HC Deb 30 March 1841 vol 57 cc705-20
Mr. Poking ton

, in rising to move that a select committee should be appointed to inquire into the state of the colony of Newfoundland, said he could assure the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, that he had no desire to interfere with the progress of the Poor-law Bill, in the principles of which he fully concurred. He hoped he should not say anything that should lead to an acrimonious discussion, or prejudice any person or party whose conduct was to be inquired into by the committee for which he moved. For some years past the colony of Newfoundland had been in a most distracted state, and for the last four years the respectable and wealthy classes of the colony had been pouring in petitions to both Houses of Parliament, laying them at the foot of the Throne, and presenting them to the Colonial-office, praying for a redress of grievances which they declared insufferable and intolerable. He felt it due to the House to state, as clearly and distinctly as he could, the grounds on which he sought this investigation, into the state of an important dependency of the British empire. He could not conceal from the House a fact which was notorious to every one who had paid any attention to the distracted state of this colony, that there was a large portion of that religious animosity prevailing there, which was happily unknown in other parts of the empire, and which could not be too deeply deprecated. He could assure the House, that he did not mean to enter on this portion of the subject, or to excite feelings of animosity against any class or person, but would turn attention to the question, whether the present form of constitution was such as would permanently conduce to the interests and prosperity of the colony. In 1832, when Lord Grey was at the head of the administration, a charter was issued granting to the colony a local legislature. Judging from the experience of the last eight years, he would say, that he thought that constitution was prematurely given. Whatever might be his attachment to the constitution of this country, he considered it a matter of serious doubt how far it was expedient to grant to small states and infant colonies the boon of a representative government. But the peculiar circumstances of this colony were such as to render the grant of the constitution to this colony peculiarly inexpedient. He would state some of these circumstances. The population was from 75,000 to 80,000 inhabitants, who were divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants. In consequence of the climate, it was impossible to carry on to any extent agricultural operations, and she greater portion of the population were therefore engaged in the fisheries, and the proportion of respectable shopkeepers and merchants exceedingly small. The natural consequence of granting a local legislature to the colony was, that the legislature was of a very democratic character, and the franchise very low—every person occupying a house or tenement for the period of one year being entitled to vote for a member of the Legislative Assembly, and every one occupying a house or tenement for two years, such as the fishermen used, being qualified to sit as a member. He did not impute the slightest blame to those who granted this constitution, as some change in the state of the colony was, at the time, absolutely necessary, and those at the head of the administration were led to believe, that it was prepared for the constitution which was given to it. The first assembly which had been called under this constitution was for the most part composed of respectable persons, and he believed there was no fault as to the manner in which they conducted the affairs of the colony; and at that time appearances were such as to justify the supposition that the experiment had succeeded. In 1836, the second assembly was elected, and he was sorry to say, that; the allegations in the petitions which had been presented to the House, stated, that at the elections the greatest tumults and disturbances occurred, and that most disgraceful acts of violence were committed, and it was clear, that many of the persons then elected could not conduct the legislation of the colony with advantage. He understood that one of the persons then elected one of the members of the House of Assembly was of the humble rank of a fisherman, while another was merely a domestic servant. He had also been informed by a gentleman connected with that colony, who was now in town, that he had been asked by one of the members of that assembly to take his daughter into his service as a nurse. In most part the persons who were elected members of the legislature were of a low situation of life, and did not conduct the affairs of the colony in a way calculated to give the slightest satisfaction; and the more respectable classes in the colony became most seriously alarmed as to the mode in which the legislature was carried on. In a short time still stronger complaints were made, and greater grounds for dissatisfaction became apparent. It was alleged in the statements which had been furnished to him, that great personal persecution of individuals had been allowed by the House of Assembly; that it had sanctioned gross acts of malversation as regarded the finances of the colony, and, above all, that it had been guilty of a disgraceful case of persecution