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[From Odk Parliamentary Reporter.]

■WELLINGTON, August 6. Law of Libel Bill.

This Bill was considered in committee. In the interpretation clause an amendment was made so as to include any monthly publication. Under the title “newspaper report of proceedings in Court to be privileged,” Dr Fitchett moved to make this protection apply to reports of evidence alone, excepting reports of coun.eU’ addressee from the privilege. He pointed out that if these addresjes could bo published without riot unprincipled litigants would put most atrocious statements into the mouths if their counsel, in order to injure their opponents, simply that they might be published. In this view he was supported by the other lawyers in the House. The Colonial Secretary hoped that if the clause were not to be accepted as it stood it would be struck out altogether. After some discussion be moved to report progress, which was carried by 40 to 26, with leave to sit again presently. The Rabbit Pest. In his annual report for the Otago district, Inspector Douglas mentions that the pest each year is getting reduced, and is only really bad in limited areas. He says: “ The chief reliance after the poisoning season must be the natural enemy. The sub-inspectors are endeavoring to educate the farmers in the use of ferrets. During the past twelve months 5,537 ferrets have been bred and taken delivery of under Government contract at 7s 6d each, and 1,482 were purchased by the Govei nment from private individuals at an average cost of 5s 6d each, Of these about 5,000 have been liberated, principally in the high country in Waitaki, Vincent, and Lake Counties, and the balance sold to runholders at half-price, either for immediate liberation or to be kept through the_ winter and turned out in the spring. Besides these, over 4,000 ferrets have been bred and liberated by private breeders. The beneficial effeots|of ferrets turned out in the cold and wet climate of Wallace during the last five years are sufficient guarantee of their usefulness if properly protected. So few stoats and weasels have been liberate! in the Otago distiict that I have no special information concernthem, except that they have been recently seen at Clydevale, Kawarau Falls, and Lake Wanaka, The spreading of gorse and broom, both on freeholds and along mining reserves, etc, on river banks, has become a very serious matter, and very strong measures will have to be resorted to for its extermination. Overgrown fences ate also a great stronghold for rabbits. Bush frontages and partial clearings are also another source of trouble. In conclusion, I am so satisfied of the benefit accruing from ferrets that I would strongly recommend that authority be granted to enable me to arrange for a full supply during the ensuing two seasons. The employment of professional rabbitters and trapping should be discouraged in every possible way. I would also suggest that rabbit-proof wire netting should be included in the list of legal fences.” The Rival Ocean Services.

A return has been furnished at the instance of Mr A. H. Boss, showing the value to this colony of the rival ocean going steamers as cargo and passenger services. During the year ended December 31 last the New Zealand Shipping Oo.’h boats carried inwards 20,614 tons of cargo, and outwards 19,642 tons; the Shaw, Savill and Albion steamers carried inwards 25,390 tons, and' outwards 23,664 tons; while the San Francisco service (Union Co.’s steamers) only brought inwards 1,892 tons, and conveyed outwards 864 tons. The arrivals of persons by the various routes were; New Zealand s ' hipping Co.’s steamers, 1,911; Shaw, Savill and Albion Co.’s, 1,747; San Francisco eervice, 187. The departures were: New Zealand Shipping Co.’s, 1,126; Shaw, Savill and Albion Co.’s, 793; and the Han Francisco steamers, 507. The New Zealand hipping Co.’s steamers were supplied with 24,430 tons of New Zealand coal, of the value of 127,484; the Shaw, SaviT and Albion service took 21,039 tons, of the value of L 22,100; while the San Francisco boats only obtained 8,415 tons, of the value of 18,415. No stronger argument than those figures supply can be raised by those oppoeed to the San Francisco service. What the Te Kootl Campaign Cost. The expenditure upon the Te Eooti campaign last March was as follows Purchase of stores, L 53; shipping charges and passages of permanent militia and volunteers, L 5368 5; cartage and horse hire, L33L; rations for volunteers. Natives, etc., L 34 1; labor, L 7 19s fid; miscellaneous, L 10; pay, etc., of volunteers and Kativcs, L 1,256; total, L 2,610145. The Rabbit Conference.

