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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 10445, 15 October 1897
[FROM DOE PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER.]
WELLINGTON, October 14. Compulsory Retirement of Judges.
In submitting to the Legislative Council the Supreme Court Act Amendment Bill, which aims at tho compulsory retirement at sexty-five years of the judges hereafter appointed, the Minister of Education expressed the opinion that it was only right and proper that judges should retire from the Bench when their powers began to decline through advanced years. Provision was also made for registrars sitting in Chambers during the illness or absence of the judges, and while so sitting to have the same powers and jurisdiction as are vested in the latter. This provision, he contended, only went in the direction of meeting the public convenience.
The Hon. Mr Stevens was opposed to retiring judges at sixty-five years, and with putting future appointees on a different footing to those •now holding office. Great difficulty was experienced in getting persons suitable for judgeships to accept office, as the salary now given was too low, and he feared that the effect of the present Bill would be to further limit the choice. It might, moreover, prevent a judge hereafter appointed from receiving any pension at all.—Dr Grace said there were some registrars quite incompetent to perform the functions proposed to he conferred on them by this Bill. He expressed himself opposed to the compulsory retirement of the judges, and was supported in that contention by the Hon. Mr Bonar.—The second reading was agreed to, but the measure is certain to be mutilated in committee. Sunday Lnbor in Mines. The prevention of the unnecessary employment of manual labor in mines on Sundays is the object of Mr S-'eddon's Sunday Labor in Mines Prevention Bill. It will be a penal I offence for any person or company to employ labor in mines on Sundays, unless with the authority of an inspector of mines, who must be satisfied that such labor cannot be suspended without risk of injury to the mine or its operations. The Wecenscd llusbnnd'g Brother. | According to Mr Lawry many widows in the colony are living with their deceased husband's brother because the law prevents their marrying. He has therefore again brought before the House a Deceased Husband's Brother Marriage, Bill, and the measure passed its second reading last night by 39 to 15, but it is certain to meet with the happy despatch in " another place." Power or Disposition by Will. Many committee objections were raised to Sir K. Stout's Limitation of the Powers of Disposition by Will Bill, which prevents the head ot a family, whether the father or mother, from willing away more than half their property out of their family. To the objection that the Bill should be introduced as a Government measure Sir Robert replied that he was quite willing that the Government should take it up. He did not want the honor and glory of having his name to it. All he wished was to pee it on the Statute Book. '1 he Bill was read a second time and referred to the Statutes Revision Committee. Packing Committees. The unusual course of moving at the very inception of the session for the postponement of private members' business was adopted, the reason assigned being the desire te set up sessional committees. This led to a protracted stonewall in the House on Wednesday afternoon. Mr Pirani and others strongly resisted the proposal, but the Premier's motion was carried bv 42 to 24. The first sessional committee attempted to be set up was the Reporting and Print ng Debates Committee, and this gave rise to a discussion extending over Wednesday afternoon.—Captain Russell and Mr Rolleston contended that there should be a larger proportion of Opposition members on the Committee, atd instead of being 4 to 9 there should be 4 to 6.—The Premier replied that the members of the Committee under discussion were chosen on account of their knowledge of printing.—Mr Scohie Mackenzie moved as an amendment—"That the movers of the respective committees should reconsider their personnel, and arrange the names in accord with the relative strength of both sides of the House."— After a lengthy debate the Premier gave notioe to move for the suspension of the Standing Orders, so that the names of Messrs Wason, Lang, Moore, and J. W. Thomson be added to the Committee under review. The debate was oarried on till the dinner adjournment without any progress being made, it was amusing to see the once arch-stoncwaller of the House having a taste of those qualities which first brought him into prominence. Returns. Motions wereagreedtoin the House on Wednesday as follows:—For statistics as to totalisator returns (Mr Flatman); for the names and salaries of the messengers employed»in Parliament Buildings (Sir R. Stout); for a return of the permits granted under the Gaming and Lotteries Act (Mr Meredith); for a return of the expenditure on the Levin State farm (Mr Massey); for a return of the receipts owing during the last three years from the Land and Income Tax (Mr Hogg). The 'Post 1 on the Election.
