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NOTES., Issue 7990, 20 August 1889
On introducing the Naval Defence Bill into the House of Lords, Lord SalisThc Rritish bury described the provisions of Mtv.v. the measure as it left the House of Commons, and, as we have not before referred to the matter, it may be worth while to state wh at those pro v i Hun s are. The sum of twenty-one and a-half millious is to be applied to the strengthening of the Navy—ten millions for ships to bo built by contract by private builders, and eleven and a-half millions for ships to be built in the public dockyards. The work is to be finished in four and a-half years. The prospect is that at the end of that time the Navy will be stronger than it is now by 113 ships. The chief increase is to be in cruisers, the number of which will be raised from forty to 100; while the number of battleships will be raised from fifty to sixty-five. When this task Las been accomplished Lord Salisbury expects that the British Navy will conform to “ the general rule or maxim for tho guidance of this country as a great maritime nation, that we ought always to have at our command a fleet which would be equal to a combination of any two great Powers which might be brought against us.” Even with the new ships the combined navies of France and Germany will slightly outnumber the British fleet; but, as Lord Salisbury observes, such a combination is in the last degree improbable. Any other combination (including that of France and Russia) will fail to equal the number of British ships, whether in cruisers or battle ships. In answer to the critics who argue that even so great an addition of ships is not adequate for the defence of British trade in all parts of the world, Lord Salisbury observes that such an assertion fails to recognise the altered conditions of warfare, owing to the necessity of cruisers continually striking back to their base of supply for coaling purposes. Most of the commerce of the world depends upon British coaling stations, and such foreign stations as there are could bo watched by England with comparative ease. “Therefore, the danger for our distant trade—for our trade in the Pacific, north and south—is much less, comparatively, under the new system of warfare than it was under the old —of course for the Power that has command of the sea. Before you decide that any particular part of the world can be exposed to the depredations of a hostile cruiser, you must ask what base belonging to her own nation that hostile cruiser can go to for coal, and whether that base is within striking distance.” Lord Salisbury himself, towards the close of his speech, spoke very gravely of the perils and uncertainties which beset tho whole question, but it seems to be pretty generally admitted that the Government proposals strike a reasonable balance between the extreme alarmists on the one hand, and the sceptics or economists on the other. It is at any rate a matter of congratulation that some real decision has been arrived at by Parliament with practical unanimity, and that we are likely to hear less in future of the perplexing and monotonous discussions as to the adequacy of the British forces which have been so prevalent daring the last few years. A discussion on leprosy at the annual meeting of the Epidemiological Society, recently held in Lonleprosy. (j orl) waß enlivened by the novel attraction (?) of two lepers, a boy and an old man, who were “produced.” It appears that there arc only about twenty known cases of leprosy in England, so that there is no great occasion for alarm from internal sources; but tho prevalence and annual increase of the disease in India, considering the intercourse between that country and England, ia a subject of considerable apprehension. If present conditions were to be allowed to continue, an increase of lepers to the extent of 7,000 or 9,000 annually might be looked for in India. An Indian surgeon stated during the discussion that the principal cause of tho increase was the fact that lepers are not “removed”as they used to be—certainly a very natural cause. When the Punjaub was annexed an order was issued to this effect: “ Burn not widows, kill not infant girls, bury not (alive) lepers.” Unfortunately, this humanitarian prohibition was unaccompanied by any precautionary measures, equally humanitarian, for the protection and control of the lepers. It is understood that the Government of India is about to take some step at last. All authorities upon the subject agree that something is necessary, and indeed the only thing possible, is to provide institutions for the compulsory segregation of the victims, together with absolute separation of tho sexes, As there is no cure, gradual extinction is the only result to be arrived at, together, of course, with com*
