rose to submit an important motion to the House, connected with the 111 measure. Every one was aware of the great importance of the colonial interests; and those who were acquainted with the nature, extent, population, and wealth of the colonies, naturally inquired whether they were not entitled to Representatives in Parliament. The population of British India amounted to 80 or 90 millions of souls, and its wealth and commerce were infinite. There were besides thirty-four colonies, including the Canadas, containing a large population and most extensive resources. He asked the House why so important a portion of the King's dominions as the colonies—important both as regards their population and their riches—should not come within the reach of so important a change as that now contemplated in the constitution of that House. It was a clear proposition, as he conceived, that every British interest ought to be represented in that House, according to its population and property; and why were not the colonies to be put in a situation in which they might participate in the power conceded to other portions of his Majesty's dominions? By the common law of the land, every Englishman who expatriated himself to one of the colonies of this country, carried with him all the rights and privileges of an Englishman, subject only to the changes which the local circumstances of the colony in which he resided rendered necessary. The internal regulations of the colonies were placed under the control of the King in Council, until the colonies assumed such a position as to enable the inhabitants to manage their own affairs. The House, however, had never divested itself of the right to manage the external interests even of those colonies which had local legislatures, or to regulate their commercial arrangements, either with the mother State, or with other countries. Every person was aware of the immense importance of the colonies, which naturally divided themselves into distinct classes. The British possessions in India formed one peculiar class, held under a peculiar tenure; the second class consisted of the Crown colonies, under the government of the King in Council, and having no local legislature; and the third and most important class consisted of those colonies which had a legislative assembly for their internal government and the management of their own affairs. He begged the House to keep in mind the distinction which he drew between those 112 separate classes of colonies, as the proposition he was about to submit was in some degree governed by the distinction. He conceived that the Crown colonies should have the same privileges as other colonies, and have assemblies to legislate for their internal regulation. It was sufficient for him now to state, however, that this privilege was denied to nine colonies, which were known as the Crown colonies. Upper and Lower Canada, however, and fourteen of the West-India islands, had legislative assemblies to tax and regulate those colonies. This, then, was an obvious distinction, and one on which depended the difference he proposed to make in the extent of Representation. He proposed to give a more extensive Representation to those colonies which had no local legislatures, but were governed by the King in Council; and at the same time he did not intend that the colonies which had local legislatures should be wholly unrepresented in the Imperial Parliament. By the statute of the 18th Geo. 3, c. 12, the British Legislature was prevented from interfering with the internal affairs of the colonies which obtained local legislatures, but power was reserved by the same Act to the Legislature of Great Britain to make such regulations as it should deem expedient with regard to the commerce of the colonies, however much those regulations might affect the interest of one or all the colonies. It was, therefore, in the power of the British Legislature, to reduce any one or all the colonies to beggary, or greatly to promote their prosperity—a power of immense importance to the whole of the colonial interests. What he now proposed was, to give the colonies a partial Representation—such a Representation as would place a person in that House capable of stating the grievances and wants of each particular colony, and of giving information on questions which perhaps affected the existence of those colonies, as colonies of this country. In looking to the state of misgovernment into which the colonies had fallen, more appeared to have taken place from the ignorance of the House and the country, as to the real interests of the colonies, than from any design to pass laws which would produce evil consequences. It was important that the House should be placed in a situation in which the best information might be obtained with regard to the colonies, if it were only to avoid the re- 113 currence of those evils which the British Legislature had before inadvertently and unadvisedly fallen into. He conceived that such an alteration would place England in a much better relative situation as regarded its colonies. Twenty millions nearly were now paid annually by this country for the support of its civil and military establishments (putting out of view the sum paid for the interest and management of the Debt); and of that enormous sum raised out of the taxes of this country, how large a portion arose from the expenses entailed on the country by its colonies? Either as regarded the financial view which the question presented, or the rights of the colonists as English subjects, he submitted, that this subject was most important, and deserving of the most serious consideration. Hitherto a large portion of British subjects, resident in the colonies, were deprived of any legitimate mode of laying their wants and wishes before that House. It was true, some Gentlemen connected with the colonies found their way into the House. But one of the greatest and most striking objections to the Reform Bill had been, that, when it came into operation, the same means would not exist for enabling Gentlemen connected with the colonies to obtain seats; and a large portion, if not the whole, of the colonies, would be left without any legitimate mode of conveying their wishes or wants to the Imperial Legislature. He (Mr. Hume) did not mean to say, that, even after the Bill came into operation, some Gentlemen connected with the colonies might not obtain seats for populous places in the United Kingdom; but that was a very different thing from having a member for each of the colonies, or a number of the colonies united, who would sit as the representative of the colonial population, and be ready at all times to state the wishes of his constituents, and support their interests. He was, at the same time, of opinion, that when such an important change was about being effected in the Representation of the country, it was but just and right that they should give the colonies the power of deputing Members to that House, who would be better enabled to represent their feelings and interests than persons who had, as it were, only a chance and indirect connection with them. In proposing to give a certain number of Members to the colonies, he did not want to 114 add to the actually existing number of Members in that House; and he meant to limit his proposition to the smallest number of Members that could efficiently represent the colonies. It would be seen that by the Reform Bill proposed by his Majesty's Ministers, the number of Members would be lessened by about thirty-two, and he did not intend to ask for so many Members for the colonies. He would only ask for nineteen Representatives for the colonies, and he did hope that hon. Members would not be so niggardly as to deny that proportion to them. He had said, that he would call for nineteen Members for our colonial possessions, and he would propose to allot them in the following manner:—He would propose to give to
|The Crown Colonies||8|
|The West India Colonies||3|
|The Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark||1|
§ He would propose that the Members for our possessions in India should be allotted as follows: that Calcutta, which was the capital of Bengal, should, including the extent to which the limits of the King's Court reached, be represented by one Member; that Madras, in like manner, and under the same regulations, should have a Member; that the third Member should be given to Bombay; and that the fourth Member, which he proposed to give to British India, should represent Singapore, Malacca, and Prince of Wales's Island. The Crown colonies, to which he next came, it should be recollected as he had already stated, had no legislative assemblies of their own, and on that account he would propose to give them a large proportion of Representatives; eight in all, which he would allot in the following manner:—
|For Trinidad and St. Lucia,||1|
|Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice||1|
|The Cape of Good Hope||1|
§ Gentlemen might laugh at Australia having a Representative in that House; but 115 he (Mr. Hume) could show, that there were more British subjects in Australia than in twenty of the boroughs they proposed should retain Members. To Gibraltar he also proposed to give a Member, which would make eight Members for what were called the Crown colonies. With respect to British North America, he proposed that
|Upper Canada should return||1|
|And Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward's Island, Newfoundland, and the Bermudas, united||1|
