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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64

House of Representatives

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House of Representatives,

Sir G. Grey.—I am glad that I have the opportunity of replying to the speech of the member for Egmont (Major Atkinson), and I shall [unclear: vour] to do so in becoming language. I shall not take up the time of the House by narrating, on that honorable gentleman has done, what dirty little boys do when they run about without their [unclear: es] and stockings. 1 shall refrain from using such language, unbecoming on the part of a member of this House, and, when such great after are being discussed, insulting to the [unclear: itants] of New Zealand. The honorable [unclear: tleman] began his speech by stating that the [unclear: ges] made against the late Government re-[unclear: ing] either their finance or their dealing [unclear: with] and Native lands had never been [unclear: main-]. Sir, I re-assert every one of those charges, and they have all been maintained. [unclear: I] that those who for years had the power of [unclear: ating] in this country, so legislated as to which themselves and their friends. Can any [unclear: rvant] man travel through any part of New Zealand from north to south, without seeing that such is the case? Who obtained possession of immense runs on the public lands? Who [unclear: ned] large tracts of public lands on easy [unclear: as?] Who obtained large tracts of Native [unclear: ds,] to the detriment of the Native race and to the detriment of the public? Was it not the friends of the Government? I repeat all my assertions. I repeat those charges. I say I charge them distinctly with having, in a great [unclear: ure,] applied the public funds for the [unclear: advan-] of their friends, with having applied the [unclear: bic] lands for the advantage of their friends, not with having taken care that the Native lands, in a great degree, were applied to the advantage of their friends: and that large fortunes were so [unclear: ned.]

[unclear: Upon] motion by Major Atkinson, the [unclear: words] from "I repeat those charges," were taken [unclear: rem;] and Sir George Grey stated, in reply to Mr Speaker, that the words represented his convictions and he believed he could prove them. He them withdrew from the Chamber. Major [unclear: son] moved," That the charges made by the [unclear: er] in the words taken down by the Clerk of the House, against the honorable member for Egmont, be investigated by a Select Committee." Mr. Sheehan moved an amendment; which, after debate, was adopted by 28 votes to 14. Sir George Grey returned to the Chamber; and Mr. Speaker said that he had to inform the honorable gentleman that the House had come to a resolution, "That the House, having considered the words ordered to be taken down, is of opinion that the words used do not so far transgress the rules of debate as to render further action necessary, and directs that the honorable gentleman be allowed to proceed with his speech."

Sir G. Grey.—Sir, the rules of the House are, I believe, that one ought not to refer to a previous debate; but, under the circumstances in which I now stand, I hope the House will allow me slightly to depart from that rule. I would simply recall to the recollection of the House that, during a considerable portion of this afternoon's sitting, before half-past five o'clock, I was myself subjected to most violent personal charges, in relation to the Telegraph Department, by the honorable member for Egmont—charges of the most offensive kind. My justification of what had been done rested upon my own statement, and the statement of other members of the Cabinet, as to what had taken place at the examination of Dr. Lemon before us; and yet, after that, I was personally accused of corruption, of having been guilty of a gross job, and of having favoured three newspapers which were entirely in the interest of the Government, whereas, in point of fact, there were eight newspapers affected by the arrangement, and two of these were in violent opposition to the Government. If, after that explanation, any one can believe that it was an act of injustice, let him take the trouble of applying to the editors of the newspapers and of learning for himself. I bore all these violent and unjust accusations against myself with the most perfect equanimity, because I disregarded them, knowing how groundless they were; but how differently have I been treated, when, in reply to new attacks made on me by the honorable member for Egmont, I justly comment on his conduct! And now I may say that, in the words I used, and which were taken page 4 down, I did not for a moment make any accusation of personal corruption against the honorable member for Egmont for his own personal gain, although I believe he used the power of the office which he held, to protect those who should have been punished, to obtain and retain their support, and to aid their views. I could no longer be silent when I found that the reticence which I had observed during the session, and which I thought became the Premier of the colony, whose position should prevent him from alluding un-necessarily to the charges against the honorable member for Egmont, was misconstrued. I could not remain silent when it was assumed that those charges were absolutely disproved, and that they were false charges which had been brought forward by the honorable member for the Thames—as I then was—in order to show why he should be made Premier. The words used were "false charges." Then, I confess, my heart was moved with indignation. I could not help feeling indignant that my reticence should be so translated; and I felt indignant, again, because I knew the charges were true, and related to injuries inflicted upon this country which, from their magnitude, cannot be effaced for years. Then it was said that those false charges were made in order that I might be made Premier. To show that that was not what I wished, I slate that it is known by every one of my friends that I had no desire to be Premier. It was a thing forced on me by circumstances which I could not help. With regard to the charges themselves, they were to this effect: They related to past legislation. I said that the tendency of past legislation had been that legislators of this country had greatly enriched themselves and their friends, much to the detriment of the public. I went on to show that it was impossible to visit any part of New Zealand, from north to south, without discovering that that was the case. I then made statements which I do not think were fully taken down in the Hansard report, because I recollect that one particular statement I made was omitted. I said the public revenues had been applied by the Government at one time greatly to the advantage of their friends. That was easy of proof. It required no Committee to investigate that or any other circumstance of the kind, because honorable members themselves knew it. One Premier told this House that a million and a half of money had been expended in purchasing support for the Public Works policy. Was that, or was that not, a misapplication of the public funds—and funds of enormous magnitude—for the benefit of their friends? Then I went on to say that the public lands—which I regard as equally public money—had been allowed to be applied for the benefit of the friends of the Government. What can be said of the Waikato-Piako Swamp—89,000 acres of land given to one person for half-a-crown an acre—and land of very great value indeed—in defiance of the regulations?