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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53

Tribunals of Commerce

Tribunals of Commerce

Germany.—Mannheim.—The business done by the Tribunal of Commerce during the last five years may be illustrated by the subjoined figures:—


Disputes. Year. 1877. 1878. 1879 (until Oct. 1). From Oct. I, 1879, until Dec. 31. 1880. 1881. Pending. Settled. Standing over. New. By judgment. Otherwise. 60 89 58 40 32 563 475 271 160 613 570 324 339 190 87 415 386 210 167 124 41 206 163 Left. 89 58 15 40 32 53

Dresden.—Before and after the Commercial Code had been put in force, the Dresden Chamber of Commerce has done all in its power to preserve the Tribunals of Commerce. The said Code left the choice of Tribunals of Commerce in connection with the Courts to departments of justice of each State They are competent in the districts where they are created, within the same limits as the Courts to which they are attached—that is, for all matters above 300 marks (£15), specified in Sec. 101 ff.; a member of the Court as president, and two commercial judges, are sufficient to give judgment in such a manner that each has the same number of votes. Eight such tribunals have been created in Saxony by the Regulation of October 1, 1879, which are divided as follows among the towns of the kingdom:—Two in Dresden, two in Leipsic, one in Chemnitz, Plauen, Glauchau, and Zittau; the other towns requesting similar institutions were refused on the plea that there would not be sufficient business for those tribunals to allow of their formation. The tribunal in page 16 this town counts since 1881 six commercial members and two substitutes, allowing of frequent alternation and apparently showing the success of the institution.

And now you will be able to judge of what is thought of such tribunals in Germany. I therefore commend the matter to your wise consideration, in the hope that you will shortly see your way to ask assistance from the Legislature, with the view of having such a tribunal established in Dunedin.

Technical Education, or instruction, is another subject worthy of the best attention of Members of this Chamber. In France, Germany, Austria, and Belgium, the Chambers erect and maintain schools and technical colleges, they subsidise evening lectures to working men, and free classes of book-keeping, drawing, arithmetic, stenography, &c. On the same important subject, the journal referred to says:—Since the principle of individual liberty has interfered with the old custom of apprenticeship, something must be done either by private, municipal, or legislative action, to train up our youths for the trades to which their parents' position, or their own special aptitudes, predestine them. One particular advantage of early training of hand and eye, and familiarity in the use of tools, is to develop the inherent capacities in such wisp as to permit an unfailing selection of the most suitable career for each individual pupil. Much future disappointment and loss of time may thus be spared by improved education, whilst the tone of every branch of trade will be raised by the accession of carefully trained members, bringing the whole force of sympathy and enthusiasm in their work to bear on all their surroundings.

While I admit that our Chamber is yet in its infancy for grappling with too many or too great questions, I feel it my duty to supply you with material for careful thought and action hereafter when our Chamber is ripe for it. Another subject, hardly less important to our political economy in the future, has occurred to me to lay before you, and it will be for you to decide whether it is worthy of being recorded hereafter among our minutes. In this city we have the usual schedule of rates and taxes, from the city rate to the special, from the gas to the water rate, that haunt our footsteps one by one, each with regularity in its respective turn during our City Council's financial year, and it is just on the cards that we may yet have an electric rate to pay; but, notwithstanding all these rates, there is another I would like to see enacted, and that is a city fire rate, whereby every building in our city, whether of large or small value, might be covered by insurance to the extent only of the city valuation and no more. It seems to me that such a system of insurance against fire would have many advantages page 17 besides lessening the number of fires—too many of them disastrous to human life—that occur annually in our city. The fact of buildings being covered only according to the values placed upon them by the proper city officer would be a wholesome guarantee that there would never occur any cases of insurance above value. The system would also necessitate a positive fixity of fire risk upon all city buildings on the ad valorem principle. It is not for me now to say how this proposal could be worked out and managed, I have merely offered the suggestion for the thoughtful consideration of all concerned.

