HC Deb 24 May 1849 vol 105 cc927-64

then rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the better government of certain portions of our colonial possessions. The subject, he said, to which he was about to draw the attention of the House was not an attractive one, or one from which it was likely they would derive any amusement. He was about to ask the House to legislate with respect to large interests, but he was not about to deal with those interests in a manner which could excite personal animosity. He was not about to attack individuals or make charges; all that he had in view was the welfare of a portion of his fellow-countrymen. He had been told, however, that the measure he was about to propose to the House was not likely to meet with such a degree of attention that the Government would permit him to bring it forward in the shape of a Bill. He disclaimed any intention of taking the House by surprise, having already, as briefly as he could to the House, and in a printed form, stated his opinions on the matter, and the principles which he desired to have embodied in an Act of Parliament. England had been a colonising nation since 1606; but during all that time she had acted without rule or principle. We had, in reality, become the greatest colonising power the earth had ever seen. He said this of ourselves and of those who had succeeded us; he said this, bearing in mind those ancient colonisers, the Greeks, and the more modern colonisers, the Spaniards, who had preceded us in the great business of colonisation. But looking at both those great people, he still said that the English were the greatest colonising nation on the face of the globe. But they had acquired that great distinction, not by any rule or principle—not by any government assistance—not by any aid—but by their own inherent strength. The people had done it all, irrespective of government assistance. Now, he knew that this admission would be used as an argument against himself; but he was about to bring into competition with ourselves another people who, like us, were a colonising nation; and when he said that England was the greatest coloniser the world ever saw, he was also prepared to say that the American people had succeeded to us. Two systems or modes had been adopted with respect to colonisation. First, they had the system of England, if it could be called a system. He proposed to compare those two modes of proceeding; and he should then ask the House to permit him to embody in a Bill the mode which, after some consideration of it, he considered most conducive to the end in view—namely, the welfare of our colonies. He was told, however, that that consent would not be given. He was told that our system was so good—that the noble Earl at the head of colonial affairs was so well contented with his position, and with the effects he had produced upon the whole of our colonies—that he was so well contented with the friendliness, comfort, and quiet which all our colonies exhibited—that he was so delighted with his past system, and the results of his present experience, that he would not allow any one to interfere, oven by experiment in the shape of a Bill, with the extraordinary Government of which he was now the undisputed head. He (Mr. Roebuck) dared not ask why our American colonies were in their present state; he dared not look to Now Zealand or South Africa; in fact, he dared not look to any portion of Our colonial dominions if he desired to see peace and contentment as a result of our present colonial system. But there were other considerations which he might lay before the House to induce them to pause at the present time, and to consider the great dangers which we at this moment ran in at least one part of our colonial possessions. He thought he should be able to show to the House that if something were not done (and he would point out what he thought that something should be), and that very quickly, we should at least lose the mastery over that portion of our colonial dominions—that we should see that proud and encroaching Republic, whose territory extended from the Isthmus of Panama to the North Pole, possessed not only of a vast dominion, but assuming supremacy as a maritime power over every portion of the world. This was no idle fear, no slight concern; for we might find ourselves shorn of our dominion, shattered in strength, and degraded in the eyes of the world. And why would this occur? Because, regardless of danger when danger was near, we gave up the consideration of those interests to those who were not capable of understanding or meeting the danger; because we put faith in a Government which did not know how to act. He accepted the proposition that our colonial empire was a benefit to—indeed a source of strength to this country. But he must be allowed to state what he meant by our colonial empire. He did not mean the possession of barren wastes—he did not mean an extent of empire upon which the sun never set, but communities which were willingly and lovingly our subjects, considering themselves as being honoured by connexion with us—communities willing to render us homage and a willing and unforced obedience; he meant an empire of thriving communities planted by Englishmen, and possessing their name, language, literature, feelings, and religion. Enforced allegiance, on the other hand, made colonial dominion a curse rather than a blessing, a curse as well to the governed as to the governing. Hon. Friends of his were constantly submitting measures of economy to that House, and pointing to the expense of our Army, Navy, and Ordnance. Could not, it was asked, that expense be diminished? "No," said the Government, "it is impossible. Consider the colonial dominion of England, extending to every quarter of the globe. How can it be maintained without Army and Navy?" He would tell the House how our colonial dominion could be maintained. By a good and beneficent dominion, by making the people willing subjects of the Crown. How were the colonies governed at the present moment? Perhaps the best phase of our Government was its neglect of them. But sometimes we governed in a mischievous spirit of meddling, which the colonists would not tolerate, and then we found ourselves disgraced and defeated, or in a state almost as disgraceful as defeat. Such was the history of our colonial dominion from its commencement, in 1606, down to the granting of the charter to Vancouver's Island. Our mode of colonisation could only be judged of by its results; and testing it by them, he would doubtless be met by the statement which he had already made that England was the largest coloniser the world ever saw; but he would show that this circumstance arose, not so much from England herself as from the other States which she had founded. But taking the colonial dominion of England herself, what were the principles under which that dominion had been exercised, and what the effects that it had produced? First, we laid the foundation of thirteen colonies in North America, the only one of which that received any assistance from the Government being Georgia. These colonies began by chartered companies, and the great lesson taught us by experience was, that in every case where it had been tried, a chartered company had failed in its office. If they looked to the history of Virginia, Massachusetts, Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Georgia, in every instance it would be found that wherever there bad been a chartered company, receiving a power from this country, that company had to be displaced and utterly divested of all its powers and capacities before the colony could by any means be made to succeed. This was a truth so firmly established by history, that none would venture to gainsay it; and yet, in spite of that lesson, the only mode which the Government at present had of improving their system, was by appeal to a chartered company. If the potato rot visited Ireland, and the people were plunged in terrible distress in consequence, up got some philanthropic individual and said, "Let us colonise." Every man had his own nostrum; but he would warn them, that every attempt of that sort must necessarily fail. Any attempt at relieving England by colonisation, he believed, would utterly fail. Many Gentlemen did not seem to know that colonisation or emigration was of itself a misery. An old fable or superstition existed in the middle ages, that if you dug up a mandrake from the earth, it emitted a sound of grief at being severed from its native soil; and he was speaking what he knew to be true, when he said that for a man to tear himself from his native land was, and must ever he, a direful misfortune; and it was no business of a Government to take a man and remove him from his own country. Let a man voluntarily, and of his own forethought, when he found his native land could not afford him the means of maintaining himself and his family in comfort, be allowed to transplant himself elsewhere and seek better fortune; and by prudence, forethought, and care, a Government might lay broad foundations for great nations yet to come. That would be to act wisely, prudentially, and statesmanlike; but there was no wisdom or humanity in pretending to relieve the distresses of our own country by shipping off hundreds and thousands of our countrymen to distant lands, and getting rid of them in that manner. Shipload after shipload of miserable wretches had been dragged away and cast on a desolate shore to shift for themselves how they best could. "Out of sight out of mind." Whether their future fortunes might be good or bad it mattered not—we had got rid of them, they were out of sight, and that was all that was desired. That was neither a wise nor a statesmanlike course. He would take a case to illustrate the working of our present colonial system. Some twenty-four years ago, in the reign of George IV., an Act of Parliament was passed, conferring 1,000,000 of acres of land in Australia on a company called the Australian Agricultural Company. He would suppose, that as many as were present in that House, with their friends, and a large body of retainers, under the pressure of adverse circumstances, wished to try their fortunes in another clime, and that with this view they chose to transport themselves to some portion of this million of acres. After a prosperous voyage they landed in Australia, at some admirable harbour. They found themselves under a fine climate, and asked themselves what they were to do. Now there was no provision made for these people, no predeterminate survey directing them to go to a specific place; there was no established law—they could not say at any moment there what the law was; there were no magistrates to administer justice to them—no government to control them—no predeterminate rule for them to guide and conduct themselves by hereafter. He would ask was this a correct representation of the facts? And if it was, was it not a most extraordinary and a most lamentable fact, that throughout that vast empire there was no rule or system by which any band of emigrants could know the circumstances under which they would be placed in the land of their adoption? If they went to Canada, Nova Scotia, or some other of the North American colonies, they might find some surveys, and law, and government; but the moment they went to a new and wild part of the world, no provision was made for anything like a new settlement; and the consequence was, that the contrast was exhibited, which he would show them when he compared what we were doing with what was going on within