THE OLD AGE PENSION SCHEME.
tFROM Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, November 20. The House was again occupied last evening with the Old Age Pensions Bill, which was considered in committee. Before going into committee there was a discussion upon the question of the proceedings in committee being reported by the 'Hanßard' staff. The rule of the House is that the only Bills reported when in committee are Appropriation Bills, and it was claimed by the Opposition that this was an Appropriation Bill. Captain Russell therefore moved that the debate should be reported. This proposal, for some ieas.on, made the Premier very angry, and he charged the Opposition with trying to kill the measure. On a division the motion of the Leader of the Opposition was negatived by 38 to 23. The Bill was taken in committee. Pension er Charitable Aid. The Bill was debated from the very outset, the first subject of dispute being the title—an Act to Provide for Old Age Pensions. It was not providing pensions, said Mr Fraser, who set the ball rolling, and contended that it was charitable aid.— "What's in a name?"' retorted Mr Hogg. " What do they care what you call it so long as they get money ?"—Thereupon Mr Brown moved to substitute the words "compassionate allowance" for the word "pension."—This was debated but. not pressed, and the original word was retained without a division. At clause 2 (the interpretation clause) Mr Montgomery moved to add a paragraph defining the measure as meaning any moneys or profits derived or received by any person for his own use or benefit, in any year, and from any Bource. This would prevent persons in receipt of salaries above £36 from receiving a pension, and was strongly opposed by the Leader of the Opposition as being an incentive to men to desist from work when they became entitled to a pension. On the other hand, it was pointed out that unless there was some suc'u provision a man receiving £I,OOO a year, or even more, from his personal earnings could also draw a pension.—The Premier said he proposed to put a limit to this of £l5O. He would provide that no person receiving £l5O per annum or more Irom his personal earnings could receive a pension "Personal earnings" are distinguished in the Bill as from moneys derived from capital or any sources other than physical or mental work.—Mr Montgomery explained that his amendment was merely intended to confine the pension to persons not in receipt of any income whatever above a certain amount to be fixed. If this were carried he intended to move that the pension be £26 per annum, not £lB as proposed by the Bill.—There was much difference of opinion upon the proposed amendment, and the debate lasted till 10.30. Eventually the amendment was agreed to by 49 to 12. At clause 3 (providing for pension districts) Mr Taylor moved to add the following words : "The boundaries' of such districts to be conterminus with the existing boroughs, town districts, road districts, and counties." The object of this, he said, was to prevent the creation of expensive machinery for the carrying out of the scheme. The officers of the boroughs, districts, etc., could do the work.—The Premier said he could not accept this amendment, a3 it would lead to a confusion of boundaries, and on a division being taken it was negatived by 35 to 21.—The clause was passed after further debate.
The next clause had a narrow escape from amendment on somewhat similar lines, Mr Taylor's amendment only being rejected by 28 to 27. Mr J. Allen wag unfortunate enough to get locked in on this division, and as he was paird with the Minister of Linda he had to vote as Mr M'Kenzie would have voted—that is, with the Government. But for this the voting would have been even. Mr Taylor then moved to amend clause 5 (which makes provision for the appointment of a registrar), so that the registrar of friendly societies for the time being would hold the office.—The Premier said it was not intended to appoint new offisers to carry the Act out, and probably the officer mentioned would be the one appointed to administer it. He objected, however, to the proposed amendment.—Mr Taylor's amendment was lost by 38 to 13. Clauses 5, 6, and 7, were passed without amendment. The Persons Entitled to Pensions. Clause 8 (defining the persons entitled to pensions) evoked much discussion. It was suggested that the words " for the rest nf his life" should bo struck out a3 a safeguard in case the finance of the scheme ever broke down ; but an amendment to this effect was negatived by 29 to 26. Mr Rolleston moved to add a new proviso providing that nothing in the Act should give anyone in receipt of a pension any claim to compensation in case the Legislature should ever deem it desirable to reject the Bcheme.—After some talk Mr Taylor moved to report progress, but this was negatived by 31 to 26.—Mr Rolleston's amendment was subsequently negatived by 30 to 27.—Progress was then reported, and the House rose at 2.20. A few minutes before this Mr Duncan accused Mr Montgomery, who had frequently referred to the measure as crude • and illconsidered, with suffering from a diarrhcea of words, an expression which he was summarily called on to withdraw. Sparks from the Debate. "No mortal man in Heaven above or on the earth beneath can understand it." Thus Mr Scobie Mackenzie on the Bill. "The question is whether this Committee can deal with this Old Age Pensions Bill or whether it should be referred to the Statutes Revision Committee or some other committee that would consider it carefully and with malice aforethought." Members wanted to know what Mr T. E. Taylor meant. " What I want i 8 a measure that will give to everyone in the colony a pension. I object to exceptions." Thus Mr Monk, after stating which he added that it was very likely that he would want one himself by-and-bye, and he did not want one that would damn bim because it was the exception and not the rule. "No person shall vote upon any subject in which he i 3 personally interested," jocularly remarked the Premier last evening in reference to the Old Ago Pension Bill. "Then why did you vote on the AngloContinental Syndicate business?" unexpectedly rapped out Mr Scobie Mackenzie, and the Premiers mood changed. " It seems to me that the Premier knows as little of the Bill as any member in the Chamber." Mr Taylor.
At a conference at Christchurch, promoted by the Progressive Liberal Association of that city, and attended by delegates from ten organisations, the following resolutions were passed:—That section c of clause 8 be struck out; that section d of clause 8 be amended to read " that his total income from all sources does not exceed £75"; that subsection 2 of clause 8 be struck out; that clause 9 be amended to read £26, instead of £lB, as provided in the Bill; f hat clause 46 be amended by the insertion of the words "public institution" after the words " justice of the peace."
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THE OLD AGE PENSION SCHEME., Evening Star, Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement