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Tuesday, October 27., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume V, Issue 252, 2 January 1847
Tuesday, October 27.
, Present — All the members., ' , ' .0. 0 ; .. T,he Attorney-General moved the first reading pf the Crown Grants Fees Repeal Bill. . • , On. the motion of the Colonial Treasurer, the Council- resumed in committee TCHE ESTIMATES! x . , ■ Surveyor- General's Department. Mr. Kennedy said that, as the office Qf Surveyor General was.- one . of those fixed at home, it i was perhaps uselesj. to object to the salary ; but nevertheless, he was. desirous to record his opinion upon it: 2He considered the Surveyor-General's salary WM but of all proportion to the duties he had to pdrfornr, forrtwas the highest of any officer in the colony except f the Governor, and the- Chief Justice. As there was.no prospest of the duties of' this officer; being Very 'laborious, •he would: proposte that Ms salary- stand at £400, and .that the amount for draftsman, should be struck out, 1 as well as £800 of the>£4o.o set down (ox contingencies. ■ The ' Colonial Secretary- opposed the reduction of the salary; on the .grounds he hadjstated the day 'preceding. X The Surveyor-General had been 1 performing Very important duties: for the Government in If eland,: when he was engaged to, pttoeed to this colony, , for it was difficult at. that time to procure a man of efficiency to fill the office inh'Nbw- "Zealand. ., Now , had that gentleman conceived" that the stated salary for which he was engaged, would be- liable, to reduction after he arrived in the colbny, he .would, have most likely declined the bffice, and remained where his abilities were known,and proper remuneration certain. Besides, the. salary was less thandwjany. other of the (adjacent .colonies. He would [object to the reduction proposed by the honourable member. Mr.' Donnelly seconded the motion of Mr. Kennedy, and said lie quite agreed with the Colonial' Secretary that there was a special hardship in the redaction of salaries, of gentlemen who had left horne 1 under a special understanding to receive certain yearly pay : but who was to blame ? Surely ifr'Tras not the gentlemen who, came into that Council with a duty to perform to the public. Besides, there wast oio- prospect' of the SurveyorGeneral "being" employed in any manner equal to his salary : it was chargeable upon the land-fund ; and, as there was no prospect of Crown land-sales, consequently no land required to be surveyed. Mr. Domett said' there was no doubt the expense of the Survey department should come out of the land fund of Auckland. What had the people of the south to do with these^ surveys? They'had paid fot the surveys of their own land through the Company, and it was absurd, it was ridiculously unjust, to come upon them "now to -pay lor the surveys' of the Northern 1 district. • - i! fhe Colonial Secretary said that all the plans and maps of the Southern division came under the Surveyor- General's notice. The Colonial Treasurer admitted that the surreys Were chargeable on the land fund, whenever there was one. The Governor said that when he arrived, he found that the Superintendent of Works cost the colony £180 a year, and. he at, once threw the business of that office upon the Surveyor-General. The Colonial Secretary had referred to the duties performed by the Surveyor-General for the south ; but the fact was, no greater bane could exist than the present Surveyor- General's office, so far as the southern settlements were concerned. There should be an office at. Wellington, where the maps and plans of the district should be displayed, and where all grants ought to be prepared, under the eye of the party chiefly concerned. He was of opinion that there should be no Surveyor-General, but that each settlement should have a surveyor and an office of its own. But, as the separation of the colony was likely soon to take place, he thought it was .better to continue to give the salary till the next session. He would promise that if the draughtsman was not required, no -such person should be employed. .. / Mr. Kennedy withdrew his amendment respecting the Surveyor- General's salary, but the item for Draughtsman, 'and £200 for Contingencies, was struck out. The amount then stood, £1,523 12s, Gd. _ Customs Department. . The amount of £2,285 was voted for Customs. Post- Office Department. Mr. Kennedy thought that, as his Excellency had no control over this department, it appeared as an inconsistency' on the estimates. • The Governor was certain that the department should be under the control of the Local Government. As it was now regulated, tgreat and mischievous inconvenience might arise to the colony. If it was found desirable to establish a communication by overland 'post between Auckland and Wellington, the Government had no power to do so without first consulting the Postmaster-General. Mr, Domett said the whole, post-office affairs ' wanted reformation. The charge , for letters was too high, and the penny or twopenny charge for newspapers was a shameful tax. Proprietors of newspapers felt this particularly, when every mail that came they had to pay considerable, spins for foreign and colonial papers that were absolutely necessary to them. ■ • , ' , • The Governor believed that the restriction which the post-office placed upon the transmission of newspapers was really the greatest misfortune that could happen to the colony ; in fact, it was tantamount to a tax upon the spread of information. He could hardly imagine how it was possible for editors of newspapers , to furnish the columns of theit journals with a sufficient quantity qf intelligence- from abroad ; and the news, of the colony itself was , hindered from spreading .by the charge required for. the despatch* lf>f.' newspapers. Altogether, it waff a system , tba,t ,existed in no other colony,, and one that required immediate alteration. , ■ ■ The Colonial Secretary said the commissioners, appointed to report upon the system of post-office regulations, had cleaily represented the matter to the Postmaster-General, but he feared that these representations would do but little good. The Governor thought that it .was impossible for commissioners, wholly "ignorant of .the general affairs and localities of the. colony, to make a satisfactory report. The Legislative Council should have the entire control. . Harbours Department. Mr. Domett taid he intended to move for an addition to the salary of the pilot at Nelson, also
