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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NEW ZEALAND.

OPENING OF THE SESSION. Our readers have learned from the report of the prcliminaw proceedings of the Assembly in our last number, that His Excellency the Officer Administering the Government had communicated by Message his intention to address the Assembly on the opening of the Session, at the Council Chamber, at two o'clock on Saturday last, the 27th instant. His Excellency accordingly arrived at that hour, and was received bv n Guard of Honour of the 58th Regiment. He immediately entered the Council Chamher. where the members of both Branches of the Legislature were assembled, and a crowd of the inhabitants thronged not only the portion of the room allotted to the public, but also the entrance and passages. His Excellency then read his Address in a clear and firm voice, which distinctly reached even those without the Chamber. The Address has already been laid before our readers in extensn, in a Supplement to the New-Zealander which was issued on Monday. On the conclusion, his Excellency retired, and the Legislative Council almost immediately proceeded to business. The meeting of the House of Representatives was deferred to half-past 3 o'clock. LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. Saturday, May 27. The Council met at three o'clock. The Speaker in the Chair. After brief preliminaries, Major KENNY moved anil Major RICHMOND seconded a proposition that the Council should be opened with prayer. Mr. V. D. BELL wo lid not oppose or object to the motion so far as to propose any amendment, for he was deeply convinced of the importance of seeking the Divine blessing upon all the affairs of life. But he deemed it objectionable as tending to interfere with petfect religious equality which the Constitution recognised. Major KKNNY had anticipated that the proposal would be unanimously agreed to; but if, though it was not objected to yet it was thought objectionable, he would prefer withdrawing it. The SPEAKER observed that the motion hAving been moved and seconded could not now be withdrawn without the consent of the Council. Major RICHMOND said that, as the seconder of the motion, he would not consent to its withdrawal. The motion was then put and carried. A discussion followed as to the person by whom the Prayers should be ottered up. Mr. DILLON BELL again expressed his apprehension that some invasion of the equality now existing between all sects might be apprehended. It was not just then an immediately practical question, for he believed that all the hon- members around that table were members of the Church of England : but it might not always be so, seeing that there was nothing in the Constitution Act to prevent the placing of men in the Council who altogether denied tie doctrines which Christians held sacred, He was not willing to introduce on this question what might be the thin end of the wedge. The result of the discussion was a proposition that a clergyman of the Church of England should be called in for the purpose, which was negatived, and a proposition that the Speaker would open the Council with prayer was carried. The SPEAKER formally laid upon the table a copy of the Address just delivered by the Officer Administering Ae Government . :lt a subsequent s'ace of the sittings, a Committee —consisting of Major Kenny, Maj ir Richmond, Mr. Whitaker, and Mr. Bell—was appointed to prepare a draft of a Reply to the Add ress. Major RICHMOND called attention to the necessity of appointing a Clerk and a Messenger. After a brief discussw n on the question whether these appointments should be made by the Executive Government or by the Council, or by both conjointly, it was agreed that the Speaker, with another member to be selected by him, should confer with the Government ami be prepared on Tuesday to re commend suitable persons for these offices. The Council adjourned until Tuesday, at 2 o'clock. Tuesday. May 30. The Council met at the appointed hour. The SPEAKER opened the proceedings with prayer. The SPEAKER reported that in compliance with the resolution at last meeting respecting the appointment of a Clerk and and a Messenger, he and Mr. Whitaker, whom he had selected to act with him in the choice, had to recommend for the office of clerk, Mr. Piercy, of the Resident Magistrate's Court, a gentleman who was believed to be highly suitable. Mr. WHITAKER supported the recommendation. On the motion of Mr. ST. HILL, seconded by Vajor KENNY, it was unanimously agreed that Mr. Piercy be recommended Clerk of the Council. It having been similarly recommended that E. Hynes be appointed Messenger, the recommendation was agreed to or the morion of Mr. St. HILL, seconded by Mr. BELL. The Report of the Committee on Standing Orders was "hen presented, and the several Rules, Ste., recommended in it were read seriatim by Mr. ST. HILL, and occasionally Commented on by lion, members. On the motion of Mr. WHITAKER, seconded by Mr. BELL, it was resolved that the Standing Orders then read should be provisionally adopted and acted on for the present. The Committee appointed to prepare a Reply to His Excellency's Address, brought up their Report, together with a draft ■of the Rei.lv. l^Jur"* - ' l ' l ' rosc t0 move tnat