|Total number of Members for British North America||3|
§ With respect to the West Indies, he proposed to give to
|Barbadoes, Grenada, St. Vincent, and Tobago||1|
|Dominica, Montserrat, St. Nevis, St. Kill's, Anguilla, Tortola, and Antigua||1|
§ which he submitted was as small a number as could possibly be given to the West-India colonies. There was another group of islands under British Government and influence, and lying contiguous to our own shores, the inhabitants of which, although British subjects, had always been treated as foreigners—he alluded to the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark, which had no representative assemblies, but were governed by the King in Council. To this group of islands he proposed to give one Representative; and if this were done, he thought the population of those islands might feel they were Englishmen, which it was not possible they could have heretofore done. He felt that nineteen Members was a large number to propose to add at once to the representative body in that House; but when Members looked to the magnitude of the interests those Members were to represent, he hoped they would not consider that he proposed too much. From returns which he held in his hand, as to the population and trade of the colonies, he would state some details on which his plan of colonial Representation was in a great degree founded. British North America contained 911,000 116 inhabitants, of which 229,000 were freemen. At present, the exports from the British North American colonies exceeded 2,000,000l. per annum, and the imports were upwards of 1,100,000l. From this statement the House would see the importance of those colonies. The next class to which he should refer was the West-India colonies, and his return included three or four of the Crown colonies. In those colonies there was a population of about 135,000 freemen, consisting of whites and people of colour, and 694,000 slaves—altogether 829,000 persons. The annual value of the imports into those colonies was 5,500,000l., and the exports amounted to 9,000,000l. and upwards. The Crown colonies, including Gibraltar, Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, and Australia, contained 238,388 free whiles, and altogether 1,373,000 inhabitants; the number of ships employed, and the imports and exports, being in proportion. It was not necessary, perhaps, to enter into any details to show the importance of British India. To satisfy the House, however, that the distribution of Members, of the four Members he proposed should be allotted to India, was not unfair, he should read a statement which he had procured. He could have wished it was more correct, but it was the most correct he could obtain. Calcutta, which it was proposed should send one Member, contained 1,200 Englishmen, within the limits of what was called the Ditch (exclusive of the King's troops), and there were 1,800 Europeans outside of the ditch, and within the jurisdiction; altogether there were 3,000 Europeans in Calcutta; 20,000 British Indian freemen, the children of British parents (13,000 of these were in Calcutta, and 7,000 in the provinces); and there were 265,000 natives in the town, and 360,000 in the villages. Total in Calcutta, 23,000 whites and persons of colour, and 625,000 natives. To this vast population it was proposed to give only one Representative; but that Representative would, at all events, be capable of giving the House information on every subject connected with the national interests of this vast population, and of showing how they would be effected by any measure proposed. Madras, to which it was also proposed to give one Member, had a population of 200 whites, 7,000 or 8,000 freemen and people of colour, and 463,000 natives. In Bombay there 117 were 300 whites, and 162,000 natives; and in Singapore, Malacca, and Prince of Wales' island, there were 108 whites, and 104,000 natives. For the whole of British India, however, he proposed only four Representatives. The next consideration was, the mode in which it was proposed that those Representatives should be elected. The House would recollect, that five years ago an Act was passed by the British Legislature for the purpose of giving natives and foreigners resident in India, the right of sitting on Juries in the King's Courts. It was left to the Judges of the Supreme Courts, however, to point out the qualification which should entitle men to serve on Juries. Now what he (Mr. Hume) meant to propose was, that every man entitled to sit upon Juries in India, should also be entitled to vote for a Representative. There was a constituency, therefore, ready prepared; and, what made it better, it was not prepared for this, but for other purposes. It was not as numerous as he could wish, but it would become much larger when the natives found, that such an important privilege was attached to the right of sitting on Juries. In this way the elections would be conducted in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, to which the act relating to Juries had extended. With respect to Singapore, Malacca, and Prince of Wales' Island, where no such constituency at present existed, he could see no difficulty whatever in extending the regulation which prevailed in the other places in India, which he proposed should return Members, to those three places, and thus establishing a constituency equally unexceptionable. There was no difficulty, therefore, as regarded British India, in finding a proper constituency to return its four Members. As to the millions of Upper India, he had only one word to say. He did not think that there should be a different system of Government for them, but he proposed only to take in the Presidencies existing under the British laws, being unwilling to mix up with the Representation the vast extent of Interior India. He was also free to say, that he considered the Member to whom the suffrage was given in Calcutta, would be a sufficient security that the interests of all the other places not included within the Presidencies would be in some degree attended to. He had done with British India, and should now enter upon the subject of the Crown colo- 118 nies, which was the next important branch. Trinidad he proposed to unite with St. Lucia. Trinidad contained 4,000 white men, and 16,000 free blacks, in all, 20,000 freemen and 44,000 slaves. St. Lucia contained 972 whites, 3,718 free blacks, and 13,000 slaves, altogether, in round numbers, a population of 18,000. The united population of the two islands was 62,000. The exports exceeded 400,000l. and the imports 800,000l. Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice contained 3,500 whites, 7,500 free blacks, and 90,000slaves—altogether, a population of 101,000. Ceylon contained 6,415 Europeans, and 906,000 natives freemen. The Mauritius contained 8,800 whites, and had a total population of 101,000. The Cape of Good Hope had a population of 56,000 whites, 37,000 free persons of colour, and with slaves, a population of 129,000. Malta contained a population of 119,900 freemen, and New South Wales had a population of 30,351 freemen, who ought to have many of the privileges of British subjects which they had not. Gibraltar contained 17,000 freemen, and though a military station, as it carried on an important trade, was the entrepot to Spain, and the key to the Mediterranean, he thought it ought to have one Representative. Under all the circumstances, he did not think it too much to propose, that there should be eight Representatives for the whole of what were called Crown colonies. As to the manner in which the Members for those colonies were to be chosen, he admitted there was more difficulty than in the case of British India. Taking Ceylon for instance, however, it appeared, that Sir Alexander Johnstone, when he was in that colony, extended to the natives the right of sitting on Juries. Now, if men were entitled to sit on Juries, and to determine on a matter so important as the life or death of a fellow-creature, he contended that they could not be considered as unworthy to give a vote for a Representative for the colonies. In all the Crown colonies, he believed that the qualification might be fixed, without any great difficulty. From inquiry he had made, he had ascertained, that there would be no difficulty whatever with respect to Trinidad; and, as tar as he had consulted those gentlemen who were connected with the other colonies, he did not think, that any great difficulties would be experienced in regulating the mode of conducting elections there. But he might be asked, 119 were the slaves to have a vote? In reply to such a question, he would say, no; they were not allowed to sit on Juries, and therefore, he would not give them the right of voting. To his right hon. friends opposite, who had started that objection to his plan, he would put this question—was every man in England to have a vote? He (Mr. Hume), whatever might be his opinion on that subject, would not throw any difficulties in the way of this great and important change, by insisting on such a principle as that. He, nevertheless, did not hesitate to avow it as his opinion, that every man who contributed to the taxes, even by the consumption of taxable articles, was entitled to a vote. That was his honest opinion, though he did not insist on it. When, therefore, he was asked, "Why not give the right of voting to the slaves?" he would ask, in return, "Why not give the right of voting to every man in England?" He was disposed to go