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The Evening Star MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1914., Issue 15681, 21 December 1914
The Evening Star MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1914.
Tni: apparent equality of voting strength of the two political par- ) Constitutional ties is occasioning much Deadlock. speculation as to the outcome. The constitutional position, however, is quite clear. Equality means impossibility of government. Tho British Constitution is framed on tho principle of majority rule, and until such a majority can be obtained parliamentary authority is in suspension, and | Ministerial control of tho country’s affairs lu-supported by tho only recognised democratic) aanctiqp. Tho Hon. Mr Massey and his Cabinet must resign their portfolios unices they can count more heads in their party than the ' number arrayed against them. There is little use in dwelling upon tho solidity and unanimity of the •Reform party and on the heterogeneous nature of the Opposition, and affect to find in that some kind of justification for the continuance in power of the former. The truth is that, so far as opposition to the. present Government is concerned, the Liberals and < Latoxites are a “solid wall,” to employ tho Prim© Minister’s phrase. On the point of the Bofqim party’s Government the House is cleft into isro forties only—on©
supporting and tho other opposing witlj undivided ranks. And it is hero that wo have the point of importance at the present time. If the completed official returns leave tho relations of parties as they now are, and nothing arises to disturb them, Mr Massey must resign, and Sir Joseph Ward would have no w arrant for attempting to replace him. The Prime Minister, however, would not only bo justified but, we believe, is required by the interest of the country to consult Parliament before taking the step of resignation. He has not only the right but, considering the serious objections to another General Election at this juncture in Imperial affairs, the duty of refusing to accept defeat until Parliament has expressed its will through tho constitutional channel of a No-confi-denco motion. Parliament must, of course, bo assembled at the earliest convenient time.
Unfortunately for himself, Mr Massey, as Leader of the House, will bo under, tho necessity of addressing himself first to tho election of a Speaker. No trial of strength can como until this primary duty has been discharged. This is the only vote that Parliament is competent to take without the presidency of a duly-constituted Speaker. Being in control of the Administration and in possession of tho Scale of office, the Prime Minister must take tho initiative in tho matter of an appoint- I ment to tho Speaker’s Chair. If he does not, and tho Opposition simply lay back ’ ouiescent, be fails to fulfil the conditions on which alone tho purpose for which Parliament was summoned can be carried out. Unices the Government, by employ- ; ing the seductions of the salary of £BOO a i year and the perquisites which attach to j tho office, can prevail upon some ‘ member of the Opposition to accent j nomination, a member of tho Reform j party must assume tho embarrassing; honor. .Even supposing tho Govern- j ment cannot command a majority in tho House, they will have no difficulty | in securing the 'election of one of their j followers. In this instance it will be to ■ tho interest of the Opposition to approve j the choice of a member of the Reform j party, for thereby the Government will • put themselves in a minority of one. If Par- , liament, after the election of a Speaker, j were evenly divided, then whatever the j practical difficulties the Government could ! constitutionally carry on, so long as they could rely upon Mr Speaker’s casting vote. . But with 40 on one side and 39 on the ; other, ho never gets tho chance of exercising this privilege. Tho present impasse serves to show the absurdity, of having an even number of members. Had tho number been 79 or 81 or 75, as it used to be, an absolute deadlock would be impossible. The Prime Minister is therefore placed, in the un- j enviable and galling position of being compelled to take a step at the outset wh\ch will disqualify him for office. Here is a case where constitutional principle operates to tho disadvantage of tho Go- ! vernment, although their adherents equal the number of their opponents. Constitutional practice will compel Mr Massey to cancel one of his own votes. And the advantage to the Opposition is not, ns our contemporary tho Christchurch ‘ Press ' alleges, merely temporary. If tho Opposition, by their 40 votes,, carry a nocoutidenca motion after the Speaker is elected, they retain the maojrity as a Government party which they held ns an Opposition party. If' Sir Joseph Ward j takes up the reins of office under tho con- j dltions mentioned, he is under no obliga- j tion to appoint a Speaker; indeed, he has j neither power nor opportunity to do so. j That officer lias already been appointed for tho full terra of the Parliament. Only in tho unlikely contingency of the Speaker resigning could Sir Joseph Ward be faced with the embarrassment of Mr Massey. It is not probable that the average man, having once been appointed to an office rewarded with considerable