—given upon terms offered to none other of her Majesty's subjects. Then there was the case I brought forward of 10,000 acres of a valuable coal field. The whole coal field was put up in one block, while all around it small blocks of land were put up. The coal field was sold, I [unclear: beli] at 7s. 6d. an acre, while all around it small sections were sold, on the same day, at as much [unclear: as 2] or £2 an acre. Then large sums were spent in acquiring great tracts of land, in surveying them &c., which were improperly disposed of to that friends. Was not every shilling so expended spent for the advancement of their friends I could multiply instances of the same kind I give these instances to show that the public lands were allowed to be used by the Government for the benefit of their friends. [unclear: I] tain, in the face of the country, that that is a fact. Now, it was said, when I left the House just now, that I never proved my words, I call upon the House to remember that I [unclear: prayed] for a Committee to inquire into those cases, but inquiry was more than once deliberately reformed by the Government, and I was prevented from doing what I asked to be allowed to do, to prove them before a Committee of this House. Then I went on to state that large fortunes had been realized by officers of the Native Department and their friends, by the purchase of lands from the Natives at merely nominal prices, and that it was their bounden duty to have secured them lands for the public, and to have protected the Natives from imposition. I will not mention any names, but every member of the House knows that I speak the truth. It was right that some man should speak out these things for the country. I maintain that it was my duty to say what I did say formerly; and, when it is said that I have now admitted that those things were false, I think it became me to rise and reiterate the statements I had previously made and to insist that I only performed my duty in so doing. I will now refer to other subjects named in the speech of the honorable member for Egmont. He said I maintained that heavy charges could be taken off the people, and that I had not taken them off; and he went on to say that I stated the late Government ought to have taken them off. It is true that I said the late Government should have takes of those charges; but why did I say so? The late Government had an overwhelming majority in this House. They had a Governor friendly is them—they had a Legislative Council friendly to them—and they could have done what that liked. They ought to have taken those changer off, as they had a majority everywhere and every facility to enable them to do so. My [unclear: pe]tion and the position of my friends was entirely different. We had a Governor hostile to us. I use these words advisedly. Let anybody lock at the published Parliamentary Papers from the moment I came into the House, and see whether such is not the case. There was a reason for that. I had, unfortunately, some years ago, positively refused to put into office a relative of East Derby, under circumstances unjust to the [unclear: cob] in which I was placed at the time, unjust to the Civil Service of that country, and unjustto its inhabitants. I resisted an order requiring and to perform an action which I would form as long as I could help it. I thus [unclear: gars] offence to the Colonial Department. Ever since page 5 then, I have been a marked man by that department, and any man who is hostile to me stands well with it; and you may rely upon it that all those who are connected with that department will be hostile to me so long as I live Then, again, I had no united majority in this House, and I had a Legislative Council the great majority of which was hostile to myself and my friends. How, therefore, could I achieve that which the last Government could have achieved? The late Government knew it was their duty to take off those burdens from the people. I will prove that, I will say nothing for which I cannot produce convincing reasons. The late Government began last session by saying this: that the country needed political rest, and that that was no time for any change in the system of taxation—that things must remain undisturbed for several years, until they had worked out a condition of tranquillity for the country, and until all political hostility had died away. Let this be borne in mind in the argument: no change in the electoral system, no change in taxation for several years. But no sooner did the honorable member for Grey Valley make a motion concerning changing the incidence of taxation, which during the preceding session I had brought before the House only to be taunted and rebuffed, than they changed front, and admitted that an alteration in the incidence of [unclear: ation] was necessary, and said that they were prepared to carry it out, although they did not state how. Then, again, with regard to making alterations of a similar kind for the benefit of the entire people. Honorable gentlemen will recollect that early last session a motion was bought forward for making the Land Fund the common property of the whole country. The honorable member for Egmont resisted that notion in the strongest manner, and with the strong language which he is in the habit of sing A vote was taken upon the matter, and the whole of the Government voted against such a thing being done, and triumphed with their great majority. At the close of the same session when they saw that I had power to [unclear: ry] that measure in spite of them, the honor-able member for Egmont changed his views, and humbly followed me—whom he had preciously attacked on that very subject—into the [unclear: bby] and voted for the very measure which he had previously voted against. Therefore, I say that the late Government not only had the power to alter the system of taxation, but that they knew it was their duty to do it; yet they never moved hand or foot with that object. They made every [unclear: rt] to prevent me from doing it, and to prevent from carrying any measure which was for the good of the country—not from any patriable motive, but with the expressed intention, if possible of rendering me odious in the eyes of my fellow-countrymen. This was determined: that there should be no change in the electoral system, no change in that system of taxation which benefited the rich at the cost of the whole people, Again what was the case when I asked for a necessary loan for this country? What did those gentlemen do? They, in the first instance, sneered at and scouted the idea of my being able to raise a loan, as if they were the only persons who had that power. Then, when I demanded a loan, and pressed it earnestly on the House, they absolutely prevented me from raising a million and a half of the amount required, which might easily have been raised at the time—which was, in fact, even offered to us—and which we may in vain try to get at some early period if monetary affairs are disarranged as they seem likely to be. No man ever inflicted a greater injury upon a country for mere party views, than the honorable member for Egmont did on that occasion. No honorable member of this House, from a desire to prevent his political enemies achieving good, ever inflicted a greater injury upon the people whom it was his duty to assist. There is no worse instance on record of party feeling inducing a man to inflict a deadly stab into the vitals of the country which he ought to have served. The honorable gentleman just now went on to say that the land-tax was an abortion—that the land-tax would not touch the speculator or the people whose land had been made more valuable by public works. When he said that, he must have known that he was stating what was not a fact. The land-tax specially touches land made valuable by public works. The very essence of the land-tax is that it falls upon the value of the land independent of improvements made by the occupant. It falls upon the value of the land derived from position, from public works in the neighbourhood, from the improvements which the surrounding population have made on their own lands. It falls, clearly, upon the unearned increment. The honorable gentleman called it a mere abortion—something that would never be of benefit to the country, something that the people would soon see the evil of, and would long to be delivered from. I say the country, by that tax, has obtained a boon which they will never give up—a boon which no other country has succeeded in getting—a boon which has rendered me and my followers hateful to the Legislative Council, a boon which has so exasperated that Chamber that, out of revenge, they have endeavoured to destroy the Electoral Bill.

