The History of Local Government
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IN the consideration of the very important question of local self-government, we desire above all things to avoid a contentious and dogmatic spirit; though, at the same time, being sincere and earnest in our opinions, we shall not fail zealously to press them upon the acceptance of our readers.
We have fallen upon times when it is imperative that prejudice and partiality should give way before truth. While, however, we strive for the prevalence of sound, general principles on this and on other subjects, we hope to avoid that undue urgency in the advocacy of details, which not infrequently results in losing sight of the principles themselves. Previously to the year 1853, when the Act granting a constitution to the colony of New Zealand came into operation, the system of endowed local self-government received a much larger development under Sir George Grey than it has attained to since that period; and, therefore, we do wonder that at a time when the whole colony is yearning, as at present it is, for a
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change in the political constitution of the country, that its desire naturally and fondly turns to that state of things of which it had a foretaste in the days of which we speak.
In writing to the Home authorities on the 30th August, 1851, Sir George Grey, then Governor of New Zealand, proposes to divide the English settlements into three classes of municipalities, viz.: Small Municipalities, which are called Hundreds, and which may be regarded as Road districts; Pastoral Districts, extending over the thinly-populated pastoral lands under lease from the Crown; and Large Municipalities, embracing several Hundreds, or Road Districts, and possessing largely increased powers. Sir George Grey was not wrong in "relying greatly upon municipal institutions as a very important element in the constitution of the country;" nor in believing "that the inhabitants of New Zealand, generally, would very unwillingly see them swept away to give place to any other system that is as yet to be proposed;" "the more especially when the system of municipalities provided that one-third of the gross proceeds realised from the sale of land in their respective districts was to he placed under the control of these municipal bodies." Unfortunately for New Zealand, the after legislation which created the Hundreds and Road Districts utterly destroyed the vital elements of the whole system by withholding from those districts a portion
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of the proceeds arising from the sale of lands within the same. On be important a point as this endowment we are particularly anxious that there should be no mistake, and therefore we proceed to lay before our readers extracts from the correspondence of the time. On the 1st of October, 1849, Governor Grey, in addressing the Eight Hon. Earl Grey, writes as follows:--
2. I have now the honor to enclose, in order that the Queen's pleasure may be taken thereon, an ordinance, which, in pursuance of the above mentioned intentions, I have enacted with the advice and consent of my Legislative Council, intituled "An Ordinance to regulate the occupation of waste lands of the Crown in the province of New Ulster."
3. In the despatch above alluded to, I mentioned to your Lordship that I had in view two objects in addition to the depasturing of stock on the waste lands of the Crown, namely:--
1. To induce the inhabitants of the colony to take an interest in the proper administration of the waste lands of the Crown, by permitting them to have a share in the administration of these lands, in those points which most nearly concern the interests of the middling classes of society; and,
2. To try to induce persons to take an interest in the administration of their own affairs, by enabling them to perform ordinary municipal duties in their own districts, without compelling them to raise funds sufficient for the purpose by additional and district taxation.
4. To attain these objects it will be found in the enclosed ordinance that within the limits of a hundred, all regulations relating to the depasturing of cattle on the waste or unsold lands of the Crown are to be made by officers elected by occupiers
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of land within such hundred, and that all funds raised from the depasturing of cattle within the same limits are to be expended on certain objects under the direction of the same officers. I did not consider myself empowered by law to submit a more extended measure for the consideration of my Council; but, I think that great benefits would result from regulations, by which it should be provided that such portions of the funds derived from the sale of Crown lands within a hundred as were applicable to the execution of public works, such as roads, bridges, &c, should be so applied under the direction of officers elected by the inhabitants of the hundred, under the usual restrictions regarding the rendering of accounts, &c. Such regulations would render the provisions of the enclosed ordinance still more effective than they are at present, and would facilitate the growth of the hundreds now created, into the important municipalities, which, it may reasonably be expected, they will ultimately form. I, however, so fully alluded to these subjects in my despatch of the 27th of March last, that it is unnecessary for me, on this occasion, to do more than refer your Lordship to that despatch.
But these opinions were not confined to Sir George Grey, but were heartily shared in by Earl Grey, and by the Committee of the Privy Council in their report on the Australian Constitution. Earl Grey expresses his opinion in the following language:--
You express your opinion, that great benefits would result from regulations, which would entrust to officers elected by the inhabitants of a hundred the appropriation of that portion of the land revenue raised within such hundred, which is applicable to the execution of public works, such as roads, bridges, &c. I agree with you in the general principle of the measure which you propose, and I cannot more clearly indicate to you my
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own views on this subject than by referring you to those which are expressed by the Committee of the Privy Council in their report on the Australian Constitution. I enclose a copy of that report, and it will explain to you the policy which I should desire to see adopted in New Zealand on this subject. As it might be doubted, however, whether the proposed faculty of dealing with part of the land sales' revenue could be bestowed on the hundreds, consistently with the royal instructions, I transmit to you an additional royal instruction under the royal sign manual and signet, by which her Majesty has been pleased to empower you to devolve upon the wardens, or officers of the hundred, the expenditure of one-third of the gross proceeds of the revenue raised within the limits of that division.
