§ Clauses from 1 to 4 were agreed to.
§ Clause 5.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
said, he had only one word to say with regard to this clause. In this clause and in Clause II it was proposed to continue the Act of the 5th & 6th Victoria, which contained a number of provisions, and amongst them one which empowered Parliament to interfere in the affairs of the colony. It would be inconvenient to enter into a discussion at the present moment, and he would not prevent the Committee going into the next clause.
§ Clause 6.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
* I beg leave to move that all the words in this clause, after the words—'And be it enacted that,' be omitted, for the 555 purpose of inserting these words, 'there shall be established, in the Colonies of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia respectively, a Legislative Council and a House of Assembly.'If this Amendment be carried, I should propose other amendments, by which the two chambers would be made elective.
In proposing this Amendment I need scarcely observe that at the present moment the colonies of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia do not possess representative institutions, but are governed by a legislative council, all the members of which are nominated by the Colonial Office. I may assume that we are agreed that that form of government shall be changed, and that these colonies shall possess representative institutions. The question is, what is the best form of representative government for these colonies to commence with? The Colonial Office, loath to part with all its powers of nomination, proposes that they shall begin with a single chamber, of which one-third of the members shall hold their seats at the will of the Colonial Office. On the other hand, I propose that they shall begin with two chambers, both of which shall be elected by the people. The question, therefore, is simply between election and nomination, and between two chambers and one chamber. On a former occasion this question was fully discussed; every hon. Gentleman who spoke was decidedly of opinion that in theory two elective chambers are preferable to one partly-nominated chamber, therefore it would be a waste of time to reargue the general question; and I will merely examine the special reasons which have been assigned for not establishing two chambers in the Australian colonies, and consider whether they are or are not valid with reference to Van Diemen's Land and South Australia.
The Committee decided the other night that New South Wales and Victoria shall continue to possess their present form of government. It was then asserted that New South Wales and Victoria are well satisfied with their present form of government, and preferred it to any other form; therefore, that it would be an arbitrary and unjust measure to alter it without their consent. I do not affirm that this argument is without force with regard to New South Wales and Victoria; but it is evidently inapplicable to Van Diemen's Land and South Australia, for it is agreed on all sides that their present form of government ought to be changed. The question, therefore, is, whether it ought to be changed to that of New South 556 Wales, or to that form which every hon. Gentleman admits to be a better one in theory. To answer this question, I ask, first, what are the opinions of the highest colonial authorities on this matter?
The Committee should bear in mind that this Bill was brought in last year, and that one of the chief reasons assigned for postponing it was, that the delay would enable us to receive information from the Australian colonies in reply to the report of the Committee of Council which had been sent out to them. Now, within the last few days very important information has been received, to which I must call the attention of the Committee, and especially, I must refer to a despatch from the Governor of Van Diemen's Laud, Sir W. Denison, who has always been quoted by the Colonial Office as high authority in these matters. In that despatch, dated the 28th December last, Sir W. Denison gives his deliberate opinion on this Bill, and expressed his decided condemnation of that part of it which is now under consideration. I will state the substance of that part of his despatch. Sir W. Denison says—I have been made aware that Her Majesty's Government intend to bring this Bill forward again early in the next Session of Parliament. I think it, therefore, my duty to point out to your Lordship such of the provisions of the Bill as would work unsatisfactorily. I have no very accurate means of arriving at the opinion of the body of the community; indeed, I might almost say, that the satisfaction with which almost any measure conferring a representative system of government would be welcomed would go far to prevent any deliberate discussion of its provisions. As regards my own views, I observe that the Committee of the Privy Council gave their sanction to the principle of a second chamber, but have recommended that, in the Australian colonies, the system of New South Wales, where legislation is entrusted to a single body, partly nominated, should be generally adopted. It would be undesirable to press a reform upon an unwilling or even indifferent