Major Richmond be permanent Chairman of Committees of the Council. He thought it was not desirable that the Speaker, who presided over the whole proceedings, should also be Chairman of Committees. In Committee the discussions assume*! a different form, and it was the duty of the Chairman of the Committee to report to the Sneaker. On the whole, he considered it expedient that a Chairman be appointed, and he believed thot, except the Speaker himself, there was no member better fitted for the office than Major Richmond. Mr, SEYMOUR seconded the motion. The SPEAKER reminded the Council that they had just agreed to adopt temporarily certain Rules and Orders, one of which provided that the Speaker should be Chairman of Committees- He suggested for the consideration of the hon. member, whether it might not be better to postpone his motion until after the Standing Orders were finally revised and adopted. Mr. HELL concurred in the course suggested, and the motion was withdrawn for the present. NOTICES OP MOTION. The following notices of motion were then given ; Mr. BELL gave notice that at the next meeting of the Council, he would move that the proposed Reply to Hie Address of His Excellency the Officer administering the Government on the opening the Session, be adopted by the House. Mr. ST. HILL gave notice that on Tuesday, 6th June, he should move that an address be presented to the Oificer Administering the Government, embodying the opinion of this Council that it is expedient that that part of clause 33 of the Constitution Act which effects the existing Constitution of the Legislative Council, should be amended, so as to accord and harmonize with the spirit and intention of those provisions of that Act as respects the election of Members of the House of Representatives, and praying that His Excellency may be pleased .to adopt such measures as may, with as little delay as practicable, Jeniedy the delect referred to. Mr. WHITAKER gave notice that on Friday, June 2nd, he would move that an address be presented to His Excellency the Oflictr Administering the Government, r< questing that he will pleased to lay on the table of this Council,— Ist. A statement shewing all sums of money paid to the NewZealand Company out of the Land Fund of the Colony, in pursuance of the Act of Parliament- 10 8c 11 Vic. c. lis ; distinguishing the amount paid by the several Proviuces. and specifying the date of each payment. 2. A Statement of monies received for land already sold, nondue under that Act from the Colony to the New Zealand Company, shewing the amount due from each Province. 3. Copies of all the Correspondence that ha» has taken place between the Secretary of State and the Governor, in reference to the charge in the Laud Fund of the Colony created by the above nainod Act, except such part of the correspondence as has been printed in the Bine-Book. 4. Copies of all other documents in the possession of tne Government relating to the same subject, excepting any that have been printed in the Blna Book. Major RICH MON'I) gave notice that on Friday , 2nd of June, he would innva that a Humble and Loyal Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen, expressing the gratitude of this House to Her Majesty, for hawng i" concurrence with her Parliament, conferred on her subjects in the Islaudl their ancient constitutional rights. The Council adjourned till Fri 1 «y ,at Two p.m. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Q Friday, May 26. Praykrs at Opbning. fter the Speaker had been elected and had taken his seat, Ir. McANDREW suggested that, before the House pro-

ceeded to any further business, there should be an ackno ledgment of dependence on the Divine Being, and that prayer! should be made for a blessing on their labours; and If, J7* understood, the feeling of the House was in favour of that course, he would, with their permission, withdraw to inviJ the nearest clergyman, who he believed was the minister of the parish, to officiate. Mr. REVANS thought it had better come in the shape of a motion before the House. The SPEAKER remarked that a* a rule, it would tu> desirable, to prevent mistakes, if members would put their motions in vtiiing and hand them to the Clerk. Mr. McANDREW had not prepared any formal motion on the subject, believing that it had only to be mentioned to be adopted by the house, and feeling assured that every right-think, ing man would consider it fit and proper that the first an of the House of Representatives should be an acknowledgment of the Divine favour to this country, and of supplication for a continuanceof that favour upon which their prosperity so material!, depended. However, if it was the wish of the House, he had no objection to bring the subject formally before it, and would now move, •« That it is fit and proper that the first act of the House of Representatives shall be a public acknowledgment of th e Divine Being, and a public supplication for His favour on iu future labours." The motion was seconded by Mr Mackay. Mr. LEE said that the question was one which, to hj;, mind, admitted of no discussion, and he would therefore wove •■ That the House of Representatives be not converted into a conventicle, and that prayers be not offered up." Mr. REVANS seconded the motjon. Mr. CARLETON trusted that no