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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

April 10, 1858.

Immediately after the delivery by his-Excellcncy of the opening speech, the House met, and the anxiety which had been felt throughout the day, in consequence of rumours being afloat as to the improbability of forming a full House, was set at rest by the attendonce of the requisite number of members to form a quorum. Tho following members were in their places : — The honorable the Colonial Secretary, the honourable the Colonial Treasurer, Messrs. Beckham, Daldy, Cargill, Williamson, Brodie, East, Lee, Hall, Carleton, Merriman, Packer, Ollivier, Henderson, Robert Graham, and the honourable the Speaker.

The Colonial Secretary, by his Excellency's command, placed a number of documents on the table.

Messrs Parker and Ollmer took the oath and their seats as members respectively for Christchurch and Christchurch Country Districts. The Speaker announced the receipt of tho following resignations: from J. L. Campbell, lor tho city of Auckland ; F. D. Bell, for the Hutt ; Isaac Earl Featherstone, town of Wellington; William Fitzherbcrt, town of Wellington ; Charles Dudley Eobert Ward, Wellington country districts ; Samuel Eevans, Hutt district ; John Lewthwaite, Grey and Bejl districta ; J. E. Fitzgerald, town of Lyttelton ; John Cuff, Akaroa district ; Joseph Greenwood, Pensioner Settlements j William Wells, Wairau district; Charles Elliott, Waimea districts ; J. Valentine Smith, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay districts.

The Colonial Secretary moved, in effect, that a respectful address be forwarded to his Excellency, requesting him to cause new writs to be issued to supply the vacancies occasioned by the foregoing resignations. The motion was seconded by the Colonial Treasurer and carried unanimously, and ordered to be presented to his Excellency by the Speaker. After several notices of motion had been given, the Speaker read the Governor's speech, the consideration of which was, on the motion of the Colonial Secretary, made an order for Tuesday.

Mr. Williamson begged permission to ask, without notice, whether any document coptaining the resignation of an honourable member, besides those already read, had been received either by the ministry or any officer of the House.

The Colonial Treastirer said, that no such document as that referred to had been received by the Government.

The Colonial Secretary had heard of a resignation, but by rumour only. He had no knowledge of it.

The Speaker said, that neither himself nor any officer of the House had received any such document. Mr. Cableton rose to order. The honourable member for the Pensioner Settlements might question the Ministry, but had no right to question any other member of the House. The Speaker was of opinion that any member referred to had a right to refuse to answer.

Mr. Caelbton argued that the Becond portion of Mr. Williamson's question could not be put at all. It had been decided by Mr. Shaw Lefevre, that the strict rule was, that no question could be put by one private member to another, except on rhe.Qrders of the Day, and_ oil measures with which the member to whom the question is put may be connected. Mr. Williamson asked if the question could be put after notice. Mr. Cableton objected, on the point of order. The Speaker said, that tho strict rule of the House VfiM as it had been stated.

Mr. Wimjambon desired to know whether he was to understand from the Speaker, that no officer of the Houb<s had received such a document.

The SPEAKER; When I say officers of the House, I mean that neither myself nor any of the clerks have received it. Here the question dropped. The House, on motion, then adjourned until Tuesday.

Tuesday, Apbil 13.

The House assembled at 12 o'clock. Present : the Speaker, and Messrs. Daldy, Hendereon, B. Graham, Packer, Hall, Cargill, Williamson, Ollmer, East, Lee, Brodie, Merriman, Carleton, Bichmond, Stafford, and Beckham. The Speakeb announced the receipt of Mr. Charles John Taylor's resignation, as a member for the Southern Division. Mr. Stafford moved, that a respectful address be presented to his Excellency, praying him to cause to be issued forthwith a writ for the vacant seat. The Speakeb handed in the report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the question of the transfer of real property. On the motion of Mr. Mebriman, the report was *rd«red to be printed.

PETITION.