I will now turn the current of my address for a short distance to avoid being tedious, and place before you a few facts and figures that will, I feel sure, be interesting to you and every other person having at heart the well-being of the Provincial District of Otago. Referring first to the trade of our Port, I find that our imports show an increase of nearly hall a million in value on the previous year, while our exports have apparently decreased to the extent of L35,000. The latter is more than accounted for by increased shipments of produce made at Bluff Harbour, Campbelltown, and Oamaru, that, previous to the extension of our railways, found its way to Port Chalmers.

The Shipping Returns of our Port exhibit an increase of over 59,000 tons on the preceding year, while our registered tonnage at present in steamers is upwards of 12,000 tons, this latter fact is accounted for by our port being the head-quarters of the handsome fleet of steamers belonging to the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand.

The amount of Revenue collected at the chief ports of Otago from shipments at Dunedin, Invercargill cum Bluff, and Oamaru, for the year, appears L499,338, or equal to fully one-third of the sum total received for the whole Colony, and being an increase on the previous year for this District of over L16,000. Now as it is quite clear that Otago gathers in at the present time one-third of the total revenue of New Zealand, I here ask all interested in the progress of this portion of the Colony to use both influence and efforts to obtain a fair share of the general expenditure of the state towards our local requirements. We certainly pay one-third of the revenue and we also contribute one-third of the entire exports.

In connection with the pastoral interests of the Colony I am glad to point, for the first time, to a marked improvement in the number of sheep. We have added during the year one million to our flocks, this I think may be accounted for mainly by the improved condition of much of the grazing lands through the continuous and wholesale destruction of rabbits, and partly by page 18 new settlements of small holdings, which latter show an increase of 200 settlers. This is evidence indicative of greater attention being given to an improved system of sheepfarming by the order of rotation of crops, and also the probable future outcome to be looked for from the stimulus already given to our meat markets by the refrigerating industry. The estimated number of sheep in the Colony is 12,800,000. The wool shipments from our three Otago Ports have been as follows:—

Dunedin 52,813 bales.
Invercargill cum Bluff 11,867 bales.
Oamaru 448 bales.

and the value of the wool shipped from Otago and Southland is equal to nearly Ll,200,000, somewhat more than one-third in value of the whole export of this product from New Zealand.

Agriculture has not been neglected by our colonists during the past year, and while the increase of acreage put under wheat appears only to the extent of 40,782 acres, making a total of 365,715 acres producing that cereal, and growing an average per acre of 22¾ bushels. A very large falling off is apparent in the area under oat crop—nearly one-half compared to the quantity sown during the previous year of 1880-1881. The acreage of land sown in oats appears 243,887, yielding an average of 28½ bushels per acre. In barley we had nearly 30,000 acres under crop, giving an average of 22¼ bushels per acre, while the potato crop for the year covered 22,540 acres, and yielded the excellent average of nearly 5½ tons per acre. With the exception of the last-named crop the yield per acre has been somewhat diminished, attributable partly to the fickleness of the seasons, but chiefly, I am disposed to think, to indifferent husbandry. Compared however with our Australian sister Colonies, which have in the past year, as in many preceding ones, suffered severely from dry seasons, we have reason to be thankful that although our national debt is large, it is easily borne while our climate shuns a much greater enemy to the progress of any country in the shape of devastating periodical droughts. New Zealand must therefore continue to offer much greater salutary benefits to the boâd fide settler than any other Colony in Southern Asia.

The mining industry continues to grow in importance in our Colony. From our districts alone up to the end of June last, since the beginning of the gold discovery, we had exported 4,134,837 ounces, valued at Ll6,283,843, and for the past year Otago has exported nearly 50,000 ounces, of the value of about L200,000. Our quartz reefs seem to be continuing a steady yield, and looking to the several very valuable new reefs on the West Coast, and nearer, in the neighbourhood of Lake Wakatip, and recently opened up, I am still of the opinion that the page 19 unearthing of our gold recources is even yet young in its infancy. An increase to our population, and with it additional enterprise, will gradually assist to unfold the long-hidden mineral riches with which this country has been blessed.

