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THE ESTIMATES.

THE STONEWALL ABANDONED. TERMS ARRIVED AT. [From Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, November 18. Had not an understanding been arrived at between the conflicting parties yesterday evening, whereby the stonewall on the Estimates was brought to a close, the Opposition had made very complete arrangements for conducting their share of it. The partv were divided into two sections. Captain Russell, with Messrs Allen, Lewis, and others, went on at half-past two yesterday afternoon, and were to " hold the fort" till half-past ten, when Mr Rolleston, Mr Scobie Mackenzie, Mr G. Hutchison, and others were to relieve them, taking the night shift. In this way the stonewall was to have been continued till midnight on Saturday, failing a settlement as to select committees, etc. As members proceeded, after the luncheon adjournment yesterday, with the consideration of the Police Estimates, the Chamber presented a melancholy appearance. Quite half the members were reclining at full length on the benches, while the balance were apparently indifferent to what was going on around them, being too exhausted ti take more than a languid interest in the discussion. Undoubtedly the Premier, in spite of his iron constitution, looked jaded, while the Hon. T. Thompson, who was in charge of the Class under review, indulged in intermittent naps in the armchair provided for him. Mr Seddon, for the fiftieth time, accused the Opposition of stonewalling with malice aforethought; and so far as reporting progress was concerned, he declared that there was no progress to report. Be the consequences what they may, he will go on, he declares, with the Estimates for another day or week or till Christmas or even a month later, to the exclusion of all other business. There cannot, he adds, be two Kings in Brentford, and there was nothing for it but for the Opposition to knock under.—To this outspoken declaration of the intentions of the Government the Leader of the Opposition replied that he was willing, if progress is reported, to go outside and confer with the Premier a3 to the business to be taken.— The Premier retorted that he was not in the habit of inviting people to go outside, any more than he was behindhand when anyone was good enough to extend an invitation to him to step outside. " Will you walk into my parlor" had no attractions for him. "It is not for the majority to yield to the minority in Parliament, and though he does not wish to be hard on anyone not so physically strong as himself he feels quite fit for another week or two."—Mr Wason suggested that the Police Estimates should be passed and progress reported, failing which there was no alternative open to the Opposition than to " record their protest." —The Minister of Defence contemptuously calls this " mere by-play " and refuses to be drawn.—The item £SO (long service medals), which had been under discussion for fully three hours, was then struck out, as proposed by the Premier. —On the total vote (£2,492) for miscellaneous services being put, the hope was raised thatt he last had been seen of the Police Estimates, but Mr Wason again raised his elongated form and resumed stonewalling, being aided by Messrs Allen, Sligo, and Carson.—Speaking of awards for obtaining convictions for sly grog-selling for which £2OO was set down, the member for Duuedin denounced the system as immoral in its tendency, and calculated to cause the creation of crime.— Complaint was made by Mr Allen that policemen were degraded by being put into plain clothes and required to take up temporary residence in the homes of suspects, with a view to detecting sly grog - sellers. If spies were wanted to sheet home offences, let them be cmployed, but not be taken from the ranks of the police.—These views galvanised into life the recumbent Mr G. J. Smith, who is an ardent Prohibitionist, and who describes the remarks just made as nonsense. It was clearly tho duty of the police, he urged, to inai3t on the clue observance of the laws, and if sly grog-seliing existed in the Cluiha electorate aud in the King Country they must pub it down—not the liquor, but the sale.—The Minister of Defence supported the contention of the member for Christchurch. The obtaining of convictions was already admitted a difficult proceeding, but the difficulty would be increased fourfold if trained policemen were not to be permitted to don civilians' dress in order to run evil-doers to earth.—Mr Lawry (the admitted champion of " the trade") denounced the recent raid into the King Country and the means employed by Detective Herbart to ascertain whether liquor was sold in Native settlements. He put some warmth into the discussion by saying that the cold water or Prohibition section of the community were responsible for the lying and perjury witnessed in connection with the prosecutions under the Licensing Act.— To the amusement of the Committee, the Chairman of Committees here interposed with the observation that he must remind the hon. member that the attitude of the Prohibitionists had nothing to do with the item under consideration.—Mr Carson contented himself by assuring the member for Parnell that he had no objection to crossing swords with him on the muohdiseussed question of Liquor v. Prohibition, but Mr Lawry preferred retiring to another part of the building to "see a man about a dog " to accepting the member for Wanganui's challenge. Mr Taylor fanned the flame by taking up the matter of sly grog-selling within the prohibited area of Clutha, and practically retained possession of the floor till each branch of the Police Estimates was passed, shortly after five, when the House rose till the evening. £ On resuming at the evening sitting the galleries were sparsely attended compared with Tuesday night, the counter attraction of the opening of the Bland Holt season being doubtless responsible for this result. The occupants of the ladies' gallery were dressed in variegated colors, which contrasted in a marked manner with the sombre colors worn in winter, when the House is generally in session.

