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THE MINISTERIAL RESIGNATION., Issue 8005, 6 September 1889
THE MINISTERIAL RESIGNATION.
MR HISLOP ALSO RESIGNS HIS SEAT. DISCUSSION In THE HOUSE. [From Oob Parliamentary Reporter. J WELLINGTON, September 5. In the House this afternoon the Speaker read Mr T. W. Hislop'a resignation of his seat for Oamaru. Sir H. Atkinson: I beg to move, in accordance with the usual custom, that a writ be immediately issued to supply the vacanoy which has been caused by the resignation of the hou. member for Oamaru. I might take this opportunity of stating that the Colonial Secretary has tendored the resignation of all the offices he held in the Government. I wish to say, with reference to my colleague, that having known him for many years, and having served with him in our late relationship for two years, I extremely regret the action which he, as a matter of honor, has felt it necessary to take. Although one regrets that through the occurrences which have taken place in reference to the Christie-Ward correspondence the hon. gentleman should have come to the oonolusion that he should take the extreme Step, not only of resigning from the Government, but also of resigning his seat in this House, in order, as he thinks, to place himself right before the public—although I believe a very large majority of the House will regret the step which the hon. gentleman has felt it to be his duty to take—still I do feel that the House will feel proud that its public men should have so high a sense of honor that when they are censured, even as to a matter of discretion, they should at oaoe take the most extreme step that it is possible to take to place themselves right with the public. As a late colleague of mine, I bear with great satisfaction testimony to this fact: that the hon. gentleman's sympathies have always been with the people, and I venture to say that no act of his administration, although he may have been a little indiscreet at times, has he ever performed except for the purpose of doing hia duty to the colony. Although I feel ragret that he should have felt it his duty to g o, I cannot help feeling proud of a colleague who will take the first opportunity of setting himself entirely right, and showing that after all the action ho has taken has been tiken in the interests of the colony and himBalf.—(Cheers,) Mr Ballance : I also beg to express regret at the action which the Colonial Secretary has thought it necessary to take in this matter, and I shall take no exception whatever to the words just uttered with regard to the conduct of the Colonial Secretary by the Premier. Upon the whole, I think possibly the Colonial Secretary has taken the right course. At the same time 1 must express my regret—and my deep regret—that the Government should have refused a committee of this House to have made an inquiry jointly with the Committee of the other branch of the Legislature into thi3 matter. The position we occupy is an anomalous one. A Minister has resigned on the censure passed by the Committee of one branch of the Legislature ; he has resigned his.seat in the Ministry, and resigned his seat in the House, while we in this branch of the legislature were denied an opportunity of being associated with them in that inquiry, and denied an opportunity of expressing our opinion on the matter. I think that it is a subject of great regret; indeed the position, as I have said, from a constitutional point of view, appears to me to be quite anomalous. It is unusual for a Ministry, or for a Minister, to resign their positions upon any action taken by the other branch of the Legislature. The Premier : He has not done that at all. Mr Ballance: Well, it does appear to me that it follows upon a report which is brought down in another place, and I think, therefore, I may express the "opinion "that the course adopted was an unconstitutional one, not to consent to the appointment of a committee of this House in the first instance at once. I have not one word to say as to the action of the Colonial Secretary, except to say that, in my opinion, ho ha 3 taken, under all the circumstances, what appears to me to be the right course. Mr Tornbcll was of opinion that Mt Hislop could have done nothing but resign, for he had made a most unwarrantable interference with the course of justice.— (Cheers and dissent.) Whatever penance the hon. gentleman made would not rehabilitate him in his old status in the House. His proper time to have retired from office was when he stood up in the House a few weeks ago and admitted that he had been indiscreet, and not wait till the position was forced on him. Sir G. Gbey : I am desirous of saying a few words on this subject, and they mu3t be very few. The iinpresbion left upon my mind with regard to this transaction is that the Minister of Justice, and one or more of his colleagues, believed that a Judge had sat in a case in which he had an interest of that kind which a Judge in Great Britain would not have sat on the Bench to hear the case. I am quite satisfied that they earnestly and honestly believed that.