§ The Order of the Day having been read for the House to resolve itself, into a Committee on the Canada resolutions,
§ Mr. Leader
, in rising to move the postponement of the further consideration of these resolutions, hoped the Souse would extend to him its indulgence for a few minutes while he stated his reason for doing so. He was convinced it was the wish of his Majesty's Government, as well as hon. Gentlemen opposite, in supporting these resolutions to restore tranquility to Lower Canada. But his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bath had proposed the other night a plan regarding Canada, to which the noble Lord had objected, as not being in conformity with the wishes of the Canadian people, and of which the right hon. Baronet opposite had said, that it was not sanctioned by any constitutional authority. Now as that plan of his learned Friend was highly approved of by many persons out of that House, as well as by many hon. Members within it, all he wished was, that his Majesty's Government should postpone these resolutions, in order to give time to the Canadian people to state whether they agreed with the plan of his hon. and learned Friend or not. It was allowed by the noble Lord himself that the chief object 199 of the resolutions was to prevent the nonpayment of certain official persons. But the question was, whether the rights of a whole people should be postponed to those of a few judges — whether the salaries of a few unpaid officials were to be put in comparison with the constitutional claims of a whole nation. He trusted the noble Lord would not so insult the Canadian people, and for such a purpose. The course the noble Lord was pursuing was in every sense unjustifiable; and he might depend upon it the effect of these resolutions would be not only to exasperate the people of Lower Canada, but also to alarm those of the Upper Province, as well as all their North American colonies. The people of Upper Canada would naturally have the fear of similar resolutions hanging over their heads, in case it should ever become necessary for them to have recourse to a suspension of the supplies. The question was not, therefore, confined to Lower Canada, but affected the whole of our American colonies: and he would once more, and in the most friendly spirit, entreat the noble Lord, if he could not agree to any plan proposed by him, and those who thought with him upon this subject, at least to put off the further consideration of his own until communication with Canada could be made and replied to. He assured the noble Lord that it was as painful to those with whom he acted to oppose the policy of the noble Lord as it was for the noble Lord to be opposed by them. They had ever supported the Government when they could do so conscientiously; but, in the present instance, they felt it to be their imperative duty not to do so. — They had considered that their support of these resolutions would have been a flagrant desertion of their principles, and felt that their only course was to give them the most strenuous opposition. He begged, therefore, to move, as an amendment to the Order of the Day for going into Committee upon them, "that their further consideration be deferred for six months," for the reasons he before had stated.
§ Mr. Hume
seconded the amendment. He entreated the noble Lord to consider what he would do if the people of Lower Canada would not submit to the proposed conditions. Was it likely that what the noble Lord proposed would promote peace in that colony? What confidence could the Canadians have in the good feelings 200 entertained towards them by the British Parliament, if these resolutions were adopted? To secure their allegiance we were bound to secure to them their rights and their property. The evils that must attend any attempt at coercion would be great. He entreated the noble Lord, therefore, to pause, to give time for consideration. He considered the resolution would only lay the ground for increased discontent. He therefore trusted the noble Lord would pause before he adopted resolutions which would take away the rights and property of his Majesty's subjects in Canada.
§ Sir George Grey
said, after three nights' debate on the same subject it could hardly be expected that they should anew discuss the question. Any discussion that might be necessary could take place in Committee. He would only say, that the Ministers had gravely considered the subject before they submitted the resolutions to the House, and had adopted them with great reluctance. Nothing but an imperative sense of duty had forced them to take such a course; but after they had adopted the measure they would not shrink from carry-it into effect.
said, great discontent existed in both Canadas on account of the system of government which prevailed there. It was a system of favouritism. He had learned also that Orange lodges were still in existence in those colonies; and from accounts by the last packet it appeared that, but a short time ago, a number of new members had been sworn in. Much had been said about resolutions which had been passed in Upper Canada, approving of the government of Sir Francis Head. Now, what happened on the last day of the Session, when one-third of the members had left town? A motion was made by the Solicitor-General for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the act relative to the clergy reserves, for the purpose of setting them apart for the benefit of the Protestant Establishment; but it was rejected. He wished to know if that was the policy of the Government at home. Looking at all the circumstances of the case, he thought the Government would be acting wisely in adjourning the further consideration of the resolutions for six months.