Akin to this industry, and of no lesser value to New Zealand and its future greatness, in a commercial point of view, are the vast coal fields of the Colony, and I feel sure that you will agree with me when I say that the Government of this country are not doing their duty towards it, nor to those who have been induced to become colonists, in having allowed, at this period of the country's settlement, the necessity to exist for the importation of 130,000 tons of coal from Newcastle, New South Wales, chiefly to Port Chalmers. Our own coal fields, therefore, do not show that increased output for which we certainly had a right to look at this date; nor can any beneficial advancement from this source towards the revenue of this Colony be anticipated until the Government do their duty, and set to work in a practical way to have improved quickly our West Coast Harbours. The waste of time and—what our American Cousins are pleased to call—"gush," that occur by the appointment of Select Committees; the taking of the same evidence year after year, and the final bringing up of a Report seems to be the Omega of all that legislation has hither to done in this direction. We want something more practical than this done—and that speedily—if the country is to benefit during our lives by the millions of money Value in the richest of coal deposits now lying in its natural bed, and only waiting to be conveyed to market. The difficulties that block the way where the fine coal exists on the West Coast, are the Bar Harbours, which are easily capable of being made most useful for the purposes of Commerce. It is only a matter of money, and this whole question to my mind has assumed such a national character, and promises such national advantages in the ways of an enlargement of both Commerce and Revenue to the country, that I feel, whether the early opening up of these great coal fields for the trade of foreign shipping cost the State one, or even two hundred thousand pounds immediately, the outlay would be a mere bagatelle in comparison with the advantages that would be gained to this Colony. And, moreover, any money expended in that direction would soon be returned manifold by a marked increase to the general revenue of New Zealand. In leaving this important subject for the present, I venture to hope that all Chambers of Commerce throughout the Colony will take the question up during the present year, so as to bring the forces of united action into play to assist in producing the benefits such as I have tried here to indicate are necessary. Upon our entire page 20 system of Railways, let me first Report with satisfaction that the revenue has increased equal to 17 per cent., with also a corresponding decrease in the expenditure. The working returns show a slight progressive improvement on those of the former year; and the earnings are now equal to 3¾ per cent., against 3½ per cent, last year on their total cost. An additional 120 miles have been opened since our last Annual Meeting. I may remark here that a very general impression exists that the present rates charged, both for passengers and goods are higher than they ought to be, and were the Government to reduce the rates, a great expansion of receipts would follow. I think it right to say that I do not share in that feeling; but I would do so if a steady stream of immigration now flowed towards our Shores. With an almost stationary population, however, the aspect of such a change becomes very different, and the probable result more doubtful. If our people are ambitious enough to have great Public Works proceeding throughout the country, they mean the expenditure of large sums of money on which interest must be paid; and, in proportion to the number of our people, will each individual taxpayer learn to behold his or her responsibility. It is as broad as it is long. There are only so many to pay taxation at present and a certain sum to be made up. If you have not extra people to induce to travel, and extra Commerce to travel for, I think that a large reduction now in our Railway Tariff would mean a large addition to some other Tariff; so that while class against class might be set fighting, the political economy of the country would not be benefitted without a well-balanced increase to our population.

In the new Loan Bills now before Parliament, and out of the monies to be raised therefrom, an allocation is to be made towards several Public Works in Otago, the chief of which in importance to Commercial interest here, in my opinion, is the early resumption of active operations on the Otago Central Railway. If this Railway or Track had to be made in America —where 10,000 miles of Railroad are not thought too many to make in one year,—looking at the many valuable mineral and other resources of the country that exist contiguous to the line, it would be completed within six months. The total length of Railroad now open for traffic in New Zealand, I may state at 1400 miles. As bearing in a direct manner on our Railways, I desire to say a few words upon the subject of population. It will be satisfactory for you to observe by the figures placed before you to-day, that the white population of the Colony now number 507,788 souls, being an increase of 15,000 during the year. Otago and Southland claim 139,067 of the whole, while the City of Dunedin and Suburbs count 42,794 of the latter. The backbone page 21 of any country gentlemen, is population; then, how essential and necessary is it for the well-being of New Zealand that the number of its inhabitants should be multiplied, and as quickly as possible. I really sometimes makes me despond, when I think of our fruitful country, and of the comparitively few fellow beings it at present contains. I am not prone to be jealous but I candidly admit such a feeling gains upon me when I read of the many many thousands that form the exodus of one single year to depart from Great Britain to the United States, Canada, and even the Argentine Republic. Why is it so? Do those countries offer better inducements and facilities to the immigrant than New Zealand? Do they offer climatic advantages or superior resources to those we are enabled to place within the reach of the enterprising Colonist? No. On the contrary. I am bold enough in answering my several interrogatories, to say that this Colony, viewed by its circumstances and surroundings, offers a home more desirable for the industrious settler, than the countries I have named; and the chief and almost only reason why New Zealand is seemingly neglected, is its distance from the great centres of population, and the entire absence of proper and comfortable facilities to travel from thence to its shores. Each of the countries to which I have just referred has at least weekly direct Steam Communication from Britain. We have been modest in having tried to induce the Government to arrange only a Monthly similar Service, and until we get that properly established, we must remain content to take a back seat, and merely get a dim vista of the great spectacle of Colonisation.