people; but I doubt very much whether the evidence in the possession of the Government is sufficient to prove that the people of New South Wales are unwilling to adopt such a change in the form of the existing government. Indifferent they may perhaps be, but in that case I would submit that the welfare of the three colonies, now about to be called into political existence, might be allowed to outweigh the mere indifference of the people of New South Wales.In reply to the common argument of the Colonial Office, that the legislatures of these colonies will have power to amend their institutions. Sir W. Denison says—I am afraid that the remedy proposed by the Committee of the Privy Council, namely, that of vesting a power in the legislatures of the different colonies, of amending their constitutions, by re- 557 solving either of their single houses of legislature into two, will hardly meet the evil. A single house of assembly will always attempt to assume to itself a portion of the power of the executive. The proceedings of the Legislative Assembly at Sydney, during the last session, will afford ample evidence of this tendency. When, therefore, a body thus constituted has once found itself in the possession of power, it is not all probable that it will originate, or carry out, a change which will in effect diminish its power, and tend to deprive each individual composing it of a portion of the importance which attaches to him as a member of such a body.Next, in reply to the favourite position of the Colonial Office that all the Australian colonies should have the same institutions, Sir W. Denison says—I would submit also that, if each colony be empowered to alter its constitution, the reasons which have induced the Committee of Council to recommend that all should have governments constituted upon the same model, would seem to have but little weight, as a change on the part of any of the four would at once destroy the uniformity.And, lastly, Sir W. Denison says—My opinion remains unchanged by anything that I have beard or read since I last addressed your Lordship on this subject. Every additional day that I remain in this colony serves to add to the strength of my conviction that it would be most desirable, when the change in the form of the government of this colony does take place, that a Second Chamber should be constituted at once by the authority of Parliament. Such a chamber, however, should differ from those which did exist in the North American colonies, inasmuch as a large proportion of the members should be elected, or otherwise rendered independent of the Government, and they should hold their position for a long period, if not for life.Nothing, therefore, can he more positive than Sir W. Denison's opinion against this portion of the Government Bill, and in favour of the two chambers.
A despatch has also been received from the Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Young, in which he writes, Nov. 16, 1849:—An intelligent, highly respectable, and influential member of the local legislature, having given notice of a resolution on the subject of the new constitution to be established in the Australian colonies, it appears expedient that I should at once forward it to your Lordship, especially as the general question is likely to engage the attention of the Imperial Parliament early in the Session of 1850.Sir Henry Young refers to that resolution as containing comprehensive and important propositions, and says—Succinctly they may be described as a proposed transference to South Australia of those political and social institutions of Great Britain, by which the useful grandeur and glory of the empire have been gradually and progressively enlarged and strengthened, and preserved.558 I will not trespass upon the patience of the Committee by reading the resolution, because I read the substance of it when I asked a question concerning it the other night, from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies. On that occasion the hon. Gentleman treated the resolution as of little importance. He referred to it merely as the resolution of an individual, and he stated that the Governor had ordered it to be published in the Government Gazette inadvertently. The hon. Gentleman made that statement at the very time when this despatch from Sir Henry Young was in his possession.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, he will find it really is so, if he will look at the dates.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
Long before the despatch was received! Why, this despatch from the Governor was received at the Colonial Office on the 26th of March, and my question was put to the hon. Gentleman last Tuesday week. However, it is quite clear the resolution was not published by inadvertence, because the Governor directed it to be published in the Government Gazette—a proceeding which Lord Grey considers to be so unusual that he has reprimanded Sir H. Young for his conduct. This proceeding, coupled with the language of this despatch, can leave no doubt that Sir H. Young disapproves of the Government Bill. I am therefore, entitled to assert that the Governors of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia are opposed to the single partly-nominated chamber of New South Wales.