great lengths to obtain his views for the colonies, and he was not inclined to forego all claims, because he might not be able to obtain every thing he wished. The next class he had to propose was, in his opinion, one of the very highest importance—he alluded to the West-India islands. It was well known, that considerable differences of opinion, upon important colonial subjects, had, for a long time, existed between the inhabitants of the West-India islands, and the Government at home; and he, for one, ardently wished to see a perfect reconciliation between the colonies and the mother country, and to have them put upon a better footing of agreement, and with less chance of the possibility of any future discord. He conceived, that the best way to remove all sources of discontent was, to give the people of these wealthy and populous colonies a fair means of having their interests and feelings properly represented in the Legislature at home. What he specifically proposed was, to give the West-India and North-American colonies four Representative Members to sit in that House. It had been suggested to him by persons who were well acquainted with the subject, that it would be better if he varied this proportion of Representatives: but, in his opinion, after considering the subject in all its lights and bearings, he thought what he now proposed was fair, and, in every respect, expedient. He would first name the important island of Jamaica, and 120 to which he would add the Bahama islands. The island of Jamaica, at the present moment, contained a white population of 30,000 individuals, and to these were to be added a population of 37,000 freemen of colour, making a total population of 67,000 souls. When he stated this number, and the House called to mind the wealth and trade of the island, he did not think that any one hon. Member who heard him would think he was asking much, if he required only one Representative for this great and important colony. He would next come to the island of Barbadoes, which contained a population of 14,959 whites, and 5,146 freemen of colour, making, altogether, a population of 20,105 free persons. The island of St. Vincent had 1,301 white inhabitants, and 2,824 free persons of colour, making a total of 4,125 souls. Grenada contained 801 white persons, and 3,786 free persons of colour, in all 4,587 free inhabitants. The population of Tobago was l,486, of which 322 were white persons, and 1,164 were freemen of colour. For these islands, which probably contained altogether a population of 30,000 free persons, he only asked that one Representative should sit for them in the House of Commons. He would now come to another division of islands, and the first he would take was that of Dominica, the white population of which amounted to 840, and the free persons of colour to 3,606, making in the whole, 4,446 souls. Montserrat had a population of 350 white persons, and 814 persons of colour who were free, so that its total free population was to be taken at 1,164 souls. The population of St. Kitt's was 1,612 whites, and 300 freemen of colour; of Tortola, 477 whites, and 1,296 freemen of colour; of Antigua, 1,980 whites, and 3,895 persons of colour; and of St. Nevis, the total free population was 2,700:—so that of this last division of islands, comprising Dominica, Montserat, St. Kitt's, Tortola, Antigua, and Nevis, the free population amounted to about 20,000 souls, and for these he asked for one Representative. He had forgotten to state, that the population of the Bahama islands amounted to 4,243 white persons, and 2,991 free people of colour, making a total of 7,234 souls. The Bermudas he proposed to attach to the Representation of Nova Scotia, and would refer to them hereafter. He would take the population of the Bermudas at 3,905 white persons, and 738 free blacks; in both, 4,643 per- 121 sons. But he would now come to the mode in which he would have these Representatives elected, and upon this subject he would only say, that the machinery at present existing in the colonies was sufficient for all the purposes of election, if the plan which existed in the United States of North America were to be followed. First, he would propose, that the island of Jamaica should elect a Representative to sit in that House, and in this case, there would be no difficulty. In the next divisions, where there were three or four islands or colonies to send a Representative between them, what he had to propose was, that the existing legislative body in each of the colonies should elect a delegate, and that these delegates should meet together, after the manner of the Scotch boroughs, and choose a Representative between them. The seven islands, from Dominica to Antigua and Nevis, should choose a Representative by the medium of delegates in a similar manner. If it should occur that the votes of the delegates were equally divided, let the returning island have the casting vote. His Majesty's Ministers had divided the islands into two classes, with a view to establishing circuits among them, and he had formed his plan upon the principle of the division established by Government for the purpose of the visitation of the Bishop. The exports to these islands amounted annually to more than 4,000,000l., and the annual imports exceeded 6,000,000l. sterling, and the shipping employed in the trade exceeded 192,000 tons. Three Members could not be considered as too many to represent such great and important interests. He would next come to the British North American colonies. If it were wished to keep these colonies in our power, the object must be, to place them upon the most friendly terms with the mother country. He was persuaded, that all the bickerings and unpleasant feelings which, he was sorry to say, did exist in these colonies might have been prevented, if the colonists had possessed any fair and adequate means of stating in that House what were their feelings and wishes, and what were the evils under which they suffered. Year after year had these colonists sent petitions to that House, and he had then a petition from them, signed by 10,000 persons, complaining of grievances which, he was persuaded, never could have existed, if the complainants had 122 been fairly represented in Parliament. He would propose that the older province of Lower Canada, which contained a population of 423,630 freemen, should have one Representative in the British Parliament. Upper Canada contained a population of 188,000 souls, and he proposed that that province should likewise send a Member to Parliament. He was aware that, in stating the population of the colonies, he had, in every case, made the amount less than it actually was, but he had taken the numbers from the official returns in the Colonial Office. He very well knew, that the province of Upper Canada, instead of 198,000, contained 265,000 souls. He now came to the remainder of the British colonies in North America. The province of New Brunswick contained a population of 72,000 souls; Nova Scotia, with the island of Cape Breton added to it, had a population of 142,000 souls; whilst the population of Prince Edward's Island was 23,000, and Newfoundland 60,000; so that these colonies, with the Bermudas, comprised a population of 239,000 individuals, and for these he only asked for one Representative in that House. By this plan, the whole of the West-India islands, and the whole of the British colonies of North America, would have six Members to represent their interests, and to express their feelings in the British House of Commons. Having proposed what number of Members should be chosen, and how they should be chosen to represent the colonies in the House of Commons, the next point to consider was, when they were chosen, how they were to get to this country. He had three strings to his bow. The first was, that the colonial Representatives should be elected for three years certain, whether in that three years there should be one, or two, or more, Parliaments elected in England. The colonial Member appointed to one Parliament, in the event of a dissolution, might hold his seat till the return of the Writ to the new Parliament. This interval might be six months for the West Indies [laughter.] He had begun his speech by expressing a fear, that very few Members who heard him would give their attention to the subject, but he was now convinced, that those who laughed did give their attention to it. The late Secretary to the Admiralty might laugh, but—[Mr. Croker: I did not laugh at all. I was reading this paper.] 