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POLITICAL GOSSIP.

[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.]

WELLINGTON, September 29.. The Unwbers 811 l provides for the licensing of all- hawkers. General hawkers will pay a 10s fee and pack hawkers one of ss, Hawkers must not have alcoholic liquors in their- possession, and their packs may be searched without warrant by the police officers. ■ Reciprocity. ' _ The _ Customs Duties- Reciprocity Extension Bill is to give the !£reasurer extended, power to ' enter into Agreements with the United Kingdom or. any British possession or any foreign country. : Awnrun., All the galleries of the House were filled yesterday afternoon, the-Awarna seat and the Hon. Mr Ward’s eligibility in connection therewith being expected to furnish a debate. A disappointment.was, however, in store, for no sooner were the portals opened than the Leader of the- House rose for the purpose of saying that there were occasions whenpersonal friendships and party considerations must be set aside and duty must be paramount. Those, who were hot cognisant of theontcome of the forenoon’s Government caucus began to wonder whether a motion was to be submitted declaring the Awarua seat vacant, but their doubts were dispelled when the right' hon. - gentleman proceeded to say that later in,the day, after, consultation with the -Leader of the Opposition, he would give notice of the appointment of a Committee oh Privileges to determine the question over which even -the Crown Law Officers differed.—After a-mild protest by Captain Bussell as to Mr Ward being permitted to take the oath and his seat before the Privileges Committee had found that he was eligible to take his seat the threatened storm was passed over, for a time at least. Jottings. Formal business was then, taken,' after which a week’s leave of absence was granted to the member for the Thames, who is now on bis way out to the colony after witnessing the Jubilee celebrations in England. A writ was ordered to issue in connection with the vacant Dunedin City seat. A batch of Bills—some old friends, and others which make their appearance for the first time—were, introduced.

Then, in his usual happy style, the Leader of the Opposition tendered congratulations to the Bight Hon. the Premier on the honors conferred on him during his visit to the Mother Country, It is not intended to set up a fisheries commission, as suggested by Mr E. G. Allen.

The Premier intimated to the House. that he proposed setting up a committee to prepare his Young Persons’ Protection Bill, He would invite the assistance of the clergy and those noble women who were engaged in the good work of moral reform. A “ call of the Council ” has baen ordered for next Wednesday, the occasion being the election of Speaker. The only members who have not yet put in an appearance are the Hon, Mr Larnach, Messrs M'Gowan, R. M'Kenzie; and Wi Pere.

Mr Fisher wants to know whether the Government intend to introduce this session a Bill to deal with the Bank of New Zealand’s Provident Fund in the interests of the contributors to that fund.

The Minister of Railways is being asked by Mr E. G. Allen whether he will grant railway tickets at reduced rates to hospital nurses during their holidays. “ We know the type of men being appointed to these offices. Business men would not accept a good many of them to give a valuation of property upon, which they were going to foake an advance.” Thus Mr James Allen upon the valuers of the Advances to Settlers Office.

A Royal Commission to inquire into the management of the industrial schools is being advocated by Mr Joyce, . “The democracy of this Government is that people of the right color only are to get favors; and it is coming to this: there is a certain religion in the Colony whose members fet exceeding favors from the Government.” 'hue Sir R. Stout.

“The speech of the Minister of Lands is one of those instances of the evils of party government that make so many of us sick of it.” Thus Mr Pirani' is the r6le of candid friend.

New Bills introduced in the House yesterday were: The Mortgage(Major Steward), Bankruptcy Act Amendment (Mr Pirani), Companies’ Accounts Audit. (Mr Millar), Californian Thistle (Mr Wright), Otago Harbor Board (Mr Millar), Deceased Husbands’ Brother Marriage (Mr Lawry), Criminal Code Act Amendment (Mr M:l).), and New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (Mr Field).

A petition from 1,472 persons in the Waikato and Thames districts asking for the passing of a Bill to amend the Beetroot Sugar Act, 1884, has been presented to the Legislative Council.

As a Result of recent prosecutions, the Hon. W. T. Jennings has given notice of motion in the Upper House that the Government be asked to take steps to allow properly registered bodies, such as friendly societies, etc., to haye art unions for the purpose of distributing useful articles other than works of art.

The fees received under the Land Transfer Act for the twelve months ended March 31 last amounted to as against £21,731 for the preceding year. In the opinion of Mr Scobie Mackenzie the Awarua election matter cannot be satisfactorily adjusted by the House, where party be dominant, and that the only true solution of the difficulty is its reference to the Supreme Court Judges, He points out that 'there is a constitutional precedent for such a course, and that the introduction of a single clause into the Supreme Courts Act meets the case in England. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council have power to deal with all matters referred to them by the Queen, and in Canada the Governor-in-Council is empowered to order the Supreme Court Judges to report on any matters in dispute that may be remitted to them.

