Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

The mission of the New Zealand democracy: speech delivered to the Auckland Liberal Association on Monday, 21st June, 1892

Front Cover

page break

The Mission of the New Zealand Democracy.

page break page break

The Mission of the New Zealand Democracy.

Mr. Napier said:—

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,—

I feel very deeply indebted to the members of the Auckland Liberal Association for the honour they have done me in requesting me to address one of their public meetings.

The Power of the Platform.

I regard the Platform as a mighty power, a power under certain circumstances of greater usefulness and effective force than the Press, and I hail it as a good omen for the future in this country that the education of the people, politically, by means of the Platform is being more generally coming into use and adoption. (Hear, hear.) In a recent number of the "Nineteenth Century" magazine Mr. Gladstone shewed how the great uprising of Liberal opinion in England during the past Five years was almost wholly due to platform oratory in the teeth of a powerful hostile Press. The Platform and the Press are twin sisters, and each should aid the other. But where there is an estrangement or antagonism between the two we may rely upon it from the experience of the past that the Platform will prevail. (Cheers.) I trust, notwithstanding that we Liberals in Auckland are not unrepresented by the newspaper Press, yet that public meetings of this character under the auspices of the Liberal Association will henceforth be more frequently held. Now in speaking to you of the task which I think the Democracy of New Zealand ought to undertake to perform I shall confine myself to the mention of those projects which I am persuaded are well within the region of practical politics.

Democracy the Future Government.

There can be no manner of doubt that the future govern- page 4 ment of this country must be that of a democracy, that is to say, a government Of the people, For the people, and By the people. "When I say a government For the people I mean the whole people and not any class or section of the people. In the past New Zealand has been governed for a section of the people, the squatters and plutocrats, but in the future the whole people will be considered, and their interests alone will be the standard and criterion by which the utility of laws will be tested. (Cheers.) The peace and good order of the State can never be preserved without a just appreciation of the rights of all, and no section of the people, least of all the great mass of the toilers, can long be despoiled or oppressed without permanent injury to the State. Cicero, in his essay "Concerning Duties," gives the following illustration of the evils of class legislation, such as afflicted this country under the regime of the Tories, who, by the agency of the National Tory Associations, are again trying to foist themselves on the country:—" Suppose that the several limbs of the body were of opinion that they should be strong, if they could severally draw to themselves the strength of the adjacent members, it must result that the whole body would be debilitated and die; so if we were severally to appropriate the rights of others, and wrest all we could from others for our own profit, the necessary result is that the society and intercourse of mankind would be deranged."

Democracies firmly hold to the principles enunciated by Plato for the management of a State. "First, to secure the interests of one's fellow countrymen so far as to refer to them all their actions, irrespectively of personal advantage; and secondly, to consider the general body of the State, lest while protecting any one interest they may sacrifice the rest."

The three great watchwords of Democracy are Progress, Equality, and Justice, while the principles of Colonial Toryism may be summed up in the words "Privilege and undue advantage to the rich." There are now fortunately in the politics of New Zealand clear lines of demarcation between the supporters of equal justice to all men and the reactionaries who style themselves Conservatives. Electors need no longer be puzzled or hoodwinked by the promises of individual members of Parliament. There is a solidarity among the two parties, the friends of the people and the friends of monopoly and privilege. The Tories are continually denying that there are any clear party lines or party issues, and they and their satellites in the Press do not cease to advise the electors to ignore party cries and elect "good" men, by which they mean "rich" men and reactionaries. Gentlemen, do not forget that every step in advance in the United Kingdom during the past half century has been won by the strength of a united Liberal party, (cheers) and that a Parliament elected without reference to party would be a helpless page 5 conglomeration of undisciplined atoms entirely incapable of exerting the overwhelming political strength necessary to effect great reforms. (Applause.) I would ask you, "Can men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles," and can you expect progressive measures from men whose highest ideal of a prosperous commonwealth is one wherein reigns permanent political torpor? (Hear, hear.)

A New Era Approaches.

The mission which devolves upon the democracy of New Zealand in common with all progressive peoples is by every fair and honourable means to strive to hasten the advent of that 'new era' of human life which is now in its birth-throes throughout the world, an era in which the spirit of brotherhood or altruism will supplant and extrude the spirit of individualism or egoism which has hitherto ruled the world with such dire results.

