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[From Ocr Parliamentary Reporter.]

WELLINGTON, September 30. A surprise was sprung on Hie House meeting by Sir R. Stout rising and saying that as he had expressed strong opinions on the matter publicly it was undesirable that he should sit on the Privilege Committee. He had no personal feeling in the matter against Mr Ward. Mr Hutchison also asked that his name be removed, as did Mr Fisher. This was agreed to, and a committee of eight were appointed to consider the Hon. J. G. Ward’s right to sit for Awarua. Captain Russell, speaking to the Premier’s motion, said that the personnel of the Committee was not satisfactory. The understanding was that the Committee should be set up before the member for Awarua was sworn, but Mr Seddon had not stood by that understanding. The Premier said that he was so anxious to avoid approaching anything pertaining to party strife that he would accept the names submitted by himself (Captain Russell) provided that they were reasonable men. —Mr Seddon : I said “ From your side.” Captain Russell emphatically denied this, Nothing had been said about names from his own side. It would be a great loss to the Committee if Mr Speaker were not included, but seemingly there were reasons why the advantages of his services should not be retained. He had also thought it was desirable, as intricacies of law might arise in connection with the evidence, tt at experienced lawyers should be on the Committee. But the Premier thought differently. The Committee would not only have to decide whether the Awarua seat was vacant, but would establish a precedent in deciding whether a _ member of the House, who had the misfortune to become bankrupt, was pot ineligible to take bis seat. He went on to say that Sir R, Stout and Mr G. Hutchisop ought not to be allowed to withdraw their names, unless bv resolution of the House. There were the strongest objections from the Government benches to both Sir R. Stoutand MrHutohison,and as a result he would haye no one from his side of the House with whom he could consult as to points of law. He. intended to move that Mr Duncan’s name be erased, with a view of inserting that of Mr Graham. Mr Hutchison said he had not desired to serve on the Committee, because the Premier had a deep-rooted, objection to his serving. He seconded the amendment. He hoped that the Committee would report fully, and that every opportunity would, be afforded to* the House to consider their report. The Premier said that he had been misrepresented. He had asked for the names of four members of the Opposition side, saying; “Be reasonable,” explaining that Mr George Hutchison would not be acceptable. If a lawyer were wanted on the Opposition side, Mr Graham was not a member of the legal profession, so that the amendment if carried would nob assist Captain Russell in that direction. He went on to say that his reason for excluding the member for Patea was that he had shown feelings of a determined and bitter character. The question was not purely one of law. It was a most unpleasant thing to force the members of the Government party to vote against Mr Duncan. He invited the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the amendment.

Mr Rolleston expressed his dissatisfaction with the composition of the Committee. He thought that a better committee would be selected by a leading man from side of the House, or an impartial committee be chosen by Mr Speaker. The better course, however, would have been the reference of the whole matter to two judges of the Supreme Court. Mr Scobie Mackenzie contended that the only satisfactory solution was the reference of the matter to a judicial tribunal.

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THE AWARUA SEAT., Issue 10433, 30 September 1897

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THE AWARUA SEAT. Issue 10433, 30 September 1897

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