only a few miles of our own dominions. He was not now speaking of the colonies we had already peopled; but he wished that not only should colonics like Nova Scotia be inhabited, but also colonies on the opposite shore. He wished to see the shores of the Pacific also inhabited, and the island of Vancouver, which we had foolishly allowed to pass out of our hands for nothing. Look at the Americans in Oregon. Had they done nothing to show their emigrants what law they should live under, what they had to give for their land, where it was situated, or that they would still retain the character of American citizens, and also that if they were industrious, active, and (as they always were) shrewd and careful, at no distant period the settlers in Oregon would form two new and sovereign States, to be received into the United States' confederation? While such would 'be the consequence of the enterprise and sagacity of our neighbours, we would see Vancouver's Island a mere idle and uninhabited waste in the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company. He was not now making any invidious or vituperative charges against the Colonial Office, but he sought to fix on our colonial system, if system it could be called, the character of being one of the most idle and ill-contrived systems that ever disgraced a nation. In 1783, by the Treaty of Paris, we acknowledged the independence of the Thirteen States of the American Union. At that time the territories of the United States stretched to this extent—drawing a line commencing with the Atlantic Ocean, at the point where their territory was separated from Nova Scotia, it ran westward until it touched the St. Lawrence, and thence by the great lakes till it reached Lake Superior, which formed the north-western corner of the United States. The boundary line ran down the Mississippi, the waters of that river, by the treaty of Paris, being made the common highway of both nations for ever. The boundary line then went down to Florida, which was the southernmost point of the United States dominions. Then it came directly across to the Atlantic, forming the southern boundary; and then it ran back to the point at which he had started, at Nova Scotia. These constituted the limits of the territory of the then United States; but what had taken place since that period? Why, they had run their line still westward from Lake Superior till they reached the Pacific, and along the Pacific they stretched to Old California, and thence across to the Atlantic Ocean: more than quadrupling the size of the former United States. In the meantime we had gained nothing in dominion. Then the United States had three millions of population, while we in Canada, with a much larger territory, had not more than 200,000. The United States had since increased their population by colonisation to something like 25,000,000, exclusive of the Indian population, while ours had not reached 2,000,000. And how was this? He might be told that America had only to people conterminous territory, and that its colonisation was as easy as peopling Yorkshire from Lincolnshire in this country; and therefore the comparison with the efforts of this country, thousands of miles off, was altogether unfair and unreasonable. But, he would ask, who were the people who composed the settlers of the United States colonies? Who, for instance, was it that colonised Ohio from Louisiana? Why, our own people—the Irish and the Scotch, who, as he would show them in two minutes, were still going away from us now. They had not stopped on English soil, and why was that? Because of the system which he was now attacking. They passed away onwards from our dominions, and placed themselves under the dominion of the United States. Only the other day he received an important letter—important, not from the number of persons of whom it spoke, but from other obvious circumstances—from a portion of his constituents in Sheffield, who were about leaving this country, but not to go to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or South Africa, but to Texas; and the purport of the letter was, that the parties wished him to communicate in their behalf with Mr. Bancroft, the American Minister in this country, and get him to use his influence with the President of his own Government, in order to procure them the grant of 4,000 acres of land; and he (Mr. Roebuck) now held in his hand a copy of the rules and regulations and Schedule of the American Free Emigration Society, showing the advantage of emigration under the auspices of the United States. If they were to go to our colonies, they would go to a state of degradation and uncertainty; there was no rule to guide and govern them; they would lose their former standing and position. He was not speaking fantastically, for anybody could examine the matter for himself by a careful consideration. He would find that a man wishing to emigrate with his wife and family of boys and girls encountered a real difficulty and uncertainty as to where he was actually going, and what were the laws. If there was a predetermined rule extending over the colonies, persons would feel and learn that no such uncertainty existed; but there was no law but the mere will or whim of the Colonial Office, and even that, somehow or other, was never put upon paper, so that people might know what they really had to expect and to trust to; for if even the rule was rather a bad one, there might still be some good in it, if it were only fixed and determinate. But there was no such rule. Now, he thought it right to tell the House, that he thought any attempt to provide for all the colonies by a single Act would be impracticable. There were places under the dominion of the Colonial Office, such as Malta and the Ionian Islands, that did not deserve the name of colonies. A colony, in the sense in which he used the term, was a settlement planted by Englishmen, who went there with the intention of making it their home for ever, of propagating and continuing their race there, and going on from generation to generation, until they hereafter made themselves a great and commanding people. The West Indian colonies having so large a black population, so different in its nature from the white race, must have special legislation for so exceedingly special a set of circumstances, and therefore he proposed to exclude all colonies in that category from the present Bill. It would not be wise or discreet to lump all the colonies together, and provide only one mode of government for such widely different communities. Still his Bill should have reference to the North American colonics. South Africa, Australia, and he would also include New Zealand. There should be one system of law for settling colonics, another system for them when they were settled, and, lastly, a third system for colonies in confederation or union. Formerly the advantage derived from colonies came in the shape of tribute; but the ancient system, under the navigation laws of Charles IL, was now at an end, and the old shibboleth of "ships, colonies, and commerce," was now blown to the winds. We could now only hope to derive benefit from our colonies by making them thriving communities, having habits, wants, and manners like our own, and, therefore, creating an increased demand for our products; our advantage from those vast possessions could only be obtained from increased reciprocal trade, untrammelled, unchecked, unconfined—from free trade in every sense of the word. What, then, was our wisest policy? To make the number of our colonial subjects as large as we could; to place them on a fertile soil; so as to enable them to make us the largest return for what we can offer them. Therefore, all our legislation and laws ought to be framed so as to facilitate, encourage, aid, and direct their settlement. The United States of America had an enormous territory of wild land under a genial climate, far more so than that of our North American possessions. But there were territories of enormous extent belonging to us in North America, under a really happy climate, yet waste, and without a single inhabitant. There being, then, no fear of our wanting land under a happy climate, let him not be told that the United States had a much better climate. Upper Canada was not only far more fertile, but far more healthy, than corresponding parts of the United States. He had been talking only that day with an American, who told him what his countrymen would do with such a splendid possession as Upper Canada, by intersecting it with railways and canals, if it only belonged to them. In the year 1787 an Act of the first Government of the United States was passed for a vast extent of territory—the north-west territory of North America—which now formed five independent States incorporated within the Union. The Act provided for the gradual formation of that land into settled communities, until they should grow into States fit to become sovereign and independent members of the great confederation of the United States. And why should not England have adopted a similar com-se? The whole thing was like a well-made watch—it went from that moment, and never ceased to go. There it was still continuing; and what had been the result? Five magnificent sovereign States had been carved out of that wild territory since 1787; and while they saw all that going on, what had they done in Upper and Lower Canada, with a territory quite as large and fertile, and with a finer climate?—for if during some periods it was more rigorous, it also was more healthy. While the United States had made those five great States of their portion of territory—one only of which, namely, Ohio, had 1,500,000 inhabitants—the British Government had scarcely done more than the progressive increase of mankind would provide them with in the way of population. There was wretchedness and misery, and, now, nearly a rebellion, in that unhappy country, which was not blessed hut cursed by their rule. When they put boundaries to Upper and Lower Canada, which they have not now, and when settlements were formed with a certain number of inhabitants, the people should possess certain privileges—representation and self-government; and what portion of their North American colonies would object to that? While he wanted to form settlements, he wanted, also, to preserve a metropolitan government, and they could only do it by a governor appointed by the Crown. He would give them a law which would lay down the rule by which they should choose their representatives; but then it was said the Government did not object to it, but the colonies would object to his principle. The principle he wished to establish was, a free trade between the colonies and the mother country—a reciprocal free trade—a free trade in reality, and not a name. In fact, self-government and free trade were the two principles on which his law of settlement would be based. He proposed that every portion of their colonial empire—at least, every portion of the territory of which he had spoken—should be subject to this law; and when any person wished to acquire land, instead of throwing away vast and most valuable property—instead of doing it in that form—he desired, by the Act of Parliament he wished to lay before the House, to lay it down as a rule that no land should he in any way parted with from the Crown unless it lay within the survey boundaries of some distinct territory. According to the system adopted by the United States, first of all a certain amount of wild land was a territory; when it was found that there was a certain