— (Cheers.) Then it was their duty to take eome step or other in the transaction. What I have found, as a rule, throughout a loDg life is this • that if in some case in which it ia believed a wrong act, an imprudent act, or an impolitic act on the part of some great official has been committed, and he is interfered with, then generally the course adopted is to take objection to the manner of that interference. Exception has been taken to some single act that was performed, and the original question has been in a great degree lost sight of by considering that minor point. In dealing with a vast variety of cases in various countries and throughout a long life, I have found that it is almost impossible to go into the investigation of a ■abject of the nature of that which has occupied our attention without taking some step that may be objected to. Possibly the majority will approve of the step that was taken, but there will be a minority who will object to what was done and direct their attacks to the authority that had to interfere upon that specific point, and who very often will appear to be a very much greater j offender than the person in regard to whom the original motion was taken. I am quite Bitisfied in my own mind that Ministers on tiis occasion did what they thought j Wis necessary and was best. (Cheers.) I do not mean to say that they might not have made some mistake, or committed some indiscretion in their action, or used some word which might have been better gupplied by another word. That I will not go into ; but I cannot find it in my mind to eondemn Ministers in what they did. So far as I am acquainted with the transaction, I believe they honestly strove to do their duty as they thought right—a duty which, I believe, they felt to be a most arduous and most unpleasant one; and as far as I am concerned I will pass no censure upon them in reference to any action they took in the matter. I pardon all parties, cad I pardon them especially for having had difficulties of an extraordinary kind to contend against, such as it was almost impossible for them to successfully carry out without taking some step or other to which objection might very possibly be taken.— (Loud cheers.) The Premier : Sir, I must thank the hon. gentleman who has just sat down for the very able way in which he has put the case of the Government, and the House and country will recognise the justieo of the case, because the hon. gentleman has evidently not been predisposed towards theGovernmentin the position he has taken up, but has weighed this mattor with a judicial mind. Therefore my thanks are all the more due to the hon. gentleman, especially after what I think to be the unfortunate speech of the bon. member for Timaru. I will also thank the Leader of the Opposition for the testimony he bore to my late colleague the Hon. the Colonial Secretary. I think the House agrees entirely with what he said in that matter; but I would like to point out that the hon. gentleman is entirely wrong in the rest of the position he takes up. He said that the Government acted unconstitutionally. In what way did they act unconstitutionally? Tbe Opposition came down in very strong terms and demanded an inquiry into the conduct of the Government by a joint committee of the two Houses. No Govern|Bent -could sit on these benches who
are prepared to accept from the Opposition a demand for a committee, and especially for a joint committee, to inquire into their conduct; and, air, we at once met that by saying that if that were to be so we were unfit to sit on these benches. The hon. gentleman knows as well as I do, and so do his friends, that if the question was wanted to be sifted out in a fair and reasonable way the Government should have been approached in a totally different manner. We should have been asked to propose a committee ourselves.
The Hon. Mr Ballance: We did ask them.
Sir H. Atkinson : Oh, yes, he asked us with his sword at our throats; but there was no mistake about it, and if the hon. gentleman were on our side, and had a very much worse cast! than that, he would have scouted the idea as we have done. We want to say distinctly that my hon. friend has not resigned in consequence of the report in another place, but in consequence of the feeling in this House in regard to the report of the Committee. We know nothing of what has occurred in another place. Of course, there may be hon, gentlemen who know all about it. The Government ought to stick to the action of their own House. We are responsible to this House only, and to this House wo will look for support. We , appealed for that support, and the House gave it to us. The House declared they had confidence in us by rejecting the motion which the hon. gentleman tabled. With regard to the merits of the case, I think that it is very unfortunate they have been gone into; but after the speech of the hon. member for Timaru, I must say a word or two. Sir, I say that the action of my hon. friend, aa has been very well said by the lion, member for Auckland Central, was straightforward and above-board. _ There has been no interference at all with the course of justice, in the ordinary sense of the term. The only thing for which he can be blamed is, possibly, an indiscreet way of doing it. If the hon. gentleman were put on a jury to try the case, he would at once acquit my hou. friend of any desire to imr.roperly interfere with justice. I say, then, that the whole correspondence shows that, and I venture to say that it is not only the verdict of this House but the verdict of the country, and it will be more and more the verdict of the country as the actions of the Judge in this matter are comprehended. But the truth is, as the hon. member for Auckland Central has put it, tho real question has been overlaid by other considerations, and _ the public and the House, and especially another place, have been entirely misled as to the real merits of the case. I venture to say and it cannot be disputed—that no English Magistrate or Judgfl would have dreamed of sitting under those circumstances. If hon. gentlemen will turn up precedents they will see that in such cases Judges have refused to sit. lam sorry to have dragged this matter into the question, but in justice to the Government and to my hon. friend I thought it necessary to say these few words in answer to what fell from tbe hon. member for Timaru. The motion was agreed to nem. con.
THE MINISTERIAL RESIGNATION., Issue 8005, 6 September 1889
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