed upon the immorality of the Bill, and taunted the Premier with acting upon the principle which he onoelaid down—"that the first duty of Government was to take care of itself—and thus kept himself in office for many years. Mr IZARD next rose and expressed regret that the Premier had refused Mr Moss's request for an adjournment of the consideration of the Bill. The measure affected the rights of at least one fourth of the electors of the colony. He objected to it being forced down their throats, though he declined to be party to any factious obstruction, because he acknowledged that the majority must rule. He claimed that the minority had its rights, and pretested against the Bill being rushed throngh before any part of the colony, except the immediate neighborhood of Wellington, knew what it meant. Sir G. Gret, who was received with applause, beffan by protesting against the insult offered to him by asking him to give a secret expression of his opinion on the question of an increase of the number of members. He wished to know when he would have an opportunity of discussing that point. The Speaker said when this debate was over. Intimation was given to Mr Ballance that allusion might be made to that matter, though he was far from considering that breach of privilege had been committed. Sir G. Grey continued and tried to open up the subject, until
The Spbakkr said that he would be interfering with the conduct of business if he persisted in bringing up the matter whioh he (the Speaker) did not regard as a breach of privilege. Sir (t. Gbbt, proceeding with his speech, said the effect of the Bill would be to reduce the people of New Zealand to a statfi below the level of the people of anv ether colony. After complaining at length that the people were being robbed of their rights, he said the absence of any reference to the Bill from the Governor's Speech was nothing but criminal; while the plot to restore the number of members to ninety-five, without fair notice or an appeal to the country, was treason of the deepest dve. Mr BAIAANeE eaid that but for the reduction of the number of members the present Bill would never have been brought down. He explained how he had taken the responsibility of issuing ballot papers on the question, which had been.complained of. He felt that the country had changed on the subject, and members had changed with it. He wished for an abstract opinion from them on the subject. As soon as Mr Ballance had sat down, at 9.45,
The Premier asked the Speaker to leave the ohair until 10.30. He had just received a deputation of members, who made a proposal which he believed would be acceptable to the House.
This was Agreed to. The town members then held a meeting, when it. was deoided to ask the Premier to make the Bill the same as that of 1887, with an increase of the quota from 18 to 25 percent., thus doing away with the inolusion of the small towns and the amalgamation of the city electorates, If thit were rejected in committee, the Premier was then to withdraw the Bill. The Premier was approached with this proposal, and a long consultation ensued, neoessitating a further adjournment until 11.30. Metropolitan Agitation, The other day the Premier twitted the city pvty that they had taken no steps to hold mass meetings in the four large oentres of population to protest against the Representation Bill if it were so objectionable. That agitation has now been started. I do not know if anything is being arranged in Auckland or Christchurch, but I understand that a public meeting is to be held in Dunedin. Here in Wellington a public meeting will be held on Friday evening, when it has been arranged that Sir G. Grey, Mr Fisher, and Mr Izard will address the electors on the Representation Bill, Messrs Fisher and Izard have convened meetings of their constituents, which will also be addressed by Sir George Grey, for the purpose of considering the Bill. The reason they give for this course is "theunwarrantable haste with which the Bill is being pushed through." Burlesquing Parliament. Our usually grave an d reverend legislators
were in a merry mood to-night. In the intervals which took place while negotiations were proceeding between the Government and the counttj party, unbending from the serious turn that affairs had taken for the previous twentyfour houra, members indulged themselves in a quarter of an hour's uproarious fan. The hon. gentleman who represents the Dunstan took his place on the chief Ministerial bench to an accom - paniment of cheers from all parts of the Chamber, and allowed himself to be badgered with "questions wi.hout notice," to which "the acting Premier " replied in the usual Ministerial formula. The farce was at its highest when the veritable Mr Speaker was announced, and at the appearance of that much-feared functionary members relapse! into silence with the air of a party of schoolboys caught by their master in a lark. Ministerial Statement.