§ Sir George Grey
said, the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny was under a mistake as to the nature of the Bill. Indeed, the information which the hon. 201 and learned Member had received was at utter variance with the fact, as he would convince him if he would take the trouble of conversing with him on the subject.
§ Mr. P. M. Stewart
denied, that the resolutions would excite a flame in Canada, and hoped there would be no delay in passing them. He hoped the House would instigate the Government to go on. The colony had not a tittle of right to what they demanded. He was convinced that when the case became fully known the small minority which they had on the first division would dwindle down, and even doubted much if the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny would be in it. He admitted that abuses ought to be removed and grievances redressed. It was said that 350,000 Canadians called for the change advocated by the hon. Member for Bath; but he would ask the House also to take into consideration the wishes of 1,200,000 inhabitants of those colonies, who deprecated the measures proposed. He called on the Government and the House to proceed with the resolutions, not for the purpose of raising salaries for the Crown officers, but for restoring peace to the country. The two main resolutions had passed, and the only object now in view was delay.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, after the observations which had been made by several Members he wished to call the attention of the Government to the real state of the case. The noble Lord said there was a difficulty in the way. What was the difficulty? The officers of the Government were not paid. And what did the noble Lord propose? A series of resolutions to take away from the Canadian people their money and their rights. The House was called on to hurry —to allow no delay, because if they did, they said the state of the country would become more dangerous every day. But did the Government think that the resolutions would settle the point at issue? The Government might get the resolutions passed —they might excite people and pay the Government officers for one year, but when that year had revolved, the question would be in precisely the same state. He wished the Government to attend to that point; and if coercion was to take place he would say 202 the Government ought to listen to the advice of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley). If the Government believed coercion good they had not gone far enough —for their resolutions did not coerce but insult. From what had fallen from the noble Lord on a former debate, he understood that the noble Lord had not made up his mind on the plan which he had proposed. That being the case, he wished to know what evil there would be in delay? Why, the noble Lord said, the Government officers remained unpaid. Was that all the evil? And could no other means of paying these officers be found but by voting resolutions —to do what? To do all they could to prevent reconciliation. He had been asked if the House were to adopt the plan which he had proposed, would the Canadians agree to it? In reply to that he would say, if the resolutions were passed, they would not ask for it— the time was gone by, and war declared. The moment those resolutions arrived the people of Canada would declare war, and to prevent that, he conjured the noble Lord to hesitate before he passed such resolutions. But the noble Lord would not take his advice, but the advice of the right hon. Baronet opposite. (Sir Robert Peel) And why did he take that advice. Was it because the right hon. Gentleman had shown that he knew the wishes of the people of this country? Did he know their wishes on the question of Reform —did he know the feelings of the country on the question of Catholic Emancipation, or had he made up his mind on the question of granting Municipal Reform to Ireland? The noble Lord must know that the right hon. Baronet never saw danger when it was at a distance —he saw it like the speck of a cloud above the horizon, as large as a man's hand, but he admitted and felt it only when the tempest and the hurricane were around him. When the danger was distant the right hon. Baronet was totally unaware of it; that was the peculiar characteristic of the right hon. Gentleman, yet the noble Lord would take his advice as to what would satisfy the people of Canada. Did the noble Lord consult him, as to the wishes of the people of England when he introduced the Reform Bill? The right hon. Baronet said that Bill was absurd, as he had said the proposition which he had made for the settlement of the dispute with Canada was absurd; 203 yet the noble Lord did push that measure through the House; it pleased the people of England; and the time came when the right hon. Baronet said, he was Wrong—the people of England required Reform—they required the Reform Bill; they had got it, and he would endeavour to carry it into effect. The same would be the result as regarded Canada. The right hon. Baronet had pronounced ill's plan absurd. Now this alone ought to lead the noble Lord to reflection. The right hon. Baronet would act with Canada as he intended to do with reform. The right hon. Baronet had exhibited —he hoped he might be pardoned the word —considerable ignorance on colonial subjects when he pronounced the plan absurd. It happened that many of our colonies had just such constitutions as he proposed for Canada. There were such in our West-India colonies. The right hon. Baronet came down to the House and spoke as ex cathedra, and yet he was not acquainted with the colonial hornbook. He was like a blind man with a stick, feeling his way, seeking a place whereon to set his foot, and not knowing where he might stumble. The tight hon. Baronet