Mr. Montgomery was understood to object to the references made to the Legislative Council.

Sir G. Grey.—I speak ray convictions, and at such a crisis, when the privileges of this House are attacked, I ought to do so. What was the speech made by the Hon. Sir F. Dillon Bell, which he now forgets, but which the reporters in the gallery took down, and which the leader of the Government in the Legislative Council heard—which other members heard, which strangers in the gallery heard? His words were that the Native members, by their votes, helped to get this land-tax passed, and that, in fact, without their votes it could not have been passed; and that such a thing should not be allowed to be done again. My belief is, whatever honorable gentlemen may think, that the weak Native race, who are unable to defend themselves here or in the Legislative page 6 Council, hare been made victims, because their fellow-countrymen in this House have done their duty to the colony at large. Every principle of generosity requires us to stand up for the Native race, if they are to suffer in such a cause. I myself believe that. I will never desert them on that point, to whatever it may lead me; and I believe that every man in this House who is actuated by that generosity which a nobler and stronger race ought to feel for a weaker race, will say on this occasion that he will stand by them, in the same manner that I am resolved to do. What was the language the same honorable gentleman applied to an honorable member of this House? It was language which shocked me when I heard it. It was applied to a man in every respect as noble as—aye, Sir, I believe, in sentiment and in devotion to the public service, more noble than—he is himself. Language was used which I heard of with sorrow, and which I shall always regret. It fully shows how deeply the adoption of a land-tax has affected the minds of the members of the Legislative Council. Then the honorable member for Egmont endeavoured to turn me into ridicule for having talked of the serfs of Great Britain—for having talked of the serfs of New Zealand. Sir, I never did talk of the serfs of New Zealand. A large portion of the population of Great Britain and Ireland are, in my belief, serfs, unable to obtain a home, unable to obtain a foot of land, unable, almost, to obtain daylight or fresh air: the whole of whose existence, from their birth to the grave, is one long-continued struggle merely to keep life in their frames—who never know what it is to enjoy a full meal: without hope in life of leaving any possession to those whom they may bring into the world; knowing that the poor-house is their destiny on this earth, and a pauper's grave their end, whatever may be their virtue or their labour. I say such people are in truth serfs. I had hoped that, at least in this country, a new era was to dawn upon the human race; that here there were to be no serfs; that every man might have a home; that there might be something like an approach to equality of condition—I do not mean communism; that every man might have at least some degree of comfort for himself and for his family—might have some hope in life of taking part in public affairs, at least as an elector, and of serving his country. I declare it to be my firm conviction that the honorable member for Egmont and his friends are determined to prevent such a state of things as I hoped for from ever arising in New Zealand; that their deliberately-chosen course is one which would end in establishing a race of serfs in this country. Before I finish my speech to-night I shall prove, in the presence of this House, the truth of everything that I am saying. The honorable gentleman went on to speak of the Electoral Bill, and to show that I had it in my power now at once to liberate, according to my own estimate, 70,000 of our countrymen, and to afford them the greatest possible advantages, by accepting the Electoral Bill as returned to us by the Council. I ask you all, honorable gentlemen, upon both sides of the House, is not what I say now true, that during the session that honorable gentleman and his friends have said that this Electoral Bill was a sham; that it was of no use at all; that it was a mere delusion; that it was an attempt to impose upon the people of the country? When it suited his purpose to say so, the measure was worthless, a sham, without value; but now, at the last moment, he would try again to damage me in the eyes of my fellow-countrymen, by saying that it is an inestimable boon and that I am striving to keep it from them. To that I answer I am trying to keep no inestimable boon from them. This has been done: the Legislative Council have interfered with our privileges. Sir, I say they were ill-advised to interfere with us in our views upon what we wish our representation to be, or the manner in which we wish the representatives of the people to be returned this House. We, by a considerable majority, sent the Bill up to them. I say that, by every motive of delicacy, by every motive of right feeling, they ought not to have interfered with that Bill; and the House ought, with me, to resent what they have done. If I had my will I would, with the permission of the Speaker, have thrown the Bill under the table, and have shown that we would not bow to their dictation. They have set us an example that we can lay hands upon themselves. If the people of New Zealand feel that we ought to have a really representative Constitution, then it will be our duty to obtain that Constitution for them. I say, further, that this is an attempt on the part of the Legislative Council to rob the weaker race of rights given to them by our Queen and the British Parliament. Ever since the Constitution Act was passed, they have had the rights which we sought to retain for them. The Legislative Council knew that the Bill which was to give a great is crease of representation to the people ought not to have been made the medium of depriving the weaker race absolutely of all representation what ever, under a freehold, or leasehold, or house hold qualification; they knew that probably they had not the power to pass such a Bill, and that the Governor could not assent to it. I feel that an unworthy act has been committed in reference