I again beg the Committee to bear in mind that this Bill was postponed last year in order to obtain information from these colonies. Therefore, it would be absurd if, after receiving that information, we were to proceed to legislate in direct opposition to it, unless the most valid reasons can be assigned for so doing. Can such reasons be assigned? If they exist anywhere, I presume they are to be found in the reply of Earl Grey to Sir W. Denison, which has been printed with these papers. That reply contains the general arguments used by the Colonial Office in favour of the single partly-nominated chamber, and in opposition to two elective chambers. The arguments may be summed up under the heads:—1. That political science is good for nothing. 2. That the system of New 559 South Wales has worked well, and is, therefore, adapted to all the Autralian colonies. 3. That all the Australian colonies ought to have the same institutions, 4. That, in the event of any of them being dissatisfied with their institutions, they will have power to change them. 5. And lastly, that there are not materials for two elective chambers.
First, the Colonial Office maintains that the successful working of a constitution depends more upon its being adapted to the wants and circumstances of a community, than upon its being framed upon the abstract principles of political science. No one denies that the constitution of a community ought to be adapted to its circumstances; but if the principles of political science be true, a constitution framed in accordance with those principles, would be adapted to the wants of the community for which it was framed, precisely in the same manner as a coat made upon the true principles of coat making, would fit the form of the human body for which it was made. Therefore the proposition of the Colonial Office really denies the existence of political science. It is the well-known fallacy by which the empiric and the charlatan invariably defend their nostrums in opposition to the rules of science. The nostrum of the Colonial Office for the Australian colonies is the single partly-nominated chamber. Now, every one acknowledges that such an institution is not only in opposition to the principles of political science, but to the universal experience of Anglo-Saxon communities in every portion of the globe.
Next it is said that a single partly-nominated chamber has worked well in New South Wales, and, therefore, that it is, practically, the best form of government for the Australian colonies generally. The system of New South Wales has only been in existence for seven years. Has it worked well during the whole of that time? Certainly not, if Lord Grey be any authority in such a matter; for on the 31st of July, 1847, Lord Grey wrote to the Governor of New South Wales these words:—It does not appear to me that the practical working of the last system—that of New South Wales—would by any means justify the conclusion that it is an improvement upon that of two houses, which it was formerly the practice to adopt. On the contrary, I see many reasons for belief, that the more ancient system by which every new law was submitted to the separate consideration of two distinct houses, and required 560 their joint consent for its enactment, was the best calculated to ensure judicious and prudent legislation.The Colonial Minister ought to be the highest authority in these matters. If he be so, it follows that the system of New South Wales is not the best calculated to insure judicious and prudent legislation in Van Diemen's Land and South Australia.
The system of New South Wales is at variance with a fundamental maxim of the British constitution; for, according to Blackstone, one of the great primary rights of the subject is, not to be taxed without the consent of his representatives—that is, without the consent of the majority of his representatives. Now, with a single chamber, of which one-third of the members are appointed by the Executive, the Executive can always, with the aid of less than one-third of the elective members, carry any measure in opposition to the wishes of more than two-thirds of the representatives of the people, and, therefore, can tax the people without the consent of their representatives, which is evidently a most unconstitutional proceeding. I assure the Committee that this is not an imaginary danger. The tendency of every Executive, and especially of a Colonial Office Executive, is towards excessive expenditure, and, therefore, towards excessive taxation. In 1848 our income tax would have been increased to 5 per cent, and there would have been no reduction of expenditure, if the Executive could have commanded a majority in this House; and it would, without doubt, have commanded a majority, if the third of this House, namely, 220 Members, had been nominated by the Executive. In New South Wales, in consequence of the power of the Executive in the Legislative Council, the expenditure of that colony, in proportion to the population, is very great. In 1846 it amounted to 28s. per head of the population; or twice the annual average rate of expenditure per head of the population in the colonies which possess