discussion would arise rra this question : such would be indeed irrelevant, inasmuch as he had no doubt every member had come to that House with hit mind fully made up, and was therefore ready to vote either one way or the other. Mr. O'NEILL felt as deeply a* any other member could possibly feel his obligation to the Divine Being whose pro . vidence had brought him to this fine country; but n the same time he could not agree to the introduction of any particular minister of religion to orTVr up prayers in that House, composed as it was of members holding religious views so widely differing from each other. He should be very sonry to see a minister of that chamber of the church to which he belonged engaging hj, , service which would be as unexceptable to many of them as it would be to himself if ministers of any of their churches were called on to officiate. He therefore could not support the motion; the cause of religion was more likely to be retarded than furthered by the adoption of it. He thought, however, it was premature for the house to discuss the subject; it would be competent for the officer administering the Government to introduce his chaplain at the opening of the General Assembly, when no doubt he would do so, and prayers would be offered; afterwards, the question should more properly coine before this house as to whether it should be one of their standing rules that prayers should be used. Mr. FORSAITH did not think the house should avoid discussion of this question; it was one of great moment; and would present itself to them in various forms ; he had lo iked forward to the introduction of the subject after the opening of the General Assembly, and was prepared to give:;> 1 his support, for there was no reason why the member* of 1 House who were the representatives of a people acknowledge ti| the Almighty Being should refrain from seeking from Him,— ' who was the source of all good—that aid which he trusted, as individuals, thev invoked. Mr. McANDREW had no objection to allow the motion to «tard over until after the meeting of the Assembly if that was the general wish of the House. Mr. El I'Z-GERAI.D could not understand that the meeting of the General Assembly had anything to do with the question —if it were the intention to press it on the house, it might ai well be decided now. It was suggested by a member that Mr. McAndrew mightpostpone the further consideration of his motion until after the opening of the General Assembly, as the withdrawal of it now with that understanding would only be a withdrawal on firm not on principle. Mr. McANDREW said that, to his mind, whatever course should betaken with regard to this subject at the opening cf the General Assembly it was clear to him that the House of Representatives, being the first embodiment of a -New Zealand nationality, should be consecrated—and with this view he had called the attention of the House to the subject before prj feeding to any business. It was then agreed that the question =hould be discussed at o ce. Mr. vn Z-GERALD was not willing to give a silent vote on this occasion lest he might b2 misunderstood. He did not think the amendment was one that ought to have bien prop >sed in its present form to that house, as it was not worded i 1 language, to say the least, of courtsey or respect; but at the same time he must withhold his support from the original motion, because it seemed to him to involve the question of a sta;e religion the very appearance of which ought to be avoided by that house. He did not wish that his opposition to the motion should be misunderstood ; he had been one of those who, in the Province to which he belonged, had spared no pains to provide for the due observance of religous ordinances according to those forms which he believed to be right—but in doing so it was with no wish to establish a State Church, but one that should be> maintained by the voluntary support of those who enjoyerMts privileges. The constitution had raised no hindrance to colonists of the Hebrew faith or Unitarians sitting as members of that house, and surely if Jews and Unitarians were the m.-jority of its members and the uearest Church of England Clergyman were to be brought in to perform divine service, the service would be but a monstrous mockery ; and again, if conducted according to their vie.vs, he himself, and no doubt other members, would feel obliged to leave the room. It might be easy to open up the door to admit difficulties, but not ?o easy so shut them out—the best way was to get rid of the practice altogether as absurd. At Canterbury at the opening of the Provincial Council he had suggested what he believed to be the proper way to avoid the difficulty—that members of the Church should attend at a service iu the Church before the opening of the Council, and such was the mode they adopted to seek the Divine b'.essing—a course which he believed to be the most rational one for each to take in his own way—rather than attempt to call upon all to agree to any one mode or form for the occasion. Mr. GLEDHILL could not agree to the amendment as it stood, which might convey the impression that there was some great attempt made in the house to establish conventicles; it the same time he thought the house should keep to its own business, for if there was not