ELECTION FOR THE GREY AND BELL DISTRICT.
On Saturday the nomination of a candidate for the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by Mr. Lewthwaite, took place at the Court House. The Returning Officer having opened the proceedings by reading the writ, Captain King, R.N. came forward and after dwelling upon the Requisition which had been addressed by the electors to Francis Dillon Bell, Esquire, proposed him as a fit and proper person to represent the Grey and Bell district in the General Assembly. Mr James Crowe Richmond, in a long and able speech, seconded the nomination of Mr., Bell observing that it might be supposed that by so doing he expressed his dissatisfaction with the policy of the present Ministry, he would therefore state that he approved of their general policy, and gave them credit for honesty of intention, but on one point he materially differed with them, their treatment of the Native question, and so thoroughly convinced was he of its pernicious tendency that, he was prepared to sacrifice all personal interest and to support Mr. Bell believing him to be the opponent of the temporising measures hitherto adopted.
Mr. Watt then stated that although no formal reply had been received to the requisition, in consequence of that document having been forwarded to the Bay of Islands during Mr. Bell's absence from Auckland, he (Mr. Watt) had received several letters from that gentleman and woiild read a digest of them. Mr. Bell expressed his sense of the honour the electors had, done him, and his unwillingness to contest the election with Mr. Hirst or Mr. King, but intimated that in the event of the withdrawal of those candidates he would gladly accept the trust the Electors had offered to him in such flattering terms. At the conclusion of Mr. Watt's remarks Mr. Charles Brown came forward and expressed his dissatisfaction at the silence of Mr. Bell towards the Requisitionists of whom he himself was one. He was prepared to offer himself if any of the Electors present thought fit_to put him in nomination, and the Election should be decided as far as he was concerned by a show of hands. If it was in favour of Mr. Bell then he should understand that the Electors were not dissatisfied with that gentleman, if on the contrary, it would justifyt he step he (Mr. Brown) had taken. Mr. John Hursthouse stepped forward and stated it afforded him much pleasure in nominating Mr. Charles Brown, a gentleman who had represented them before and rendered them important services, he (Mr, Hursthouse) had full confidence in him, he had never done anything to forfeit their confidence and he felt sure that Mr. Brown was better informed of their requirements and would serve them more efficiently than an absentee. They had already one member of the Government representing them in the Assembly, and it was now attempted to bestow a second seat on another member. He considered that the only representative that would benefit them was one composed of men wholly disconnected with the government. Mr. Sunley seconded the nomination and so fully concurred in what had been said by Mr. Hursthouse that he should not detain the meeting. He had not the pleasme of knowing Mr. Bell, who had returned no direct reply to the requisition, but it was not improbable that if elected, Mr. Bell might immediately tender his resignation, and leave the district unrepresented during the present session, therefore, although he had signed the requisition to Mr. Bell, he should vote for Mr Brown. Mr Norris begged to nominate Mr Thomas Hirst as a fit and proper person to represent the district, and he dwelt upon the requisition to Mr Bell and a statement which had been circulated respecting Mr Hirst's position with the present ministry. Mr A. King seconded the nomination — for his part he would prefer Mr Shute or the commonest man in the place to a nonresident representative. Men of extraordinary talent administered the affairs of this Province with but small benefit to the public. Of Mr Bell he knew nothing, except that he was an absentee who had no stake in the Province, and had not even deigned to reply to the requisition addressed to him by the Electors. He must express his surprise at the course adopted by a near relative of a member of the ministry who now withdrew his political support from Mr Chas. Brown to bestow it upon an absentee. Mr Watt on behalf of Mr Bell explained the reason why Mr Bell could not reply to the requisition. From his personal knowledge of that gentleman's character he felt positive that if elected he would honorably and ably discharge the trust reposed in him. Mr Charles Brown explained that a doubt having arisen as to whether or not Mr Bell would accede to the wishes of the requisitionists, Mr H. A. Atkinson had requested him to come forward to prevent the return of Mr Hirst, and at no small personal sacrifice he had consented to do so. Although he (Mr Brown) had signed the requisition to Mr Bell, yet as no definite answer had been given by that gentleman he did not' feel bound to vote for him, inasmuch as if' elected he might immediately resign and leave the province unrepresented. He (Mr Brown) had when in the House of Representatives assisted to turn out the first responsible ministry because it had only a majority of one, and unless a ministry could command a strong working majority, a system of, what he designated, log rolling obtained in the House to a degree which the Electors would hardly credit. To do away with this l pernicious system it was necessary to oppose a ministry which could not command a strong working majority. He was not altogether opposed to the general policy of the present ministry although there were certain points xipon, which he
differed. On a former occasion he had been enabled to serve the Electors efficiently, and if now returned he would not shrink from the fulfilment of the duty which would devolve upon him. Mr Hirst took the present opportunity of refuting the wilful misrepresentations that had been circulated respecting him. He had been represented as coming forward as nominee of the present ministry, pledged to support their policy. He had given no pledge whatever to any member of the ministry, and although in the main he approved of their general policy, he' totally disagreed with their Native policy, and if elected, should certainly vote against it, even should his vote oust them from office. Mr Watt had read them a garbled statement from Mr Bell's letters, why had he not produced the letters (here Mr Watt handed them to Mr Hirst) the Electors would then have been convinced that MiBell declined the honour of representing them. Mr Watt had falsely stated that he (Mr Hirst) had withdrawn from the contest. He had however merely stated that if Mr Bell signified his intention of standing he would not oppose him, but Mr Bell had not replied to the requisition, and it was evident did not wish to be elected. Mr Hirst then proceeded to read extracts from Mr Bell's letters, all of which unfortunately told against the reader. The Returning officer having called for a show of hands on behalf of the respective candidates, declared the show to be in favour of Francis Dillon Bell, Esquire. The contest was clearly between the two first proposed candidates, only two hands being held up on behalf of Mr Hirst. Mr Sunley and 6 Electors demanded a Poll on behalf of Mr C. Brown. On being reminded that Mr Brown had stated he would abide by a show of hands, that gentleman remarked that in making the statement he did not intend to preclude his supporters from demanding a Poll. The Returning officer announced that the Poll would take place on Monday. '
Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather a brisk contest was maintained until 4 o'clock at which hour the state of the Poll was Brown 75 Bell 61 Mr Charles Brown was declared to be ' duly elected, apd returned thanks. Out of New Plymouth it will appear an anomaly that Mr Bell should have been defeated by a candidate who had joined in a requisition soliciting him to allow himself to be nominated as member for the Grey and Bell district of New Plymouth in the General Assembly, and whose return has been secured by a majority numerically inferior to the body of Electors who signed the requisition.
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ELECTION FOR THE GREY AND BELL DISTRICT., Taranaki Herald, Volume VI, Issue 303, 22 May 1858
ELECTION FOR THE GREY AND BELL DISTRICT. Taranaki Herald, Volume VI, Issue 303, 22 May 1858
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