to the means taken to embarrass myself and my colleagues upon this question. In the Conference between the two Houses, there were four points of difference between us. One was the Maori representation. Upon three points, the representatives of the Legislative Council said, "In general terms, we will waive our objection"—only in general terms, Sir—"on the fourth point, we will make no concession." They were then pressed as to whether they would absolutely waive that first three points, and the answer was that they would make concessions on those. They after wards in their own House dropped the three points altogether, and only adhered to the fourth, Then, upon the first meeting of the Conference, the language used was this: that they had in the Council a most intelligent man, a man of consummate judgment, the Hon. Wi Tako, and that page 7 they must follow his lead—that he was opposed to his countrymen having the privilege of voting for any European member, because it might embroil them with the English race—that disputes might arise between them. We combated their views upon this subject. I recollect particularly my honorable friend the Native Minister speaking upon the subject, and saying that he could explain the reasons of Mr. Wi Tako's conduct. I myself objected to such reliance being placed upon Mr. Wi Tako's judgment. It gave are an opportunity of expressing my own views upon another point. I said, in the Conference, that Mr. Wi Tako did not represent his fellow-countrymen—that he was not chosen by them, and that they objected to have their rights perhaps taken away by a person who was not their representative, and who was not in their confidence. That cut both ways—against the European member and the Native members in the Council. The members of the Legislative Council at the Conference said that what they were doing was but restoring the Bill to the form in which it had been originally introduced by the Government into this House. The Attorney-General thereupon moved a resolution that the Bill should be restored to the form in which it had been introduced to the House. He put it distinctly to them whether they would accept that be not. Sir, they said no, that they would not-that they would make no concession upon that point. That is what took place. I there fore feel that the Bill ought, on these grounds alone, to be rejected. There is another reason why it ought to be rejected. Sir, I commenced this session with trembling limbs. The honor-able member for Egmont has said, "Go to the country." I did not know that I should be allowed to go to the country. I asked to be allowed to go to the country before, and I was refused. In what a different position would this country now have stood, if a dissolution had been granted at that time when we were constitutionally entitled to it! In that case, laws would have been at once passed which would have given as those electoral rights, to gain which we shall yet have a long struggle. In that case, also, laws would have been at once passed which would have changed fully the incidence of taxation, instead of our having to gain this right by small instalments. Then a sufficient loan would have been at once obtained, and we should have been in possession of the funds requisite for most necessary public works, which funds we shall shortly be sorely in need of: but all these advantages were denied us. I have no certainty that I should be allowed to go to the country now, nor had I any certainty during this session that this privilege to which we were entitled would be given. I began the session trembling under the heavy responsibility laid upon me to obtain all I could for my fellow-countrymen in New Zealand—all the rights for them to which they were entitled. I doubted whether the powers to do this were my hands or not, although they ought to have been there, and whether all might not be lost in venturing too much. Sir, at last, as in the battle of life, despair and doubt turn to courage. I feel my strength now. I believe, if that Electoral Bill had been passed this session, it might have taken twenty or thirty years to work a perfect measure out of it. I believe, now, that next session we shall obtain a perfect measure. I believe, now, we have strength and power—that now the country will see what has been done, and with one voice the people will say, "Next session you will be so near the end of this Parliament that you cannot be refused a dissolution. Go on: get all our rights for us now. We, to a man, will assist you. There shall be no conduct of this kind allowed or suffered within the limits of New Zealand." That is what we shall do: a golden opportunity has offered itself; that opportunity shall be seized. The double voting shall be done away with, there shall be equal electoral districts, a perfect system of representation shall be established: every component part of the Constitution shall be considered duly and thoroughly, with the view of doing that which is for the good of the whole and not of a favoured class. That is my answer to the honorable member for Egmont, and the reason which made me pursue such a course with regard to the Electoral Bill. I say that we can get far more than that. We have succeeded this session in taking taxes off the necessaries of life. We shall still follow that course; we shall do away with taxation upon the necessaries of life. There shall be some hope for all. The taxes shall fall upon the shoulders that ought to bear them. There has been the cry of "A property-tax! Your land-tax will not touch the speculator; tax improvements:" that is the cry of the Opposition, "Let us have a property-tax." They will not delude myself or my colleagues, they will not delude the people, by such language. We shall not allow great blocks of land to be held by a few individuals for speculative purposes against the public interest, for the purpose of making vast sums of money. It is not right to leave those blocks of land unimproved, while the small farmer is labouring hard, himself and his family, with the sweat of their brows, early and late, endeavouring to raise their small holdings to the highest state of improvement, and giving immense value to those unused lands—lands in their neighbourhood—held by the