123 He only offered to the House the best plan he could devise, and he hoped to hear some better plan from those who had continued to laugh at all that he had proposed. He was as well aware as those who laughed at him, that his plan was not perfect, but still he felt thoroughly convinced, that it was an improvement upon the old system, and that it would free the country from many great evils and difficulties which existed, and which every man wished the country to be relieved from. His third plan was, that at the commencement of a Parliament, or when the Writs were issued, the Speaker should issue his Writ for the colonies. In that case he was well aware, that for a certain number of months, the colonists would have no Representatives at all; and although this, in his opinion, would be an evil, yet they would not, even in that case, be worse on for a time, than they now were always. In six months, Representatives would arrive from the West Indies, and in one year from the East Indies. He thanked the House for the attention he had received, for the measure was one of the greatest importance. For his part, he thought the colonies likely to be more a burthen than a benefit, if they did not act cordially with the mother country; and he thought, that sound wisdom required that the House should devise means to attach to the mother country, by good feelings, so important a branch of the empire. He conceived, that his proposition was of more importance to the other branches of the British, than to the colonial public; for, if it were carried, it would have the effect of diminishing the number of troops and the total expenditure on account of the colonies. His wish was, to have all the details of the subject submitted to a Committee, which might bring in a bill that would effect the object he proposed, without disturbing any interests, or violating any established principle whatever. One hon. Member had stated, that the colonies had no right to have Representatives in that House, because they had colonial legislatures of their own. He would beg to remind all who were of that opinion, that the colonists had rights which consisted of two parts. The first of these was, the right of legislating for themselves in affairs of taxation and of domestic management—the other right was, to have a voice in making those laws which affected their commercial inter- 124 course with the mother country and with other colonies. It was for the latter purpose, and as the general commercial regulations of the empire affected their interests, that the colonists ought to have Representatives in that House. At present the House of Commons had a right to ruin or encourage any colony, without the colonists being heard upon the measure which involved their fate. It had been submitted to him, that as the Crown colonies had no Representative legislation within themselves, they had a better right than any other to be represented in that House, but he was not of that opinion. As the subject was new to the House, he felt it would be improper to press it to a division, but he thought the present a very proper time to lay his plan before the House, in order to ascertain how it would be taken, and in order, likewise, to give his Majesty's Ministers time to view the various details, and to be able to give their fair and proper opinions upon the subject, when it might be brought forward again. In the mean time he should only move, "that it be an instruction to the Committee, to make provisions for the return to this House of Members, to represent certain colonies and foreign possessions of his Majesty."
§ The Marquis of Chandos seconded the Motion.
said, it was not his intention to trespass long upon the House. He was sure the hon. member for Middlesex would acquit him of levity or indifference to the interests of the North American colonies, when he assured the hon. Gentleman, that he had strong, indeed insuperable objections, to give a direct Representation in the British House of Commons to those colonies. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that his plan was altogether novel; but he (Mr. Labouchere) could show him that it was not so. Mr. Burke had entertained some notion of a very similar plan; but the same great authority not only abandoned the plan himself, but gave a complete answer to all similar propositions in the words "Posuit natura." It was impossible, that countries so far separated from England could be effectually represented in that House. It was impossible that Members from the colonies could discharge their double duties. They could not, at the same time, give proper attention, as part of the Representatives of the whole empire, 125 to the general interests of the country, and also the necessary attention to their subordinate duty of promoting the interest of the colonies. It would be quite as improper that Gentlemen sent from the colonies should vote for the taxation of this country, as that the House of Commons here should regulate the local taxation of the colonies. He thought that twenty Gentlemen from the colonies, sitting in that House, would form a little knot, combining together to carry some particular measures, and totally indifferent about every other. They would be at the disposal of every Minister, and ready to enter as a body into a compact with the Minister to this effect, that, if he supported them on some colonial question, they would support him, in return, upon every other occasion. He admitted, that there was some weight in the objections which had been urged, and the complaints made on the subject of that want of Representation of the colonies in this country; but he thought much of the ground upon which those objections and complaints rested would be destroyed, were the system of colonial agency placed upon an improved footing. He was the furthest in the world from wishing that the mother country should interfere with the internal regulation of colonies; for it would be utterly impossible to find a Legislature at home, possessing the information requisite for the sound and good government of a distant colony. It had been said, that Parliament was omnipotent; he would add, that it was not omniscient; and that upon the subject of colonial policy and regulation, it had committed the greatest blunders. Having said so much upon those topics, he Should now address himself to a different branch of the subject—he meant the importance attached to their having the assistance of colonial Members in the discussion of great and important Imperial Questions—an assistance which, though he was far from undervaluing, did appear to him not to be required in that House. As long as they had assembled within those walls the best and noblest portion of the British nation, he had no apprehension but that a high sense of their duty would at all times induce them to advocate colonial interests, and leave nothing to be wished for upon that point. If it were so, as he presumed would not be doubted, he scarcely expected that they would want the assistance of colonial 126 Members upon any other subjects. He had heard it said, that in making so great a change in the Representation of the country, as by the present Bill it was proposed to effect, measures ought to be taken for giving Representatives to the great monied and banking interests of the country, so as to grant some substitute for the virtual Representation which the Bill went to destroy. That was a subject materially connected with the question which the hon. member for Middlesex had brought under consideration, for both had reference to what was called indirect Representation. He confessed himself one of those who thought that the great monied and banking interests ought to be represented in that House, and represented without bribery or corruption. He never could be brought to think, that bribery and corruption were necessary to the Representation of the monied interests in that House. Ten of twelve Members sent in from that class, would be a very valuable addition to that House, but as to the plan of giving direct Representation to the colonies, he entertained the strongest objection to it.
Mr. Keith Douglas
said, that in the present times of wide and sweeping change, the plan of the hon. member for Middlesex was a subject of the very highest importance. The idea of giving due protection to the commerce and colonies which had raised this country to its present greatness, was worthy of the most attentive consideration. It appeared by the returns of 1827, that our colonial imports were then worth 90,000,000l., and our exports 80,000,000l.; that the ships engaged in carrying on this trade amounted of 4,580 capable of conveying 900,000 tons of merchandize, independent of those employed exclusively in the colonies themselves. They were now about to localize the Representation, and in all probability the various boroughs would in future return Gentlemen resident in their immediate vicinity, so that the class of persons connected with the colonies, who had hitherto found their way into Parliament, and who were alone able to give information relating to colonial matters, would be completely excluded. In whatever point of view the great question of our colonial policy and government came to be considered, it was impossible to doubt that the hon. member for Middlesex had done perfectly right in bringing 127 forward the present Motion. The hon. Member had, in bringing the subject under consideration, opened their eyes to the fact, that his Majesty's Ministers did not by any means pay that attention to our colonial possessions to which they were entitled. He was perfectly ready, however, to admit, that there would be considerable difficulty in attaching to the bill a clause, having for its object to create a system of colonial Representation. But an impression had gone abroad, that the present Government did not attach so much importance to our foreign possessions as they deserved; that as this country was the great workshop of the world, it was no longer necessary to rely on colonies. If our object was to maintain, as it ought to be, our commercial and naval supremacy, the interests of our colonies could not be kept out of sight. He was afraid the spirit of the Bill now before them showed some symptoms of the kind of policy he thought so objectionable. He should wish to see Representatives given to the colonies, or some other mode devised to protect their interests, but he did not see how it was to be accomplished.