So anxious was Earl Grey that this important constitutional feature should not fail of thorough development, that he took the necessary precaution of transmitting, unsolicited, additional Royal instructions under the Sign Manual and Signet, dated the 12th of August, 1850. They were to this effect, that
Whereas by the thirteenth chapter of certain instructions, under our signet and sign manual, approved by our Privy Council and accompanying certain letters patent, under the great seal of our United Kingdom, bearing date 23rd day of December, 1846, provision was made respecting the settlement of the waste lands of the Crown in the two provinces of the colony of New Zealand, and therein respecting the sales of the said lands, and respecting the reservation thereon of certain rents and royalties. And whereas the 31st clause of the said chapter is in the words following, that is to say: -- "31. A separate account shall be kept by the Treasurer of each of the said provinces of the gross proceeds of the said land sales, rents
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and royalties and of all the costs, charges and expenses of and incident in any way to the sale, survey, administration and management of the said demesne of us in right of our Crown, and after deducting from such gross proceeds all such costs, charges and expenses, the net balance shall be by us held in trust for defraying the costs of introducing into the said respective provinces emigrants from the United Kingdom, or in trust for defraying the costs of such other public services therein, as by us shall from time to time be prescribed, by instructions to be issued in pursuance of the said Act of Parliament, under our signet and sign manual, with the advice of our Privy Council.
And whereas by the said letters patent we did reserve to ourselves, our heirs and successors, full power and authority to amend, and for that purpose to add to, or, if necessary, repeal the said instructions. And whereas it is expedient that the hereinbefore recited clause of the said instructions should be amended,
We do therefore declare by these our instructions, given under our signet and sign manual, and approved in our Privy Council, that so much of the said recited clause as prescribes the mode of expending the net balance therein referred to shall be, and the same is hereby repealed, and that the said net balance shall be by us held in trust for defraying the cost of introducing into the said colony emigrants from the United Kingdom, or in trust for defraying the cost of such other public services in respect of the said colony as shall be from time to time prescribed by or in pursuance of any instructions issued by us under our signet and sign manual, and approved by our Privy Council. And whereas, by virtue of certain proclamations issued or to be issued within the colony of New Zealand, certain parts of the said colony have been or may hereafter be divided into hundreds. And whereas it may be expedient that part of the proceeds arising from the sale of Crown
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lands within the said hundreds should be applied in such manner as may be specified by the wardens or other proper authorities thereof.
We do hereby further declare, that it shall be competent for the Governor or officer administering the Government of the said colony to authorize the application of any proportion not exceeding one-third of the gross proceeds of the sales of the Crown lands effected within the limits of any such hundred, towards such purposes as shall be signified to him by the wardens of such hundred, or by such other authorities thereof as shall be designated for that purpose by any ordinance to be passed by the Legislature of the colony. Subject, nevertheless, to such restrictions and regulations as shall be imposed by such ordinance."
The following condensed extracts from the valuable Reports of the Committee of the Privy Council very ably illustrate the vast benefits of the system of endowed Road Districts, which is now engaging the attention and enlisting the sympathies of all earnest and thoughtful men in the colony. The extracts themselves will be found more at length in another column in a future issue; and we ask particular attention to them. Starting with the fact, that one-half of the territorial revenue of the Australian colonies is at present appropriated by Act of Parliament to the cost of introducing emigrants, we find that "The remaining half, subject to a deduction of certain enumerated charges, has been placed by Parliament at the disposal of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury for the public service of the respective colonies. We recommend that of the territorial
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revenue raised and realised in each district, the proportion thus left under their Lordships' control should be placed by them at the disposal of the district councils for objects of local concern, reserving only such a per centage as might be necessary for any purposes of general interest which ought to be charged upon this fund. We should further propose that the sums so placed at the disposal of the district councils should be applicable exclusively to public works within their respective districts." The Report further recommends that there should be a previous report of the probable advantages, and a previous estimate of the cost of any plans of works by official persons duly qualified; that such works, if approved by the Governor in Council, might then be undertaken; and finally, that annual accounts should be rendered by district councils, and that in case of default no additional grant should be made. The Committee's recommendations are based upon "the great principle of devoting the land fund to the utmost possible extent to the improvement of the land," and indisputably shows that the district benefits from the enhanced value of unsold lands within the same, by increased population, and by the increased value of rateable property. The district councils would be rescued from the necessity of contracting debts in the infancy of the settlement of their districts, when the lenders of the money would demand a very high rate of
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interest; and such loans would be necessary only in districts wealthy enough to make them on moderate terms. The Committee object to a system of rating in imperfectly settled districts where such grants do not prevail, because, though the general revenue would be benefitted by the enhanced value of the unsold lands, "the ratepayers of the district would receive no peculiar benefit, excepting that of the more rapid increase of settlement in their immediate settlements," -- "a remote, uncertain, and unappreciable benefit," not sufficiently inciting towards outlay.
Not content, however, with despatches and Royal instruction, the Government of the day took immediate action in the same direction; for we find the Civil Secretary, Mr Domett, under instructions from the Governor, stating to the Superintendent of Auckland, and also to the Superintendent of Otago, on the 8th of August, 1853, "It must, however, be understood that if any portion of the province is proclaimed a Hundred, nothing contained in the foregoing paragraphs will prevent the Governor, under authority of the Royal instructions of the 12th of August, 1850, from authorising the applications of any proportion not exceeding one-third of the gross proceeds of the sales of Crown lands within such Hundred to such purposes as shall be signified to him by the wardens of such Hundreds."
Nearly fifteen years have passed
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away since then. The Crown lands of Auckland have been thrown away; a half-million debt has been incurred, swallowing up the Customs revenue for payment of interest; and the outlying districts now ask for what Auckland has not to give. There is a moral in the tale, and one that he who runneth may read.