emoluments, will for party reasons abandon it. Indeed, we aro of opinion that such, would be a violation of the spirit, if not of the letter, of the Constitution. Once a Speaker is elected he is on such elevation lifted above tho spirit of party faction. Ho is to hold tho scale evenly between all contending parties. Only when the parties are at a deadlock is he entitled to descend into the arena. Constitutionally lie would not be justified in resigning for the purpose of making it impossible for Sir Joseph Ward to carry on. The advantages of tho present political position are clearly, then, with tho Liberal party. Subject to .any alterations which the recounts occasion, Mr Massey has only one constitutional way of defeating with certainty the return to power of Sir Joseph Ward, and that is by resigning now. If, then, Sir Joseph had the hardihood to form a Ministry and meet Parliament, the embarrassment respecting the election of a Speaker would bo his, and the place of advantage would be occupied by Mr Massey. Indeed, the position of affairs is so remarkable that it is the party in power when Parliament first meets who will suffer disaster. Skilful mana-uvring in party interests will avoid tho reaching out to office in thq first instance. Sir Joseph is probably congratulating himself that circumstances are so far favoring him as to leave him on the Opposition front bench. The coveted place for the nonce is there, not on the Treasury benches. , When the full significance of tho position is realised by tho party leaders it is probable that neither will venture to carry on the country’s business. If such a course is followed, then thoro must bo a dissolutionThe interests of the Empire, however, dictate the summoning of Parliament immediately after the holiday season. This means self-sacrifice on Mr Massey’s part, as, assuming tho House is evenly divided, it means certain defeat. Similarly if Mr Massey will not face the ordeal of taking tho course which will give power to his opponents, Sir Joseph will almost certainly shrink from it if, on Mr Massey’s resignation, ho is Called on to select a Ministry. Brushing aside, however, all party feeling as an impertinence at this crisis in our history, Parliament should bo summoned, and even if the party who win have only a majority of one, they should continue tho government; at any rate, until tho war is over. While there is any way out at all, there must not bo another General Flection. Such wjffild hinder the effective administration fdr tho next two months of the Defence Department; it would distract public attention, and prevent concentration upon the imperative need of the hour—tho equipment of an adequate Expeditionary Force; it would involve tho country in tho expenditure of money, every penny of which is needed for the conduct of the war and the relief, of tho distress it is entailing. We say to tho supporters of the Liberal party ; Better that Mr Massey should continue as Prime Minister than the- country be plunged into another election. . We say j to the supporters of the Reform party j in all sincerity : Better that Sir Joseph j Ward should become Prime Minister than | that the. costly business of-another Gen- , eral Election fall upon tho country. Parliament most be summoned because patriotism requires it. Parliament must be summoned, because tho . members as a
whole are naturally‘averse to another appeal to the country, and the interest of members generally coalescing with the highest interests of the State will probably find a solution, which, while defeating the- aspirations of soma of the leaders, will save us from the disgrace of another internal political wrangle on the hustings. We have no right to separate our people into hostile cam ns while the Gorman is threatening the coast of the Empire.
Tho following is an extract from a letter received by a well-known citizen of Dunedin from his niece, who lives in London: —“ Some of the Belgian refugees wo have in London would make your heart ache; their plight is too terrible for words, A lady I know of has taken two little Belgian children in, each of them under five years Of ago, and both of the little mites have their hands cut off at the wrists (the work of tho Germans), and theirs is only one case of many, some being much worse.” On Thursday night the bursting of tho main water pipe on tho third floor of the D.I.C. caused a considerable amount of damage. Everything was in order when tho caretaker locked up for the night, and it was only on Friday morning the damage was discovered, the mantle and furnishing departments being in a state of flood, a quantity of ladies’ garments on the second floor were badly damaged, tho stocks on the ground floor suffered most, a quantity of carpets, curtains, table covers, tapestry, etc., being soaked through and badly damaged. A party of the St. Clair Scouts started this morning for a ten-days’ run into the country under control of Scoutmaster Bvugh, walking all the way, with their gear in an express. They camp to-night at East Taieri, then through Berwick and Waipori Falls. ■ The Otago University Council hold a special meeting or. Wednesday afternoon for tho purpose of appointing a professor of clinical pathology. Applications were called for in England, and we understand that tea men have applied.
