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A QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE., Issue 7998, 29 August 1889
A QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE.
SUPPRESSING COUNCILLORS' SPEECHES. [From Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON. August 28. Before the Orders of the Day were called on in the Legislative Council this afternoon the Hon. S. E. Shrimski stated that, on Wednesday last, the 21st inst., in the discharge of his duties as a member of the Council, he had thought it fit and proper to ask the Attorney-General whether he intended, on behalf of the Government, to bring down any motion with respect to the illnesss of Lord Cranley. He had spoken on the impulse of the moment, feeliog that something should be done to show His Excellency that they, as members of the Council, entertained considerable sympathy with him iu the trouble which had lately afflicted him. Sir Frederick Whitaker had replied that on the following day he would inform the Council what action it was intended to take. Having spoken briefly under excitement, and naturally being of a nervous temperament, ho felt anxious to see the * Hansard' proof of his remarks. He waited a whole week for the purpose of seeing the proof, but it did not turn up. Therefore he had that morning called at the printing office, thinking that his speech might be inserted in ' Hansard' without being submitted to him for correction, and was surprised to find that no account of what he had stated had been furnished to the printers. He consequently deemed it his duty to bring the matter before the Council, not because it merely affected him in this instance, but because it affected every member of the Council. He wished to know whether any distinction was to be made as regarded hon. members; that while some were entitled to be reported in ' Hansard' others were not to be reported. Having made inquiries as to the cause of this irregularity, he had that afternoon at the eleventh hour received a letter from Mr Barron, chief of the * Hansard' staff, in these terms: " Your remarks re Lord Cranley have been written oat, and will be inserted in' Hansard.'" Another debate that took place the same afternoon had been printed, and he failed to see why any distinction should be made in regard to remarks he had made. While on this point, he wished to state that there was a power behind Mr Speaker, who, as ruler of that Chamber, was not aware of what was being done. While not desiring to injure any fellow-being, he (Mr Shrimski) felt that injury had been done to him in the discharge of a public duty, and he was therefore impelled to state what had been done by a person who occupied a seat on the floor of that House by the courtesy of hon. gentlemen. He had never shrunk since holding a seat in either House from speaking the truth, and if he had given offence he could not be blamed for that. The hon. gentleman went on to complain that though he had brought the matter under the attention of the Attorney-General when a resolution of congratulation to Lord Cranley was proposed, Sir G. Whitmore had been requested by the AttorneyGeneral's secretary to second it. Having brought the matter before the Council, he naturally thought he would be asked to second the address to His Excellency. In conclusion, he said that he had only discharged his duty in bringing the matter under the Speaker's notice, and had merely done what was due to the Council and due to himself. The Speaker (Sir W. Fitzberbert): I have only to say that I will make inquiries on the question the hon. member has brought forward. I think it my duty to do so, and will inform the Council of the result of such inquiries. Sir G. Whitmore said he was taken aback at Mr Shrimski's remark?. Having in the first instance spoken to the Premier about proposing an address of congratulation to the Governor, he was not surprised at being asked to second the address, particularly as he was one of the senior members of the Council. Possibly Mr Shrimski, having first mentioned the matter in the Council, might have had some prescriptive right to second the address; but he (Sir George) did not understand that it was in the hon. gentleman's or anybody else's hand?. With regard to the omission from' Hansard' of the hon. gentleman's remarks, he regarded that as a breach of privilege, and expected it would be inquired into by the Reporting and Printing Committee, otherwise the same thing might occur again in cases of great importance. The Hon. Mr Shrimski explained that he had no desire to reflect on Sir G. Whitmore, but denied that it was the duty of the secretary to the Minister to give instructions to any hon. gentleman to seoond a resolution. The Hon. Mr Buckley thought it was a !>ity that anything should occur to detract rom the spontaneous feeling of the Council with regard to the trying circumstanoes under whioh the Governor had been placed. The point whether any official had a right to suppress a report after the speech had once been delivered in the Chamber was one of more than ordinary importance, and he suggested that a meeting of the Reporting and Printing Committee Be called 9a soon as
possible to clear this matter up. He believed it was not the first time that a matter of that sort had occurred in that Chamber. He was aware that Mr Shrimski intended to propose an address of congratulation to the Governor somo daya before it was proposed, and said that his action was prompted by that kindness of heart which they all knew the hon. gentleman to be possessed of. The discussion then dropped, but Major Baillie gave notice of his intention of moving that the debate be expunged from 'Hansard.'
A QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE., Issue 7998, 29 August 1889
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