IN our last issue we traced the history of outlying districts so far as concerned their participation in the proceeds arising from the sale of land within their respective areas, and we incontestably proved, by reference to despatches, both Imperial and Colonial, to Royal instructions, to Privy Council reports, and to Executive colonial action, that the principle of local self-government with fixed endowments out of land revenue stood prominently forth as the guiding principle of administration by the Crown anterior to the Constitution Act coming into operation in 1853. Since that time up to the present, though there have been spasmodic efforts in many instances, and unfulfilled promises in others, of supplementary grants by provincial governments in aid of voluntary district assessment, yet these grants have been precarious in amount, indiscriminate in apportionment, and unjust in application. In some provinces there has been more of method and in others less, but in all the action taken has
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been without reference to the quantity of the land sold in each district, or the capability or needs of the districts themselves; but we are anticipating, and must retrace our steps.
In 1853, the Crown waived its right of disposing of the waste lands in New Zealand, and by the 72nd section of the Constitution Act vested that power in the General Assembly. In order thoroughly to understand the important change which took place in 1856 and 1858 respecting the distribution of the proceeds of the sales of lands of the Crown, it is expedient that we should state how these proceeds were distributed before the period in question. By the Constitution Act the land revenue was subjected--
1. To the liquidation of the New Zealand Company's claim, therein stated to amount to £208,370 15s, bearing 3 1/2 per cent, interest, recoverable by carrying to account one-fourth of the proceeds of each sale of land.
2. To the expenditure necessary to effect the purchase of land from the native owners, which land was resold for the benefit of the province in which it was situated.
3. To the expenses connected with the Civil List and Annual Appropriation in common with the Ordinary Revenue.
It was evident that the objects to which a fund derivable from the sale of land could be legitimately applied, viz., immigration, public works, and
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other local purposes, were entirely lost sight of, for the "New Zealand Fourths," as they were called, the money required for the purchase of native lands, and for the administration of the land fund, absorbed the whole proceeds of such sales. A change of system, therefore, became necessary, and the more so because the Middle Island objected to provide the funds required for the purchase of lands in the North Island, and the latter to pay the debts which had been incurred by the purchase of land in the Middle Island, where nearly the whole country had changed ownership. After various attempts to adjust the conflicting claims, the Loan Act of 1856 for £500,000 was proposed, of which the following were the most important features:--
1. That the sum of £200,000 should be applied to relieve the Middle Island from the burden of the New Zealand Company's debt, the repayment of which was to be equitably chargeable among the provinces constituting that island.
2. That the sum of £180,000 should be applied towards effecting the purchase of native lands in the Northern Island in certain fixed proportions to the three provinces constituting the same, with a condition that a certain proportion of the proceeds of the sales of such purchased land should be constantly available for the purchase of other lands, and so on.
3. That the balance of the loan
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viz., £120,000, should be applied to clearing off outstanding liabilities.
By this arrangement the obligations of the two islands to each other with respect to land questions were adjudged, and by the proposed Waste Land Act of the same year the revenues derived from the sale of land in each province were to become the revenue of the province in which they arose. These several purposes were fully carried out by the Imperial Act 20 and 21 Vic, c. 51, and the New Zealand Acts of 1858, viz., the Land Revenue Appropriation Act and the Public Debt Apportionment Act. Thus far the arrangements between the two islands were satisfactory. The principle of local self-government with fixed land endowments was fully recognised and applied. The provinces of those days, with their concentrated populations at the chief ports, might be regarded as the outlying districts of the colony; they urged their claims and obtained their rights. But while the Legislature was thus mindful of the two great divisions of the colony, it took steps, by the New Provinces Act of 1858, the especial object of which was to "make better provision for local self-government," to secure justice to the remoter portions of every province, and to provide that the offshoots of provincial centres might demand and obtain, as the provinces themselves had obtained, the right of local self-government, with a fixed endowment both of ordinary and terri-
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torial revenue. Some such Act was evidently earnestly longed for by the remoter districts of some of the provinces. In May, 1857, a portion of the inhabitants of Otago, resident in Muhiriku, now Southland, claimed to be constituted into a separate and independent province on the grounds of their complaints having been received by Otago with indifference, on the proposed sale of 600,000 acres of their choicest lands beyond the Mataura at a low rate, while the portions nearest Dunedin were disposed of on other terms, and on the unfair distribution of the public revenues. In April, 1858, a portion of the inhabitants of the province of Wellington, resident in Hawke's Bay, claimed the independence and separation of their district from Wellington, and "the acquirement of those rights and powers by which are conferred and secured the full possession and enjoyment of local self-government." They based their petition on the grounds of injustice suffered and of wrongs sustained, and on their ability to carry into beneficial operation the privileges and obligations of local self-government, but mainly on the right to the possession of those local powers which were contemplated and provided for by the Constitution Act. They strongly urged their right on the general admission that "the proceeds arising from the sale of lands, especially in young and outlying districts, should, as much as possible, be virtually
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returned to the purchaser, subject to a general contribution towards the support of a central government," justly quoting from Earl Grey's work on the "Colonial Policy of the Administration of Lord John Russell," that "the effect of making over these funds (from the sale of lands) to the local legislatures would be to place the money at the disposal, not of those from whose contributions it is derived, but of the inhabitants of the colonial capitals, who, it might be feared, would apply it to objects in which they are themselves interested, rather than for the benefit of the contributors."
