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THE BUDGET.

The following portions of Mr Reddon's Budget speech had In be omitted, owing to the pressure on our columns, from Tuosday's issue :

AID TO THE rUBLIC WORKS FUND.

Spec'al provision to the extent of £250,000 was made last year under the above head for cirryiug on onr railway construction works. The expenditure thereunder during the year amounted to £193,303, so that a balance of only £sS,692rematnodat the commencement of the currant financial year, and the whole of this amount has since been expended, while our liabilities in respect of these works, including additions to open lines, amounted on the 31st March last to £106,312, and on the 31st July to £233,907. It is imperative that the works which at present aro in a rarthlly completed condition such exceptionally important lines as the Thames-Paeroa. the Eketahuna-Woodville, the North Island Main Trunk, the Midland, and the Otago C< ntr?.l Railways—shall ba brought to completion and made remunerative without further delay. Additional provision is also necessary for some other minor lines. The great increase in the traffic on our railways has necessitated a large increase in the rolling stock and the improvement and extension of the station works anl accommodation on our opened railways generally. r'o great has the demand Income that special financial provision must be made to meet it. The House will therefore be asked to provide further means for urgent and necessary railway works, including additions to open lines, permanent way materials, and rolling stock. A. considtraVe number of other charges are borne by the Public Works Fund in addition to those fir which special provision was made in 1896. The following table showb the item 3 and the amount of expenditure on each during last financial year : Public Works Department £14,892 Main roads, miscellaneous, roads and bridges, and local bodies ... ... iri.fKlfi Telegraph extension ... ... ... Wi.lKll Public buildinss 70,579 Lighthouses, harbor works, and harbor defencts 11,(1(10 Contingent defence ... ... ... 10,554 Rate 3 on Native lands ... ... ... tt.'B Total £IC.O,aS4 The following table shows that tho expenditure on ordinary public works, railways, roads, and buildings, e'e , is very reasonable as compared with similar expenditure in the other colonies:—

expenditure o.n puisuc works out 01' revenue an!) out oi' Loan.

The rjquirements of the current year will probably be equal to the expenditure duriug year, and suitable provision "will be required to meet it. For this purpose it is pioposed to transfer from revenue in aid of the Public Works Fund the sum of, say £300.000.

NATIVE LAND PURCHASES,

During the past financial) year the area acquired was 335,000 acres, J'he Native Land Court, now sittir.g at Otornihanga, during tho next two months will define tho interests of the Crown in about 150 blocks in the King Country, the purchase <.f which has b?en in progress for the last two years. T.-ds will open up for im-m-diatte jettlement anareaof 150,000 t0200,C00 acreg of territory, over the greater portion of which the Queen's writ practically did not run prior to the Bal'anci 'Jovernment assuming office. Tho tamo Oouii will deoitla-fche ownership of tho Rangitoto block of 600 000 acres, which U the only portion of the King Country not already adjudidated upon by the Native Land Court. Tho o!d Native "customs and usages in respect to their holdings will then virtually be at an end all over the colony, as the lands will thereafter be held by the Native owners under European title. The prospect of the abolition of the Native Land Court at an early date will not cause much regret, and in regard to the work of partition and succession that cm be done by the stipendiary magistrate and such of the Native Land Court judges a3 may be required for the purpose.

LAND AND INCOME TAX,

Notwithstanding the breaking up of large estatei upon the death of the owners, and the policy of acquisition of private lands by the Government, the land Tax has been well maintained. The revenue collected from the Land and Income Tax during the past year was £377,813. being £17,813 in excess of the estimate. This increaso chiefly comes ftom the Income Tax, and is natutally the result of the improved commercial conditions of our colonisU It will interest members to tell them that the IncomeTaxproduced nearly £63,ooothefirst year of iti collection, in 1892-93, while for the year ended 31st March last the tax received am -unted to £105,000. These figures havo not been reached without careful and energetic administration ; at the same time, they clearly indicate the progress in the warfare of the community. I propose during the present session to introduce a measure having for its object the

CONSOLIDATION OF THE LAND AND INCOME ASSESSMENTS ACT

of 1891, 1892, 1893, 189}, and 1895. The want of a consolidating Act has been felt for some time, considerable inconvenience being expeiienced in following the provisions of the several statutes dealing with direct taxation. ADVANCES TO SETTLERS.

