HC Deb 29 June 1837 vol 38 cc1708-9

Sir George Grey moved for leave to bring in a Bill to continue in force for another year an Act passed in the reign of his late Majesty King George 4th., to provide for the administration of justice in New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land, and for the more effectual government thereof, and for other purposes relating thereto.

In answer to a question from Mr. Patrick Stewart,

Sir George Grey

stated, that the subject of giving an elective council to the colony of New South Wales had occupied a great deal of the attention of Government. He could bear testimony to the value of this colony, and the great progress that it was making. The difficulty of drawing up a bill on the subject was one of no ordinary-nature, but the subject would not be lost sight of during the vacation; and he trusted that early next Session they would be able to submit to Parliament a measure which would not only satisfy the colonists, but which would be well adapted to their peculiar situation.

Mr. Henry L. Bulwer

had had several petitions confided to his charge from the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, all earnestly praying that a change in the constitution of those colonies should take place correspondent with the change that had taken place in their condition. He begged then strongly to corroborate what had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster, as to the expectations which prevailed. He must add, that he regretted exceedingly that his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies had not brought forward, at an earlier period this Session, the new measure he had announced at the close of last Session. It was at the end of last year that his hon. Friend obtained permission to keep the existing act in force for one year longer, but he obtained this permission only on the distinct pledge that at the meeting of Parliament another Bill should be proposed; and yet, though he had repeatedly jogged the recollection of his hon. Friend to force the subject upon him, weeks and months had passed away until that melancholy event which necessarily occasioned the greatest portion of public business to be postponed. He could not, of course, now object to a course which the Crown had recommended and the House adopted, and so far he agreed with his hon. Friend that the further postponement must take place. He would, however, take that opportunity of stating two or three of the reasons which made him earnestly hope that such measures were in contemplation as would shortly operate effectual changes. In the first place, no party was satisfied with the existing state of things. The more liberal party desired (he thought properly) an elective assembly? but even the Tory or Conservative party objected to the existing Legislative Council, as furnishing, from the number of Government functionaries it contained, from the want of publicity in its debates, and other causes, nothing like a fair or well-constituted body for the purposes of impartial legislation. Again, there was not, perhaps, in the history of the world one single example of any country which had advanced in the same rapid manner that these colonies had advanced during the last few years. There was then on the bare face of things clear and evident proof that the institutions which had suited New South Wales and Van Diemen's land a few years ago could not possibly suit them now. He had, moreover (and this was all he should now allude to), the authority of the highest personage in the colony of New South Wales—a personage of whose ability and good sense he could not speak too highly,—he had the authority of the present governor of New South Wales for stating not merely that the prosperity of that colony was unexampled, but for urging also that that prosperity admitted, authorized, and called for, an improved and more liberal legislation. "It is but a few years since," said the governor, "that Australia issued from the wilderness: she is now among the most flourishing of the British possessions, and her children justly claim to participate in British institutions." Such being the opinions of so able an officer employed by the Government, he could not but trust that they were the opinions of the Government also, and that the earliest opportunity would be taken for carrying them out.

Motion agreed to.

Bill brought in and read a first time.