amount of population within that territory, it then became a State; when it had reached a certain number of population, it then formed its own constitution, and was received by Act of the united States into the confederation, and became one of the stars of their constellation. He proposed that they should do a similar thing; that their wild land should be a settlement before it became a province; that while it was a settlement it should be legislated for by the Act of Parliament he was about to propose. It should have a constitution fitted for its new condition, and when there was a certain number of inhabitants, to be determined by a census taken in five years—say 10,000 persons—by that very fact it should cease to be a settlement, and become a province, which by the same Act of Parliament would receive its definite constitution. Let them look, in the next place, to New Zealand, and see what the noble Earl, who would not let them bring in an Act of Parliament, was doing with New Zealand. New Zealand was a great way off; for its management they trusted to the head of the Colonial Office, who proposed a Bill for New Zealand, and that Bill passed. He believed that when it passed, not twenty Members read it; but it was passed, and sent out; but the Governor said he did not like it, and this very Colonial Secretary, who would not allow the slightest intervention with his preconceived opinions and mode of government, found out all of a sudden that he was wrong; and he came to Parliament to cancel this very Bill, and to overturn the constitution he had himself made; merely because the Governor told him a certain thing connected with it, he came to Parliament and said he made a mistake. That did not come up to his (Mr. Roebuck's) notion as to what should be the conduct of a statesman. He (Mr. Roebuck) had sat on a Committee with the noble Earl, when he had heard disputes about the country, and quarrels about the land; and could any man say that if a settled and preconceived rule was adopted respecting New Zealand, it would be in the condition it is at present? The very case of New Zealand alone was enough to damn the Colonial Office. It was a fine country, and when a body of Englishmen proposed to colonise it, they said they were ready to bring out 10,000 men, and place them under well-conceived and set rules. What was the answer? Certainly his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State was not then in the Colonial Office, and he did not direct these remarks to him; it was the fault of the system. The answer was, "Do not always din New Zealand in our ears—we will not have it." But Englishmen were not to be put aside. They proceeded to New Zealand. Before their departure they drew up a paper to abide by a certain law, and they left this country throwing off, as it were, all obedience to England. When they landed in New Zealand it was not under the control of the Colonial Office; and at that moment New Zealand was not supposed to belong to England. In fact, after that England sent a consul to New Zealand, and treated with the aborigines as with independent States and people. He was now quoting a celebrated treaty—the treaty of Waitangi. The people who proceeded to Now Zealand were an energetic race, well to do in the world. They were careful men, blessed with something of the world's goods. They were men who wanted to better their condition, and who had the courage to try. Instead of being-aided by any preconcerted law, they had every difficulty increased, every hope thwarted, every sanguine expectation damped; and at the present moment New Zealand is not the settlement it should be. He would go on with the history of New Zealand. Those people, as he had stated, went out there, and at last a governor was sent out. There was no rule, no law, but they sent out a governor—and that was not all. The island of Now Zealand (or rather the three islands composing it) stretches in a slanting direction down from the north-west to the south-east. At one end, towards the north, there was a missionary station, where there was a small population of whites gathered together in consequence of some missionary labours. The large body of settlers—the 10,000 men—rich, when compared with the others, in the world's good, went to Cook's Straits, and made a new settlement about 300 miles distant from the other place. Where did the Colonial Office place the Governor? Was it amongst the multitude of the people? Not at all; he was sent up to the north amongst the idle and small body. That was another proof of this admirable system. No rule was made as regarded property at all; but the property was acquired by persons who were called the New Zealand Company, who bought it, they said, from the aborigines: but down comes the Governor and says, "No; we don't like the bargain; you cannot have the land, for there is no rule laid down yet respecting land." The result was a quarrel, which stopped all chance of improvement in that island for years, and cost this country much money, and that was because there was no rule—a law which ought to be brought in and suggested by the Government. It should not be left to him to propose such a law, for if the Government were to do their duty they would say, "we will do it for them." However, they would not do it, but left it to be done by others. The Governor went to New Zealand, and quarrelled with the company; and the natives, being a shrewd race, finding there was no rule, and the bargain they had made was not the best, expected to get something by quarrelling about the bargain. The Governor supported them, and what was the consequence?—war, confusion, bloodshed—many valuable lives were lost, and all in consequence of the imprudence of the Colonial Office. He had found fault most lustily with the course that was then taken, and he found no person more energetic in support of every hard word lie could use than the noble Earl now at the head of the Colonial Office. But by the unhappy change that converted the noble Earl from an Opposition Member into a Member of the Government, that perspicacity that could discover faults—he (Mr. Roebuck) would not say where faults were not—seemed to have left him. The noble Earl certainly did not previously want zeal to discover such faults, and when he found them, he gave them the epithets they deserved. But what was the state of Now Zealand now? He did not know, and, what was more, he would be bound the noble Earl himself did not know. Now, he would go to Canada, and there, also, there was no rule. He recollected that some years ago, standing near the place he then stood, he told the House what would be the result of their determination to do away with the constitutional law of Canada. Everything turned out as he had prophesied; and why? Because they always legislated for the existing time, and the were always driven to legislate in the midst of pressing difficulties. They never laid down a rule by which those difficulties might be avoided. What did the Americans now say about Upper and Lower Canada? They said the moment they were annexed (that was the phrase) the two colonies would be separated into two States—the French people under their own law, and the Upper Canadians under theirs. If they did not adopt some rule in Canada, they would have a different result from that which they had in New Zealand. New Zealand is a small place; it is an island in the wide ocean; there is no great republic near it. The total amount of harm they could do them was to inhibit and put a stop to anything like a thriving and happy system in the colony; but what would happen in Canada? He felt confident that they would go on from day to day putting off the mischief, until at length that great evil would occur, that they would demand to be an independent people, and throw themselves upon the united States for support. That support would be given to them; and if they resisted, there would be a war with the most disastrous consequences, for it would be a war in which victory would be impossible. Let them even conquer the people, and they would not gain their end. Canada, if she once rebelled, must be independent; and when she became independent, she must be one of the United States. He was anxious to prevent that, and wished to come to the consideration of the question calmly and gravely. He saw the danger—he fancied also that he saw the way to escape it. His only hope was by the adoption of that predetermined rule of which he spoke, and by making the colony what it ought to be—a band of confederate States, looking to England over the water for support, and not burdened with a mischievous Colonial Office. They were now to deal not with this day's difficulty, hut with the difficulty of all coming time. America, if they did not interfere, would pass that great highway—the St. Lawrence—and would extend her dominions to the Pole. Looking to that event, could they prevent it? They could—but not by half measures, not by a meddling Colonial Office—it could only be done by a bold hand, by far-sighted policy, courage, and ability. Lot the noble Earl try his hand again at constitution making, and they would review his proceedings with all possible favour, and with the desire to make them effective. If that was not done, then let them listen to the plan he (Mr. Roebuck) proposed. He proposed to make at once the North American provinces into a confederate union. By that course they might hope to extend our colonies as they ought to be, and to increase them in that vast territory just as the Americans had increased theirs within the last year in the Oregon territory—the very land which was given up under Lord Ashburton's treaty. [Lord J. RUSSELL observed, that it was given up subsequently to Lord Ashburton's mission.] That did not displace his argument. This country had a settlement northwest of the Columbian river: it was theirs—it no longer belongs to the sovereignty of England, but is now a territory of the United States of America with regular boundaries, set out in the land survey, and sending Members to Congress as representing the territory of Oregon; and in a few years it would have the requisite number of inhabitants, and then would be formed into two independent States. Why should they not do the same thing in Canada? Why should they not have settlements there such as he wanted, and which would be equivalent to the American territory? They would have very quickly that settlement made into a province, and entering into their great federal union. What reason was there that it should not be done? What mischief could possibly be expected to accrue from it? He might be told he was preparing the way for the independence of Canada. The time was coming when she would be so, and he was preparing the way that she should not be separated from them by war, but by amicable settlement. His plan would be to regulate the boundaries of Upper and Lower Canada, which at present are but imperfectly known. He would have the boundary accurately defined, and he would then have a governor-general of the federal union—that governor going out from England. He would have each separate State sending its members to represent that State, and forming the legislative assembly. He would have the people of the separate provinces represented as they are in the House of Representatives in the United States, and let that body be considered the united legislature of those provinces. By these means he hoped to make our colonies our glory and our safety, instead of what they had always hitherto been, our humiliation, shame, and difficulty.