The ' Post' has an editorial on the Dunedin bye-election, and says: "There comes from the South the welcome sound of vet another reverberating blow at ihe Eeign of Misrule that for all time in the history of this country will be known as Seddonisra. The moral sense of Dunedin City is happily not dead, though in recent years it has, through pernicious opiates administered by men in power, been often somnolent and easily swayed to the will of those who have so long and successfully drugged the public conscience. That the credulous might be swayed the prodigal promises and optimistic statements of the Budget were presented to the electors under conditions that did not admit of immediate dispute and at the moment of time when they could not be challenged. The ex-Treasurer was detailed to once more cozen the multitude with fair and specious speech upon the side of mendicity and misrule. That such a combination failed so completely in its purpose is surelv a hopeful sinn of the turning tide of Seddonis'm, which at its flood has done so much to drown the public conscience. To the glamors of the glowing periods of Mr Ward there was opposed the scathing indictment of Mr Btgg, which reveals yet another of the dark and devious methods of the men in power to inflict injury upon their opponents. So plain a story of ruthlessuess and wrong-and we have reason to believe that it is not yet fully told—must have largely discounted the floiid statements of the ' wizard of finance,' if it did not affect may votes. No doubt the Premier will try and take heart of grace in the contention that had Mr Hutchison not been in the way Mr Gourley would have won. But it will be a vain comfort, for he must know that Mr Hutchison carried the Prohibition vote, and that, if he had withdrawn, that large factor in the contest would have baen cast for Mr Sligo."
WELLINGTON, October 15. liiohrialcs' Homes. Once more Mr Joyce has before the House his Inebriates' Homo Bill, which he has repeatedly and vainly endeavored to pass into law. In submitting the measure for its second reading, he quoted many medical and other authorities on the subject of hereditary dipsomania.—Sir R. Stout argued that the question should be dealt with on a comprehensive scale ">' the Government.—The Premier ridiculed the idea of the Government monopolising all the legislation and appropriating the credit belonging to private members, a remark which wa3 received amidst incredulous laughter. He was proceeding to refer to the proposal of the Government in respect to certain private Bills, when the Leader of the Opposition interjected: "You can't do it; the Standing Order-, are against you."—"Can't I?" retorted the Premier; "the Standing Ordeis are nothing so long as you have a majority !"—a piece of no iveti which elicited roars of laughter. —Mr Taylor, who is an ardent Prohibitionist, again arraigned the Premier on a charge of hypocrisy in dealing with social reforms, and said that he supported the bill with much regret. Mr Rolleston did not think that the Premier had treated the matter in a proper manner in withholding from the House information as to what was the present state of the law with respect to dipsomaniacs. He was averse to the committal of inebriates to lunatic asylums. This question had to be tackled, and he should support the Bill, but he was not very hopeful of it passing. He hoped that the question would be taken up by the Government. At the present time our lunatic asylums were a disgrace to the colony from their overcrowded state, and yet no provision for them was made bv way of appropriation. "We are the most sober community in the. world," said Mr Crowther, " and I object to this continual parading of depravities and abuses that do not exist Feeling that there was no necessity for the Bill, and failing to see where the money was to come from for the institutions proposed to be established, he oduld not support the measure. Mr Smith pointed out that' the object was not to provide asylums for those who had become lunatics through heavy 'drinking but to establish homes where they would be «ured of she habit before contracting it to a harmful extent. Some time ago an application was made to the Minister of .Justice that the Samaritan's Home at Chriatchurch should be set aside as an inebriated home, but no reply had been received.—Mr Fisher delivered a tirade against Prohibition reformers, but hoped that the Government could see their way to take up the Bill,—After t.aking the last speaker to task
for the personal tone be had infused into the debate, Mr Pirani expressed his regret that the Government had not seen fit to bring.in an Inebriates* Home Bill.—Thought the subject; under discussion was temperance, the debate developed into probably the most intemperate one of the session, personalities being freely indulged in.—Mr Monk said he regarded Mr Seddon as an ideal politician, but he lacked a conscience, which provoked the Premier to retort that he had never been disqualified from sitting in the House for twelve months.—Mr Monk admitted the disqualification, but said that the Judges had ac quitted him of personal corruptness, and as proof that he lived in the hearts of the people they had embraced the earliest opportunity of again returning him to the House, so that he mightexposethecorruptness of the present Ministers.—Mr Lawry protested that there never was a Government who did more for the Prohibition party in New Zealand than the present occupants of the Treasury benches, and they got nothing but abuse in return. He accused »ir R. Stout of playing into the hands of the liquor party while in office.—Mr Pirani here uttered Borne interjection.— "Sir," continued Mr Lawry, in withering tones and turning to his interrupter, "there are some men who are protected by their power, and others by their utter insignificance." —Mr Carson worked the now recriminative discussion up to white heat, and in a torrent of invective brought his fist down on the bench with such force as to knock off severa.l ponderous parliamentary papers to the evident alarm of Mr Rolleston, who occupied an adjoining seat.—The Hon. Mr Carroll deprecated members " slinging mud at each other," and generally supported the principles of the Bill, though he thought one of the chief obstaoles to its operation would be its cost.-So sultry was the debate that even mild and gentle Mr Joyce, departing from his usual geniality, made a fieice and seemingly un-called-for attack in the course of his reply on Mr Kolleston.—Ultimately the second reading wa« agreed to.—Mr Rolleston then rose to complain that the sponsor of the Bill had shockingly misrepresented him.
