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DEFEAT OF THE STAFFORD MINISTRY.

PEOCEEDINGS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. [FBOJI OTTB OWU COBBESPONDENT.] "Wellington, August 16.

The annual event has come off, another Ministry has fallen. A majority of 47 to 14, agreed to a resolution expressing their want of confidence in the Government as at present constituted. I will go back and recount the history of the session from the date of my last, so as to lead up to the climax. No new bill of any importance had been brought before the Legislature, although a very ponderous and important one, to provide a truly local organization for the country districts, had been technically introduced and ordered to be printed. This process, which has in this case actually to be gone through, will take some time, as the bill contains, it is said, 333 clauses. One motion of a significant kind was made about the date of my last communication. Mr. Vogel was the mover, and proposed to go into committee to consider the desirability of introducing a bill td secure three-eighths of the Customs to the provinces. He stated that his object was friendly to the Government, as he wished that they should be able to gather the sense of the House before bringing in their financial proposals. -Mr. Stafford opposed the motion as unprecedented, and utterly improper before the financial statement; he indignantly declined the assistance of Mr. Vogel ; he did not wish to count heads ; the Government would make the proposals they thought fit, and stand or fall by them. The motion was withdrawn, no one else speaking. On the Bth, the Financial Statement was given. It was just such a statement as might have been expected from Mr. Jollie — unambitious, manly, and honest. It was clear enough in its main features, but bore traces of hurry in some details. It stated the general expenditure of last year, on current revenue, at £746,794, plus £33,385 supplementary; and that on the loan at £411,391; total, £1,191,570. The sum distributed to the provinces during the year, was £288,281 — a little less than threeeighths Customs— but this included £112,378 surplus revenue of the previous year, due on June 30, 1865. The revenue for the current year is estimated at £1,056,000, including Stamp Duties, which are proposed ; and the Treasurer claimed, under the special provisions of last year's Appropriation Act, to take to account, as revenue of the year, the savings on votes of . last year, £43,784 (mis-stated in the speech at £46,000). There is a balance on the loan of £179,039, and the Treasurer puts this in the lump with current revenue. The expenditure proposed amounts to £974,500, including £202,000 required for winding up the Military Settlers scheme, and £82,000 for a Defence Eorce, besides £25,000, Militia and Volunteers. The nominal balance shown for the provinces, is £260,000, but this, it has since been stated, is liable to a reduction * - of £21,000 for over-payments during last year. This is calculated, however, on the supposition that the sum of £100,000, advanced to Auckland, can be repaid — which is impossible — unless the colony borrows the money for the province. There is, moreover, another serious flaw in the calculation, which I am charitable enough to believe had escaped both the Treasurer and the Premier. Mr. Stafford has paid the whole of the savings on authorized expenditure during the past year over to the provinces ; and if the Treasurer claims, as I have told you he did, to bring those savings to revenue for" the current year, he must recover the amount, £43,784, from the provinces. This reduces the total balance available to about £96,000, Anything above that will have to be borrowed. Thus the allowance to the provinces came to below one-eighth, for the Customs are estimated at £856,000 for the year. Mr. Jollie, in conclusion, strongly recommended the provipces to rely more on themselves. I need not tell you this peroration was received with a considerable of flutter cheers, groans, and laughter. I pass over several discrepancies and obscurities in the statement, which were due to haste, Mr. Jollie having yielded too much to the eagerness of the House. But these discrepancies make me fear the case may prove even less favourable than above stated. On Tuesday, the inevitable battle was engaged. On the motion tp go into. Committee of Supply, Mr. FitzGerald moved the following resolutions as an amendment : — 1. " That this House, having heard the Financial Statement of the Colonial Treasurer, and having before it the proposed Estimates for the current year, desires to record its regret that the prospect held out in the last Session of Parliament of a considerable diminution in the public expenditure of the colony has not been realised. 2. " That whilst this House recognises the duty of providing for the security of life and property, and the maintenance of the public peace in all parts of the colony, it does not perceive the necessity for creating a permanent military force of the magnitude contemplated by the Government, at a cost which cannot fail to inflict burdens unnecessarily heavy upon the inhabitants of the colony. 3. " That no financial arrangements will be satisfactory to the colony which fail to relieve the provinces from the embarrassments which arise from the precarious and uncertain nature of the revenue! which are at present placed at their disposal." He made a very temperate and excellent speech, dissecting the figures in the statement, and comparing the result with the promises published in the Nelson Colonist last year. He showed that the bond fide savings of Mr. Stafford were comparatively small, not more than any ordinarily economical Government might have made. He declared that the campaigns of the East Coast had modified Mr. Weld's views as to the force required for defending the North Island, and that the proposed army was too large and costly ; and he urged the advantage of having no military force, bo called, but reducing the dignity, pretension, and expense of the body by making it an armed constabulary. He urged the claims of the

