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THE REPRESENTATION BILL., Issue 7978, 6 August 1889
THE REPRESENTATION BILL.
[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, August 5. Amalgamation of the City Electorates. On subsection 5, assigning three members to each city (amalgamated electorates), being reached, Mr Fish took strong objection to this part of the Bill. He contended that if the amalgamation of the cities were desirable so was the amalgamation of the country electorates, on the ground that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander. Then, amalgamation would enable the moneyed organisations to combine, and thus carry all the city seats ; and it would also enable a powerful speaker to carry for himself and his entourage all the seats. Take Dunedin for instance. He argued that there a powerful speaker and debater, and a popular man like Sir R. Stout, would carry the whole electorate on his back ; and it would be of little use for anyone else to contest a seat. In Auckland, too, if Sir George Grey still retained his mana, the result there would be the same. His (the speaker’s) other objections to the clause were that amalgamation would place too great power in the hands of the various “ isms,” and that it would increase the cost of contesting elections, and so prevent men of moderate means from offering themselves as candidates. In support of this latter contention, he said that the election for a city seat could now be “ run ” for about Ll5O, but to contest Dunedin as a whole would cost L4OO. In conclusion, he argued that amalgamation would be an illiberal and anti-democratic step, and he saw no valid reason why the town should be treated differently from the country. Mr Downie Stewart strongly supported the amalgamation of the city electorates. Up till 1881 Dunedin was one district, and the members returned prior to that date were quite as good as those since returned. Since 1881 there had been great dissatisfaction, and unnecessary expense had been incurred and bitterness of feeling fostered. The present system of canvassing would be done away with, and the citizens would be in a better position to give free expression to their opinion uninfluenced by personal appeals. He had too much confidence in the intelligence and independence of the city electors to believe that they would be led by any one man unless he was advocating reforms which they approved of. He had every confidence in the success of the proposed change. Dr Newman thought that when men who were not in affluent circumstances could be found to contest an election every twelve months for the mayoralty of a city, it was apparent that the necessity for contesting a Parliamentary election throughout the whole city every three years would not prevent men of moderate means from coming forward. The majority of the electors of Wellington were in favor of amalgamation, and he hoped that the clause would be carried.
Mr Taylor had opposed amalgamation before, and saw no reason for altering his opinion. It would bring about more localism than existed now, because all the members for a city would have to agitate for any works their constituents required. Mr W. P. Reeves said that after a good deal of hesitation he had decided to support the proposal. As a change was being made in the city representation, the present time was opportune for its adoption. Dr Fitchett hoped that the clause would be carried. There was no analogy between the city and country electorates. The Act directed that in fixing boundaries the Commissioners should give due consideration to community of interest, facilities of communication, and topographical features. These elements were all present in the city, and all absent in the country. Amalgamation would do good in many ways. The cities would be stronger in the House. The members of an amalgamated city would be responsible to one common tribunal, and would, therefore, co-operate more heartily in the House. The expense of elections would not be increased. At present an electorate was so small that every candidate was forced into making an exhaustivepersonal canvass with all its attendant expense. If the whole city were made one electorate a personal canvass would be next to impossible. This would lessen the expense of a contest. He had heard no good reason urged why the cities should be gridironed into separate districts by absolutely artificial lines. The freer and wider the right of the voter the better it would be for all concerned.
