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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 10462, 4 November 1897
[Fbom Oub Pasliambntaby Repobteb.] WELLINGTON, Novembeb 4. Free law. / A matter of some importance was raised in the House yesterday by Mr Fisher, who asked the Government if they could see .their way. to establishing a free law departM&fit for the- purpose of affording legal advice to the poor who are unable to pay for it? He pointed oat that such a department existed in France, where it worked very satisfactorily.—The Premier said that the question opened ud an important phase in our present life. There was no doubt that a great deal of good would be done in j the direction indicated in the way of stopi ping litigation. Some of the - leading I journals- at Home had what was known as a legal column, through which legal advice could be obtained by those unable to pay a lawyer. The tirst Btep in the direction of Mr Fisher's suggestion would be to have in each of the large centres a Crown lawyer, who would do nothing but Government business. Anyone asking for a return showing the amounts paid by the colony for legal assistance last year would find that these amounts were enormouß; they were almost startling. If a good solicitor wore appointed for each of the centres it would save the colony thousands of pounds. He believed in stopping litigation as much as possible; we had too much of it in this colony. A False Plea. Whenever the Premier findß that his unguarded utterances lead him into trouble, he shelters himself behind the plea that he has been misreported. This is the stand he has taken over some remarks made by him last week to a Maori deputation, but it has not saved him from some plain talking at the hands of members of the Legislative Council. The utterance in question was to the effect that a member of the Council bad got one word inserted in a Native Land Bill in 1895, on the ground that it was a technical amendment, with the result that 30,000 acres of Native lands were affected. In bringing the matter up yesterday the Hon. Mr Bo wen said that the point was that if the Premier had been correctly reported in the «New Zealand Times' he had reflected on the honor of the Council. He explained that the matter had not been brought forward in any hostile sense, but a challenge had apparently been thrown out by the Premier to the Council.—The Minister of Education said that the Premier had been incorrectly reported. The addition of the word complained of had a very important bearing on the rights of Native 3 owning land.—The Hon. W. C. Smith explained that he was the Councillor who had moved the amendment, but he denied that it had had or would have any detrimental,effect. He was advised at the time that the amendment simply made the law clearer, and- that was also the opinion of the Law Advisers of the Government. He knew of no case at the time that the amendment would affect, and he claimed to have acted solely in the public interest. It was a question whether the privileges of that Chamber had not been infringed. The Premier (said Mr Smith, in conclusion) had no right to inquire into the motive of any member in moving an amendment. The Hon. Mr Bonar argued that any amendments made in the Bill were made in the public interest, while Mr Ortnond, referring to the Premier's denial that he had used the words imputed to him, facetiously remarked that they must have been invented by the reporter. The statement that 30,000 acres were involved he characterised as absolutely untrue, as was also the remark that the Council were in favor of freetrade in Native lands. The Premier should have denied categorically being identified with these statements.—The Hon. Mr Jennings said that the imputation of the Premier was that something had been smuggled through in the Bill.—At last someone came to the Premier's rescue, his defender being the Hon. Mr Pinkerton, who contended that a wrong construction hid been placed on the right hon. gentleman's remarks. That was the opinion of ons who was present at the Native meeting addressed by the Premier. He was certain that no reflection on the Council was intended.— The Hon. Georgp, Jones failed to are that the Council had any right to ask the Premier to explain, contending that worse charges had been made against the Government in that Chamber.—The Hon. "Mr Shrimski, on the other hand, thought that the Council had a perfect right to express their opinions.—Mr Bowen's motion, that the Government should be asked to state whether the report of the Premier's remarks was correct, was then put and carried, Almost a Scene occurred in the Hnuse last evening, when Mr Scobie Maokenaie announced his intention of moving, on the motion for the com. mittal of the Mining Bill, that it ba an in« struotton to the Committee that they have "■power to make the necessary provision by tfhich the Minister of Mines, or any other Minister of the Crown, shall be debarred from (occupying a paid position on mining syndicates or companies operating in the colony.—Mr Cadm&n immediately jumped to his feet, and said that if the motion were moved he would leave his seat on the Ministerial benches—Mr Scobie Mackenzie said that the Minister had not understood his motion, and a few minutes later the Minister, having cooled down, modified his previous remark by saying that what he had intended to say was that he would leave the Ministerial benches if it were carried. Mr Mackenzie explained that the motion was not aimed at Mr Cad man or any particular Minister.—Mr Seddcn : " ft aims at all of them."