The Defence Estimates were at once brought under review.—Mr Allen led off by wanting the Minister in charge to inform him whether the Government intend to adopt the suggestions in Colonel 1 Pole Tenton's report, while Mr Lewis voiced the feeling of the volunteers as to their nig--nardly treatment at the hands of the Railway Department in refusing to give them passes.—Captain Russell informed the Committee that aa the items came up he would point out how effect could be given to the commandant's report. Meanwhile he appealed to the Minister to give an assurance that Colonel Pole Penton is to be given a free hand in the control of the Volunteer and Defence Departments.—Mr O'Regan characterised the exponditureon the. defence arm of the service as an extravagant and unnecessary burden on the colony, and regarded the attempt to keep up the nucleus of a standing army as a piece of tomfoolery. —The Defence Minister {the Hen. Mr Thompson) told the House that when he took office they were going to change their commandant, and it would have been very unwise for him to have made a change pending Colonel Penton's report, which he believed to be a valuable one. He agreed that it was absolutely necessary that first-class ammunition should be supplied to the volunteers, and said that, unless an improved article was supplied by Whitney and Co., their contract must be cancelled and other arrangements made. A3 to organisation, tho Minister thought that the commandant ought to have a free hand, and so far as he was concerned he was inclined to give it to him.—A protest was raised by Mr Millar against any attempt to create a standing army. With our immense seaboard, what was required was two or three fast cruisers. The opinion held by the volunteers was that they were to be neglected in favor of a standing army. The middle member for Dunedin went on to say that the volunteers in Otago were sore that Colonel Penton could find his way to visit Christchurch, yet could -not go on to Dunedin and Timaru, where the men we: e in camp. " There was a race meeting in Christchurch," some hon. member chips in, as showing the reason of the colonel's visit to that town. Mr Millar, unheedful of the observation, warned the Minister that if the attempt to transform the cavalry into'