a full appearand of Church tendency in the movement, there was certainly arrTpproach to itt he thought it l*iter, therefore, lo steer clear of it altogether, and let the house at once turn its attention to its legitimate duties. Dr. MONRO could not see any occasion to fear the setting up of one Church above another by the house agreeing to invoke the Divine aid at the commencemant of its duties. For his own part, he was willing to join in the prayers of any Church offered up for such an object. Mr. WAKEFIELD said, that the dread entertained by some members of a State Church being set up if the House engaged in prayer was he thought entirely unnecessary, for in countries where Slate Religion is absolutely repudiated, the invariable pnntice is to open the legislative houses by prayer. He was quite sure, with respect to America, that in both Houses of . Congress prayer was used, sometimes by a Minister of one ~. dinomination and sometimes by another. After some further remarks from members on both sides, at W~ the suggestion of several, Mr. Lee withdrew his amendment, when Mr. WELD thought the discussion was likely to be fruitlessly prolonged without any definite result, and to bring the question to an issue he would, now that the former amendment had been withdrawn, beg to submit the following:— " That this house, whilst fully recognizing the importance of religious observances, will not commit itself to any act which may tend to subvert that perfect religious equality that is recognised by our constitution, and therefore cannot consistently open this house with public prayer." The only remarks he thought it desirable to make was, that he objected to the introduction of any practice into that House by which religious equality was not recognized. Hebrew gentlemen might be elected, and therefore it would be impossible to frame a form of prayer suitable to them and the Christians also, without inTolving the house in debate on abstruse religious points which were not fitting themes for discussion in that house, and not calculated to encourage sincere religious conviction. The Hon. J. S. WORTLEV seconded the amendment, because he thought the course proposed by the motion must of necessity lead to a State Church discussion, and to all the unpleasantness of the factious opposition which is usually gireu W it. He should avoid :he insertion of the wedge, lest they might be unable to draw it out again. Mr. COTTEN could not see any connection between the opening of that House by prayer and the establishment of a State Church. Mr. REVANS could hardly take as a fact what had been stated by the honourable member for the Hutt, with respect to the practice in America-at any rate if it were so as he described—it surely was an evidence of great religious laxity when thev admitted ministers of all creeds to officiate turn and turn about. He thought the motion would lead the house away ma retrograde direction from the free spirit of the Constitution, which appears to have been framed so as that the Colon** ° New Zealand at any rate should be exempt from the causes oi heart-burning on religious questions which being interwoven in our old institutions at home, could not be so readily got rid oi. No man had a right to prescribe to him in what manner ne I should worship his God; for what wa* no matter of doubt as between man and his Maker, was too often the source of mucn discord as between man and man; and as no man could as»i> | or prevent his fellow-man in his relation to God, then non 1 should seek to prescribe to him the manner of worshipping tn* i Being. There could be no doubt that by the adoption of trie I motion the house must attach some form of religion <**r" ther to the State—and then the question must arise by-and- J —what form is it to be? . Mr. FORSAITH was sorry to find that in this d.scuww there was a disposition to confound things which had no • finitv whatever. The question lay at the very root of TtU % l i itself, and was not merelv one of the form or mode of <^ }^ ' it out. He could not understand that if the house dcterml "T I to open its proceedings with prayer, that therefore it had clamt in favour of a State Church. This he would u nra ' oppose as any man ; but he could not oppose what he bell to belong to the very groundwork of our common faltn - jf was not aware that there were any Jews in that hj ouse; there even w re, he was sure they would not object to on ' prayer and supplication to Jehovah. When the Jew bled in his synagogue, he was accustom-*! to read out Scriptures «• In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He w rect thy paths;" and according to this injunction did n frain from seeking that direction. There could be no or>j: to the members of that house, in their collective cap having recourse to that which he trusted in their ma»wi pacitv they obscrvtd; but especially was it incumben< % who had'been mile the honoured instruments of ,n "°°V try> new and'liberal tystem of Government into tins great to acknowledge k'heir dependence on the Divine w,4U ' ,m ' He seek the guidance and assistance of the Supreme •«"«•„,, thought that by doing so the house would act upon policy, and wijboat interfering with any man s religious i, i

