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UNKNOWN

MR ALLEN'S SPEECH. (Concluded.) Before I go on to discu33 more or less the principles of the Bill I am going to say one or two words about one clause which the hon. member for Dunedin South touched upon the other evening. I must confess that with moat of his remarks I cordially agree ; but I do not agree with the objections he raised to the amalgamation of the ci ty constituencies One reason given by him in his objections was that it would really result in an increased cost to the candidates. Well, sir, t vn&y be dense, but t cannot possibly tee why it should result in any increased cost, because, as far as my judgment goes, there is sufficient means in a single electorate to enable anyone to get rid of as much money as he wishes j and I cannot see how he could possibly get rid of more if the electorates were amalgamated. Then the hon. gentleman suid that the money organisations would combine together to carry their candidates; but I cannot conceive that that would be more likely to take place under a system of amalgamated seats than under a sjstem of single seats. It seems to me that this class of people might combine under the single-seat system as readily as under the amalgamated systeai. Then, he said that certain " isms " would be represented. Well, if the "isms" are present in sufficient number in the population, I say they have an absolute right ta be represented, and there is no reason why they should not be. Ido cot see that they will be more likely to be represented in an amalgamated constituency than under a single-seat constituency. Then, he raised the objection that so Me public men might carry the whole of the city seats. I think the intelligence of the city electors in this young and Democratic country i 3 not likely to be carried away by any popular man, as the hon. gentleman suggested, but would be able to judge between the candidates and elect whoever they think the best fitted to represent them. Then, to come to the reasons in favor of amalgamation, I believe, myself, that far better men would be elected, and most certainly one of the most objectionable features of the present single city electorate system would be done away with. I refer to that close personal canvass, which is not essential, and which is not good. _ I maintain that a member should be acquainted with his constituents, and reasonably closely too; but too close an acquaintance is not good. And the present system of canvassing, which is done almost from house to house, and that in not a pleasant way always, would be got rid of, I believe, if the city electorates were amalgamated. Then, I believe that certain well qualified men who ought to be returned to this House, and who run the risk of failure in single city electorates, would stand a far better chance of being returned if the whole of the city electorates were amalgamated. Then, the hon. member made some other remarks about the Bill that was before the House in ISS7—I refer to the reduction of members. I know that he has been a consistent opposer of this measure, and that in speaking against the reduction the other evening he was doing that which he had dene before. And I know that it is beir ~ urged upon the city members, in order to gt;, iid of this difficulty of this new Representation Bill, that they should give way upon this point, even though they are pledged tj the reduction of members to their constituents ; that they should give way to this in order that we may return to the status quo. I, as a city member, and pledged to the reduction of members, cannot see my way to agree to that. I believe a great principle is involved in the reduction of members ; and I do not see my way to break a pledge to my constituents even to get rid of a difficulty like this. The hon. gentleman said that the real reason of those who voted for the reduction of members was that the House should save a paltry L 3.000. A paltry L 3.000 has nothing whatever to do with it. The reason that iufluenced members—or some members, at any rate —in voting for the reduction was this: that by that means we should get rid of that close localism which is so rninous; and if there were wider districts that localism would not be so rampant. It is not fair for hon, gentlemen to compare one period of New Zealand with another as regards population and as regards the number of members. The real comparison is not between particular periods in New Zealand, but between New Zealand and some other country that is in a similar condition, and then making a comparison as regards population and the number of members; and then, I think, hon. members will see that we in New Zealand have been vastly overrepresented. Now, with regard to the Bill itself, I know that those who are supporting this Bill, from the great number of country members who are here, have a large majority in favor of it. But is it fair for a majority to assume the character of despots ? because that is really what they have been attempting to do here. They have been attempting to force on the consideration of this Bill ; they have been attempting to force us to conic to a vote on the second reading. The hon. gentleman who is the Leader of the Governmeut has refused to give us the information that we require. Sir H. A. Atkinson : It is impossible to do it on that ground only. Everything possible I will give you with great pleasure. Mr Allen : It is possible to give us, for instance, the figures which have been asked for to-night. We asked practically the same thing. One bon. gentleman asked for figures this evening. Sir H. A. Atkinson : And I offered to put them up. Mr Allen : It is all very well to do so after the second reading. Why were they not put up before ? Sir H. A. Atkinson: Vou have maps yourselves. Mr Allen : Not maps showing the reduction of members, and the quota, Sir H. A. Atkinson : I proposed to do it last year, and you would not have it. Mr Allen : What I wanted to see was the actual figures of how many city electors were required for a quota, how many for a town, and so on. Mr Hlslov : I gave them. Mr Allkn : When ? Mr Hisloi' : When I spoke on the second reading. Mr Allen : Some of them; very few. Mr Hislop : 1 gave them all. Mr Allen : Not that I could gather, at any rate. We have not bad the ' Hansard' speech of the hon. gentleman printed, and therefore we could uot get at the figures. We had to take them down in notes ourselves, and we could not always do that fully. I say the country members are assuming the character of despots when they intend to force this thins; through because we are in a small minority. The Premier has allied himself with the majority in forcing this thing through. Let the bon. gentleman stick to his true colors. What is the position of the ccuntry members ? And what is the position of the Government? Did anyone ever hear such a speech as tbat of the hon. gentleman in moving the second reading of this Bill ? How explicit was it ? In the case of an important Bill of this kind, which was going to exercise such a vast influence on both the country and cities, it was but right that the hon. gentleman should have moved it with a suitable explanation of the principles con-