proviuces to have more secure provision for tho services they performed, many of which were essentially services of the ordinary Government; this, he said, should he done in order that they might not be crippled in their colonizing operations. Mr. Stafford replied in a tone of great insolence. He rated Mr. FitzGerald; said he knew nothing of accounts — not more than he did of law, or other matters on which he talked: the humblest subaltern of his party would have put the case better. The other colleagues of Mr. Weld had shown forbearance, and he thanked them. Mr. FitzGerald, he said, had taken every opportunity of Bneer and attack (a statement which 'I may say in passing is very far from correct) . Then he came to the main point of his speech.- He utterly repudiated the statement in the Colonist. The editor had blunderingly jumbled his own conclusions with his (Mr. Stafford's) figures. He did not say that he should save the provinces any money which Mr. Weld would have wasted, or the colony taxation which Mr. Weld would have imposed. He had carefully guarded himself. His promise was to aave money upon certain Estimates, not on probable expenditure. He thought most, if not all his savings would have been effected by Mr. Weld's Government. He Bpoke at great length, jeering Mr. FitzGerald upon the unreality of the distinction between soldiers and constabulary, and upon his new ultra-provincial faith. • He warned the ultraprovinciolists of the south island that, if the provinces attacked the General Government, their doom was inevitable. There was a policy open to the country— he would not say it was not open to himself— if pressed to find means out of the ordinary revenue for colonising. The cure would be to consolidate the revenues, Land Fund, and all, and to make contributions out of the gross amount. There were five .provinces already either without Land Fund, or on the ere ot being destitute of it, and the thing could be done. Mr. Moorhouße then rose, and said the House was not in a temper to discuss the amendments, which were a surprise to them. He thought very highly of Mr. Stafford, and did not wish members to commit themselves hastily by speeches. He wished for consultation outside; he moved the adjournment till next day. This was agreed to, and next day the House was crammed with spectators, who were indulged with a rare scene. Mr. Moorhouse rose and said he would save the House much time. He had been roundamong members, and found that a majority approved of Mr. Stafford ; but as a very large majority thought his colleagues incompetent, he should put the House in a better position by moving an amendment more really expressive of their meaning and of Mr. FitzGerald's meaning— " That the House has no confidence in some of the present Ministry." He understood that if this was carried he should be sent for. He should tell the House what he would Bay [no ! no ! too early 1 and incontrollable laughter, but Mr. Moorhouse would not be stopped]. He should decline to form a Government but advise his Excellency to send for Mr. Stafford, and he would now recommend Mr. Stafford, when he should be sent for, to obtain the assistance of "the - wreck of Mr. Weld's Ministry." The sensation Mr. Moorhouse produced was really charming. He effectually stopped the debate. I imagine the newspapers will overflow with " original matter" — the unspoken speeches warmed up into leaders. One member was not to be defeated of his pleasure, he had got up the figures in the Budget, and got up some points and sallies, and some scraps of appropriate verse; and Mr. Vogel, in brazen tones, spite of the utter indifference of the House, launched his financial statement, and gave his unkind support to Mr. Stafford. Then came a division. The words of the original motion were omitted ; Mr. Stafford becoming furious at the call for a division, and dividing against his own motion. The Government, he exclaimed, did not care about going into committee to-day ; be did ' not oppose the consideration of the amendment. The effect of Mr. Stafford's refusing to take the opinion of the House on thiß first division, was to cause the amendment of Mr. Moorhouse to come on. Had he taken the ordinary course of considering a refusal to go into Supply as a vote of "no confidence," his colleagues would have been spared the very pointed vote which followed. I cannot Bay what the motives may have been ; perhaps Mr. Stafford preferred that Mr. Moorhouse should be sent for— not Mr. FitzGerald. However, the original amendment was negatived on the voices, almost unanimously, and the plain "No confidence" of Mr. Moorhouse took its place. Mr. Jollie then spoke a long financial speech to a House which desired merely to vote, and was so determined in its opinion of the incompetency of the Ministry as to ask no further discussion. Mr. Moorhouse, in his delicate way, bad exactly hit the idea of honourable members. Mr. Jollies personal explanation was modest, honourable, and dignified. Mr. Paterson followed, declining to enter on a personal question like this; he had intended to go "at great length" into the subject of the original amendment. He had not thrust himself into office ; he left the department he had had in charge no worse than he found it. Colonel Haultain then assured the House he bad been unwilling to take office, not being a Parliamentary man. He believed he had conducted his department well ; he was glad to be relieved, and, if he took his own course, be should vote for the motion. The House received these explanatory or dying speeches with more than courtesy — with real kindness ; the sincerity of the gentlemen was recognised, although their political blunders .and the tergiversation of two of them, and the general unfitness of the Government, were too apparent. Then came tbe division— 47 to 14 ; seven members refusing to vote; one absent; Mr. Speaker, 1. And so political morality was vindicated, and the Weld Government was avenged. So strange and signal a defeat has seldom been heard of in the annals of Parliamentary government. The moral of the tale is not