speculator. That, Sir, was the reason why we would not touch the system of taxation which the honorable member for Egmont proposed: it is not the fairest thing for the community at large. It is not taxation on improvements that we shall propose. Ours, Sir, is the true plan by which the speculator is reached. In truth, thence arise those wailings against it, and thence the detestation in which the land-tax is held by the members of the Legislative Council: thence springs their desire to be revenged upon me and my friends—particularly upon myself personally. What better cry could they raise than they have raised? Last year I told the honorable member for Egmont that from that time forth two parties would arise in the country—a party of progress, and a party who would endeavour, not to maintain things as they were, but to bring about a worse state of affairs page 8 for the public at large. The honorable gentleman denied that there was a possibility of two parties arising; but I ask honorable gentlemen whether they have not arisen, not only in this House but also in the Legislative Council. I ask honorable members whether it is not a fact that the weak Opposition in this House have been incited by the Legislative Council, who encouraged party against party, and whether they have not taken this action simply for the purpose of being revenged upon myself. Sir, for them I care nothing, and my colleagues care nothing. We know that we represent the people of the country, and we are determined to go boldly forward in the course upon which we have entered—a course we shall follow to the end, and which not taunts, nor threats, nor violent language will cause us to depart from. The honorable member for Egmont has used some very violent language towards me to-day. He has indulged in a continuous stream of abuse of me. He has accused me of corruption in a case where corruption was impossible, for I had nothing to gain. He has accused me of not fulfilling promises which I had made; but, Sir, it was he himself who prevented me from fulfilling them. The honorable gentleman himself, knowing that last session I could not obtain a dissolution, prevented me, by the action he took, from carrying out those promises. I certainly fulfilled them in substance, but he prevented me from fulfilling them as completely as I could have wished. But the opposition of the honorable gentleman and his friends has now strengthened us, and I hope we shall be able, next year, to carry out our promises. He has forced me to achieve that end which he dreads to see accomplished. One other thing I must notice. He has attacked me for my persistency in continuing the system of Orders in Council. But, Sir, who are responsible for that? The honorable gentlemen themselves. They have swept all our old things away, and a Constitution has been set up in their place of a novel kind, of a kind which I will presently show to be most objectionable, of a kind that breaks down day by day, so that you never know how long it can go on; and part of that system was this bad plan of Orders in Council. I say that, unless we had continued to resort to Orders in Council, the county system would not have worked at all. We have to make provision day by day for the counties called into existence by the late Government in the most incomplete manner; and unless we use Orders in Council for the purpose of remedying and supplying defects which we day by day discover, the whole thing must come to an end. The same necessity exists in other branches of legislation which we have inherited. As things are at present, we must use this detestable system of Orders in Council, which the honorable gentlemen set up. If we are to continue the county system, we must issue Orders in Council until that system is fully established. I am not responsible for that. The honorable gentlemen who brought about the changed state of affairs are responsible for it. I must now ask the House to excuse me while I say a few words more; and I must speak, to some extent, to the country Every word the honorable member for Egmost has spoken to-night will be recorded in Hansard and, with the aid of his friends and the Press, he will be able to distribute those words over the country. It is necessary that I should place on record my answer to his remarks. I maintain that that honorable gentleman has on several occasions during the session taken the opportunity, when he knew I could not reply to him, to make attacks upon me of a very serious kind; and to-night, when I was about to speak at an early period of the evening—when I was stronger and more vigorous than I am now, and when at length I had an opportunity of replying to him he took steps to prevent me from continuing my speech. He diverted my thoughts, and caused me to forget much that he had said. Because of this action, I have not been able to continue my speech during a period of nearly two hours, until many honorable gentlemen have left the House to save their passages to their homes, and I have to speak to empty benches. But, Sir, exactly the same kind of statements were made last year we have heard this evening. Last year, I showed that there would probably be a deficit of £12,000. I went on to show that we might get over that deficit by saving, and not expending portions of the sums voted, and I stated my belief that, at the end of the year, it would be found that no deficit existed. The honorable gentleman then told us that there would be a deficit of £217,000 at the end of the year and he said that we had only two courses open to us-namely, either to suspend payment and declare ourselves insolvent, or to call the House together at an earlier period than heretofore. But, Sir, when the end of the year arrived we found that there was no deficit, but that, on the contrary there was a cash balance of £120,000 to our credit. That was one of the steps which he took last year to destroy a young Ministry, but is which he failed. Then the honorable gentleman last year said this:—

"I can hardly think the honorable gentleman, looking forward to the known increased liabilties we shall have to meet next year, could have talked of putting such a tax upon property as to be able to abandon any revenues now raised by the On toms."

