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PRUDENT POLICY., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897
I The Prime Minister lias demonstrated Y characteristic sagacity-in. ; conceding the reasonable" demands of the Opposition to the party : ;bemg-proportidnately lepre* sented" on the . more important committees, who have-more -influence on the course of-legißlation and the conduct of administration than is generally realised. The right''honorable gentleman- also- expresses himself prepared to allowj a."free discussion of the, question of .the appointment of b'fiiceisj.. of the House,., and to; give-full opportunity on the motion.for going into. " Committee; of Supply upon the Public; Works Estimates for criticism of the _ Ministerial proposals. ;-In regard to the Police Commission,-he is willing to be guided by^the opinion of the. House, and give consideration to suggestions from both sides that the new Commissioner: should not be a member of the Com- •
mission. He. further .promises that the returns asked -for in order to complete informaiionTJefore the Legislature shall be placed on .the table in. _ due course. As a master hand jiimself in the art of stonewalling, he" has been practically worsted by. the same tactics which he applied against the Atkinson Government. We are inclined to the opinion that had he acted on his own judgment he would have "saved much time and worry by coming to an arrangement with Captain. Russell at an earlier period; Possibly both himself and his colleagues underrated the strength of the Opposition, and were confident that the • Ministerial, majority was sufficient to "force the running." Ithas, however, been brought home to them that they have very different material to deal with from what they had in the last Parliament. " Better late than never." They have yielded to circumstances which they could not control, and we feel confident that no obstruction will now be offered by Captain Russell and those who work with him to the necessary business of the session being rapidly proceeded with. As to the members constituting the Left Wing and other disaffected Ministerialist?, they are, of course, beyond control, and are likely to give considerable trouble, although otherwise, powerless. They are not likely, however, to receive enceuragement from the Opposition ; nor do -we think that their action will be favorably regarded by the country. The departmental Estimates being now out of the way, the position of the Government may be taken to .bo secure for the sessiou, although no doubt the Public Works proposals will, on certain points, "be keenly debated, and may have to be modified or. amended. The Prime Minister, provided . that he can obtain appropriations to an amount sufficient to carry on through thocurrent financial year, will probably be indifferent. He is designing, if we are not niistakeu, a grand coup for'next year, and is only anxious just now to bring the session to a close so soon as he decently can. He must recognise that it is impossible to effect any important legislation within the necessarily limited time now at disposal, and under existing conditions his prestige is unquestionably being weakened, almost, it may be said, day by day- Futile attempts to pass policy measures—and any such attempts are almost certain to be futile—would further discredit him with, the Legislature and with the country. He may possibly, before Parliament meets next year, see his way to effeot a reconstruction of the Cabinet. At present he is heavily handicapped by the impracticability of his principal colleague in the House, and the conspicuous incapacity in debate of the others. Whatever could have induced him to take to himself such "weak vessels" is utterly incomprehensible. It would not be surprising if he looks to a dissolution as the only way; although risky from one point of view, out of the difficulty. One of the questions outside politics proper which is to be immediately dealt with, according to the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday, is the constitution of the Royal Commission on the police force and the scope of the inquiry. Our own impression is that the Ministry should have taken the responsibility of the appointment of the . Commissioners entirely upon themselves, and not left the matter open at all. They should have taken prompt action, and. then defended that action in the House. The proposed selection of Dr Giles and Mr Poynton,. S.M., was unexceptional, and it is much to be regretted that the former has been obliged, for private reasons, to decline to serve on the Commission. He would have been altogether " the right man in the right place," having shown excellent judgment in similar positions. Mr Potnton is especially well qualified, and will bo associated,, it : -may be presumed, with - some North Island magistrate. Objections to Mr Tdnbhidge, the new head of the department, being placed on the Commission have been raised on both sides of the House ; but we are unable at present to see -the force of these, since this officer is entirely free from any association with or knowledge of the transactions and circumstances to be inquired into, while- ho will be able to bring expert knowledge as to the conduct and discipline of the best police force in the Empire to bear upon the subject. We speak, however, with some reserve, having respect for the opinions of Captain Russell aud other 'honorable gentlemen who expressed themselves so strongly on the question. "
PRUDENT POLICY., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897
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