Mr. Williamson presented a petition, signed by a number of the inhabitants of the colony, praying the House to take into further consideration the case of L. Berlowitz. [The following copy of the petition was printed, as an advertisement, in the Southern Cross of April 16.] "To the Honourable Rouse of Representatives, assembled at Auckland, in and for the Colony of New Zealand. " The respectful Petition of the Honourable Superintendents and Members of the several Provincial Councils, Resident Magistrates, Justices of the Peace, Legal and Medical Practitioners, Clergy, Ladies and Gentlemen, Merchants, Tradesmen, and others, the respectable inhabitants of New Zealand, on behalf of Lazarus Berlowitz, late of Melbourne, Victoria, and now of Wellington, New Zealand, a jeweller, a native of Poland, but naturalized in Victoria,

" Respectfully sheweth — " That, in the month of April, two years ago, the said Lazarus Berlowitz presented his humble petition to your honourable house, showing that he had sustained and been put to an actual grievous loss of upwards of twelve hundred pounds, through the illegal and oppressive acts of certain Government officials at Nelson, under circumstances of extreme hardship, without any fault, fraud, or dishonest intentions on his part, and praying redress ; that your committee thereon reported he ought not to suffer ; and further, that, having suffered so long, contrary to the instruction of Government, he ought to be placed, as far as possible, in the same situation as he would have been had the subordinate officer of Government carried out its instructions ; and your committee recommended a part payment to the said Lazarus Berlowitz, wliich he received. " Your petitioners now humbly submit to your honourable house that justice in this case haa not "been fully and completely done under the former petition, inasmuch as the said Lazarus Berlowitz has not been so placed in an equivalent position, as your committee reported he ought to be ; and, as the sum they thereby recommended was little more than one-fourth part of the amount of loss actually sustained, which, your petitioners beg to repeat, your committee expressly reported the said Lazarus Berlowitz ought not to suffer, and that he ought to be so reinstated. " Your petitioners are the more zealous of thus expressing themselves to their representatives, and generally the members of your honourable house, from their conviction that Lazarus Berlowitz has not had complete justice done him ; that, on the contrary, he is still a grievous sufferer in the affair, which, they think, ought not to be. " Your petitioners, therefore, most earnestly and humbly beg -that justice be further done the said Lazarus Berlowitz, through your honourable house, and that you will be pleased Io grant further inquiry, is our united prayer and hearty desire. " Your constituency will thank you, Almighty God will bless and amply reward you, and we shall ever pray, &c." " [Signed by nearly all the inhabitants of New * Zealand.] " The petition was read and received.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. Mr. Stafford moved for, and obtained leave, to bring in the following bills : — A Bill for the Interpretation of Acts of the General

