Notes on the History of Proposals to Amend the Rules of the Royal Society Regarding the Financial Obligations of Member Bodies.
The matter was apparently first raised at the Annual Meeting, 1954, when a motion: “That in the rules of the Society relating to the maintenance of libraries, museums, etc., the words ‘one-third of their income’ be deleted” was discussed and defeated. Notice was then given that the Wellington Branch was unable to conform to the existing rule, and it was resolved that the Wellington Branch be invited to place its case before the Standing Committee and to seek the views of Member Bodies.
In November, 1954, it was moved by the Wellington Branch representative: “That the Society's Rule, Section A, No. 3, be amended by adding the words ‘ or £90 per annum, whichever shall be the less’ after the words ‘one-third of its revenue’”. The motion does not appear to have been put, but it was resolved: “ That for this year we agree to allow temporary relief to the Wellington Branch along the lines of the motion”.
Other proposals were put forward by the Canterbury Branch and were referred to the Standing Committee. The effect of these proposals was that expenditure on a library, etc., and the contribution to the Parent Body should together total at least one-third of income.
At the Annual Meeting, 1955, it was moved: “That the Council approve of a general contribution to the Parent Body from all members of the Society”. It was stated that this was supported in advance by Canterbury, Otago and Nelson. It was opposed at the meeting by Auckland. A long discussion dealt with the function of Branches and after the original motion had apparently been dropped, it was resolved: “That the Standing Committee nominate for approval by Council at its November meeting an impartial authority to be established to consider the relative contributions of Member Bodies to the aims and objects of the Royal Society and to determine accordingly the proportion of administrative costs of the Royal Society to be borne by the Member Bodies.”
In November, 1955, after the Auckland representatives had expressed the opinion that all the relevant facts should be obtained from Member Bodies, it was resolved: “ That in the terms of the Auckland Institute's recommendation as stated by Dr. Archey, facts and information be obtained from Branches, and proposals as to the obligatory expenditure of Branches under the rules be collated for presentation to the Council”. A recommendation by Hawke's Bay that each Branch should donate 10% of its income to the Parent Body was referred back. The previous resolution to nominate an impartial authority was rescinded.
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At the Annual Meeting, 1956, it was moved: “That the Standing Committee recommends to the Council that it approve the payment from Branches of 1/6 for each member of any category on the membership roll of the Branch, the payment to form a contribution to the administrative expenses of the Royal Society of New Zealand as distinct from the charge to the Branch for the Transactions.” After a long discussion the words “subject to ratification by Member Bodies at their annual general meetings” were added. The motion was defeated.
After this meeting the Standing Committee circulated to all Branches a questionnaire to obtain the information referred to in the motion carried at the November, 1955, meeting.
The questionnaire dealt exhaustively both with the finances and activities of each Branch and with its views on a series of specific questions concerning the principle underlying any financial obligations to be imposed on Branches. The replies to the most important questions were:—
That in principle all Member Bodies should contribute to the upkeep of the Parent Body. Supported by all Branches except Auckland.
That such a contribution should be based on a fixed percentage of subscription income.
Supported by all Branches except Canterbury and Auckland.
That the basis of calculation should be all members.
Supported by Wellington, Otago, Rotorua and Nelson.
That the basis of calculation should be full members only.
Supported by Canterbury, Southland and Waikato.
At the November, 1956, meeting a series of resolutions were submitted each based on the majority reply to one of the questions in the questionnaire. It was resolved:—
That Branches should make an obligatory contribution to the funds of the Royal Society (Carried on a show of hands).
That this contribution should not be allocated to any specific purpose.
That expenditure by a Branch on a library, museum, observatory, etc., or by levy towards the cost of the Transactions should be deducted before assessing the contribution, provided that this does not reduce the contribution below a fixed minimum level.
That the contribution should be calculated as a proportion of the subscription income.
That the percentage should be calculated on income from full members excluding life members.
That the contribution should be one-quarter of subscription income after deductions have been made or one-sixth of total subscription income whichever is the greater.
That no expenditure on library, museum, etc, should be obligatory on Branches.
That payment towards the cost of the Transactions under Rule H (e) shall not form part of the contribution.
To give effect to these principles which had been adopted by Council the Standing Committee drew up a series of amendments to the Rules These were considered by Council at the Annual Meeting, 1957.
The main proposal was to change Rule A (3) to read:—
“Every Member Body admitted as aforesaid shall pay towards the extension and maintenance of the Royal Society of New Zealand in each year whichever is the greater of either one-sixth of its revenue received in the preceding year from the subscriptions of full members excluding life members or one-quarter of the residue of the revenue aforesaid after any sum expended in the same year by the member body on the formation or support of any local library, museum, observatory or other institution approved by the Council and any sum paid in that year towards the cost of publishing the Proceedings and Transactions of the Society under Clause H (e) of these Rules have been deducted.” The proposal was vigorously debated and was finally defeated on the casting vote of the President. The other proposals were not proceeded with.
At the November, 1957, meeting the Hon. Treasurer introduced his report which had been deferred from the Annual Meeting. In it he urged that branches should make a standard contribution towards the funds of the Parent Body, and he suggested a capitation fee of 5/-per member. He subsequently moved that this proposal be referred to Member Bodies. After some debate the motion was carried on a show of hands.
Subsequently the Standing Committee wrote to Branches asking their views on the proposal. Of those that replied, Canterbury, Otago and Hawke's Bay agreed to both the principle and the rate, while Wellington and Nelson agreed to the principle with qualifications as to details. Waikato was opposed to both principle and rate. Auckland, Rotorua and Southland did not reply.
At the Annual Meeting, 1958, the proposal was further discussed and finally it was resolved: “That the Standing Committee be asked to prepare a definite proposal for submission to the November meeting and that it be referred to Member Bodies for further consideration.”
At this meeting the Hon. Treasurer stated in his report that four of the nine Branches were not fulfilling their financial obligations under the rules.
The present Sub-committee has been set up by the Standing Committee to draft these proposals.
Consequently it was moved by Dr. Barnett, seconded by Mr. K. R. Allen:— “That the following new rules be inserted immediately following Rule A (3) and that existing Rules A 4, 5, 6 and 7 be renumbered A (6), (7), (8) and (9) respectively.
Rule A (4) The by-laws of every Member Body admitted as aforesaid shall include a provision whereby members who belong to one or more specified categories shall be considered subscribing members of the Royal Society of New Zealand and every Member Body shall pay to the Society in each year the sum of 5/- for each of its members belonging to such category or categories. Any sum paid under this rule shall be considered as part of the one-third or one-sixth of the annual revenue required to be expended in terms of Rule A (3).
Rule A (5) Any contributions made by a member body towards the cost of publishing theProceedings and/or Transactions of the Society in terms of Rule H (e) shall not form part of the contribution of Member Bodies in terms of Rules 3 and 4.
After a brief discussion and some explanatory information had been given the motion was put and carried.
Interpretation of Rule A (3). Some confusion existed as to what was the interpretation of “annual revenue” in Rule A (3) and notice had therefore been given to clarify this Rule as follows:—
Dr. Archey moved, Mr. Willett seconded and it was carried:—
“That Rule A (3) be amended by the deletion of the words ‘annual revenue’ where they occur and the substitution therefor of the words ‘revenue from annual subscriptions of members’ in each place.”