passionate treatment of the sufferers while they live. It is thought that the establishment of 1,000 suoh institutions would, before very long, cause the disease to be as rare in India us in European countries. Me Barkov has obtained a return of the money taken daring the pact I’iuKupliil thirteen years to aid the reverifflfw’ nue ' The grand total is SK* b* L3 ( 822,55'2,ir0m which L5;V2,500 baa been paid back at different times out oi revenue. The balance (L3,29!),232) consists (1) of L 1,272,284 debentures put into the Sinking Fund in lieu of the annual accretions in cash which must otherwise have been paid ; (2) L 1,432,000 added to the permanent public debt; (11) L 512.900 outstanding and not funded on 3lst March last; (4) L73.04S balance of loans transferred to Consolidated Fund. Not a single year has passed since 1875 in which aid to the revenue has not been thus obtained. 3.h0 return is worth giving in full, and should be studied by the taxpayer ~ ri 3 8? *3 o 2, ij k 3 -> a 5 : 7173 «• £ - k Year. j£|lg £ | g Total. 11 S | S .2 | J| o -- -g I 7; £ to 3 o 3 c 55 'Sa 4'"S fa C £ ! £ 1875-70 .7 173,000 .. I 173,100 is;(j-V7 .. 300,000 .. I roo.ouo 1877- 71.018 .. .. 7:1,0 IS 1878-1579-SO 1 .. 1,000/00 . I 1,000.000 ISnOSI | .. 1)1,300 .. I 1)1,31.0 1881-83 | IS-3-SJ .. 50,000 .. j 10.000 1883 S4 318,000 .. 31-,' 00 1881-85 ! -■ 2-17,700 31) ,700 lb-5-Sti .. | .. 30.3,3-0 353,300 188(1-87 I .. ! 54,100 251,000 305.100 ISS7-SS ' 1 408.930 353,1 »4 757,0.-4 1888-81) | .. j .. 203,280 308,300 <f 75.11.H I 3.477.300 1.273.354 ;! 832 532 Of the above wum of .. .. £3,477,200 There hr.s been added to '.he p-rmanent debt .. £1,433,000 And pail off out cf revenue 533.300 'Out jt-nnbnsr oa March 31.7880 .. £513,030 At the present juncture, when so much is being said in and out of Parliuidemo of an Lament about the advantages Income Tux. that an income tax possesses over our Property Tax, an extract from a lecture recently delivered in London by Mr Bruce, Q.C., M.P., an authority on the subject, on the incidence of the income tux, is worthy of perusal. He is reported to have said ; Although the tax had formerly been looked upon as a war tax, he thought one could not look forward to its being abandoned in the near future, and therefore it was important to consider how it could be levied, as far as possible, in a just aud equal manner. It was difficult to lay down any principle on which it should he raised. Some had proposed to tax a man according to his means, although the amount a man could afford to pay in taxation depended as much upon his circumstances as upon his income; others had th .ught a man should be taxed according to the amount of protection ho uijuyed from the State, a'though it was evident that a man with L 1.0,000 a year did not require ten times as much protection as a man with LI,OOO a year. Others, again, had proposed a graduated or proportional tax, which, if logic illy carried out, would comped certain men to hand over the whole of their income to the tax collector. A more practicable proposal was to tax incomes derived from temporary sources at a lower rate than those derived from permanent somces. A trader or a professional man or an artisan was under the necessity of saving pait of his income ; a man who derived hi ■ income from land or from the funds was under no such necessity, because he could leave his entire income to his family. Those who saved money out of their earnings practically had to pay income tax twice over upon that part of their income which they saved —a state of things which acted as a direct discouragement to thrift. In such cases a certain deduction should be allowed to be made from the amount liable for income tax. AVith regard to the piop.Tty tax, the lecturer recommended that this should be levied from the net rent of houses after paying outgoings for repairs. Tin's would only be assimilating Imperial taxation with local taxation. Tire uctiu'er did not ti.iuk it was passible to make the incidence of the income tax ab-olutely just in theory, but there were instances whore it was evident that amendment was needed. Mr. VV. I). Stkwart is again attempting to reform our criminal procedure I’-omlurc * n muu h-iiecdod directions, but Reform. it is unfortunate that his effort is made at the fag end of the session, when members arc not iu a proper frame of mind to give to the questions at issue the consideration their importance demands. There is no more competent member in the House than Dunedin West’s representative to cope with the question