Now, the duty received during the year ended 30th June, 1878, was, on tea, £80,978, and on sugar, £131,539: whilst this House has provided during this session that those duties shall be reduced, on tea to the extent of £28,000, and on sugar to the extent of £68,500, making a total reduction of £96,500 on the prime necessaries of life What have we done, Sir? We have put a tax on land, and abandoned revenue derived from the Customs last year. Then the honorable gentleman sneered at the idea of a loan being raised. He said he did not believe any loan could be raised; but nevertheless a loan was raised, and, if it had not been for the interference of the honorable gentleman, the money would have been obtained on more advantageous terms, and it would not have been necessary for the colony to go into page 9 the money-market again for some time to come. Nothing has been more damaging to us than the fact that we have been compelled to go so frequently into the money-market in order to raise small loans. I asked the honorable gentleman to be careful in his action, but he persisted. It is satisfactory to know, however, that he did not do us as much injury as he anticipated, for we get the reduced loan which the House allowed as to raise. I believe the honorable gentleman hopes that some disaster will yet come upon as. One of his friends last year distinctly stated that he wished to see us in office on account of the disasters which he knew we should bring upon the country. That was the expression made use of in this House by the honorable member for Clive. Was such a sentiment ever heard before? I now have this to say, and I hope my remarks will be weighed and carefully thought out by every member present. The House is now divided into two parties, one on my side of the House, which is the party of progress, and the other on the Opposition side. The latter claim to be the Conservative party. But I say they are no Conservatives in the true sense of that word. What do they conserve? Where are the provinces? Where is the old system of government? They have destroyed that, and they have endeavouring to set up a form of government which they think resembles the Tory Government at Home. I say that the form of government which they have introduced is a most shameful form of government I hope honorable members will consider this matter carefully. The old system of government had this great advantage: It afforded various opportunities for the views of the leading minds in this country being carried cut on all subjects, and being tested by experiment. The honorable member for Kaiapoi the other night made one of the strangest remarks I ever heard in my life. He said that the great evil of the Constitution Act which established the old system of government was, that it did not provide for the form of the Provincial Executive Governments. Why, that was one of its great beauties. It left to the inhabitants of New Zealand the right of choosing the exact form of Executive Government each province might like. To every class of human intellect was afforded the opportunity of trying the experiment of taking that form of government most grateful to them. Did any Legislature in the world ever perform a more benevolent act than to say to its dependencies in a distant part of the globe, "We will not interfere with you upon such a subject. Elect your own Governors, and choose your own form of Executive Government"? And then, again, look only to another point. These gentlemen are determined to force us all into one cast-iron system. There is to be no variety of thought, no variety of intellect, no variety of news transmitted by the electric telegraph from and to every part of the world, no variety of experiment. Why, Sir, under the old system each province devised its own form of public education, to which a fair trial could be given—in one, secular education; in another, education of a different kind, partially denominational, as in Nelson. These different systems could then be worked out face to face together, and the country could choose that which after trial was proved to be the best. But now we are to be under one absolute form of education, in which no variety is admitted. Look at the results of different systems of education elsewhere. Look at Ireland. There the laws were stern, and no public education, or but very little, was allowed for many years; but still Ireland had its University. Great Britain, again, affords all varieties of education in its colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, and all those other great schools, such as Eton, Westminster, and Winchester, which are spread throughout the country. Then, in Scotland, there is a totally different system. From the colleges of Scotland, or Oxford, or Cambridge, you never could have had such men as Swift and Goldsmith, and Edmund Burke and Hamilton, and Grattan and Curran. No, Sir: from Trinity College came forth a peculiar class of intellect—men of excellence—who have done good service to the world; while from Oxford came men of eloquence and statesmanlike ability, like Gladstone and others, whose names are great in the Legislature of the Empire; and from the same University poured forth men of consummate classical knowledge. From Eton have come your Cannings, and many other men of that stamp; from Cambridge, Herschel, and Babbage, and Adams the discoverer of the planet Neptune, and others with a special class of intellect and training, who could not have come from Oxford or those other great schools, but who have carried mathematical knowledge and scientific attainments to their highest point. Then look at Scotland. Where do our great metaphysicians come from—our great writers on political economy and all philosophical subjects—Napier, Hume, and Adam Smith, and Black, and Brewster, all of a totally different calibre of mind from the men who have been sent forth from those other great educational institutions? All these have united together in one great body to glorify the intellect of Great Britain and Ireland, and to raise it to a position of pre-eminence such as no other country in the world has ever gained; but here that is not to be allowed us. Here we are not to have variety—one class of books in every school, one system of education throughout the whole colony, one class of instructors, one class of examiners. Oh, Sir, it is a great damage that these men have done to this country. Then let me reflect upon another thing. They have robbed us of our Constitution; and it is of great consequence to consider this at the present time. The great beauty of our former Constitution was that it afforded us the power of easily effecting constitutional changes. Honorable members must know that no Constitution ever stands stationary. The human race advances in intellect and intelligence, and as it so advances it advances in power. Those who were formerly uneducated, from their unfortunate position, by their industry get the means of obtaining a higher education for their children, page 10 and so the Constitution changes from necessity. Therefore, it should be provided that constitutional changes may take place easily, and that there shall be no conflict in the country between classes or different Chambers of the Legislature, when a change in the Constitution is to be brought about. What too often renders a change in the Constitution difficult, even dangerous, is not the change itself, but that it brings about disunion, or perhaps dissension, between the different classes of the community. Under the Constitution as intended for New Zealand, until the Tories interfered, there was to be an elective Upper House chosen by the people. Follow out what is meant by that. Who are to determine what changes shall be made in the Constitution? Is it not the people