Up to the close of the financial year no less than 4,501 applications for loans on mortgage, representing an agzregate sum of £1,404,065! had been grantel in whole or in part by the General Poard ; while 1,112 applications, representing £360,268, were declined. Of the above 4,581 applications, 551 were not completed on the terms offered by the Board ; consequently, the aotual number of completed applications was 3.920, and the amount was £l 112 775. Taking the past year by itself, the total number of applications received was 2,687, and the amount appli d for was £862,169. On the 31st March, 1897, there wa3 a sum of £333,319 temporarily invested in Government fecurities, such as could be readily realised from time to time as money is required by the Board for lending purposes. The department under this arrangtment reaps the benefit of the interest of these investments during the period the money is waiting to be lent out on mortgage. Since the close of the year, I may mention that the greater portion of the securities held in London haviug been so!d at a considerable advance on the price at which they were purchased, the profit arising from this transaction has been devoted to reducing the advances from the Consolidated Fund. The provisions of the Government Valuation of Land Act will enable the depDrtment to obtain its valuations at a much cheaper rate than hitherto. In the Government Advances to Settlers Act Amendment Act, 1896 provision was made enabling the General Board to lend money on mortgage for a fixe! term not exceeding ten years. The applications for loans under this new provision have not, however, been so numerous as those under the instalment conditions, thus proving that the instalment p'an is more popular the fixed term system. It has been found desirable to frame regulations for the better control of funds p'aced in the hands of the office so'icitors for payment to mortgagors. These funds are Govenment moneys until they reach the hands of the mortgagors, and it therefore was deemed advisable to place the solicitors upon a somewhat similar footing to Government officers having public funds in their hands for disbursement, who have to render proper accounts of the same.

THE PUBLIC TRUST OFFICE continues to show a satisfactory and steady increase in all its branches. The number of all descriptions of estates in the office has increased from 1,663 at the olose of the year 1890 to 2 334 on the 31st March last, =ind the value from £1.240,097 to £1.893,163. During the same period the capital funds have increased from £493,861 to £-53.638, and the amount of investments in Government securities of the colony from £199.20:? to £354.108. The estates and funds which, subject towillsor trusts, were in ■the office tt the c oso of tho vc»r, and for the admiuistration cf which the office is voluntary flclectod by the persons inttrested, had increased in number from 447 to 466, and in value from £673,478 to £744,742. The reserves subject to the We.»t Coast Settlement Reserves Act, 1892. jield.d during the year a sum of £21,318. The income had at the close of the year risen to the annual rate of £16,932, the number of lessees had increased to 579, and the aggregate area of the leaseholds had increased to 101,602 acres. With respsot to

the Native reserves vested in the Public Trustee by the Native Reserves Act, 1882, these showed at the close of the year an income of £7,811 for the benefit of or for distribution among the Natives interested. Under an Act of the General Assembly of 1895 the Native beneficiaries of the Arahura Native reserves secured the distribution of a capital sum of £1,593, being the balance received by way of compensation for damages past and prospective of the lands at Arahur.\ in consequence of the river of that name having been proclaimed a water course for the deposit of tailings. The office lias disbursed the whole sum under a satisfactory scheme of distribution. The administration of the West Coast settlem?nt and the Native reserves continues to be carried on without it being found necessary to seek assistance from the Consolidated Fund. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

I am glad to be nble to state that the returns from tho soil during the pist year have shown improvement. The yie'ds of grain have not been so great aa last year, but prices have been somewhat higher. The principal wheat-growing districts have suffered from an unusual drought, which has reduced the yield, and consequently the average dairy produce has shown much better returns and a larger output. This industry is likely to , continue to increase. For the period ended 31st March last there were exported 75,287cwt of butter, valued at £297,518, and 71,663cwt of cheese, valued at £135,711, making a total of £433,229 in value, the increase over the previous period being 15,221cwt of butter and 189cwt of cheese. A marked improvement is observable in the quality of our dairy produce. There has been a falling off in the total export of mutton and lamb. This is partly accounted for bj the losses sustained during ihe unprecedented winter of 1895 The number of carcasses of mutton exported was 1,428,430. valued at £772,583, and 781.539 carcasses of lamb, valued at £369,723, making a total value of £1,142,312. The number of shtep in the colony i* e.-timated at 19,629 602, or an increase of 491,109 for the year. I regret to mention that the prices for our frozen mutton are still very low. There is also another matter I wish to draw par:'cular attention to—namely, the wholesale slaughter and export of ewe lambs, which must have a detrimental effect on the flocks of the colony. It is well kno'vn that the best ewe lambs are selected, as I they mature quicker than the wethers, consequently a better price is obtained; but in view of the consequent deterioration and lessenj ing of incr. ase, it is manifest that a continuance [ of this policy nm«t be suicidal.