Motion made, and Question put— That leave be given to bring in a Bill for the better government of certain of our Colonial Possessions.


seconded the Motion.


said, his hon. and learned Friend, with his characteristic ability and straightforwardness, had explained to the House his views of colonial policy, and had given him (Mr. Hawes) and the public the advantage of more carefully and deliberately considering those views in the work which he had published on the subject, and which had been for some time before the public. The House, therefore, did not approach this subject as upon ordinary occasions; because, upon a matter of this great importance, had his hon. and learned Friend proposed to introduce a Bill without so full an exposition of his views as he had given in his speech and the work he had referred to, he should scarcely have been justified in saying that his hon. and learned Friend ought not to have the opportunity of bringing in the Bill, and giving the House the benefit of its perusal. But they were already in possession of the principles and details of his hon. and learned Friend's measure; and it would be inexcusable in him if he were not to say at once, that there were strong, and, he thought, decided, reasons against proceeding with it. He concurred with his hon. and learned Friend, that the highest and noblest function which a statesman could exercise, was to govern wisely and well the vast colonial empire we now possessed; but he did not take the same view as his hon. and learned Friend of the condition of our colonial possessions, nor did he think they could justly be considered a source of humiliation and disgrace, or that the status of a colonist Was one of degradation and inferiority. On the contrary, many of the colonies had risen, and, he trusted, would continue to rise, under wise and liberal government, into a condition of prosperity that would hand down with honour our name and language to future ages; and many now emigrated to our colonies, who, by birth and education, and the services they rendered. Commanded the respect of all who were interested in our colonial empire. His hon. and learned Friend alluded to our colonies in North America, South Africa, Now Zealand, and Australia; and he (Mr. Hawes) was glad to find that on many great principles of colonial government, much controverted of late, he and his hon. and learned Friend entirely agreed. His hon. and learned Friend did not propose to alter the colonial administration of the empire, though he proposed, undoubtedly, hereafter to limit its functions by the introduction of a more perfect system of self government. His hon. and learned Friend also proposed to maintain the general legislative power of the Crown over the colonial legislatures. His hon. and learned Friend also distinctly proposed, in opposition to some views which he had heard recently propounded, to maintain, and oven to multiply, our colonial possessions. To that his hon. and learned Friend added an important proposition not however new—that wherever a large colony existed, it should be divided into provinces, and governed by a federal legislature. His hon. and learned Friend also proposed to maintain a civil list, to include a permanent provision for the governors and judges of our colonies; and in these general views of colonial government his hon. and learned Friend's propositions were in harmony with what already existed, and only with one single exception did his hon. and learned Friend propose to introduce a new rule and new principle, to which he proposed to call the attention of the House. He entirely agreed with his hon. and learned Friend that the object of all Colonial Ministers ought to be to facilitate the formation of new settlements, so far as legislation could do so; and that when a colony was in a condition to receive it, there should be introduced the largest measure of self-government. For this purpose his hon. and learned Friend proposed to introduce a Bill which should enable any persons on application to the Secretary of State, and who was imperatively to be called upon to act upon that application, to form a settlement in any spot which they should select.


explained that a discretion was to be left to the Secretary of State to determine whether or not a colony should be formed; but when he had determined that a colony should be formed, and the boundaries were defined, then the rest of the circumstances, to which his hon. Friend alluded, might come into action.


But if the settlers were left to select the spot, and the Secretary of State was left to decide whether there should be a settlement or not, might not the same difficulty and the same alleged obstruction to colonisation arise which now existed. Then the land was to be surveyed—a work of time and great expense; and before that could be done, he believed that in many cases the combination of settlers supposed, would be at an end. And how were the expenses of the survey and of the immediate government of the settlement to be met? His hon. Friend had given no explanation on this head, and it appeared to be overlooked. These were practical objections. But when he considered that the plan was to be applied to our North American colonies at once, he said it was involved in almost insuperable difficulty. In Prince Edward's Island there were but a few thousand acres of land to be disposed of. In Nova Scotia there was none. In New Brunswick the whole of the land was entrusted to the local legislature; and it would be a breach of faith for that House, without the consent of that legislature, to interfere with that arrangement. In Canada, also, the land, by the consent of the British Legislature and the Crown, was entirely under the control of the Canadian legislature. His hon. and learned Friend contended that the American States had increased in population in a more rapid proportion than Canada; and at the head of his book was a map distinguishing the different portions of North America belonging to the United States and to England; and he stated, that on the former there was a population of 25,000,000, whilst on the latter, of nearly as large extent, there were but 2,000,000. But his hon. and learned Friend ran up the boundaries of Canada to the North Polo, where human life could not exist: the comparative extent, merely of the two countries, furnished no just grounds of comparison of the population in each. His on, and learned Friend, however, was wrong in supposing that the population of Canada had gone on slowly as compared with that of America. In 1796, the population of the United States, as stated by his hon. and learned Friend himself, was 3,000,000: at the same time, the population of our own provinces, again on his hon. and learned Friend's own showing, was 200,000. The present population of the United States was about 23,000,000, being an increase of only eightfold; whilst that of Canada was 2,000,000, or an increase of tenfold. He would say, also, that, regarding Canada by any of those tests by which they could measure the prosperity of a colony, there was an increase of wealth and of population which ought rather to elicit approbation, than that strong and indiscriminate condemnation of the English Government in Canada which he so frequently heard. His hon. and learned Friend seemed to think his system would work well in Canada. He said at once and distinctly that there was no authority for that opinion. He had no reason to believe that any such system would give any such satisfaction as his hon. and learned Friend supposed. Let them remember that it would involve the repeal of the Act of Union. It involved also a direct breach of faith with the Canadian legislature, for the whole territorial possessions there of the Crown had been transferred to the Canadian Assembly, and yet his hon. and learned Friend proposed to give liberty to persons to form settlements, and ultimately provinces, within the territory of Canada.


explained that he proposed that the boundaries of Upper and Lower Canada should be accurately defined, and that settlements might be made beyond them.