For this purpose the masses must be raised materially, intellectually and morally. "We do not want to lower anybody's status but to raise all. Our policy is to level up not to destroy. (Cheers.)

Constitutional Reform.

Now the very first task which the democracy in this colony ought to determine to perform is to secure a perfectly free constitution. (Hear, hear.) At present your constitution is one of the most backward in the world. Under the form of representative parliamentary institutions you are really governed by an uncontrollable oligarchy, which can impose its will upon the whole of the inhabitants who are absolutely helpless to resist its deerees. The Legislative Council, about nine of whose members forms a quorum for the transaction of business at the present time, possesses absolutely despotic power. Nine persons representing nobody, responsible to nobody, and undistinguished by intellect, culture, or great achievements, have the power of permanently resisting the will and mature judgment and opinion of the people of this country. (Shame.) When lately the intention of the Government was made public to advise the Governor to appoint a sufficient number of Liberals to the Legislative Council for the purpose of passing into law the measures agreed to by the House of Representatives, there was a howl of indignation from the Tory press of the colony, and the proposal was denounced by ignorant critics as unconstitutional and wrong in the highest degree. The Governor was advised by those self-styled constitutional purists to disregard the advice of his responsible ministers. Now if you will grant me your attention for a very few moments I think I shall be able clearly to demonstrate to you that the proposal of the Government is strictly in accordance page 6 with constitutional precedent and law, and is the only method prescribed by the constitution for bringing an obstructive "Upper" House to reason. Now, in the first place, with regard to the Governor's position. He is a Viceroy. He represents the Sovereign. He has delegated to him a portion, and only a portion, of the Sovereign's prerogatives. Therefore it cannot be contended that the Governor occupies a higher constitutional position as regards New Zealand than the Queen occupies with reference to the United Kingdom. If therefore the Queen is bound to accept the advice of her constitutionally chosen ministers, so also is the Governor of a self-governed colony compelled to act upon the advice of his ministers. In Green's "Short History of the English People" it is said, "In outer seeming the Revolution of 1688 had only transferred the Sovereignty over England from James to William and Mary. In actual fact it was transferring the Sovereignty from the King to the House of Commons." Bagehot on "The English Constitution" says," The Queen is only at the head of the dignified part of the Constitution. The Prime Minister is at the head of the efficient part. . . . The Cabinet, in a word, is a Board of Control chosen by the Legislature to rule the nation." Again, "The Sovereign has three rights, the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn." "When the House of Lords in 1832 opposed the first Reform Bill, the Ministry of the day, seeing that the peers could not be brought to reason in any other way, advised the King—and the advice was accepted—to create a sufficient number of new peers to overcome the opposition of the Tory lords. And the King gave his ministers a warrant in this form, "The King grants permission to Earl Grey, and to his Chancellor, Lord Brougham, to create such a number of peers as will be sufficient to ensure the passing of the Reform Bill.—first calling up peers' eldest sons. William E. Windsor, May 17th, 1832."

Bagehot, in the work which I have just now quoted, states as follows:—"Just as the knowledge that his men can strike makes a master yield, in order that they may not strike, so the knowledge that their house could be swamped at the will of the people made the lords yield to the people." The same writer goes on to say, "The Executive can say to the peers 'Use the powers of your House as we like, or you shall not use them at all. We will find others to use them; your virtue shall go out of you if it is not used as we like, and stopped when we please.' "Professor Taswell-Langmead, in his recent work on the Constitutional History of England, in speaking of the contemplated swamping of the House of Lords in 1832, says:—"The threatened creation of peers was denounced at the time by the Duke of Wellington and the Tory party generally, as an unconstitutional exercise of the prerogative, but it was admirably answered by Earl Grey, page 7 'I ask, what would be the consequences if we were to suppose that such a prerogative did not exist, or could not be constitutionally exercised? The Commons have a control over the power of the Crown, by the privilege in extreme cases of refusing the supplies; and the Crown has, by means of its power to dissolve the House of Commons, a control upon any violent and rash proceedings on the part of the Commons, but if a majority of the House of 'Lords is to have the power whenever they please of opposing the declared and decided wishes both of the Crown and the people without any means of modifying that power—then this country is placed entirely under the influence of an uncontrollable oligarchy.'"

