THE REPRESENTATION DEBATE.
(From Outi Parliamentary Reporter,] WELLINGTON, August 1. The discussion in committee upon the flirt clause of the Representation Bill ami Sir G. Grey’s amendment to it, which aimed at nn alteration of the title of the measure tr an “'Act to Amend i lie Representation Act Amendment Bill, 1887. and to limit each elector to one vote,” was continued at great length this afternoon and ivoning. The debate was not particularly interesting, and often savored of stonewalling. Sir John Hall thought that partitioning the p’ural vote would not affect a single election in any way. Thcelectorshadilrcady givcnadecided mandate in favor of the reduction of the number of members in the last election. In his own election ho had been urged to advocate a reduction to fifty members, but he declined to go fo far as that. He fitmly_ believed that the majority of tire electors in the colony were favorable to a largo reduction. By all means let the constituencies have another opportunity of considering the matLr, but how could (hey possibly do so again until both systems had had a trial ? If the electors found, after experiment, that it was more to their interest to have the number restored to ninetyone they would record their opinions after the reduction had been tried. The amendment completely destroyed the Government Bill, and it would altogether destroy the chance of a satisfactory quifa being obtained f r the country; so that he hoped the House would not scoept it. In answer to Mr Kerr, the Colonial SeckeTARY said that the Government, rightly or wrongly, had, when taking office, declared that a reduction of members was a portion of their policy, and they could not allow a reversal of that reduction to bo made by the House without the usual consequence following. Mr Dodson, although he had voted for a re auction in 1887, was now of opinion that ninety-one membcis was not too many. As, however, the amendment was brought in as a side issue ho cou'd not support it, though he would do so if the Government declared themselves in favor of it.
Mr Izard said he would vote for the amend’ ment, although he believed that a reduction of members was desirable, and Lad supported the Act of 1887. Ho supported the amendment because he was anxious to see a compromise effected in reference to the quota, and be thought that the best method of securing that end would be the suspension of the Act and holding the next election with the existing number.
Mr Mills held that the opinion of the electors had not changed since the last election. He wculd therefore oppose the amendment,
Mr Fisher said tire question of the reduction , of niumbas was not puc prominently before the ' e’cctors at the last election. 'J he only questions [ submitted to them wore those of a general i amendment and lowering of taxation. The reduction of members was purely voluntary, and was not the will of the constituencies at all. lie had voted for the Act of 18S7, but had seen reason for changing his opinion, ' and he nor/ thought that a dissolution of Parliament was the only solution. He believed ■ entirely in the | rinciple of one man one vote, and hoped at any rate that it would be carried, j Proceeding with Ids speech at great length, Mr i F,slier said that some members were anxious to prolong the present Parliament—some cf them from sordid motives —for the sake of tbo honoraiium.
Mr fSAMUEL objr-clcd to this imputation, unless Mr Fisher could name some mamber who bad stated so. Mr Fisher add he was not there to answer any of the interrogations of the hon. member for New Plymouth. He was not there to be catechised by that gentleman, Mr Samuel, as a point of order, asked whether any member was at liberty to attribute sordid motives to other members.
In answer to the Chairman, Mr Fisher said he had only put the case hypothetically, and if the chairman desired it ho would withdraw the statement, but he had long made up his mind to resist Mr Samuel's habit of catechising him. Mr Samuel: Whenever an hon. genthman uses a word unworthy of an lion, gentleman, I shall call attention to it.
Mr Fisher, concludirg, said that the time was ripe for a dissolution, and those who thought so should vote for the amendment. For his part, ho hoped it would be carried almost unanimously. Messrs Taiwhakga and Monk made excited speeches for and against the amendment respectively. Sir G. Grey said that as to the proposal to abolish plural voting, the effect of the Bill, to his mind, was to take from the towns all power and to give to the country large powers indeed, which the people would not be allowed to exercise themselves, but which would be wielded by future rapacious landlords. With respect to his third resolution, he thought that a dissolution should bs insisted on. _ Members were submitting to ignominy in allowing one man to threaten them that if they did not pass Bills he introduced twouty-one of them should be walked cut of existence. If an immediate appeal were granted, with a House of ninety-five members, people would express their opinion with no uncertain sound on the question of a reduced number of members.
Mr Bruce said that the evils of tho plural vote were not so great as had been anticipated, for five-sixths of tho eleoters were working men. The verdict of the country having at last election beer, in favor of a reduction of tho number of members, any reversal thereof would ba indefensible without an appeal to the electors. He was in favor of the one man one vote principle, Mr Hones would support tho abolition of tho plural vote if introduced separately, fcut not when tacked to a proposal for suspending the Reduction of Members Bill.