came to that House because of his extraordinary powers and long standing, was considered of great weight; but he would show the little value of his authority. His plan was pronounced absurd, yet he had shown the right hon. Baronet that it was a system which already existed, and was acted upon in many places. If it would appear that his plan would prove palatable to Canada he would ask the noble Lord to pause before he proceeded to a course which would for ever preclude its adoption. If the coercion system were once begun it must be continued. The noble Lord should bite as well as show his teeth. Indeed, the intimidation system had already been begun. Sir Charles Grey, one of the Commissioners, told every one with whom he conversed—had told many Members of the House of Assembly—that England was prepared to send out three or four regiments, and to force the resolutions down the throats of the Canadian people with the bayonet. He had a letter from M. Papineau stating that fact. Were these the persons to send out to pacify the Canadians? He would beg of the noble Lord not to put faith in such men, or follow the advice of the right hon. Baronet. Let the noble Lord delay a little—offer his 204 plan to the Canadians—and see whether it would be accepted. The resolution of 1825 had been referred to, but this resolution had never been carried out. Would the noble Lord give the people the legislative council in accordance with that resolution? If not what would he give? Of what use would be a half-dozen in the legislative council? How would it operate if tried here in the Upper House? Would not the composition of that House be still the same? If the object Was to give the House of Assembly a predominance in the Council, why do it at once, and not palter with a sham reform. Where was the necessity for hurrying these resolutions? Was there not business enough for the Ministry without them? Oh, but they could not do that business: they could not carry measures beneficial to Ireland—what was it that they could carry? Nothing but coercions. Something must be done, and as they could do nothing else, why they carried coercive laws. As they could not carry liberal, they carried illiberal, measures, if it were only to show that they could carry something.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck) had proposed a scheme of government for the Canadas, which, of course, that Gentleman deemed the fittest and most proper as well as the wisest that could be adopted. But the hon. and learned Gentleman must allow him to say, that he appeared to him to be a little too irritable for the framer of a constitution. On the present occasion, however, it appeared that all the irritability exhibited by the hon. and learned Gentleman arose from his having expressed an opinion that the hon. and learned Gentleman's scheme was absurd. He should have escaped all the phials of wrath that the hon. and learned Gentleman had poured out Upon him if he had not used the word "absurd" in reference to the famous scheme of government he had propounded. He (Sir R. Peel) was sorry, however, notwithstanding all the hon. and learned Gentleman's indignation, that subsequent reflection only confirmed his first impression with respect to that scheme. His original impression was, as he had stated it to be, that the scheme was absurd — intervening reflection induced him to retain the same opinion. He still thought it absurd. When he said this he intended to speak with no disrespect of the hon. 205 and learned Gentleman himself—he applied the term not to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but to his plan. But when the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of his (Sir R. Peel's) ignorance upon colonial matters, the hon. and learned Gentleman must allow him to say, that he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had only proved his own. He did not profess to be very abundantly versed in colonial affairs. But what was the course that the hon. and learned Gentleman had pursued? Suddenly, and without any previous notice, he came forward with a plan of his own, and, in asking the House to adopt it, proposed at once to change the whole course of policy suggested by the Government, and to postpone the resolutions that had been brought forward, in order that his scheme might go forth to the Canadian people. And, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, addressing himself particularly to him (Sir R. Peel), "You are entirely wrong in supposing that my plan would not be acceptable to the Canadian people: you said, that the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was not necessary —you were wrong; you said that Parliamentary Reform was not required—you were wrong; you say now that the people of Canada will not like my plan—there, again, I tell you, you are wrong." This was the line of argument adopted by the hon. and learned Gentleman. Now, was it borne out by the fact? Had not the people of Canada passed a resolution declaring that they preferred a different plan? He presumed that the hon. and learned Gentleman would allow, that the people of Canada knew at least what their own views were, even if they did not understand their own interests. He had read an extract from a Canadian resolution, by which it appeared that so far from preferring a legislative council holding office at the pleasure and mere will of the Crown, the people of the Canadas expressed and placed upon record an opinion that the form of council which they preferred was a council elected by the people. What right, then, had he to infer that the plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman would be acceptable to the Canadian people, when he had before him the strongest evidence to the contrary. His impression upon the point was not founded upon