hard to draw, and I will not extend my letter by thrusting it on your readers. Mr. Stafford might, have served the country with honour for years, had he not separated himself from the men with whom, on all permanent questions, he agreed most fully. He took huff at their disagreement with him on secondary points ; resented their dispensing with him as leader; went into opposition ; and into power ou the shoulders of his real political opponents, the ultra-provincial party. Thus he shattered his own party for the time. But they were united by principle, the unity of the colony was their polar star. They declined their assistance in the cabinet, but supported their principle in the House ; but on a plain vote of no confidence the history of Mr. . Stafford's treason for the last three years' career could not be ignored, and they nnited with his opponents to dethrone him. lam uncertain what may be the sequel. There will be a great effort to bring Mr. Stafford back, and to re-unite the old party. How far this is possible a few days will show. If he resume office, I am sure he will find his past offences so far condoned by his defeat, that ' the intimate supporters of Mr. Weld will give him loyal support in the Legislature, if not in the Cabinet. I have no fear of an ultra-provincial Ministry. "We give the remarks of the Independent of the 15th :— Another of the political questions of the month is the Budget, which was brought forward by the Colonial Treasurer, on the Bth instant. The financial policy which it disclosed, has given rise to an almost universal feeling of disgust with the present Ministry ; and has, at the same time, shadowed forth contingencies of no pleasant character. It will be remembered that Mr. Stafford took office on the pledge that he saw his way to effect a saving of £240,000 on the estimates of the late Ministry. This pledge he reiterated at a meeting with his constituents held during the recess, and the financial statement was therefore looked forward to with much interest. It is not necessary for us here to go into the details of that statement, having elsewhere givon them in extenso, and fully commented thereon ; suffice it to say, that a careful examination of the accounts shows an unimportant saving of about £22,000, while we find that the present Ministry has incurred additional responsibilities not previously contemplated, and has diverted £100,000 of the colonial funds for the benefit of Auckland. Then we find that, whilo the Weld Ministry, whose estimates have been proved to be singularly correct, calculated upon spending £310,000 in meeting its engagements with the military settlers, Mr. Stafford has not only spent this, but asks for £200,000 more to settle the liability. There thus appears to have been an expenditure of at least £300,000, not contemplated by the late Ministry, and we look in vain for the economy of the present one. But if the cloud is a heavy one, it has at least a silver lining. The Budget shows such an increase in the Colonial Revenues, caused in^a great measure by the increase of Customs duties consequent on the large influx of population to the West Canterbury goldfields, that we are buoyed up with the well-founded hope that a Ministry must be very bad, and the misgovernment gross indeed, which will land the colony in such difficulties that its great resources would be insufficient to overcome. With a revenue of over a million, and exports amounting to more than four millions and a-half, little fear need be felt for New Zealand, even if it has to pay heavily for teaching its senators wisdom. But in the meantime, the House of Representatives has not sat tamely under the insult to its understanding offered by Mr. Stafford. We give below the division, which shows how completely Mr. Stafford " was deserted both by his "Auckland and Otago friends. Deduct the names of the Mininters who voted for themselves, the minority consisted of only ten votes. * Mr. Stafford numbered in his support the votes of Mr. Oliver and Mr. Parker, of Nelson, whilst Messrs. Wells, Curtis,- and Eichmond, voted with the majority :— Ayes, 47 : — Messrs. Atkinson, Ball, Bell, Beswiek, Borlase, Bradshaw, Brandon, Bunny, Campbell, Cargill, Clark, Curtis (teller), Dick, Eyes (teller), Featherston, FitzGerald, Fitzherbert, G. Graham, R. Graham, Hall, Hankinson, Hargreaves, Haughton, Hull, Ludlaiu, M'Lean, M'Neil, MoorhoTise, Murison, Newman, J. O'Neill, 0. O'Neill, Ormond, O'Rorke, Richardson, A. J. Richmond, J. 0. Richmond, Stevens, Taylor, Walker, Ward, Watt, Wells, Whitaker, John Williamßon, Wilson, Wood, and Potts. Noes, 14: — Messrs. Stafford (teller), Bcauchamp, Bryce, Burns, Carleton (teller), Cox, De Quincy, I Haultain, Hepburn, Jollie, Oliver, Parker, Paterson, and James Williamson.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NENZC18660818.2.8

Bibliographic details

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXV, Issue 102, 18 August 1866

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2,845

DEFEAT OF THE STAFFORD MINISTRY. Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXV, Issue 102, 18 August 1866

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