First Offenders' Probntlon. Theobj-ct of the First Offenders' Probation Act, the second reading of which was moved by Mr Pirani, is that if the presiding Judge eo determines an offender may seethe report of the probation officer, and be given an opportunity of refuting anv charge that may have been made against him. -The Bill was opposed by the Premier on the ground that if prisoners were to be allowed to see the reports of probation officers the latter would not write with the same freedom as under existing circumstance?, and many undesirable characters would thus get the benefit of the main Probation Act.—The second reading was agreed to on the voices. I ui'lalnu'tl Moneys.
Mr Joyce moved the second reading of his Unclaimed Money Bill, which passed the elective Chamber in 1895, but was rejected by the Legislative Council. The motion was agreed to on the voice 3. . .National Eilucntlon.
An interesting debate was raised over tho second reading of a rather bulky measure entitled the Public Schools Bill, a summary of which you published yesterday, and which is fathered by Mr Fisher.—The Premier declared that he was averse to any interference with the existing system of national education, though it was very defective in manv important matters, especially inspection. He was in favor of a chaDge of inspectors, whose examinations were assuming a stereotyped form from year to year. Speaking of the election of school committees, he said that they should be chosen by the electors of the district in the same way as members of the House were. He thought, therefore, that the member fcr Wellington would be wise in not proceeding beyond the second reading stage. He believed that it would be very beneficial to have better representation of the people on the education boards.—Captain Russell, in an argumentative speech, deprecated the increasing tendency to supplant local control with centralisation under the Government. He expressed himself strongly in favor of children who qualified themselves in the primary schools going up to the secondary schools and thence to the universitv. While not posing as a Democrat, he declared strongly in favor of the levelling-up process of education. —Mr Gilfedder (who is an ex-schoolmaster) supported the measure, but argued that female teachers should be paid the same salaries as males.—Mr Bolleston opposed the measure, as it was too revolutionary, and would mean the centralisation of 'the control of the administration of education. Reforms might be necessary in our education system, and he was prepared to help in gaining reform, but he would not be any party to upsetting the prtaent system.—ln Mr Moore's opinion the Minister of Fducation should not have power to appoint school teachere as proposed by the Bill.—General support to the B 11 was given by Mr Pirani, who suggested that instead of the Minister of Education administering public education it would be administered by a council of education.—After further discussion Mr Graham moved the adjournment of the debate for a fortnight, which was carried, and the Bill was accordingly shelved. J Auditing of Public Companies' Accounts.
Mr Millar, in asking the House to accept the Companies' Accounts Audit Bill, said that the object was to give more security to investors. He quoted from the remarks of Mr William Brown, president of the Institute of Accountants of New Zealand, to show that under the present system auditors were not independent. He (Mr Blillar) urged that they were often appointed more out of friendship than ability to perform work, and the appointment frequently depended on the goodwill of the directors. The Eill provided that the balance-sheets of public companies must be audited by the Goyernment auditors. In times when so much was heard of political purity, he claimed that every -member of the House ought to aim at commercial purity.— Mr Buchanan, who has been designated the Folonius of the House, said that expert audit such as was piopnsed raised an insuperable difficulty. Kveryone admitted that it was desirable to protect the investing public, but the scheme proposed did not meet the object aimed at.— Mr Monk pointed out that what was required was the punishment of those making misrepresentations as to the value of shares, goods, etc. The present measure, owing to the great expense involved, would entail unnecessary hardship on, say, the woollen companies, owing to the number of Government expert valuers who would have to be appointed. - Considerable hostility to the measure was displayed till the Premier came to the rescue of the member for Dunedin by saying that he approved of any legislation which would prevent fraud by bogus companies and false balance-sheets. "With "regard to the clause in the Companies Act which provided for official audits, sornothiDg more wa9 required than the mere protection of shareholders. In the past the thrif y had been ruined by unscrupulous persons concerned in certain companies, and in such cases it was the duty of the State to afford some assistance. He counselled the House,to merely!affirm the principle by passing the second reading, which would be taken as an instruction by the Government that some legislation in thedireotion suggested was needed. Before leavingfor England he had gone into this matter of audit, but the lateness of the present session and the large amount of work- on hand prevented the Government taking it up. While protecting shareholders and investors in public companies, they must bi careful not to injure the corporations or institutions, and he was not satisfied that the present measure did that. The sponsor of the Bill would no doubt be satisfied with getting its second reading carried, and would not press the matter further.