for an increase of salary to the same functionaries at Auckland and Wellington, although there was less occasion for^the service of pilots at the two last-mentioned places than there was at Nelson, i'n' consequence' of. the difficulties of access to the harbour. , The ( piloji at Nelson, whose services were invaluable, to the settlement, had signified his intention of resigning bis situation, unless some more adequate , remuneration were afforded him. - He. proposed, therefore, that the salaries, of the pilots at Nelson, Wellington, and Auckland, should be raised to £100 a year. The Governor said that the Harbour-Master at Auckland had been hitherto acting as pilot, but that, as there was a boarding officer required to be attached to the Customs, he had combined that office with the 'Harbour-Master's, and it would now be necessary to appoint a regular pilot. He thought £100 a year would not be too much for such an officer, who would have to provide his own boat,' and man it at his own expense; but the fees which 'would be paid him by vessels would assist the salary;; The pilots at the southern settlements, who were meritorious men, should alsoreceive the -same remuneration. The'salarie's of pilots were, then fixed at £100 per annum each: ' 'r ; , ■** Mr. Domett applied for the sum of £70 for two buoys, a beacon; and a light, for Nelson harbour.' The buoys would . be more necessary than formerly, since the removal of the wreck of the Fifeshire. A, light was much wanted to guide the boats that were continually running between Nelson and one of the country districts, the Motueka, on the other side of the bottom of the bay. The lives of people crossing at night were frequently endangered from the absence of a light. He believed that two buoys might be laid down for £35, a beacon erected for £15, and a light put up at the port for £10. The pilot might look after the latter. About £20 a year afterwards would keep them in an efficient state. The vote was agreed to. The Schooner Albert. Upon the motion of Mr. Kennedy, the item for the Albert was struck out. The committee then adjourned. ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE BILL. Mr. Domett, on moving the second reading of the Administration of Justice Bill, would make a few remarks. First, on the bill itself, then on the subject embraced by its very comprehensive titla, the Administration of Justice in New Zealand. It would be seen that this bill repealed two old Ordinances^ the Police Magistrates', and Native Exemption Ordinances, which had been found to be very objectionable.- Hs- would particularly call attention to the third and fourth clauses of the former- ordinance. .The third clause renders it obligatory on the Police Magistrate, when the value of the property stolen does not exceed -ts,and where in any charge of larceny the offender confesses the crime, to sentence him to imprisonment for not more than twelve months. Now in England, minor cases of larceny are punishable with transportation for seven years, or imprisonment for two years ; the more aggravated cases with fifteen years transportation, or three years imprisonment. The clause 1 in question makes no distinction between, these, so that in effect it forces the Police Magistrate, when the crime is confessed, to let off the offender with twelve months imprisonment, even in the most aggravated case, instead of the fifteen years transportation he would get in England. And this lenity is to take place in a country where it is most probable the offenders would be runaway convicts, or vagabonds of the worst description. - But the fourth clause takes care that no one else shall interfere with the Police Magistrate's indulgencence to crime, by making it necessary to bring every persou charged with felony or misdemeanour before the Police Magistrate, who alone can deal with the case. There being so few Police Magistrates in so wide a country, it will be seen at once how difficult it must be to effect the punishment of any crime. And all powers whatever are taken away from the ordinary justices, who have no duties left them. The Native Exemption Ordinance he would say little about. He believed it was universally condemned. Warrants against natives were by it to be executed only by the chiefs of the tribe to which they belonged, which, as every body knew, amounted simply to their not being executed at all. Indeed, it was allowed at the time it was passed, that the object was, not to put the law in force if possible. This useless ordinance was to be repealed. The only useful principle in it, that of substituting a, fine of four times the amount of the goods stolen for imprisonment, in certain cases, being retained. The bill then provided for the appointment of new magistrates with extended powers. In criminal cases their summary power was the same, but criminals .confessing were to receive the mitigated punishment only at the discretion of the magistrate. The clause disabling the unpaid magistrates was repealed with the rest of the ordinance. When natives were concerned, the new magistrates only were to apprehend or commit. It would be a question for the Council, whether ordinary magistrates might not share this .power. Summary, civil cases, where natives were concerned, were to be decided by the new magistrates ; where none existed, by two or more, justices of th.c peace. The bill next established Courts of Arbitration, composed of the new maAstrates and certain native assessors, for cases of a civil nature; the amount to be decided by the Council. It next gave to the new magistrates the power of deciding such civil cases generally, where no natives were concerned, as are summarily decided at present, but not within twenty,miles of any Court of Re ■ quest. - He should propose that a similar power be given to any two or more justices of the peace, and. that the .distance be very much diminished. This was an outline of.the bill, the merits of which would speak for themselves. He would now take the opportunity of remarking on what appeared to him. several defects in the present establishments, and mode of administrating justice. A great improvement, he thought, would be the establishment of Courts; of Quarter Session. At Nelson, where the Supreme Court sat only twice a year, and at Taranaki, where none had been established, such Court* might get rid of minor cases without the necessity of the long imprisonment and long delays existing at present. He would like to see the power of appeal from all summary Courts greatly extended. It might be made to these Quarter Sessions. Why should it not be allowed