—" Yes," readily admitted the senior member for Dunedin. "It debars Ministers from holding these positions." Mr Mackenzie's motion opens the door to another discussion on the Anglo-Continental appointment of the Premier. Jottings. Leave of absence for a fortnight was granted in the Council yesterday to the Hon. George M'Lean. Mr Massey suggested yesterday that chairmen of education boards should have free passes on railways. The Minister of Railways said he had no objection to this, but he objected to the Railway Department supplying passes. The Minister of Works has promised to consider a suggestion from Mr Hogg that a handbook should be prepared at a popular price _ containing a digest of various laws affecting farmers and graziers. Mr Monk wants the Government to furnish each of our public schools with a flig of New Zealand. Ministers profess to regard tho proposal with some favor. The Government do not think it necessary to import an expert to report on the discovery of opals in South Canterbury. The officers of the Geological Department, they consider, are quite capable of doing what is wanted. Replying to Mr E. G. Allen, who ask«d yesterday whether the Government would place on the Estimates a sum of £2,000 for grading a portion of the Otago Peninsula road near Sandymount, the Minister of Lands said he declined to be " drawn " into' giving away the Public Works Estimates piecemeal. The Minister of Railways recognises the necessity of enlarging and improving the Mosgicl Railway, and aays that provision for the expenditure of £3,400 will require to be made before the next grain season. A question asked by the Hon. J. A. Bonar in the Council as to the unsatisfactory position of the Bank of New Zealand officers' ! guarantee and provident fund elicited a reply that the Government had the matter under consideration, and that a Bill will be submitted dealing with' the matter this session. Mr Crowther yesterday asked the Government to sell the steamer Hinemoa. The Minister of Public Works said that they bad tried to do so but in vain, and now they were using her for the carriage of material for the Railway and Public Works Departments. In that way she was more than earning the cost of her working expenses. - It has already been intimated in the House that the Government have no intention of bringing down any licensing legislation this session. A similar assurance was given in the Council yesterday by the Minißter'of Education in answer to the Hon. W. C
Smith, who wished amending legislation to 1 be passed to reduce the quorum required" for" the committees and power vested.in the' chairman of issuing conditional licenses in lieu of the present unworkable system. The defence and volunteer reports will probably be brought down to-morrow. There will be a regular field day on Tuesday. Immediately formal business is over the House will apply itself to the consideia* tion of the Estimates, and an all-night sitting will follow if serious obstruction is displayed. Nothing has been done yet re the appointment of the Police Commission. The Premier eays that the various papers, in naming the magistrates to be associated with Mr Tunbridge, are on a fishing expedition, The probabilities are that the Council will on rising to-morrow adjourn fir a week. In that case the Hon. W, C. Walker will accompany the Governor to Christchurch. Mr Seddon goes down this day week for the show, returning by Saturday irghi/a steamer. An Imprest Supply Bill for £366,000 passed all stages this afternoon. The petition of J. J. Meikle, of Southland, who claims £IO,OOO for wrongful conviction and redress for lengthened imprisonment, was before the Petitions Committee thiß forenoon. After Mr Meikle was examined the matter was postponed so that Judge Ward might be afforded an opportunity of replying to the serious allegations made by the petitioner concerning him. The annual post-telegraph classification scheme was laid on the table this afternoon. It is understood that the appointment of Parliamentary Bill reader will be conferred on Mr Low, who has been temporarily filling the position. Scobie Very Wide Awake. I find that in giving notice of an instruction to the Goldfields Committee on the Mining Bill (empowering them to insert a provision debarring Ministers from occupying paid positions on mining syndicates) Mr Scobie Mackenzie is considered to have go!; a most ingenious as well as a deadly shot into the Government armor. An instruction to a committee is a parliamentary weapon not at all in common use, and I suspect that a good many members did not know of its existence. The House was languid enough when the senior member for Dunedin gob up in a quite careless way to ask Mr Speaker whether that was the proper time to move an instruction. Now, Mr Scobie Mackenzie knew the proper time as well as Mr Speaker did, and his off-hand question was not sufficient to deceive the Premier, whose instinct for tactics put him on his guard at once. There was a look of apprehension on his face as Mr Mackenzie, in deliberate tones, read out his " instruction," and ib beoame something like dismay when the full purport came out. The Government had, of course, considered the syndicate question closed for this session by the vote of the House the other day, and no doubt they were congratulating themselves upon immunity from further attack from that quarter. The "instruction" business was probably the only possible way by which the question could again be brought forward, and in a more deadly form than before, for everyone feels that it would be a very proper provision to put in the Bill, and, as a matter of fact, wardens are debarred under the existing law from engaging in mining speculations. The Mining Bill has now tied on to it an explosive with a vengeance, and my prediction is that the Government will now find an excuse for shelving the measure for this session. Nor do I think that any one will be sorry, because tho Bill is too comprehensive and too dangerous to be tackled during the remaining days of the present session. Tlic cx-Chler messenger. On the House assembling to-day another warm discussion took place anentMrßevell, ex-chief messenger at Government Buildings, who was retired on compensation. The Premier and Minister of Lands both denied that any pressure was brought to bear to compel Mr Revell to retire, but this was denied by Mr Buchanan, who said that the man's retirement was caused because he knew that his position in the Civil Service was no longer tenable. That was the statement that was made to him (Mr Buchanan) without reservation by Mr Ravell.—The Hon. John M'Kenzie : Did he tell you that he got a broad hint to resign?—Mr Buchanan :He did not use those words, but he left no doubt on my mind as to what he felt to be his position.—Mr Rolleston contended that a faithful public servant had felt constrained to tender his resignation because, for discharging his duty, he had been condemned by a tribunal who had investigated the matter.—The Premier said Mr Revell had been censured for forcibly ejecting a member of the House from the Government Buildings. He was doing his duty in refusing that member admission during the dinner hour, but he ought not to have used force. EX-l>ctectivo Heriderttin. Re the petition of ex-Detective Henderson, of Christchurch, the Petitions Committee recommend a judicial .inquiry in consequence of the previous investigation before Inspectorßroham having been incomplete. '
POLITICAL GOSSIP., Issue 10462, 4 November 1897
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