THE FRUIT INDUSTRY

continues to expand, and since theimport duty on certain fruits was imposed quite an impetus has been g'ven to the culture of fruit. Considerable areas are being planted with vines, and the several experts have been kept busy imparting information to the settlers. Conferences in connection with agriculture and fruit growing have been held in Queensland and Melbourne, at which tbn colony was represented, and with beneficial results. The reports and papers will be laid upon the table. RHEA OR RAMIE PLANT.

It is probable that New Zealand will be foun 1 especially suitable to the production of the valuable rhea or ramie plant. Although its field of cultivation has been hitherto in warm countries, the most valuable variety grows best in a temperate climate. li, is exceedingly hardy, and thrives in almost any description of soil; indeed it was formerly looked on as a troublesome and ineradicable weed. Quite recently tin gum, which had hitheito defied the efforts of inventors to extiac', has been mastered by a new process and the p'ant now bids fair to become one of the most useful textile materials ever brought into the service of mankind. It can supply the place of both hemp and flax and cotton, and, to some degree, of silk. In its coarser form it makes good rope cordage, etc., while the finer material can be woven into damasks, flannelettes, velvets, etc , of beautiful appearance and brilliant hue. The lands of the North Island of New Zealand (especially of the parts having volcanic soil) are especially suitable for raising crops of this plant. It is propagated in several waj-s-bv seed, by cuttings, and by division of roots—so that rapid extension of cultivating U possible. Roots were obtained last year, and a further supply a few months ago. 'I hese are being propagated at the Momohaki experimental station, and a distribution will be made from there next year in order that further tests may be app'ied. The price of the fibre Uat present about £3O per ton, and the average cost i f production ii about £4 per sore to produce about 2.800 pounds of fibre. This i< about five or six times the yield that cotton gives under the most favorable circumstances. Representatives of the company holding the patent lights for the cleausing process waited upon me when in England and wished to know whether the New Zealand Government were prepared to encourage the introduction of this p'ant into the colony, and to set apart land for the company. They, also gave me to understand that they were prepared to treat with anyone undertaking to cultivate the p'ant for the purpose of the raw material. An interesting pamphlet on the subject, together with samples, will be laid on the table for the information and inspection of hon. member*. ORDINARY L-VND SETTLEMENT AND ROADING, Etc.

Excluding pastoral leases, the increase of land occupied for settlement from 1891 to 1897 was 2.810,807 acres, being at the rate of 159 per cent, of the whole of the lands leased or sold up to 31st May, 1897. There has been a considerable falling off as compared with last year in the number of selectors, and also in the area of the land selected. The decline has been on the whole general throughout the several c'asses of settlement. This is due to the fact that little Crown land of really good quality c.wld be placed before the public. There was also a reluctance to accept applications from associations until the obligation to open roads to those lands already dealt with had been fulfilled. Excluding town land and pastoral and miscellaneous lease*, the number of new selectors for the year is 1.391 (in area 222,068 acres), all of whom are obliged by law to reside on or improve thtir holdings.

The territorial revenue for the year was £272.954. being £2,954 in excess of the estimate, but £18,719 less than that received in 1895-96. The arrears of rent have been reduced from £15,708 in 1896 to £12.381 in 1897. The decrease of revenue is chiefly due to the smaller amount received from lands sold for cash, together with the decrease in pastoral rents, "here is naturally an increase in the rents received undtr the lease-in-perpetuity and occupation with-right-of-puTchase systems. The rents from leases in perpetuity will increase yearly as new leases are granted. Timber sales also show an increase. Under the Land Improvement aad Native Lands Acquisition Act, 1891, there havo been 70,196 acres, mostly forest land, set apart for improvement, and of this area 58.000 acres have been allotted, in forty-three blocks, to 646 tenants, of whom 442 are residents, who have grassed 9,894 acre 3. The cost of the roads, the improvements, and the advances made to settlers is £49,690. A block containing 2,817 acres was selected near Taiuape, in the Awarua, for improvement prior to being offered for selection. The block is now being felled, and part of it will bo burned and grassed in the coming summer. Next year it will be seen whether the land so improved will be taken up at a price which will recoup the interest on the expenditure.

