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THE REPRESENTATION DEADLOCK.

[Feom Oub Pabuamentabt Reportib.l

WELLINGTON, Jcxt SO.

Contrary to expectation, no division was taken to-night on the proposal for the committal of the Bill, but this will probably be agreed to early to-morrow. Messrs Taylor, Blake, and Loughrey were speakers in the afternoon, and Mr R. H. Reeves held possession of the floor during the whole evening till 10.30, when the Speaker announced that he would resume the chair to-morrow forenoon. The town party were prepared to go into committee to-night if the Premier would at once agree to report progress till 2.30 to-uorrow to enable them to consider their position, but this Sir id. A. Atkinson refused to do. A Compromise Talked of.

Jußt after the House rose I heard that there was a probability of a compromise being arrived at in the direction of the Bill of the first session of 18S7 being continued and an allowance of 18 per cent, being struck out with a view to inserting 30 per cent. Of course the effect of this would bo to make an allowance to the country proper only, as all boroughs with a population of over 2,000 inhabitants would then be treated in the same manner as the four centres are under the present Bill. The Real Struggle

over the Bill in committee will be in connection with the proposal to delay the bringing into operation of the Representation Amendment Act, 1887, till after the taking of th« next census, which of course means its suspension till after the next general election. Mr i Kerr has been actively whipping to that end, and claims that an absolute majority are pledged to vote for suspending the Bill for a> couple of years. He further says that though the Premier will not entertain the proposal most of the Ministers favor it. A laige number of members admit that the Only True Solution of tbe Deadlock is a dissolution, but they wish to avert it, if possible—firstly, on account of the fear of the "happy despatch" in a House of seventy-one members; and secondly, because the Southern members recognise that a general election would be most undesirable during the Exhibition period. As I have repeatedly indicated, the question of the quota is merely used as a " stalking horse," the real fight being over the attempt to restore the House to ninety-five members. The Trne Feeling of the Country. Mr Frank Lawry having at yesterday's country caucus stated that if an organised attempt, as seemed probable, was to be made to repeal the Act of 1887 he should feel compelled to break from the party, eight of his prominent supporters wired to him this afternoon from Otahuhu, saying that this expression of opinion bad been most favorably received throughout the electorate, and that the feeling there was very strong against any increase in the number of the members of the House. Manifesto of the Country Party. The following manifesto hai been drawn up by the country party, and is issued on ths authority of the Executive Committee o f the party:— BTATBMEKT OF THE OASE OF THE COCKTBT PABTT. is members representing country districts could not debate tho present Representation Bills and thus mike their views known to the colony without in effect lending assistance to the objectionable practice of stonewalling, it has been thought advisable to shortly state their position through the medium of the Press. They would therefore draw attention to the following facts and arguments as entirely justifying that position : 1. They are supporting a Bill which introduces absolutely nothing that is new, but which endorses the principle that throughout the whole past history of the colony, and up to the present hour, has been recognised without dissent.

2. That even the main detail of the Billnamely, an advantage to the extent of 25 per cent, of the population given to country districts—has also been the rale throughout the part history of the colony up to 1887. The Representation Act of 1881, for instance, deliberately made the quota for country districts leas than the quota for town districts, and "by as nearly as possible 25 per cent."—this being the actual language of an official paper then laid on the table of the House to explain the operation of the said Act. 3. This allowance to country districts made by the Act of 1881 was universally recognised in and out of Parliament as just acd reasonable. Two general eleotions were held under that Act> and amid all other matters then discussed not a» word of objection was ever raised to the said allowance to country districts. 4. From this allowance no departure in principle has ever been made, but in 1887 the extent of allowance was curtailed to nominally 18 hot practically 14 per cent. The main purpose of the Bill embodying this curtailment was to equalise the representation as between the North and South Islands, and all objections i» Parliament to the curtailment were suppressed for the time by the threat on the part of the then Government that if objections were insisted on the Eill itself, otherwise a good one, would be jeopardised. 5. The true democratic principle consists in a < fair distribution of power and influence in representation in proportion to population. The contention of the town members mrolves a very wide and most disastrous departure from that principle, inasmuch as ii is recognised throughout the world that large cities, with their facilities for instantaneous organisation, their powerful municipal institutions, their influential newspapers, and the close community of interests that exists through all their sections, have a power and influence out of all proportion