Messrs T. Thompson and Goldie opposed the amalgamation, as being contrary to the wishes of their constituents, and on account of the largeness of the electorates, which would conduce to roll-stuffing and personation. Mr Goldie thought at least the amalgamation should be left to the option of each city. Mr Samuel had heard no good reason adduced in favor of the proposal, and would therefore vote against it. On a division the subsection was carried by 48 to 15. The following is the division list
Ayes.—Messrs Allen, Sir H. Atkinson, Barron, Blake, Brown, Buchanan, Buxton, Cameron, Dodson, Fergus, Fisher, Fitohott, Fraser, Fulton, Sir George Grey, Grimmond, Guinness, Sir John Hall, Harkness, Hislop, Hobbs, Hodgkinson, Humphreys, Kelly, Lance, Mackenzie (T.), Merchant, M'Gregor, Mills, Moss, Newman, O’Conor, Ormond, Perceval, Reeves (VV. P., teller), Richardson (G.F.), Ross, Saunders, Seddon (teller), Seymour, Steward, Stewart, StuartMenteatb, Tanner, Thomson (R.), Valentine, Walker, Whyte. Noes.—Messrs Cadman, Carroll, Feldwiok, Fish (teller), Goldie, Lawry, Moat, Parata, Richardson (E.), Samuel, Taiwhanga, Taylor, Thomson (T., teller), Turnbull, Vetrall. Pairs.—For: Messrs Rhodes and Graham. Against: Messrs Jones and Withy. Taking: a Census. After the Representation Bill had been gone through, Mr Cadman moved to add to the clause a proviso that a census be taken in March, 1890. The Chairman ruled that the amendment was out of order, because it affected the Census Act; but subsequently accepted it as an amendment directing that a special census be taken for the purposes of this Act. The Colonial Secretary opposed the amendment as being inopportune. It was also inconvenient to insert the provision iu the Bill, and if the amendment were allowed to stand over he would undertake to give the House another opportunity of considering the question of taking a special census. On this understanding Mr Cadman withdrew his amendment. “ One Man One Tote.” Sir George Grey moved the following new clauses providing machinery for the abolition of the plural vote (1) From and after the passing of this Act no elector shall vote at any election of members for the House of Representatives in respect of more than ono electorate. Any person voting in respect of more than one electorate shall be guilty of aa offence under this Act. (2) The returning officer or deputy returning officer may, and if so required by any scrutineer shall, at any election, before allowing any person to vote, put to such person the following question;—“ Have you already voted at the present election in any electoral district?” and unless such person answers such question in the negative he shall not be permitted to vote. Any person giving a false answer shall be guilty of an offence under this Act. (3) Any person guilty of an offence under this Act shall bo liable, on conviction before a resident magistrate, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month,”
Mr Tanner thought that the clause was sut of place in this Bill. Captain Pa ssei.l did not see any reason why one who had grown grey in the Imperial and colonial and diplomatic services should be placed on the same footing as an inmate of an old men’s home. If the principle was to be adopted, the franchise (he as -an- ted amid cheers) must he extended to women —a proposal which he earnestly supported. Believing in the rights of property, he must oppose the present motion. The Colonial .Secretary said the hon. member for Hawke’s Bay could make up his mind that manhood suffrage was the principle upon which our representation system was based. The Government intended to support the clause. Mr Monk said ha would vote for the clause because there was an outcry for it from the country, though on the ground of common sense his convictions were against it. He wished to take away from the agitators a theme of which they made much capital. The first section of the clause was ordered to be read a second time by no to 18, and was added to the Bill. The following was the division list Ayes.— Messrs Allen, Anderson, BaUancc, Barron, Brown, Bruce, Buchanan, Buxton, Oadiuan, uarrou, Dodson, Feldwick, Fergus, Fish, FitcheU. Fraser, Goldie, Sir G. Grev, Grimmond, Guinness. Harkiiose, Hislop, Hobbs, Humphreys, Hutchinson, Jacitson, Joyce, Kelly, Kerr, Lawry, Soobie Mackenzie, Mac•'teeor, Mitohelson, Moat, Monk, Moss, O Conor, Parata, Perceval, Reeves, R Saunders, Seddon, Seymour, Steward, Stewart,Stuart-Menteath, Taiwhanga, Tanner, Taylor, Thompson (R.), Thompson (T.). Turnbull, Valentine, Verrall, Walker. _ , Nobs —Messrs Cowan, Fulton, Sir J. Hall, HodgkinsoQ| Izard t Jones, Lance, Larnach, Macarthur, Mackenzie (T.), Ormond, Rhodes. Richardson (G. F.), Ross, Russell, Samuel, Taipua, Whyte. The other sections of the clause were agreed to on the voices, save that a penalty of LSO was inserted for a term of imprisonment as originally proposed. At 1 a.m. Sir John Hall (who has a new clause to propose providing for extending the franchise to women, and which is certain to occupy some time in discussion) asked when it was proposed to adjourn. Several members having urged that progress be reported, the Colonial Secretary offered no objection, and an adjournment till 2.30 p.m. was made.
THE REPRESENTATION BILL., Issue 7978, 6 August 1889
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