The learned writer goes on to say, "In its practical aspect an extraordinary creation of peers is to the House of Lords what a dissolution is to the House of Commons; and although such a creation ought never to be made use of except in the greatest emergency, its use in such an emergency is not only constitutional but essential to the safety of the Constitution itself." Gentlemen, you will thus see that if the House of Lords in England refused to bow to the will of the people it is the constitutional privilege of the Government to advise the Crown, and it is the constitutional duty of the Crown to accept the advice—to create as many new members of the House of Lords as would be sufficient to overcome the opposition of that House. (Cheers.) Now the House of Lords is, to put it moderately, in a much stronger position in the United Kingdom than our Legislative Council is in New Zealand. The House of Lords has great traditions. It is the representative body of a great class. It constitutionally composes two estates of the realm. Many of the most learned of the nation are to be found within its portals. Some may think—and I am one of those—that it has survived its uses. But, nevertheless, there can be no comparison between the House of Lords and our pinchbeck burlesque imitation called the Legislative Council. If therefore it is constitutional and proper to create an unlimited number of hereditary peers, if the necessity arises, in order to pass into law measures upon which the people have set their hearts, it is equally constitutional and regular to appoint a sufficient number of members of the Legislative Council to carry into effect the laws which the representative Chamber, in obedience to the wishes of the electors, has duly passed. (Cheers.)

Abolition of the Upper House.

I have dwelt somewhat upon this aspect of the reform of the Legislative Council because it appears now to be of pressing political importance. But, gentlemen, I conceive that one of the first tasks which a great, intelligent, and self-respecting demo- page 8 cracy should undertake, is to effect the entire abolition of the second Chamber. (Loud cheers.) There is no necessity at all in this colony for a so-called "Upper" House. If the people are fit for self-government, then when they express their will in the forms of law it should become at once the law of the land. In what respect can the present Legislative Council be said to be superior to the present House of Representatives, or capable of revising the measures of that Chamber? The whole institution is an anachronism, and is only fitted for nations in the swadling clothes of freedom. (Applause.)

Elective Governor.

The next great constitutional reform which should be accomplished is the change of the office of Governor from a nominated to an elective one. (Applause.) You should determine that every office in the state should be open to every citizen of the state. Why should we permit an English statesman, who is almost wholly unacquainted with our requirements and circumstances, to choose for us our highest administrative officer? If you will reflect on it for a moment you will see that our receiving a Governor from the Secretary of State for the Colonies is a most humiliating confession of our insignificance and abasement. There is no more reason why we should receive our Governor from Great Britain than there is for our receiving our judges. In the infancy of the colony our judges were appointed in England, but that system has now passed away, and the time has also come for the system of having our Governors nominated by Downing-street to pass away for ever. (Cheers.)

The Land for the People.

Now I should like for a few moments to direct your attention to the land question. (Hear, hear.) You well know that the most fertile lands of the colony have all passed out of the hands of the Crown, and are held in great areas by a few individuals and companies. The system of great estates must come to an end here if we do not wish the country to be depopulated, and to become merely the home of great sheep flocks. The land tax which the present ministry has imposed will operate slowly to discourage the accumulation of landed possessions by individuals, but the wants of the country are pressing and urgent, and land must be obtained for the people. Therefore the large estates of fertile land must be settled with a good class of yeoman farmers, who will increase without measure the productive power of the country. In order to do this great estates of fertile land must be resumed by the Crown, fair compensation being paid to the present holders. The land tax should be judiciously increased, so as to ul- page 9 timately make the large estates which have benefitted so immensely by the railways to bear the greater portion of the interest on the money borrowed to construct the railways. (Applause.)