to their actual number. Country members are therefore only advocating the retention of a power hitherto possessed of correcting an antidemocratic inequality in repi esentatiou. (i. Tcjs inequality is increased by the facilities viViicii towns cvfEor.V tor ib,e exercise o£ «. pliu.il vote—a privilege which, wheT.Uer right or wrong, •wise or unwise, is obviously confine:! to s:nall electoral areas with perfect communication. 7. Further, in every 10,001) of city population there are '.',000 mule adults who, it will be admitted, form thy bulk of th-.< taxpayers. Uu the other hand, there are 2,000 oi the same class in every 7,000 of ttw remainder ot populaKon \-i the colonv ; so tlr.t without tabu.-; >n?o consideration any of tho mimiwu-; political advantus'.es iars-e cities tinjoy c/er tLe- lemnny, 10,000 of a citv {!'joulation shnu.el, ou a, basis, have oniv the tame ropic-eniation liameut as 7,000 a. tho rest ot the colony, Xhis at once justifies o) per cent, out of ioh per cent, of the nominal deduction from city populations demanded by tho couutry party, their claim ia therefore not only tuppoited by the constitutional maxim that representation should accompany taxation, but also by the fact that

the Constitution Act requires that the representation of the colony bo based on the number of electors, and not on the total population. The decrease in numbers from ninety-one to seventy, the effect of which will be felt chiefly in country districts, would justify even a higher proportionate difference than that now claimed. 8. The statement that the concession to the country distiicts would mean throwing the representation into the bauds of large laudholders is manifestly assumed. In the past, ( with 25 per cent., it has never produced that result. Why, then, should it do ko now ? As a matter of fact, the argument (whatever it may be worth) is quite the other way, since all experience shows tnat the feeling against such landholders is stronger in country districts than in the towns. 9. A true estimite of the value of the objections now made by town members may be made by a bare statement of the fact that their leader, Sir George Giey, in 1871', introduced and strove to carry through a Bill expressly conceding to country districts an advantage of 25 per cent. 10. The activity of the cities at the present moment in their hostility to the Representation Bill is the most conclusive proof of their power of swift organisation, and of the influence they can wield. On the other tand tho wide dispersion of the country population is a serious obstacle to any effective eifort even in defence of their own iuterests.

In view of all thesa facts, tlie country members would regard it as a betrayal of theii- trust vfßTti they to recede from a position based upon justice and aiming at practical equality of representative power.

July 31. Tlie Town I'arty Act Magnanimously. On the House resuming this morning, tue third reading of the Church Property Trust (Canteibury) Amendment Aoc was read a third time .ind passed. This privato Bill was introduced by Sir J. Hall, one of the leading members of the country party, and, aa a niugle dissentient voica would have prevented its passage during the present deadlock, the town members claim to haveacsed with great magua-

nimity. I*ast Night's Negotiations.

I am assured that what actually took place las>t night was this: The Premier agreed to report progress at any time during the evouing sitting if the Bill were allowed to go into committee and adjourn till 10.30 this morning. The town inemberf", howcvor, insisted on the committal not being fixed till 2.30. Sir hj. Atkinscn would not consent to this course, unless the other side gave an undertaking not to propoao any factious amendment in committee, The town members declined to have their hands tied, and so the discussion went on in its ordinary course. Keeping; the Ball Uniting.

The minority now Bay that having succeeded in gaining their first point in delaying the committal of the Bill till after the town electorate* had had an opportunity of making their voices heard, they will also gain their second point by keeping the talking going till this afternoon at the earliest.

Mr Goldie resumed the speakicg at this ferenoon's sitting. 9 Messrs Goidie, Hobbs, Barron. Ro?s, and Izard have carried on the debate all thomorniug, but it is understood that the Bill will be allowed to go into committee this afternco \ Negotiations for a Compromise. Thero seems now to be some probability cf the appointment of a cjufeience, comprising half a dozen moderate men on either side, to agree upon the basis of a compromise. A Reply to the Masilfesto.

