The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Unequal Representation of Numbers
Unequal Representation of Numbers.
"It shall bo lawful for the Governor, by proclamation, to constitute within New Zealand convenient electoral districts for the election of Members of the said House of Representatives, and to appoint and declare the number of such members to be elected for each such district. * * * * * And in determining the number and extent of such electoral districts, and the number of members to be elected within each district, regard shall be had to the number of electors within the same, so that the number of members to be assigned to any one district may bear to the whole number of the Members of the House of Representatives, as nearly as may be, the same proportion as the number of electors within such district shall bear to the whole number of electors in New Zealand."
Neither by Sir George Grey as Governor, when in 1853 he inaugurated the Constitution, nor by Parliament itself in dealing with the question during the whole of the subsequent 23 years, has the above principle of justice ever been observed. The total number of electors on the Rolls of all the electoral districts in New Zealand, for the year 1876-77, was 61,755. But a large number of electors are each on the Rolls of two or more districts. So that, in order to comply with the strict letter of the clause, a considerable reduction would have to be made from the above total. But, besides the advantage which some many-propertied electors may gain by having a vote in each of several districts, the proportion between members and electors in many districts is enormously at variance with the above rule for the allotment of number of members to each in proportion to the whole.
|Onehunga||443||Brought over||5,087||Brought over||8,603|
|N. Plymouth (town)||468||Waimea||366||Gladstone||539|
|Grey and Bell||586||Motueka||571||Mount Ida||443|
|Carried over,||5,087||Carried over,||8,603|
12,639 electors return 27 Members, whereas they are only entitled to 17!
4,935 electors return 10 Members, although only entitled to 7.
The above 32 districts, with an agregate of 17,574 electors, return 37 Members, although only entitled to 24!page 43
|Bay of Islands||858||1|
33,156 electors return only 32 Members, although entitled to 45.
|32||unjustly favoured, with||17,574||return||37||instead of||24|
|23||unjustly deprived, with||33,156||return||32||instead of||45|
|14||justly treated, with||11,025||return||15||entitled to||15|
If the proportion of electors in each district respectively should remain the same on the Rolls for 1877-78 13 seats ought to be taken from the districts in the first two lists, and given to those in the third list. The new Rolls will, no doubt, show in some respects different proportions; but the new allotment must, in justice, be very different from the old one. Besides the aggregate injustice described above, there are atrocious cases of injustice, as between individual districts and between different groups of districts. For instance:—Wallace with 199 electors, and Cheviot with 238, return one member each; while East Coast with 1488, Newtown with 1167, Marsden with 1276, and Mataura with 1062, return only one each; Waikato, Cheviot, Lyttelton, Nelson Surburbs, Nelson City (2), Collingwood, Waimea, and Wallace, with an aggregate of only 2959 electors, returning 9 members, although little more than entitled to 4; while Thames, Dunedin, Grey Valley, East Coast, and Newtown, with an aggregate of 12,642 electors, also return 9 members, although more than entitled to 17. The three districts comprising the defunct Province of Taranaki, returning 3 members, with an aggregate of 1649 electors, entitling them to less than 2½; while Thames, with 4019, entitling it to 5½ returns only 2—no more than Cheviot or Wallace, with their aggregate total of only 438 electors, entitling them to little more than half a member between them.