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No. 32. Eighth Year. June, 1915.




The Journal of the Proportional Representation Society of Great Britain and Ireland


The Secretary’s Tour to Australasia and America


SINCE the outbreak of the War in August last the propagandist activities of the Proportional Representation Society have necessarily been curtailed, the attention of the nation and of its public men being absorbed in the great struggle now taking place. In the circumstances the Executive Committee took steps to reduce the expenditure of the Society; two of the three rooms used as offices were given up, employment for two of the office staff was found elsewhere, and the Secretary, Mr. John H. Humphreys, became engaged temporarily in the work, directed by the Local Government Board, of receiving and distributing the refugees from Belgium arriving at Folkestone. The inquiries upon methods of election that continued to reach the offices of the Society, not only from the United Kingdom but also from our Dominions overseas and from the United States, were dealt with by the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Alfred J. Gray; Mr. Gray also carried through the programme of autumn lectures arranged before the declaration of the war.

Meanwhile, a critical situation had arisen in Tasmania, where a bill to substitute a list system of proportional representation for the single transferable vote has been introduced by the Government, and is now (June, 1915) the subject of inquiry by a Parliamentary Select Committee.

Also important developments have occurred in New Zealand where (1) Parliament has passed an Act applying proportional representation to the election of the Legislative Council; (2) a similar bill for the House of Representatives was lost by one vote only, and (3) an Act has been passed making the use of proportional representation optional in local elections. In the case of the elections for the Legislative Council the single transferable vote will be applied under conditions of a difficulty unprecedented in the history of this method.

In April, the Committee of the Society came to the conclusion that it would be of the greatest importance in the interests of the movement that the Secretary should pay a visit to Australia and New Zealand. The Committee in so deciding were influenced by the recollection of the year 1909, when Mr. Humphreys went to South Africa at the request of the Government of the Transvaal and materially assisted in preparing for the application of proportional representation in the election of the South African Senate, and of the Municipal Councils of Johannesburg and Pretoria. They considered that in the present conditions Mr. Humphreys should be able on a similar visit to Australasia to place evidence of the highest value before the Tasmanian Committee and both to give and to receive information in New Zealand on the arrangements necessary to ensure the success of the first elections under proportional representation. His presence, moreover, would be an encouragement to our friends in Australia to whose unremitting efforts are due the promising movements in practically all the States of the Commonwealth.

It is further intended that Mr. Humphreys shall return by way of the United States and thus bring the Society into more direct touch with those who are responsible for reviving our cause in that country, especially in connection with the present wide-spread activity in the revision of State constitutions and municipal charters. The adoption in a few cities of a proportional method of electing their executive councils might be the starting point of a great movement in the United States. And, finally, from our point of view at home, successful developments in other parts of the English-speaking world will be of the greatest practical importance when the Irish question, and other problems of home politics again come up for discussion. The Executive Committee, fully convinced of the desirability of this undertaking and of its opportuneness, appealed to their subscribers for the necessary financial assistance. The response justified the hopes of the Committee and as a result Mr. Humphreys is already on his way to Australia.

The Committee take this opportunity of thanking members of the Society for their continued support at a difficult time.

Letters to Mr. Humphreys (from the United Kingdom) may be addressed as follows:-

Up to the end of June: c/o Mrs. Young, Drumcalpin, Victoria Avenue, Rose Park, Adelaide.

Up to 15th July: c/o Chief Electoral Officer, Wellington, New Zealand.

Up to end of October: c/o Mr. C. G. Hoag, Haverford, Pa.


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