surmise; he had before him the declaration of the Canadians that the form of council that they preferred was a council deriving its existence and its authority 206 from them by election. Such were their views; yet the hon. and learned Gentleman told him, that by not agreeing to his plan he (Sir Robert Peel)proved himself utterly and entirely ignorant of all colonial affairs, because, in point of fact, a similar plan already-prevailed in some of the colonial possessions of Great Britain. As he had before stated, he did not profess any intimate knowledge of colonial affairs, nor had he of late inquired much into the colonial system of government; but he was greatly mistaken if he was not right, and the hon. and learned Gentleman wrong, when he stated that the form of government which he proposed already prevailed in some of the colonies. He was very much mistaken if in any one of our colonial possessions such a form of government prevailed. This was the point upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman founded his charge of ignorance. "You contend against my plan," said he, "and call it absurd because it has never been tried or exhibited in any one of our colonies; I tell you, on the other hand, that you are totally ignorant upon the matter, because the plan has been tried and does certainly now prevail in some of the colonies." He had yet to learn in what colony it prevailed, Now, as to the plan itself, what was it that the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed? "I object," said he, "to a council appointed for life, and at the will of the Crown, and, therefore, I propose to establish a council of a different description." When the hon and learned Gentleman made that proposition did he in fact propose to establish a legislative council? Just observe the gross fallacy of the proposition — "I object to a council appointed for life and at the will of the Crown, therefore I will have a council established on a different principle." He said, that such a council as that which the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed would not be a legislative council. The hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition amounted to this, —that the present legislative council should be abolished and that some other assembly should be substituted in its room. There were Legislative Councils in the other colonies holding office during pleasure, and appointed by the Crown; and, indeed, as far as appointment was concerned, he knew perfectly well that the Legislative Councils of the Canadas were appointed by the Crown; but there was this difference between the Canadas and 207 our other colonial possessions —in the former the Legislative Councils held office for life, in the latter they held office only during pleasure. But the question, at issue between him and the hon. Gentleman was this, "Is there any colony appertaining to the Crown of Great Britain in which there is a House of Assembly deriving its authority from election of the people, in which there is not also a council, however that council may be appointed, which has co-ordinate functions with the House of Assembly?" That was the question; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman did not know that there was no such colony, as the last thing that he (Sir R. Peel) wished was to bandy terms with him, he would not say that he showed his ignorance, but that he had at all events vindicated himself from the charge of ignorance, which the hon. and learned Gentleman had levelled against him. The hon. and learned Gentleman produced a scheme of Government which he (Sir R. Peel) understood to be this —that in Lower Canada there should be a body, which the hon. and learned Gentleman called a council, which should have no legislative power whatever, but which should have the agreeable task of washing up the dirty linen of the provincial legislature, of correcting, in other words, the blunders of the House of Assembly; but to whose labours, in their choice and enviable avocations, the House of Assembly should not be bound to pay the least attention. If that were a correct statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman's plan, he (Sir R. Peel) repeated that the council he would establish would not be a legislative council, but a mere body appointed by the Crown, with the power of humbly suggesting certain amendments that it might happen to think proper in bills that had passed through the House of Assembly. Now, to the opinions or suggestions of such a body, appointed only during pleasure, it appeared to him (Sir R. Peel) exceedingly improbable that the House of Assembly would attach any great weight. He thought it most likely that the same difficulties, arising from offended pride, as regarded the adoption of amendments, would exist between the new council and the House of Assembly, as had already existed between the Legislative Council and that body; and then the governor, as the arbiter between the contending parties, would have to interpose his simple veto. 208 Now, it appeared to him to be a course much more abrupt, and more likely to give offence to an assembly elected by the people, than if there were an intermediate body, composed of persons of as high authority as could be procured in the colony, and to whose decision all the weight should be given that could be derived from their occupying an independent station— it appeared to him that, à priori, the colony would be less likely to reject measures accepted by such a body, than if they came recommended only to them by the assent of a governor sent out to them by the mother country. That was the ground upon which, in the former debate, he had expressed his dissent from the hon. and learned Gentleman, admitting that he had not had time to give to his plan a very mature consideration.