under the pretence of a breach of the privileges of Parliament. The circumstances of this case had already been before the public, and were shortly these:—A gentleman of the medical profession happened to quarrel in the streets of St. John with a member of the House of Assembly. Strong language was used, but no assault was committed. The member complained to the Assembly, and that body chose to consider it a breach of the privileges of Parliament, and the gentleman was taken into custody on the Speaker's warrant. The case was then brought before one of the judges of the colony, who, on hearing the case, ordered the gentleman to be brought before him, under a writ of habeas corpus, and to be discharged. Upon the House of Assembly being informed of this, they, by the agency of their messengers, dragged the judge from the seat of justice, and seized the high sheriff who had officially executed the writ, and had them forced through the streets like malefactors, and committed them to prison. In order to release these gentlemen and to put an end to these disgraceful proceedings, the Governor was obliged to prorogue the Legislature. He was sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-general, who was so strong and able a sup- porter of the privileges of Parliament, would admit that this was carrying a breach of privilege to a most objectionable extent. Another matter which was alluded to, was the proceedings of the House of Assembly with regard to the chief justice of the colony. It appeared that that Gentleman had been made a Member of the Legislative Council, and in that capacity, had offended the House of Assembly. He did not know whether it was a wise discretion or not to place a judge in such a situation. The charges, however, that were brought against him had been heard before the Privy Council, and although the Chief Justice Bolton was acquitted of all the charges which had been urged against him, it was thought better to remove him from his office, and thus prevent his return to the colony. From one of the documents, however, which he held in his hand, it appeared that a great number of the most respectable inhabitants of the colony entertained the highest feelings of respect for this judge, and had expressed the strongest objections to his retirement. The document he alluded to was a resolution agreed to at a public meeting of many of the most respectable inhabitants of St. John's, Newfoundland, and contained the following words:— More particularly have they, and the few factious and needy individuals who have associated with them, been unceasing in their attack and untiring in their exertions to bring odium upon the present Chief Justice of the colony, Mr. Boulton, and at any sacrifice to procure his removal from the office which he so ably and impartially fills. In seeking the cause of this malignity displayed toward the Chief Justice, we solemnly declare to your Majesty that we can discover none, except it may he the apprehension that his inflexible administration of justice, unawed by their power or their threats, is calculated to divest the priests and their adherents of their undue ascendancy and to subject them, in common with your Majesty's other subjects, to the supremacy of the law. We take this public opportunity of expressing our full confidence in the integrity and ability of Mr. Boulton, and our entire satisfaction with the firm, judicious, and impartial, manner in which he has discharged his duties. We have also no hesitation in asserting that, notwithstanding the infamous attempt to create distrust in his official conduct, the public confidence in him remains unshaken, and we should lament as a public calamity any circumstance that might cause his removal or retirement from the bench of this colony, which would thereby suffer a loss not easily repaired. Another of the grave accusations against this House of Assembly was, the misapplication and squandering of the public finances. It unfortunately happened that nearly all the officers of the colony, including even the magistrates and constables, were paid by salaries voted by the House of Assembly, and that that body determined the amount which should be paid in every ease. It was alleged, in the apportioning and paying these salaries, that the majority of the Members of the House of Assembly had manifested a disposition to reward their own friends, and to give no payment to those who had at all opposed them. He found very strong language used on this subject in a petition which had been presented to the House in 1838, from the town of St. John's, Newfoundland. It was there said— The numerous and useless offices connected with the House of Assembly which they have created for the sake of patronage—the prodigal manner in which they have endeavoured to squander the revenues of the colony to support themselves and their adherents, and the invidious distinctions and provisions which they have made in several instances for the purpose of prejudicing individuals against whom they entertain personal dislike, indicate with painful certainty their determination to exercise all the power they possess, or are permitted to arrogate, in extending their influence, and inflicting injury on those who presume to differ from them. We deem it incumbent upon us now to bring under the especial notice of your Majesty the important fact, that the magistrates, constables, and