Mr Carncrosa wants to know when the Mosgiel railway station improvements are to be commenced.

The Imprisonment for Debt Abolition Bill, introduced by Mr Pirani, provides that no person can be imprisoned for a debt of less than £fo, and generally codifies the law relating to imprisonment for debt. Mr Ward was introduced by the Minister of Lands and the member for Caversham, and having taken the oath and subscribed to the statutory declaration the formal matters came to an end, and the more serious business of Answering Questions (in which grievances played a prominent part) was reached. The Minister of Lands refused point blank to answer some qderies regarding the lending department under the Advances to Settlers Act "(the intention evidently being to refuse to supply information of the nature asked on the ground that it would be detrimental to the department), and this led to a motion for the adjournment of the House, moved by the junior Opposition whip, and which was talked out by the dinner hour arriving. The evening sitting was taken up with the Address-in-Reply debate. • A Spiritless Debate. The Council sat for two hours, nearly the whole of that time being occupied with a spiritless debate on the Address-in-Reply, which was passed. The Marine Department. The annual report of the Marine Department was presented to Parliament yesterday. It shows that the cost, of maintenance of lighthouses during the part year was £15,644, which includes the coat of erecting a new tower at Farewell Spit, but excludes the expenses of the Government steamer, which periodically visits all the lighthouses with oils, stores, and provisions. The annual expenses of the steamer amount to about £7,000, and moat of her time ia occupied in attending to the lighthouses. A new tower has been erected at Farewell Spit under the direction of the Public Works Department, It having been

reported that the water had shoaled on the Spit end, sound logs were taken, which showed that the water had shoaled two fathoms since the soundings shown on the Admiralty chart were taken. As to improving the Soames Island light so that it may be a better guide to vessels entering Wellington Harbor, the report states that the matter has been under consideration, but so far no decision has been' arrived 'at. If a most powerful light' be erected on Soames Island ■ a new : tower would be" required, and it is estimated that the cost of this and the new light would be about £2,000. During the year £15,995 was collected for light dues, being-an increase of £433 on the previous year; while pilotage and port charges amounted to £1,633. On the question of weather reporting, .it' is stated that many of the instruments used not being so reliable as they should be, especially for the most important stations, it has been decided to procure a supply of standard barometers, barographs, and ther- - mometera from England. Duringthepastyear 125 candidates passed their examinations for' masters’, mates’, and engineers’ certificates of competency, and ■ fifty-six: failed. - Of those who passed eighty-nine were masters, mates, and engineers of seagoing.vesßels,. and thirty-six were masters and engineers of steamers plying within restricted limits., The casualties on . the coasts of the colony last year numbered sixty, representing 22,058 tons, as against thirty-seven affecting 21,060 tons in 1895-96. The number of total wrecks within the colony, including four sailing vessels which are supposed to have foundered, was nine, of 1,450 tons, as against eight of 2,070 tons, in the previous year. Thenumb:rof lives lost was fifteen, against eight in the preceding year. Queer Valuations. ' In the course of the debate yesterday afternoon upon the question of loans made by the Advances to Settlers Department to an ex-supporter of the Government, Mr Firani made the assertion that the local Valuer’s valuation was not accepted, and that a valuer was sent down from Welling, ton specially for the purpose.—To this Mr Kelly added the statement that the estate of the late Mr Mackintosh was over-valued, and that there must be a loss upon it.— Ministers denied that there was any likelihood of loss, but more will no doubt be heard of the matter.

The Time limit. When the time limit was introduced its supporters contended that it would lead to the curtailment of the loquacity of members. Experience, however, has proved the vety reverse to be the case, for since the amended Standing Orders came into force two volumes have been added to the balkiness of * Hansard.’—Mr Fisher has given notice of motion to revert to what existed prior to 1?93, with a view to getting back to the old number of volumes. Reduction of Crown Rentals. Mr Hogg yesterday asked the Minister of Lands to introduce legislation with the object of reducing the rents on Crown lands where it is proved by valuations now being made under the Government Valuations of Land Act that the valuation is excessive.— The Minister expressed the opinion that the present conditions of settlement, which provide for the surrender of holdings, are quite sufficient. Poor Encouragement. encouragement was afforded those moving in the matter of a training ship for the colony last evening, when a deputation headed by Mr Joyce and Mr Hutcheson interviewed the Premier on the subject. Mr Seddon replied that the cost of maintaining such a ship would amount to £B,OOO a year. He failed to see that any commensurate benefit would accrue. He preferred providing a suitable institution for neglected and orphan children. Probation. Mr Pirani’s First Offenders’ Probatipn Amending Bill provides that when the report the probation officer is adverse to a prisoner the Judge shall have discretionary power to inform the offender of the grounds upon which the probation officer refuses to report in favor of the probation, in order that such offender may have an opportunity of refuting any matters stated in the report which are adverse to him. Prevention of Usury.