§ Mr. Grote
did not think, that the right hon. Baronet had been very successful in vindicating himself from the charge brought against him by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. If, indeed, the right hon. Baronet had been successful at all, it was only in artfully concealing the question which the hon. and learned Member for Bath intended to raise, and did raise. As he understood that question, it was this —whether it was politic to maintain a legislative council possessing co-ordinate powers of legislation, and independent of the Governor. The hon. and learned Member for Bath, in alluding to the constitutions of other colonies, pointed out this, which he, (Mr. Grote), believed to be the fact —that there was more than one colonial possession of Great Britain in which there was no legislative council appointed by the Crown. And holding place for life, so as to make it totally independent of the Crown. That was the point for which he (Mr. Grote) contended. When the right hon. Baronet spoke of a legislative council appointed by the Governor, and holding place during the pleasure of the Governor, he must see, as every body else did, that the veto of such a council was, in fact, nothing more nor less than the veto of the Governor under a different name. Such being the case, he approved of the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that the legislative council should be converted into a council of advisers of the Governor, and that to the Governor in council should be given the veto which was essential to the government of every 209 colony of Great Britain. The right hon. Baronet recollected, of course, the history of the American colonies, before their final separation from this country. He believed that there was not in one of those colonies such an institution as a council for life, appointed for life by the crown, and exercising co-ordinate powers of legislation. If there was one instance of the kind, it constituted the exception, not the rule. The right hon. Baronet in vindication of his criticism on the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Bath said, that the proposition was in itself absurd; and that the veto of the governor would in-fact become totally inapplicable, if there were no intermediate assembly exercising co-ordinate powers with the assembly elected by the people. He differed from the right hon. Baronet upon that point. In his opinion, a veto put upon the wishes of the people of Canada, by a council, composed of persons elected from amongst themselves, but in reality possessing no distinction of property or birth, was infinitely more obnoxious than the veto of the Governor, for whom they could not fail to entertain feelings of deep respect as the representative of the power and majesty of the King. If the right hon. Baronet took the pains to look into the report of the Commissioners, he would see that it was in fact impossible to conduct the government of the Canadas with two Houses of Assembly, constituted on contrary and antagonist principles. He agreed with the hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Leader) that this was the fittest and most proper period to discuss the question of delay, before they arrived at the eighth resolution, which was the penal resolution. Before such a severe resolution as that were passed, he thought that the Canadians ought to be told fairly and distinctly what it was proposed to concede to them. No such communication had yet been made; he, for one, therefore, should vote for the amendment.
§ The House divided on the original question. Ayes 182; Noes 29; Majority 153.
§ The House went into Committee.
§ On Clause 6 being proposed as follows —"That the legal title of the North American Land Company to the land holden by the said Company, by virtue of a grant from his Majesty, under the public seal of the said province, and to 210 the privileges conferred on the said company by the Act for that purpose made in the fourth year of his present Majesty's reign, ought to be maintained inviolate,"
§ Mr. Roebuck
opposed the resolution, and contended that the establishment of the Land Company had been injurious to the Crown lands, and productive of no public good. The Act by which it was created, had been smuggled through the House; it had been made a mere money speculation, and the general interests of the public had been neglected. He demanded, therefore, that no resolution should pass the House affirming the privileges which had been conferred on that company till a Select Committee had investigated the grounds upon which the act for its establishment had been founded, and till it was ascertained whether the powers which the Company possessed had not been exercised injuriously for the crown lands and for the public interest. The hon. Member concluded by moving, as an amendment, "That it is the opinion of the Committee, that no resolution shall be come to by the Committee respecting the North American Land Company till an inquiry shall have been instituted into the circumstances under which the land held by that company had been obtained."