§ Lord Althorp
would neither go into the principle nor the details of the proposition made by his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex. It was so perfectly clear, that a clause of the nature contemplated by his hon. friend could never be introduced in the present measure, that he should not waste the time of the House by saying one word against its adoption. They had now been in Committee upon the Reform Bill for more than a month, and he professed himself unable to comprehend how his hon. friend could imagine the possibility of such a clause being now introduced. When the importance of the colonies was spoken of, he felt that he should be the last man in the House or the country to dissent from such a sentiment, but that importance did not in the slightest degree remove the difficulty of introducing such a clause as had been proposed, into a Bill, which, upon the showing of the hon. Gentleman himself, was already complicated enough. If the clause in question were attempted to be introduced, others similar to it would speedily follow, and there would be no end to the business of the Committee. The fact was, that the proposed clause had been used as an argument against the general provisions of the Bill; and whether he looked to the clause 128 as creating increased delay, or in other points of view, he could not but regard its tendency as most hostile to the great measure of Reform. He should not, therefore, enter into the question, for doing so would be but causing to Ministers that delay which he so much deprecated. But he would put this question—Did the House suppose the clause moved could be added to the present Bill? and if so, did they think that was the fit time to propose it? He should not be induced to detain the House longer, for his object was to prevent unnecessary discussion.
§ Sir John Malcolm
thought, the subject had been treated with neglect, and that the hon. member for Middlesex was entitled to the applause of the House and the country for bringing it forward. He did not go along with the hon. member for Middlesex in many of his details respecting India—the only part of the subject with the details of which he pretended to be acquainted, but still he was thankful to the hon. Member for what he had done. Under the Reform Bill India would experience an immense loss, and it was absolutely necessary, if that empire was to be retained, that some compensation should be made. The noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had, in fact, admitted the position which he (Sir John Malcolm) had before contended for. Under the Reform Bill, India would be without Representatives, and he certainly had expected, from the admission of the noble Lord that some arrangement would have been made to do away with the danger which would result from such being the case. He had no doubt that in the Reformed House of Commons money and property would have their influence. Of course they would; but their influence would be directed in a different course to what it hitherto had been. Persons locally connected with the different places returning Members would be required as candidates; and those who had served abroad, however meritoriously or efficiently, or whatever might be their knowledge of the interests or the wants of our foreign possessions, would be without a chance of obtaining seats in the House. Such would not be a desirable nor a safe state of things. He had seen measures on the brink of being adopted by that House which would have risked the empire of this country in the East, and which had been stopped only by the timely evidence of men who spoke 129 with authority, for they spoke upon personal experience. Under the Reform Bill there would be no such men to assist or to direct the judgment of the House, and therefore it behoved that House to consider well how it would supply the deficiency. He would not say this if the records of the admirable government in India were received as evidence; but they were not; they were doubted by many, and derided by some. The government in India required no new checks; it was already restrained by a link of checks more perfect than was imposed upon any other government. There was another point of view in which he found the Reform Bill would produce a most serious effect upon India. The Reform Bill, in his opinion, would do anything rather than give stability to the Ministry. Now, if there was one thing upon which more than another depended the preservation of our empire in India, it was upon there being a strong Government at home. Perpetual changes in the Government of this country vibrated to the very extremities of that empire, and was likely to produce the worst effects. He said this upon his own knowledge, and not upon untried theory. He wished to God he could console himself, when he looked upon the many evils of this Reform Bill, with the thought, that after it was passed the present Ministers would preserve their places. Such, however, he was convinced would not be the fact. The additional Members for London, and the additional Members for the sea-ports and the manufacturing towns, would press so hard upon the Administration that it would find it impossible not to abandon India to their views. Upon the great question of the government of India he should be prepared, at the proper time, to give his opinions. In what he said now, he did not at all mean to anticipate the discussions upon that subject. Upon it he had written books, as the noble Paymaster of the Forces had upon another subject; but he trusted he should be consistent. He had, on a former occasion, at considerable length, expressed the grounds of his objection to the Reform Bill, so far as it went to deprive the East-Indian and other colonial interests of their only access—indirect he admitted—to a share in the Representation of that House; and as their validity had not been assailed, he would give his support to any proposition like 130 the present, the tendency of which was to extend to the colonies a share of Representation, reserving to himself the right of discussing its details. It was the more necessary that the colonies should be Represented, because, direct departmental Representation being the characteristic feature and tendency of the Bill, there would be no means for Gentlemen, acquainted with their local wants and interests, to obtain an entrance into Parliament: and while the manufacturing and democratic and aristocratic interests would be duly represented, the no less important interests of the colonies would have no direct or indirect voice in the Legislature.