other subordinate functionaries in this colony, are entirely dependant upon the annual grant of the House of Assembly for the payment of their salaries. A ready method is thus afforded of controlling their independence, if not of corrupting their integrity, by diminishing, or withholding, or perhaps increasing their respective stipends, in proportion as they are supposed to be more or less favourable or adverse to the authority of the priests and their partisans, and we lament to add, that the determination to exercise this influence has been manifested in the votes of the present Session. There was a petition, also, to the same effect, presented at nearly the same period, from the Chamber of Commerce of that colony. This body was composed of representatives of the mercantile classes of the colony, and they disclaimed being influenced by any political views; and he believed that it was composed of gentlemen of all opinions, and that some of its members were Liberals, while others were Tories, and that all that they desired was, that peace should be restored to the colony. The petitioners stated, that— Though established for many years, the Chamber had sedulously avoided all interference with, or the expression of any opinion: upon, the civil government of the island or its political affairs; but the perils to which the best interests of the colony are now exposed, and which threaten with ruin its trade and prosperity, compel your petitioners to depart from their accustomed course, and with the unanimous and express concurrence of the society at large, to lay before your royal council: with earnest entreaties for relief, the most intolerable wrongs they endure. They then proceeded to notice the manner in which the House of Assembly had tampered with the finances of the colony. They stated that the members of that body— Have interfered with the duties of the Executive, by appropriating to individuals, by name, the most trifling salaries—depriving one constable altogether of his stipend, lessening that of another, increasing that of a third, and this, too, without any complaint being made against the sufferer, or any recommendation in favour of the one benefitted, but solely and notoriously because the individuals affected y their votes were either opposed or favourable to the Members of the Assembly at their election, or did or did not approve of their subsequent conduct. However contemptible such conduct may appear, the evil effects of it are daily felt more extensively and seriously than we can describe. The peace-officers, who are poor, and mainly depending for subsistence on their salaries, are naturally deterred from independency doing their duty; and we fear the evil is not confined to these the lower functionaries. If such causes of dissatisfaction existed, and these allegations were true, it was clear that the ends of justice were defeated, and that the House of Assembly had scandalously violated its duty as a legislative body. Under these circumstances, it could hardly be a matter of surprise that the respectable inhabitants of the colony had sent a petition to the Legislature at home complaining in strong language of such a state of things. The petition had become the subject matter of discussion in the other House in the Session of 1839, and the noble Marquess then at the head of the Colonial Department stated, that he was aware of the nature of the petition, the allegations of which however, were denied by persons connected with the colony, but that he had sent out instructions to the Governor of Newfound- land, directing him to make a specific inquiry into the complaints made on both sides, and the grievances that were urged, and to make a report on the subject to the Colonial Department. Towards the end of the Session the noble Marquess stated that he had been informed by the Governor of the colony, that the allegations in the petition that had been presented to the other House were very much exaggerated. The report of the Governor had not been laid before Parliament, and however desirous he might be of seeing it, he did not wish to press for its production at present, as the noble Lord had stated, that it was not desirable for the public service that it should then be made public. In reference then to the serious complaints contained in this petition, he would not stop to give an opinion as to their extent, as the governor said that they were exaggerated. After what had been stated, however, he must express his regret that neither the Government nor some influential person in either House had pressed for some specific answer of the Governor to the communication from the Colonial-office; for if it was produced, it would enable them the better to form an opinion as to whether this was a fair subject for Parliamentary inquiry. Since however, this petition had been presented to the other House, matters had occurred which were calculated still further to excite feelings of alarm. In the spring of 1840 the governor—and he did not intend to impugn his motives for the proceeding—made an appointment of a person of the name of Morriss to the office of treasurer of the colony, and at the same time gave him a seat in the legislative council; he was informed that this person was a man of respectable character, but had rendered himself remarkable by the violence of his political feelings and by the strong language in which