themselves? Undoubtedly it is the whole population who are affected by the change who are to say that a change shall be made, if they desire it. But how can that be done if they cannot choose their own representatives, and if one branch of the Legislature does not represent them? If one branch of the Legislature is composed of a class of men with peculiar views, necessarily legislating for themselves or their order in so far as they can—for the experience of centuries, in many countries, has shown that men invariably do this more or less—these changes cannot come about easily. Hence the difficulty with regard to the Electoral Bill; hence the difficulty with regard to the change in the system of taxation at the present moment; hence all the difficulties that have arisen in Victoria. I say that it is an unfortunate thing that any country should be left in such a state, and it is a cruel thing that any Legislature should impose such a Constitution upon a country, instead of a Constitution under which changes could easily be made. The accusation will be brought against me that I am hurrying honorable gentlemen away from the main point at issue; but what I am about to say is cognate to the subject, and of great interest to all colonies which recently, by design, have had a Constitution of this kind forced upon them, as if with a view to prevent changes in colonial Constitutions taking place until after a long and desperate struggle. Since the Tories—or, as they call themselves, Conservatives—have been in power in England, Lord Beaconsfield himself admits that, for many years past, a plan had been in operation to break up the Empire, and to throw the colonies upon their own resources. Now, I say it is a cruel thing to impose Constitutions upon the colonies which make changes in those Constitutions very difficult, and at the same time to prepare for the Empire casting them off without giving them any warning, or allowing them to consult with each other as to whether they will form alliances for their mutual defence and for the protection of their commerce. I think it is a cruel and selfish thing to contemplate casting them off without consulting them as to their wishes on these subjects, and at the same time to impose upon them Constitutions in regard to which the colonies themselves were given no opportunity of expressing an opinion—Constitutions which are of such a nature as to prevent any changes they might desire in them being easily effected—Constitutions which in truth provide that no changes in them can be brought about without a probability of internecine conflicts for years, if the people of any colony wish to obtain what they regard as their rights. I attempted to obtain a Constitution for New Zealand which would admit of changes being made from time to time, as the people required, through their representatives, and of this colony entering into relations with the islands of the South Pacific, so as to bring about a general federation of the islands. That was nearly accomplished; and many of the islands of the Pacific would have been federated and members from those islands would now have been sitting in this Chamber and voting with us: but the Home Government stopped all that. They dreaded such an advance in liberty of thought of the people; they only desired the limited interests that one set of minds could just, raise themselves to; and so they preferred to allow us to have a nominated Legislative Council, instead of the representative Chamber promised to us by the Government they succeeded. I say now that the gentlemen who set to work to destroy our late institutions are setting up in their place something which we all ought to resist. I will try to make that point clear. What they are doing is this, and I will prove what I say: They are endeavouring to set up in New Zealand a wealthy class, who are to rule the whole community. They are endeavouring to separate the country into two distinct classes—the class of wealth, and the class which must soon lapse into poverty—the one to rule the other. Honorable gentlemen will ask, "How do you prove that?" I say that every step they have taken and every measure they have passed are in that direction. First, following the lead of the Home Government, they support a nominated Upper House. Next, they endeavour to create a class of titles in this country, which Her Majesty has no power to create, and they keep back from the country at large the fact that they have recommended the institution of this class of titles which were unlawfully conferred. When have they done further? They have recognized, in every instance, double voting. I ask honor able gentlemen who are fond of philosophical discussions, and of studying the works of such authors as John Stuart Mill and others, to recollect this: that the ablest men who have written upon the subject have said, "We do not object to the system of plural voting." But what, then, do they go on to say? "In one form only is it absolutely objectionable, and that is, if you give the right of plural voting to property. If you recognize that because a man has wealth he is to have more voting power on public affairs than his neighbours, you do that which is absolutely wicked Wealth may have been acquired by abuse of office, by accident, by fraud. It may have descended to the idiot—to the man of feeble judgment; it may have been acquired by bad means; and to bestow plural votes solely for wealth is to inflict a great wrong on every individual of the community. We are in favour page 11 of plural voting. We believe the time has not yet come, but the day will come, when intellect, and ability, and virtue will be recognized, and under such circumstances plural voting will be given to the class of the community which possesses those qualities: but men are not advanced enough yet for such a system." Now, what is done here? In every borough plural votes are given. In every county plural votes are given. Men of wealth are to hare five votes to one, in each district. There may be nine ridings in a county, and a man may have forty-five votes on account of his property, whilst his neighbours will only have one each. Now mark the evident injustice. They any they have introduced this system because they do not think that property should be over-rated by those who have little property; and what fakes place? In order to prevent property being over-rated, they take this year, from the Consolidated Fund, to which every individual in the community contributes, about £725,000, and they give it to the County Councils and Borough Councils to spend, besides other sums of money, all of which are the property of every man in the country. They give over to the County Councils and Borough Councils, all of whom are elected under this system of plural voting, and therefore represent wealth, not the entire community from whom these sums are taken, the power of expending that money. They give them that power—an unfair power, an obnoxious power. What right has a man, simply because he is wealthy, to take the money out of his neighbour's pocket and spend it as he likes? This sum of £725,000 from the general revenues is only met by £76,000 raised from rates. The property-holders thus pay only one-ninth of the sum contributed by the general public, and yet in counties may have forty-five votes to one as against the general ratepayer. Then, the Chairmen of the counties and their Councils are to have powers which will increase still more as time goes on, and they are to be elected by one class—the class of the community which possesses five votes. They must become a governing class. They are becoming Chairmen of Harbour Boards, in virtue of their office; the Councils themselves are becoming Harbour Boards; some of them are made Justices of the