Again, we find in September, 1859, that the residents of the Wairau district petitioned for separation from Nelson, and prayed to be constituted a new province, for the purpose of "securing the privileges of local self-government," without assigning any other reason, and the prayer was granted, and the province of Marlborough was constituted accordingly.
Thus, then, we find those feeders of colonial existence, the outlying districts, on whose welfare that of the colonial centre intimately depends, longing under constitutional government for that liberal position which they formerly enjoyed under the Crown, and necessitating the enactment of a protecting law against the greediness of provincial centres, so graphically described in some of the extracts we have made. But the New Provinces Act of 1858, however
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admirably adapted, in its character as a deterrent, for the work in view, was not without its accompanying evils, and was, moreover, restricted in its operation. It stereotyped and indefinitely multiplied the provincial system with its expensive machinery and its complicating legislative power, and it arbitrarily left those districts within sixty miles of the capital town of a province to the caprice of that province at the very time when, from their weakness and insufficient representation, they required protection; and beyond that distance, it required that there should be a population, within an area of one million of acres, of one thousand souls, of whom one hundred and fifty electors should be petitioners for separation. While, therefore, the Act met with the most uncompromising hostility on the part of those who could not endure to witness the provinces being shorn of any of their arbitrary powers, it received only a hesitating support from those who, while admitting its evils, were loath to part with it until put in possession of something which would be more complete, and would protect all districts alike. In an evil and unwatchful hour, amid the strife of parties, an Act passed the General Assembly virtually repealing the New Provinces Act, without affording any efficient substitute, but, as good is often evolved from evil, this attempt to repress rights and privileges met, in 1867, with its due punishment, in the Westland County
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Act and the Timaru and Gladstone Act; but of these, and the more immediately impelling causes we will write in our next.
The effect of the New Provinces Act of 1858 was to be seen in the dismemberment of three of the six provinces of New Zealand, and the principle of the Act would doubtless have further shewn itself in the dismemberment of the remaining three had not party strifes intervened to neutralize its operation; nevertheless, though the Act had become a dead letter, the spirit which had actuated it moved abroad, and brought forth fruit. The weak portions of every province perceived that the central executive and legislative authority was their natural friend from the rapacity of a provincial centralisation, and seeking in vain for redress from Provincial Councils, they turned towards the General Assembly; and they turned not in vain. Year by year their representatives had endeavoured to obtain some legislative enactment in their favour; but, though the contest was often close, and the strife hot, they failed to gain any marked success. The districts themselves then took up the question, and petitioned the Houses of Parliament.
On the 10th December, 1863, the Hon. Mr Fox presented a petition from 1,750 miners and residents of the
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Wakatip Goldfields in Otago, requesting the Governor to take into his own hands the administration of the gold-fields, on the grounds of insufficient staff, inadequate and unjust share of public revenues, unequal and unjust representation in the Provincial Council, and general mismanagement. The petition was ordered to be printed, but no further action was taken.
On the 25th of August, 1865, Mr Wayne presented a petition from 582 inhabitants of Oamaru in Otago, praying for a reconstruction of Government by the removal of the present Provincial Government, and the establishment of one system for the whole Middle Island, "including local boards for the administration of the details of government, with power over a certain portion of the land fund." The grounds adduced in behalf of the petition were, that the Provincial Government had expended a very small proportion of the £150,000 of land revenue derived from the district in any works of permanent value to the district, while the land fund had been squandered, and extravagant and expensive establishments entertained.
On the 28th of July, 18G5, Mr Cox presented a petition from 78 electors resident in the southern part of the Province of Canterbury, praying for the introduction of a bill for securing the expenditure of a proportion of the provincial revenue of Canterbury in outlying districts.
On the 21th July, 1860, a petition
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was presented by Mr Campbell from 295 inhabitants of the town and district of Oamaru in Otago, praying for a "total change in the Provincial Government system, that local Boards be established in the outlying districts for the administration of their own affairs with power over a just and equitable portion of the land fund," etc., and they supported the arguments of their former petition by additional evidence.
On the 6th August, 1866, the Select Committee on Public Petitions reported on a petition from 200 persons in the Timaru and Gladstone districts, requesting that a fair share of the provincial revenues for local purposes may be secured to them, and praying for a county organisation.
On the 30th August the same Committee reported on a petition from 161 inhabitants of the goldfields of Otago, complaining of the grievously inefficient and burthensome administration of the goldfields, and of wasteful and injudicious expenditure of public moneys.
Again, on the 5th September, 1866, the electors of Timaru and Gladstone pray for a system of government more analagous to a county organisation.
In 1867, the settlers of Raglan, in the Province of Auckland, approach the General Assembly, and state that for the last twelve years they had in vain attempted to get justice from the Provincial Council; that the land within their districts had been given to absentees; that the whole of the re-
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ceipts from customs and land sales from their district had been spent in Auckland; that of the loan for £500,000, only £500 had been expended in country districts; and they therefore pray for a system of municipalities under a central government.
In September, 1867, Timaru and Gladstone again reiterate their complaints, and ask for the establishment of a Board in the district having power over the land fund.
In August, 1867, the Mayor and Councillors of the town of Wakatip in Otago express their earnest desire for local self-government in the shape of a Shire or Council Bill, with fixed land and revenue endowments, and that they may be protected from a one-sided administration.
On the 1st August, 1867, 437 residents of the Dunstan, in the Province of Otago, pray the Assembly for a County Bill with local self-government, with the revenues from the land arising within their districts.