of legal reform, and now that lie has laid Ids baud on the plough we hope that he will persevere aud labor till he accomplishes the object he has in view. Might wo commend to his notice, since he is about to draft a Bill dealing with one matter of procedure, what is being attempted in Victoria at the present moment. One of the moat experienced politicians in that colony aud an ex-Premier —the Hon. James Service—has moved at the instance of a member of the Judicial Bench in the direction of removing certain seundala that have from time to time occurred in connection with the administration of the law there. The scope of the Bill, and the favor with which it has been received, may be gathered from the attached extracts from the debate on the second reading:— Mr Service : Hon. members knew that a person who was entirely innocent of any offence might bo summoned to give evidence in a particular case, and that this witness might he treated, as the law permitted at the present time, in a way that was a rcandal to the community. How it was that the public had submitted to this for so many years he could not understand. Imagine a young lady put into the box to prove something, say about a cab accident, and in cross-examination she is asked : *• Wei', have you been having any drink to-day, madam Such a question might be asked of a lady against whose character no one could utter a syl able. Mr Frater: The thing is outrageous, Mr Service: Perfectly outtageous. Mr Cuthhevt (representative of the Government) remarked that Sir Filzjarms Stephen strongly rccomrnended'the adoption of the principles of the Bill. Mr Fraser congratulated Mr Service on the introduction of the Bill, am! was confident that the public would heartily approve of it. At tho present time any vulgar, brow-beating lawyer was allowed to badger an innocent witness to such an extent that many people would rather put up with anything or suffer anything than appear in a Court at all, Mr Zeal was sure that Mr Service would receive the thanks of every intelligent layman for his action in this mattir. The experience of many men, and of m n who were able to take care of themselves, who had come under the cross-examination of some counsel, was such as to make them vow that if they could possibly prevent it they would not enter a Court again. The Bill has been drafted by a County Court Judge, and is warmly approved of by Chief Justice Higinbotham, who himself attached to it two clauses relating to indecent or scandalous questions, and questions intended to insult or annoy a witness. Its main provisions, however, have been taken verbatim from the Indian Evidence Act, and were placed iu the code of that Dependency by the greatest criminal lawyer who now adorns the English Bench—Sir Fitzjamos Stephen. Its operation in that country has been wholesome in the extreme. In Stephens’s ‘ Digest of the Law of Evidence ’ the terms of section 148 of the Indian Act tho one referred to are thus stated If any such question relates to a matter not relevant to the suit or proceeding, except in so far ns it affects the credit of the witness by injuring his character, tho Court shall decide whether or not tho witness shall be compelled to answer it, and may, if it thinks fit, warn tho witness that he is not obliged to answer it. In exercising this discretion the Court shall have regard to the following considerations(l) -uch questions are proper if they are of such a nature that tho truth of the imputation conveyed by them would seriously affect the opinion of tho Court as to the credibility of the witness on tho matter to which ho testifies. _ (2) Such questions are improper if tho imputation which they convey Hates to matters so remote in time or of such a character that tho truth of tho imputation would not affect in a slight degree the opinion of the Court as to the cn dibility of tho witness on the matter to which he testifies. (3) Such questions aro improper if there is great disproportion between the importance of the imputation made against the witness’s character and the importance of his evidence. There have not been wanting occasions in our Courts when counsel have carried their
questions far beyond reasonable limits; but the Benches, in the present state of the law, were powerless to check the practice. I! Mr Service’s Bill passes into law, as there is every reasonable probability of it doing, it is to be hoped that Mr Stewart, or some other reformer in our House, will note the circumstance, and at the proper season endeavor to get its salutary provisions engrafted on our law of evidence.
NOTES., Issue 7990, 20 August 1889
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