§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he would take this opportunity, in consequence of the intelligence 1125 lately received from Canada, of asking Her Majesty's Government the two questions of which he had given notice. The first was, whether any instructions have been given to the Governor General of Canada as to the course which he is to pursue, in the event of its being proposed to him by his advisers to allow them to introduce into the House of Assembly any Bill giving compensation to any persons known to have been implicated in the rebellions of 1837 or 1838, on account of the damage sustained by them in those rebellions, or in the event of the passing of any such Bill through the two Houses of the Provincial Legislature? His second question was, whether, according to the usage of Canada, if any such Bill should have passed through both Houses of the Legislature, and should have become an Act by the Governor General's assent, without a suspending clause, the money thereby authorised to be paid would be payable forthwith, or before Her Majesty's servants had had an opportunity of advising Her Majesty with respect to the allowance or disallowance of such Act? And, perhaps, for the convenience of the House, he had better put a third question—namely, whether any official information had been received by Her Majesty's Government from Canada with regard to these proceedings; and if so, whether they had any objection to place it upon the table of this House?
§ MR. HAWES
said, in answer to the first question of the right hon. Gentleman, he had to state that no instructions whatsoever were given to the noble Lord at the head of the Canadian Government with reference to the introduction of this Bill, or in contemplation of any such measures. His noble Friend (Earl Grey) had entire confidence in the noble Lord the Governor General's judgment and discretion, and was not in the habit of giving him instructions of that kind. With regard to the second question of the right hon. Gentleman, who had himself filled the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, he had to state that all colonial laws—he believed universally—having passed through their formal stages, and received the assent of the Crown, through Her Majesty's representative in the colony, come into immediate operation, unless they contain a suspending clause. This would apply, of course, to all Acts, whether they were for the appropriation of money or not; and, therefore, from the passing of such a Bill, 1126 of course the Act would come into operation and would continue to have the force of law, unless disallowed by Her Majesty. In that case, it would only cease to be law upon the arrival of the specification of Her Majesty's disallowance in the colony. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's third question, he had to say that no despatch whatever had been received from the Earl of Elgin with reference to this transaction, either before or since the same question was asked the other day; and, therefore, he had no despatch to produce to the House. He used the word "despatch" advisedly. His noble Friend (Earl Grey) had a private letter from Canada, which he only received yesterday; but with regard to any public despatch, nothing of the kind had been received.
§ MR. HUME
begged to ask whether the sum which the Government of Canada had agreed to advance was not proposed to be granted pursuant to the recommendation of a commission, which was appointed by Lord Metcalfe, for the purpose of considering the losses that had been sustained during the rebellion? Was not the advance for compensation recommended by a Committee appointed with the unanimous consent of the Legislative Assembly of that day to examine into and report upon the damage that had been sustained; and did not the report advise that 100,000l. should be paid, excluding rebels or persons concerned in the rebellion?
§ SIR G. GREY
thought it was better to postpone a question of that kind until the Government were in possession of official information, which would be laid before the House. He was aware of the fact to which the hon. Gentleman had referred; but if an answer were given to the question, it might lead to a discussion, because it would be difficult to answer it by a single affirmative or negative. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose assumed that the Bill had passed; but it appeared, from a private letter addressed by the Earl of Elgin to his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Department, that the Bill was not passed. It had yet to pass through Committee, and notice had been given of several amendments. That was the reason, no doubt, that the noble Earl had abstained from addressing any official communication to his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office on the subject.
§ MR. HUME
had asked of the Government a distinct question, which he might also put to the right hon. Gentleman the 1127 Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), who was Colonial Minister at the time. It was announced in a despatch to the Government from Lord Metcalfe, that a commission had examined into the losses that had been sustained, and had reported that 100,000l, or, he (Mr. Hume) believed, a larger sum ought to be paid. Was not that the origin of the question?
§ SIR G. GREY
believed that there was a circumstance of that kind, but an answer to the inquiry of the hon. Gentleman might open a question for discussion as to whether the objects contemplated by that commission were the same objects that were contemplated by the persons who introduced this Bill; and, at present, they did not know whether the legislature would ultimately sanction this Bill, or the recommendation contained in the report of the commission; it was better, therefore, to postpone the question until official communications on the subject were received.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
could hardly consider that the question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose was addressed to him; but he held in his hand the votes and resolutions of the Legislative Assembly, and the resolutions as passed by the Legislative Assembly, together with the amendments that it was proposed to make, and which were rejected by that body. ["Order, order!"] He was in the hands of the House, and it was for the House to say whether he should read the resolutions or not.
§ SIR G. GREY
rose to order. He begged to remark that the right hon. Gentleman had received an answer to his question; if the resolutions were read there must necessarily be a debate. There had been a commission appointed to inquire into this question; and it appeared to be a disputed question in the Assembly in Canada, whether the present Bill was one to carry out that intention.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
must say this, that he thought the course he took in offering to read what was public and official, was not an unjust one. At any rate, he must say this, that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State to the question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose was calculated, in his judgment, to convey an incorrect impression.
§ MR. ROBINSON
wished to know if the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, when he made use of the expression, "when the measure receives the 1128 assent of the Crown, it will come into immediate operation," meant the Governor General?
§ Subject dropped.