On the same day, 271 inhabitants of Timaru and Gladstone pray for a Shire and Council Bill on the principle of local self-government, with endowment either from the general revenue of the colony, or from the sale of waste lands within the districts, and that this self-government be placed entirely beyond the power of Superintendents or Provincial Councils; and they press the urgent necessity for giving speedy effect to their appeal.
On the 3rd September, 600 inha-
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bitants of the electoral districts of Gladstone and Timaru appeal to the Assembly for redress and protection against the Provincial Government of Canterbury, which, they state, had absorbed the revenues of the district, both territorial and ordinary, and returned scarcely anything in the shape of reproductive works, nothing like a fair proportion of revenue in any year having been spent in the district.
On the 16th December, 1867, 2,600 registered electors and other inhabitants of the district of Westland, in the Province of Canterbury, which comprises an area of 2,700,000 acres, presented, through Mr Stafford, a petition to the Assembly, praying that the district might be declared a new province, or that the inhabitants thereof might be relieved from the gross injustice and numerous vexatious hindrances under which they had for a long time laboured. They founded their complaints on diversity of interests, distance from the seat of the Provincial Government, and difficulty of communication, insufficient representation, injudicious legislation, parsimonious expenditure, and excessive cost of administration, --all necessitating an absolute and immediate separation.
Without entering into a consideration of the merits of these remonstrances and allegations, and of the counter petitions which in some cases were presented, we think we are justified in concluding, especially from what we know of the Timaru and Gladstone
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case, that there was only too much truth in what was adduced, and that the "Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works Act, 1867," and the "County of Westland Act, 1867," were not an hour before their time. It was impossible that the Government and the Assembly should remain deaf to remonstrances so constantly, earnestly, and urgently pressed, the more especially as the petitioners had, in many instances, sought in vain for redress from Provincial Governments. We do not say that the Acts which have been passed meet the necessities of each case, but it is far better to administer such remedies as may be easily accessible, than wait indefinitely until some specific is discovered. If it were true that the estate was being consumed, it was indeed high time that the partners should claim some share in what might remain. We will consider in our next the various proposals of relief which have been suggested to meet the case.
WE have now nearly finished the task which we undertook to do, with the exception of suggesting remedial measures for the evils which now afflict outlying districts. We have traced the history of local self-government from the day when the Crown administered the revenues of the colony, and appropriated one-third of the gross revenues arising from land for
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the districts whence they arose to the present moment, when provincial institutions--whatever their other merits, of which we shall write shortly--have manifested beyond dispute their incapacity or unwillingness to deal out an even-handed justice to the weak and the strong, the remote and the near districts alike; and, whether we will or not, necessity now compels us to devise and carry out some scheme which the numerous petitions to Provincial Governments and the Houses of Assembly too plainly tell us can no longer with safety be denied. Fullblown promises and delicately-veiled cajolery have had their day; the revenues of the past have gone; loans to an overwhelming amount have been raised and expended; guarantees have been given and are yet to be redeemed; and, what is worse than all, the land which is a part mortgage for our loans --the security we have given the creditor--is melting away, being the only instance on record in which the mortgagor has been allowed to sell the estate while his debt remained unredeemed. Now, if ever, the outlying districts of provinces which have still a landed estate should rouse themselves, and demand their rights in unmistakable language. The territorial revenue should be kept sacredly distinct from ordinary revenue, and solely applied to its legitimate objects, not to cover the cost of expensive establishments, doubtful guarantees, and unprofitable speculations; and the watch-
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word of every true-hearted colonist should be, "Return to the land the revenue which is derived from it." This desirable object may be sought after in several different ways, which we will endeavour briefly to enumerate, referring our readers to another column for the principles of some of the Bills as habited in legal phraseology, where we have given copies of the endowment clauses, and also of extracts from the valuable report of the Committee of the Privy Council. We have, then:--
I. The Crown system, which gave to each district one-third of the gross revenue derived from the sale of lands within it. Simple, effective, but too late in the day for most of the provinces.
II. The Constitution Act system of distribution by Provincial Councils, which has been tried and found to be unjust in its operation, and exposed to the great danger of having the revenues arising from the sale of land absorbed for those provincial wants which should be provided for out of ordinary revenue, and which seldom returns anything approximating a fair proportion to the district whence the revenue arose. This system may be regarded as one which starves the extremities and pampers the centre.
III. The District Board Bill system of 1866, of which Messrs Vogel, Campbell, Richardson, Cox, Jollie, and others were supporters. It contemplated a threefold endowment, viz.:--
1. By paying to the District Board
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for the first five years a sum equal to twice the amount actually received by the Board from rates during the preceding year, and for the next five years a sum equal to the sum raised as above; the rates not to exceed one shilling in the pound.
2. By an endowment in land to the amount of one-tenth part of the net land revenue which has accrued from the sale, disposal, and occupation of waste lands within such district; such land to be situated within the same.
3. By an annual grant to the Board of a sum nearly equal to one-tenth part of the net proceeds of the land revenue derived from the sale, occupation, or disposal of waste lands within the district.
This scheme has some great merits; indeed, the only serious objection to it is, that it does not embrace districts of which the land has been sold, though in many such cases it would include the rents under pastoral leases, and the districts in all cases might be extended so as to embrace them. This bill, unfortunately, consisted of 316 clauses.
IV. The Local Government Bill 1867, (the Government measure of last session). It contemplated two endowments, viz.:--
1. By paying out of the ordinary revenue a sum equal to twice the amount raised from rates.
2. By paying out of the land revenue in addition, 1st, to districts where three-fourths or more of the land of which has been sold thirty per cent, of
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the money received during the preceding year; 2ndly, where one-half or more, but less than three-fourths, of the land has been sold, twenty-five per cent.; and, 3rdly, where less than one-half of the land has been sold, twenty per cent.