opposed the amendment, and defended the policy and the proceedings connected with the passing of the act in ques-tion. Before it was adopted by the Government to which he belonged, every possible inquiry was made as to the proper value of the crown lands in Canada, and the opinion of the law officers of the crown taken on the subject. These preliminaries having been settled, all that remained for him to do was to fix the terms upon which the amendment was to be made. The Bill was a long time before the House, and though the hon. and learned Member for Bath might not then have been a paid agent of the colony, yet he was a Member of Parliament; and did he mean to say, that interesting himself as he did in the affairs of Canada, he had not been aware of the progress of that Act through the House? It had gone through the usual course and had received the sanction of Parliament, and there was therefore no ground to question its validity, or to doubt of the fairness of the steps taken in regard to it. That company, however, tended to encourage the settlement of natives of this country in Canada, and 211 the French people of the province wished to exclude the British settlers, and to maintain the population exclusively French. That was the reason of the opposition to the Land Company, for the French Canadians wished to monopolise every advantage and to prevent the settlement of British subjects. If the House would refer to the Report of the Commissioners, the good effect of the establishment of the Land Company would at once be seen. The Commissioners reported that the Land Company had already effected much good in the country. The number of families located in the country districts during that year had been 200, and in the townships 5,000, and the Company provided employment for settlers, and all necessary supplies at a reasonable cost, and did everything to encourage settlements and improvement. The Commissioners stated further, that they did not think the powers of the Company were such as they ought not to possess, or took too much out of the hands of Government. The Land Company had conferred great benefits on the provinces, benefits which the Government could not have conferred. He denied all the charges that had been made against the Company, and upon the short statement he had made to the House, he was willing to rest his case and the case of the Company. He was satisfied, that whatever might be the result, Parliament would never depart from engagements which Parliament had sanctioned, whether right or wrong; but he must repeat his opinion that the bargain entered into with the Company had been eminently successful in promoting the welfare of the colony.
§ Sir George Grey
wished to ask the hon. and learned Member for Bath, why he had departed from the demand made by the House of Assembly, that demand being the pure and absolute repeal of the Act of Parliament under which the charter to the Land Company was confirmed? Why did he not adhere to that demand? Was he influenced by finding himself left in a dwindling minority, or was it that he had discovered that there was a sense of honour existing in the British Parliament, which would, by an unanimous vote, negative any proposition to repeal an act upon the faith of which property had been bought and sold, transactions of the most extensive kind had taken place, and British emigrants had proceeded to the 212 provinces in large numbers, and had been located there by that aid which was detailed by the Commissioners, and which was now promoting the tide of emigration to an unparalleled extent. The House having already negatived this demand of the Assembly of Lower Canada, he would ask whether they were by a side wind, and by appointing a Committee of inquiry, to throw doubt upon those titles so acquired, and to imply that a time might come when that charter, which had been granted by the Crown and confirmed by Act of Parliament, might be repealed, and every transaction set loose, and those improvements which had taken place under the British Land Company be retarded, and the tide of emigration checked in the province of Lower Canada? The Government felt bound to adhere to the resolutions they had proposed, and he hoped that by an unanimous, or an almost unanimous vote, the proposition of the hon. and learned Member would be rejected.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, that the hon. Baronet had spoken of a dwindling minority; he could refer the hon. Baronet to a dwindling majority. But did the hon. Baronet therefore think that the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill was less deserving of public approbation and support than when it was passed by a majority of eighty? The British Land Company was said to be formed under the sanction of Parliament, and they were told that it would be a disturbance of the rights of all property if they were to go into an inquiry as to the formation of that company. He denied that proposition altogether. This company was of a peculiar nature; and if its charter were rescinded to-morrow, it would not shake the confidence of any one man in Canada as to the validity of his title to his private property. What he wanted to have inquired into were the circumstances under which that company was formed. He was sorry he did not see the noble Lord, the Secretary at War, in the House, because he should like to have asked that noble Lord his opinion as to the propriety of establishing that Land Company, and whether, when he was under-secretary of the colonies, he approved of it or not? The hon. Baronet had spoken very pathetically about checking the tide of emigration, but did he not know that the number of persons emigrating from England to the United States of America was just 213 as great as the number emigrating to Canada? Did they ever hear of the American people selling 100,000 acres of land at eighteen pence an acre? No such thing. The government of America was a frugal and an economical government, and responsible to the people; and what did the Americans do? They sold their land by public auction, and during the last year only they received 4,000,000l. for the sale of their waste lands. But in Canada the land had been given away, and the hon. Member for Worcester had made a capital speculation.