Mr. WAKEFIELD said, with reference to what had fallen from the houourahle member for Wairarapa respecting what he (Mr.W.) had stated respecting' America, hejcould iot say as a fact, that praye:s were read or said in all the Legislative Assemblies throughout the Union, but that he believed such was the case. With respect to the New England St ttes he could speak posilively, and he believed he might safely say so as of the others. Laxity in religion had been referred to, but the fact was that in no country was there a greater manifestation of deep religious sentiment and principle than in America. And to show their great regard for religious equality lie might mention that some years ago a proposal was made, in order to secure n better observance of the sabbath, that the mails should be stopped on that day. That this met with acceptance among a peoaile remarkable for their strict Sabbath observance was not surprising, and the lawwas about to be passed, when one said that to make it complete and equal, the law should extend also to the Jews' Sabbath that the rule should be absolute on the Saturday as well as on the Sunday ; and lest there should be any appearance of inequality the measure was abandoned altogether; and yet in that country —the practice sought to be established here, and opposed on the ground of its being an infringement of religious rights —this practice was, he believed, everywhere observed, lie should have been glad to have avoided further discission on this subject; he did not profess to claim for himself the high religious feeling which he sincerely believed guided the life of his honourable friend the mover of the resolution ; but he should be sorry, for the sake of decency, that New Zealand B hould be singular in this respect among the Christian countries of the earth. That which was sought for here was observed by England and Holland, Protestant countries; by llelgium and Sardinia, Catholic countries, and he might go on to mention many others. He did not therefore wish that NewZealand should tie the exception to what was considered everywhere decent and good to be observed. Mr. LEE was at a loss to know how it would be possible for his honourable colleague for the Northern Division to frame forms of religious ceremony in which the Jew and the Christian could unite. He thought as the Constitution had very properly rid them of State religion the house should take care how they voluntarily submitted to it. other members briefly addressed the House, when the amendment was put, and a division took place as follows : Ayes Noes. Messrs. Wortley Messrs. Gray Weld Mackay Ludlam K. G. Wakefield Oledhill Cut ten King Rhodes Fitzgerald Taylor O'Neill Greenwood ('romp ton Forsaith Lee Hart Hevans Monro Hartley l'icard Carleton O'Brien Merriman Kelham Cargill E. J. Wakefield Sewell M'Andrew. Amendment lost, original motion carried. Mr. FORSAITH then mored the following Resolution, which was seconded and carried : That, in proceeding to carry out the resolution of the House, to open its proceedings by prayer, this House distinctly asserts the privilege of a perfect political equality in all reli gious denominations, and that whoever may be called upon to perform this dutv for the House, it is n >t thereby intended to or admit any preeminence to that church or religious C body to which lie may belong. IA / CLERK OF HOUSE. % yftlr. REVANS moved that Mr. Coates be appointed the Clerk the House of Representatives. IF'thought that the house would see the necessity of appointing one to this otlice immediately, and he was sure no man could be found in the country so well qualified for it as Mr. Coates. Mr. WORTLEY seconded the motion. Mr. SEWELL thought notice had better be given, and the subject brought before the house in a formal way. Major G RE KN WOOD thought there was a question a; to where the right of appointment was held— whether by the Officer Administering the Government, or by that House. He was sure in either case Mr. Coates would be appointed: for who was better fitted for the office ? Hut the question of right of appointment ought to be decidid. Mr. CARLETON objected to the right being claimed by the House, as it belonged, most certainly, to the Governor, on the same principle which guided similar appointments in the House of Commons. The Clerk there was appointed by the Crown, and his Commission given as " Clerk of the Parliament to wait on the Commons.'' The House would do well to keep within the four comers of the Constitution, which gave them power to appoint their Speaker, but there stopped. In conversation, a member had said to him, "let us get all we can;" but he (Mr. Carleton) would say—let us get all we are entitled to. Mr O'NEILL said that he was not ashamed to admit that it was he who hail used the language quoted by the honourable member; he was most anxious, and while he breathed he would strive to get all the power he could into the hands of the people's representatives, for without power their meeting there was to no purpose- He thought the Governor had nothing whatever to do with the appoitment of the servants of that house—the house had as clear a right to appoint their clerk as their Speaker Mr. FORSAITH would not deny that the rules and practice of the House of Common* might be found to be in many cases a good guide for that house, but he thought that the right given by the constitution to the house to elect its Speaker embodied within itself also the right to appoint the subordinate officers. Mx, REVANS then gave notice of his motion for Monday. the remainder of Friday's business—see last Saturday's /\ Saturday, May 27. 