Peace, and sit on the bench of justice; they are obtaining the control of water-races; they are returned by men with plural votes on account of property. We—and I say "we," because I am one of those who may have to submit to this—are all, in truth, to become serfs, if £725,000 can be taken from the common fund to be spent as gentlemen elected in this way like. If they can rule us as they like, they will create a class of serfs and a governing class in the country. Those men have the expenditure of large sums of public money, and the very man whose money it is, has to go hat in hand to ask to be employed as their labourer. To my mind it is adjust—it is wrong; and, if it is continued for a generation, you will raise up a class who will conceive they have a right to govern and to take the money of others and spend it; and you will create another class, who will believe it is their duty to bow down, to cringe, to ask for work and assistance, to ask for that which they have a right to—to go and ask it from those who have no right to take money from them or to bestow it on them again. I say the whole tendency has been to create a moneyed class in the country, who are to rule and govern others; and another class, who are to submit to be governed, and to have their money taken from them. I, for one, will stand firm against that for ever. I contend that the men who have done this must be looked upon as the enemies of the country. They may say to me, "You are the man whom we will put down, and will destroy." I know letters have come from Australia, saying, "Get rid of Grey. That is the question. Never mind the rest of the Ministers. Support any Ministry; but get rid of him." Well, Sir, they will not get rid of me. I know that they have tried that for years. I know that the moment the Constitution Act was introduced into this colony the expressions used were, "It is far too liberal; it must be got rid of." They worked for years to get rid of the Constitution, and they worked for years to set up this new system; they got rid of the Constitution and set up this system. But we will pull it down. They will find that, under some form or other, the people of New Zealand will be restored to those rights they are entitled to. I believe that I speak the heart of all New Zealand in saying that we will have no aristocracy set up in this country. We will have none of the evils of the old States of Europe introduced here. We are determined, in this new country, to have a state of society suited to our wants, suited to our wishes, conformable with our demands, which gives no man a right to take money from the pockets of his neighbours and spend it as he thinks fit. They may rail at me as they like; they may scold at me as they please in this House; they may strive their utmost to create a party here against me; the Legislative Council may join the Opposition in this House in some great design to embarrass me with the inhabitants of New Zealand, as they have done with the Electoral Bill—but they will be laughed to scorn. Their designs will be seen through; they will achieve nothing; and every effort that they make in that direction will simply result in greater liberty for the people, in their maintaining a stronger hold upon their rights, and in getting rights they never otherwise would have obtained except from some such mistake as the Legislative Council has committed in this instance. The majority of that Council are our real benefactors. When I heard what had been done, I saw eyes looking at me as if they asked, "Does he look crestfallen? Is he subdued? Does he feel we have mastered him now?" But in my own heart I laughed. I said, "Now, notwithstanding all obstacles, we shall soon reach the end. These are our benefactors. They little know what they have done. New rights will be obtained next year, that otherwise would have required to have been struggled for for years to come." I feel that the hour is late, Sir—that I ought not to have detained the House; but it is not my fault. I had no fair chance given to me. It was thought, by moving that my words should page 12 be taken down, and requiring me to leave the House whilst a long debate took place, that I should be gagged—that I could make no reply; but I have nevertheless been able to speak. Just let me say this: All admit that the immigration that took place to New Zealand was of an exceptional kind; all admit that in some respects the flower of our more highly-educated classes, the informed and educated youth of the Old Country, came out to New Zealand—that the flower of the labouring-classes from all parts of Great Britain and Ireland flocked here. A race of men were introduced into this country such as I believe have never been seen elsewhere. This colony has been founded on the best principles—not upon the principles of a convict settlement, not by persons forced to fly from their country for some cause or another, but by those who believed they had the energy, and power, and resolution to better themselves in life if a fair field were given to them. They believed they might escape from a country in which poverty and degradation were the lot of the masses: that they might come to a country where every man might settle and make a home for himself, and where himself and his descendants might live under a free and improved form of government. The most intellectual, the most enthusiastic, men of every class flocked out here in the very prime of their lives, and we have a population such as I believe was never before seen united in a country. Clay of the finest kind was given to the potter's hand to mould into what shape he liked—and it should be moulded into a nation such as never before was seen, because no such chance ever offered itself at a previous time in history. The gentlemen whom I am resisting, the late Government and their adherents who for so many years ruled this country, had no knowledge of the great and glorious task which Providence gave to their care. They chose the worst part of a bad system in old countries; they took this noble clay and would have moulded it into a class distinguished by wealth—not distinguished by intellect above their fellows, and not distinguished by virtue above their fellows. To put it in the Native form, referring to the Natives in the Upper House, "When these members were born into the world, did God put any mark upon them to show they were to rule their fellows and were there any signs in the heavens to that a child was born who was to rule his fellow men?" Nothing of the kind. The noble clay was to have been moulded so that there should be created one class of wealth, and another class which must have inevitably lapsed in the man into poverty. The men who by unfair legislation, and often by unfair means, had had the public wealth and lands, and the Native lands, passed into their hands, together with those who had acquired wealth from public works giving a value to their property, or who, from accident or their own industry, had become rich-all of these were to have been made into a small ruling class to lord it over their fellows. The very circumstances which showed the unfitness of many of them to legislate or to govern were to have constituted their claims to power. That was the use they were making of the implements that God gave ready to their hand to make a great and free people out of. But I say that the inhabitants of this country will resist that. This noble clay will not be moulded by such potters. It will obtain for itself the distinction to which it is entitled. In spite of all these men can do, we will have freedom, we will have just taxation, we will have an entire representation of the people as the basis of our Constitution; and we will gain that sooner or later, in spite of every effort they can make.