Assembly of New Zealand. Also, A Bill -to provide for the resignation of Seats, and the issue of Writs for supplying Vacancies in the House of Representatives, during the Recess. Also, A Bill to repeal certain Laws relating to Elections in New Zealand. Also, A Bill to provide for the Periodical Apportionment of Representation in the House of Representatives. Also, A Bill to amend the Law relating to the Qualification of Electors and Members of the House of Representatives. Also, A Bill to amend the Law relating to the Registration of Persons qualified to Vote at Elections of Members of the House of Representatives. Also, A Bill to make provision for the Regulation and Conduct of Elections of Members of the House of Representatives. Also, A Bill to make provision for the trial of Petitions against the Flection or Return of Members of the House of Representatives. Also, A Bill to make provision for the Prevention of Corrupt Practices at Elections. Also, A Bill to amend the Law relating to the Elections of Superintendents of Provinces and Members of Provincial Councils. The introduction of the measures was of course moved seriatim, but the majority of them, whilst relating to our electoral system, were so closely connected, that the honourable mover made his explanatory observations to refer to the whole series. With reference to the second bill, he remarked, that the necessity for it had been strikingly Bhown by the difficulty that had been experienced in making up a house this present session. Had such a measure been already in existence, very little of this inconvenience would have occurred, Bince, with a few exceptions, the resignations had been received in time to have allowed for the vacancies being filled up prior to the opening of the session. It was impossible, of course, for every gentleman to say at the time of his election how many sessions he would be able to attend ; circumstances might arise which rendered it necessary for him to resign his seat, and tins measure would give him the opportunity of doing so during the recess, and so of enabling his constituents still to be properly represented. In order to carry out the alterations that were found necessary in reference to our electoral system, a bill would be introduced to repeal certain laws relating to elections in New Zealand, and to prepare for the introduction of a series of bills, by means of which Ministers trusted the house would be able to remove existing defects, and provide an effectual safeguard for our civil and political rights. The honourable member proceeded to urge the necessity of the periodical apportionment of representation in the House of Representatives, in order to guard the representation of the colony, as a whole, from being overborne by local and provincial jealousies, or the political exigencies of particular Ministries. He briefly adverted to one or two points requiring amendment in the law relative to the qualification of electors and members of the House of Representatives, and also in the law relative to the registration of electors, especially with a view to the assimilation of town and country qualifications. In reference to this question of registration, he further pointed to it as a foundationstone of constitutional representation, and to the urgent necessity for providing such machinery as should ensure the integrity of the electoral roll. It was also obvious, that if it were necessary to guard against the electoral roll becoming impure, it was equally necessary to provide for the regular conduct of elections of members, to prevent the exercise of any undue influence over electors, and also to secure the legality of the returns. Indeed, it was very doubtful, at the present time, how many of the elections ot the members of this house, as well as of the Provincial Councils, were strictly in accordance) with the letter of the law. Without entering into details (for it would be difficult to prove every such case), he might state, that there were Beveral cases as regarded members of this house, and two cases as regarded Superintendents, in which doubts had existed as to the legality of the returns. Of the other bills, one related to the machinery for the trial of petitions against the election of members, and another had for its object the better prevention of corrupt practices at elections. The last measure was one for amending the law relative to the election of Superintendents of provinces and members of Provincial Councils ; a measure which would consist of but a few clauses, and which, as it might have to be modified in consequence of alterations that would probably be made during its passage through the house, the Government would not at present press, unless the house wished otherwise. After having thus briefly stated the leading objects of the above series of measures, Mr. Stafford said that it was the intention of the Government, when the bills had been read a first time, to propose that the whole of them should be referred to a select committee, to consider and report as to what alterations were required, and to have power to confer with the Legislative Council (which would necessarily have a potent voice in the question), both as to the details of the

measures, and the shape in which they should finally come before the house. He might add, that it was the intention of the Government, in the first instance, to have brought forward these measures as one bill ; and they had been drafted accordingly ; but, on further consideration, it was feared that so exceedingly comprehensive a measure would be too cumbrous, and that it was better to divide it into separate bills, rather than run the risk of having in the end to recast the whole. As he had said before, the Government were in the hands of the house ; and if the select committee, after conference with the Legislative Council, should consider it better that the whole subject should be comprehended in one bill (as had been the case in some of the Australian colonies), the Government were quite prepared to give way upon the point. The bills were separately read a first time, and ordered to be printed, after Messrs. RicmroND and Stafford (in reply to Messrs. Hall and Daldy) had repeated that the sole reason for proposing to postpone the bill in reference to the election of Superintendents and members of Provincial Councils was, that the details of that measure might have to be modified in accordance with the alterations made in the other measures ; Mr. Stafford further stating the desive of the Government not to trench unnecessarily or arbitrarily upon the rights and privileges of the Provincial Governments [hear, hear].

Mr. Richmond then moved, by leave, without notice, that the foregoing bills be referred to a select committee, with power to confer with the Legislative Council, and to report.

STANDING OKDEES.