A beginning has been mado in the formation of nurseries for the propagation of trees to supply the treeless interiors of Otago, Canterbury, and Auckland, and a small amount of planting has been done with tree* grown in the rai'way nursery at Sockfcurn, Canterbury. This good work should be steadily carried on until planting and cutting balance each other. The expenditure on roads and other works in connection with the opening up of Crown lands and the maintenance of communication through the country has. been £210,432. During the year 500 miles of new roads and 442 miles of horse roads have been completed, while 1,122 of main road and 647 miles of horse roads have been maintained fit for traffic. The comfort and convenience of travellers and tourists have been promoted by considerable improvements at Te Aroha, Rotorua, Hanmer, and Mount Cook. New batli3 and rooms for Te Aroha are arranged for and a contract let A tender for a system of drainage at Rotorua ha 3 been accepted, and other improvements have been made at the sanatorium and at Whakarewarewa. A new road from Rotorua via Waiotapa and Wairakei will be opened as soon as the bridge over the Waikato is constructed. At Hanmer a new house close to the baths has been built for the accommodation of those invalids to whom the daily journey of two or three miles to the nearest hotel was inconvenient. The Hermitage at Mount Cook has been improved, and is now a very comfortable house for visitors. The roads have been maintained in good order, and a, regular bi-weekly coach service arranged for.

POST OFFICE SAVINGS BANK.

The growth of the business of the Post Office Savings Bank during the year 1896 Bhowed a marked increase over the preceding year. The result of the year's business, so far as it relates to the amount standing to the credit of depositors, will be seen from the following statement: Amount due to depositors on 31st December, 1595 ... £o rok tyo n o Deposits during 1896 ... "' 2 881152 IB % Withdrawals during 1896 f 591557 W 4 Excess of deposits over with- ' ' drawals ... ... esq km la n Interest for 1896 credited to ' deposits ... ... ... 126 497 16 S Amount due to depositors on 31st ' December, 1896 _,_ Total « „. £4,311,034 13 c

An increase during the year 1896 of £416,091 16s Zd. The average balance to the credit ?of each open account at the end of 1896 was £29'3s { d > as compared with £2B 5a lOd at the end of l»9ij. The expenses of management lait yeer were estimated to have amounted to £7,000, representing an average cost of 4s lid" per'transaction, which is considerably less than the cost in the United Kingdom. Arrangements have been made to admit of withdrawals by telegraph, and it is anticipated that this concession will be much appreciated by depositor?. GOVERNMENT INSURANCE DEPART-

MENT.

The annual report of the Government Insurance Commissioner, which has been laid upon the table in accordance with statutory requirements, together with the valuation report upon the liabilities and surplus profits of the department, contains full information as to the continual progress of this institution. At the end of the year the freehold and mortgage securities were subjected to a close scrutiny, and a further amount of £10,600 was carried to the reserve constituted on account of these investments. Thejtriennial valuation has again been carried out; upon principles approved by the eminent consulting actuaries to the department, Messrs Kalph P. Hardy and George King, and has resulted in a gross surplus .of £225,0C0. Of this amount £BI,OOO was speoially reserved in accordance with the advice of the actuaries, in order that the effective rate of interest in the valuation should bo equivalent to £3 12s 61 per cent., and the balance of £144,000 was divided among the. participating policy-holders. The outcome of the course of action 'adopted in making the foregoing reserves ba3 been to make the financial position of the department even more strong than heretofore and to still further improve it. The new business for the year under review amounted to £606,000, and the funds of the department increased during the year by £173,597/ of which amount £10,500 was cinied to reserve. As before Btated, the total addition to the funds exceeded that of any previous year by over £7 000, which is an excceiingly satisfactory s,tate of affairs, especially when it is conslierej, as poiuted out by the Commissioner in his report, th»t the overdue interest on all accounts only amounted to £760, or a little over half per cnt. of the interest receipts. Further details will be found in great fulness in the report itself and the accounts and statements appended thereto.

VALUATION DEPARTMENT.

It will be remembered that during the session of 1895 an Act was passed providing for the valuation of all the land in the colony. The valuation under this measure, the Government Valuation of Land Aot, 1896,- is now proceeding, and every care is being taken to insure a thoroughly reliable and trustworthy assessment of the value of landed property. The Act provides that the general valuation roll when made shall be the standard roll on which the valuation rolls of all local authorities having rating powers and rating on the capital or on the unimproved value sha I be framed, and further, if and in so far as the Governor-in-Council from time to time directs, the general valuation may be used for any of the following purposes :—Land tax, assessment of duties under the Stamp Act and Deceased Persons' Estates Dut'es Act, loans on mortgage of land by Government departments, and loans on security of special rates by the Treasury u.idcr the Government Loans to Ltcal Bodies Act, 1886. InadditiontothesepurposestheVa'uation Department is authorised on payment of a fee to furnish any person with a certified copy of any valuation as it appears on the general roll. It is expected that this last provision will be extensively made use of by trustees and other persons lending money on mortgage and for other purposes. On reference to the Estimates hon members will see there is an item set down of £39,440 for defraying, cost under the head of Valuation Department. It is proposed that the expenditure shall be borne by («) the Land and Income Tax Department, (b) the principal local authorities, (c) the Government Valuation of Land Department. The apportionment of the same is proposed as follows:—In any local district where