§ Mr. Robinson
said, the hon. Member for Bath was in the habit of speaking in a most unscrupulous manner. He charged that hon. Member with being guilty of one of two things —either that he knew that the Bill in question was passing through the House, and had neglected to oppose it; or that he did not know of it, and was thereby ignorant of what it was his duty, as a Member of Parliament, to have known. The Bill was brought in on the 24th of March, 1834, was read a second time on the 12th of April, a third time on the 5th of May, and received the royal assent on the 12th of May. It was too late, therefore, for the hon. Member new to say that he had been taken by surprise. The people of Canada also had known that the company was being formed the year before, and yet they never made any objection. In fact, the whole thing was an after-thought. What was the real objection to the British American Land Company? Not that it had not effected great good in Canada —no, it was because it had effected, and was still effecting so much good in that colony; it was because the company were inducing people to emigrate and settle there; and because new towns and villages were thriving and flourishing in that country by its means; and by the blessing of God there would, in a few years, be raised up in those new settlements a population of many hundreds of thousands; it was because the French Canadians would in a short time be deprived of that majority which they now possessed, and of which he was sorry they made so bad a use, that the hon. Member for Bath and his friends in Canada, so much objected to that company. It was said that the company was a monopoly; but he denied that statement. Almost any number of acres of land might now be bought for little more than the price 214 paid by the company to Government, either from individuals or from the Government themselves. Lower Canada possessed many millions of acres of excellent land, situated in a most valuable and fertile country, in a climate, it was true, somewhat severe, but at the same time healthy, and useful for all agricultural purposes, but which would be of no use whatever, unless rendered so by the instrumentality of a great company like that of the British American Land Company. No individual enterprise could have the least effect in those boundless wastes. He was in possession of extracts from publications by disinterested parties, which showed what was the result of the establishment of the Land Company. It was the conversion of a vast extent of waste land, which was useless to the mother country, and to the colony, into a valuable and cultivated and well-peopled district. He complained of the underhand manner in which the hon. and learned Member opposed these resolutions, namely, his stating that it was expedient that they should be postponed till the people of Canada should have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon them. He hoped that the House would not be deceived by the argument, and that they would reject the motion.
§ Mr. Leader
said, that the hon. Member had brought a serious charge against the hon. and learned Member for Bath, namely, his being ignorant of a private Bill that was going through the House. He begged to ask the hon. Member for Worcester, did he know really and truly every private Bill that was at that moment before the House? It was impossible to know of every private Bill that came before the House. With respect to this particular resolution, he must say he did not want to repeal the Land Company Act. On the contrary, he only wanted an inquiry into the manner in which the Bill passed, how the land had been appropriated, and how the money that was paid for it had been appropriated. He thought it right that an inquiry should be made into the way in which the Act was passed. There were other reasons for inquiry. This company had a large extent of land in Canada, which gave them great power, and they had a right to inquire bow they employed that power, and whether there was anything unconstitutional in the manner in which that power was exercised. This 215 corporation derived its power from an Act of Parliament, and was responsible for the exercise of that power to the House. All they wanted was inquiry.
§ Mr. Hume
could not deny that he had had a knowledge of this Bill; on the contrary, when the Bill was passing, the only complaint he made was, that it was a private Bill to appropriate public property. He considered that a most improper proceeding. Whether the Bill was right or wrong it had now passed into an Act, and the parties who held property under that Act, had a perfect right to be protected in the possession of that property. What he complained of was, that this association had, as he understood, become a political engine. They exercised their power for political purposes, and this was the objection he had to the company. He contended that the land of the company should be sold for the benefit of the colony, and that the produce of the sale ought to be expended in supporting the civil and military establishments of the colony. The manner in which the company's affairs were conducted was hostile to the peace of the colony. The value of the land was day by day declining in consequence of the disturbed state of the country, and these disturbances were, in a great measure, the result of the conduct of the company. Would these resolutions remove the causes of disturbance? On the contrary, the moment they reached Canada, there would be almost the certainty of a civil war; and how could they expect that emigrants should settle, and pay a large price for land, in a country so situated? He objected to affirm these resolutions because in his conscience he believed they would be most prejudicial to the interests of this country and the colony.
§ Mr. Grote
felt also under the necessity of declining to vote for the amendment; but he felt the same difficulty as regarded the resolution. If the title of the company was good, there was no occasion to affirm 216 it again by this resolution. He would vote neither for the resolution nor for the motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath.
