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IN COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY., Issue 10471, 15 November 1897
IN COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY.
Under ordiuary circumstances it is entirety futile and a mere waste of time and energy on the part of the Opposition to attack the Estimates in detail. If Aliriisterd are strong enough hi tho House to defeat attempts to carry amendments to the motion "for going into Committee of Supply, with which, as a matter of usage, the head of the Government inaugurates the debate on the Financial Statement, it is a foregone conclusion that their Estimates will be adopted, if not in toto, with no material reductions. We are not aware of any exception to this rule in tho parliamentary history of New Zealand, although stonewalling in Committee of Supply has not been infrequent, the present Prime Minister, indeed, having made his name by proficiency in these tactics when in opposition to the Atkinson Government. He does not evidently quite appreciate tho game when played against himself. ■
The two main points in regard to which the votes as yet have been challenged have been tho exercise of patronage in the appointment of officers of the House and the expenditure incurred by the Prime Minister in his visit to the Australian colonies early in the year and later to the Home Country, in response to the invitation of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Tho power of appointment of officeis of the House was some years ago usurped by Mr Seddon, after having been in the hands of the Speaker since tho establishment of constitutional government. It has only been in accordance with the principles which regulate his administration that he should have exercised his patronage politically ; and it may possibly be accidental that the West Coast should have furnished the best qualified men to fill any vacancy. This is generally, it may be found to be the case in every department of the public service, and, since climate and geographical position are well known to materially influence the qualities of the intellect, Westland may be considered to bs conspicuously favored. In regard to the expenses incurred by the right honorable gentleman in his progresses, which have evoked discussions in Committee somewhat acrimonious and decidedly protracted, we are rather disposed to take tho view that he must, under all the circumstances, feel somewhat astounded at his own moderation. New Zealand, in his august person, fairly "bossed" the Conference of Premiers at Hobart, and to this, no doubt, was owing in no slight degree the masterful position he subsequently occupied in London. When it is considered that ho not only was for some days in Hobart, but, accompanied by several private secretaries and the permanent head of tho Customs Department, made a sort of official tour through South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, the sum of £5lB can hardly bo thought extravagant. We presume, of course, that this covers all the expenses, allowances, etc., of his numerous suite. It has been contended, we are aware, that for all tho practical good effected ho might as well have stayed in Wellington attending to his departmental duties; but this, in the niiud of true Liberals, must appear to bo a narrow view r conceived in a carping spirit. As to the £-1,750 for the trip to England and back, we -conceive that 'the right honorable gentleman has been roughly handled by the' Opposition, although wo can quite imagine the stentorian tones of reprobation with which he, as a member of the then Opposition, would have denounced. Sir Hakry Atkinson had that honorable gentleman incurred a similar expenditure. It must be recollected that the House not only authorised his acceptance of Mr Chamberlain's invitation, but gave him carte llanchc as to expenses within reasonable limits, and that he went as the specially accredited representative of the Colony to attend a great ceremonial. He played his part, it must be admitted, very worthily, and, apart from his official functions, did good service in regard to freight charges and other matters. It was not to have been expected that in the position ho occupied he would have travelled or lived "on the cheap," and he must necessarily have been involved in many expenses which a private individual ordinarily avoids. He had, for instance, to figure at Court, and Court dresses run into money ; whilst he ordinarily moved in the most aristocratic circles, and had to assume for the nonce their habits and customs, which involve heavy disbursements day by day of ready cash. The mistake has evidently been made by those of .his own party who are so especially bitter of supposing that because a man finds it to his purpose to avow ultra-democratic views, and advertise himself as the friend of the people, he, therefore, is a democrat at heart and prefers to live as the people do. The lessons of history are against this. In the French Revolution the men who rose to power from the.mob and by the mob were notorious for profligato expenditure of the public money for personal purposes. The members of the Committee of Public Safety, for instance, lived in luxury, and even invented gorgeous official costumes, in which they paraded during their short tenure of power.
IN COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY., Issue 10471, 15 November 1897
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