there is a principal local authority the oost shall be borne in equal one-third share's by such principal local authority, the Land and Income lax Department, and the Government Valuation of I/»nd pepartment—the last being recoverable as fees from Government departments and others using the valuations. In any local district or othor portion of the colony where there i 3 no principal local authority the cost shall be borne in equal shares by the two departments before mentioned. It is also proposed that the payment of ccstj by the primipal local authorities shall ba made in three instalments at the following periodsi-Onc-half of. the amount found to be owing shall be due and payable on receipt of the valuation roll from the ValuerGenera), one q-iarter of such amount shall bs due and payable Within twelve months from the da-.e of such receipt, and the remaining quarter of such amount within twenty-four months of the date of such receipt. Each principal local authority shall pay its share of the annually recurring expenditure on receipt of a demand from the Valuer-General. All these proposals being approved, it is intended to pass regulations giving effect thereto. The valuers appointed under the Act have received full and specific instructions, and special attention has been drawn to the fact that the valuations will be used fir lending purposes as well as taxing and rating, and I am confident that the result achieved will be the best and most reliable valuation of the colony yet made. The heavy expense inseparably connected with a valuation of the colony will fall within this year, and it will not be possible to obtain any considerable sum by way of recoveries in reduction of this expenditure until the following year, as the valuation rolls will not be r»adv until after March 31, 1898.

FORESTS AND FORESTRY. Every well-wisher of the colony must, with me, deeply deplore the irreparable loss the colony has suffered by the burning of valuable timber off vast areas of our timber land. Settlers in some districts now realise that the royalties obtainable for timber amount to more per acre than is obtainable from the land of a well-appointed farm. Again, those engaged in saw-milling and the timber trade generally complain that competition is so great that they are, after years of work, no better off than when they commenced. It will be contended that those using the timber for buildings and othej purposes have reaped a benefit. The immediate gain of the few is, however, more than counterbalanced by the national loss. Moreover, owing to undue competition and other causes our forests have not beer either systematically or advantageously worked. Only the best trees have been taken, and the tops and branches of those cut down have, with thesmaller trees, been left on the ground, and in the past the white pines have in many cases been untouched, there being no market for that kind of wood. Ultimately the whole of the timber has been destroyed by fire. Millions of pounds worth of timber has vanished in smoke and cannot be replaced. Although the wretched i ast ca-not be recalled, the question naturally arises: Is this unfortunate, undesirable, and unprofitable condition of affairs to continue? I distinctly say it should not. To permit it would be wanton in the extreme, and nothing less than a national calamity. At the present rate at which our forests are being denuded, New Zealand will in a few years require to import timber. It will not for a moment, be contended that settlement must be stopped until the saw-miller has removed the timber from the land, or that only such Crown lands as have been denuded of timber shall be open for occupation. There is, however, a reasonable possibility of matters being so adjusted that the waste of timber can bo avoided, an 1 at the time settlement be allowed to proceed. In disposing of timber lands it should be made a condition that all valuable trees should be logged ready to be taken to the market or the saw-mills. The royalty payable to the settler would enable him to obtain a little money for necessaries, and he would at the same time be clearing his land. Moreover, the State would benefit by conserving a valuable asset, our forest lands would laßt much longer, and

advantages as regards climate and shelter would result. Hxperience further proves that in districts where timber lands adapted for settlement exist it would be wise at different intervals to set apart suitable reserves by taking strict precautions against fire and trespass. Great good would arise from such reserves, not only to the pretent, but to the future generations. An examination of the forest laws and regulations of different countries in Europe and America, and also of the colony of Victoria, shows how lax the law of New Zealand is in respect to its forests. Again, for years little haß been done in the matter of tree-planting. This is to be regretted, and it is a great pity that the legislation and proposals on this subject of that far-seeing statesman, Pir Julius Voeel, should have been allowed to become a dead letter, for with slight modification such legislation wonld have proved a great boon to the settlers and colonists generally to-day and a great source of wealth in the future, Detailed proposals dealing with this matter will be submitted by the Minister of Lands, and provision will be made on the Estimates to meet the necessary expenditure. A report on the conservation of New Zealand forests by Mr George S. Parrin, F.L.S., F.R.G.S., Conservator of State Forests in Victoria, will be laid on the table of both Houses of the General Assembly. The report is practically the outcome of the Timber Conference held in Wellington on 17th July, 1896, and following

FINANCE OF 1897-98.

