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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Government Assistance

Government Assistance.

Mr Gray moved, "That it is desirable that future conferences should be independent of Government aid towards travelling expenses of its members." Mr Gray, in moving the resolution, said that the agricultural associations had always abstained from the discussion of politics, therefore he thought the conditions imposed by the Government in granting the page 31 delegates their travelling expenses was humiliating, if not insulting, to the Conference. The societies had an undoubted right to discuss politics, and they had never abused that right, but the emergency might arise when it was absolutely necessary that politics should be discussed, and they must have a freehand. It was not unnatural, perhaps, that the Government, in granting the travelling expenses, should make the conditions they had done, but he thought it better that the associations should pay the travelling expenses of their own delegates, which did not amount to a large sum, and could be paid without unduly straining the resources of the respective associations.

Mr Kirkbride seconded the motion. He said the present arrangement was an exceedingly inconvenient one. It had been found that many important subjects had to be struck off the list for discussion, because they trenched on politics, or were likely to lead to politics. The agricultural interests were so often interwoven with politics that it was sometimes impossible to deal with the one subject separately from the other.

Mr Pharazyn agreed with the principles of the motion, and thought it would be better that the Conference should be independent, but he regretted that the word "insult" had been used by the mover in speaking to the motion.

Mr Grigg agreed with the motion. He did not see any reason why the Conference should refrain from discussing political matters any more than the Chambers of Commerce.

Mr Overton said that he had been forestalled in his intention of seconding the resolution. He thought the Conference should be independent of the Government, though, in justice to that Government, he must say that they had been applied to for the grant, and consequently they were perhaps justified in making the stipulation that politics should not be discussed.

Mr Anderson said he would be the last one to discuss political matters in the Conference, but at the same time, he thought they should have liberty to do so if they wished. He preferred to pay his own expenses.

Mr Buchanan said they might be mistaken as to the intention of the Government in excluding political discussions from the Conference.

Mr Chaytor agreed with the motion.

Mr Gray, in replying, said the word "insult" might appear a strong expression. He did not charge the Government with intentional insult; nevertheless, the fact remained that an insult was conveyed to the Conference by the condition imposed. He felt that the position in which the Conference was placed was, at any rate, humiliating; and, speaking for himself, he strongly objected to be shackled by a slip of paper representing £ s. d.

The resolution was unanimously agreed to.