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POLITICAL GOSSIP.

[From Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, November 5. Otago Harbor Hoard. In engineering the Harbor Bill through its second reading in the House last evening Mr Millar showed great judgment by the moderation and brevity of his remarks. He pointed out the financial position of the Board prior to ISS4, and gave details of the Conversion Act of 1884, explaining how the balance of £162,000 had arisen. He stated that the trade of the port was steadily increasing, and also the rentals from endowments. StreES was laid on-the fact that there was no weakening of the debentureholders' security, and that the money was required for an urgent work in the Lower | Harbor.—Captain Russell urged that the House should exercise the greatest care in regard to the powers of harbor boards,- particularly where further borrowing powers were concerned.—The Premier said he fully concurred with the opinions expressed by the Leader of the Opposition. As regarded the present measure, he understood that there would be no increase of thq port charges, and that the Board's finances would really be relieved. This measure, like similar Bills with borrowing powers, he intended to ask the House to refer to the Public Accounts. Committee. Mr Millar having in reply convinced the House that no fresh borrowing was intended, the second reading was agreed to, and Mr Seddon expressed himself saticfied that there was no necessity for the motion he had intimated his intention of moving. The Land Valuers. Mr Monk : " Sir, there is close on £40,000 on the Estimates for valuing the lands of the colony, and I wish to tell this House that it is goiug to be absolutely valueless and unreliable, because the values have been sandwiched by men iucapable of carrying cut the duties they have undertaken. The blame will rest upon the present Administration. I have known instances where thoroughly respectable and capable men have been promised situations, but never got them. It is notorious that a large number of persons have received appointments who are quite incapable."—The Premier said the Government were not to be blamed, and stated that the valuations would be found to come out all right. The Premier on the Police. The Premier does not appear to entertain an exalted opinion of the police force. Speaking yesterday in defence of the refusal of Ministers to supply Mr G. Hutchison's return of prisoners to whom the clemency of the Crown was extended at Jubilee time, Mr Seddon made this extraordinary statement: "When a man is discharged from gaol the polics dog him and watch him, and never rest till they get him into gaol again." Wellington's Improvement Scheme. Vigorous opposition to the Wellington City Empowering Bill, which gives effect to Mayor Bill's scheme, c*me from Mr George Fisher, who said that the measure sought to infringe a principle already laid down bv Act of Parliament—viz., that no money should be borrowed without first obtaining a poll of the ratepayers.—The Premier hell that the circumstauces did not warrant the new departure made by the Bill viz., that of leaving to those represented in tho City Council the determination of burdening the future citizens of Wellington for all time for the purchase of the estate and. the cutting up of the Town Belt. The municipal franchise should be enlarged before the City of Wellington was committed to further undertakings, involving a large expenditure. The second reading passed, and the Premier's motion that the Bill be referred to the Public Accounts Committee was negatived'by 26 to 23. Reciprocity. The Bill introduced by the Premier making further provision m reciprocity give 3 the Government power to reciprocate with great Britain or any of her possessions. Shipment of Dairy Produce. Owing to the aotion of the shipping companies in refusing to receivs dairy produce, unless in the stipulated quantities, pressure from different parts of the colony is being brought to bear on the Government, and Ministers are now considering (he position of matters with a view to the possible introduction of legislation on the Bubject. The Old Age Pension Bill was introduced and read a first time in the House yesterday. It is a measure of sixtyfour clauses, and provides the necessary machinery for giving effect to an old age pension scheme. The colony is to be divided into districts, and for each district a registrar and a deputy registrar are to be appointed. The registrar (subject to the control of the Colonel Treasurer) is to have the general administration of the Act. Those entitled to pensions are persons who at any time after the coming into operation of the Act shall attain the age of sixtyfive years and upwards, and who have resided continuously in the colony for not less than twenty years immediately preceding such date; aho during the four years immediately preceding they must not have been convicted four times or upwards in respect to drunkenness nor have been imprisoned for four months or upwards for offences against property or the person. Their total income from all sources (exclusive of personal earnings and the pension) must not amount to £36 per jear or upwards; and, finally, they must hold a pension certificate. While a person is in gaol he is deemed to be absent from the colony. Absence from the colony is regarded as temporary absence unless the total