Had the people of New Zealand continued to support the party of the land monopolists the evils which would ere long have afflicted New Zealand would have degraded our people and crushed out their manhood, their independence of character, and their spirit of self reliance. Every country in which great estates prevailed was ultimately brought to ruin and disaster. Ancient Rome perished because of the great landed possessions of individual citizens. France was deluged in blood in 1793 because of the misery which the system of great estates brought upon its people. And in our own day the position of the working agricultural population of England is positively appalling. This book which I hold in my hand is a series of letters written for the London "Daily News" last year by its special correspondent who was sent to investigate the condition of the agricultural population of England. And it is sad reading. I will, with your indulgence, read one or two passages from some of these letters, by which you will see the very striking evils of a system of great estates such as that prevailing in Great Britain, and which the National Tory Associations throughout this Colony would like and are firmly endeavouring to perpetuate among you. In speaking of the cottages in one village—Ixworth—he says: "Numbers of houses have not so much as a back door, to say nothing of garden plots. Numbers of them are reported 'not wind and water tight.' There is a row of houses in one lane, the total number of inhabitants is forty four, and there are three closets for their use. In other houses water comes into the bedrooms and rats eat the bedclothes. In another house the walls were tumbling down. The tenants generally, however, are afraid to give evidence. They have told me they feared being turned out. Dr. Thresh, the medical officer of Chelmsford and Maldon, reported "These wretchedly small overcrowded houses not only affect the morals but the health of the inhabitants. Rheumatism and chest affections are caused by sleeping and living in such damp, draughty dwellings. Infectious disease cannot be isolated, nor can any case of illness be properly treated in them," Speaking of the people generally, the writer says: "Existence with them is a dull, dead-alive, hopeless sort of drudgery, without interest, without enjoyment, without any practical result except the mere keeping of body and soul together, and the end of it all is the workhouse, while the community at large is of course the loser of all the added wealth the land might have been made to yield." Speaking of the slavery of the people he says: "I am assured that it is literally true that if in one of those places a young man wants to get married and settle down it is of no use merely to woo and to win the young page 10 woman. He must induce the squire to consent also. A Liberal politician told me that in an election recently there were eighty voters in one such proprietary village and he could only get one solitary individual so much as to speak to him. "No, sir," they said, "excuse me, I really can't. I don't want to lose my coals at Christmas." You have no idea what a condition of serfdom the people are reduced to on some of these big estates," said a resident to me today.". Again: "I went last evening into a certain little village I strolled about among the cottagers and talked with them at their doors. How did they live on nine shillings a week? They didn't live. It was a lingering death, the people said. Bread and potatoes had been their food all through the winter, and they hadn't had enough of that. As to the cottages I was assured there were not three good ones in the place, and I heard of the utmost wretchedness last winter. The wind had blown them pretty nearly out of their beds and the snow had come in upon them." Just listen to this little side light on the life of the English rustic. "In one place a woman incidentally alluded to the blankets that were lent to the people. It appeared that everybody in the village had the loan of a blanket. 'But,' I said, 'are there no people in the place who are unwilling to borrow bed-clothing?' 'No, sir; everybody has 'em—unless it is the estate bricklayer. I dunno whether he has one. They seal 'em up in the spring and they unseal 'em in the autumn.' 'Seal them up,?' I said in perplexity. 'Yes, sir; I'll show you mine;' and the vivacious litte woman whisked upstairs and brought down a calico bag the mouth of which was sewn up with string, the ends being sealed with black wax." Gentlemen, are those things not enough to make our ears tingle with shame and indignation that our English fellow countrymen are subjected toso cruel a yoke, and ought we not to determine that no amount of gilding of the pill will ever permit us to tolerate in New Zealand the existence of great landed estates which can so blight a sturdy and vigorous race? (Cheers.)

Old Age Pensions.

There is another matter which I feel convinced must form an item in the democratic programme of the future, and that is some well considered scheme whereby the stigma of pauperism may be removed from the exhausted veterans of industry at the close of a long life. A system of old age pensions is not only economically justifiable and financially possible, but it is the best expedient to preserve and develop a feeling of independent citizenship among our people even in the declining years of life. (Hear, hear.) I am not prepared to go into any details) as time does not permit, but there are several schemes now before the European world, any one of which is, I think, practicable, and it is for us to page 11 consider whether the fund should be created by a small weekly deduction from wages or by a grant from the consolidated revenue obtained by a tax.

Universal Suffrage in Cities.