he was accustomed to indulge. This appointment occasioned a vacancy in a seat in the House of Assembly, and it became necessary to have an election for the town of St. John. At that election the most violent proceedings took place, and the conduct of the mob became at length so furious, that it became absolutely necessary to call out the military. In November last another election took place at Carbonear, which was characterized by equal violence and similar disgraceful proceedings. The most serious riots oc- curred at that place, and a magistrate in the execution of his duly was assailed and assaulted by the mob, and had his skull fractured, and was otherwise most seriously wounded. Several persons were so ill-treated that they nearly lost their lives, and a great number were injured. In the petition from the Chamber of Commerce of Newfoundland, allusions were made to other matters which had come under the cognizance of the House of Assembly of that colony. Among other things it appeared that a person in the service of the House of Assembly had committed two assaults, and bills had been found against him for them by the grand jury. In consequence of this some of the Members of that body came forward and presented themselves as bail, and the assembly ordered further proceedings to be stayed and still retained this person in their service. Another case, to which he would call the attention of the House, was one in which a young person in the colony had been seized and assaulted, and had had his ears cut off, and was otherwise wounded, and this it was believed was chiefly occasioned in consequence of the political feelings which he entertained. The magistrate, on instituting an inquiry into the subject, found that suspicion fell upon the door-keeper of the House of Assembly as having been a party in the outrage, but the House of Assembly, on that body being informed of their officer being taken up, sent for the magistrate, and ordered him to discharge the prisoner, the consequence was, that all further inquiry was stopped. If the petition presented that night by his hon. Friend the Member for Newark was examined, it would be found to contain several other allegations of a similar nature. He would now beg to call the attention of the House to perhaps the strongest part of the case which he had to bring forward, namely, the address of the Governor in- opening the session—the last session of the parliament in Newfoundland. The speech commenced with the following words:— Mr. President, and hon. Gentlemen of the Council, Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly. The approaching period of a general election, and the scandalous events which have lately occurred in partial elections, the last of which was rendered altogether abortive by the ferocious conduct of a mob at Carbonear, compel roe to suggest for your deliberation, as an object of the first importance, the establishment of such a law as may tend to preserve the public peace, and secure the free and undisturbed exercise of the elective franchise. For this purpose it seems desirable that our system should be assimilated, as nearly as circumstances will permit, to that of the mother country. I am anxious to press this matter upon your immediate attention, because, if in the two great districts of the colony which return seven of the fifteen members of which the house is composed, elections can only be carried on under protection of bayonets if brutal force and lawless violence are to be perpetually resorted to, and, as heretofore, to a degree that can be restrained solely by military interference, the inevitable inference must be, that the island is unfit for a representative system and legislative institutions and that this ancient possession of the British Crown, is not duly prepared for conducting its own affairs, and watching over its particular interests, by means of a General Assembly. He thought that there could not be a stronger case made out for inquiry than when the governor of a colony felt himself called upon to make such a statement. It appeared that the House of Assembly was not satisfied with the conduct of the Governor of the colony in calling out the soldiers to preserve the peace at the various elections where disturbances had taken place, and they presented an address to him, embodying their views on the subject. He must beg to read to the House the answer of the Governor to this address:— Gentlemen—The scandalous events which occurred at two partial elections during the late recess, the ferocious conduct of a mob at Carbonear, by which one of those elections was rendered abortive, and the necessity of military interference and protection on those occasions, are matters of general notoriety. I consider that the documents already before the House, are sufficiently demonstrative to prove those evils, and, in the exercise of my discretion under the existing circumstances of the colony, I must decline compliance with this address, believing that no good could result to the community from the publication of all the representations which I have received on this subject. So convinced am I of the absolute necessity of an amendment of the election law, that I avail myself of this opportunity to state, that should, unhappily, no legislative enactment be made during this Session to secure the free exercise of the franchise, and the public tranquillity in future elections, I will not undertake the responsibility of issuing proclamations or writs for the election of a new House of Assembly, or make myself accountable for the serious consequences, the confusion and bloodshed, so likely to ensue there from under the present system; but referring the whole affair to the Supreme Government, I will, as in duty bound, implicitly follow such directions as I may receive in that behalf. Government-house, Feb. 12. 