tained iu the Bill. What did he do ? He Bpoke for a paltry ton minutes. Aud, then, what was the position of the country membes? Have any country members got up to defend this measure ? An Hon. Member : The hon. member for Ashley. Mr Allen : His defence was not, to my mind, a very satisfactory one. Where U the hon. member for Muowitu t Where are all the other country members'; An Hon. Mk.mekr: Lobbying. Mr Allen : " Lobbying !" Yer, that is one way of carrying measures ; but it seems t3 me that the proper way of carrying menBares in this House is not by lobbying, but bv arguing fairly on the door of this House. Why are not th,) country members getting up and showing that the principles of this Bill are right ? An Hon. Memukr : Y< u have net given fiem an opportunity. Mr Allen : We have given them an Opportunity and they will not tako it. You mean us to do all tho talking, and you do nit mean to defend anyone of the clauses of this Bill. You mean to weary us out and cirry the thing by brute force. Why do not the country members get up aud defend this Bill anil anwer our arguments ? What they are doing is this: They are not appealing to reason at all. They are appealing to the lobby ; they are appealing to brute force, and that is all. I maintain that is not fair. They ought to answer our arguments if they can, and they ought to adduce other arguments in support of thi3 Bill. It may be that they may gain this temporary advaut'gc; it maybe that they may sweep out of°existence many of tho city members ; but I am quite certain of this: that, eveu though that happens now, the time is not far off when there will be a considerable reaction; and when that rcactien emu.':, I am quite prepared to say that a great many country members who are voting for this Bill will regret tho action they have taken. I remember an old song, and I thick it had a chorus something about a lion. The lion was quite peaceable so long as they kft him alone ; but when somebody eaine and trod on his tail then the lion turned on his disturber.