Shortly after Sir M. O'Rorke had taken his place the Premier entered the chamber and asked leave to interrupt Mr W. P. Beeves, who was then taking part in the stonewall proceedings. air H. Atkinson said tnat during the evening a deputation from both sides ot the House had interviewed him on the question of the quota. The town members had announced that they were willing to have 25 per cent, inserted in the present Bill; that was to say, the Act of 1887 should be amended by having the IS per cent, there changed to 25. The country members, who were about two-thirds of the House, had announced their intention of inserting in the Bill, which was now under consideration, 33J percent., in place of the 25 per cent, proposed by the Government. Thus it would be seen that there was a considerable difference between the contending parties. Having carefully considered the matter, the Government had come to the conclusion that they were not prepared to insert in the Bill either more or less than 25 per cent.—(Hear, hear.) He hoped that the fairness of that declaration would be recognised by both sides of the House. This was evidently a matter for a reasonable compromise, and simply going back to the Act of 1887. It must be recognised by the town members as a perfectly fair offer. Hon. members were fully aware that the 18 per cent, got into the 1887 (first session) Act wider very peculiar circumstances, so that by adopting the present proposal of the Government the House would only be doing what was fair and reasonable. With that declaration, and the Government had quite made up their minds on the matter, he hoped that members would ailoar the Sill to go into committee and fight it oat there. He assured the House that the Government at any rate weie not prepared to go on with the Bill if more or less than 25 per cent, were inserted in it. In answer to Mr Fish, the Pekmibe said he would not agree to adjourn after getting into committee, as, in bis opinion, the point in dispute might very well be threshed out that night. Mr Babro.v urged that the basis of the Act of 1887, upon which the town members proposed to give the country an advantage of 2S per cent., was very different to that of the present Bill, under which the Government gar* 25 per cent,, which was really S3J per cent. Tbe City Members Dissatisfied. It was apparent that the town members were not appeased by the Premier's statement, and Mr liceves proceeded to address the House at some length. He said that Sir H. Atkinson was treating hon. members with scant courtesy, as it was he who sought to arrange for a reasonable settlement, He made merryof the condition of the inhabitants of tbe small boroughs, who were transferred under this Bill into country yokels. He ridiculed the claims of the country to exceptional treatment, pointing oat that some of the leading politicians of the colony represented country constituencies, Mr Vebraix followed at one o'clock by defending the demand of the country men for 33a per oent,, and expressing the hope that the repeal of the Reduction of Members Bill would be brought about. This Morning's Work. July 25. At 1,45 a.m., when Mr Fish (who followed Mr Verrall) was speaking, Mr M'Gregor (the senior Government whip) called attention to the fact that there were strangers in the galleries, and these were ordered to be cleared. Mr W. L. Bright, a member of the Imperial Parliament, who had arrived in Wellington from the North during the evening, had been a spectator up to this stage. The ball was kept rolling by Messrs Fish, Moss, Jones, Dr Fitchett, and Allen during the whole of tbe night and early hours in the morning. Caught Napping. The member for Dunedin Central was i cleverly caught napping. The Doctor was armed wich copious notes, showing his preparedness to speak at great length, and was constantly interrupted by points of order. On the hue occasion Mr O'Oonor ejaculated "Question!" and Dr Fitchett, thinking another point of order was being raised, resumed his seat for some seconds, and then got on his legs to continue his address. The Minister of Lands, however, objected, and urged that as the hon. gentleman had sat down when no point of order was submitted he had practically completed hit speech, and this contention was of coarse upheld by Mr Hamlin, who was presiding. All But Surprised. Soon before daybreak Mr Scobie Mackenzie moved "That the previous question be now put," obviously with the idea of burking farther [ discussion. The few members present who ere opposed to the Bill did not seem clearly to understand the effect of this motion, and it was actually on the point of being put when Mr Jones got np and spoke to it, but was pulled up short by the Chairman of Committees for speaking to the previous question. After he had sat down, Mr Hamlin, after consulting authorities, admitted that he had ruled in error, and wished an opportunity to be given to Mr Jones to continue his remarks, but the House refused to allow him to do so. Chivalrous conduct. This overbearing conduct on the part of the majority so incensed Mr Marchant, one of the country party, that he at once volunteered to lend town members a hand, and to supply tie gap caused by Mr Jones's deprivation of his right to speak, A Short Respite. At eight o'clock the Speaker resumed the chair, and shortly afterwards the half'hour's adjournment for breakfast was taken. Mr Moss then resumed the debate, and is stDl (eleven o'clock) speaking. A Continuous Sitting Bedded On. I have the authority of the Government for saying that the supporters of the Bill have determined not to allow any further adjournment for rest or refreshment. The sitting, in fact, will be a continuous one, save from 6.38 to 7.30 daily, which is the dinner adjournment under the Standing Orders. If the Bill does: not get committed before then, the House will certainly sit on Sunday. The Reporters get a Rest. The galleries, of course, still remain closed, and there is no intention to open then before the Bill gets into committee. A Town member's View.
The following view of the situation is supplied to me by a town member;—" The opponents of the Representation Bill are very determined net to allow it to go through, because they know that a measure is demanded by the country party still more disadvantageous to tfc* towns. Not only are the country members resolved, if they can get their way, to deduct the 25 per cent, from the towa, but to increase the quota to 3% This woqhi virtually mean the disfranchisement of at least one-third of all the people in four chief eitie* and adjoining suburbs. The town party feel that, if they give way now, with the oountoy members strengthened at the next elections, an*, the town weakened, a still worse fate lies ahead 1 .. They must, therefore, now resist to the bitter end; and the town members have pledged themselves—eaoh and all—to resist this Ikfranchising Bill to the uttermost. Their strength is so great that, determined as they are, they can scarcely be beaten. They feu that they are engaged in a big battle forrithfc against might, and they are so numerous that there seems no doubt, if they hold out, that they can successfully resist this measure." Mr Moss kept possession of the floor till nearly one o'clock, quoting exhaustively from the Registrar-General's report as to the population of every hamlet and road board district in the colony. During his address attention was repeatedly called to the state of the House. l)r Newman followed, and with Sir 0. Grey's assistance will probably keep the ball going till the dinner adjournment. Mr Taylor will follow at 7.30.