The Maori population now numbers 44,097, in addition to Europeans.

Let us now for a short time see ourselves—not as others see us, but—as we are in reference to the Industrial Statistics of the Colony, and the progress made in that respect within the last three years. During that time we have increased our manufactories by 372, and they now number 1,643. There are employed in those establishments, 6,200 males, and 1,339 females; and the values of the lands and factory buildings pertaining to them are 1,1,993,000, besides Ll,612,000 in machinery and plant. In the three years referred to, the male employe's increased by 2,472; and the females, by 890 while the additional monies expended in lands, buildings, and machinery make a total of L553,933. Such figures form the strongest evidence, both circumstantial and real, of the progress of New Zealand.

It is proper, before I conclude my remarks, that I should refer to the Banking returns of the Colony, and as they appear to me satisfactory, I may do so briefly. The total deposits in the page 22 hands of the Banks at the present time amount to L9,378,938, which are almost equally divided between the two classes, interest bearing and not bearing interest accounts. The monies belonging to the former class most probably claim as proprietors those persons not immediately engaged in trade, while the latter class points to monies directly more active in the everyday operations of commerce.

In the Savings Banks of the Colony, I find by a return given to the 31st December last, that there were Ll,549,115 on deposit, belonging to 61,054 depositors, and giving an average to each of L25 7s. 7d. This state of things, in itself, cannot be regarded otherwise than a wholesome one for a new country. It exhibits a saving rate per head that will compare favourably with any other community in the world. With the deposits of the Joint Stock and the Savings Banks together, we can sum up a grand total of upwards of eleven millions of money held by our chief monetary institutions. I think that we may accept the figures as useful evidence of a fair condition of prosperity existing in New Zealand.

On the grave question of taxation it is not my intention to say much to-day. Nothing new in relation to it has been done since I met you a year ago, therefore on this occasion I think that we should "let sleeping dogs lie." I will merely here remind you that the taxable capital value of property in the Colony under the Assessment Act amounts to L81,284,000, inclusive of exemptions of L500 and under in value equal to L10,855,510.

An interesting return will be found among the proceedings of to-day, showing all mortgages under the Land Transfer Act during the two years ended with March last. For the last year such loans have increased in the Colony L3,555,704, which can be accounted for mainly by an extension of pastoral and agricultural interests both in the North and Middle Islands. I regard the increment as an element of progress, although possibly, at the present time, unearned.

The National Debt of New Zealand at the close of June last, after deducting accrued sinking fund of L2,317,776, appeared L27,729,835, from which a cash balance remained in hand on 30th July last, of L662,425, to be expended. If we deduct the cost, up to the present time, of constructing our railways, say at L10,000,000, there will then remain as a National Debt, L17,729,835, which has been incurred by the costs of other public works, such as roads, bridges, and public buildings, &c. A large sum has been spent in Maori wars, of which, let us hope we have heard the last Trump sound.

