HC Deb 09 July 1839 vol 49 cc83-5
Lord John Russell

said, that, in rising to move that the House take into its immediate consideration the Lords' Amendments on the Jamaica Bill, he should state, that he was prepared to agree generally with the amendments that had been introduced into this bill in the other House. He regretted the changes that had been made in this measure; but after what had passed it would probably be inexpedient to persist in further opposition to these changes; there was one, however, of these amendments which had evidently originated in some blunder in the House of Lords, from which he should disagree. Some of the changes that had been made in the bill were of great importance, and more especially that by which the first clause was left out. As already a great deal of argument had been used with respect to the omitting this clause, he should not again go into the subject, as he did not intend to meet with a negative the amendment by which the clause was left out. Although the bill, as it would stand, was not nearly so effective as he could wish, and although it left a greatly diminished power to the Governor and Council, still it left some power for continuing the government in the island. There was also another amendment introduced by the House of Lords into the bill, by which it gave a certain time to the House of Assembly, during which it might consider, whether it would pass the necessary measures that would be laid before it—a delay of two months. The clause that remained, he need hardly add, referred to the laws that would expire or had expired. The amendment from which he should propose, that the House should dissent had arisen in this way. The House of Lords had left out the former part of the preamble, which was as follows:— Whereas the altered state of society consequent on the total abolition by law of slavery in the island of Jamaica, requires the enactment of further laws to take effect within the said island: and whereas the House of General Assembly of the said island, by an address to the Governor thereof, on the 30th day of October, 1838, stated, that for the reasons therein set forth, they had come to the determination to abstain from the exercise of any legislative functions; And it concluded thus, And whereas, in consequence of the determination aforesaid, several temporary laws of the said island have been suffered to expire, some of which ought, without delay, to be revived or re-enacted. Now, when the Lords omitted the former part of the preamble, they allowed the latter part to remain, so that the name of the island was omitted; and it only stated "such island," without specifying what island was meant. He need hardly say, that it was necessary to change this: he proposed, therefore, that the House should agree to the other amendments; but to that which he had referred to respecting the preamble, that they should dissent from, and insert the island of Jamaica.

Amendments agreed to.

Sir R. Peel

was glad that the noble Lord had concurred in these amendments, which made the bill very much resemble the form which he proposed should be adopted. He rose, however, more for the purpose of expressing a sentiment which he believed would meet with the general concurrence of the House, namely, expressing his earnest hope that the House of Assembly of Jamaica would justify the confidence which was now placed in it by the general sense of Parliament, and that they would realise the expectations that were entertained of them by their friends, and that they would not only resume their functions, but that they would proceed in that spirit and temper which would at the same time raise the Assembly of Jamaica in public estimation in this country, and show to the world that the intention of suspending the constitution of that island, and putting a stop to their legislative functions for a time, were not justified by the result. Such was the advice which he would give the Assembly of Jamaica, and he trusted that it would be received by that body in the sense and spirit in which it was given, for he was sure that they could pursue no other course so well calculated to raise and establish them in public opinion.

Bill to be sent back to the Lords.

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