Mr. -Caeleton, pursuant to notice, moved, " That a Committee be appointed for the session, to bo called the Standing Orders Committee, to prepare such Standing Orders as they may from time to time deem advisable to be adopted by the House ; that the Committee do report on such clay ns the House may appoint, and from time to time as 1 hey may see occasion, or be required by the House ; that the Committee be authorized to communicate with any committee appointed by the Legislative Council, with a view to the adoption of Standing Orders to regulate the mode in which the House and Legislative Council may confer, correspond, and communicate with each other. The Committee to consist of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Ollivier, Mr. Merriman, Mr. Stafford, Mr. Fox, Mr. Domett, and the mover :" and entered at some length into the question of amending the Standing Orders, fo as to suit the temporary exigencies of the session. The appointment of a Committee in itself implied revisal of the orders, and thus introduced the question. There were two points for consideration— the power, and, if that were granted, the expediency of making alterations. The power was disputed under Order 148 : — " No proposal for altering or annulling any Standing Order or Orders of this House, shall be entertained, except when two-thirds of the whole number of members are present." But the requisite number had not arrived. The honourable member argued that this order applied to all the other orders, but not to itself. It could no more apply to itself than the eye, which saw every thing else, could sec itself. Under any other construction there was a logical inconsistency in the order, which rendered it altogether devoid of meaning. The House, a quorum being once obtained, could not by any form of words denude itself of its own inherent right to alter its own orders, with the consent of the Governor. He would try Ihe principle by an extreme case. What if vStanding Order No. 148 had been, that no order should ever be altered at all ? Would any man in his senses maintain that the house remained powerless from that time forward, unless brought out of the difficulty by an Act of the Imperial Parliament ? It was clear that a quorum of the house had power, firstly, to rescind tills particular order, and ■then to deal with those which had been guarded by it. No matter how long a series of safeguards was provided, it was always possible to begin with the first, and so repeal them one by one. [The honourable member proceeded to give illustrations of his argument.] He did not disguise from hiinsclf the intention of Order 148. It was a measure of precautionary jealousy on the part of the southern members, -who fuajed that adVantage might be taken of them in an Auckland session, should some of them be unable to attend. The honourable member regretted tho existence of such a feeling, which was groundless, and adverted to the Session, No. 3. when some of the Auckland members came forward and prevented an unfair advantage being taken of the south, although fully aware of the nbuse that would be lavished upon them, and of the electioneering uses that would be made of their votes on that occasion. But they acted according to what they felt 1o be right, and put all other considerations at defiance. The first question, that of power, being disposed of, the honourable member proceeded to consider the expediency of altering the standing orders. Was it possible to carry on the business of the colony with so high a quorum ? They might have to make their election between giving up the attempt, for the present, or diminishing the quorum. They might perhaps carry on, by sufferance of the house, but for Order No. 7, which required the Speaker to count after prayers. At any other time he was not obliged to count, unless the fact of there not being a quorum were formally noticed. But even then a difficulty would arise, as to divisions. Honourable members would be unwilling to divide the house, because the division lists would prove the deficiency of the quorum. Even this difficulty, however, might be obviated by adopting the interpretation wliich he (Mr. Carleton) had proposed, of Order No. 1-17. "Any standing order, or orders of the house, may be suspended on motion duly seconded, made without notice, provided that two-thirds of the members be present ; but notice shall always be given •when practicable." The provision concerning the two-thirds might beheld to apply only to cases where the suspension was proposed without notice. Where notice was given, a ' quorum of seventeen members might suspend. In that case, if a quorum could be secured for five minutes after prayers, Standing Order No. 8, requiring a quorum, might be suspended for the rest of the clay, thus saving the division lists. He had no desire to quibble upon Order 147 ; but the ambiguity of the wording was complete ; the construction of it did not appeal* to preponderate cither way ; it is the answer of the oracle over again — Alo te, (Eacida, Bomanos vincere posse ; or, as fcshakspere rendered it, " The Duke yet lives that Henry shall depose." It was for the house to adopt whichever interpretation it pleased, and settle the question. lie was himself disposed to make the attempt to carry on under the existing orders. If they failed, it would then be open to them to alter. He felt sure that the house would offer every facility to business—that no member would avail himself of the standing orders to hinder it. The observation was not superfluous, for a member of the present Executive, Mr. Sewell, in the last session, had been in such a hurry to obtain a division against the Fox ministry, that he had actually used the Standing Orders to force a division, cutting short the debate in which they were defending themselves. Two members of that ministry were now present in the house ; but he (Mr. Carleton) felt sure that they would not retaliate. He had expressed his opinion as to the inexpediency ; if alterations were proposed, he should offer no opposition, but, on the contrary, exert himself to effect the change with the least possible deviation from the established rule 3.

Mr. Daldy seconded the motion.

Mr. Hall, in reply to the question put by the honourable member for the Bay of Islands to the members of the Fox Ministry then present, said that he (Mr. Hall) would never, under any circumstances, be a party to any proceeding so disgraceful as the one which had been referred to.

Mr. Richmond rose to order.