I shall refer to the financial requirements of the current year, and to the resources out of which they have to be met. On this occasion I occupy a very unusual position in haying to preseni you with estimates concerning which six

months, of tho year have passed by one-half of my figures may be said to have been already realised. But aa I do hot desire to be too sanguine regard to our receipts, I have refrained from enlarging on last year's figures unduly, although I 'might, if optimistic, do so in consequence of the satisfactory results already arrived at. There are, however, risks which cannot, bo-avoided. For instaace, should our harvest be. unfavorable, or, as the outlook portends, should the season be late, there would be a serious falling off in the nil way revenue of the > ear. Again, there is a lull in respect to mining investments, and It is hopeless to expect that the mining activity of last year will be maintained. Wi must therefore be prepared for a decrease, in Postal and Customs revenue from this cause. I have dealt more fully with this in my remarks upon the estimated revenue ESTIMATED EXPENDITURE, 1897-98.

i. hj? 1™ estimated expenditure is set down 5,' £ *'P^.S* 3 . representing an increase of r *yo,t>o4 over the appropriations of last year, and of £112,862 over the expenditure during that period. The permanent charges are estimated to exceed the actual expenditure of last year by the sum of £58,367, and the annual appropriations by £83.684. Among the permanent charges, interest on the Public Debt is responsible for an additional sum of £59,653, but in the remarks I have already made when referring to the position of the Public Debt I ihink I have fully accounted for this extra charge, a very large proportion of whioh is returned to. us either in the way of territorial rents or" in actual interest and sinking fund onthemoneys borrowed bj local authorities and settlers. The increase to the annual appr ipriations looks large, but a careful examination of the classes and rates will prove that every possible, economy has been effected, and it must be expected that, while the commercial prosperity of the community increases, the wants and the requirements of the colonists will also increase, and should be practically recognised as far as possible. It must be admitted on all sides that certain heads of. our expenditure must year by year increase alongside the natural growth of our population, and in relation also to the general prosperity, which we gladly welcome. These heads of expenditure may be named aa '" Education," " Maintenance of Lunatic Asylums and Charitable Aid," "Postal and Telegraphic," and' our " Working Railways." . The estimated expenditure for thee services amounts to £1,669,842 Deducting this sum from the total of the annual appropriations for tho current year, the balance of £822,307 whicb is left compares very favorably with the amount of the actual expenditure during last year upon similar services. The following table will show the position :

Total ...£798,587 £782,767 Total increases ... ... '.£40,342. Total decreases ... ... .£51,162. I have not included the Vacation Department, the expenses of which are estimated at £39,430! The valuation of our lands has been onlered by Parliament, and I cannot be held responsible for the extra expenditure which has to be incurred in carrying out the direction of the Legislature. All that I can 9ay is that the utmost economy has been exercised, and that the most careful consideration has been given to the vote which is included in our Estimates. The above table shows a net decrease of expenditure amounting to £13,820, as estimated, for the current services of the year for the various executive departments, I have enumerated. On the other hand, the Departments of EducatioD, Lunacy, Posts and Telegraphs, and Working Railways are responsible for an increase of £58,064- for services which must necessarily increase year by year if they are to be efficiently and satisfactorily maintained. The "Valuation Departments accountable for £39,440, miking the total increase £97,504. Deduoting the decrease, as previously stated, of £l3 820, we arrive at the net increase of £83,684 in the annual appropriations over the actual expenditure last financial year. It will be noticed that amongit the few departmental increases the Defence and Police Departments and the Lands and Survey Departments' show the largest figures. For the Defence Department an increase of £11,075 is sot down—an amount very much smaller than the proposals of our Commander of the Forces, if given effect to in their entirety, would necessitate. That our palice fowe requires strengthening' cannot be gainsaid. The demand for land settlement necessarily causes increased survey expenditure, and I am sure that hon. members will find no fault with this.

ESTIMATED REVENUE OF 1897 98.