The following reasons in reply to the country manifesto were given by Mr jjownie Stewart in ttio House at three this nftsrnoon :—"The provisions ot the proposed Representation Bill are inequitable, and at varianco with tho modern principles of the government of young and democratic countries for the following reasons : has been a gradual extension cf tho franchise tending towards the equality of rights. In this colouy Legislation in 1879 granted manhood KuiTrage, and thus recognir o:l fur the first time in the colony the principle of cijuiliiy ;n electoral rights and privileges amongst ,dl men of the age of tweuty-oco ye*rß and upward*. (2) The Constitution Aec was passed by the Imperial Parliament at a time when the franchise was limited to those only possessing special qualificatini). and thei Act itself required property qualification, butthecolonialLegiaLiturehiislong since necittteu mis neither desirable nor necessary. One of the leading principles ot the Constitution Act was perfect equality amongst all electors irrespective of their place* of residence, whether in town or country. This the principle of the Representation Bill violates and «;ta at defiance. Tho Legislature has long since rjo3gnised population not merely electorr, as in tho Constitution Act—ns the true basis *f representation. (3) The Eill is inequitablo and illogical, inasmuch as it arbitrarily selects and partially disfranchises Lur centres of population, whilst it gives other centres of population, such as Napier, Nelson, Invercargill, and other towns bb, full electoral rights as those granted to purely country district?. The effect of giving biich large t')WUK equal electoral rights with country districts will neutralise the supposed benefits to the latter. It is ju;t to denuct 25 per cent. from theEe four centres, this being ecmal to an addition of per cent., whilst ail ether parts of the colony, whether town or country, are granted full and equal electoral privileges. (4) The Bill is not only at variance with the principles of the Constitution Act, but it is also at varianco with all patt legislation in this colony on the subject. (5) The subject of representation having been dealt with as recently as 1887, it ought not to be agitated or disturbed, because the concession of 18 per cent, nominal given by this Act was arrived at after a lengthened debate and full discussion. (6) That the Act of 1887, whilst it gives no nominal addition of 18 per cent, to special districts —such ai read districts and aleo boroughs not having more than 2.000 inhabitants— places all other portions of the colony on a footing of absolute equality. (7) If it is the case, as the country party allege, that the plural vote acts prejudicially to country districts, the obvious remedy would be that they should propose to do away with it; and to do this th>y would have to have the assistance of the town members, as they well know, but they refused to accept this remedy, so obvious and so certain. (8) That although the question of the representation of the people has been dealt with by legislation in this colony in 18-38, 1860, 18C2, 18G5, 1867, 1870, 1875. and 1881, there has been no legislative recognition of the principle or inequality between the city and country electors. '(9) That tho interests of the inhabitants of the town and country di«tricts are substantially similar, and the provisions of the Bill will create unnecessary inequality, friction, and irritation. (10) That under the existing system of representation tho country districts have a large preponderating influence in the Houe under the law as it at present stands, with only the fixed quantity of 18 per cent, in their favor, and they are now numerically so strong as to be in a position to dictate not only to the Government but to the House itself on the question now under discussion. (11) That the representatives of the country districts are at present so numerous as to enable them to act oppressively towards the representatives from the towns; and the threats and oonduct of country members in reference to the present Bill show clearly how they would exercise »r>y further power which they might get. (12) The town party are in no way responsih'e for the Bill introduced by Sir George Grey in 1879, but it must be apparent that that Bill was practically on the lineß of the Act of 1887, with the exception that the latter Act fixeel the quota at 18 instead of 25 per cent., and that the demand of tho country party is now equal to the advantage of 33 per cent, on tho same basis. (13) Tho country party has resorted to the device of indicating Sir George Grey as the leader of the town party, with the obvious purpose of casting on the latter the responsibility of a motion of which he has given notico, having for one of its objects a return to the previous existing number of members. The town party is not responsible for such motion, and in no way commitß itself in reference thereto. It is well known, moreover, that whilst the dominating opinion among country members is to adhere to A greater number of members the contrary is the case in regard to the town members." Promising Prospects. The country party have written to the town members agreeing to the proposal that a conference of delegates be held, and stating that they will be prepared to discus the question

of an addition being made to the country districts instead of a deduction from the four big contres, tho extent of application of addition to be also detern-ined Messrs Mos-, Perceval. Allen, Barron, Kitcbert, and Newman havi> boen appointed d-jluaates. By th.a cumnromisii on behalf of the cities, prospects ate considered promising. A SETTI..EJEF.NT AHKWI3D AT. It has been arranged between the- patties that tho Bill shall be allowed to go into committee on the understanding that progress be immediately reported, and th'> House adjourned till 7.30 p.m. to allow the Conference t;» meet. Vise ReisnrJi'i-s JScccivo jus MviUlon. On the gaiieries being opened, the members cheered the I'ress repie-cent.itives to tho echo. AwKy With Plut'&l Voting. On the members taking their seats. Sir George- Grey gave notice of a Bill to abolish plural voting, and suspending the; Act of 18tsi for two years. Latest. The Bdl wai committed by 57 to 27.

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Bibliographic details

THE REPRESENTATION DEADLOCK., Issue 7973, 31 July 1889

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2,782

THE REPRESENTATION DEADLOCK. Issue 7973, 31 July 1889

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