representative institutions; or four times the rate of expenditure in Canada, where the people have the greatest control over their expenditure. It is a fact which I have never heard disputed, and which I proved to the House at great length two years ago, that the rate of expenditure of a colony per head of the population depends chiefly upon the form of the local government. It is greater or less in proportion as the Colonial Office has more or less to do with it— 561 that is, in proportion as there is more or less Colonial Office nomination. For instance, in 1846, in the colonies in which there were no nominees in the House of Assembly the rate of their expenditure was 14s. per head of their population; in those colonies which were governed entirely by nomination the rate of their expenditure in 1845 was about 34s. per head of the population, or 20s. per head more than in the colonies without nominees in the House of Assembly. The greatest rate of expenditure of a colony was in Van Diemen's Land, entirely governed by nomination, where it amounted, in 1844, to 86s. a head of the free population; and the smallest was in Canada, where it amounted to about one-twelfth of that sum, or 7s. per head. This fact shows the extreme effects of the two existing systems of nomination and election with regard to the economical government of a colony. Between these two extremes stands the mongrel system of New South Wales—a cross between nomination and election. In virtue of election, the rate of expenditure of New South Wales was one-third of that of Van Diemen's Land; in virtue of nomination, it was four times that of Canada. It might be unfair to ascribe the whole difference in the rate of expenditure between New South Wales and Canada entirely to nomination; but it must be acknowledged, that at times the Executive does carry measures in New South Wales against the wishes of the majority of the representatives of the people, which cannot be done by the Executive in Canada. A case in point was cited the other night by the noble Lord the Prime Minister. The noble Lord rejected as worthless, and of no authority, a resolution which was carried in a full meeting of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, on the ground that it was carried against the wishes of more than two-thirds of the representatives who were present. He, therefore, treated it as invalid. But if that resolution had been a tax ordinance, or one for the expenditure of money, it would have been but too valid for taking money out of the pockets of the people of New South Wales. Therefore I may affirm that the practical working of the system of New South Wales does not prove that it would be the best calculated to insure judicious, prudent, and economical government in Van Diemen's Land and South Australia.
It is said, that the question of a single chamber partly nominated has been settled 562 with regard to New South Wales, and, therefore, ought to be considered to be settled for all the Australian colonies; for it is argued that these colonies form one system, and are so close together that they ought to have identical institutions. It appears to me that the hon. Gentlemen who use this argument fancy that the Australian colonies are as close together as British counties. I assure them it is not so. Hobart Town, the capital of Van Diemen's Land, is about 700 miles from Sydney, the capital of New South Wales—that is, as far as from here to Milan. Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is about 650 miles from Sydney. Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is about 1,700 miles from Sydney, or further than from here to Constantinople. Our five Australian colonies of Van Diemen's Land, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, cover as large a portion of the earth's surface as is covered by Great Britain, France, the whole of Germany, the whole of the Austrian Empire, and all Turkey in Europe; and the five capitals of these colonies—namely, Hobart Town, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, are as distant from each other as Edinburgh, Paris, Hamburg, Vienna, and Constantinople are from each other. Therefore, supposing for one moment that proximity in space were a valid argument in favour of identity of institutions, every hon. Gentleman who will rub up his Australian geography will perceive the absurdity of that argument on the present occasion. Suppose, however, that we were to start all these colonies with the same institutions, is it not said that we are to give them power to alter and amend their institutions? If this power is to be a reality and not a sham, they will have power to make their institutions differ as soon as they think proper; and the worse the first institutions are, the sooner the colonists will endeavour to alter them. Then, what will become of the absurd identity of institutions argument? Is it to be enforced by the Colonial Office? Are the colonies not to change their institutions, unless they are all prepared to do so at the same time and in the same manner? Therefore the argument that all the Australian colonies must have the same institutions may be rejected as absurd and futile.
