THE "Wellington Independent." Wednesday, July 9, 1851.
Sir George Grey in the various discussions on the Provincial Councils' Bill, has laid great stress on one or two points, and in doing so has so completely misrepresented the real facts of the case, that we are obliged to make a few remarks. His Excellency has repeatedly stated that ho has found throughout the whole colony a strong disinclination and aversion to Municipul Corporations, and in a recent debate, he alluded to the offer he had made of a corporation to the Hutt settlers, and stated that in consequence of their great ignorance, he had up to the present time completely failed, in inducing them to accept his offer. We admit that there is a disinclination on the part of the Colonists to accept such institutions under present circumstances, but so far from there being any aversion to them, the settlers have in every settlement expressed their opinion in favour of each settlement being erected into a Municipality, and in favour of there only being one Representative General Legislature for the whole Colony. But they decline accepting Municipal Corporations or district Councils, until by meaus of a Representative Council they can exercise a controul over the general revenues of the colony. They refuse his Excellency's offer, simply because they consider that, as long as the public revenue is squandered away in providing snug berths, and sinecures, for his Excellency's friends and supporters, it would be an act of of folly on their partj to tax themselves for local purposes, and thus enable his Excellency by the additional revenue that would be placed at his disposal, and under his sole controul, to saddle the colony with a few more! Commissioners, Secretaries, &c. In the case of the Hutt settlers, instead of displaying ignorance on the subject, they have by declining a Corporation, given a strong proof of their political knowledge, and of their fitness to manage their own affairs. Let the Hutt settlers only see the General Revenue of the Province devoted to legitimate objects, and they will be ready enough to tax themselves for their own local purposes; but they very wisely hesitate, to take upon themselves additional burdens, when they see the reckless manner in which the public funds are at present wasted. It is true that Sir George has promised to give them a grant of 1500 acres as an endowment for sundry objects, but his Excellency has never pointed out where these 1500 acres exist, nor proved to the satisfaction of the settlers that there is any land in the Hutt District at the disposal of the Government, from which a revenue could be raised. They naturally look at the ricketty state of their, bridges, and at their unfinished roads; they calculate, like prudent men, the cost of making the necessary bye roads, of keeping in repair the various bridges, roads, drains, &c, already made within the district; they estimate the heavy charges, at present defrayed out of the General Revenue, which would devolve upon them, in the event of their accepting the offered Corporation, and thoy at once perceive that while onerous
burdens would be imposed upon them a still greater portion than at present of the general revenue would be absorbed by the official si aft". The other point to which we would allude, is His Excellency's assertion, that in consequence of Lieutenant-Governor Eyre's admirable speech on the second reading of the Provincial Councils' Bill a great prejudice had been created !in the publio mind against the measure. The answer to such a statement is that the hostility to and prejudice against tlfH Bill existed long before the speech in question, and that the Lieut.-Governor did not create this prejudice, hut merely admitted the existence of the feelings of aversion with which the Bill was, and had all along been viewed by the Colonists. At the Great Public Meeting held in this settlement on the 15th last November, for the express purpose of discussing this Bill the following resolution was moved by Mr Godley, seconded by Dr. Featherstou, and carried unanimously : That the constitutional measures which SirGeorse Grey is understood to be aboutto offer to the colonists and which has heeu already published by him in the shape of a draft Ordinance, does not deserve their approval or acceptance, inasmuch ns it does not confer np«in them an effectual control over the management of their own affairs. That the apparent liberality of its provisions with respect to tl ie electiou and duration of Assemblies, is rendered completely nugatory by the limitations imposed upon their jurisdiction and powers. That while no Constitution can be said to confer real powers of self-Government upon a people which does not vest m their representatives the disposal of their own revenue, the Civil List reserved under the proposed measure, which amounts already to nearly one-third of the Revenue and which Sir George Grey has recommended to be increased to nearly one-half, is with-drawn from the jurisdiction of the colonists altogether; aud a power is further given to aNominee Council of taking whatever proportion of the remainder they may think fit for the purposes of the General Government j so that in fact the balance left to the disposal of the Provincial Councils will be little more than nominal. And that lastly the institution of Legislative Councils' composed partly of Representatives of the people and partly of Nominees of the Crown, is not only incompatible with good government, but appears as if expressly calculated for the purpose of producing discord and mutual obstruction. For the foregoing reasons, therefore, this meeting rejects the in question, and pledges itseif to resist its introduction by every constitutional means. And similar resolutions have been passed in all the other settlements. In fact, no Bill has ever been more fully and ably discussed by the colonists of New Zealand than the Provincial Councils' Bill; no Billjhas been more completely understood, aud no Bill has ever received such an unanimous condemnation.
