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[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.]

WELLINGTON, September 13,

The tameness of the proceedings in the House to-night in connection with the Native Land Court Act Amendment Bill was considerably enlivened by a warm passage-at-arms, almost culminating in a scene, in which Sir H. Atkinson and Sir G. Grey played prominent parts, the latter having occupied some time with a vigorous speech in opposition to the Bill. The Premier twitted the member for Auckland Central with being unable to do anything but talk, and talk in such a way as almost to make people believe him if they did not know him. The hon. gentleman had missed his vocation, and ought to have been an actor. He always scouted anything that was useful, and almost invariably talked to the galleries, for he very seldom addressed the House. For weeks the Bill had been before the Native Affairs Committee, who had sifted everything in the interests of the Natives, Sir G. Grey had brought down utterly impracticable amendments, with an utter disregard of the interests of the settlers. But what did the hon, gentlemen care about the settlers ? It was the little children in the streets and the “unborn millions” that he gave his attention to. What he (the Premier) wanted t j do was to do justice to the men who had borne the heat and burdens of the day. Sir George did not want to settle anything ; ho only wanted something perpetually to talk about. At the end of every session he discovered some fancied grievance, just as he had done now, and he knew quite well that there was nothing whatever in the Bill that related to Sir James Ferguason’s case. There were other reasons underlying his action. What they were he (the Premier) would not say, but they were not noble reasons. So it would always be. Sir George Grey would always want to hang everything up and talk largely about “ unborn millions.” He had walked out of the Native Affairs Committee room, when the Committee were doing useful work for the settlers, because his own impracticable plan was not adopted. But they all knew the hon, gentleman’s ways, and that there was nothing practical about him. Sir George Grey said that amongst the Native Affairs Committee he found members who were deeply interested in the Bill. After careful consideration he contended that they were in the position of a Bench of Judges, and, that being so, interested persons ought not to act. Knowing that he would be outvoted, and that the Premier would throw it in his teeth, he had sat there and quietly acquiesced in the proceedings, but he had declined to take any further part in the discussions. In this he might have acted wrongly, but his conscience acquitted him and he believed that he had done right. The Premier had said that the House did not listen to him; yet the other day he had carried fifty-nine members into the lobby with him against the Government on the honorarium question, while the Premier could only get the support of thirteen, who followed him out of affection,—(Laughter.)

Mr Kerr did not believe that there were any interested persons on the Committee, and challenged the Premier to say whether there were or not.

The Premier said that the four Native members were on the Committee, and they practically agreed with the Bill as it now stood. If there were interested persons on the Committee, the Committee ought to have reported the fact, Mr Kerr asked Sir George Grey to name the members of the Committee who were interested, but failed to elicit a reply. Mr Ballanoe said that the real question at issue was whether the Bill tended to validate improper transactions. He was informed by the member for Waitotara that there were clauses in the Bill which would validate Sir James Fergusson’s transaction. If the Government would only make a statement, instead of scolding, the matter would easily be settled.

Mr Fisher also protested against the Premier’s snubbings and scoldings, and blamed the Government /or bringing down the Bill so late. He for one would not submit to be told at this late stage of the session that ho did not understand the Bill, or that if he did understand it he was “stonewalling.” The House had no right to be spoken to in the tone assumed by the Premier. If the latter wanted to get the business of the session over he was going the wrong way about it. Members would not have the Bill rammed down their throats, and if there was to be any more scolding he would be prepared to sit there for several hours more if necessary.

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Bibliographic details

THE PREMIER AND SIR GEORGE GREY., Issue 8012, 14 September 1889

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THE PREMIER AND SIR GEORGE GREY. Issue 8012, 14 September 1889

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