The revenue proper for the year is estimate 3 at £4,723,400, or £2,399 less than the amount actually received last year. In addition, the' ways and means will be aided by the proceeds of debentures amounting to £69,600 drawn against the Binking funds. The estimated receipts for the year will, therefore, total to £4,793,000, or within £3,099 of last year's actual receipts. These estimates are over £300,000 in excess of the amount estimated as the revenue of last year. In framing our figureß for the current year I am met with difficulty of oppo.ing desires. The results of last year's receipts were so surprising that proper caution prevents me fiom accepting them without some discouut. At the same time I do not wish to be accused of pessimistic views by showing by reduc d figures that I have doubts as to the continuance of such satisfactory receipts. For Cust revenue I have set down an increase of £61,000 over last year's receipt*, and. hope I shall not prove too sanguine in a.lopti g' th*,so figures, for importers may find themselves'fully stocked, ami our importations may be proportionately reduced. The railway revenue of last year was extraordinarily large, but the flood damages in Hawke's Bay diitrict and the severe drought in southern Canterbury and northern Otago have proved detrimental to the receipts of the respective lines. It ip, therefore, not wise to anticipate so large an amount of receipts. I have, therefore, discounted last year's figures to the extent of £12,00 D. My colleague, the Minster of kinds, informs me that we must look lor a shrinkage in our territorial revenue. A fery much smaller area of land is likely to be offered for cash sales. The deferred-pavment system is running out rapidly, and the rents of the pastoral runßare falling. For tThese and other causes the territorial revenue ha 3 been estimated at nearly £23.000 less than the aotual receipts of lastyearproduced.Theonlyotherhead of revenue calling for remark is that relating to the Land and Income Tax, which shows a decrease of The cause of this is easily traceable, and is the result of the acquisition of large parcels of land purchased by the Government und-r the Land for Settlements Act. 'Of course, directly they become the property of the Crown no Land Tax is payable, but this loss of direct tax is more than made good by the benefit derived from close settlement. The repeal of the tax on the agents of non-resident traders has also to be allowed for. ESTIMATED RESULTS FOR 1897-98.

The results of the six months' revenue already received enable me to submit my figures with confidence, and I shall now place before you the position which I anticipate we shall achieve by the 31st March next:—• Estimated revenue ... ... .. j£4 793 000 Estimated expenditure ... .'." i'fi^M'A. Excess of revenue... -' ... ... £170,157

Balance from last year ... j£'ss4 28G Less contribution in aid of Public ' ' Works Fund ... 300>000 i! 54,286 Surplus as at March 31,1898 ... ... £224,443 already stated, we shall require ±.1<20,000 towards our pension scheme.-. The necessity for a brick building for the parliamentary library has long been admitted. The risk from fire is very great, and the destruction of our magnificent library would bo a national calamity. The buoyancy of the revenue permitting it, a portion of the surplus cauld not be put to a better use. ...Plans have been ordered to be prepared forthwith, and the work, if approyed by Parliament, will be put in hand so as to be completed before next session. I propose to devote £7,ooofor this purpose. These two items will absorb £127,000 leaving £97,443 to meet the votes to be asked for when the usual Supplementary Estimates are sent down.

SEPARATE ACCOUNTS. Hon. members are frequently complainin* of what they call the complexity of the public accounts, and I must, confess that they are getting unweildly. In 1878 the Public Revenues Aot provided for only two funds-namely, ♦he Consolidated Fund and the Public Works Fund —but subsequent legislation has gradually piled up separate account upon separate account unti', at the present time, in addition to the Consolidated Fund (which contains five separate accounts) and the Tublio Works Fund, therearesix outside accounts which have separate wavs and means of their own. With the object of lessening the number of separate accounts and siniplif j ing our Statements. I have decided to ask authority to amalgamate the lands improvement account and the Native land purchase account with the Publio Works Fund, so as to enable the balances on the 3lst March last of these accounts to be transferred to the Public Works Fund as from that date. The expendi-

I u,? n^ ph , can to Bhown separately in the Public Works Fund, and this will, I feel sure, meet any objection hon. members might have to the proposed amalgamation.

