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THE REPRESENTATION QUESTION., Issue 7983, 12 August 1889
THE REPRESENTATION QUESTION.
A correspondent, over tho signature " Civis," writes to the 'Evening Press':— " Now that we have ' Hansards' Nos. !) and 10 before us, and the manifestos of both town and country members, and the compromise that has been arrived at, we are in a position to judge of the relative merits of the dispute between the two parties, and to decide whether the town members were justified in the stonewalling tactics at such a heavy cost to the country and the cessation of the legitimate business of Parliament. One and all of the city members who have spoken, and speakers at public meetings who have been misled by them and the city Press who have supported them have, strange to say, started with tho same error that is, confounding population with electors or voters, and have based all their arguments upon it. They have stated that the effect of the Government Bill would be to practically disfranchise the city electorates, and to make the vote of a city elector worth only three-fourths that of a country elector, and this would, indeed, have been the case if, as they argue, the whole population were electors—that is if every man, woman, and child had a vote ; but as only every adult male has a vote their contention, as wo shall see, falls to the ground like all other contentions that are based ou false premises. Now the last elections show that the whole of the Wellington city electorates had only one-fouith of the population on the electoral rolls, and this may be taken as a fair sample of city electorates, the remaining three-fourths being women and children, of whom a much larger proportion are in the towns than in the country. In the country electorates about onethird of the population are on tho rolls, the remaining two-thirds being women and children. We will now apply these proportions to the Government Bill (which the country members supported) and see how they work out. The Bill provides a quota of 10,220 of tho population for the towns for the election of one member and 7,665 for the country, and to ascertain the number of electors in each we must take (as has been shown) one-fourth of the town quota and one-third of the country quota; that is, one-fourth of 10,220 is 2,555, and one-third of 7,665 is also 2,555, showing that the voting power of both town and country is precisely the same as intended by the Bill. What then becomes of the statement that ' the voting power of the towns is only three-fourths that of the country ?' and this also disposes of the statement that ' the Bill would disfranchise the towns.' But now let us see how the town and country electorates will be relatively affected by the compromise which gives as the quota of population to the towns of one member 0,076, and to the country for one member 7,565, and to ascertain this we must as before take onefourth of the town quota, 9,676, which gives 2,419 electors, and one-third of the country quota, 7,565, which gives 2,521 electors; or in other words there will be 102 more electors in the country constituency than in a town constituency, requiring over 300 more of population for the country than for tho towns for tho election of one member, which is of course all against the country and in favor of the towns, and this is on the 28 pel cent, added. Now to make tho compromise (under which the large towns and boroughs are separated from the country) just and equal, the town members should have agreed to the proposal of the country members to havo 33;', added to the country, which would give a quota of 9,960 population to the towns and 7,473 to the country, then as before divide the town quota by 4, and we have 2,490 electors for the towns, and dividing the country quota by 3 give 3 2,491 electors for tho country," making the two equal in voting power. It will be seen, therefore, that the concession under the compromise is altogether on the part of the country members and in favor of the towns, and when in addition to this is considered the difficulties, cost, and time incurred in contesting couutry electorates, and in politi cal combination, and recording of votes on the part of the couutry electors as compared with the towns, it will also be seen that the credit for magnanimity shown in defence of a great principle—which has been so _ freely applied to the town members by their own supporters, and by them as freely appropriated—really belongs to the country membors, who have been contending all through (as we can now see) for justice and equality. It is evident they have conceded a point to save time and co3t to the country, and feeling themselves the stronger have gracefully yielded to the weaker party ; and that all honor is due to them for so doing is the opinion of unbiased citizens, and will be the verdict of every intelligent and fair-minded man throughout the colony.
THE REPRESENTATION QUESTION., Issue 7983, 12 August 1889
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