The Speaker said that the honourable member was not out of order in referring to a circumstance which had taken place in a previous session. Mr. Hall would not have referred to it had he not been challenged to do so. He would not follow the honourable member through the art of logic or the philippics of Demosthenes ; he could not, however, help admiring the ingenuity displayed by him ; there could be no doubt of the skill with which the honourable gentleman could drive a coach and six through standing orders or Acts of Parliament. With respect to the proposed repeal of Standing Order 148, he thought it would be inexpedient and unfair. The terms of that rule had been settled in a very full house ; it was agreed to as a protection to the interests of the South in the event of circumstances placing the Southern members, as was now the case, in a very considerable minority. It had been settled in a house

composed of both Northern and Southern members, and he (Mr. Hall) thought it would be very unfair, even if it were practicable, to depart from this arrangement when the South was. comparatively unrepresented. If there were pood reasons for reconsidering the matter, let it be done when the remainder of the Southern members arrived. He (Mr. Hall) could not agree in the construction the honourable member desired to place on Standing Order 147. The honourable member then gave his reasons for dissenting from such construction, and said it appeared to lu'in at variance with tho common sense interpretation which lie was confident the framcrs of the rule had contemplated.

Mr. Cakleton said, in reply, that it might come to a choice between adopting that interpretation and bringing the business of the country to a standstill. In regard to the honourable member's argument respecting common sense, ho quoted from Dr. Whateley, who treated common sense as a very unsafe guide, observing that the generality had a strong predilection in favour of common sense, except in those points in which they respectively possess the knowledge of a system of rules, but that in these points they deride any one who trusts to unaided common sense. For instance, a sailor might advocate the treatment of a disease by common sense, but would ridicule the proposal of navigating a ship by common sense ; a medical man might, attempt to judge of matters beyond his knowledge by nomraon sense, but would ridicule the idea of trusting to common sense in the treatment of diseases. The inference with regard to the honourable member himself was obvious. Motion put and carried.

REPLY TO THE GOVERNOR'S SPEECH.

Mr. Stafford, pursuant to notice, moved that his Excellency's address be taken into consideration. Mr. Carle ton wished to be informed, whether there would be any objection to an adjournment of the debate after tho reply had been moved and seconded.