But at present Canada claimed the whole of this vast territory. And what district lay beyond? The Hudson's Bay Company's territory, or Rupert's Land. Did his hon. Friend propose to colonise this dreary territory? Why, the southernmost point of that great tract of land, the Red River settlement, had a mean temperature no higher than that of Iceland. Was it likely that any persons would go to those barren tracts, where, for half a year, their labour would be arrested by the rigour of the climate, and all occupation at an end, when they had far more tempting lands to go to? Again, as to the Hudson's Bay territory, there existed a charter of government; but he found no provision made by his hon. and learned Friend for the adjustment of the claims which must arise were his plan adopted. Then, as regarded New Zealand, his hon. and learned Friend had entirely left out of consideration the title of the natives, though the power of forming settlements there could only be obtained by a full acknowledgment of native rights. Those rights had of late been recognised with judgment and discretion; and there was reason to hope that the difficulties of the land question, so for the sake of brevity to describe it, were now nearly brought to a close. The necessity for preliminary negotiation with the natives, who possessed a right to land in any portion of our colonial territorities, was however left out of view in the scheme proposed by his hon. and learned Friend. He would now turn to the Cape. Here they had again a large and powerful native race to deal with; and if the plan proposed were at once to he adopted at Natal, for example, they would most assuredly bring that colony into collision with the powerful tribes around it. Indeed, he should be glad to know how the scheme for forming colonies into provinces under a federal union could be at all carried out at the Cape, without the full and free consent of the colonists and their legislature. Then with regard to New South Wales; here there was an independent and elected legislature, and which was, therefore, to be taken as representing the wants and wishes of the colonists. But were they to deal with the lands of that colony without any previous consultation with them? Why, first it would involve the repeal of the Waste Lands Act, as, in the case of Canada, it would involve the repeal of the Canadian Union Act. He must say, that, looking at the whole plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it would be one offering no advantage over the system now in operation. Suppose, for example, that it was resolved under this scheme to form a settlement, and that a point was chosen on the north or western part of New South Wales, on the east and west of South Australia, how long would it be before that settlement was made? Two or three years at the least must elapse before the preliminaries could be settled. The devise of site, the survey, the divisions and subdivisions, and maps, would all have to be completed, before the actual work of colonisation was begun, even if that time were sufficient. Now, in the case of Otago, in New Zealand, where a settlement had been projected under the present system, and where the Government had done all they could to advance the object, the settlement had been at once effected, and it was fast becoming a most successful colony. He believed that in our colonies, where the representative system had been introduced, there was as much self-government as was consistent with their being subordinate to any superior authority; but he could not understand the grounds upon which his hon. Friend assumed that the mere subdivision of a colony into provinces, and creating a federal union, would in any way alter the condition of the colonists, add to their prosperity, or insure more contentment or satisfaction than the existing system of government by their own legislatures. A sound system of local self-government was the admitted foundation of colonial progress and prosperity. And in New Zealand, to which reference had been made, it was undoubtedly the intention of Government to carry into effect a system of local self-government. With regard to Australia it was his intention before the holidays to give notice of a Bill for the bettor government of those colonies. The plan proposed was ready to be laid on the table of the House. The intention was to unite all these different colonies, leaving them separate for the purposes of their own local government, and to unite them by means of a general assembly or federal legislature, for the purpose of legislation upon all questions effecting their general interests. He had carefully considered the plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman in the book he had put forth, and which he now held in his hand, and he must tell him that his objections to his Bill were wholly of a practical character, and such as could not be overcome by any alteration of the details of the Bill. The objection was to the principle of the Bill, and strengthened by its impracticability. Supposing the scheme to be realised, it would be in the power of individuals to extend and multiply settlements at their own will. But he was disposed to think that England had colonies and possessions enough, and that it would be wise to people, and improve, and concentrate capital in those we possessed, rather than unnecessarily to multiply them; especially on the principles laid down by his hon. and learned Friend. And as no provision was made for the expense of the first formation of settlements in this plan, it would be necessary to draw upon imperial resources. Unless, indeed, in the early stage of colonial settlements, considerable assistance was rendered, they rarely succeeded. In the case of South Australia, this country had advanced 250,000l. for its assistance. Since that time the colony had progressively increased in prosperity and wealth. It was an ill-founded though popular assertion that our colonies had not progressed in freedom, intelligence, and prosperity. The income of New Zealand would soon rise to a point that would bear its whole expenditure. South Australia now wanted nothing from us, and neither did Port Phillip, which in one respect was formed very much on the American principle. It was part of New South Wales, and indeed still was so, though a separation from the older colony was decided upon by the colonists themselves, when its trade, population, and prospective resources gave it a claim to a separate government. Like an American State, it arose from an increasing population gradually settling within the district. Its claim to a separate government was entertained and conceded as willingly in the colony as at home. The Bill to which he had referred, would confer a constitution upon it. Our system, therefore, was expansive—and our policy was to confer upon English colonists English laws, privileges, and freedom. It had slumbered, hut was now awakened. Indeed, the most remarkable advance had been made in the general prosperity of all our colonies during the last ten or twenty years. As intelligence increased, he anticipated still greater prosperity; and it was an undoubted fact that it was chiefly owing to those great and liberal measures, such as the abolition of slavery, and the establishment of free trade, carried out by this country, that we had been brought into collision with any of the colonics. He believed, however, that by the increase of intelligence, and the gradual extension of local self-government, our colonies would be found increasing more than ever in all that constituted the wealth and prosperity of States. He would conclude by stating that he should give a simple negative to the introduction of the Bill, while he concurred in all that had been said by his hon. and learned Friend as to the propriety and necessity of this country ruling her colonial empire in a wise and generous spirit. Nothing could confer greater honour on this country than to see its institutions, its language, and its customs prevailing among her numerous colonics; and he had the most thorough conviction, that by a wise and judicious policy our colonies would long continue to be at once a source of honour, and in no small degree a source of strength, to the British empire.


said, that a more complete, though at the same time, no doubt, a more unintentional misrepresentation he had never heard than that which his hon. Friend who had just sat down had given of the measure of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. His hon. Friend's reasons for objecting to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman were three. First, that it could not be adopted without an interference with the independence of the Canadian legislature; but, surely, until the Bill was on the table of the House, it was not right to object to what would form a mere matter of detail. The second objection of his hon. Friend was, that there remained native races in New Zealand, who had rights which the provisions of the hon. and learned Member's Bill would come in contact with. But this, too, was an objection with regard to details, more fitted for consideration in Committee on the Bill, than on a Motion for asking leave to introduce it. The third, and he believed the real, objection of his hon. Friend to the measure was, that the Colonial Office had prepared a Bill of their own, which they intended to lay on the table of the House. He would not stop to inquire whether this Bill had been thought of before the hon. and learned Member's book made its appearance, or before the hon. and learned Gentleman gave notice of his present Motion. The only important bearing which distinguished the two measures appeared, however, to be this, that the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman went to devise a grand and comprehensive plan for all the colonies, while the Bill of the Colonial Office was confined to the Australian colonies. His hon. Friend had certainly used the term Australian and not Australasian colonies; and it was therefore doubtful whether the Bill was intended to include all the British colonies in the southern ocean or not. The great source of the evils of colonial government appeared to be in the mismanagement of the land fund; and if the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman were adopted, such aberrations of Colonial-Office morality would be in future guarded against, and a serious opposition to the measure in certain quarters might well be looked for. During the three years that had elapsed since the accession of the present Government, neither Earl Grey nor his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, had taken one step to carry into effect their much vaunted Amendments; and yet they now complained of the hon. and learned Member for even asking to have his Bill printed, as a species of interference with their privileges. After having neglected all the opportunities which offered for improvement, and after having driven the colonies in the east and in the west and in the south into discontent, and even into open rebellion, the Colonial Office now objected when the hon. and learned Member came forward and asked the House merely to give him an opportunity of laying on the table a Bill which he believed would provide a remedy for the evils that all admitted to exist. As soon as the measure was brought forward, the Colonial Office came before them to say that they thought it insufficient, impolitic, or all events uncalled for; and they expected that the House—which had such reason, he would not say to doubt them, but to find them guilty of all the mischief against which the Motion was levelled—should, on their bare assurance, shut their eyes on all the acts of which the Colonial Office had been guilty, and wait until, in the fulness of time, the very men whose misconduct had led to all their embarrasments should find a way out of them. The House was in possession of the two cases, and should decide between them. For his own part, he would reserve the consideration of any objections that might lie against the details until they got into Committee, and against the principle of the Bill until the second reading. He felt that, under all the circumstances, he should be wanting in his duty to the colonies as well as to his constituents, if he did not give his hearty vote to the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield.