This bill unfortunately contained 405 clauses. It has many merits, especially in the graduated scale of land revenue payments, but still, does not include the case of a district where nearly the whole of the land has been sold, and the district had received but little benefit.
V. The Victorian Act of 1863 differs from the District Board Bill system of 1866, inasmuch as it limits the application of the consolidated revenue for the first five years to £160,000 annually, and for the second five years, to £80,000 annually, a proportionate reduction of distribution being made where the grant is insufficient. It gives no endowment in land, nor part proceeds of any land revenue. The number of clauses is an objection here also.
VI. The New South Wales Bill of 1865, and of the following year, differs from the New Zealand Bill, inasmuch that for the first five years it gives annually a sum not exceeding the amount raised; for the next five years a sum annually not exceeding one-half of the sum raised; and in each of the next five years one-fourth of the sum raised; and thenceforth all contributions cease. It gives no endowment
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in land, nor of past proceeds of land revenues; but in addition, it gives every year a sum not exceeding one-third of the amount received during the preceding year from the sale of Crown lands within the boundaries of the district, provided that where more than one-half of the lands have been alienated or sold the sum so paid may be increased to one-half of the amount thus received.
VII. The United States Law (1841) gives ten per cent, of the net proceeds of the lands to the States (districts) whence the revenue is derived, and the remainder is divided half-yearly among the whole of the States of the Union according to their respective federal population, as ascertained by the last census, to be applied by the Legislature of the said States (districts) to such purposes as they may direct.
There is yet one plan not unworthy of consideration, especially with reference to districts whose land is almost all sold. It may be shortly stated thus:-- That the amount of grant to any district of a province shall be proportioned to the total land revenue received in all times past from it, and which shall not exceed one-third of the whole, to be paid in five, or ten, or more years; and that in addition to this, there shall be supplementary grants to each district at the rate of £2 for each pound raised for ten years from the date of the first grant.
We cannot well conclude our remarks on this deeply interesting and
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important subject without one word of appeal to the outlying districts of the colony. We feel that as Timaru and Gladstone has reaped the firstfruits of this rightful movement, so we should be among the foremost to urge those districts not to sell their birthright for some promised mess of pottage. We warn them to beware of the fate of the outlying districts of Auckland. They petitioned and prayed, and while thus engaged the provincial revenues vanished, the provincial debt increased by half a million; and now they have only dry bleached bones to quarrel over, their proportion of the Customs revenue being required to pay the interest and sinking fund of the provincial debts. In some of the southern provinces there is yet a magnificent estate remaining. Will the outlying districts petition and pray till they also have only a dry bone to squabble over, with some £50,000 to £80,000 to pay annually for the interest and sinking fund of debts incurred? That day may be nearer than they dream of. We throw out some suggestions as a bond of union, for in unity alone there is strength: --
1. Distinct and separate accounts to be kept of the receipts and expenditure of ordinary and of territorial revenue.
2. A division and appropriation of territorial revenue into four branches, viz., administrative, immigration, trunk line communication, and outlying districts.
3. These accounts, divisions, and
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appropriations to be made law by act of the General Assembly of New Zealand.
If the colony insists upon these, then we may hope for better days. No juggling can deceive the public by carrying the proceeds of land sales to the credit of ordinary revenue, and thus give a fictitious appearance of prosperity; any one will be able to detect in an instant when the administrative machinery is eating up the vitals of the country; a judicious system of immigration will swell the revenue, reduce the pressure of our debts, absorb our surplus stocks, and extend our manufactures; while the permanent appropriation of revenue to outlying districts will attract immigration, and give a healthy stimulus to agricultural operations, which will react most beneficially upon the great centres of population.
[Extracts from the Report of the Committee of the Privy Council.]
"But the acknowledged want of alacrity and zeal in this service in the Municipal Corporations already established has been publicly and generally ascribed to a cause which we are disposed to regard as remediable. In order to the effective execution of the powers of these bodies, it would be necessary to raise large local rates, and to devote a large portion of the produce of them to an expenditure unfruitful of any considerable or immediate advantage to the ratepayers. If,
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for example, a road or a drain should be formed through a district imperfectly settled by the produce of rates levied on the present settlers, that outlay would confer on the engranted lands, in proportion to their extent a benefit equal to that which the settled lands would derive from it. Eventually, indeed those engranted lands would be sold at prices enhanced by this application of the local rates, and the general territorial revenue of the colony would to the same extent be enhanced; but the ratepayers of the district would receive no peculiar benefit excepting that of the more rapid increase of settlement in their immediate vicinity. Persons living in a new country, to whom the command of capital is of such urgent importance, can never be expected to find in such remote, uncertain, and inappreciable benefits as these, a motive strong enough to induce them to impose on themselves rates to which the wild lands could contribute nothing.