4 The House assembled at half-past three o'clock, the Speaker Chair. SPEAKER stated that, owing to the insufficiency of clerical assistance, the Clerk had not been able to bring ( u i the minutes of their past proceedings, but on Monday it was' hoped that the minutes would be in a fit state to be submitted*' for confirmation. The speech also stated that until standin/ 0.-dcrs were prepared and adopted it would be for the con\, venience of the house, if honourable members who had petitions to present would do so immediately after the chair was taken, and that notices of motion should be given before the house proceeded to the orders of the day. Notices ov Motion-. Mr. HART wished to be allowed, as the house was not under the restriction of standing rules, to place on the notices for this day, a notice of motion for a Return of correspondence on the subject of the erection of a lighthouse at Port Nicholson; and also a notice that he would move for Returns shewing the amount of additional customs duly <lerived from spirits since the increased rate of tariff. It was because of the steamer being about to sail for the Southern Settlements before the house met again, that he made this request; and for the same reason he would beg that the notices which stood in his name for Wednesday, should be allowed to take place on the notice pa;>er for this day. Mr. REVANS would second the request, but trusted that this case of emergency would not be taken to establish a precedent. Agreed to. Mr. WORTLEY gave notice that on Wednesday next he would move For copies of all correspondence on the part of the General Government with certain members of the church of England, in tlie OUgO Province, connected with the erection of a Church on a site uained Moray Place, in the Town of Dunedln. New Writs. The SPEAKER read a letter from the Colonial Secretary, announcing that Writs had been issued by His Excellency, for the election of two Members for the Melson Province, in room of Messrs. Cautley and Travers, resigned. Orders of the Day. IMPROVED ACCOMMODATION IV THK JIOUBR. Mr. MACKAY rose to move for a Committee to consider the best means of improving the new Council buildings, so as to afford better accommodation to members. Mr. WAKEFIELD seconded the motion, and remarked thai it appeared as if the principles of acoustics had been entirely disregarded in the construction of the chamber allotted to that house; it was most difficult for members to hear eich other speak, and indeed on the previous evening he had been led to mistake what fell from his honourable friend the member of Wairarapa, not from any weakness in his friend's voire, but because of the difficulty of hearing in that chamber; for the fact was, that as it was constructed, the best seat for hearing would be on one of the cross beams in the roof—and, however uncomfortable such a seat it might be thought to be, i' would not be harder than the one from which he had just risen. An honourable member had told him that after being long accustomed to row at Cambridge, he thought no hardship of a hard seat, but, for himself, he had had no such practice, and such seat* were a hardship beyond joking to men of heavy weights. Members who did their duty in that house would have severe menial exercise for long hours, and their bodily comfort should not be disregarded. He trusted the Committee would see to these matters, and at the same time pay attention to secure a better ventilation Mr. LEE trusted the Committee would attend also to the comforts of the inner man, and provide a refreshment room. ; Mr. MERRIMAN suggested that while the outer and inner man were being provided for, the Committee ought to make provision also for the intellectual man. He thought it would be well if they would take into consideration the formation of a joint library with the other House. Mr. REVANS suggested that the Committee should keep to the duties first mentioned, and that a library Committee might be formed. Major GREENWOOD suggested the propriety of providing seats for members of the Upper House when they visited, and also for ladies. Mr. O'BRIEN begged also that suitable accommodation for the press should not be neglected. The motion was then put and carried. Pre-emption Claims. Mr. CARLETON gave notice that on Friday next he would move For leave to bring in a Hill for completing the settlement of Claims to Land under the Pre-emption Proclamation. Nelson Native Trust Lands. Mr. PICARD moved for"a Return of all monies received as Rents of the Lands comprised in the Native Reserves in the Province of Nelson, by the persons managing such lands, from the month of January, 1052, till the present date, and of the expenditure of such monies." Mr. Picard said that more than one half of the available lauds in the district were comprised within those lands, and as the subject would shortly be brought under the consideration of the House, it was desirable that the information which the returns would supply should be before the House as soon as possible. Mr. WELD set Hided the motion.