The longest day in the Southern Homi, sphere. Snow on Flagstaff and Mount Cargill. His Honor Mr Justice Sim, who has returned from Christchurch, will hold a sitting in Divorce. Banco, and Chambers to-morrow morning. It is at first blush a curious fact that in spite of the increased cost of everything at this juncture the tenders for the Harbor Board’s carting this year arc less than last year’s. Thus, tho present tender for “driver, two horses, and lorry, ex ceeding four hours ” is 2s 6d per hour, where last year it was 3s; and that for “ driver, two horses, junker, and block dray ” 2s 9d, as against the previous 3s 3d. , The treasurer of the Hospital Saturday Association (Mr Logie) expects the total collection to amount to fully £1,700. The Belgian fund will receive 25 per cent, of the total amount. The concert which was organised recently by those interested in the formation of a tramway band for the benefit of two distressed trarawaymen resulted i/i the turn of £9O being netted. About 6 o’clock yesterday morning the City Fiic Brigade were called out to suppress a chimney fire in a house in Pine Hill road. No damage was done. Mr Paulin 'clephoned at 2 p.m. : Squally, S.W. to N.W. winds, and heavy rain, sleet, and hail showers, and thunder in the south. The Government have decided (says a P.A. wire) that ali Public Service and teachers’ pensions are to bo paid on December 24. The Cave rsh am Baptist Church was crowded yesterday evening, when the choir rendered a number of Christinas anthems and choruses. ’The soloists of the evening — Mis Muuto, Messrs J. Leech, and 11. L. Clark—acquitted themselves very well indeed. Among tho anthems rendered by tho choir were Root's ‘ Glory to God on Ilndi.’ Adlam’s ‘Unto Us a Child is Bern.’ Perkins's ‘And There Were. Shepherds,’ Bradbury’s ‘Calm on the Listening Far.’ and Handel’s ‘.And tho Glory.’ Several of the ant hems are now to a Dunedin audience. Probably tho best, efforts of the choir were ‘Ami the Glory’ and ‘Glory to God on High.’ Mr C. Clark, the conductor of the choir, wielded the baton, while Mr C. W Clark presided at the organ. The collection, which is being handed over for the Belgian fund, amounted to £7 16s Id.
Tanna Hill is being cut -down. Tho pick-and-shovol men started the work last week. Tho demolition is being done by tho City Corporation, by permission of the University Council. 'The University Council want the site levelled so as to build on it; the City Council need the material to fill in the Leith reclamation works. By the arrangement concluded by the parties, a period of two years is allowed for the cutting down, but probably it will not take anything like bo long. Tanna Hill has been one of Dunedin’s landmarks. It used to mark the boundary of tho Botanic Gardens. Incidentally tbs astronomical observatory on the summit must go shortly. Presumably the City Corporation will supply another site for it. The Land Valuation Commission sat in Christchurch to-day (says a P.A. wire). There was only one complaint. This constitutes the lowest number received at any place during tho tour of the Commission.
New season’s photographic goods; Excellent stock now arriving Cameras from 6s. Send vonr order early to H. J. Gill, 11 and 13 Frederick street, Dunedin. 'Phono 1,144. —[Advt.]
Watson’s No. 10 is a little dearer than most whiskies, but is worth the money.— [Advt.] A glass ot Speight’s beer at lunch and supper is better than all the tea in China—[Advt.]
R. Meikle, contractor for the new King Edward Pavilion at the Dunedin Hospital, entrusted the whole of. the electrical work embodied in his contract for the above building to Messrs Turnbull and Jones, of this City. This work, in addition to a complete scheme of electric ’lighting, included the supply and erection of an electric elevator. This latter is unique in its way, being the first of its kind to be installed in the Dominion. It consists of an “Otis" automatic elevator, operated by push button control, and is worked from the Dunedin Corporation's three-phase, 400 volts, 50 period, A.O. supply. Troubled with insomnia? A glass of Watson’s No. 10 makes a splendid nightcap.— [Advt.] Getting married Christmas? Get our 50pave catalogue; an eye-opener; prices and styles unsurpassed. Martins, Octagon.— [Advt.] Visitors will not bo admitted to Seacliff Mental Hospital on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
The Evening Star MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1914., Issue 15681, 21 December 1914
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