temporary absence exceeds eighteen mouths. Tbe amount of pension is fixed at £lB per annum, but it is to be diminished at the rate of £1 10s for every complete £3 of income, so that no pension shall be payable for any year in which the income is £36 or upwards. For the purpose of fixing the psnsion for the first year the income of the claimant for the year endieg .at the date of the pension claim is to be taken. For the purpose of computing income, rent and personal property are lo be reckoned as earning at least 4 per cent, on the capital value (after deducting all mortgages or other encumbrances), and in the case of personal property the sum of £IOO is supposed to earn 4 per cent. In the case of a husband and wife who are living together the yearly income of each is to be added together, and the yearly income of each is to be reckoned as not less than half of the total personal earnings. Pension payments are not to be reckoned in calculating the income of a claimant. Where for any year after the first a pensioner's income exceeds £36, the excess is to be included in the computation of his income for the year following. There are a number of clauses providing for the investigation of pension claims by different registrars, from whose decisions an appeal can be made under certain conditions to any stipendiary magistrate in the locality. Provision is also made for pensioners furnishing particulars of their incomes for the payment of pensions, and penalties are provided for wrongfully obtaining or attempting tb obtain pension certificates and forfeited instalments and for drunkenness. Payment of pensions is to be met by the Colonial Treasurer paying into the post office account byway of imprest whatever money he deema necessary i and this can be done without further appropriation than the Act. The costs of administration are to be appropriated by Parliament in the U3ual way. Aboriginal Natives and aliens who have not been naturalised fop twenty years prior ta

establishing their pension claim are pn olurded from taking advantage of the Act. The Premier and Colonel Fox. Yesterday I gave the Premier's version of his observation made last week in reply lo an interjection by Captain Russell to the effect that the late Commander of the Forces had had a free hand. In laying on the table of the House last evening Colonel Fox'b recommendation re arming the forces with a small-arm, the Premier said that he had no intention of conveying the impression that the late Commander of the Forces had had a free hand. It was well known that he had recommended that the colony should have a paid force. What ho (the Premier) had meant was that in issuing the Mmini-Henry rifle the Cabini* had acted solely on the advice of the late commandant.—Captain Russell said he was not ia a position to say to what exteut Colonel Fox had a free hand, but he "Was strongly of opinion that in the purchase of the rifles he had not—that wae, to the extent of the money placed at his disposal. There could be no shadow of doubt whatever that in this matter the late commandant was con trolled by che Minister of Defence, and in no sense of the word could it be said that he had a free hand with respect to the purchase of rifles. Of course he (Captain Russell) was speaking without knowledge of the contents of the report just placed on the table.—A discussion seemed imminent, when Sir R. Stout moved the adjournment of the debate till this afternoon, so that the local Bills should not be blocked, and this suggeE» tion was adopted. The correspendence showed that in June, 1593, the Government asked the AgentGeneral to ascertain the price of 2,000 MartiniHenry rifles, with bayonets and slings. A reply was received by cable that weapons' could be obUined for £4.200 per thousand. Lieutenant-colonel Hurman, R A., however, advised that Lee-Melfords should be secured at 10s each. It would appear advisable, he urged, that the colony should gradually adopt the Service calibre of rifle, and this seemed a good opportunity ''to begin the change of calibre. Ammunition for smallbore rifles was more expensive at present, but would doubtless gradually become cheaper, whereas the Martini-Henry ammunition would be entirely in the hands of the trade, und as the Imperial demands ceased the price would certainly rise, so that eventually the cost of ammunition for tho Martini-Henry rifles would approximate to that for small-bore rjfhs. This communication was immediately referred to Colonel Fox, who advised that he had already recommended that the Martini-Henry riflea should be supplied to the defence force?, His reasons were chiefly based on the very great difficulty—the practical impossibility —of obtaining ranges near thefourchief towns of the colony on which the small-bore rifle could be used, and also on the greater pense of the ammunition of the small-bore rifle. He disagreed with Colonel Harman as to his opinion regarding the future expense of the Martini-Henry ammunition, With the auxiliary and Native forces armed with the Martini-Henry rifle the demand for that ammunition would be increased rather than decreased. Otago Itailwny*. A deputation comprising the Hon. Mr Larnach and some Southland members, wailed on the Minister of Works last night and asked his assistance in connection with the Heriot-Roxburgh extension, and also for the Otago Central. The Hon. Mr HallJones promised to visit Otago during tho recsss, and to inspect both lines. Meanwhile he would bring tho matter before tho Cabinet and do what he could to further tho wishes of the deputation. Appointment of House Oflircrs. In the course of the discussion on tho retirement of Mrßevell, the chief messenger at the Government Buildings, Mr Hogg charged Mr Buchanan with making charges which he had pot the manliness to withdraw when they were shown to be untrue. He declared that there was scarcely a publio officer in the Wairarapa against whom Mr Buohanan had not made complaint and who did not stand in dread of him.