An Hon. Membeb : AVho is the lion ? Mr Allex : The Hon, sir, is the city, and yoi country members will find out by-and-bye that when you have trodden upon this lion's tail he will turn and rend you. The ■passing of this Bill is going to do not only harm to the cities, but is going to do harm to the country, and for this reason : that it 13 going to raise a city and country cvy, and it is going to raise ill-feeling between them. Hon. Members : No, no. Mr Allen : Do you think the city rrembers can sit in this House and see this proposed disfranchisement carried out by a vote of the majority of the country members ? We feel that we have our rights, and that we have a good right to stand up for them, and we intend to do so. And I tell the country members that they will raise an ill-feeling between the town and the country members. When I was reading over this Bill the thought came upon me that possibly this was being brought down upon the cities as a punishment. Toe Premier had the pleasure of a visit to Aucliland during the rcces3. The Premier had the pleasure of addressing ai Auckland audience, and, I believe, be had not a very Eatisfactory reception. He discusaed with an Auckland audience the question of the Property Tax, and the Auckland aildieiico told him plaiuly and frankly that they did not believe in the I'rnperly Tax. The thought can.e upon me : Is this a judgment upon Auckland and the other city constituencies because they objected to the Property Tax? I would not like to believe that the Premier would descend to means of that kind to inflict punishment upon the city constituencies because i.ne of them expressed opinions adverse to his. Sir H. A. Atkinson : "Why do you suggest it, then ? Mr Allen : 1 ask if it is possible. The Pfemier will be able to say that by-nud bye. I only suggest the possibility of it. Wh::t does this Act really mean ? It means this : that, so far as New Zealand is concerned, an attempt is going to be made to crush out all oir Liberal and Democratic foiling--, because I believe the bulk of the Liber.-ii :tud Democratic feelings emanate from the towns. I maintain that this measure is a thoroughly and absolutely Conservative lvitwure, ar.d that the object of it is to attempt to crush out Liberalism and Democracy. Who «ayy " Oh, oh ?" I know something about tins matter, and I know that it is only a protection for the Conservatives. I know that that is so, and I repeat it. Let the hon. gentlemen in their own consciences judge. I know that it is being used to uphold Conservatism, and is an attempt to crush Liberalism and Democracy in this young country, and I do not think any niau can gainsay it. Ye 3, sir, and I warn all those who are advocating a policy of progress—who wish to tee the cokmy proceed upon progressive lines, and who are supporting this Bill—that they are takiuc a step now that will stop that progress. I feel quite aure that by placing a much larger power In the hands of a Conservative majority they will stop what is really the policy of the Liberal party—that is, the policy of progress. And I would remind hoc. members that there is no half way—either we must have a policy of progress or else it must be a policy of retrogression ; and if you place in the hands of this vast Conservative country majority this power you will find that our progress will be checked. I feel quite sure of it. Mr Pyke : No. Mr Allen : The hon. member for the Dunstan says " No." An Hon, "Membek : Oh, he does not mean it.

Mr Allen : Well, perhaps he does not; we will leave him alone. Then, sir, I think we have a right to say, with regard to that evil of localism, that if the check of the towns is taken away from that it will become even more rampant than ever. Sir, where does mere localism come from ? It comes from the country districts in demands for roads and bridges and things of that sort, and the town members have been able —or rather, in many cases they have not been able—to keep a check upon it; but the only check put upon this cry for local works has been, I maintain, from the town members. What, then, does this mean ? it means that the country members are going to grab more money for local works ; that they are going with their majority when they get it in this House to grant more money for country expenditure upon roads and bridges. Now, sir, I would like to ask the Mouse what representation truly means. If I have read aright I believe representation means this : that each man should have a vote, and each man's vote should be of equal value. Now, what do we see ? Only a few days ago in this House this same Government that are now introducing this measure introduced one of a totally and absolutely different character. Not long ago this Government brought down to this House a scheme for proportional representation—a scheme based upon each man's vote being of equal value, Sir, although at one time, as I said, I was going to object to thy second reading of the Bill, not because I did not believe in the principle, but because so large a coustitutional change ought not to be made without the question being relegated to the constituencies although I was going to vote against the second reading of the Bill, when the difficulty of this quota cropped up I went to the Premier and said : " I will vote for the second rending of yoi r measure;" and what happened"/ In this House day after day the adherents of that measure grew, until at one tima I did not know that there was a very large majority against it. And what was the result ? I told the Premier I wanted to see a division upon that Bill, his own Bill, the Bill of his own Government, with almost an assured majority for it—a Bill brought down to this House and discussed night after night, a fair measure giving equal representation to everybody. What was the result? Instead of going to a division, even though their own supporters called for a division, he absolutely withdrew the Bill, and when his own supporters of the measure wanted to go to a division he said " If you go to a division I and my Government will voto against our own measure." Sir, I never heard of such a thing before, and I hope I shall never hear of such a thing again. And then, after bringing in a measure of this kind giving equal representation to all, they now bring down this measure vhich takee away from the cities and gives