The next matter I wish to draw your attention to is the mode of election of your local bodies. You now elect them by a narrow and restricted suffrage. The nominal ratepayers alone elect the members. But all dwellers in cities are ratepayers either directly or indirectly. The tenant pays rates through his landlord, because in fixing the rent the landlord takes into account the taxes which will have to be paid upon the house or tenement. There is no reason why you should have a different suffrage for local bodies to that which you have for your parliamentary elections. Great questions will soon be ripening in the towns of the colony and will have to be dealt with by your local bodies and the members of such bodies should therefore be elected upon the widest possible franchise. (Cheers.)

Eight Hours Pay.

I now approach a question which has reached a stage for the fullest and freest discussion, and which ought certainly to be solved by the people of New Zealand. I refer to the question of limiting the working day to eight hours. A question of this kind should not be considered merely on the sordid ground of pounds shillings and pence. (Hear, hear.) The welfare of the race and the health and happiness of the descendants of the present generation should be factors which ought to receive respectful consideration. I do not think the town bred New Zealanders of the future will have the stamina and endurance of the early settlers, if the present inhabitants are compelled to endure a life of unremitting grinding toil. Our people ought to have sufficient leisure for healthful mental and physical recreation, and for the full and free development of all their greatest faculties. (Applause.) Eight hours honest toil daily I think is as much as any human being can continuously endure from year to year without impairing his health and imperilling the health of his progeny. It has been conclusively proved that the limitation of the working day to eight hours does not result in any loss to production. On the contrary, experience shows that more work is done, and done in a better way, by an eight hour workman than by a ten, eleven, or twelve hour workman. There are eight hour laws in several of the United States. In Nebraska, "Wyoming, Idaho and Kansas the law has been found to work most satisfactorily. In a recent book, "The Eight Hours' Day," by Sidney Webb, L.L.B., and Harold Cox, B.A., page 12 I find some very strong and cogent reasons in favour of the adoption of an Eight Hours law. One or two extracts will doubtless interest you:—"In 1859 Mr. Robert Baker, Factory Inspector, reported to the Social Science Association, that although the hours of work have been very much diminished, wages have increased in some cases forty per cent, and generally about twelve per cent, and this reduction of hours and increase of wages had not diminished any kind of textile production, and therefore it had not injured our national prosperity." Professor J. S. Nicholson, in his work on "Wages," states, "The effect of the Factory Acts has been undoubtedly to raise the real wages of the working classes as a whole." "In 1889 a Consular report states, 'In the Woollen Mills of Schmerler and Kretschmar the hours of labour have been reduced to ten with a highly satisfactory result. Not only has there been no falling off in the amount of production; but the out-put has even experienced a slight rise in regard to quantity as well as quality, and the average wages of the workmen have advanced forty kreutzers per week.'" In December, 1890, the large firm of Burroughs, Wellcome and Co., manufacturers, gave the following replies to questions on the Eight Hours' system: "First, we believe the amount of work produced in a week since we adopted the Eight Hour system is very nearly, if not quite, as great as when we were working nine hours a-day. We think the cost of production is not materially increased. We are glad to have been able both to reduce the hours of work and to increase the amount of wages at the same time." Messrs. Brunner, Mond and Co., Limited, reported: "We can assure you we are in .every way satisfied with the change to eight hours a-day. The effect on the health and physique of the men of this change has been most beneficial, and we expect still further improvement when the men have got really used to having time to spare between sleep and work." There is a large mass of testimony to the same effect as those extracts which I have just read to you, all going to show that production has not decreased by the substitution of an eight hour day for a day of a greater number of hours, and that wages have not decreased, but in many instances have increased, as a result of the change. (Cheers.) Dr. W. B. Richardson, the eminent English physician, stated in an address to the Brighton Congress, in 1890, "Taking it all in all, we may keep our minds on eight hours as a fair time for work. We may consider justly that a person who works hard and conscientiously for eight hours has little to be ashamed of, and that for health's sake he Las done what is near to the right thing." Gentlemen, it is an undoubted fact, proved by actuaries' tables, that under the present system the working population are used up before they have reached what ought to be the prime of life. That state of things cannot be said to be a national advantage. I should like just page 13 to quote a short sentence on this subject from a speech made a few years ago before the Leeds Mechanics' Institute by the late Cardinal Manning (cheers); a true friend of the toilers. (Hear, hear.) His Eminence says: "If the great end of life were to multiply yards of cloth and cotton twist, and if the glory of England consists or consisted in multiplying without stint or limit these articles, and the like, at the lowest possible price, so as to undersell all the nations of the world, well then, let us go on. But if the domestic life of the people be vital above all; if the peace, the purity of homes, the education of children, the duties of wives and mothers, the duties of husbands and of fathers, be written in the natural law of mankind, and if these things are sacred far beyond anything that can be sold in the market—then I say if the hours of labour resulting from the unregulated sale of a man's strength and skill, shall lead to the destruction of domestic life, to the neglect of children, to turning wives and mothers into living machines, and of fathers and husbands into—what shall I say, creatures of burden?—I will not use any other word—who rise up before the sun, and come back when it is set, wearied, and able only to take food and to lie down to Test, the domestic life of men exists no longer, and we dare not go on in this path."