—Mr Buchanan said that the statement was untrue.—Mr Hogg • If the hon. gentleman denies it I am prepared to produce the names.—-The Premier said he had consented to Btand for months under the charge of compelling Mr Revell's resignation in order to make room for a relative. Mr Buchanan had refused to accept his explanation ; hence he how produced the correspondence re the man'a retirement. Second Headings. The second reading of the Coroners' Bi 1 (the Minister of Education), the Defamation Bill (the Hon. H. Feldwick), and an Imprest Supply Bill were agreed to in tho Couucil yesterday afternoon. The Rights oi' the Tress. In connection with the first-mentioned measure the H6n. Mr Shiimski intimated that when in committee} he would move that all coroners' inquests should be open to the public Press.—Dr Grace pointed out that at present the duty of inspecting ;the body at inquests was confined to the jury; while the Hon. J. A. Bonar expressed Burprise that a coroner had denied the right of the Press representatives to view a body at an inquest.—These remarks drew from the Minister of Education the statement that he was not aware that the opportunity of viewing the body was granted to the Press in any other place. It might lead to serious abuses, and could hardly be necessary. " The man in the street" not be asked to come in.—Mr Shrimski: The jury are the man in the street, because they are picked up anywhere. Kvnrtiug Customs. A recent smuggling prosecution at Lyttelton was brought under the attention of the Legislative Council yesterday, when' the Hon. R. J. Reeves said that the department had been forced to plead guilty, under pressure of the Collector of Customs. He BBked the representative of the Government in thit Chamber to institute inquiries in connection with the case mentioned by a correspondent of the « Lyttelton Times.'—The Minister replied that presumably the statements made were ex parte. There was no system, he said, of the Customs authorities endeavoring to trap the innocent, but there was an organised contraband trade in that port. The Government saw no reason to take any steps in the matter. An All-ltouud Attack. The introduction of an Imprest Supply Bill wa3 made the opportunity of an attack on the general administration of the Government by Mr George Hutchison, who complained of the refusal of Ministers to furnish the returns asked by hoc. members since tbe session began. One tf these opposed motions was in his own name, and had reference to tho prisoners released at the time of the Queen's Jubilee. He found fault especially with the clemency of the Crown being extended to a half-caste named Rollins, who had been sentenced to death for a murder on the Eaßt Coast, and afterwards had his sentence commuted to imprisonment for life; and to the notorious Roderick M'Kenzio—(great laughter at the expense of the member for Buller)—who had been a gaol-bird practically since he was twelve years old. He had also failed to get a return of Ministers' travelling expenses. The Premier, since his Jubilee junketings, had lost control of the House. He hod net advanced the business of the country, but had brought things into ooninsion. He had refused to admit the rights of the Opposition being respected, but until Ministers put the closiue

on members would not bo deprived of the opportunity of ventilating their grievances. —Speaking with some warmth, the Minister of Lands charged the member for Patea with asking for returns in a way that ho knew would render compliance with his requestimpossible. His object was to make capital with the country because the returns naked for by him had been refused. It was simply absurd to charge the Government with being corrupt because the returns were nob furnished. As to the released prisoners, there were only some eighteen or twenty of them all told, and the Government had been urped by the other colonial Governments to act jointly with them in marking the Queen's Jubilee in the manner indicated. The majority of those recommended for the clemency of the Crown had only a few weeks of their sentence to serve, and. Roderick M'Kcnzie would have been released in the ordinary course in twq or three weeks. As to the Native serving a life sentence, he was recommended for release by the local prison authorities because of his lengthened incarceration and good behaviour. The inspector in charge of the Prisons Department had recommended the release of the prisoners to whom the clemency of the Crown had been extended, and the insinuation that favoritism had been displayed by the Cabinet was indignantly repudiated. Mr M'Guire revived his grievance concerning the treatment of the New Plymouth bondholders, and charged the ex-Treasurer (the Hon. J. G. Ward) with deceiving them.