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THE STARVING BELGIANS

QUESTION OF MBASOBES. DEPUTATION TO THS MAYOR. STATE , ACTION A3TVXX3ATKD. Prompt action has been taken in Dunedin with the object of initiating measures to provide foods fofc feeding and clothing the unfortunate Belgians -who are suffering eo severely in consequence of the war. A deputation of repcesßOtetiTO oitiaens waited cm thi! Mayor (Mr J. B. ShaokJook) yeatoiday morning and suggested that Government should oauso certain inquiries to be made, after which, if satisfied, it shoutq xuwlertake to find £25,000 monthly during tbu currency of tho war to help feed ooA clothe the stricken Belgians. following were present: —Messrs Keid, sen., P. R. Sargood. W. i Stewart, M.P., C. E. Statbtun, i. Solomon, K.C., G. L. Denniston, C. \v. lUttray, F O. Bridgeman, H. D. Stronach, N. Ualbraith, Andrew Todd, D. IS Theomin. E. C. Reynolds, John Gray, Pete-r liart Hurh Adam, E. Hallenstein, H. K. Wilfinson, J. A. Johnstone, Rev. R. S. Gray, Rev. It. E. Davies, and tho Tcrwn Clerk (Mr Lew in). Apolotries were rooeived from tho Primate, Measrs C. Hokteworth, George Fonwlck, H. E 'Williams, Dr Liriclo Ferguson, Rev. W. Messrs P. C. Neill, Charles Speight, W. Dawson, C. F. Groeoslade, and J. Lethbridge. The Mayor explained that the depntation ■was arranged as a rosult of a conference ' between Mr J. A. Johnstone ajid himsel' the previous evening. They had all read tho appeal fc help for tho Belgians, and the idea of the meeting was to discuss the question and see what was the best course to adopt. Mr Johnstone said he was sorry that the notice of the meeting had been so short, but still they had a very representative ittendance of citizens. They oould not act too rapidly in order to place their views before the Government and communicate with the Mayors of otjier towns. The pathetic ftppea] which they had all read in the newspapers must have disturb-d many a mans rest. Mr Johnstone then suggested that the following telegram be sent to the Primo • Minister: —

An influential deputation of citizens has suggested, in view of the report of the Belgian Commission as to the urgent needs of seven millions of starving men, women, and children in Belgium, that the Government should first inquire through" the High Commissioner or otherwise as to (1) the authenticity of the published report, and (2) -whether it may be reasonably expected that money sent by New Zealand will reach fhe Belgians; and, if satisfied on these two points, should undertake to find £25,000 monthly during the currency of the war to help feed and clothe this stricken people. Anything that has yet been done by the Government or by individnals is but trifling with the matter when it is borne in mind what untold and unexampled sacrifices these brave people have made to withstand the onrush of our common foe. It is probably true that few have contributed in proportion to their circumstances, whilo considerable numbers have not given at aIL The deputation considers that the time has arrived when no one who can give should be exempt, and for that reason they are of opinion that further help should come from the people as a whole through their Government. No political issue is involved here, and it is hoped that the Cabinet will forthwith undertake to act as suggested herein. It is inconceivable, in view of the urgency of the case and the dire extremity of the Belgians, that any section of the voters of the dominion would do otherwise than endorse any action the i Government may take in the way of givi ing effect to this suggestion. Furthermore, as the matter is one of great iirgcney, : .t is respectfully suggested that ' any difficulty that m'ght present itself concerning the sanction of Parliament, oould be overcome bv the Cabinet consulting members ii.dividually by telegram. Mr Sargood seconded tho motion, stat-

