Ronald Algie

Last updated

Sir Ronald Algie
Ronald Algie, 1950.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Remuera
In office
25 September 1943 26 November 1966
Preceded by Bill Endean
Succeeded by Allan Highet
15th Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
20 June 1961 26 November 1966
Prime Minister Keith Holyoake
Preceded by Robert Macfarlane
Succeeded by Roy Jack
Personal details
Ronald Macmillan Algie

(1888-10-22)22 October 1888
Wyndham, New Zealand
Died23 July 1978(1978-07-23) (aged 89)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political party National
Helen Adair McMaster
(m. 1917;died 1944)

Sir Ronald Macmillan Algie (22 October 1888 – 23 July 1978) was a New Zealand politician who served as Speaker of the House of Representatives for six years in the 1960s. He described himself as "a Tory in the old tradition".


Early life

Algie was born on 22 October 1888, in Wyndham, a small town in New Zealand's Southland Region. He was educated at Arrowtown, Thames High School and Balclutha District High School before attending Auckland University College. He gained an LLB in 1913 and an LLM in 1915. In 1920, aged 31, he became the first professor of law at Auckland University College. He was noted for his strong intellectual performance, and also for his conservative views. [1]

On 4 December 1917 at St Mary's pro-Cathedral, Parnell, Algie married Helen Adair McMaster, [2] a prominent alpinist whose climbs included an ascent of Aoraki / Mount Cook. [3]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
1943 1946 27th Remuera National
1946 1949 28th Remuera National
1949 1951 29th Remuera National
1951 1954 30th Remuera National
1954 1957 31st Remuera National
1957 1960 32nd Remuera National
1960 1963 33rd Remuera National
1963 1966 34th Remuera National

In 1937, Algie became the director of the Freedom Association, an organisation which strongly opposed the left-wing Labour Party government of the time. The Freedom Association quickly became linked to the new National Party, and Algie became one of the party's more prominent supporters. In the 1943 elections, Algie was selected as the National Party's candidate for the Remuera electorate, controversially displacing sitting National MP Bill Endean. Algie won the seat and entered Parliament.

Algie proved to be a skilled Parliamentary debater, and has been described by Hugh Templeton as the best debater of his time. Even opponents such as Bob Semple respected Algie's rhetorical abilities. He was also noted for remaining polite throughout debates, and for his willingness to apologise for any offence he accidentally gave.

Cabinet minister

After the 1949 election, when Sidney Holland formed the first National government, Algie was immediately elevated to Cabinet. He was initially appointed Minister of Education, and later became Minister of Broadcasting and Minister of Scientific and Industrial Research. He also co-led the committee that looked into the future of the Legislative Council, the upper house of the New Zealand Parliament, which was abolished from 1951. In the end, however, Algie's proposals for a Senate were not pursued, and New Zealand's parliament has not had an upper house since that time.

In 1953, Algie was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. [4]

Speaker of the House

Algie briefly returned to Opposition after the 1957 election, which National lost. When National regained power after the 1960 election, Algie is believed to have wanted the post of Minister of External Affairs, but was not given it (possibly because of his age; he was seventy-two). Instead, he was convinced to take up the Speakership. He officially assumed office at the beginning of the 1961 parliamentary term.

As Speaker, Algie was known for his strong insistence on politeness in debates. He also undertook a number of reforms of Parliamentary procedure to accommodate the changing nature of politics. He served six years as Speaker, retiring at the 1966 election. He was generally praised for his performance in the role and in the 1964 Queen's Birthday Honours Algie was appointed a Knight Bachelor. [5] [6] Algie was succeeded in the Remuera seat by Allan Highet.

Algie died in Auckland on 23 July 1978.

Further reading

  • Bible in schools: the opposition of prominent educationalists, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Issued by the State Education Defence League, 1926
  • This tract lists the views of several prominent politicians and educators, including Algie.
  • Aldis, Morton (1938), Socialism, capitalism & freedom: a reply to Professor Algie and the Freedom Association, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Auckland Fabian Club
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1933), Report on certain aspects of legal education, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Auckland University College
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1935), The law of defamation [Bulletin (Auckland University College); no. 28; Bulletin (Auckland University College). Journalism series ; no. 2.], Auckland, [N.Z.]: Auckland University College
  • Algie, Ronald M. (c. 1939), The holding of elections, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1939), Ministerial control, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1940), The British empire, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (c. 1940), The Statute of Westminster: its background, purpose and content: a compilation of views and opinions, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1940), The British parliament, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1940), Democracy and its modern rivals, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1940), Democracy and our economic system : a compilation of views and opinions prepared for consideration and study, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1940), Democracy: some views and opinions, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (c. 1941), The development of the British Commonwealth : some views and opinions, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1941), The economic problem: Conservative and labour opinions : a summary of the views expressed by Mr Geoffrey Crowther, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association ; Worthington Press
  • Algie, Ronald M. (c. 1941), Our way of life: an address to young New Zealanders: a few thoughts on democracy, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand National Party
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1941), The socialisation of the land: an examination of the policy of the Labour government, 1936–1940, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1941), The State and the Small Farms Act: soldier settlement or state socialisation, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1943), Developments in foreign relations: opinions upon certain important questions, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1943), The government and the banks, Auckland, [N.Z.]: New Zealand Freedom Association
  • Algie, Ronald M. (1950), True education: that boys and girls should learn how to live, not merely how to earn a living: extracts from a speech delivered...civic reception in the city of Nelson, Thursday, 15th June 1950, Nelson, [N.Z.]: Stiles & Co.
  • Algie, Ronald M. (chair) (1955), Report of Juvenile Delinquency Committee, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Government Printer

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  1. Templeton, Hugh. "Algie, Ronald Macmillan". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  2. "The social sphere". The Observer. 29 December 1917. p. 8. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  3. "Obituary: Mrs. R. M. Algie". Auckland Star. 25 May 1944. p. 3. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  4. "Coronation Medal" (PDF). Supplement to the New Zealand Gazette (37). 3 July 1953. pp. 1021–1035. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  5. "Birthday Honours" (18 June 1964) 37 New Zealand Gazette 995.
  6. "No. 43345". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 13 June 1964. p. 4977.
Political offices
Preceded by
Terry McCombs
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Philip Skoglund
Preceded by
Robert Macfarlane
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Roy Jack
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Bill Endean
Member of Parliament for Remuera
Succeeded by
Allan Highet