—After considerable discussion the Premier expressed surprise at the departure made that afternoon in treating an Imprest Supply Bill as the occasion of an ordinary motion for setting up Supply and ventilating grievances on it. The Government could not always occupy the Treasury benches, and those responsible for the innovation would have to repent it. So far as the released prisoners were concerned, it was solely on humane grounds that the return asked for has been refused.—(Laughter.) The men were not free, and it was not right that their names should be placed on the parliamentary records, or be published throughout the length and breadth of the colony, for no other reason than that it was a return withheld. Alienation of Xutive Lands. The outcome of the recent meeting of Natives at Papawai and Greytown North last month is that a printed manifesto, called " Tepuke Ki Hikurangi," has been addressed to the Premier. After referring to the Jubilee reign and expressing most fervent loyalty to the Queen, it proceeds to quote from the memorial which wns lately sent Home, pointing out that while the tribes have sold sixty millions of acres to the Government and private purchasers only five million acres remain in the possession of the various tribes. In the memorial reference was also made to the fact that the Waitaugi Treaty guaranteed to the Natives the right to their lands. A letter is quoted from Mr Chamberlain acknowledging the receipt of a communication of 13th May from Wi Pere and others congratulating the Queen on her Jubilee reign, and stating that the portion of the communication relative to Maori land questions must be referred to the New Zealand Native Minister. The Wairarapa document reminds the Premier that he on a certain occasion warned the Natives against becoming landless through the indiscriminate alienation of their lands, and advised them to merely lease them, and not to sell another single acre. The document goes on to say : " This is a right word. It is also our word to the tribes, but we have no inana to enforce it; therefore, we pray that a Bill may be passed to absolutely prevent the sale of land to Europeans or the Government, and to reserve for all time what remains in our possession as a dwellingplace and subsistence for ourselves and our descendants." Jottings. According to the Minister of Lands members of the Opposition ask for information in such a form that it is impossible for the Government to supply it: Mr G. Hutchison tays- that any information is denied except in so far as it suits the Government. " We are now about halfway through the session, and so far there has not been one opportunity given for a member to move a minion unless it was not objected to by the Government," is Mr G. Hutchison's complaint. " I hope no more will be heard of Woman Suffrage," the Premier sincerely remarked yesterday afternoon. While giving credit to Sir John Hall for initiating the movement, he said that it was to Mrs Ballance that the credit was mainly due for the women of this country having the franchise.—Mr T. E. Taylor: " Mrs Sheppard, of Chriatohuroh, is entitled to more credit." The Minister of Lands says it ia well known that people guilty of crime chose a good eolid name to help to bolster them up when they come before the Court. This statement was a rather neat reply to a reference by Mr G. Hutchison to a notorious character claiming the name of M'Kenzie who was released from custody by the Government at the Jubilee time. As a protest against the sum of £5lB •claimed by Mr Seddon in attending the Premiers' Conference at Hobart in March last, Mr Moore yesterday mentioned that when Sir G. Grey, Sir H. Atkinson, and Captain Russell attended the Federation Convention at Sydney in 1891 their joint bill against the colony only totted un to £6OO 7s lid. i Reporting on the petition of ex-Sergeant Dufferin, of New Plymouth, who claims compensation for dismissal from the police force, the Petitions Committee And that, having regard to the petitioner's many years' service without a mark against his name they consider that in consequence of one lapse from duty he has been treated with undue severity. It is therefore recommended that his case should receive the consideration of the Police Department. At Mr Buchauan's instance a motion was agreed to in the House that a return be laid on. the table showing particulars of the Governmant advertising in various newspapers for the year ended March last. The Premier carried a resolution yesterday afternoon ordering a return showing the number of persons employed in tho Permanent Artillery. The Premier has introduced an Alien Immigration Restriction Bill. The question of the renewal of the San Francisco mail service will be submitted to the House before the session closes. "The more money you borrow the richer you become and the less interest you have to p»y." Thus Captain Russell, summarising the arguments of Mr O'Regan on the Westport Harbor Board Loan Bill. " One of the greatest curses we have ever had in this country is incompetent engineers." Thus the Premier. Several local Bills were read a second time in the House last evening and their committal fixed for Thursday next.

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POLITICAL GOSSIP., Evening Star, Issue 10463, 5 November 1897

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POLITICAL GOSSIP. Evening Star, Issue 10463, 5 November 1897

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