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[From Opr Parliamentary Reporter.]

WELLINGTON, October 8. The Awarua imbroglio was finally before the Privileges Committee to-day, when the report was agreed on. Three resolutions were adopted, as follow :■ —

1. The Committee recommend that the law of New Zealand be amended and brought into conformity with the law of England with regard to the bankruptcy of candidates and members, and that the Government be requested to bring in a Bill at an early date, but that the present case should not be prejudiced. 2- That a separate Bill be introduced referring the question of tho Awarua seat to the Supreme Court in its appellate jurisdiction. The third resolution is to the effect that a law be enacted on the lines of the Canadian statute providing that in future any question of this kind shall be referred to the Supremo Court, on the initiative of the Governor-in-Council.

The first two resolutions were adopted unanimously, but the third was carried by five to three, the minority consisting of Messrs Seddon, Russell, and Allen. The proposed case stated by the subcommittee for the Consideration of the Appellate Court is : 1. Is a bankrupt within the meaning of the laws relating to bankruptcy qualified to be elected a member of the House of Representatives? 2. If he is so qualified, and is elected, does the fact of his being an undischarged bankrupt cause his seat to become vacant immediately on such election, or at any other time? 3. If his seat does not so become vacant, Can he Jake the oath and exercise the rights and privileges of a member of the House?'

The law of England, referred to in the first resolution, is as follows: —By the Bankruptcy Act, 1883 : , section 32, it is enaoted that “ where a debtor is adjudged a bankrupt he shall be disqualified for (inter alia) being elected to or sitting or voting in the House of Commons or on any Committee thereof.” The disqualifications to Which a bankrupt is qjrbjeot upder this section are removed if the adjudication of bankruptcy against him is annulled ; or if ho obtains from the Court his discharge, with a certificate to the effect that his bankruptcy has been caused by misfortune, without any misconduct on his part, the Court may grant or withhold such certificate as it thinks fit, but any refusal of such certificate shall be subject to appeal by section 33 of the same Act: “If a member of the House of Comments is adjudged a bankrupt, and the disqualifications arising therefrom under this Act are not removed within six months from the date of the order, the Court shall, immediately after the expiration of that time, certify the same to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and thereupon the seat of the member shall become vacant.” By section 35 of the same Act the bankruptoy may be annulled where the Court is of opinion that the debtor ought not to have been adjudged a bankrupt, or where he has paid his debts in full.

The Privileges Committee’s report was read to the House this afternoon, and its consideration made the first Order of the Day for Tuesday. The Premier promised that a Bill should be_ introduced that day, as soon as the opinion of the House was obtained. It should be treated as a matter of urgency, and passed through all its stages. The Bill would merely deal with the position of the Awarua seat, and provide for its reference to the Appeal Court, which sits next week. A separate Bill would be introduced dealing with the amendment of the law generally to meet future cases. Or Course Uc Did, Speaking to the Awarua case, the Premier, who is a tactician of the first order, said that from the first he had favored a reference of the matter to a judicial tribunal, which was the only competent body to deal impartially with it. Had ho known the con* census of opinion of members in that direction ho should have proposed that course last week instead of leaving it to the Privileges Committee to make a recommendation.

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Bibliographic details

MR WARD’S POSITION., Issue 10440, 8 October 1897

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MR WARD’S POSITION. Issue 10440, 8 October 1897

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