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CO OPERATIVE LAND SETTLEMENT. _ A deputation representing the Co-opera-tive Land Settlement Company, and consisting of Sir R. Stout, Messrs \V. Thomson, W. M. Bolt, E. S. Mantz, and Birch, waited on the Minister for Works at ten o'clock this morning.

They represented through Sir R. Stout, who acted as a spokesman, that the company had been formed for the purpose of acquiring a block of from 5,000 to 10,000 acres of bush laud and subletting it for purposes of settlement in blocks of from fifty to 200 acres to shareholders of the company. They were willing to pay 20s per acre to the Government for the land, and wanted to take it up on perpetual lease. A petition from the company had been presented to Parliament last session by the Hon. Mr Larnach and had been referred to the Waste Lands Committee, who reported in due course. Since then correspondence on the matter had passed between Sir R. Stout on the one hand, and the Premier and the Minister for Lands on the other. The Minister for Lands was continually harping on the regulations ; but the promoters of the present movement wished to remain as a company for cooperative settlement. Of course, if they liked they could buy the land, and deal with it in that way. A shareholder could not take up IeBB than fifty acres nor more than 200 acres, and he was compelled to have a share in the company for every acre he held.

The Hon. Mr Fergus : In other words, the company is really a miniature Land Board, and if they received from the Government a block of 5,000 acres would allocate it to individual shareholders on terms not more onerous than arc imposed by the Government on the company. Sir R. Stout: That is so. We don't want to make any profit from the company, because each person must become a member of the company—a shareholder in point of fact—before he can take up the land. The experiment has been tried in America on the cooperative principle. The_ Hon. Mr Fergus : The difference, I take it, is this: In America the land is purchased absolutely from the Crown. Sir R. Stout : We are willing to come under the Government regulations as to the number of settlers, terms of settlement, and as to improvements, but we wish to remain as a company for co-operative settlement. We want, in short, to found a village settlement of our own.

The Hon. T. Fergus : The land you wish to take up ia the finest bush land in the colony, and it would never do to let it go in larger blocks than 200 acres. I will undertake to bring the matter under the notice of the Cabinet. The Premier especially is anxious to see settlement in every possible legitimate shape and form taking place on the land, and so are the Government for that matter. I will undertake to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister of Lands, and also before the Cabinet, as soon as I return to Wellington. Sir R. Stout said that, speaking for Mr Thomson, himself, and others they had gone into the concern for tho purpose of giving the experiment a trial, and not with the hope of making money out of it. The idea was to keep some 500 acres out of say 3,000 acres which might be granted to the company to get the settlers to clear the bush and to start some industry on the land. If the Government would meet the company they were willing to make this. experiment; members of the company might not go on the land themselves, but it would give them a chance of planting their sons in the country. He was quite surprised at the number of people from the Taieri, Port Chalmers, and other places, who had made inquiries; but the company could do nothing until they knew definitely whether they were going to get the land.

The Hon. T. Fergus : Naturally. It is simply the Government handing over 5,000 acres to the company to carry out the* functions of the Land Act. I can see how that may be abused, but I do not say that it will be in this case. Knowing the history of the past I cannot admit that special settlements have been a success—Vezey Stewart and the like. It would be an easy thing for the colony to dispossess itself of all the land in the country to such associations. Sir R. Stout : We are not wanting the Government to part with the freehold ; we take it on perpetual lease. The Hon. T. Fergus : Precisely ; instead of the Government retaining charge of the land it is given to you, and you are made the medium between the Government and the settler. As I have already said the matter will be brought under the notice of the Government, and their decision will be conveyed to you. ILLICIT LIQUOR TRADING. Mr A. H. Ross, M.H.R., introduced a deputation, consisting of Messrs J. W. Jago, A. C. Broad, and D. C. Cameron, re the violation of the liquor laws. Mr Jago explained that the deputation would have been a more representative one had an appointment been made with the Minister. The matter which they wanted specially to call attention to was the open, flagrant, and almost universal violation of the provisions of the Licensing Act respecting Sunday trading. It had been proved by the police some months ago that from the Water of Leith to Walker street, right through the main thoroughfaia. of the City, nearly every licensed trader was violating the provisions of the Act under which he held his license. A number of them had informations laid against them and were fined ; but we have reason to believe that pressure was brought to bear from some quarters—l do not know by whom or how—and the result has been that since then the police have taken no steps whatever in the matter. The police simply say that "unless we are permitted to do in respect to the commission of this crime " —for I apprehend that the violation of any Act of Parliament is a crime— "what we are permitted to do in relation to other crimes we cannot obtain sufficient evidence to bring home the offence to the criminals," who are consequently allowed to go scathe-, less. We should like to ask if it bo true that the police are allowed to adopt such measures as they like—to go in plain clothes for the detection of larceny, theft, and other offences of that kind without let or hindrance. The Hon. Mr Fergus : You wish to know whether the police, in private clothes, can investigate cases of larceny, Ido not see that there is anything against it, The matter is left entirely to the inspector of polioe. Mr Jago : Are they permitted, in like manner, to go in plain clothes to endeavor to detect violations of the Licensing Act ? The Hon. Mr Fergus : I understand that is so.