One of the stock objections used against a compulsory Eight Hours' law is that it is a violation of the glorious principle of "freedom of contract." Freedom of contract I Why, gentlemen, the words are a mere mockery when applied to the class of cases for which the Eight Hours reform is most urgently needed—where one side is helpless and resourceless and the other side can dictate its own terms. This cant phrase of "freedom of contract" is excellently satirised in a recent issue of Punch in "Jim's Jottings," which I cannot do better than quote to you—

The nobs who're down on Workmen
Cos on knobsticks they will frown,
Has ft 'arty love for Libbaty—when keepin
Wages down
Contrack's a sacred 'oly thing, freedom
Carn't 'ave that broke,
But free contrack wot's forced on yer, why
Of course that sounds a joke.
If they know'd us and our sort gents, they would
Know free contrack's fudge,
When one side ain't got a copper, 'as been six
Weeks on the trudge,
Or 'as built his little business up in one
Particular spot,
And if the rent's raised on 'im, must turn
out and starve or rot.


The "Unemployed" Question.

In the near future there can be no doubt that the people will insist on its statesmen finding an adequate solution of the "unemployed" question. It is monstrous to suppose that no page 14 method can be devised by which the perennial existence of a class of unemployed vigorous and willing workers in our midst can be remedied. In some of the most unenlightened countries in the world there are no unemployed. There are no unemployed even in China. And if amongst a people so benighted according to Western ideas as the Chinese the problem of providing work for all the capable inhabitants has been solved, surely a race like ourselves, possessing to the full the advantages of nineteenth century civilisation, cannot say that the same problem among our own people is insoluble.

Social Legislation.

One of the earliest reforms which the legislature ought to accomplish should be the complete abolition of imprisonment for debt in New Zealand. In theory there is no imprisonment for debt in New Zealand, but as a matter of fact men are almost daily sent to prison for not paying debts which in the majority of cases they are wholly unable to pay. The present law is also one sided in its operation, because it only oppresses the very poor. If a man is unable to pay his debts but can, nevertheless, obtain ten pounds or so for expenses ho can seek the protection of the bankruptcy court, but the unfortunate who is without sufficient means to do this must endure the degradation of imprisonment. Another question which might well engage the attention of your representatives is to secure for every man the exemption from seizure of an irreducible minimum of property. It is not to the interest of the State that a man should be stripped of even the commonest necessary possessions of his household. I think some such law altered to suit the circumstances of our country as exists in Canada with regard to this subject should be adopted. I will just quote to you what exemptions from seizure are allowed in Canada:—The Homestead Law in the North West Territories of Canada exempts from seizure, by virtue of all writs of execution issued by any court, the following:—
1.Clothing of defendant and family.
2.Furniture and household furnishings to value of 500 dols
3.Necessary food for defendant's family for six months, which may include grain and flour, or vegetables and meat, either prepared for use or on foot.
4.Two cows, two oxen, and one horse, or three horses or mules; six sheep and two pigs, besides the animals kept for food purposes, and food for same during the six months beginning in November.
4.Harness for three animals, one waggon or two carte, one mower or scythe, one breaking plough, one cross plough, one set of harness, one horse rake, one sewing machine, one reaper and binder.
6.Books of a professional man.
7.Tools and necessaries used by defendant in trade or profession.
8.Seed grain sufficient to seed all land under cultivation, not exceeding eighty acres (two bushels to the acre, and fourteen bushels of potatoes.)page 15
9.Homestead up to eighty acres.
10.House and buildings, and lot or lots upon which same are situated, up to the sum of 1,500 dols, in value.