§ The Committee divided on the amendment. — Ayes 6; Noes 166. Majority 160.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ House resumed. Committee to set again. We subjoin the Lists of the first division. — See page 209.
|List of the AYES.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Angerstein, J.||Fector, J. M.|
|Arbuthnot, hon. H.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Bailey, J.||Ferguson, R.|
|Baillie H. D.||Fergusson, rt. hon. R. C.|
|Baines E.||Finch, G.|
|Balfour, T.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Bannerman, A.||Fleetwood, Peter H.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Forbes, W.|
|Bell, M.||Forster, C. S.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Fort, J.|
|Bentinck, Lord W||French, F.|
|Berkeley, hon. F.||Geary, Sir W.|
|Bernal, R.||Gladstone, T.|
|Bewes, T.||Gladstone, W. E.|
|Blackburne, I.||Gordon, R.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Gordon, hon. Captain|
|Boldero, H. G.||Goring, H. D.|
|Bonham, R. F.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Hale, R. B.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bruen, Colonel||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Bruen, F.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Canning, rt. hn. Sir S.||Hay, Sir A. L.|
|Cavendish, hon. C.||Heathcote, J. G.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Heneage, E.|
|Chalmers, P.||Herries, rt. hon. J. C.|
|Chandos, Marquess of||Hillsborough, Earl of|
|Chapman, A.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Chichester, J. P. B.||Hobhouse, Sir J. C.|
|Chichester, A.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Clive E. B.||Hope, J.|
|Clive, Viscount||Hotham, Lord|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Houstoun, G.|
|Codrington, C. W.||Howard, R.|
|Colborne, N. W. R.||Howard, P. H.|
|Cole, Viscount||Hughes, W. H.|
|Collier, J.||Ingham, R.|
|Collins, W.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Cookes, T. H.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Coote, Sir C.||Jones, T.|
|Corbett T. G.||Kearsley, J. H.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Knatchbull, rt. hon.|
|Dalbiac, Sir C.||Sir E.|
|Dillwynn, L. W.||Knight, H. G.|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Labouchere, rt. hn. H.|
|Dundas, J. D.||Lambton, H.|
|Eastnor, Viscount||Lefevre, Charles S.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Lennox, Lord George|
|Lister, E. C.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Long, W.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Lowther, hn. Colonel||Scott, James W.|
|Lushington, C.||Seymour, Lord|
|Maclean, D.||Sharpe, General|
|Mahon, Viscount||Sinclair, Sir G.|
|Marshall, W.||Smith, V.|
|Lennox, Lord Arthur||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Martin, J.||Stanley, Lord|
|Martin, T.||Stanley, W. O.|
|Maule, hon. F.||Steuart, R.|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Stewart, J.|
|Mosley, Sir O.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Mostyn, hon. E.||Strangways, hon. J.|
|Murray, rt. hon. J.||Strutt, E.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Sturt, H. C.|
|Parker M,||Surrey, Earl of|
|Parker, J.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Parry, Sir L. P.||Taifourd, Sergeant|
|Pease, J.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Pechell, Captain||Thompson, Alderman|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Pendarves, E. W. W.||Troubridge, Sir T.|
|Perceval, Colonel||Turner, W.|
|Philips, M.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Philips, G. R.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Pinney, W.||Wason, R.|
|Plumptree, J. P.||Welby, G. E.|
|Ponsonby, hon. J.||White, S.|
|Pringle, A.||Whitmore, E. C.|
|Pryme, G.||Wilbraham, hon. B.|
|Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.||Wilkins, W.|
|Rice, rt. hon. T. S.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Richards, J.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Richards, R.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Rickford, W.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|Robinson, G. R.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Rolfe, Sir R. M.||TELLERS.|
|Ross, C.||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Rushbrooke, Colonel||Grey, Sir G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Blake, M. J.||Potter, R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Roche, David|
|Crawford, W. S.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Rundle, J.|
|Fitzgibbon, hon. Col.||Ruthven, E.|
|Grote, George||Thompson, Colonel|
|Hall, Benjamin||Tulk, C. A.|
|Hawes, B.||Villiers, C. P.|
|Holland, Edward||Warburton, H.|
|Hutt, William||Ward, H. George|
|Marsland, H.||Wilks, J.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Williams, W.|
|O'Brien, W. S.||TELLERS.|
|O'Connell, D.||Hume, J.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Leader, J. T.|