an increased advantage to the country. A measure (f an entirely differei t character, with an entirely different principle contained in it, is brought down in the wrae session by the same Government ! Sir, it is only sufficient to mention the thing to show the absurdity of it. I say that representation means that each man shall have a vote and that each man's vote shall be of equal value. Representation means the representation of individuals; it does not mean the rc.pY-esfcuta.tion of my partioulu-r area; it docs not mean the representation ot acre 3 of country lands ; it does not mean the representation of the moneyed class ; it means the representation if individuals. And that was contained hi the Bill they brought down before, and that Dill I was prepared to support ; and here they bring down a Bill of ail absolutely different meaning, and with a different intention, in the same session ! Sir, lam not going for a moment to say that there should not he some difference, in a young country like this, between the city and the country electorates. lam quite prepared to admit that there should be a percentage given to the country electorates An Hon. Mem her : There i 3 now. Mr Allen : I know there is now. I know there is IS per cent. now. An Hon. Memukr : Quite enough. Mr Allen: I think it is quite enough; but I would be prepared to go even further than that in order to get rid of a difficulty like this. I would be prepared to make a compromise, and, instead of allowing to country constituencies 33 ; 'j per cent., to come to some agreement to accept a medium number. Why have not the I country members attempted to meet the town members in this House ? Tho town members have been willing to miet them ; but they have said " No ; we are going to have tiie 3:U per cent., and we do not not fare about argument. We ave_ going to force it through/' Sir, I maintain it is net fair to maiie a jump of this kim..— from 18 to 33 : '; per cent. ; and I maintain that it the country members had wished to tic.it us fairly and squarely they would come to some compromise upon this matter, Now, I will not detain the House much longer ; but I will just sum up what are really my objections to this Bill. I will sum them up as shortly and concisely as possible. I object, first of all, to this Bill because of its deceptive nature. On the face of it, palpably enough, it pretends to give 25 per cent.; but in reality it gives, not 23 per cent., but : J ,3 ; 1 ,. I object to it because, for all practical purposes, it disfranchises 37.0-2G of our city people. I object to it because it places citito at a disadvantage, since, if the city population is compared with the country population, they count only as one seventyfifth of a man that is, 1,000 town men are equal to 750 country men; and I object to it because when country men are taken into city constituencies to make up the quota they come in at an advantage—that is to say, from the country men there is to be no reduction of 25 per cent., and therefore they would be equal to a hundred citizens. I object to it because it is raising such a deep line of deuarcition betweenthecities andthecountry, and I am quite sure that tho raising of this line of demarcation cannot lead to good feeling, cannot lead to good results, can only lead to increased Conservative ideas, kill a:i Liberalism and kill all Democracy. Sir, lam certain that 1 he result of this measure will be to put a damp upon Liberal and democratic ideas; will put a damp upon progress, and iu that respect will be doing permanent h.t'-tu to 'his, I am quite aire, one of the mo -t progressive countries in the world. I ;:<> further ami 1 object to tbia measure !>.cause it is departing altogether from the true principle of representation—the true r.rineiplc of representation which the hon. gentleman who brought in this Bill himself recognises, ami which he brought before this House in a previous measure. it is departing altogether from thafc,_and is introducing a measure entirely different, and with a much greater difference even than the present Bill has to the o:\e we had. Now, I think it is fair thai the country members should consider ikew objections, and answer them, I think it is lair that they should adduce what argumtnr.-; they can in support of the measure, and not sit here with silent tongues, and allow all the talk to bedone by thecity members. Let them explain to us what really is the reason for this. Let them tell us why so great a difference should be made between town and country ; and let them explain what the result to the progress of the colony will be of making such a vast difference between the cities ami the country. Sir, 'fc is not fair, 1 s.>y again, to sit upon these benches with clored mouths. In justice to the country, and in justice to the city members and to the city elector?;, they ought to explain what it is they are aiming at-, what they really intend to get, what it i? they desire. I hop* that some country members will give us these explanations, and will let us know what is really the object of this Hill, btcanse 1 feel I know perfectly well what the real object of it is, and that it is to defend and promote absolute Conservatism.

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UNKNOWN, Evening Star, Issue 7970, 27 July 1889

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UNKNOWN Evening Star, Issue 7970, 27 July 1889

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