Mr. SEWELL said that in thus moving for various returns, members might find themselves only groping their way in the dark,—fortius reason, that the House hid not any responsible person to represent the Government, as in the House of Commons, who could intimate to the House whether such returns could or would bs gr< ntfd. In the House of Commons it was usual to ask the Government if it would be convenient to furnish returns before they wire moved for; here, unfortunately, there was no one present to represent the Government to whom such question might be put lie could easily imagine that a | large amount of work would soon be accumulated on the Exe- ■ cutive Government by members from the various Provinces calling for returns, and he thought from the scarcity of clerical | mea is to prepare them, the Government, although ever so willing to grant them, might lie driven to refuse many, and, perhaps so„ie that would he of the greatest importance for inforJ ma-ion to that House. He thought means should betaken to ascertain which returns of those called for would be the most generally or specifically needful, and then for the House to concentrate its requests to the Government on such returns only. His opinion was that a Committee should be appointed, to whom motions for returns should be first referred, the House to be guided by the reports of that Committee as to applications for returns, otherwise the Executive Government might be so overwhelmed with labour that the most useful and needful returns might not be supplied. He concluded by moving as an amendment that a Committee be formed for the purpose of ascertaining if returns applied for were likely to be really useful, and then if they could be conveniently supplied by the Government, and whether or not the single return should be called for only, or that, as might often be desirable, it should be made to form one of a series or class on the same subject. Mr. WAKEFIELD would second the amendment, for he must confess that there was great truth ami force in wl at had just been said by his honourable friend the member for Christchurch, it was undeniable that members would have many returns f> rail for, and it was quite as evident that that House would support every motion for returns, members being very willing to oblige each other in this respect to the fullest extent, so that the Speaker will soon have en his hands claims for a vast amount of these returns, and it is quite certain that out of them will come some positive refusals. There was no one in the House who could explain on behalf of the Government, and, in all probability, the House would be brought into unpleasant collision with the Executive, and to avoid anything of this kind he thought the course pointed out by his honourable friend was a wise one, Mr. REVANS was perfectly astonished at what he had just heard, and felt it most difficult to understand how such a proposition should have the approval of the houourahle member who last spoke. Can it be possible that the parent has deserted his own child i Surely this amendment is nothing less than a compromise of a great principle. Here is a Committee of this House proposed as a substitute for n responsible; minister; and this proposal made, too, by the houourahle members for Christchurch and the Hutt. Surely this is a forget fulness of a principle which, above all men, was to be least expected from these honourable members. The appointment of this Committee of theirs would be nothing less than to defeat the object we have in view. We cannot deny it from ourselves that we are in a most anomolous position in this House ; and members must al| see the great inconvenience which will he felt at every turn unless a minister of the government be present to explain and state the views of the Executive. He would advise the mover rather than submit to have his Returns procured through the medium (invented by this amendment to withdraw his motion altogether. Mr. O'NEILL thought it very improper to attempt to shelve a motion of this kind by referring it to n Committee. Surely every member of that House was entitled to receive from the Government whatever information he required to qualify him to bring subjects before the Mouse which required its consideration. Nothing ought to be kept hick, and he was astonished at any member preventing another in his search for information. Let the request be made to the executive, and it will be for them to say whether it can be complied with or not. Dr. MONRO said that the amendment would involve consequences of placing the minority in subjugation to the majority ; and that would he a dangerous restrict ion of the freedom which every member ought to possess. It was, therefore, entirely at variance with principles which would tend to the welfare of that House. If the Government declined to furnish information, the House would know how to vindicate its own position in demanding and obtaining whatever was required. He was surprised to hear an amendment of this character supported by members so well acquainted with the principles which ought to guile that House. Mr. FORSAITH craved the indulgence of the House. He saw men of practised ability, men familiar with the details of debate around hiin. lie naturally felt a considerable degree of j anxiety in the duties which now devolved upon him. lie regretted it was his duty to speak in terms of censure as to the manner in which the amendment had been brought forward. He could not but object to it as unworthy— Mr. REVANS must object to the use of the term " unworthy." Mr. FORSAITH used the term advisedly,—as unworthy the topic,—he sought to impute no unworthy motive to the member. Mr. REVANS still objected to the use of the term under any application. Mr. FORSAITH would withdraw the word, —he would substitute the word "unexpected," and say—the unexpected manner in which the subject had lieen iniroduced. He appealed to the House whether it would be fair to the minority to introduce the question of Responsibility In such a manner. It would be unfair to press such a qieuion at once, until they had time to consider it. He himself was slow of thought, and the ends at which others arrived with intuitive rapidity, he could only master step by step. He had no desire to refuse to consider the question of Responsible Government He courted its introduction, and should support inquiry. Mr. SEWELL said he had been charged with dragging the question of Responsible Government before the House. His object, on the contrary was to get over a practical difficulty. He had no doubt that that difficulty had brought the question of Responsible Government