The Usury Prevention Bill of the Premier is to come into force on July next. It provides that the maximum rate of interest payable or recoverable shall not exceed 8 per cent, per annum in the case of a loan on the security of land, and 10 per cent, in any other case. Where no rate of interest is agreed upon in writing, no rate exceeding 10 per cent, shall be recoverable. Contracts for a higher rate than 10 per cent, are to be declared void. The measure is to- be applicable to pawnbrokers, whose rate of interest is limited to one penny per calendar month for every 2s 6d of a loan when the pledge does not exceed £lO, and when the total sum lent on a pledge exceeds £lO interest at the rate of 25 per cent, per annum on the total loan. Infections Diseases.

It is provided by the Public Health Act Amendment Bill ? which the Colonial Secretary is introducing, that the master of a ship shall upon arrival make a declaration as to the passengers on board, and as to whether each passenger is or is not suffering from any form of tuberculosis. The penalty for a false declaration or neglect to furnish it is £SO. No passenger suffering from tuberculosis is to be allowed to laud. The penalty on a passenger landing ia breach of the Act is £lO. The section is to apply to within three months after arrival in the polony. The penalty on the captain of any ship engaged in the New Zealand coastal trade who knowingly permits a passenger suffering from any form of tuberculosis to occupy the same cabin as another passenger is £SO. In a II ii IT. A question placed upon the Order Paper by Mr Lewis, and put to the Minister ol Lands yesterday, stirred that hon. member into sudden wrath, and he declined'for'all time to answer that or any similar question. The offending query consisted of a quotation from the * Bankruptcy and Mercantile Gazette,’ from which it appeared that the Advances to Settlers Department had granted a loan of £515 to one Isabella Banks Aldred, of Auckland, secured by a farm, the estimated value of which was £SOO, and a loan of £BOO to the late James Mackintosh, ex-M.H.R. 1 , the security for which was a farm of the estimated value of £1,075. Mr Lewis wished to know whether this security was considered sufficient, and what sum had been advanced upon it; also whether the officers making valuations and advances were still in the employ of the Government. —The Hon. J. M'Kenzie expressed his regret that such a question should be placed upon the Order Paper. It must be- plain that if Ministers \frere called upon to answer questions of this sort the public would lose confidence in the department.—(Mr Lewis: “ They have lost it now.”) If such a question had been put concerning a person in the constituency of Mr Lewis he would be the first to rise and object to private matters of this kind being dragged before the House. He (the Minister) was going lo lay down a rule not to answer these questions, and if they did not like it they had a constitutional course of ’moving that he had not the confidence of the House.—(Cries of “ Oh, oh.”) One of the properties referred to bad been sold at a value of several hundreds above that stated in the‘Mercantile Gazette,’ and the colony would not lose a single sixpence on the Cther.

Later in the day Mr Lewis moved the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the matter, and a warm. debate followed, it being stated by Mr J. W. Kelly, who knows the late Mr Macintosh’s land, that, notwithstanding anything said by the Minister, there was bound to be a loss upon the advance made on this property. It was also stated that the local valuer was passed over and a special valuation officer sent from Wellington.—The Premier, in reply to the statements made, said that there was a second mortgage of £250 on property, and he protested against the action of Mr Lewis in bringing up matte'ra ®f Ibis kind in a way likely to injure'private individuals as well as the Advances to Settlers Department.

loose Drafting. When the Act of 1895 was passed re'

ducing the membership of licensing coir« ’ mittees from ten to six, Parliament forgot to reduce the number of members necessary to constitute a quorum at meetings of licensing committees,, The result is that, with a committee of six, the quorum still remains five, and in consequence it is sometimes difficult to get a I meeting. _ Yesterday Major Steward drew the attention of the Minister of Justice to these facts, but the Hon. Air Thompson, with an unwonted display of humor, remarked that he wished all the licensing questions could be as easily settled as this one. No doubt some hon. member would move in the direction of settling it before the session ended. The Opposition Show Their Teeth.