Mr. Stafford said that, the ministry would offer no objection if tho house desired it. Mr. Daldy was not prepared at once to go on with the debate. He had thought that the reply was to be considered merely as an echo of the speech, and was not, as seemed to be the case, to take the place of the ministerial statement of policy. Mr. Bixktiam then moved thereply to the Governor's address (printed in our issue of Saturday last), and said that he thought that this would be a most important session ; and looking back upon the past history of this house, he felt that there never was a time when unity v%s so essentially necessary among members as at present. He sincerely congratulated the house upon the successful negotiations of Mr. Sewell with the Home Government, wliich had relieved the country from an oppressive responsibility. The discovery of gold in different parts of the colony could not but lead to most important results ; and the fact that 1,000,000 acres of land had been placed at the disposal of Government, by the extinction of the native title, as well as the increased revenue of the colony, pointed out most strikingly the steady progress of the colony. When they looked at the meagre manner in which the accounts of former years had been laid on the table, the necessity of an independent and efficient audit of accounts would be admitted by all. There was only one other matter on which he would touch — the revision of the electoral system. He was assured that the house would hail with satis faction any- measures which would give a death-blow to the system which, through improper registration, had hitherto existed, and lead to a thorough purgation of the Electoral Roll. The honourable member dwelt upon the great evils which had resulted from the inefficiency of the Supreme Court, and cordially agreeing with his Excellency's expression of opinion, that the speedy and certain administration of justice was the most sacred, duty of a Government, rejoiced that measures -\\ ould be recommended for their consideration, whose effect would be to insure throughout the colony the administration of justice in a prompt and effective manner. The honourable member having expressed his satisfaction at the course taken \>j Gx>vemment in respect to the native feud at Taranaki, concluded by moving the adoption of the reply. Mr. Ollivier seconded the motion. He trusted that no opposition would be offered to the reply on mere technical grounds, but that all would view it calmly and dispassionately. The reply was couched in such general terms, as to avoid almost all debatable matter, and wa«, in fact, a mere echo of the Governor's speech. The great value of a reply, such as was before them for consideiation, consisted in the unanimity of its adoption ; and he trusted, therefore, that there would not be any difference of opinion in the adoption of an address ccniched in such general terms as the present one. He found that his Excellency congratulated the House on Mr. Sewcll's successful negotiations with tho Home Government ; in that congratulation he was sure they all joined. If that gentleman had done nothing more, he would be entitled to the thanks j of the colony for having, by relieving us from the , pressure of a heavy debt, given us the means of developing all the resources ot this colony. There could | not be, then, any objection to an expression of their | gratitude and sense of obligation to Mr. Sewell. He regretted the disallowance of the Waste Lands Act, which it appeared had been rendered necessary in con- j sequence of the loan guaranteed by the Imperial i Parliament, in order that no difficulties might be J thrown in the way of due security being provided for | the repayment of' the loan. He saw no reason, however, why the disallowance of this Act should necessarily interfere with the administration of their waste land's by the provinces. It would be a subject, of deep regret to this House, and to the whole population of the colony, that the efforts to establish inter-provincial steam communication had not been brought to a successful issue. He knew of nothing of more vital importance than having the means of regular and speedy communication between the provinces of the colony : for to the want of such communication they had to deplore so small an attendance in that House. Of those who had resigned their seats many had urged private reasons as the cause. He did not wonder at this ; for ho himself had felt the inconvenience arising from want of communication with the seat of Government. He would ask them to look at the inconvenience to which members from the southern provinces were subjected. In the first place, they had a tedious voyage to encounter, which might last six da\s, or it might be as many weeks ; after arrival here they mifht receive information that those nearest and dearest to them were prostrated by illness, and yet not have the means either of returning to or even communicating with their families. With inconveniences of so serious a character, it did not surprise him that the question as to the seat of Government should have become one of so great importance. It might be, although he did not say such was the case, that some of the members who had forwarded their resignations, had done so with the hope of embarrassing the Government ; if it were so, he could only say, that neither his colleagues nor himself shared in such feelings : they considered it better to come up to the house and fight their battles, rather than to gain their object indirectly by resigning at the eleventh hour [hear, heir]. He had heard with satisfaction that the expenditure had been less than the income during the past year (indeed, he had been afraid that the balance would have been the other way), for it was a proof that the Government had acted economically, with a due regard to the interests of the colony. When the acconnts were before them, they would have an opportunity of seeing further into this .matter. In reference to the imperfections of the existing tariff', concerning which great complaint had been made, lie trusted that a measure would be passed which would be satisfactory to the house and to the mercantile community. With reference to the other topics, including the alteration in our electoral system, so much had boon said that he thought it unnecessary to touch further upon them ; but he could not but express his satisfaction that tho social condition of the native race was so seriously engaging the attention of the Government. Next to bringing about inter-pro-vincial Bteam communication he regarded this as the most important subject bearing on their interests. He was rejoiced to hear, therefore, that the Government was preparing a code of laws embodying the principles under which they were governed : this he regarded as the only means by which the native race could be saved from the evils proceeding from their association with the most licentious and depraved of our own race, and be qualified to receive those rights and privileges which,

as fellow-citizen's, they should enjoy. The Government had shown good reason why the measures it had brought forward shoidd receive their serious attention. It had shewn an earnest desire to advance tho interests of the colony at large, and he trusted that their deliberations would be conducted in a spirit of calmness, uninfluenced by local feelings, or the violence of party spirit. With these remarks he had much pleasure in seconding the motion.

On the motion of Mr Carleton the debate was adjourned to the next sitting day. Mr. Hall then moved for a number of Returns, chiefly relating to the Province of Canterbury ; also for the total number of letters and newspapers forwarded during the year ending 30th June, 1857, by the direct mail between Wellington and the Wairau, with the total amount of postage upon them, and the expenses incurred by the General Government on account of that mail for the same period.

The honourable gentleman also moved that leave of absence be granted for one month to Mr. Fox, which was agreed to. The House adjourned at 5 o'clock.

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Bibliographic details

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XVII, Issue 38, 12 May 1858

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5,354

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XVII, Issue 38, 12 May 1858

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