To remove this very reasonable objection we would observe that one-half of the Territorial Revenue of the Australian colonies is at present appropriated by Act of Parliament to the cost of introducing emigrants. The remaining half, subject to the deduction of certain enumerated charges, has been placed by Parliament at the disposal of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury for the public service of the respective colonies. We recommend that of the Territorial Revenue realized in each district, the proportion thus left under their Lordships' control, should be placed by them at the disposal of the District Councils for objects of local concern, reserving only
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such a per centage as might be necessary for any purposes of general interest which ought to be charged upon this fund. We should further propose that the sums so placed at the disposal of the District Councils should be applicable exclusively to public works within their respective districts. We also think that no such work, if effected at the expense or by the aid of the Land Fund, should be undertaken without a previous report on its probable advantage, and a previous estimate of its cost by official persons duly qualified to prepare such reports and estimates. Further, we would advise that no such work should be actually undertaken without the previous sanction of the Governor in Council, founded on the proposed estimates and reports. Finally, we think that the proper officers of each District Council should render annually accounts of the grants of the last preceding year, which accounts should be published for general information. No additional grant ought to be made to any such body so long as any such account was in arrear.
It appears to us that by dedicating to these purposes that part of the Land Fund which Parliament has left at the disposal of the Crown many important ends would be answered. The Executive Government in this country would be relieved of a responsibility which is as needless as it is invidious. A powerful motive would be called into action for the acceptance and employment of the proposed corporate franchises. The great principle of devoting the Land Fund to the utmost possible extent to the improvement of
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the land would be observed. The manual laborers introduced into the colony by the one-half of that fund would not more directly contribute to the improvement of the territory than the remaining portion would contribute to that end by the creation of roads, drains and other similar works. The price of all ungranted lands in the district would be enhanced by such works, and of that increased price the colony would receive the benefit in an augmented emigration fund, while the particular district would also receive a particular benefit from it in an augmented dividend of the part of the fund which we propose to dedicate to those services. It would operate as an inducement to purchase waste lands to bona fide settlers, as every such purchaser would, through the Council of his district, virtually receive back again a large part of his payment for the land in improvements of the locality in which it was situate. Thus, every district in which sales of Crown lands could be effected, would be in a state of progressive improvements. As, by means of successive sales, the waste lands of the Crown in any district become small in proportion to the improved lands of actual settlers, this source of local revenue would indeed diminish; but the value of the rateable property would be continually increasing. The resource afforded by this use of the funds at the disposal of the Lords of the Treasury, would thus come in aid of the local resources of a district when such aid was most essential to its welfare, and would cease to avail the district as it became more and more independent of all resources but its own. Thus District Councils
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would be rescued from the necessity of contracting debts in the infancy of the settlement of their district, when the lenders of the money would demand a very high rate of interest, and such loans would be necessary only in districts wealthy enough to be able to make them on moderate terms.
[New Zealand Districts Board Act, 1866. Endowment of Road Districts.]
CCXIII. Within one month after the commencement of this Act, and on or before the thirty-first day of January in each year, the Board of every district, so long as such Board shall continue entitled to receive any moneys, as herein provided, shall cause to be prepared and transmitted to the Treasurer of the province, a true and detailed account of all moneys actually received for such district, and if the district be a united district, for each and every single district of which such united district shall, either at one time or successively, have been composed, as and for general rates, payable in respect of property, lying within the same respectively, in the year ending on the thirty-first of December then last past, and, upon the receipt by the Treasurer of such account, it shall be lawful for the Superintendent, by warrant under his hand, to authorise and direct to be paid to such Board, out of the provincial revenue, a sum of money to be fixed according to the following scale:--
For each original district in this present year, and in each of the four succeeding years after the commencement of this Act, and for each proclaimed district in
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each of the first five years after that in which the first rate made in or for such district shall have been for two months payable, a sum equal to twice the amount so actually received by the Board thereof during the year preceding such first mentioned year respectively, and, in each of the next succeeding five years, a sum equal to the amount so actually received by the Board during the year so last preceding.
For each united district according to the like scale, in respect of each single district, of which it shall be so composed, as aforesaid.
Provided, nevertheless, that if any Board shall have made and levied, within any such year, a rate or rates, exceeding in the whole the amount of one shilling in the pound, then, only such proportion of the sum actually received by such Board, as would have been received in respect of the several payments on account of such rate, if a rate, of the amount of only one shilling in the pound had been made and levied, shall, for the purposes of the payment to be made to such Board out of the consolidated revenue, be deemed to have been received by such Board.
CCXIV. Each district shall be entitled to an endowment in land, to the value of one-tenth part of the land revenue, which has accrued from the sale or disposal or occupation of waste lands within Such district, after deducting the survey expenses, and a proportion of the expenses of the waste land department, and the Commissioner of Waste Lands, within the province, shall be the sole judge of the
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amount to which each district shall be entitled hereunder, and, within three months after a district is proclaimed or brought under the Act, such Commissioner shall present to the Superintendent a statement, shewing the amount to which he decides such district is entitled.
CCXV. Upon receipt of such statement the Superintendent shall give a certificate, in the form of the--schedule attached hereto, to the Chairman of the district Board, for the amount. of such award, and the Board may, from time to time, purchase waste lands to the amount of such certificate in the manner provided by any Act in force for the time being regulating sale of waste lands in the province, and such certificate shall be accepted as cash, and, from time to time, as any purchase is made, the amount of the purchase money shall be indorsed by the Receiver of land revenue on the certificate, until the amount of the various purchases equal the amount of the award, and then the certificate shall be delivered up to such Receiver. Provided that the land purchased must be situated within the district, unless the Superintendent decides that waste land of fair average value is not to be obtained within the same, and provided that the blocks purchased must not, without express permission of the Superintendent to the contrary, be less than ----- acres or more than ------ acres in extent. Provided further, that the board may not sell or mortgage the land, acquired under this clause, excepting as hereinafter provided.