§ Sir George Staunton
said, that he was anxious to say a few words upon the present occasion. The defect in the Reform Bill, which the hon. member for Middlesex proposed to amend by this Motion, however unpopular, was the principal obstacle which prevented him from giving it his unqualified support. All parties, whatever their individual feelings might be, must agree in the one great principle, that it ought to be rendered throughout as perfect and consistent with itself as possible. The foundation on which it proceeded was, to substitute direct Representation for virtual representation and nomination. Acting upon these principles, he was desirous that the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex, should, at least, have a fair hearing, and full consideration. He was at a loss to conceive any argument that sustained giving Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds representatives, and denied the same privileges to Canada, Jamaica, and Calcutta. It had been stated as an objection to giving direct Representatives to India, that that country was so far off as to render the plan impracticable. He was certainly surprised to hear such an argument from a supporter of the Reform Bill, for, if he remembered rightly, it had been asserted by other supporters of the Bill, that the Nabob of Arcot had once seven Members in that House. Surely, then, if one person, against law and distance, could send seven Members into that House, an immense population, with law and right in their favour, might so far overcome distance as to send one Member there in safety.—America had been much alluded to, but America did not withhold from States the privilege of 131 sending members to the Congress on account of the distance of those states from the seat of Government. Canada was attached by allegiance to this country, but locally to the United States. If by the chances of war, or other circumstances, that dominion should be transferred, could there be a doubt, that it would be immediately allowed to send its due proportion of members to Congress. It was therefore clearly our interest that the Canadians, should have no such temptation to transfer their allegiance. By the Reform Bill many interests would be totally deprived of Representation, and it ought to be borne in mind, that among the first questions which would come before a reformed Parliament, were some most important commercial and colonial questions. The East-India Charter and the Bank Charter were to be reviewed, and how could that be well effected if all authority upon those subjects were to be excluded from that House? The country ought to know, that it was not only by the House at large that such questions were discussed, but by Committees up stairs. It was, in fact, by Committees up stairs that the most important business was transacted. He sought not the protection or the preservation of the East-India Company as a corporate body, but the maintenance of our empire in India, when he contended that that country should not be left destitute of Representatives in that House. One objection to the plan was, that the colonial Members would combine and think only of their colonial interests; but he would ask, why did it follow, that there would be any such combination? The interests of the different colonies were not the same, and therefore he thought the objection entitled to but little weight. Again, it had been said, that it would be monstrous for colonial Members to tax England; but it should be remembered, that every Member of that House must be possessed of 300l. a-year in landed property. He would not enter further into details, though he felt the importance of this subject, which he hoped would hereafter be fully considered.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, that every day that passed strengthened the conviction in his mind, that many of the most urgent supporters of the Reform Bill were among the most strenuous opponents of many of its principles. He was glad to find that the senseless cry which had been 132 raised against the avowed opponents of the Bill was now heard no more. Discussions and delay had been complained of, but during the last week the discussion and the delay had been promoted almost exclusively by some of the most ardent and resolute advocates of the Bill. He considered the motion of the hon. member for Middlesex as one of those striking, though indirect, acknowledgments of the justness of the complaints of those on the Opposition side of the House, with respect to the practical workings, no less than to the theoretical anomalies, of the Constitution-destroying measure of Ministers. In that light also he had viewed the emendatory propositions of two other reformers—supporters of the Bill—that of the noble member for Northamptonshire, to bestow two Members on those towns which the Bill invested with but one Member; and that of the hon. member for the city of Oxford with respect to the noble Lord's departmental county divisions, each, like the present, an important alteration of the Bill; each also growing out of the obvious defects of that Bill; and each, as he had said, demonstrating the correctness of the views of those defects taken by the Members on the Opposition side of the House. On the first occasion the noble Lord, the member for Northamptonshire, attacked an important principle of the Bill; on the second occasion the hon. member for Oxford, another zealous supporter of the Bill, attacked another important principle of the Bill; and now the hon. member for Middlesex came forward and moved an instruction which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, if carried, would never let the Bill out of Committee at all. But respecting the subject upon which the instruction before the House went, he must say, that if the Bill was not to be discussed and disposed of in a petty, paltry, and disgraceful manner, but to be entertained with that enlarged feeling, and judgment, and philosophy, which an entire, complete, and radical subversion of the Constitution ought to command, then the House was bound to give it the most serious and the most dispassionate consideration. It would be found to be as entire, and complete, and radical a change in the Bill as could well be devised even by an anti-reformer; and yet it was one so consistent with itself, and with the necessity which the Bill would create for direct colonial 133 Representation, that he saw not how a consistent reformer could well withhold from it his support. The hon. member for Taunton had asked, how could they think of bringing colonial Members into that House? Why, the answer to that was, that there had been Members for the colonies already indirectly returned to the House, and had acted virtually and efficiently as the Representatives of colonial interests. And what he wished to impress upon the House was, that by the new Reform Bill such Members would in future be excluded from the House, because it closed up for ever those avenues of indirect but virtual Representation. Though the arguments which the hon. member for Middlesex had adduced in its favour, had not convinced him so as to command his vote, they had convinced him more and more of the monstrous injustice of the Bill itself, which it was intended to make perfect. That Bill went to destroy the only chance the colonies had of Representation—indirect it was true—in that House. The hon. Member's arguments clearly established a case of the necessity of some colonial Representation; therefore the hon. Member's arguments were arguments a fortiori against the principle of the Bill, which went to destroy what they were intended to effect—colonial Representation. An hon. Member had quoted Mr. Burke as opposed to a proposition like that then before the House; but he had forgotten to add, what was essential to the fairness and completeness of the argument, that Mr. Burke's objections to the proposition were wholly founded on his dislike to any important change in the features of the Constitution as it was in his time. Had that illustrious statesman lived in our Constitution destroying days, his objection would be removed by the changes having been effected in spite of him, and in the teeth of justice, policy, and reason. He could not for a moment be cited as an authority against the present proposition. What, in fact, did Mr. Burke state? Why, according to the abstract principle upon which the House of Commons was then constituted, the colonies ought to have Representatives, but practically he felt it a difficulty not to be overcome. But Mr. Burke was speaking of the existing Constitution of the country. And if the Constitution was to be torn up in the way the Bill contemplated, the difficulty 134 in having Representatives for the colonies, under the new Constitution, was not insuperable. Mr. Burke's objection was, because it was contrary to existing things. But there was no longer any thing in such an objection, because the Bill had removed the cause of it. What was done with the colonies, he begged to inquire? Were they not taxed? Certainly not in the same way that the House of Commons had attempted to tax America. Nevertheless, he would contend that the colonies were subject to taxation. The trade was regulated, the import and export duties were imposed, by the Legislature. It might not be pleasant to awaken a reminiscence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, otherwise he would ask the noble Lord, what was the regulation of duty on American timber and Cape wine, but a species of taxation on the colonies? It was true such duties did not amount to a tax, and were not collected abroad; but in substance it came to the same thing, for they were raised at home. At all events it was undeniable, that the Government or Parliament at home exercised legislative powers over the colonies; and in future, if the new Reform Bill passed into a law, they (the colonists) would have no Representatives, either directly or indirectly, in the House. They were told, indeed, that direct representation was not wanting to the colonies, inasmuch as the King and Council, with the aid of the colonial legislatures, provided