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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1897.

The proceedings so far in regard to the Awarua electorate have conT Seat fimed the opinion which we expressed from the first—namely, that whilst there was nothing in the statute law to prevent Mr Ward, as an uncertificated bankrupt, from being nominated and his name returned on the writ, he would, so soon as he was sworn

in and became a member de facto, be subject to the. provisions, of clause 130 of the Electoral Act, 1893, which declares that the seat of any member of the House of Representatives shall become vacant “ if he is a bankrupt “ within the meaning of the laws relating “to bankruptcy,” Legal points which admit of dispute if carried to the highest tribunal (the Privy Council) are almost invariably determined by common sense, which is, after all, the ultima ratio of jurisprudence. Applying this test to the Awarua case, it is difficult for a layman to understand how there can be that conflict of opinion among the Law Officers of the Crown upon the point at issue which was stated by the Prime Minister (speaking at the caucus of his party) to exist. We are not aware, by the way, who are the “ Law Officers of the Crown ” to whom he refers. There is no AttorneyGeneral to whom Ministers and the Legislature might properly look for responsible advice in the matter. The SolicitorGeneral is not a political officer, nor has he any pretence to be considered an authority on constitutional law ; and we should hardly suppose that Mr Seddon could have referred to the parliamentary draughtsman. The drifting along without an Attorney - General *we have always believed will sooner or later involve the Government in embarrassment, and it is high time such an anomaly should cease ; and Ministers, collectively and individually, should no longer be permitted to be a law unto themselves, to set the statutes at defiance, and thus involve the Colony, as in the Horowhenua case, in heavy expenditure to no good purpose whatever. Judging from the reports which have leaked out as to the caucus yesterday, Ministers do not find their avowed followers by any means so docile as were the majority in the last Parliament, and consequently the Prime Minister had to “ sing small,” make a virtue of necessity, and withdraw from what may be believed to have been his intention of bluffing the House into accepting Mr Ward as a member without question. The course decided upon with the acquiescence of the Opposition will, under the circumstances of there being no Attorney-General, commend itself generally, we think, although there would seem to be danger that in nominating the proposed Committee of Privilege Mr Seddon will attempt his old game of making sure of a Ministerial majority, with the view to a purely party decision. Captain Russell, it may be noted, has agreed to the reference to a Committee, and on behalf of the Opposition has disclaimed any purpose of treating the question otherwise than on purely constitutional grounds, without personal or party animus. Should, however, the Committee be packed the position will presumably have to be reconsidered by him.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18970929.2.8

Bibliographic details

The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1897., Issue 10432, 29 September 1897

Word Count
527

The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1897. Issue 10432, 29 September 1897

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