, The to’al cost to the colony of Mr A D. Bell’s services as its representative at the Intercolonial Babbit Conference in Sydney was L5Ol Is fid. Mr Bell paid three separate visits to Australia, and spent 158 days tnere. The Pension List. Several public officers, who either have reined or propose shortly to retire, will receive pensions as follows from the dates mentioned ; —Mr Fostfr Goring, late clerk to the Executive Connci 1 , Ll3O, from Ist December, 1889 ; Mr R. S. Sinclair, Postal Department, L 67 17s 2J, from let December, 1888; Mr J, Shrimpton, Postal, L14613s 4d, from Ist July, 1889; Mr C, T. Batkin, Assistant Controller and Auditor, L 5 3, from Ist April, 1690; Mr O. W. Ward, Customs, L18613s 4d, from Ist July, 1889. An Awkward Mistake,

pregnant with serious possibilities, occurred tonight. It appears that when the time was being fixed to which the Otago Central Railway Bill was to be postponed, the Premier, who was in charge of the measure, was out of the Chamber, he having been called to the telephone, and in his absence the period of delay was fixed at a fortnight. Singularly enough, Mr Fish and Dr Fitchett, who were present, though seemingly taken by su-prise at the long delay asked for did not speak to the question of time (which Mr Walker had suggested), and the adjournment was carried non, con. to the great hilarity of the opponents of the Bill, who declared that it was "killed.” About half an hour later members were astonished when in the middle of the cornu ittal stage of the Law of Libel Hill to find the Government anxious to report progress. On the Speaker resuming the chair the Premier explained what had occurred, and asked for leave to move without notice that the order cf postponement be rescinded and the Bill be set down for the next day. To do this the unanimous consent of the House was necessary, and, as several members dissented (Messrs Guinness and Fraser’s voices being prominent), the motion could not be put. The P.emier thereupon moved the adjournment of the House, stating that as the measure was an important policy Bill the Government could not think of doing any public business until this question bad been settled. After a short debate the House adjourned. The Premier used very strong language in the lobbies immediately afterwards with regard to the action of Messrs Fraser, Walker, and Guinness, and declared that if any opposition were shown to the reinstatement of the Bill he would, if necessary, make a Ministerial stand on the question. The unfortunate blunder that was made is not likely to prejudice the passage of the Bill, but on the contrary is likely to militate against those opponents of it who, by taking advantage of the Premier’s momentary absence, tried to seriously retard or Linder an important Government measure. Responsible Government far Western Australia. Mr B. H. Beeves has tabled a motion expressive of sympathy with the colonists of Western Australia in their efforts to obtain rr sponsible government, and expressing regret at the attitude of the Imperial Government, and directing that the Premier shall cable this resolution to Western Australia. Petitions. An unusual number of petitions, the accumulation of the last fortnight, were presented when the House met this afternoon. One of them, brought up by Mr Fulton, was from a large number of women, who (be said, amid laughter) prayed that "their hearts might be rejoiced by the repeal of the Contagious Diseases act.” Old Soldiers’ Claims.

An extension of time for a fortnight has been granted in which the Committee appointed to inquire into the claims of old soldiers should bring up their report. Copyright Bill. This measure came before Ihe Legislative Council to-day. It i object is to remove anomalies from the existing law, and it is on the lines of the existing Imperial statute. The AttorneyGeneral stated that he did not expect the Bill to be passed, and had merely introduced it in order to familiarise the public with it. 1 he Bill was then withdrawn. The only other business of importance transacted by the Council was the passi g of the Public Reserves Act Amendment Bill through its final stages, Otago University. The Chancellor of the University of Otago, in his annual 'report to His Excellency, nientiois that the session which commenced on Ist May was attended by IS4 students, t f whom 180 have matriculated. 'The Council regret that they were constrained to make further reductions for another year in the rents of Barewood Rufl, but trust that the better times which have set in will bring the needed relief to the Council’s tenants. Tke following reference was made to the late Professor Main waring Brown:—“ The -Council report with deep regret the loss which the University and tMa community have sustained through the death of Professor M. Brown while exploring a teo-