CCXVI. The Superintendent shall, each year, pay, to the Chairman of each district
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Board, a sum, as nearly equal as can be calculated to one-tenth part of the proceeds of the land revenue derived from the sale, occupation, or disposal of waste lands within such district, after deducting from such proceeds a rateable proportion of the expenses of the waste lands and survey department.
[New Zealand Local Government Act, 1867. Part XVI. Endowment of Road Districts.]
255. On or before the thirty-first day of January; in each year, the Board of every district shall cause to be prepared, and transmitted to the Colonial Treasurer a true and detailed account of all moneys actually received for such district, and, if the district be a united district, for each and every single district of which such united district shall either at one time or successively have been composed, as, and for general rates payable in respect of property lying within the same respectively in the year ending on the thirty-first day of December then last past, and as and for subscriptions or voluntary donations to the district fund in such year.
256. No such account, as in the last proceeding section aforesaid, shall avail for the purposes of this Act unless it have the solemn declaration of the Treasurer of the district appended thereto, and signed by him, testifying that the said account is, to the best of the knowledge and belief of the said Treasurer, true in every particular.
257. Upon the receipt of such account by the Colonial Treasurer it shall be lawful for the Governor, by warrant under his hand, to authorise and direct to be paid to such Board,
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out of the ordinary revenue, a sum equal to twice the amount, so actually received by such Board during the year ending on the thirty-first day of December then last past, or, if tbo district be a united district, a sum equal to twice the amount actually received in respect of each single district, of which such united district shall have been composed during such year. Provided that moneys actually received, after the constitution of any proclaimed district by the Board thereof in respect of any rate or assessment made under any of the Acts or Ordinances specified in the first Schedule hereto, shall be deemed, for the purpose of such account and payment as last aforesaid, to have been actually received as general rates of the proclaimed district into which such original district is converted hereunder.
258. In addition to the endowment hereinbefore authorised by this Act, there, shall be payable half-yearly, and every half year after the constitution of each district, out of the land revenue, received by any receiver of land revenue, the proportions hereinafter specified of land revenue received during the half-year preceding, on account of Crown lands sold within such district after the constitution thereof under tins Act, that is to say:--
1. Where three-fourths or more of the Crown lands, within any district, shall, at the time of the passing of this Act, have been sold, such proportion, so payable as aforesaid, shall be thirty per centum of the moneys so received.
2. Where one-half or more, but less than three-fourths of the Crown lands, within any district, shall, at the time of the
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passing of this Act, have been sold, such proportion, so payable as aforesaid, shall be twenty-five per centum of the moneys so received,
3. Where less than one-half of the Crown lands, within any district, shall, at the time of the passing of this Act, have been sold, such proportion, so payable as aforesaid, shall be twenty per centum of the moneys so received.
And such proportion shall be paid by the Receiver of Land Revenue in the province in which such district is situate, to the Colonial Treasurer in pursuance of warrants, from time to time granted by the Governor and addressed to such receiver.
259. It shall be lawful for the Governor from time to time, as occasion may require, to call upon the Commissioner of Crown Lands, or Chief Commissioner of the Waste Land Board, or any other member of the Waste Land Board of any province, or any other person or persons that the Governor may think fit, to enquire and report to him within such time, and in such manner as he shall appoint, on the following matters:--
1. The acreage of land within any district or any part of any district.
2. The acreage amount of Crown land sold within any district, or any part of any district, at the time of the passing of this Act, or at any time, or during any period thereafter, together with the sums of money, at or for which such lands have been, or shall have been sold.
And such report shall be accompanied by a declaration under the "Justices of the Peace
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Act, 1866," of the person or persons mating such report, that, to the best of his or their knowledge and belief, such report is true and correct, and it shall be lawful for the Governor at any time, either with or without requiring or receiving any such report or declaration, to decide, for the purpose of ascertaining the proportion of land revenue payable on account of any district, what amount of Crown lands have, at any time being, been sold within any district, and what sum is payable for, or on account of, any district out of land revenue by the receiver of land revenue, under the provisions hereinbefore contained, and such decision shall be final and conclusive for all purposes whatsoever; and if any Commissioner of Crown Lands, or Chief Commissioner, or other commissioner, or member of any Waste Lands Board, or any other person, or persons, shall refuse, or neglect, to make any such report as aforesaid, within such time as shall be appointed, as aforesaid, every such person shall, for every such neglect or refusal, forfeit and pay a penalty of one hundred pounds, to be recovered, on summary conviction, before any two Justices of the Peace.
260. All moneys paid over to the Colonial Treasurer from land revenue on account of any district shall be paid by him into such bank as the Governor shall appoint, to a separate account, to be called, "The Public Works Construction Fund of the District of -------," and at the expiration of the period of six months, the Colonial Treasurer shall forthwith pay over the same to the Board of the district on account of which the same shall have been received, unless the Colonial Treasurer shall
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have received, under the provisions hereinafter contained, a certificate from the Superintendent of the Province in which such district is situate, authorizing him to retain and pay any moneys thereout.
261. Notwithstanding anything herein contained to the contrary, no moneys shall be deducted from the land revenue arising in the Province of Southland, or payable thereout to any Public Works Construction Fund of any district under the provisions hereof, so long as the said revenue continues to be impounded under "The Southland Provincial Debt Act, 1865," and "the Southland Provincial Debt Act Amendment Act, 1866," for the purposes therein mentioned, except so far as such payment may be authorized by any Act of the General Assembly, expressly authorizing the same.
Printed at the "Herald" Office, Timaru.