No article (except of food, clothing, or bedding) is exempt from seizure where the judgment and execution are for the price of such article.

The power which landlords possess at the present time of seizing their tenants' goods without any legal process for nonpayment of rent should be taken away, and the landlords placed on the same footing as all other creditors. (Cheers.) The duty of government is to protect the weak and to direct the strong, but unfortunately some people seem to imagine that government ought to oppress the weak and allow the strong to work their own sweet will.

The present law with regard to combinations requires very drastic amendment. On this subject we are even behind Great Britain, where several Acts have been passed in recent years mitigating the harshness of the old common law doctrine of conspiracy, and rendering trades unions combinations lawful. This principle ought to be laid down, that whatever a man may lawfully do of his own accord it should not be an offence for two or more to agree to do. (Hear, hear.) Upon the question of education the last word has not been said, while a good, sound knowledge of the subjects usually imparted in the schools of the colony at the present time is indispensable for every child, yet it cannot be said that the instruction given fits the pupils adequately to commence the battle of life. A thorough system of technical education for boys, and housewifery schools for girls, as in Belgium, are not only desirable but essential adjuncts to the present educational system, if we desire our young nation to take its rightful place among the states of the world in the future. (Applause.) Concurrently with this educational reform child labour ought with a few exceptions to be entirely abolished. (Cheers.) While we are in this colony happily free from anything like what is virtually the child slavery that exists in England, yet it is notorious that children of tender years are habitually overworked, and that they are sent to work at an age when they ought to be acquiring knowledge and bodily strength to fairly equip them for the full duties of citizenship. There are some other topics which I should have liked to have touched upon, but I must not further detain you—(Go on). The democracy of New Zealand must swing back the political pendulum until something like an equality of burdens is borne by all sections of the community. (Cheers.) In the past, almost since the earliest days of the colony, the Tory party have legislated and devised systems of taxation in the interests of property. Now we must legislate in the interests of men. (Cheers.) As was said by a distinguished orator, "Property ruling manhood is like the servant ruling his page 16 master." We must take care that in New Zealand the master shall rule in future. (Loud cheers.) When we consider that almost everything in the nature of property is the creature of labour, and yet that some ostensibly sane people—members of the National Tory Association for instance—calmly argue that the inanimate thing created—property—ought to be more considered than the living being who created it—the man with all his powers and faculties, affections and emotions—we must marvel at the strange mental—aberration which self-interest, and the current prejudices of men's environment, frequently cause. John Locke, who was certainly not a Radical, in his "Essay on Civil Government," gives his opinion in these words: "I think it will be but a, very modest computation to say that, of the products of the earth useful to the life of man, nine-tenths are the effects of labour." When we consider that stupendous fact we are driven to the conclusion that the position of the labourer ought to be one of dignity and power, and that he is entitled to participate in an equal degree in all the rights and privileges which the laws of his country confer upon other classes of his countryman. (Cheers.)


Gentlemen, it requires not the eye of a seer to discern that in a future not remote the principles which have condemned nine-tenths of humanity to a life of want end misery, while the fruits and blessings of our God-like civilization have been confined exclusively to a few, will be banished from cur economics and politics as tragic heresies of a dark and dismal age. Millionaires and paupers will alike be unknown species. Substantial comfort will be recognised to be the right of every industrious and law-abiding citizen. No land tyrant will have the power to exact from any man a price or penalty for the right to live. Let the democracy of New Zealand, conscious of the justice of its cause and heedless of the frowns and jeers and execrations of its adversaries, pursue its course firmly and unfalteringly, and hasten on the advent of that new era the dawn of which is now breaking the wide world over. In the words of the Laureate—

Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change,

(Loud cheers.)

Vote of Thanks.

Mr. A. Kelly proposed, and Mr. W. Duncan, J.P., seconded, "That a hearty vote of thanks be accorded to Mr. Napier for his able and instructive address." The motion was carried amidst applause. On the motion of Mr. Napier a vote of thanks was passed to the Chairman (Mr. Beehan) for his conduct in the chair.