was delighted that the old pernicious system of protection was to be abandoned in regard to the West India islands, believing, as he did, that they would be more prosperous without than with that fallacious prop to industry. He did not agree with the plan of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, as far as it would apply to Canada. He considered that it would be most unwise and unjust to interfere with the power of self-government which had been given to that and the lower provinces of British America; in all which, for some time at least, their prosperity had been as great as the circumstances of civil liberty, religious freedom, and fair natural advantages would probably admit of, while they continued to be cramped by navigation laws, commercial restrictions, and the fallacy of protective duties. In his opinion, if anything had tended to prevent the progress of New Brunswick, it had been the protection to the timber trade, which had drawn the minds of the people from the cultivation of the soil. Nova Scotia, with a much worse climate, and far inferior natural ad-vantages than New Brunswick, was in a much more satisfactory state. Our North American colonies now possessed all the advantage of responsible government, together with perfect free trade with the united kingdom, and with all countries where the navigation laws were repealed. He believed they would then be in a far better position than they could possibly be under any other system. With regard to Canada and its annexation to the United States, he did not believe that any desire for such annexation existed in that great colony. The Canadians must know very well that if they were annexed to the United States, all their customs revenues, which now were devoted to the purpose of the province, would go to Washington, and they would sink from their present position of an independent country—for they were independent in everything but their allegiance to the British Crown—into a mere State, subject to the central American power. He thought the late disturbances in Montreal were fairly traceable to the old question of party in Canada; but he did not apprehend any very serious breaches of the peace to continue, nor any very disastrous results. He believed the party connected with those riots consisted of a very small minority in the colony, and that when those riots had passed away, matters would settle down tranquilly. Since the year 1830, so far as the North American colonies were concerned, the inhabitants had very little ground of complaint, except at two periods—the periods when Lord Stanley acted as Colonial Secretary, and who, with the best intentions, did some very foolish things. He was of opinion that any Government that undertook any great scheme of emigration would inflict injury on the colonies, by casting on their shores too many to be suddenly provided for, and imprepared for the difficulties incident to new countries; and he considered that schemes of the kind should be left to private enterprise. The most that Government ought to do would be to afford emigrants cheap and ready facility in procuring land, and preventing fraudulent conduct on the part of emigration agents at British and Irish seaports, and the crowding of emigrant ships with passengers; who being generally all fed in the dirty holds of crazy vessels, become the victims of typhus, or carried their calamity, together with their poverty, among our colonists.


said, that when the state of the colonies under the government of Lord Stanley was compared with their state under that of Earl Grey, the former noble Lord would have no reason to fear the comparison; but he wished to allude to the able speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, who certainly had not attended to his own advice of proceeding by degrees. A commercial revolution having been effected, the hon. and learned Gentleman now proposed a political revolution; he wished our colonial government to be modelled in imitation of the United States, wanting, however, their federal qualities and their system of protection. In every department of their political existence he would regulate them from their birth by one code; and he would burden them with the expense of a governor, unsupported by an army—a mere emblem of the connexion with this country. It was, he thought, ominous when the hon. and learned Gentleman hailed the explosion of the doctrine of "ships, colonies, and commerce;" he was afraid that it foreshadowed the separation of the colonies from this country, and the loss of her commerce. He (Mr. Newdegate) could not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Youghal, recommending the separation of the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, for he believed that that separation would be only the forerunner of the separation of both provinces from the mother country.


congratulated the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield on having had the principle of his measure recognised and sanctioned by the Government; for, although the Under Secretary for the Colonies had felt it his duty to oppose the introduction of the hon. and learned Member's Bill, yet the measure which the hon. Under Secretary had announced it to be his intention to bring forward in the course of the present Session, was an acknowledgment of the principle advocated by the hon. and learned Gentleman. If ever there had been a scheme propounded for the benefit of the colonies, it was that which had been so ably opened before them by the hon. and learned Gentleman tonight; and it was peculiarly fortunate that the position of our colonies, more especially Canada, possessed singular facilities for carrying out that scheme.


, who rose amidst cries of "Divide! divide!" was surprised that on a debate upon a question of such importance, so much impatience should be exhibited in the House by hon. Members whom he could point out who had only just come in for the first time that evening. The speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield was most comprehensive. The plan was most comprehensive, and he (Mr. Aglionby) should wish to see the Bill and judge of its provisions before he gave his opinion upon its practicability. He was sorry that the colony of New Zealand was to be excluded from the Bill about to be introduced by the Government for the improvement of the government of the colonies. The measure proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield would include all the colonies, and therefore he was the more anxious to see that Bill. As to the colony of New Zealand, the prudence, energy, and caution with which the present Governor, Sir G. Grey, had acted, had caused the land question to be brought very nearly to a complete and satisfactory adjustment, and so far matters were going on well. But the settlers were memorialising the Government for the grant of free institutions, and he called upon Her Majesty's Government either to bring in a Bill to confer free institutions upon them, or to send out instructions to the Governor that he should endeavour to meet the wishes of the colonists. He begged to refer to a petition which he had presented last week from the largest and most influential meeting of shareholders in the New Zealand Company he had ever seen, and to a resolution which they had adopted, in which they set forth that in their opinion the best security for the colony against arbitrary government would be the grant of a charter, such as over and over again had been promised to the colonists, and given to other English settlements.


Sir, I should have risen to address the House before, had it been as full as it is at present, when my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies addressed it. But I do think it necessary, in the present state of the House, to state shortly what I think are conclusive objections against the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield. I give him every credit for ability in the speech which he has made, and for the large and comprehensive outline which he gave of what he considered should be the system of government in the colonies. But when I come from that view to consider his actual proposal, and that it is by a Bill his statement is succeeded—that it is by an Act of Parliament he thinks we should lay down certain fixed rules, by which we are to govern all the colonies of this country, and dispose of forty or fifty settlements of various races, in various parts of the world, under one certain system—I own I cannot but feel appalled at the magnitude of his scheme. The first objection stated, and most truly stated, by my hon. Friend is, that with regard to certain of the colonies you would be actually interfering with rights which they already possess by Act of Parliament, and which rights they are not ready nor willing to surrender. The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about the mischievous meddling of the Colonial Office. That is a sort of cant phrase which parties often use without knowing exactly what meaning is attached to the words; and, therefore, I am sorry to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman, precise and correct as he is in general, repeat an expression which other hon. Gentlemen use without attaching any meaning to it. But if the Colonial Office, which is, in other words, Her Majesty's Secretary of State, should write a despatch to the governor of a colony, giving instructions to a governor, that meddling at least admitted of correction. The governor or the legislative assembly, as it may be, remonstrate against the objectionable order, and another despatch may set right the error, if error it be. And so, with some little discontent it may be, or with some remonstrance, the grievance, whatever it be, is removed, and the wishes of the colonists are gratified. But if Parliament wish to intermeddle and lay down fixed rules for the government of the colonies, and the colonists find these rules interfere with their just rights, only consider the mischief that may ensue from bringing forward these Acts of Parliament. In 1839 the Crown renounced to the United Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada the right of dealing with the hereditary revenues of the colonies. They were placed, during the lifetime of Her Majesty, at the disposal of the Government of Canada. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to abrogate, destroy, and abolish the rights of the Canadians, and to introduce certain other rights of his own. Why, the discontent that would arise on finding their rights interfered with, would be exceedingly vehement and indignant. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposes other divisions of Canada than those that now exist. He does not know that the Canadians would agree to those propositions, or that the other British North American colonies would be willing to he united with Canada. His suggestion of this new arrangement and union is not a new one. It was considered before, but the time was not believed to have come when the scheme, even if it were a wise one, would be carried into effect. It excited the attention of the Earl of Durham, who mentioned it to me, and I inquired of persons connected with the government of the province, and found that the prevailing opinion amongst men whom I thought best acquainted with the subject was, that the fiscal difficulties were so great that there could not be a legislative union between Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. If that be so at the present time, only consider the mischief you would produce by laying down by Act of Parliament that a union should take place, whether Nova Scotia or New Brunswick liked it, or whether it were utterly offensive to them—whether they thought even that it would destroy their self-government. The hon. and learned Gentleman seems surprised when my hon. Friend and myself tell him that it is not on behalf of the Colonial Office merely we on the present occasion object to this Bill, but that it is on behalf of the colonies themselves we say that an act like this should not be legislated upon without at least consulting the colonists. You would be depriving them of rights which they have been confirmed in by Acts of Parliament; rights which Parliament has acknowledged, and all this without the least consultation with them, or any attempt being made to obtain their opinions. There are many other questions with regard to other colonies, which my hon. Friend went into, and which I do not think it necessary to go into again. But supposing the plan was good for the North American colonies, it does not follow that you could carry out the same rule in Australia or Africa. The hon. and learned Gentleman was hardly well founded in his history with regard to New Zealand. He said the Colonial Office, not choosing that there should be an English settlement in New Zealand, a number of English settlers arranged together certain rules for their government, embarked, and made the voyage to that island, where they called into effect those rules which they had formed. Now, my recollection is, that the Secretary of State who preceded me, having determined that New Zealand should be governed as a British settlement, if the consent of the natives could be obtained, a considerable number of settlers emigrated from the Thames, and made rules by which they determined to dispense both civil and criminal justice in the settlement. But when I saw such rules, I saw that they could not enforce them. The law of this country and the supremacy of the Crown could not permit them to put such rules in operation. The company consulted the present Lord Chief Justice Wilde, and his opinion agreed with mine. They threw their rules into the fire, and made themselves subject to the laws of England, and the Queen of England, and not to the legislation and jurisdiction which they had previously framed. Part of the support which this proposed Bill has received, has been from the hon. Member for Cockermouth; and he says that he approves of it because it lays down certain rules applicable to all the colonies. But how does he support that with regard to the colony with which he is connected, and with the condition of which he is better acquainted than any hon. Gentleman in the House—New Zealand? He says that the land question—the question which has given rise to such disputes between the company, the settlers, and the natives, has been nearly arranged by the skill and ability of the present Governor, who has brought it very nearly to a successful termination, and he has every hope that in a short time that very difficult question will be finally adjusted in a manner agreeable to every party. Why, if this be the case, does it not show the House that it is bettor to treat every one of the colonies according to the mode most suitable to each? You have in Canada the representatives of the people disposing of the land according to their rules. In Now Zealand you have the Governor arranging between the parties who have claims. Those two modes are perfectly satisfactory to the colonists in each case. But then comes the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, and says there is no uniformity in those cases. "You have colonies, and because the word 'colonies' applies to all, I shall apply fixed rules to all, and by Act of Parliament I will dispose of all." Why, is not that a plan, that instead of making a settlement, will make a fresh distribution? And it will be many years before you can undo the mischief. Now, with regard to the introduction of the Bill, if it were a matter of indifference or of domestic concern, or near home, I could be more easily induced to listen to those hon. Gentlemen who urge the introduction of it in order to judge of its provisions. The hon. Member for Cockermouth says that as he has not read the hon. and learned Gentleman's book, he would like to see his Bill. But this is not a subject which you can treat in this way; it is not a subject which you ought to tamper with. If the Government or the Colonial Office, or my noble Friend Earl Grey, or any of the present Members of the Cabinet, are unfit to deal with the question, then change your Government, or have an Act of Parliament, and place your colonial government in the hands of this House. But if it is not so, then let each particular measure, as of old, be the subject of inquiry in this House; and, if defective, let them be censured in the House. And if that be the better mode of government, do not let the hon. and learned Gentleman introduce his Bill; for if you allow it to be even introduced, you will lead the colonists to think that you are about to adopt its provisions. They will think that you are about to effect some great changes in their mode of government. Their minds will be unsettled, and for that reason I shall oppose the introduction of the measure.