ing that we had done a cortain amount - in regard to the assistance of the people of a 'brave nation, but we had not done nearly enough yet. How inuch we had still to do only the future could disclose. Tho Belgian nation was practically wiped out in so far as her civio and social conditions were concerned, and we must rise to the occasion not only* as individuals, but as a community, to give all -the assistance wo could. Let us give liberally. It seemed to him that the time had come when the Government should take the matter in hand on behalf of the community. The Rev. Mf Gray said that the time had now arrived when the voluntary principle must be superseded by a tax—("'Hear, hear")—and tho Government ought to know fully that tho country was behind it. We tad had the protection of tho British Navy and Army, for which we were not paying, ' and in contributing to the relief of tho heroic Belgian people we would be paying ! for the protection which we were getting. The Rev. Mr Davies eaid he quite agreed •with tho spirit of the resolution and tho remarks made by Mr Gray, for, as one who had just come from the region of tho war, he had been surprised more and moro by the feeling that the people in this country and Australia did not fully understand the seriousness of the situation. That might eeem a trite remark, but it was a true one. Men in this country were making money at the expense of the war, and declined to contribute as they should towards the assistance of a little nation that was suffering owing to tho war. A man might make £1000 becauso of the war, and there was a nation in Europe that was suffering and had and was pouring out its life's blood on account of the waj.% and if it appealed to him for assistance, then surely, even on the broad grounds of humanity, that man should support a cause of that kind. And if not, there should be no means of escape, for if a man failed to contribute voluntarily, then he should be compelled to contribute by the Government. They would not send their sons to fight in the war, and they would not give their money; v ' then, .it was high time that the whole i situation should bo brought forciblv before them. Britain's homes were being filled by Belgian refugees. He had seen them coming into Charing Cross station. Two , thousand ir. one day—rich and poor, women of culture with peasant women —all huddled together, compelled to go to England. whei"> they found a haven of rest. They looked upon it as a heaven, coming from scenes of murder and torture, and surely this country would awaken to a ,sr-nso of its duty.—("Hear, hear.") Before the motion wn« carried and a committee appointed 'to co-operate with tho Mayor and Mr Johnstone, another member of the deput"t ; oh suggested that the contribution of £25,000 monthly should continue if neccssary. oven after the war. MR VIEWS. It was felt by some th\t the plan of depending on public subscriptions in such causes as the relief of distressed Belgians has certain weaknesses. To a large extent, for instance, it allows the mean aJid uncharitable to escape free at the expense of the generous-hearted, who respond willingly to even- appeal. One obvious way of overcoming the difficulty would be by imposing a Government tax on the whole community. With such an object in view the Mayor of Port Chalmers (Mr T. Scollay) yesterday telegraphed to tlw Pr'me Minister urging that tho Government take up the matter of this fresh Belgian appeal, nnd levy a war tax if necessarv. People, Ifo said, were already stintinsr themselves to contribute to all the war funds, and the working people would soon be experiencing great hardships owing to the increasing price of foodstuffs. Mr Scollay's idea is that every one would like to contribute, and that this method would give all an opportunity to do so, including some who trrould not otherwise be able.

MR PARR'S VIEWS. STATE A'CTION ADVOCATED. (P*B Dmitft) Press Association.) AUCKLAND, February 23. The Mayor (Mr Parr) wired to tho Prime Minister as follows:— Strong publics opinion hero that the Government should provide monthly a contribution of! Ray, £15,000 to Belgium. Auckland has contributed nearly £50,000 in cash end £25,0C0 in clothing already. State action is now necessary to cope adequately and systematically with the magnitude of Belgium's distress. ANOTHER ADVOCATE OF STATE " ACTION. (Pkb Omnn Pbers Association.) TIMARU. February 23.

Mr J. Crnigie, M.P., in a message to the Prime Minister urges tihat Belgium relief should be dealt with on a national lias's and by fipccial taxation to cover Now Zealand's.contribution, and asks that action be taken at once. The local committoo meet to-morrow to take steps to help. The Mayor of Timaru has also sent a message on similar terms to Mr Oraigie'sand asking what the Government intend to tie.

