HC Deb 13 August 1838 vol 44 cc1172-4
Lord J. Russell

in moving the first reading of the Canada Government Act Declaratory Bill which had been sent down from the House of Lords, said, he did not think it would be desirable or advisable to consider then the merits of the bill, but he would explain to the House the course which he intended to pursue, which, in his opinion, would afford an opportunity of fair discussion and suit the convenience of hon. Members. The bill was founded on an act to make temporary provision for the government of Lower Canada; and for the purpose of indemnifying those who had issued or acted under a certain ordinance made under colour of the said act, with reference to the transportation of certain persons to the Bermudas. His proposition was, that the bill be read a first and second time that evening, ordered to be printed and committed to-morrow, when he would take an opportunity of explaining his views, and the House could then enter into a discussion on its merits.

Mr. Leader

objected to the summary course about to be pursued by the noble Lord, and would take that opportunity of inquiring whether the noble Lord intended to adopt the bill as sent from the other House, or to introduce any amendments into it, and he should also wish to know whether any despatches with reference to the ordinance, had been received at the Colonial Office, from the Governor-general of Lower Canada? The only official announcement connected with the subject that he had seen, appeared in an article published in the Morning Chronicle of that day, and a more disgraceful or discreditable article it had never fallen to his lot to peruse. An extract of a letter written by Mr. C. Buller was published, by which it would appear "that the prisoners petitioned to be disposed of without trial." Now, this he could most positively deny, as the petitioners merely said they would throw themselves upon the mercy of the crown.

Lord J. Russell

declined saying anything with respect to the line of conduct he should adopt. The bill had been only just sent down from the Lords, and as there had been no opportunity of reading its details, he could not then say whether he should adopt it, or introduce some amendments. With regard to the despatches from the Governor General of Lower Canada, they had been laid before the House of Lords, and if it were thought desirable, should be laid before that House also.

Lord Stanley

would not offer any opposition to the course laid down by the noble Lord, but nothing, except the advanced period of the Session, could sanction the Government in requesting, or the House in allowing, a bill of so much consequence and such public importance to be passed so speedily through its stages. It was desirable that the discussion should take place before the largest number of Members then in town, and he would therefore assent to the proposition of the noble Lord. He reserved, however, the expression of any opinion as to the Indemnity Act, as to the illegality that called for that indemnity, as to the ordinance itself, and as to the right of any power in the Canadas to interfere with clauses in- troduced into the former bill, by the legislature of this country.

The Bill read a first and second time.