in all cases, adequate security being' always given by the appellant for the doing ultimate justice 'to' the other party ? The lawyers would ' take care that the increased expenses, in case of failure, would be a sufficient check upon appealing., Then the law of arrest, as it stood at present, hf thought; might be beneficially altered. Debtors leaving the colony owing more than £20, might be arrested now by warrant from the Supreme Court ; and to that amount by the Commissioner of the Court 'of Requests when the judge of the former court could not be got at That was in all parts of the colony, except Auckland and Wellington. But why should .£2o 'be the sum fixed? He had heard it argued, because that was' the amount in England. (fcßut surely the English law was not applicable to a country like this, where the temptations to running" away were so many, and' the impediments so few. People lived here, in all cases (.almost, at the sea ports, with numerous colonies around them,, at any of which they would be out of, reach of their, creditors. None of the social and moral ties existing at home existed here to stop them. They had got accustomed to a roving life; the fear of change had no effect upon them. He would give the power of arrest for any sum whatever. Who could suffer, from it but the dishonest? He knew that numbers of persons suffered from this evil at present. A man had but to come down to the harbour with his box and has wife, when a ship was about to sail, and might laugh at his creditors and be off. You could not pull him up to the Court of Requests under a fortnight. The evil might easily be remedied by giving the Commistionen power of issuing writs returnable, not in ten days at at present, but say not less th^n. twenty-four hours. If the Court! could not sit often enough for this, then let the power be given to any two, justice* of the peace; that is, in cases Tip to je?2o, by far the greater number of them. The next thing he would request attention to, was the propriety of introducing- a clause in the Court of Requests Ordinance, enabling the Commissioner to order payment of debts by instalments. Is was always included in similar acts in England and New South Wales. It was- obvious that many debtors of the working class might pay a fey shilling* a week out of their wages, who would be driven to goal if required to pay their whole debt at once. And' this brought him to the Imprisonment for DebbOrdinance. This ordinance extended the imprisonment of fraudulent debtors, taken under process of the Supreme Court, to two or three years. But this was for debtors above j£72b. "Why should such debtors who owed d&IQ 1"95., or £lb, or-ceTlt), be allowed, as the slang phiase was, "to take it out in wood," by going to prison three months or so, and thus cheat their creditors? .You should keep them till they pay, and make them work for the cost of their keep and for the benefit of their creditors. There only remained one subject more he would allude to, and that concerned his Excellency particularly, it was the exercise of the prerogative of pardon. Now that prerogative had been exercised, at least in one case, in a manner very detrimental to i the interests of the public, by his Excellency's predecessor. He alluded to the pardon of the convicts Green and Conner, from Nelson. They had been sentenced to transportation for slaughtering cattle, had been proved to be able to get work', arid confessed the commission of similar crimes previously. Every circumstance aggravates their guilt. Yet, though their punishment was most judicious and salutary, just at the stoppage of the New Zealand Company, when a large number of labourers were thrown on their own resources, Captain Kitzßoy had pardoned them without ever consulting the judge or the sheriff. The evil the pardon would have done was prevented by their having been taken to Auckland, and the distance of time which elapsed before the pardon was known. But as the Charter, or Koyal Instructions, gave the power, subject to such limitation as might be put upon it by any ordinances thereafter to be passed by the legislature of the colony, he thought it would be advantageous to enact, if possible, that this power should never be used by any Governor, without such previous consultation with the judge, as was always held by The Crown itself in the like circumstances in England. These were all the remarks he should make at present. He did not know exactly whether all, or some, or even any of the amendments he proposed in the administration of justice, could be introduced into the present bill. He would leave it to the Council to decide. The Governor said, with respect to the last part of the honourable member's remarks, that he had never heard of the power of the Governor, in this or any colony, being so limited. But he now saw for the first time the clause referred to. He could only account for it by supposing that it was intended at the time to apply to the cases of native criminals, and to give the legislature power to extend the Governor's prerogative where they were concerned, He thought the limitation proposed was hardly necessary. The Colonial Secretary said, one of the convicts alluded to had been pardoned owing to the representations of the Catholic priest at Auckland, who had known his previous character. The Attobnet-Geneeal said be agreed -with the honourable member in several of his proposed alterations in the law. Some he thought might perhaps be introduced into this bill, some could not on any account, and some he should oppose altogether. The bill was then read a second time, and the Council adjourned. •
Tuesday, October 27., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume V, Issue 252, 2 January 1847
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