NO OFFICIAL INFORMATION. HELP FROM WELLINGTON LAW SOCIETY. (Pmhi Oub Own Cobbbbpondbnt.) WELLINGTON, February 23. Hi® Primo Minister naked Ilia Excellency tho Governor if ho will cable to the Imperial authorities with regard to the statement; appearing in tho New Zealand newspapers as coming from tho Belgian Conunieexm. No official intimation of any kind has reached tho Government regarding tho request, and it would bo interesting to know how it is proposed to distribute tho money and food asked for by the commission from Australia and Now Zealand. Mr Mnswy expcctfl that his Excellency will get a reply to hie message in a day or ewo, and tni3 reply will bo published lor the information of til© public. In tho meantime, Mr Massey states, tho Government will bo propared to receivo ' contributions for the purpose indicated. Substantial assistanoe is being given to tho Belgian Relief Fund by the Wellington Law Society, which, at its annual meeting last evening, passed the following resolution: —"That it be an instruction to tho incoming council to apply £250 of tho society's funds towards tho relief of the distress in Belgium, and that tho council bo authorised by the society to mako such further contributions from time to timo for thar. purpose aa it may think fit." POSITION IN CHRISTCHTJRCH. MATTER UNDER CONSIDERATION. (Fbom Ocb Own CoßaispoifDfsr.) CHRISTCfTURCH, February 23. The appeal of the Belgian Commission to Australasia is being considered by the Ohristchurch Committee for tho Relief of tho Poor of Great Britain, Ireland, and Belgium, and 't is not unlikely that some scheme of regular contributions will bo evolved. Tho suggestion has also been made that the Government should' print spociaj stampa to the value of, say, £100.000 for distribution or sale among employers. An arrangement might then be come to by which every employee would contribute a fixed sum. weekly, and the employer could cancel stamps to that value for each man. This idea lum been put into practico in England, where many employees give per cent, of their wages. This, in the caso of a man earning £5, would bo Is 3d a week. If this were done it would provide close on a quarter of a million a year. Some light on tho methods of givers and shirkers was thrown by Mr C. M. Parker (secretary to tho Relief Committee) this morning. "A lot of firms," he said, "are giving money regularly. Some of the employees give, and others don't give, but the shirker shields himself by saying that he is giving with the others. The stamp method would find out the shirker. ' " Very unsatisfactory"," was Mr Parker's ccintnent on the system of sending out boxes to firms. He instanced the case of one big factory where the collection box on the last clearance had contained nine sovereigns and only about £3 in other coins, indicating clearly that the donors were few in number. One box had contained tho small sum of 6£d. The committee had since withdrawn all the boxes except where they were asked for. One of tho most notable cases of regular giving was that of the Gas Company's employees, who had already given over £2CW, and were still gi\ing about £30 a month on a regular, scale, which included every employee. Already the Canterbury Relief Fund has reached £51,000 in cash, produce, and clothing over a spaco of six months. Although it was a Britain and Belgian Relief Fund, the committee has already decided to give everything to Belgium except where gifts aro earmarked for Britain. Meanwhile schemes are in progress for raising more money. The sportsmen's carnival on Saturday next should net a substantial sum, and tho harvest festival to be held on the show grounds on April 10 should eclipse all previous benefits known to Ohristchurch. The committee hopes to take £1000 at the gates and £1000 inside. Mr Duncan Rutherford has practically arranged to bring down the whole of the Amur: district to help tho produce stall, where all the girls from Amuri will be available to run the tea tent. Other big districts are joining most heartily in tho project.

STATE ACTION SUPPORTED. SIR J. G. WARD'S OPINION. (Pea United Pbess Association.) v WELLINGTON, February 23. On being interviewed regarding tire appeal from Belgium lor monthly contributions towards ttie relief of the distress in that country, Sir Joseph Ward said to-night that he had no doubt good response would be made, but individual efforts of this kind, however enthusiastic and well meant they might be, were necessarily slower and less effective than collective efforts. For his part he would have no hesitation in supporting the action of tha Government, if it announced at one-? in reply & the appeal that it would provide New Zealand's portion of the monthly contribution. He had no wish to discount the value of private beneficence or to deprive anyone of the privilege of giving; indeed, ttie whole sum ouglit to be a voluntary contribution from the people of New Zeidand, but in a case like this, where the very lives of 7,000,000 men, women, and children were at stake, promptness was the very essence of the gift. It seemed, to him that to ensure this tho proper thing was for the Government to undertake a monthly remittance so that the authorities administering tlhe fund would know what money they actually had at their disposal and be able to provide a maximum of relief with a minimum of delay and anxiety. He hoped that no fear of adverse criticism from tiho Oppositron would deter tho Government from taking tho course he had suggested. INVERGARGILL, February 23. At a meeting of the Southland Patriotic Qommittee to-day it was f decided that assistance to Belgium should be made a national affair, and substantial contributions should be made from the public funds to supplement what was being done by private contributors.

HELP FROM OAMARU. (Fboji Oub Own Corbespondent.) OAMARU, February 23. At a public meeting to-night in connection with the Easter Garden Fete, it was decided to vote the whole proceeds of the Queen of the Carnival Competition to the Belgian Relief Fund, together with onethird of the net proceeds of the fete. The proposal is to obtain nominations for the election of queen from various divisions of the county and the borough, and so stimulate a wide interest in the and obtain a' large sum in aid of the fund. , THE DISTRESS IN BELGIUM. TO THE EDITOR. Sib. —Now that money is so urgently needed to allay the awful distress in Belgium, could not the women of Duncdin and suburbs take this up and make a systematic canvass every month? There are very few, if any, who would refuse a small subscription, and there are thousands who would give liberally according to their means. Hundreds of willing workers would be found iu each district. The hospital boxes could b'-* used and haodlod in to a treasurer in the district, and in this si mole way large sum bo raised, and everyone would have a chanco of giving, no matter how small a sum. —I am, etc., Alpha. Sir. —Seeing the appeal in your paper for continuous help for the starving Belgians— and who knows what might have happened to us if.the Belgians had not delayed tho enemy from getting in'-o Paris?—l am prepared to contribute £2 per month during the war to help the unfortunate Belgians. As there are many thousands who can Help in Cite same way, I hope your list will bo a long one- If w-c oannot go fighting, let us do something to help tho families of tho fathers wfio are fighting to set their country free. I saw a vers; somewhere, which I quote:— " It would rr.akf; a heart of stone to melt The scenes oncc hero to see. And witness all our fathers felt To set our country free." —I am, etc., Wm. Adams. February 23. Sig,—l "was unsvblo to attend the bowlers' Belgium tourney on the Dunedin Groen. At the same time it seems to me the duty of every bowler belonging to tho Dunedin Centre to contribute his share for such a grand caus.. The total takings were something like £150. Now, sir, that amount is surely an insignificant sum when you consider there are nearly 2000 players attached to tho centre. I would suggest that every member of tho different clubs assist to mike the bowlers' donation to the Belgians wort.'iy of large a body of men. Will von. Sir, open a list? I feohoertaiti every lover of the good old game will respond. My friend and self enclose 10s.— I am, etc., One on the Jack.