It has been repeatedly urged, in favour of the partly-nominated chamber, that this Bill contains a provision to which I have just alluded, and which it is said will empower 563 the colonial legislatures to change their institutions. Great stress has been laid upon that provision; it is supposed to be the embodiment of every liberal principle, and to contain an irrefutable argument in favour of the partly-nominated chamber. On a previous occasion the noble Lord the Prime Minister asked how any hon. Member of liberal principles could object to any part of a Bill which contained so liberal a provision. That question was loudly applauded; yet a more inconclusive argument never misled liberal Members to vote against liberal principles. For what has it to do with the question between two elective chambers, and one partly-nominated chamber? Whichever alternative be adopted, can we not give to the legislature of a colony the same power of changing its institutions, whether that legislature consist of two elective chambers, or of one partly-nominated chamber? But for what purpose do we propose to give to the legislature of a colony the power of changing its institutions? Without doubt, in order that the institutions of a colony may be in accordance with the wishes of its inhabitants. Now, is this result more likely to be obtained, and are the wishes of the inhabitants of a colony more likely to be consulted by a single chamber, of which one-third of the members shall be Colonial Office nominees, or by two chambers, all the members of which shall be elected by the people? I ask liberal Members to answer this question distinctly. I ask them, likewise, what is the power of change which is to be given to the colonial legislatures by this much-vaunted provision? It seems to me that it will be more the sham of power than the reality of it. The reality of power will be given to the Colonial Office, for the Colonial Office will have power to prevent the colonial legislatures from making any changes in their institutions without its previous consent. Therefore, this provision will only add to the despotic powers of the Colonial Office. I call the Colonial Office a despot, because, in constitutional language that ruler is a despot who is irresponsible to those over whom he rules. The Colonial Office is irresponsible to the people of the colonies. It is said to be responsible to us, but that responsibility the colonists look upon as a farce. For they say that we know nothing and care nothing about them; that we vote with blind confidence in the Colonial Office; that the Colonial Office 564 is unworthy of our confidence, for ignorance, negligence, rashness, caprice, and indiscretion, are the characteristic features of that Office. Witness, say they, its late conduct with regard to New Zealand, New South Wales, Ceylon, and the Cape. I propose, in opposition to the Colonial Office plan, that the Australian colonies shall have power to make certain changes in their institutions without the consent of the Colonial Office, provided that two-thirds of the whole number of members of both houses of legislature agree for two years consecutively on the alterations to be made. This provision would guard against hasty and ill-considered change, without the arbitrary interference of the Colonial Office.
The last argument which I have to refute is that which is commonly used by very many Gentlemen who readily acknowledge that a legislature composed of two elective houses is a far better and more perfect form of government than a legislature composed of a single partly-nominated chamber. This position has been most clearly, distinctly, and emphatically admitted by Earl Grey; and the noble Earl also admits that the Australian colonies must ultimately possess two elective chambers; but, say the noble Earl and his adherents. Van Diemen's Land and South Australia are not fit at present for so perfect a form of government, because those colonies do not contain the materials for two elective chambers. I call upon them to prove that position. I ask, are the materials wanting in consequence of the smallness of the population of these colonies, or in consequence of the particular character of that population? Or, in other words, is the population of these colonies too scanty to admit of two elective chambers, or is it morally and intellectually unworthy of possessing so perfect a form of government? I answer, in 1847, the population of Van Diemen's Land, exclusive of the military, and of all persons who had been transported, amounted to 32,000 souls; and in 1848, the population of South Australia amounted to 38,000 souls. Now, the experience of the United States proves that an ordinary Anglo-Saxon community with the population of these colonies contained sufficient materials for two chambers.
I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the famous ordinance of Congress, passed in the year 1787, for the government of the territory of the United 565 States north-west of the river Ohio. This ordinance, says Mr. Story, has been, in most respects, the model of all the territorial governments of the United States, and it is remarkable for its masterly display of the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty. It provided, that as soon as a territory contained 5,000 male inhabitants, of full age, that is, a population of about 20,000 souls, it should have a legislature, to consist of a governor, nominated by Congress, and a legislative council, and a house of representatives, both to be elected by the people; and that there should be one member of the house of representatives for every 500 male inhabitants of full age; that is, for about every 2,000 souls. The principles of this ordinance have worked admirably. Since 1787, seventeen territories and States have been constituted and added to the American Union, and those States and territories contained, in 1840, a population of 6,500,000 souls. Every one of those communities, and in fact every one of the thirty-four States and territories of the American Union, is governed by two houses of legislature, and in almost every one of them the upper house, or senate, is constituted in the same general manner. The senate, compared to the house of representives, is almost always a smaller body, composed of older men, representing larger districts, holding their authority by a tenure of longer duration, and elected by rotation. The objects of such a senate, according to the renowned authors of the Federalist, the highest constitutional authority in the United States, were to guard—against the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions;" to supply the "want of due acquaintance with the objects and principles of legislation; and to prevent mutability in public councils.And no one can deny that in the Federal Union, and also in the States of the Union, the senates have accomplished the objects for which they were constituted, and have deserved and gained the confidence and respect of the people.
