THE POLICE ADMINISTRATION.
SOME STRAIGHT TALK TO THE HON.
THE MINISTER UNYIELDING.
[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.]
WELLINGTON, October 16. Last evening further and striking evidence was afforded of the dissatisfaction felt among the members of the House on the subject of the police administration by a deputation of ten members waiting on the Minister of Justice and Defence. The deputation consisted of Messrs Meredith, Steward, Tanner, Hogg, Graham, Flatman, O'Meara, Kelly, Taylor, and Joyce. The matter in hand was introduced by
Mr Meredith, who said that those present were acting on behalf of a number of members, who desired to impress upon the Minister the necessity of some inquiry being entered into regarding the police force of the colony. He was convinced, as a supporter of the Government and a representative of the people, that nothing short of an inquiry would satisfy members of the House and the public conscience. So far as his own personal views were concerned ho would prefer to see a select committee of the House set up—say of five or seven members—in preference to a royal commission. He had a strong objection to royal commissions, which were very expensive. A committee such aa he had suggested would, he thought, be perfectly competent to go into the question, and it would give members an opportunity of substantiating statements they had made upon the floorof the House as to certain irregularities in the police force. The Hon. Mr Thompson said he bad a Cabinet meeting to attend to, and perhaps it would shorten matters if he asked other members of the deputation if they acquiesced in the remarks of Mr Moredith,
Major Steward said he was of opinion that there was a feeling among the publio that so many charges had.been made against the police force that it was well that they should be probed to the bottom. He did not know whether the charges were true or not, but they had been made and had got into the Press, and it was in the interests of the Police Department itself that they ehould be investigated. If they could be proved not to hold water, so much the better to hold the investigation. Mr Joyce said he went further than Mr Meredith. Not only was an inquiry needed into the charges already made, but also into the organisation of the force. In his opinion a royal commission was necessary. Mr Graham was quite satisfied that nothing short of a most searching inquiry with reference to the police force would satisfy the public. He did not know whether the Minister was aware of the public feeling, but it was that an inquiry was necessary to get at the root of the charges. He certainly had doubrs as to the efficacy of a select committee of the House. He did not think it would be as effective as a royal commission. This question was of sufficient importance to warrant inquiry by the highest tribunal they could set up. A3 to the necessity for inquiry, the House and the country were of one opinion on that subject. Mr Taylor said his only object was to have a full inquiry, and he was not particular as to the tribunal to be set up. Such serious charges had been made by several members of the House as to fully .warrant the appointment of the tribunal asked for. He was quite satisfied that the facts could be proved.
Mr Tanner was of opinion that a select committee of the House would be perfectly useless. The inquiry should be of a perfunctory character, and people would not give evidence before a committee. When the licensing question was being discussed in the House the Premier had himself acknowledged that there had been a considerable amount of laxity in the administration of the law, and that an inquiry Bhould be made.
The Minister, in reply, said the position was this: The Government had not agreed to set up a royal commission. What had been said by himself and by Mr Seddon was that matters should be allowed to stand over until the new Commissioner arrived. That was not to say that when the Commissioner arrived there would not be an inquiry. In the face of this he could give them no other assurance.
Mr Graham : Do we understand thab.thia is absolutely the decision of the Government?
The Minister : That is so. The Government do not think it desirable to have a commission of inquiry set up until after the arrival of the new Commissioner.
Mr Graham said he quite understood that the Government did not think it desirable, but there was such a strong feeling both outside and inside the House that the deputation thought it desirable to bring under the notice of the Government that this feeling existed. The Minister : It will be my duty to lay before the Government what the deputation have said.
Mr Joyce : When will this be laid before the Government ?
The Minister : I cannot say. Mr Hogg thought the Government would not refuse to accept any strong recommendation on the subject. The Minister : I don't think for a minute that the Cabinet would insist against a resolution of tho House.
Mr Graham : I should think not. The Minister: I will place the matter before the Cabinet at once.
Mr Hogg (with emphasis): And mention that there is a very strong feeling on the part of members.
Mr Meredith : I would have no difficulty in obtaining the attendance of thirty members.
The Minister : I ought to point out that there is no agreement as to the form of inquiry. Mr Graham (emphatically): We are agreed that it should be an exhaustive inquiry, by the best possible tribunal that can be devised to make it. There is no difference of opinion on that point. Mr Taylor suggested that there was a very strong feeling that the inquiry should be conducted altogether apart from the new commissioner.
A chorus of Members :.. •« Yes j very strong." "■'" The deputation then withdrew.
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THE POLICE ADMINISTRATION., Evening Star, Issue 10446, 16 October 1897, Supplement
THE POLICE ADMINISTRATION. Evening Star, Issue 10446, 16 October 1897, Supplement
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