1841. It appeared to him that the governor lilt it to be his imperative duty to use such strong language in his remonstrance to the House of Assembly, and also in resorting to the extreme measure of suspending the Constitution. When he found this to be the case, it fully justified him in urging on the House the importance of inquiry, and in saying that the petitions which had been presented from the respectable inhabitants of the colony, embodying such serious complaints, called for the especial notice of Parliament. He might be asked whether, in suggesting inquiry, he was prepared to suggest a remedy for the evils which he had described. He might be asked, whether he would recommend the repeal of the constitution of Newfoundland; and his answer was, that he would enter upon the inquiry without giving any pledge on the subject; and as to ulterior measures that might on inquiry appear necessary, he would not go into committee fettered with so strong an opinion as that in favour of the repeal of the constitution, and for withholding and taking away from the people of Newfoundland the form of a constitution. He was free to admit, that nothing would justify such a course but the strongest necessity. If it should appear from the evidence that it was not possible to find in the colony better elements for a constitution, he thought that there might be a necessity for its repeal; but he admitted, that any other remedy should be resorted to if there was a chance of success, rather than they should go to this extreme. He had abstained from making any personal charges, and he had brought forward the subject entirely on public grounds. He considered, that the noble Lord had acted rightly in agreeing to a committee of inquiry, and he felt bound also to state, that after the case which he had made out, he conceived that, inquiry could not be refused or withheld with any regard to prudence and justice. The hon. Member concluded by moving that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the state of the colony of Newfoundland.

Lord John Russell

had stated a few nights ago, that it was not his intention to oppose the motion of the hon. Gentleman for a Select Committee. In assenting, then, to the motion, he begged to observe, with respect to the motion of the hon. Member, that it appeared to him, that the hon. Gentleman, in the statement with which he had preceded his motion, wished to show that the disturbances which had occurred at the elections in Newfoundland, and the evils which had arisen, and which were likely to arise from the present constitution, were of such a nature, and had been allowed to continue to such an extent, that it became the duty of the Imperial Parliament to interfere. He agreed in many of the observations of the hon. Gentleman, and was ready to admit, that the statement of the governor of the colony called for serious attention. While he, in general, agreed with the governor of the colony as to many of the evils and grievances which had occurred, he had requested him to look out as much as he possibly could for elements for better working the constitution, and if he failed in his inquiry, it would be his duty to look to the measures which it would be the duty of the Government to submit to Parliament. He should not oppose a committee of inquiry, as the House seemed to concur with the hon. Member that advantage might result from it. He wished it, however, to be clearly understood, that although he did not oppose inquiry, he was not prepared to state the nature of the measures which he intended to propose with respect to the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, nor the general views which the Government took of the matter. He should propose his measures without reference to this inquiry, and without reference to the opinion which the House and the committee might adopt. He admitted that this was one of the cases on which the House in general required information to enable it to legislate. With no previous notice or information on the subject it was impossible that the Members of that House could follow the events that transpired in each colony belonging to this country. He, therefore, thought, that it would be advantageous that a certain number of the Members of that House should be made acquainted with the real state of affairs in the colony before he submitted to the House the views of the Government on the subject. He would not say whether he agreed or disagreed as to the alleged facts stated by the hon. Gentleman, or whether they were well-founded or not; but he felt bound to express his dissent from several of the general opinions stated by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman stated, that he considered that it was premature to grant a constitution to Newfoundland, containing, as it did, only a population of 80,000 inhabitants. He did not conceive the granting a constitution to the subjects of the Queen was premature, whether