[Wo are prepared to do unything that is in our power to assist the movement for the relief of the distressed in Belgium, and if there is any desiro on the pant of bowlers that we should open a special list for con-

tributlons from them, wo shall do so, but we suggest that tho I>ll nedin Howling Centre might more appropriately open a list. —80. O.D.T.] TO THJi BDITOU. Sill, —Kindly receive li ere with one guinea for your special appeal for tho Belgian Relief Fund. 1 shall t>e gUd to send yon i.h'H sum monthly whilst there is any need lor it. —1 am, etc. S. F. WiinroilUK. Dunedin, February 23. Sm,-—May 1 l>o pardoned for again appearing in print? My heart lias boon stirred by the appe.il to New Zealand on Ixjhalf of the Belgians, and a»i request for clothing lor them met with a moist generous response, 1 foel that at loust this -letter may set us discussing wayo and moaus. i»y which tho direful condition of things in Belgium can bo lessened, and we in New Zealand do our shtvro on systematically organised lines. No appeal for sympathy is needed. Tho who have done their part so bravely during this dreadful war, have our sympathy, and Now Zealand has dono well in the matter of sending contributions to thorn, hut we are ask ad to do still more. I know that as New Zealand mothera to-day attend to tho wants of their children, they will feel soro for the little Belgians pining for brivul and milk. Wo mothers nnist not let our sympathy rest there. If my children were starving [ should feel very sympathetic about it, and then I would doviso wave and means to supply their wvxls, or at leapt try my very best to do go Never in tho world's history have there been so much suffering and sorrow as at present, and thes • two things tend to bring out the best in lnnnan nature. We are keenly interested in each othor, and in our neighbours, and wo are dealing in seemingly little things. Housewives discuss cookery recipes, not with a view to concoct some extravagant delicacy, but how to feed tho family along' the cheapest and best lines, and business men aro interested week by week on a turther advaflco of id per loaf. Small things, but involving great issues! I purpose dealing with a small scheme today, Sir, but if it be the means of evolving, even indirectly, means by which we eon raiso o;:r quota of tho large sum needed to feed the Belgians—i.e., £75,000 monthlythen, indeed, I shall be satisfied. Supposing our city and suburban population of something like 64-.000 to mean 20,000 families, and each family contributes 3d per week, we havo £250 per week. Many hundreds in New Zealand could, and probably would, give shillings instead of pence, ?nd though the amount needed is appalling, v. t o might by organising roach quite a lar>ge sum. If a committee were formed and citizens in each 6trcet told off as weeklv collectors for so many families in their respective streets, the collecting might be efficiently and easily done. Many others may have wiser or better schema to place before us, but of this wo a.<£ _ assured, that the need is urgent, and our individual responsibility grave. We have talked of self-denial and sacrifice a good oeal lately, but we have not come to tho necessary limit vet. I fear it has hardly begun. More will be needed ere we finish our task.—l am, etc., E. Pinfold. Kaikorai Parsonage, February 23.

An indication of the spirit tfmt has been roused by the touching appeal from the Belgian (jommiesion, published here yesterday, was given at tho Waikouaiti County Council meeting yesterday. Cr Kilpatrick said that considering they were a public body it would be a graceful act if they were to hand over tho guineas they received at the. meeting to the Belgian Fund. It would be setting a good example and they would feel that they were doing something towards making up their share of the £75,000 wanted. The chairman approved of the suggestion, and all the members were at once agreeable. Tho secretary and insneetor also joined in. with the result that eight guineas wfcs immediately subscribed and handed over to the Times Fund.

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Bibliographic details

THE STARVING BELGIANS, Otago Daily Times, Issue 16316, 24 February 1915

Word Count
3,665

THE STARVING BELGIANS Otago Daily Times, Issue 16316, 24 February 1915

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