It is evident, that if Van Diemen's Land and South Australia belonged to the American section of the Anglo-Saxon race, they would have been treated as Illinois was in 1809, or Wisconsin in 1836, or Iowa in 1838, when these territories were not more populous than Van Die- 566 men's Land and South Australia now are; and, consequently, these colonies would have possessed a house of representatives containing from eighteen to four-and-twenty members, and a senate containing from nine to twelve members; and the senators would have been elected by rotation, and for about twice the period of the members of the house of representatives. I ask, why do we refuse these institutions to our Australian colonies? Experience proves that they are well adapted to Anglo-Saxon communities of a similar size in America. It is said, however, that the inhabitants of our Australian colonies are morally and intellectually inferior to the inhabitants of the backwood territories of the United States. Does that inferiority exist? And if it do, whence does it arise? If it do exist, it arises from the difference between the American mode of colonisation and that of the Colonial Office. For American colonisation consists of the migration westward of a portion of the people of the United States—a portion of all classes migrate—they carry with them in reality, and not as a legal fiction, the laws, the rights, and the liberties of American citizens. They are fit for self-government, and will have it. Also the best portion of the emigrants from England go to the backwood States, and compose a large portion of the population of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa. In fact, an Englishman, when he emigrates to the United States, carries with him in reality all the laws, rights, and liberties of an Englishman; but if he emigrates to our colonies, on touching colonial soil, he loses some of the most precious of his liberties, and became the subject of an ignorant and irresponsible despot at the Antipodes. Now, Colonial Office colonisation consists in the transportation of convicts and the shoveling out of paupers. Therefore it is said that such immoral, degraded, and unintellectual beings are only fit to be governed by the nominees of the Colonial Office; and on that plea of its own making, the Colonial Office calls upon us to refuse these colonies two elective houses. I challenge the Colonial Office to substantiate that plea. It is undoubtedly an extraordinary fact, that any respectable man, that any person of birth or education, should emigrate to a colony to be governed by the Colonial Office. Nevertheless, they do emigrate, and I maintain from many circumstances known to me, that amongst the 32,000 567 inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, and the 38,000 of South Australia, there are as many moral and intellectual persons as in any ordinary Anglo-Saxon community, of the same size, in the hack woods of America. I challenge the Colonial Office to prove the contrary; and I maintain that there are materials in these colonies for two elective chambers. And, in fact, by this Bill the noble Lord admits that there may be materials in these colonies for a legislature composed of four-and-twenty members. I will content myself with that admission, and will propose that my two elective houses shall consist of not more than four-and-twenty members in all. Therefore if there be materials in these colonies for the noble Lord's single chamber, there will also be materials for my two elective chambers; unless the noble Lord maintain that the Colonial Office may with propriety appoint, as its nominees, men inferior in station, intellect, and character to the class of persons amongst whom the representatives of the people ought to be chosen. I presume the noble Lord will not maintain this position, though it has been frequently acted upon by the Colonial Office. It follows, therefore, that if there be materials for the noble Lord's plan, there will be materials for my plan.