they formed a large community or not. The hon. Member had alluded to the franchise which had been given, to the mode of election, and to the qualification of the Members of the House of Assembly, under the constitution of Newfoundland, and to the proceedings which had grown out of its operation; but, without giving any opinion on all these points, he thought that British subjects, in the situation of the inhabitants of Newfoundland, were more likely to flourish, and to carry on their concerns for the welfare both of the colony and of the mother country, having a popular constitution, than if they had been allowed to remain without one. He thought that the general rule should be, that whenever you bad a settlement of British subjects well established in a place, that you should give them free and popular institutions. He admitted that the Parliament at home should have the power of reforming or suspending these colonial constitutions in such cases as they deemed necessary. He thought a case of suspension of the constitution was necessary in one instance, in which he did not obtain the assent of the House, namely, with regard to that of Jamaica. He begged the House to recollect, that he had proposed this at a period when the large proportion of the inhabitants of that colony were in a state of transition from slavery to freedom, and it was feared by the Government, that there would be found, for some time, considerable difficulties in the working of a popular constitution in a community like that of Jamaica; and likewise when there were many persons in a colony of Spanish descent, or of French descent, mixed with a certain proportion of persons of English extraction, he thought that they could not depend on the harmonious working of a free constitution. In a colony, however, like Newfoundland, he conceived that it was desirable to give it a tree constitution as soon as they possibly could. The hon. Gentleman had made some very strong remarks as to the working of the constitution in Newfoundland; now he (Lord John Russell) had some very important documents on this subject in his possession, which he regretted he could not give to Parliament at present, but which gave a very different view of the subject from that described by the hon. Gentleman. He would only refer to one of these papers, dated July, 1839; it was a communication from the Governor of the colony to the Colonial Minister. The noble Lord read an extract from this document, the purport of which was, that although at the present moment the Legislature did not appear constituted under the most favourable circumstances, yet, even in the midst of the jealousies which existed, Newfoundland had advanced under tire working of the constitution, and that there had been a great many roads made, bridges built, hospitals formed, mid many most important local improvements had been sanctioned by the Colonial Legislature. Now the questions to which the Governor alluded—namely, the formation of roads, and the building of bridges, and the establishment of hospitals, and the promotion of internal improvements-Were undoubtedly those matters most interesting and important to a colony situated as Newfoundland was. There might be found facts and actions very strange and discordant to our notions—there might be votes and proceedings of the Members of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, which might appear very strange in the eyes of the people of this country, who had been accustomed to the forms of a free constitution, which had been for several centuries in operation: all this might appear very shocking, and at variance with all notions of propriety, and, therefore, he might be told, that it would be better if the inhabitants of Newfoundland had no constitution; but he must utterly deny the soundness of any such inference. He would rather have those evils which had been described than place the colony again under absolute and arbitrary government. Although they might desire to hear more satisfactory accounts of the proceedings of the House of Assembly, he begged hon. Gentlemen to recollect that under this constitution they found these persons acting with energy in the promotion of internal improvement, and also that the colony was advancing in prosperity; he contended, then, that it would be better to eudeavour to amend the constitution, and to improve the working of it whenever they could, than to abolish a representative government in the colony as a remedy. He confessed that he should entertain some doubts of the attachment, of a House of Commons to a representative constitution, which would consent to the repeal of the constitution of a colony, unless on the very strongest grounds. [Cheers.] He knew not whether the cheer was intended to apply to the proceedings of the Government with regard to the constitution of Jamaica. It should be remembered, however, that with regard to Jamaica the peculiar circumstances which he had just mentioned existed at the period when the proposition was made; and, also, that at that time there was a House of Assembly which did not represent, nor pretend to represent more than a very small portion of the inhabitants of the colony. Just at that period the Parliament of this country had enacted that the slaves in our colonies should be free, and should be entitled to the enjoyment of all the rights of freemen, and it was believed