for their internal wants, while their external relations were properly considered by Parliament in its imperial capacity. The fallacy of this half-true, half-false assertion, was, that it induced them to overlook the very important fact, that under the nominal head of "external" relations of the colonies, that House took upon itself to lay down the amount of all import and export duties, and of all other commercial taxes bearing directly upon the internal condition and welfare of the colonies, and concerning which only those acquainted with their local wants and interests could properly legislate. In fact, the more the question was considered, the more evident would appear the injustice of depriving the colonies of their only means of access to that House, and the more incumbent would it be on them to provide some other mode of Representation. By the Bill, the number of that House would be reduced thirty-three, and of these it was important to bear in 135 mind, that six or seven belonged to the colonial interest, that is, six or seven of the indirect Representatives of the colonies would be completely shut out by the present Bill. And was not India, with its 120,000,000 of British subjects, and our North American and West Indian colonies, as well entitled to Representatives as Brighthelmston or Cheltenham with its chalybeate waters, or even as the important city of Greenwich? Would not the Representatives of the important interests of the great colonies be as well entitled to take a share in the discussions of the Legislature as Gentlemen whose chief business it would be to eat white bait and flounders at Greenwich, and get themselves shampooed and chalybeated at Brighton and Cheltenham? And yet it should seem, from the miserable ribald trash of legislation adopted by Ministers, that these comparatively miserable towns were more entitled to Representatives than great colonial empires—100,000 times more important, whether wealth, population, or commerce were considered. Fortunately, however, as the present motion showed, symptoms of mildew mould began to manifest themselves; the new Constitution fabric was crumbling to pieces in the hands of its own sage architects. The veriest advocates of the Bill—the perfect Bill—the final Bill—were beginning to open their eyes to its glaring deformities. They saw that each page was a page of levity and folly—a page of injustice and outrage against the most sacred principles of the Constitution. How different was the lesson which history read to those who looked upon its pages with the eye of philosophy! The Romans, for example. That great people always extended to their conquests the political privileges of the mother country, and thereby attached their colonies by the ties of a common political constitution; and so it should be with respect to our colonies. The hon. member for Taunton appeared to be under apprehensions that there would be coalitions formed between the Members for the various colonies, which would be likely to produce undesirable results in the British House of Commons. But he did not see why it was at all likely that such coalitions should take place. He saw no point of coalition between the sugar of the West Indies and the indigo of the East Indies, or between the fir timber that was grown in Canada, and the teak timber that was 136 grown on the banks of the Ganges. It was true, that the giving Members to the colonies would not be consonant with the principle of the Bill, and would, therefore, not be acceptable to the Bill-men; but he cared neither for the Bill, nor the Bill-men. It would be consonant with the principles of the Constitution, after the former means by which the colonial interests were represented in that House was destroyed, and that was enough for him. The real question was, whether the motion was agreeable to those principles of eternal justice to which the House was bound to attend in legislating for the great, and opulent, and extensive colonies of this country. He congratulated the hon. member for Middlesex upon the motion which he had made that evening—he congratulated him, too, upon his speech, for it was without question the best speech which the hon. member for Middlesex had ever made within the walls of Parliament. He thought, however, that the hon. Member would fail in carrying his motion, notwithstanding his excellent speech. He would beg leave, however, to remind the hon. Member, that there was to be a third reading of this Bill; and if the hon. Member was sincere, as he had no doubt that the hon. Member was, in his proposition, he would then have an opportunity of renewing it with better hopes of success. If the hon. Member could not carry it then, perhaps he would vote against the third reading of the Bill, and would do a good office to his country by defeating it. It might be true that it might be found difficult to elect Members for the colonies on the 10l. system which had been introduced into the Bill; but though that 10l. system had been represented to be so admirable, he still did not see why another almost as admirable might not be found by which colonial Representatives might be elected. He begged to recommend this consideration to the framers of this Bill—this unaltered and unalterable Bill—the first stereotype of which had long been extinct, and had been replaced by a second unaltered and unalterable Bill. Indeed, this unaltered and unalterable Bill had been stereotyped and re-stereotyped, and re-re-stereotyped, until the founder who had cast the types scarcely knew whether a plate of the original stereotype was left standing. The hon. member for Middlesex was bound by his vote as well as by 137 his speech to protect the colonists from injustice. That injustice had been demonstrated by the hon. Member, not by the use of warm words, but of strong arguments—by recourse to figures and round numbers; for who could call it any thing but injustice to prevent twice sixty millions of fellow-subjects in India from having a voice in the British Parliament? and such must unavoidably be the result of the Reform Bill. Another objection made to the proposition of the hon. Member was, that Members returned for colonies would not have time to return to their constituents in the intervals between a dissolution and meetings of Parliament. That difficulty he thought would be remedied by electing such Members for six or seven years; and to this Whigs could have no objection, as they had been formerly the advocates of long Parliaments. This, therefore, could not be to the Whigs an uncongenial measure. Again, he would say, that if any plan could be devised for remedying the injustice done to the colonists, it was no excuse, that the Bill could not be changed, for already, in many instances, had this unalterable Bill gone through several alterations. There might, it was true, be great difficulty in managing the elections of Members abroad on the principles adopted in England; but in such colonies as had Legislatures, it would be easy to that body to send over one of themselves as a delegate, and thereby avoid the inconvenience of a popular election. He did not mention this with any view of stating, that he was determined to support the motion, but to shew, that though he thought there were difficulties, they might not, on inquiry, be found to be insurmountable. He wished it to be understood, that he was not devising any plan to obviate any of the evils arising out of this new Constitution. That was the business of Ministers, who had, in this instance, increased the difficulties of the colonists. Their crude and ill-considered Bill would exclude from the House such colonists or their friends as got into Parliament through the means of nomination-boroughs, and it was their bounden duty to secure their return in some other way. He wished to pay a compliment to the hon. member for Middlesex. The hon. Member had argued so well for delegates electing a Representative to that House, and in his argument had so ably defended 138 the present scheme of Scotch Representation, that he could not help congratulating the House upon the manner in which the latent member for Montrose had broken through the exterior covering of the hon. member for Middlesex. From his exhibition of that evening, he did hope that when the hon. member for Middlesex put on his philibegs, and quitting the English, armed himself for the Scotch Bill, he would recollect the excellent dissertation with which he had that evening favoured the House on the merits of a delegated Representation. A dissertation more deserving the attention of Government, more pregnant with facts, more diversified with figures, more instructive from its peculiarities of enumeration, had never been opened to the House, than that of the hon. member for Middlesex. They might now, indeed, say, that they had philosophy on their side. They had been told to watch the signs of the times. He had taken the advice which had been so gratuitously and disinterestedly given them; he had watched the signs of the times, and he must say, that the signs of the times for the last four or five days had not been most propitious either to the Bill or to the Bill-men. They had been taunted by laymen, ay, and by Aldermen, too; they had been told to watch the times—not to be obstinate—not to make speeches—not to raise difficulties—not to create doubts, but to follow the signs of the times, and to agree to the Bill. He repeated, that he had watched the signs of the times. He saw that the opinion of the country was changed, and that the current was running the contrary way to that in which for some time past it had been running. If the signs of the times were to guide his opinion—which they had not, for his opinion against this Bill was as strong now as it ever had been when the signs were the contrary way—if, he repeated, the signs of the times were to guide his opinion, he could no longer be called either factious, or uncivil, or refractory. But as he had not truckled to the signs of the times when he found them opposite to his views, he saw no reason why he should not support them when he found the signs of the times going along with him.