mounted infantry were persisted in the colony would lose some of its beat corps, which elicited emphatic approval from Mr Lewis. —"I raise my voice in unison with the peace party against the absolute waste of public money year after year in forming the nucleus standing army," said Mr Hojg, whose stentorian tones lent weight to the assertion contained in his opening words. —Mr " Marsden " Thompson thought that if the Whitney Company's ammunition did not greatly improve a contract should be entered into with another firm. It raised his ire to hear the pessimistic croakings of certain hon. members, who, he was convinced, would establish a record in pedestrianism in getting out of an enemy's reach.—Mr Wason, who showed no signs of his exertions earlier in the day, expressed himself to the effect that the colony was behaving with great s habbiness and meanness to, the volunteers in refusing to convey them free on the railways when on duty bound.—While not posing as a military expert, Mr Taylor thought that the colony might save from fifty to seventy thousand a year on defences, and yet have as efficient a volunteer force as any in the colonies. He opposed the idea of going into a thorough military system. Perfecting rifle clubs and volunteers in shooting should be our first aim.—Mr O'Regan moved to have the vote (£4,510) reduced by £5 as a protest against excessive military expenditure, but it was lost by 45 to 11. An unexpected diversion took place at this stage (ten o'clock). The Premier remarked upon the fair nature of the discussion upon the Estimates since 7.30, and intimated that he desired to make a statement to the Committee as to what had considerably helped to bring about this most satisfactory condition of affairs. When the House rose at 5.15 he and the Leader of the Opposition had conferred, and an agreement had been come to between them. It was agreed between them that the Estimates not dealt with should be passed with fair discussion. Then, with respect to sessional committees, it was arranged that what he had stated in the House eome time ago—namely, that he should concede to the Opposition the right to proportionate representation upon these committees—should be given effect to. The Leader of the Opposition, on the other hand, had withdrawn the claim that he should be consulted respecting the names of the members from his side of the Hou3e to be placed upon committees. Regarding committees, it had been agreed to substitute the names of Mr Scobie Mackenzie for that of Mr Lang on the Printing and Debates Committee. The name of the member for Ellesmere was to be added to the Library Committee, and that of the Leader of the Opposition was to be added to the House Committee. The Public Accounts and Railways Committees were to stand as on the Order Paper. The names of Messrs Scobie Mackenzie, Massey, and Lang were to be added to the Goldfields Committee. When the Selection Committee was under discussion the other night he had offered to concede to the Opposition another member on that Committee. He now agreed to two name3—namely, Messrs Hunter and Langmaking the proportion on thi3 Committee three Opposition tofiur Governrreit members. Then, respecting the control of the officers cf the House, an opportunity would be given to the House of discussing this question before th > session closed. The question of going into Supply on the Public Works Estimates had been mooted, and it had been complained that there would be no opportunity given of discussing the motion to go into "Supply on these. He had agreed to give an open night for this discussion. Regarding the Police Commission of Inquiry he repeated what he had said the previous evening—namely, that after the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition and other members upon this subject, his mind was quite opeu ; and what had been said regarding Commissioner Tunbridge'a acting would receive the fullest consideration.—(Mr Taylor: Will that include the scope of the Commission ?) He declared emphatically that the Government had never intended to go outside of the officers of the House in making the appointment of Bill reader. The only question before the Government was in respect to two gentlemen (Messrs Low and Kane) now officers of the House. There was, however, no urgency in regard to this appointment. There were a number of the usual sessional returns asked for, many of them being necessary to complete previous returns. He would be only 100 pleased to place those on the table of the House in due course. It would be seen that what had been arranged would ba satisfactory to all concerned. There had been no departure whatever from principle. There had been mutual give and take. The main thing now was to get the Estimates through and the House to get into working order. He si 1 thought that members, if they made up their minds, could recover some of the last ground and make the session a profitable one.—The Leader of the Oppjsition confirmed all that had fallen from the Premier, and the Committee show their approval of the prospect of business proceeding without further hindrance.

Quite a series of queries concerning the volunteers were propounded by Mr Allen. Answering them, the Minister said, as to rifle ranges, that there was a small increase on the vote; but when it was pointed out that this would not meet the difficulty he replied that, in respect to Dunedin, it was proposed to sell the land on which the St. Clair battery stands and to use the money to buy a rifle range. The question of free railway passes was too large a question for him to answer right off. It needed consideration. The ammunition trouble was again brought up, and the Minister replied that an expert was being imported, who would be required to test the ammunition of the Auckland Ammunition Company and to supervise the manufacture of every cartridge made in the factory. The whole vote was then passed unaltered.