that it would be difficult to combine the body of the coloured population with those who formerly elected the House of Assembly; therefore, it was thought that advantages would result from the temporary suspension of the constitution of the colony, and, above all, after the proceedings of the House of Assembly with regard to certain measures which were deemed essential for the protection of the emancipated slaves. But even for the reasons which he had stated, he was, at the present time, not prepared to say that the Government was right in the proposition which it submitted to the House with regard to the constitution of Jamaica. Thus, while they felt the necessity of proposing some measure on the subject to the House, they had since seen in the proceedings of the House of Assembly in Jamaica, results which clearly manifested the advantages of a representative government, for that body had passed measures calculated to be beneficial to all classes of the community there. He was, therefore, inclined to admit that the Government were wrong in the course which they proposed, and that their opponents were right. This, however, made him the more reluctant to take away a constitution, unless a case of absolute necessity was made out. He would not go into the particulars respecting the disturbances at the elections to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded. He had no doubt that these disturbances were of a disgraceful character, and they deserved the strongest condemnation. With respect to the elections at St. John's and Carbonear, he would only observe that he considered that the governor was perfectly-right in sending a military force to put an end to the disturbances, us they appeared to be of such a character as to set aside all law and order, and completely to destroy the public peace. He repeated, that he should not object to inquiry, but he trusted that the hon. Gentleman would be so good as to postpone the nomination of the committee until Thursday, as he conceived that it would be advantageous to consider to whom the inquiry should be entrusted, and as it was of the utmost importance that they should have an impartial committee. As party animosities ran very great in Newfoundland, he was sure that they would only be increased if it was supposed there that the House had appointed a committee determined to defend all the acts of the Assembly, or one determined to vote that every thing was wrong which was done by that body. The hon. Member had very properly abstained from entering into the personal animosities which had arisen, and into the quarrels which had been said to grow out of religious differences in the colony, for this course was less calculated than any other to increase the religious acrimony which existed there.

Mr. Hume

was quite satisfied that the result of inquiry would be to elicit the truth. He, therefore, was glad that a committee was to be appointed. All that he wished was, that the inquiry should proceed with the full knowledge of all classes in the colony. He trusted that it would not be pursued in a way to suit the views of the gentleman who had been alluded to by the hon. Member for Droitwich, who was the representative of the minority in the colony, but that ample time should be given to the majority to answer the charges which had been brought against them. He said this because his hon. Friend, the Member for Dublin, and himself last year presented two petitions from the mass of the inhabitants of the colony, complaining of grievances, and he was sure, therefore, that the majority would not object to inquiry. He trusted that the inquiry would not be hurried to a close, but that ample time would be given, and due notice would be sent to the colony, for he did not know whether there was, at present, any person in England who represented the feelings and opinions of the majority. The hon. Gentleman had referred to a resolution of some of the inhabitants of St. John's with respect to the Chief Justice of the colony, and they paid him compliments as if he were not under censure for his conduct. It appeared that after full inquiry, although he was acquitted probably oil a technical ground, it was the recommendation of the commission that he should not be allowed to return to Newfoundland. He hoped and trusted, that the statements before the House would be fairly and fully examined, at the same time he thought that it would be better to agree to the motion now, and proceed with the inquiry next Session, by which time they could get witnesses from the colony.

Mr. J. O'Connell

thought it rather unfair towards the colony that these statements should have been made when there was no possibility of answering them. He did not wish to detain the House on the present occasion, but he could not avoid noticing the almost exclusive preference given to one class of persons not professing the religion of the majority. Out of 19,000l. paid in salaries, not less than 18,000l. went to the minority. With respect to the chief justice, he believed that his conduct had been the cause of almost all the confusion which had occurred in the colony. He trusted that the hon. Member would postpone the committee until after Easter, in order that the inhabitants of the colony might be able to come forward with a fair statement of the facts of the case.

Motion agreed to.

Committee to be nominated on a future day.