tion of tho West Coast of Otago. The most active efforts were put forth, aided by the Government, for the recovery of his remains, but without success. It was found that he had bequeathed to the University which he locally served hia library and LICO for the purchase of booka.” _ Mount Ida Water nace. At this forenoon’s meeting of tho Goldfields Commifcteo a letter wia read from the of the Miners’ Association, Nastby, asking the Committee to support a Bill promised to be introduced by the Premier to enable the Mount Id* race owners to borrow from tho (..overnment, under the Loans to Local Bodies Act, for the purpose of ft reservoir. It was decided to give the support asked for. The Ward-t'hrlstle Trouble. The Public Petitions (A to L) Committee reported this afternoon that as Mr \VTn. Christie, of Oamaru, had instituted civil proceedings against Judge Ward they did not consider that they should proceed further with the inquiry of the Christie petition while the matter is subJwJicc. A desultory discussion followed, in tho course of which Ministers heard a good deal of plain candid criticism of their conduct. Mr Seddon led off tho attack by moving that the petition ba referred back for reconsideration, it being bis opinion that the Committee should have advised as to the position regarding the correspondence between Judge Ward and Ministers. Parliament had been trifled with, and the civil proceedings seemed to have been taken for the purpose of burking an inquiry. His impression was that as soon as the session closul Ministers would, without further inquiry, remove Judge Ward from the Bench unless some action was taken by Parliament in the meantime. Other hon. members express'.d the opinion that the Committee hed failed in their duty in sheltering themselves behind the fact that an action had been commenced, of which they ought to have no cognisance, and urged (that a (joint committee of both Houses should be appointed to inquire into the matter, as the Colonial Secretary’s conduct required some explanation. Mr Samuel (a lawyer) thought that the spirit, if not the letter, made a Judge of tho U:-trict Court amenable to Parliament only, while Mr Scobie Mackenzie pointed out that it was not the Minister for Justice who interfered but a colleague, who happened to be a member for the district and a member of the firm of solicitors ac'ing for one of the parties interest! d. Mr Fisher and Mr Fish respectively considered that there had keen grave irregularities in connection with the matter, and improper exercise of their functions on the part of Ministers, while Air Ballance commented very adversely on the action of the Colonial Secretary, and urged that the Government, instead of burking an inquiry, should court one. The Hon. Mr Hialop said that members _ were not in a proper frame of mind to then calmly diecuss the matter, while some members by their speeches had shown that they had not read the correspondence through. Eventually a motion to refer the report back was lost on the voices. Mr Larnaoh subsequently gave notice of motion for the appointment of a select committee to eit jointly with a committee of tho Upper House to consider the whole matter. The Premier wanted to know whether the intention was to impeach the_ conduct of Ministers, and Mr Lirnach replied that tho motion was not intended hostile!y. Thereupon the Premier asked that the motion bo deferred till next day to give Government lirao to consider it, and Mr Larnach concurred in tho