page 23

Before we separate I wish to refer to another new industry, and one in which I think we should take an early interest: I allude to co-operative dairy-farming. There can be no doubt that the advantages to be offered by the refrigerating system to the dairy farmer promise equally well in his direction as they appear to do for the cattle and sheep breeder. During the year 1880 the estimated total value of cheese and butter produced in America exceeded L72,000,000, and of this large production 45,000 tons of cheese and 38,000 tons of butter were exported from that country. Then why should New Zealand not make a respectable show of such commodities among her exports? The process only requires to be carefully initiated and properly established throughout the Colony to ensure its success. I referred last year to the probability of the telephone being brought into use in this city. I am able to report that it is now generally used, and, for the convenience of members, communication with the principal public and mercantile offices in Dunedin can be attached in a moment. It may interest you to know of what is being clone by the aid of The Telephone in Switzerland.—"A report of the Zürich Telephone Company shows that practical telephony has taken a new and useful development in Switzerland. Besides two central bureaux, to which there are about 400 subscribers, there are a number of telephone offices open to the public. Any one may, by paying a small fee, enter one of these public offices and speak through one of the central offices with any of the subscribers. For a minimum price, the telephone is at the disposal of any casual customer for a quarter of an hour. There are 11 of these public offices, located in booths along the streets. The company have also established a commission service. The office receives the orders of subscribers, and executes them at the rates charged by commissionaries. They have also established safety apparatus against housbreakers during the night. The central offices will also undertake to awake any subscriber at any hour without extra charge. Another important arrangement is the connection of the telephonic network with the central telegraph office of the city. Thus, any subscriber may dictate his telegram to the telegraph employé and save the time that would be occupied in sending a messenger with it. Moreover, when a telegram arrives, it may be telephoned to any subscriber to the company. During 1881 there were transmitted 8,914 telegrams by telephone. One would imagine that the State would be grateful for having the time of its employés thus saved; on the contrary, however, every telegraphic message transmitted by telephone is taxed 10 centimes. So that there are many ways by which we will yet be able to make the telephone more useful to us.

page 24

I feel it my duty again to refer briefly to the question of a Sailors' Home. I think it behoves us as a commercial community to do something for the shore comfort of that class of brave men who so frequently risk their lives for the safety of ships, cargoes, and passengers. As I previously told you there is the nucleus of a fund provided already in the hands of gentlemen here for the purpose of forming a Home for Sailors, and it will make no difference in the future beneficial results of such an institution whether it be established in this City or at Port Chalmers. I mention the subject again to-day in the hope that Members will not neglect much longer to deal practically with it.

On the question of Chambers of Commerce in Britain, I submit to you an extract taken from the Chamber of Commerce Journal of July last, showing the total revenue and expenditure of its leading associations of this kind:—"We have prepared a table from the annual reports of our principal Chambers, showing the total revenue and total disbursements of our leading associations. It is very far indeed from being a nationally creditable statement. Were it not thus clearly before us we might legitimately doubt the fact that the united expenditure of the largest towns of England and Scotland combined towards the support of their Chambers of Commerce hardly reaches L5,000 per annum, less than was paid the other day for Marie Antoinette's writing-table. Dublin alone, it will be observed, contrives to disburse over L2,000, almost half the expenditure of the rest of the kingdom. The following are the figures in question:—

Chambers of Commerce. Towns. Total Annual Receipts. Total Annual Expenditure.
Dublin £2,243 £2,525
Liverpool 913 1,010
Manchester 866 814
Glasgow 528 467
Bradford 478 402
Bristol 470 450
South of Scotland 360 185
Birmingham 306 269
Edinburgh 215 131
Belfast 201 190
Leeds 194 151
Wolverhampton 145 100
Derby 71 56
6,990 6,750

What comparison is there between these small sums and the present state of our Chamber? Looking at the age of our City and its number of inhabitants, we compare favorably with the above, and I may fairly congratulate you that for the first time since my connection with it, our Chamber is out of debt, besides having a small balance to its credit. It is, however, still page 25 necessary that Members should bestir themselves in trying to strengthen the funds of our Association, that it yet may be in a better position to perform more useful work in the future than it has accomplished in the past.

I fear, gentlemen, that I have wearied you, but the interest I have taken in the honorable responsibilities with which you have entrusted me for two years I offer as my excuse, and I desire heartily to thank the Vice-President, the Committee, and the Secretary for the generous support, on all occasions necessary, accorded to me.

Before the proceedings of to-day are finished, you will be called upon to elect your Officers for the ensuing year, in the room of those retiring under the rules of our Chamber.

I now beg to move the adoption of the Report.