—Mr Allen was satisfied that the present audit system wanted improving. The proper way, possibly, to get at the. root of the evil was that the responsibility of seeing • assets were really what they were represented should be cast on the directors rather than on the auditors.—Mr Crowther said that when another Bill was in jeopardy earlier in the evening the feelings of the hon. member in charge had Been spared by the debate being adjourned. He proposed now to take the same course.—The amendment was agreed to, and the Bill thus practically shelved. Native Claims. Mr Heke moved the second reading of the Crown Suits Act 1881 Extension Bill, to allow certain Natives of the South Island to brin°- an action against the Government for non-fulfil - - ment of the promises made in 1844 with respect to the! Otakou Block. The measure has previously been before the Council.—The Premier said if the Bill went through it would upset the titles to the whole of the land in Otago, and would lead to great trouble.—The debate was adjourned at the instance of thel Minister of Works. Second Readings. The following measures iwere agreed to pro forma, and the Bills referred to various com-mittees:-Weights and Measures Amendment (Mr O'Regan), Mortgages (Major Steward) Criminal Code Amendment No. 1 (Mr Mills)' Pharmacy (Mr Seddon), Criminal Code Amend-' ment No. 2 (Sir E. Stout). Government Bnslness. Before the House rose the - Premier gave notice that he intended to move on Tuesoay that for the remainder of the session Government business have precedence on Wednesdays. Cabinet Reconstruction. • The raraor that a section of the Government following, aided by the Left Wing, are determined to brinff about a reconstruction of the Cabinet at any early date seems to be gathering in volume, and further evidence is not wanting of insubordination in the Government ranks on the subject of maladministration of the Defence Department Among those prepared to form part of a deputation to the Premier to insist on the resignation of the Hon. Mr Thompson and the inaugural
tion of administrative reforms are said to be two members representing Wellington constituencies, who now »it in Parliament for the first time, and who ? having bden returned by the Government assistance, have been hastily classed as " dumb dogs." If these two gentlemen will only bite as loudly as they bark in their lobby professions 'some reconstruction will be forced on the Premier, despite his recognised loyalty to his colleagues. Jottings. It was Mr E. G. Allen, and not the member for Bruce, who gave evidence before the Legislative Council Committee re the disposal of the "surplus arising from the winding up of the Dunedin Sayings Bank. ' The feeling was strongly expressed in the House last evening that the school inspectors should be moved about. Mr Meredith struck a responsive chord when he said that keeping one or two inspectors in any district for ton or twelve years tended to fossilise them. "So far as the Premier is concerned, I shall not study him as an ideal politician." Thus Mr Smith in reply to the Premier's advice to him not to.indulge in personalities. Pointedly addressing Sir R. Stout, Mr Taylor, and Mr Smith, who occupv adjacent Beats in the House, Mr George Fisher" said: "These puny whipper-snappers talk to men who are men how they should live—(laughter.) The impudence of them to talk to us who are men." (More laughter.) Mr Mills is inquiring whether the Premier will during the recess make the necessary inquiries from the neighboring colonies as to the advisability of constituting an Amtralasian Court of Appeal, such Court to be comprised of one Supreme Court Judge of each colony, and to hold periodical sittings in each colony at stated intervals. It will be recollected that in 1895 Mr Wat»on, as president of the Bank of New Zealand, refused to answer certain questions put to him by the Banking Committee, and was fined £SOO for contempt. 'I he Hon. Mr Richardson is asking to what purpose that fine was applied. Mr Larnach is again inquiring what- steps have been taken in the direction of establishing the water concervation policy in Central Otago. Without going to a division the House passed the second reading of the Shearers' Accommodation Bill (Major Steward), which has run the gauntlet of the elective Chamber on previous occasions, but has been rejected by the Legislative Council. The prospeot of no work to do till the financial debate is out of the way has ca»sed the Legislative Council to put up the Bhutters till Thursday, the 21st irist.
POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 10445, 15 October 1897
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