said, that at an early period of the Session he voted with the Government against the appointment of a Committee on the affairs of the colonies, because his belief was that such a measure, if adopted, would not have been of any practical advantage; but, on the present occasion, he felt it to be his duty to give a vote in opposition to the noble Lord. The noble Lord had said, that if this had been a matter of indifference, or one that related to our own domestic affairs, he would not have felt indisposed to permit the Bill to be laid upon the table, reserving to himself the opportunity of forming a definitive judgment of its merits when he had become acquainted with its details. He (Mr. Gladstone) confessed he was inclined to invert the doctrine of the noble Lord. He fully agreed that when a Bill was of a nature to which it was clear that Parliament ought under no circumstances to accede, it was a sound rule at once to refuse leave to introduce the Bill; but with respect to the positive objections which the noble Lord had made to the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he thought they were not sufficient to justify the House in rejecting it, at all events in the present stage. The noble Lord had stated that the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to interfere in various respects with privileges guaranteed by Act of Parliament to the colonies. He hardly thought the noble Lord correctly understood the hon. and learned Gentleman when he imputed to him such an intention. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] But, at all events, it was quite certain that, if the Bill made its way to a Committee, there was not the slightest fear that it would pass into a law in such a form as would interfere with any privileges which the colonics possessed at this moment. As respected the principle of uniformity, he (Mr. Gladstone) agreed that it would be most unwise to attempt to apply uniform rules and maxims to colonies under such infinitely varied circumstances as the colonies owing subjection to the Crown of England; but he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to begin his speech by admitting that there were many exceptions to the application of the principle he proposed to lay down; and when the House saw the Bill in print, they could then consider whether they ought to enlarge the list of exceptions, and it would be their own fault, and not that of the hon. and learned Gentleman, if they applied it to any of the colonies except where it was found to be really applicable. The noble Lord had objected to the introduction of the Bill on the ground that it would disturb the minds of the colonists, by leading them to imagine they intended, as a matter of course, to pass it. He (Mr. Gladstone) did not know whether he was bolder than other men; he had thought he was not nearly so bold as the noble Lord, but certainly he was not apprehensive of any such results. Thinking as he did, therefore, that there was not sufficient force in the objections of the noble Lord, he would now go on to state the positive reasons which induced him to give a deliberate vote for the introduction of the Bill. He begged it to be distinctly understood that in giving that vote it implied no accordance whatever in the censures which the hon. and learned Member had cast, either upon the Colonial Department generally, or upon the Minister who at present held the seals of that department. He conceived that the question before the House was altogether apart from and above the merits of any particular Minister. The hon. and learned Gentleman had addressed his mind with the advantages of great ability, and great knowledge and experience, to the consideration of a most difficult and most important public question—a public question with respect to which there was a general, and, he thought, a just feeling in the country, that our present colonial policy was susceptible of great improvement. He was far from saying that the fault lay either with the Colonial Minister or with the Colonial Department. He looked upon the fault as lying much deeper, and he did think that public opinion was merging more and more towards the conviction that there was much which required amendment in our colonial policy. That being the case, he felt greatly indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman for having given his thoughts on the subject in a recent publication, and he felt inclined to enlarge the debt by encourging him to put his thoughts into the detailed and developed form which they would necessarily assume in a Bill. If he had thought the notions of the hon. and learned Gentleman chimerical or unsound, he would undoubtedly have opposed them in the first stage of their progress; but he confessed that, generally speaking, so far as he understood them, he thought the doctrines which had been stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman were sound and true doctrines, and that his views of our colonial relations were such as, if adopted in practice, would substantially conduce at once to the glory of England and the prosperity of the colonies. He thought it possible that the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to the establishment of a federal government might be found to be impracticable. Indeed it was probable they would be so, except they were introduced very slowly; but, as the views were in themselves good and sound, and offered a solution of a difficult practical problem, he desired to urge the hon. and learned Gentleman onward in his career, and to bring his plan before the House in such a shape as would enable them to form a definite judgment of its merits. With respect to the effect which it would produce on the colonies, he emphatically differed from the noble Lord. The noble Lord himself, on one occasion, introduced a Bill with reference to Canada at the termination of a Session, avowedly with the intention of not pressing it during that Session, but that it might go out to Canada and be discussed there in the interval between that and the ensuing Session. He (Mr. Gladstone) thought that a similar course might he adopted with advantage on the present occasion, for he did not imagine that the hon. and learned Gentleman was sanguine enough to hope to pass any measure on the subject during the present Session. It would be of great importance, therefore, to have it sent out to the different colonies concerned, in order that they might have an opportunity of offering such suggestions as might materially assist them when they came to the practical consideration of it in the following Session.


thought the reasons adduced by the noble Lord were conclusive as to the necessity of opposing the introduction of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had stated, in opposition to the remark of the noble Lord, that if the measure had been small, he would have resisted it; but as it was large, he would vote for its introduction. He (Mr. V. Smith) must say that this was a very extraordinary announcement to proceed from one who had held the office of a Minister of the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman asserted, moreover, that the effect of allowing the Bill to lie on the table, so far from being prejudicial, would be favourable. He (Mr. V. Smith) was surprised to hear such an opinion. Did not the right hon. Gentleman know the jealousy which existed among the colonists as to every kind of legislation which had a bearing upon their concerns; and was it not contemplated by the Bill sought to be introduced, to compel certain federal arrangements to be carried out? Had the right hon. Gentleman held the office of Colonial Secretary, and had he consented to the introduction of such a Bill, he (Mr. V. Smith) would have said that he had adopted a course altogether unworthy of him. He congratulated the House upon the absence of abuse of the Colonial Office which had marked this discussion of colonial matters, and which, he thought, was calculated rather to retard than to advance their progress towards useful colonial reform. He thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman for having brought forward this Motion; and, although he agreed with his noble Friend as to the views he had stated respecting the bringing in of the proposed Bill at the present time, he was glad that the subject had been introduced, as public attention would be drawn towards it, both in this country and in the colonies.