;}l f TTHATjTSE CENSUS D"ISCILOSSS. N and compilingiiliftCensus X \ ~ w « - a;^. one per Head than thatofthepe M u9oflß^l,anqUheaccurß#ande ! c" peditwn the Jgreateßt credit upon? ■the. Beglstrar ; G*neral and v*he Census staff. The Census aisclosed the fact -thWthe population had increa?ed by 76,702 persons, or at the rate of 12.24 per oeut. in five years, a? against the increase for the quinqaennium 1886 91, which w,s the lowest in the record of the colony, 48,176 or 8.33 per csnt. The net inc.rea?.e ,°f Population between March, 1836. and April, 1891 was 48,176, bat the natural increase by excess of births over deaths -was 64,122 r so that the loss to the colony by excess of depar♦lTO2E &n i va, } a i- durlng the P«iod amounted a -,',cAc But between-"-Aprilj 1891, an V $& —-' -* he, k $*- tota l"iwcea 8 e *» 8 . fo,rtJ<S persons, there was an"" excess of arrivals over departures of 18,029 peWons. The population of the North Island increased by - J>a.l7o souls m the quinquennium 1891 96. beinz a percentage of 2103. The increase in the South Island.was only 17,525, or 508 per cent. Ine accommodation of the peoplo has greatly improved in the number of houses of brick stone, or concrete, being 793, and in wood, iron huh, and plaster 17,291. In houses having Vto? S"?#7 ro °n/. t , her t- Was ? n iaorease sinc ° 1891 of 7,617. Of the ohief cities. Wellington shows the greatest number of persons to a ft?mi 8 . 9 ! were in the colony -1.23,851 inhabited dwellings; in 1895 the number wa|> 141339, being an increase' of i™ ii- • 18 ?,L th ? re wers 9.658 uninhabited dwellings ; in 1896 there were only 8,206, being a decrease in tho number of uninhabited houses tl U . V 91 the rel 'g'ons of the people the Church of England has the most adherents, the percentage being 42.27. The percentage of Presbyterians is shown to be 22 78, of Roman Catholics 14.07. Methodists 10.44. Tho percentage of Baptists and Salvation Army is 2 28 and 1.50 respectively. Freethinkers decreased from 4,475 to 3,983," or nearly 1.l pe r cent," which is worthy of remark when contrasted with the increase of 14 per cent, between 1886 and 1891. As to the birthplaces of the neople, 441,661 were born ia New Zealand, or 62.95 percent., and 215,160 were born in the United Kingdom, or colony 20,756 persons over the age of sixty, five years. As to the education of the people, satisfactory progress has been made. Excluding Chinese, 80 60 per cent, could read and write, 2.89 percent, could readonly, and 16.51 per cent were unable to read. jhe proportion • F er C of . those una, y e to read fell from 23 72 in 1878 t0.21.11 in 1886, and further to in 1396. The number of children shown by the census household schedules as attending schools of various kinds in 1895 was as follows :-At Government primarv schools 133 364, atoolleges, high, grammar, or private schools 17,600, and being taught at home 6,352. In 1891 the attendance It the Government schools was returned as 124,063, or 9,301 less than in 1896; at collegi s high, grammar or pnvate schoo's 17,047 attended in 1891, or 553 lessthan-m 1896; whilst in 18.91 9,178 children were receiving tuition at hom«, being 1,826 more than in 1896.

Poiralat'n — Dec '31, 1H)(5. Year. Out of R'v'hue. Out of Loan. Total. Now Noutli Wales .. 1,297.0-10 ISW-'J" £ 7(>:i,ooo £ si;y,ooo £ 1,031,000 Victoria ... 1,1(54,888 1SP5-9I5 Ml 308,39(5 30K.39G South Australia 3fiii,2SC 1895-9(5 77,5li0 443,000 420,5(50 Wcstrnlia 13(i,946 18fl(i-97 905,479 1,419,9951 2,32.5,474 Tasmania 1(5(5,113 189G Xil 52,(500 S2,(i00 New Zealand 714.1I52 189(5-97 45,370 (501,343 6-1(5,713

Actual, Es'md. 1896-97.1897-98! Class 1.—Legislative ... —Colonial Secretary ... 20,328 19,538 Class 2. 101,922 73,597 Class 3. —Colonial Treasurer ... 29,835 24,727 122,996 Class 4. —Justice 123,294 Class 6. —Customs and Marine... 91,050 74,432 Class 7.—Stamps and Deeds ... 22,381 21,770 Class 8.—Labor 7,206 6,425 Class 9. —Mines 18,107 16,476 Class 10.—Agricultural... 50,033 56,405 Class 12. —Public Buildings 45,371 46,400 Clas3l3. —Defence 68,552 79,627 Class 14. —Police loi.aio 10S.15S Class 15. —Lands and Surveys ... 116,069 131,316 Class 16. —Rates on Crown Lands 509 900

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Bibliographic details

THE BUDGET., Evening Star, Issue 10446, 16 October 1897, Supplement

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7,029

THE BUDGET. Evening Star, Issue 10446, 16 October 1897, Supplement

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