§ Mr. Burge
said, he felt grateful to the hon. member for Middlesex for having awakened attention to so important a subject as the state of the colonial Repre- 139 sentation, or rather non-representation, as it was to be under the new Bill; and his gratitude was not to be lessened by the circumstance of the observations having come from that quarter whence he had least reason to expect them. It was now made manifest, that, in future, the interests of the colonists would not find Representatives in Parliament, and he begged the House to consider whether such interests ought to be thus deserted. In the principles laid down by the hon. member for Middlesex he coincided, but would not pledge himself to support the details of the proposed measure. On one point, he thought there could be no doubt, namely, the absolute necessity of having the colonies represented in Parliament; but that Representation should, as was stated, be left to the consideration of external legislation, and the internal legislation of the colonies would always be best managed by being left to their own local governments. This was a point on which he wished to be distinctly understood. It was this external legislation which added, and in no small degree, to the Exchequer of England, and, to a great extent, regulated the trade and property of the colonies, and which never ought to be attempted, except in the presence of, and with the aid of, those who knew what was due to the interests of those places, and in supporting those, he would say, that the best interests of England would be best upheld. It had been said, that direct colonial Representation was impracticable, and ought not to be attempted, and Mr. Burke had been referred to in support of those opinions; but he begged to remind the House of the conduct of the Government at a period subsequent to that alluded to. In the year 1779, when Lord Carlisle and Mr. Eden, as Commissioners, had been sent out to North America, to negociate with those colonies, then in a state of revolt, one of the propositions made to them to return to an allegiance to Great Britain was, that they should be allowed to have Representatives in Parliament. This circumstance, when under consideration afterwards in the House of Commons, was not even censured, so that he might fairly infer, that the proposition was not considered improper even by Parliament. The proposition made by the Commissioners, and in a manner approved of by Parliament, was this—"To perpetuate our union, by a reciprocal deputation of an agent 140 or agents from the different States, who shall have the privilege of a seat and a voice in the Parliament of Great Britain, or if sent from Britain, to have, in that case, a seat and a voice in the Assemblies of the different States to which they may be deputed respectively in order to attend to the several interests of those by whom they are deputed."* It could not, therefore, be now said, that to give the colonies Representatives in Parliament was a new proposition, or unfit to be entertained. Another objection was, that if the colonies were allowed Representatives, such Representatives would combine into a phalanx, and form a party that might be inconvenient, if not dangerous. But in answer to this, he asked, whether, in the whole history of the colonies, there was a single instance of a coalition between the Members who were known to represent their several and separate interests. On the contrary, it was to him a matter of regret that they had been uniformly divided, and to this, in a, great degree, he attributed the neglect of colonial interests. He wished the House not to look at this as a colonial question; it was one deeply affecting the revenue, the commerce, and the manufactures of the British empire. The mere amount of revenue derived from the colonies, though that amounted to millions, was one of minor consequence compared to the benefits which England derived to her commerce, and more particularly to manufactures, from her colonial possessions. If these were abandoned or injured, what would become of the manufacturers of England? Would the foreigner replace the colonist in his tastes or demands for English goods? In short, it was to her colonial possessions that England owed the greater part of her wealth and splendor, aye, and of her greatness, and even her security. It was the colonists who spent their accumulated wealth in England, and to none had they ever yielded in loyalty and attachment to the Throne.
§ Sir Charles Forbes
felt some consolation from observing that, though the colonial interests were thrown aside by the Bill, they were not neglected in other quarters; and although, on the present occasion, the subject of the Representation of our vast colonial possessions might not receive so much attention as it deserved, yet a* Hansard's Parl. Hist. vol. xx. p. 848.141 time must come when it would be further debated, and better considered. No one could doubt, if the present absurd measure of Reform was carried, that our fellow-subjects in the East and West Indies would be cut off from all kind of Representation. If he could find any fault with the speech of the hon. member for Middlesex, it was its extreme moderation, for he had only asked to have four Members allowed for a population of 100,000,000 of fellow-subjects in India. Why, if the population principle was applied there, then would India have four times as many Members as England. He did not mention this circumstance as wishing to encourage any such notion, but to shew that the number asked by the hon. Member was as small as could be thought of, and, on leaving them without Representatives, he thought a great injustice had been done to a vast and important portion of British possessions.
§ Sir George Murray
said, that he felt extremely glad to find such attention had been paid by the House to the proposal of the hon. member for Middlesex, and also that the important observations with which the hon. Member had introduced his Motion, had received so full a consideration. It had certainly appeared to him, during the long Debates which had taken place on the Reform Bill, that the House had altogether forgotten, that the British empire did not entirely consist of the immediate islands of Great Britain and Ireland, but that it partly consisted of some highly important and valuable foreign possessions in the East and West Indies, and other parts of the globe. Of the importance of these possessions, he was always, however, fully impressed; and he must take leave to express the satisfaction with which he had heard the hon. member for Middlesex express his opinions, as he had feared, from the general tenor of that hon. Member's arguments in the House, that he did not entertain any high estimate of the value of the colonies. It had been clearly and incontrovertibly shown by that hon. Member, and by the hon. member for Launceston (Sir James Malcolm), that the virtual Representation at present enjoyed in that House, under the present mode of election, by the colonists, would be utterly and completely taken away from them by the measure now undergoing consideration. He could bear testimony to the advantages they derived from this species of Representation, because, while in office, he could 142 not but observe the warm interest which certain Members took in colonial affairs, and he agreed with the opinions expressed, that when the Reform Bill had passed into a law, the House would be found to be composed entirely of Members who would be returned to support local interests alone, thus depriving the colonists entirely of that virtual Representation which had been found to be so beneficial to them. He rose, therefore, merely to express his conviction, that Ministers or the House would be under the necessity, either of adopting the plans of the hon. member for Middlesex, or some modification of them; or of taking the idea suggested by the hon. member for Taunton into their serious consideration, with a view to remedy the great and important evil which would result to the colonists. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, opposite, on various occasions, when hon. Members, who were otherwise friendly to the Bill, had got up to make any amendment, or to suggest any improvement in its details, had observed, that such a proceeding evinced a desire on their part to defeat the Bill. Now, he would not admit this to be the fact with respect to the proposal before the House, for, both the hon. members for Middlesex and Taunton were direct and warm supporters of the Bill, and not its enemies. It was surely the duty of Ministers, if the Bill must pass into a law, to endeavour to make it as beneficial as possible to the country; and he would venture to predict, that when all those places which were to be furnished with Representatives had received their allotted portion of influence in that House, it would be found that the Bill, so far from giving such Representatives to the colonies as their vast and complicated interests required, would actually deprive many of them, and those, too, some of our most important colonial interests, of the virtual Representation they now enjoyed.
§ Lord Althorp
never attributed to the hon. member for Middlesex any device or intention to defeat the Reform Bill, but simply expressed his opinion, that by bringing forward his Motion on the present occasion, the delay thereby created was hostile to the progress of the Bill.
said, in explanation, that he had expressed his great regret for disturbing the arrangement of the night when he had brought forward his Motion; but, at the same time, he had expressed his 143 conviction that the condition to which the colonies would be reduced, had rendered the adoption of such a course imperative on him. He, therefore, claimed a right to have his own explanation taken as to his reasons impressing his Motion, and not to have his conduct attributed to a hostile feeling to the Bill. He, for his part, was satisfied that his suggestion might either be adopted or modified by Ministers, so as to become of advantageous application to the mother country and her colonies, and so, also, as to improve the Reform Bill, and to render it more complete.
§ Amendment negatived without a division.