rose to say one word in explanation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had come late to the House that evening, and had not heard his (Mr. Hawes's) noble Friend. He, however, seemed to assume it as the principle of Government to oppose the federal principle. Now he (Mr. Hawes) stated distinctly it was a part of the scheme he intended to, introduce, and that the Bill he should bring in to-morrow contemplated the form of federal government for the Australian colonies.


said, that the tone generally taken by the House in colonial debates, and on the absence of which they had been congratulated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton arose from the fact that the Colonial Office had always set itself in opposition to any plan of improvement. There was a feeling all over the country that great changes must take place in our present system; but whenever any one ventured to make them, they were met with the single reply. "Oh, Lord Grey is a very good Minister;" but that answer was not at all satisfactory. The measure proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to be regarded as compulsory; but, as he (Mr. Adderley) understood it, the Bill was for the advantage of those colonies which chose to apply to the Colonial Secretary; and that any application of it would only be by the consent of the colonies themselves. The evil which the hon. and learned Gentleman sought to remedy was universally complained of—the uncertain condition of our colonies at this moment. The average duration of a Colonial Minister's stay in office seemed to be about triennial, so that it was a chance whether he could carry out any scheme he might have prepared. The evils of the system were especially felt now, as operating as a check upon emigration. He could not say that he thought the whole, or even the more essential part, of the scheme of the hon. and learned Gentleman as likely to be successful. In the first place, where did the plan come from? From the United States. There was a large party in the House who were, he thought, rather too apt just now to borrow plans from America; but if he took hints from that quarter at all, he would rather take them from their earlier than their present system. At the same time, if the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman was not exactly what was wanted, still it tended in the right direction; and he (Mr. Adderley) hoped the introduction of it at least would be allowed, in order that the House might see the manner in which the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman were intended to be carried out.


, in reply, said, he thought that the noble Lord and the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies had hardly dealt fairly with him. In the first place, he was pretty sure they did not understand his plan; they had misconceived it. He said that because they had misstated it; for he was sure they would not have misstated it if they had conceived it. The noble Lord had stated that he (Mr. Roebuck) proposed a plan by which he was about, by Act of Parliament, to invade rights already established by Act of Parliament. That was a great mistake on the part of the noble Lord. What he proposed to do was, not to take from existing rights, but to put them into a lucid order, to consign them to Parliament, and, by these means, obtain a general rule for their future conduct. He thought there was no necessity to tamper with the rights that did exist; no proposal of his would tamper with existing rights in any manner. Therefore the noble Lord did him an injustice in stating these things, and not allowing him to do what he intended. The noble Lord had, in times past, not tampered with existing rights, but utterly and completely abolished them. He had heard the noble Lord propound a Bill to do away entirely with the constitution of Lower Canada. He did away with the constitution of Upper Canada. He united the two Canadas. He (Mr. Roebuck) did not propose anything of the sort, and no single right would be invaded by his proposal in Canada, in any portion of North America, or, in fact, in any of our colonies. When it was supposed he applied a general rule for a not homogeneous colony, he was entirely mistaken. He conceived that the colonies were entirely identical. You were dealing with English going from England to form settlements in a wild country; they took with them the habits and feelings of their own country, and all that he asked for was to give them some determinate rule, when they left this country, so as to enable them to conduct themselves in the country which they adopted as their own. He did not propose to be able to propound so large and comprehensive a plan at once. He was willing to leave the matter in the hands of the House; they must decide. We all knew what a condition our colonies were in; he had no hopes of a general rule being propounded. We had been colonising since 1606, and we were now only beginning to do the same thing. His hon Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies had been guilty of making great mistakes in the last proceedings of the Colonial Office as to the colonisation of Vancouver's Island. He must solemnly protest against one statement, that England had possessions enough. England had not more than enough. What he said was, that England could not make upon this vast globe too many habitations; and if out of her bosom there might come thousands, whilst only one man should be instrumental in the enlargement of her liberal race, in the spread of her liberal institutions, of her language and literature—who should multiply the English over the face of the globe—that man would not only deserve well of his country but of his kind. He had that pride in his countrymen which led him to think that they could not be introduced too often to other countries, and could not make too many happy communities.

The House divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 116: Majority 43.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hornby, J.
Adair, H. E. Johnstone, Sir J.
Adderley, C. B. Jones, Capt.
Aglionby, H. A. Ker, R.
Alcock, T. Kershaw, J.
Anstey, T. C. King, hon. P. J. L.
Bailey, J. Jun. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Bankes, G. Mangles, R. D.
Barrington, Visct. Marshall, J. G.
Bennet, P. Miles, P. W. S.
Bentinck, Lord H. Milner, W. M. E.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Moffatt, G.
Brisco, M. Molesworth, Sir W.
Broadley, H. Monsell, W.
Bruce, Lord E. Mundy, W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. O'Flaherty, A.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Palmer, R.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Pechell, Capt.
Clifford, H. M. Pigot, Sir R.
Clive, H. B. Pilkington, J.
Codrington, Sir W. Portal, M.
Crawford, W. S. Scott, hon. F.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Scully, F.
Duke, Sir J. Sibthorp, Col.
Duncan, G. Sidney, Ald.
Egerton, W. T. Smyth, J. G.
Fagan, W. Stafford, A.
Fox, W. J. Sutton, J. H. M.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Taylor, T. E.
Gore, W. R. O. Tollemache, J.
Greene, J. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Henry, A. Vane, Lord H.
Hervey, Lord A. Williams, J.
Heyworth, L. Willyams, H.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Wood, W. P.
Hodges, T. L. TELLERS.
Hope, Sir J. Roebuck, J. A.
Hope, A. Wyld, J.
List of the Noes.
Abdy, T. N. Bagshaw, J.
Armstrong, R. B. Baines, M. T.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Baldook, E. H.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.
Bellew, R. M. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Lewis, G. C.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Bernal, R. M'Gregor, J.
Birch, Sir T. B. Magan, W. H.
Blackall, S. W. Mahon, Visct.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Maitland, T.
Boyle, hon. Col. Martin, S.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Masterman, J.
Brotherton, J. Matheson, A.
Burke, Sir T. J. Matheson, Col.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Caulfeild, J. M. Melgund, Visct.
Chaplin, W. J. Moody, C. A.
Childers, J. W. Morris, D.
Cholmeley, Sir M. Mulgrave, Earl of
Coles, H. B. Newdegate, C. N.
Colvile, C. R. Norreys, Lord
Corbally, M. E. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Paget, Lord C.
Craig, W. G. Palmer, R.
Crowder, R. B. Palmerston, Visct.
Dalrymple, Capt. Parker, J.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Patten, J. W.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Power, Dr.
Denison, J. E. Power, N.
Devereux, J. T. Price, Sir R.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Pryse, P.
Dundas, Adm. Puscy, P.
Dunne, F. P. Raphael, A.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Rawdon, Col.
Evans, W. Reynolds, J.
Filmer, Sir E. Ricardo, O.
Fordyce, A. D. Rich, H.
Freestun, Col. Romilly, Sir J.
Frewen, C. H. Pvussell, Lord J.
Glyn, G. C. Russell, hon. E. S.
Grenfell, C. P. Russell, F. C. H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Rutherfurd, A.
Grey, B.'W. Seymour, Lord
Grosvenor, Earl Shelburne, Earl of
Hawes, B. Smith, rt. hon. B. V.
Hay, Lord J. Somerville, rt. hn. SirW.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Talbot, C. R. M.
Heathcote, G. J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Henley, J. W. Thompson, Col.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir. J. Townley, R. G.
Hollond, R. Townshend, Capt.
Hood, Sir A. Tynte, Col.
Howard, Lord E. Willcox, B. M.
Howard, P. H. Wilson, J.
Jervis, Sir J. Wilson, M.
Jolliffc, Sir W. G. H. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Keppel, hon. G. T. TELLEKS.
Kildare, Marq. of Tufnell, H.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Hill, Lord M.