The country members are getting apprehensive that agitations will be held in all the largo oentres to protest against the injustice that will be done to the towns; and that, as a result, sufficient pressure may be brought to bear on the Premier to induce him to drop the Biß. Sir H, Atkinson, however, seems deterajnedat present to force it through. The city ttembert are exceedingly disappointed and disheartened at the failure of the Dunedin and Ohristehurck Press to support them in their protest on behalf of the inhabitants of the four centres ant suburbs. Instdel the Chamber. I have got what I believe to be the tnt» history of what took place after the reporter* were cleared out of the galleries. Mr Fish took up the running and made a very good humored stonewalling speech, can jru>g on till about three o'clock. Various points of order were raised with a view to stop him, bat when he was called to- order he retracted and apologised with an amount of urbanity that would become aim well if he would only stick to it. In the meantime members began to compose them! selves on rugs to sleep. (One lot of the oottntry
patty have now gone home to be fresh for the morning, so as to tire the stone wallers out.) Mr Fisher followed Mr Fish, and said nothing to redeem the intolerable tediousness of the debate. He was followed by MrGoldie, who at all times talks as if he were speaking for a wager. He rattled away furiously on every conceivable subject, until Mr Scobie Mackenzie, who had been vainly trying to compose himself to sleep, rose and called him to order on the score of irrelevancy, and by so doing was backed up by the Deputy Speaker, who was now installed in the chair. After that Mr Goldie was cilhjd to order several times running, and Mr Mackenzie again rose and read out the Standing Order whioh set out that continued disregard of the chairman's ruling was a contempt, and was punishable with a fine of LSO. Mr Goldie was inclined to laugh it off, but the member for Mount Ida declared that if it occurred again he would move the contempt, and the Speaker declared that he would be compelled to inflict what penalty the House allowed. Mr Macarthur, who also had been roused from his sleep, said in a very audible voice that the House would back the Speaker up. Dr Fitchett, who had been whipping up the stonewallers, looked very grave, and Mr Goldie, who had evidently disagreeable visions of one third of his honorarium going, got very shaky and soon sat down. Mr Joyce then got up and drawled away for an hour. While he was talking there was an evident movement among the country party, who were seen to be hatching some plot to stop the stonowallers. It soon turned out to be a very ingenious move, which was within a fraction of succeeding. As soon as ever Mr Joyce sat down, and as Mr Jones was about to rise, Mr Scobie Mackenzie moved the previous question, as an Intricate sort of thiDg. All that a good many members know about it is that it supersedes the Bill under discussion, and as Mr Mackenzie was supporting the Bill the stonewallers did not know what to make of it. The previous question is tbat "the main question be now put." The previous questiou is always moved to be negatived, the mover and seconder always voting against their own motion, whioh, when lost, kills the Bill; but in this case it was moved in order " to be affirmed," and thus waß tuned into an ingenious form of cloture If it bad been carried the Speaker would have |had to piit the main question without amendment or debate, but it appeared that the main question itself can be debated. Mr Mackenzie calculated that the stonewallers would not know this, I Lear that tte only man he was afraid might stumble across the fact was Dr Fitchett. It was just before it was moved that Mr Macarthur was seen talking to hia party. Dr Fitchett went out to recuperate exhausted natuie in another portion of the building, and was away when the previous question was moved. Mr Allen and some others of the town party made a rush for the .Standing Orders to see what it all meant, and the Speaker was just about to put the question, whioh, when put, would have sent the Bill into committee, when Mr Jones got up to ask what it all meant, and by that delay just avoided the climax. By this time Dr Fitchett found what was up, and not knowing what to do, elicited by questions to the chair that the previous quebtion •ould be talked upon just like any other motion. Then the stonewalling recommenced, and today it is going on without a break. Mr Mackenzie watched the success of Lis manoeuvre with much anxiety until it was blown, upon, when he, with Mr Macarthur, retired crestfallen to get Buch consolation as they could.
Latest. By 32 to 20 the motion for a luncheon adjournment was negatived. Theie was an amusing scene just now when a dozen complete sots of bedding material ordered by the senior Government whip were brought into the lobbies. Some of the town members kappened to be in attendance, and secured four »attres3es and pillows, and locked them away, to the great coustornation of members of the Ministry. Dr Newman was still speaking at three •'clock.
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THE REPRESENTATION BILL DEBATE., Evening Star, Issue 7968, 25 July 1889
THE REPRESENTATION BILL DEBATE. Evening Star, Issue 7968, 25 July 1889
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