Mr Jaoo : We have reason to believe that it is not.

The Hon. Mr Fergus : Ihenyou astonish me. Detectives invariably wear plain clothes, and to all intents and purposes they are police officers. Mr Jago : Inspectors, sergeants of police, and other officers are appointed ex officio inspectors of licensed houses under the Licensing Act, aud they go in uniform, and of course nobody sells to a policeman. The Hon. T. Fergus: You have got detectives who never go about in uniforms. Mr Cameron: But they aro as well known as though they were. Mr Jago: And apart from that, they don't recognise it as part of their duty to take cognisance of breaches of the Licensing Act. We have reason to believe that the licensing laws of this country are violated from Dan to Beersheba every day, and we are desirous of calling on the Executive of the country to prevent such a state of things continuing to exist. Believing that you, sir, are acting as Minister of Justice, we have called on you, in the interests of morality, decency and sobriety, and the well-being of the community, to ask that, if the present law is not powerful enough, some provision should be made to remedy the defect, If the police as at present organised are not sufficient, we would respectfully suggest that revenue police might be appointed. Two or three revenue policemen moving about the country in plain clothes would be able to detect breaches of the Act, and the mere fact that such men were quietly moving about the country would make hotelkeepers more cautious than they at present are, We know for an absolute certainty that some houses in this City do more business on Sundays than on any other days of the

week. Breaches of the Act are frequent and flagrant, but the difficulty of obtaining evidence by the police in uniform enables the offenders to go scot free. The Hon. Air Fergus : I am exceedingly sorry to hear you make so sweeping a charge against hotclkeepere in the City. Mr Cameron-: We do so, sir, on the authority of the police themselves, as well as from our own personal knowledge. Mr Cameron remarked that the unsatisfactory part of the business was that they had reason to believe that the Government discouraged prosecutions. He asked was that so.

The Hon. T. Fergus was exceedingly sorry to hear that the matter was so flagrant as had been stated. The Government never did interfere in the matter ia the slightest degree, nor was it even brought under his notice, though at the time these prosecutions were instituted he was Minister for Justice. He certainly would have been the very last person to take any steps whatever to interfere with the liberty of the police. —(Mr Cameron : " Hear, hear." The inspector was 'responsible for the administration of the men in his district, and had also to see the law was carried out. He took it that Inspector Weldon must have had a free hand in the nutter of Sunday trading prosecutions. He (Mr Fergus) was not aware that the Inspector had been in any way interfered with or hampered by his superior officer, and if he thought that he had he would have made inquiry into the matter to see what backstairs influence had been used. He was not acting Minister for Justice now, but would undertake, on hin return to Wellington, to bring the matter at once under the notice of Captain Russell, who was the Minister in charge of the department. Ab to the appointing of revenue police he did not think that was necessary. He was of opinion that the existing means were quite sufficient to overtake the difficulty j but if they were not other means would have to be devised.

Mr Jago: I was going to say that wo have interviewed Inspector Weldon two or three times over this matter; but of course he would not tell us anything as to what had taken place between the department and himself. We are therefore not speaking from information received from Mr Weldon; but we have very good reason to believein fact, such as almost to amonnt to positive certainty that influence was used to prevent a repetition of the summoning of hotelkeepers for Sunday trading. Since then, at all events, there have been no informations laid, and the violations of the law at present are more frequent and more flagrant than they have been for the last ten years. The Hon. Mr Fergus: Your statement amounts to this : That influence came from the Minister or the permanent head of the department, because they only could interfere. I make to you, without the slightest hesitation, the assertion that nothing came from the Minister. I knew nothing of the matter. I also doubt very much whether the head of the police department interfered, but I shall take care that the matter shall be officially inquired into. Mr Jago : We should be very glad indeed to know that our conclusions are incorrect, and that no such influence has been used. But there is the fact patent—no such action has been taken since. It was successful then ; convictions for a violation of the lawwere obtained, a number of men were fined, and yet at the present day Sunday trading is as open and as flagrant as it has ever before been.

The Hon. T. Fergus : It will be my duty to represent that to my colleague, the Minister of Justice.

Mr Jago : The same statements apply to selling during prohibited hours; in fact, the liquor trade goes on from morning till night—from Sunday morning till Saturday night, and the charge of maintaining the Industrial School and Benevolent Institution is consequently thrown back on to the rotepayers.

Mr Broad : One reason for objecting to the revenue police is perhaps that o? expense. That may be the only reason to weigh with the department.

The Hon. T. Fergus : I don't think no. 7. don't think their employment necessary. Mr Broad: We say th<:y would be effective. Nine-tenths of the crimn in our midst arises from illicit trading. Mr Jago : Illicit trading ia undoubtedly answerable for a large proportior. of it. The Minister repeated his assurance that the_ matter would be brought under the notice of Mb colleague, and the deputation withdrew.

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DEPUTATIONS., Issue 8051, 30 October 1889

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DEPUTATIONS. Issue 8051, 30 October 1889

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