request. Jottings. The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand has petitioned Parliament through Mr Downie Stewart for the abolition of the totalise r, for the prohibition of the publication of details of immoral cases in the Courts, andfor the putting down of pugilism end other minor sporting matter. Mr Stddon intends to ask the Premier ■whether, on behalf of New Zealand, he iatemls to remonstrate with the Givernmcnt of Victoria on the proposed increased tariff on cereals Mr Rhodes is inquiring whether the Government will introduce the Civil Seivco Bill this session. The subsidy to the Dunedin Hospital last year amounted to L 3.020 Is fid. Had the new Bill now before tbo House been in force it would have been L3,7C9 10s. Mr Fulton is inquiring whether the Government will give effect to the Prohibition resolution earned by the House on the 17th uU. Mr Taylor is asking the Minister of Mines whether it is true that the Union Steam Slop Company virtually monopolise the West Coal coal trade, and whether it is true that the company refuse to supply dealers in West Coast coals with that commodity unless they will undertake to obtain the'r supplies of Newcastle coals from the company’s agent-. Our Lunatic Asylums. Tire annual report on lunatic a'-ylurns, prelected yesterday, shows that the numbri- of registered insane on Slat December last was 1,681, showing a decrease of fourteen since the end of the previous year. The proportion of insane to the p pulation (exelasivo of Maoris) was lin 301. During the past year a saving of 1 1 8t 2Jd per head was made on asylum expenditure, and this year Inspector Macgngor is able to show a still larger saving of L2 5s 7.? d per head without in any way diminishing the comfort cf the patients. Kelson and Wellington are reported to be the costliest institutions. Dr Macgregor is quite satisfied that I'r Tnrhy King’s promotion to Seaclift Asylum has been amply justified. Perhaps the most signal impiovi men- which he has effected is the large proportion, especially on the male side, who have been induced to work. No other cause has had so much to do with the greatly-improved appearance and healllr cf the inmates, tho whole institution now working nnoothly and harmoniously: ami the only difficulty now is the confusion and anxiety that will ho inaepa’able from tho recomtruction of the damaged portion of the female side. Dr Macgregor says that this part must ha pulled down, and the sooner the better; fur no one can say what tho effect of a heavy rainstorm may bo. Tho cracks in tho building are, be thinks, getting worse. He is exceedingly gratified to find that, owing to tbo unceasing energy and care of Dr King and his s'aff, tho great overcrowding that Ins existed since the north wing was abandoned has not been allowed in any way cither to disorganise tho working of tho asylum or to relax discipline.

‘ First Offender*’ Probation Act. The operation of the First Offenders Probation Ant is, iu the opinion of the Inspector of Prisons, more satisfactory than its most ardent supporters could possibly have anticipated. Last year, out of cighty-two offenders treated under the Act, for tv satisfactorily carried out the conditions of their licenses, one was rearrested and imprisoned, one absconded, and forty remained still working out the conditions of their obligations successfully. Out of the 203 persons who have been plac'd under the Act since it came into force, 143 have satisfactorily fulfilled lire conditions, fortyt.ine are still on brobation, ten have been rearrested and brought to justice, wh le only one has managed to elude the police and the proba'ion officers. That one is supposed not to have left the colony, and will probably be rearrested. Had last year’s probationers been imprisoned they must have cost the colony L2,G00, while they paid costs and fees amounting to L 203, so that pub' ic funds have benefited by the' Act to the extent of L 2.805. The inspector commends the probation officers for the way in which they have carried out their duties The Otago Central. As Mr Mitchelson will probably deliver his Public Works Statement to-night, the Governm nt will put the Otago Central Railway Bill at the heed of the Order Paper this afterreon, and will insist on its reinstatement, so that the debate on the second reading can be continued whenever Ministers desire. The Premier’s motion for the reinstatement of the Otago Central Bill was assented to on the voices, after a brief discussion. Concessions to Clergymen. In reply to a comrounicition sect to the Railway Commissioners, Mr Rhodes has been in formed that the extension of the regulation applying to religh us bodies will be autbori oJ, so that delegates wi;l bo granted special fives when attending not only tire annual meetings of Synod, but all duly authorised meetings. Clergymen will be also allowed during sessions of Synod to return to their homrs to preach on payment of the special fare provided.

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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 7979, 7 August 1889

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POLITICAL GOSSIP. Issue 7979, 7 August 1889

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