The Valuation Department was reached just after midnight.— Mr Buchanan at once set the ball rolling by attacking some of the appointments, whioh he declared were a scandal and of the worst character. Talk about corruption and abuse of patronage ! He dealt exhaustively with the appointment of Mr Barnes, of Wanganui.—Mr Bollard complained that the Valuer-General had not been allowed to choose his own valuers, and stated that most disgraceful officers had been thrust upon hiro.—The Minister of Lands : That is not corn ot.—Mr Bollard said it was the custom of the Government to now and again make an appointment from the ranks of their opponents, and to shelter their other ap. pointmeiits behind it.—Mr George Hutchison, while agreeing that there wore many appointments in connection with the Valuation Department open to suspicion, was of opinion that Mr Barnes would make a good officer.—The Minister of Lands said that the Valuer • General had selected all the va'uers who had been appointed.— (Mr Bollard: Nominally.) As to Mr Barnes and the strictures passed upon him by District Judge Kettle, what was the position of Judge Kettle to the institution prosecuting Mr Barnes ?—(Mr Monk : Tell us if you know). He would do it in his own way. Judge Kettle was the tool of the Bank of New South Wales. Every stricture passed upon Mr Barnes by Julge Kettle had since been refuted. Mr RollestoD, referring to what had fallen from the Minister of Lands, said he would be doing a wrong if he did not stigmatise the Minister's reference to Judge Kettle in strong terms of condemnation. It was a libellous and foul accusation, and could not rest there.—The Minister said that he must take advantage of the opportunity of putting hrnnelf right as to Judge Cor oily. If it was not a proper and constitutional practice for a Minister of the Crown to refer to a Judge in terms of reprobation, it must be equally unconstitutional for a Judge of the Supreme Court Bench to criticise his (Mr M'Kenzie's) conduct. He had heard that after the case had been disposed of in New Plymouth, where the prisoner, who had been convicted of perjury, was ordered to be detained till after the rising of the Court, Judge Conolly and this prisoner left the court together. He had heard further that the prisoner and Judge Conolly had subsequently dined together.—-(Mr G. Hutchison: Don't say it unless you are sure.) Judges, continued Mr M'Kenzie, must not expect to assume that they were not liable to be referred to in any shape or form. In reply to some observations by Mr Buchanan the Minister of Lands explained that in making the

assertion that Judge Kettle was a tool I of the Bank of New South Wales he was simply quoting from a letter by Mr j Barnes.—The Valuation Department passed at two o'clock. The votes on Crown lands were passed without discussion. State Forest account evoked a dry debate, members urging the necessity iur forest preservation. The vote then passed, as also the Cheviot Estate account, Land for Settlements account, and the Advances to Settlers Office account. At the, Public Trust Office account Mr George Hutchison raised the question of costs in the Horowhenaa Block case.—The Minister of Lands said that this matter would come before the House in a few days. —Mr Rolleston asked if there was a Bill coming down ? The Premier said that there was. —Mr Rolleston asked if the Premier would give the House an opportunity of discussing the Horowhenua question and the question of costs?— The Premier replied in the affirmative. He refused, however, to give any information on the subject at the present stage, as the Bill would Bpeak for itself when it came down.—Mr Rolleston said the non-payment of these costs was a scandal, and one of the most discreditable things that the Government were responsible for.—The Minister of Lands said that this Horowhenua matter was not ended yet. He was the culprit in the matter (The Premier: " Don't say that.")—and he was prepared to stand by his action.—Mr Rolleston hoped that the Estimates would not be passed until the Premier gave some definite assurance that the matter of the costs would come up for discussion during the present session.—The Premiersaidthatsuchanopportunitywouldbe given.—Mr Montgomery said that the longer that this money was not paid the greater the discredit it was to the colony. The liability was incurred by the colony, and the Government should pay it. It was not fair to bring the matter down in a Bill and say : "If you don't pass the Bill the costs will not be paid."—The Class then passed. The Government Insurance Department Class was put through without debate, the Estimates being finished at 3.15 a.m., after a continuous sitting of nearly thirty-two hours, and the House rose until 7.30 p.m.

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Bibliographic details

THE ESTIMATES., Issue 10474, 18 November 1897

Word Count
3,225

THE ESTIMATES. Issue 10474, 18 November 1897

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