Mr Taylor said that tho plural vote was a curse to the country and prejudicial to the artisans and working men cf the colony. He regarded the amendment as a step in the right direction, and the threat of a dissolution would not prevent tho free exercise of his vote. Mr Fishkr said that the whole object of tho Representation Bill introduced this session was to weaken tho democratic form of government. The gre-.t mass of the people were beginning to see that their political rights were being endangered, and the passing of the amendments should bo secured, as a dissolution would inevitably follow in that erse. Mr Perceval thought if he could achieve a dissolution by any means ho would do ro, because the House was thoroughly disorganised. The only other course was a compromise, and he did not despair of a compromise being effect d. Ho warned the country party that if a compromise were not effected the town party would continue their tactic?, and eventually defeat the Bill.
The Colonial Six hetaht distinctly gave the Committee to understand that ti.l the present amendment was disposed of no question of a compromise could he entertained. It was a pity that the member fur Auckland Central had not pioposod the one man one vote principle by a separate clause in the Bill, and thus allowed a fair vote to lie record'.d on it. If a stonewall was to be continued, the majority of the House would have to assert their rights and privileges. Mr Mkntkath said that such speeches as that of the Colonial Secretaiy tended to inflame the dissension between the town and country party, and to make a compromise impossible. He intimated his intention of supporting the amendment, Ur FitciiK'ir said that had those town members who supposed the reduction of members had an idea that the quota to the country was to he so monstrously raued, their votes would have been cast against the Bill. At 11.20 p.m. the Chairman said that ho would resume the chair at 11 o’clock to-morrow morning. Messrs Fcobie Mackenv.ie, Bai,lance, and others urged that this was irregular and a new dc-parturo. They protested that the proper course was to report progress after the chairman had left the chair, and the sitting be adjourned. Mr Moss protested against the injustice of the Chairman of Committees in lending himeclf as a tool to the Government. A CMsorclorly Scene followed, in the course of which members congregated on the floor of the House, and one hon. member took the chair and rang the hell, whereupon other members rushed in from the lobbies, Rclilnd tlic Scenes. Fome light was let in to-night as to how the agitation was initiated in Auckland last week with respect to the Representation Bill. Amid much laughter Mr Monk read to the House the following telegram, which had been tent to a prominent Auckland citizen by Messrs T. Thompson, F. J. Moss, and D. Goldie, M.H.R.sMembers of all the cities are unanimous in opposing the Representation Bill. This measure is the result of intrigue and gross overwhelming power to the country Conservative meinbcis. It means death to Protection, as well as to democratic progress, Thcopposi tion hero will bs con inuod till time is given for an expression of public opinion. Meetings are to be held in Christchurch, Dunedin, and Wellington. Will Auckland not sptak? Communicate with the Trade and Labor Council, Protection League, and other societies. Get the mayors of the city and snbuibs to call public meetings. Most important to act quick’y.” Peisonnl Uecrinilnatlons. That a good deal of ill-feeling Las been aroused between tho town and country members during the present crisis is unquestionable. Several warm passages-at-arms have taken place, and in these tho Otago members have figured pnmirently. This forenoon Mr T, Mackenzie said that the mem or for Dunedin West had crept into this House on several occasions by the narrowest of majorities, and that lie never bad tho courage of his opinions. The hon. gentleman was “bobbing about “on one side or the other till he knew the views of the majority of his constituents, and then he would give some decided expression of opinion. That was his attitude on all important measures. Whin the Representation Bill was first under consideration, and tho town members resolved to resist what they considered an injustice to them, Mr Stewnit rifmed to sign tho “Round Robin ” promoted by them; but as soon as he discovered that the town wore hout and soul with their members, he took a pronounced stand on tho Bill. He (Mr Mackenzie) regretted that there had during the debate been a marked absence of gentlemanly behaviour on the part of the city membei s. Mr Down in Stewart said that he was not ashamed of being returned by small majorities when it was recollected that the candidate opposed to him wns a gentleman of whom this colony might well be proud-the Hoc. T. Dick. - (Hear.)— Probab’y if tho member for Olutha had been opposed to that gentleman ho would net have got in at all. He reminded Mr Mackenzie that it was rumored in the Clutha district that his return was duo to tho fact that he had been guilty of stuffing the roil with a number of navvies who bad only been a short time in the district,
During the evening sitting Mr Fish tendered an ample apology for havirg wounded Mr T. Mackenzie’s feelings by stating on the previous night that he was born of poor parents.
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THE REPRESENTATION DEBATE., Evening Star, Issue 7975, 2 August 1889
THE REPRESENTATION DEBATE. Evening Star, Issue 7975, 2 August 1889
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