Much has been said about the fighting abilities of the present Opposition, and yesterday afternoon Captain Russell made it very clear to Ministers that those abilities, which for the moat part last session lay dormant, were to be used to the best advantage during the next few mouths. The occasion that gave rise to this remark was the refusal of the Minister of Lands, couched in his characteristic style, to answer a question put by Mr Lewis, and, for the matter of that, all similar questions. On hearing this declaration Captain Russell, at the earliest opportunity, said that so long as questions were properly put to Ministers the Opposition would expect them to be answered. They had no intention of being bullied any more by the Government. They were strong enough now, aud they would not have answers like that given by the Alinister of Lands, either from him (t from anyone else. The Minister of Lands (angrily): I shall have pleasure in retorting. —The Premier rose, and spreading his arms abidingly over his colleague and towards Captain Russell, laughingly muttered something that sounded very much like “ Peace, my children.”—Captain Russell, however, was not to be pacified, and, referring to a recent decision of a District Court Judge, said that one of the greatest scandals ever perpetrated in New Zealand had been perpetrated by the Alinister of Lands during the absence of the Premier in England.— The dinner adjournment abruptly terminated the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. A Miulillc. The writ for the Dunedin vacancy was posted yesterday. By oversight the day of election was fixed for October 13, which is Labor Day. Seemingly the date is irrevocable, but the difficulty may be partially met by an extra polling booth being appointed near the Caledonian Ground, which will be the scene of the Labor Day sports. Never Gave Such a I'lrdgc. In its report on the Liberal caucus the 1 New Zealand Times’ to-day says: “Air Ward pledged himself not to exercise his privileges as a member of the House for six months, at the expiration of which time lie hoped to have rehabilitated himself financially.” This, I learn, is a gross misstatement. What Mr Ward did say was that he intenled to take the oith and his seat as member for Awarua, but that he would refrain from exercising his privileges as a member in the meantime. The cx-Treasurer distinctly told the caucus that ho did not wish to throw any difficulties in the way or to appeal to party support. He intended to fight his own cause, as he had hi’herto done, but he would do his duly to his constituents by..taking the oath. He expressed his gratitude to the Hon. John M’Kenzie for his sympathy at the Invercargill banquet, but disclaimed any idea of there being an understanding between them as to what the Minister of Lands had said, or any desire on his part to force himself into the Alinistry at present. Air Ward has received many congratulatory telegrams on his being sworn in, including one from his Election Committee, who, in the event of his being unseated, are determined to send him back again. I understand that he intends availing himself of the public platform should he be excluded from the House. The Council Speakership. Several members of the Council are anxious to see the Hon. G. M’Lsan the next Speaker. It will be recollected that on the first ballot five years ago he had an.absolute majority, but was subsequently thrown out. Composition of the Privileges Committee. The reason why the motiou for the appointment of a Privileges Committee was not submitted to the House yesterday was that the names suggested by the Premier were Rot acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition. These were Messrs Duncan, Slevens, Joyce, Fisher, Seddon, and Mr Speaker, while the Opposition * were to have the nomination of four, with a distinct proviso that Mr George Hutchison was to be barred. Captain Russell holds that, as the understanding was that the question was to be Considered altogether irrespective of patty lines, both sides of the House should be equally represented. I have best grounds for saying that when the Committee is set up Mr Ward will speak to the motion. He promises, however, in making his explanation not to introduce inflammatory matter, Mr Pirani intends to move that Air Graham’s name be substituted on the Privilege Committee for one of those named, while the Leader of the Opposition will probably move the inclusion of that of Air George Hutchison.

The Leader of the Opposition has suggested to the Government that the Privileges Committee should comprise Messrs Seddon, Joyce, Guinness, Graham, Montgomery, Ciptain Russell, Sir R. Stout, G. Hutchison, the Hon. Mr Rolleston, and (fames Allen. Immediately the House met Mr Seddon gave notite to move that the Committee on Privileges be appointed to consider Mr Ward’s eligibility to ait as a member of Parliament, the Committee to Consist of ’Messrs Joyce, Guinness, Fisher, Montgomery, Duncan, Captain Russell, the Hon. W. Rolleston, Sir R. Stout, and Mr James Allen; the Committee to report within fourteen days and to have power to call for papers.—Captain Russell protested that this was a matter of urgency, and should be discussed forthwith; but he agreed to accept Mr Seddon’s assurance that it should be the first business for toWbrro'w.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 10432, 29 September 1897

Word Count
3,685

POLITICAL GOSSIP. Issue 10432, 29 September 1897

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