After the account we gave in our last number of the gross breach of faith committed by the Council in bringing the Customs' Bill into operation at once, instead of at the time originally fixed in the Bill, our readers will not be surprised to hear that Mr. Hickson has resigned his seat in the Council, on the express ground, we understand, that he can neither be a party to such a fraud upon the public, nor continue to sit in a Council capable of perpetrating such eccentric and dishonest acts. The course thus adopted by Mr. Hickson .will meet with the warm and cordial approval of all his fellow settlers, for his resignation is the strongest protest that could have been, urged against the proceeding in question, and. will do more to damage the Council in public estimation (if indeed it can possibly be sunk lower) than almost any thing that has yet occurred. Mr. Hickson was the only really independent man in the Council, as he had no occasion to ask for either office or favour at the hands of the Executive: the Council is thus reduced to eleven Officials, and three Nominees. The Officials will, we suspect, scarcely object to Mr. Hickson's absence during the discussions on the estimates, for although, of course, Sir George and they must always in such a Council have every thing their own way, yet, if all we have heard of the jobs already effected or in contemplation, be true, Mr. Hickson might have told some unpleasant truths, and might have made some awkward exposures, which the officials would much prefer being hushed up. The case against the Council was much strougor than we stated it in our last issue. In the printed copy of the Bill it was declared that the measure should come into operation on the 7th July, but on Wednesday last, the 2nd inst., the Council in compliance with the Memorial presented by the Merchants and others, holders of spirits, praying for a further postponement, agreed that it should not be called into operation till the 7th August, thus giving what can only be deemed a fair notice both to the parties holding goods on which increased duties would be levied, and also to those parties holding goods, as flour for instance, on which they had paid duty, but on which in future no duty would bo levied. Two declarations were thus made to the'public—the first, that tho Bill should take effect on the 7th July, and the second, given after mature deliberation and a lengthened discussion, and in compliance with the request mado by the Merchants, that its operation should be postponed till the 7th August; and yet the very day after this distinct pledge was given almost unanimously by Council, they repudiate it—carry an amendment that tho Bill should come
into operation the day after its passing— and then, it being four o'clock—after tho Custom House had closed for the day, they suspend the Standing Rules, read the Bill a third time, certify after a cursiry examination that tho Bill is correct, and it then receives tho sanction of the Governor-in-Chief. Was there ever a more gross violation of every principle of justice ? Was any Legislative Assombly ever before guilty of such indecent haste, for the purpose of defrauding the Merchants of some paltry two hun° dred and fifty pounds ? Would any one of our Legislators dare to act upon such a principle in his private dealings? Would such a principle be tolerated in any Commercial transaction ? Why should they tl en act upon it in their public capacity ? So heartily ashamed is Sir George of the whole proceeding that we feel assured, if a Memorial were presented to him, he would either remit the duty thus dishonestly grabbed by the Council, or in some other wav defeat the injustice contemplated. We certainly scarcely remember an instance of a public act having met with such uni vorsal reprehension.
Owing to the indisposition of our Reporter, we have been under the necessity of availing ourselves of the columns of our cotemporary for tho last three days Report of Council. Married— At Wellington, on Wednesday, the 2nd instant, by the Rev. J. J. P. O'Reily, Thomas Henry, second surviving son of P. H Fitzgerald, Esq., of Richmond Hill, Rathraiu.es, County Dublin,toJessie,eldest daughter of Mr. James Wilson, of Willis Street, Wellington. Married—At Wellington, on the 7th July, by the Rev. J. Watkin, William Henry Jones, son ofW. H.Jones, late Barrack Sergeant, to Miss Mary Aim Mathews, of Wellington.
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THE "Wellington Independent." Wednesday, July 9, 1851., Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 599, 9 July 1851
THE "Wellington Independent." Wednesday, July 9, 1851. Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 599, 9 July 1851
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