HC Deb 13 March 1849 vol 103 cc685-6

MR. ANSTEY moved— That an Address be presented to Her Majesty, on the subject of certain illegal Ordinances or Acts of Council for the taxation of the people of Van Diemen's Land, the attempts of Lieutenant Governor Sir William Denison to intimidate the Judges of the Supreme Court of that Island into declaring such Ordinances or Acts to be legal, and the Grievances complained of by the Colonists of that Island in their Petition presented last year to Her Majesty, and printed by Order of this House; and that Her Majesty may be pleased to direct the local authorities in future to respect the independence of the judicial functions of that Court, and also to signify Her disallowance of any Ordinance or Act subsequently passed by the said Lieuten, ant Governor in Council, for giving to such illegal Ordinances or Acts the force of Law. The encroachments of the Council of Van Diemen's Land were upon the independence of the bench of that island. The measure of which he complained struck not only at the independence, but at the very existence of the Supreme Court. That court was established in the colony for the express purpose of being a check on the Governor of the island, and also on the Executive and Legislative Councils. By the 9th Geo. IV, the Lieutenant Governor, and a Council nominated by himself and approved of by Her Majesty, were invested with the power of making laws for the government of the island, with this proviso, that their acts should not contradict the law of England in general, or the provisions of that Act of Parliament in particular. The Supreme Court were directed to see that the laws of England were not violated, and were armed with the necessary powers for declaring the illegality of any act passed in defiance of the provisions of the 9th Geo. IV. For a long course of years, however, the Council had exercised powers in direct contravention of the Act—powers which affected in a peculiar manner the rights and interests of the people of that colony. They had chiefly abused its powers in levying unjust taxes on the people. In 1845, Sir Eardley Wilmot imposed a dog tax; he also imposed duties of 15 per cent on imports from the colonies and countries except those specified in the Act. These duties were three times the amount of those imposed by the legislature of the neighbouring colony of New South Wales. He also imposed differential duties. These Acts were in direct contravention of the 25th sec. 9 Geo. IV., which enacted that the Governor should not impose any taxes except such as were necessary for local purposes, and that the purpose of every such tax should be distinctly stated in the ordinance imposing it.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present. House counted; and 40 Members not being present—

The House was adjourned at half after Ten o'clock.