before the House, but it was not his object. As the House was without the usual Constitutional means of obtaining information, he had proposed an amendment to meet a difficulty. He begged he might not be misunderstood in the object with which he made the amendment. It had been supposed be wished to curtail the privileges of members, but it was not so. rThe Amendment was put to the House, and negatived there i being :—Ayes 11, Noes 2.1. jSjnr. MERRIMAN supported the motion. TMr. PICARD said in reply he had every reason to believe "that the necessary information was in the hands of a gentleman of this Province. The constituency he represented considered the returns were of great importance. Expectation and feeling was high in the Province of Nelson respecting these returns He was aware of the difficulty pressing upon the house, in consequence of the Government having no responsible officer there. The difficulty would meet them at every turn. The original motion was put and carried. Mr. CROMPTON nwo.and-moved for a return of duties paid on goods, &c., imported into New Plymouth. He had endeavoured to obtain the information in his own Province, bur had been referred to the Golonial Secretary, Duties were paid in Auckland and Wellington, and the goods were sent to New Plymouth. These did not appear in the Returns for New Plymouth. He wished to direct attention to the increased native traffic in the Province. Mr. REVANS seconded the motion. Upper Canada, he said, furnished a similar instance of the unequal way in which duties were levied. Taranaki had been robbed of her just rights in her Customs and he hoped she would now receive justice, Mr- FITZGERALD wished to know if it were meant to ask for Returns of all duty paid goods on imported into the Province. The question affected Canterbury, and all newly founded Settlements. Some arrangements should be made for a drawback on goods shipped to eithsr Province. Mr. WAKEFIELD supported the motion. If this motion had been referted to a Committee, a Return for other Provinces would, no doubt, have been asked for. If there was a Minister in the House responsible to the Government a Committee might not be wanted. He had wished and he hoped the hon. member for Waimea (Dr. Monro) would bear it in mind—to .. ert collision with the Government. Mr. SEWELL said it appeared to hiin desirable to find out from what Province goods were imported. He suggested the addition to the hon. member. This was considered impracticable, and the motion was put and carried On the request of Mr. Revans, supported by Mr. Wortley, leave was granted for the postponement of his motion for the election of a Clerk, until Tuesday. Mr. PICARD moved for a Return of lands purchased in the Province of Nelson, in conformity with the Proclamation of 4th Mar 185 aAs the question of waste lauds was to be brought lx ire the house, lie wished the house to he in possession of eery information respecting his own Province. He had learnt, i directly, there would be no difficulty in obtaining the Returns ie wished for. Mr. REVANS was sorry the Hon. Member had obtained private information—that he had used back-stairs influence. The House must come to the point respecting Responsible Government. They must have parties and responsible officers, or the House would not get through its business for the next six months. He was appalled by the amount of business he saw before him. lie hoped gentlemen would not tell the house they had private information. He wished for no information but that which came directly and legitimately through this house. put and tarried. -"•"Mr. HART brought forward the motions which he had obtained leave to transfer from the notice paper of Wednesday.— Motions agreed to. Mr. REVANS moved that the speech of the Officer administering the Government he printed. Major GREENWOOD said,—if Mr. Revans would allow him to afl'oul the information, —that he understood the speech was in course of printing in the Government Gazette. Mr. R EVANS must protest against such information. Mr. WAKEFIELD would accept such information from Major Greenwood if given to the house by him as an Officer of the Government. Mr. FORSAITH moved that the Speaker do apply to the Executive Government for KKi copies of His Excellency's printed Address, for the use of this house. Mr. HART gave notice that on Monday he would move For a Return of the despatch of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which authorized the Governor of New Zealand to make regulations for thesa'eof Land in the Colony. The house adjourned at dusk until Monday at 1 p.m. Monday, May 29. The House met pursuant to notice, at I o'clock. ThejMinutes of the last meeting having been read and confirmed", the following not ces of motion were given. Notices op Motion. The Ahurkss. Mr. WELD gave notice, on behalf of Mr Fitzgerald, that Mr, Fitzgerald would move on 'hursday next, An Address in answer to the Speech of His Excellency the Officer administering the Government

Responsible Government. Mr. WAKEFIELD gave notice that he would move on FriI day next, the following Resolution, viz.— That among the; objects which this house desires to setaccomplished without delay, both as an essential means ! whereby the General Government may rightly exercise a due ' control over the Provincial Governments, and as ano less in--1 dispensible means of obtaining for the General Government I the confluence and attachment of the people, the most important is the establishment of ministerial responsibility, ill the conduct of legislative and executive proceedings by the Goi vernor. On the order of the day being called Mr. WAKEFIELD instead of proceeding with his motion on the notice paper, moved— That this house do now adjourn until Thursday next, at eleven o'clock, and that after the motions of which notice has been given to-day, shall be disposed of, notices of motion now on the paper do take precedence of all others. With the permission of the house Mr. Lee withdrew, for the presenti his notice relative to the I'rovinci.il Councils. The motion lor adjournment was then put and carried, and the house adjourned until eleven o'clock on Thursday.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZ18540531.2.7

Bibliographic details

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NEW ZEALAND., New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 848, 31 May 1854

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7,742

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NEW ZEALAND. New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 848, 31 May 1854

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