Sir, in conclusion, let me ask the Committee to consider what is the precise difference between the plan of the noble Lord and my plan? The noble Lord proposes that there shall be established in each of these colonies a legislature to consist of not more than four-and-twenty members, and that the number of members, the amount of their qualifications, and the amount of the franchise, shall be fixed by the legislatures now by law established in these colonies. I will propose precisely the same thing, and will suppose, for simplicity of argument, that the number of members will be fixed at twenty-four. Next, the noble Lord proposes that these twenty-four members shall be divided into two classes, of sixteen and eight members respectively. I propose the same thing; but the noble Lord proposes that the eight members shall be nominated by the Colonial Office, and sit in the same House as the sixteen members who are to be elected by the people. On the contrary, I propose that both the eight and the sixteen members shall be elected by the people, and shall sit in different houses. Therefore the question between the noble Lord and myself is simply 568 this, is it likely or not that the Colonial Office would by nomination select out of the materials in these colonies eight men for each colony who would be better qualified to be members of a legislature than those which the inhabitants of these colonies would themselves elect? That is the whole question, stripped of extraneous matter, idle fallacies, and other modes of deception and mystification. This is the question for the Committee to decide. Those who vote with the noble Lord, and against my Motion, will vote for Colonial Office nomination and against popular election—will vote implicit confidence in the Colonial Office, and no confidence in the inhabitants of these colonies, and will vote that our Australian colonists are so morally degraded, and so intellectually despicable, that they ought not to be entrusted with institutions which theory and experience have proved to be best adapted for the government of similar communities of Anglo-Saxon men in every other portion of the globe.
§ MR. J. E. DENISON
said, that he had a short time before been anxious for the success of this Bill in the shape in which it had been presented, even though the House seemed to be in favour of two chambers. Since that, however, he had had sufficient reasons from the new information which had arrived for changing his opinion. As regarded New South Wales, it was said that the inhabitants of New South Wales were generally satisfied with the institutions they possessed—that it would be unwise and unreasonable to interfere with those institutions with which the colony itself was satisfied—that even if a change was desirable at that time they did not possess sufficient information to guide them in making such change. These reasons did appear to him to be sufficient to justify him in supporting the proposition as originally presented. In the course, however, of the discussion, the integrity of the measure gave way, one of its most important features fell to the ground, namely, the federation principle. They had several Motions before them objecting to that principle, and a despatch from Earl Grey, in which he said himself that the federative principle would be inoperative; and that although at some future period it might be useful, yet for the present it must be put out of consideration. Did the noble Lord at the head of the Government recollect that by the failure of the federative union, the plan for the management of waste 569 lands in the colony would be rendered abortive. By the Bill, the management of the waste lands was vested in the Federative Assembly. The question of the waste lands was one of the deepest interest to the colonies. Now, it was admitted that for the present the Federal Assembly would be inoperative; therefore, as the Bill now stood, no action could be had on the subject of the waste lands at all. Here was a great change since the last discussion of the Bill. The hon. Baronet who had just addressed the House had called its attention to several despatches from the colonies; but he could not have seen one which had come that morning, and which had been laid on the table of the House, and which was much more favourable to his purposes than anything which he had brought forward. He (Mr. Denison) would take the liberty of supplying the deficiency which had occurred accidentally in the hon. Baronet's speech. They had received, not only a despatch from Sir H. Young, but resolutions which were passed in the Legislative Council on Saturday the 15th December, 1849. It seemed that Earl Grey sent out a despatch, calling Sir H. Young to account for having published a proposition of the members of the Legislative Council, and he directed him for the future not to take that course, stating that it would be, in his opinion, several months before the subject would be discussed, and that it was highly inconvenient that a proposal of that kind should be put before the country. But within the period of one month after the despatch had been published, on the 15th of December, the question had been considered, discussed, and passed, and a despatch, containing the resolutions of the Legislative Council, accompanied by the opinion of the Governor, sent to Earl Grey. The resolutions which had passed the council were to the effect, that the legislature should consist of a governor and two chambers. They stated what the upper and lower chambers should be composed of. The lower chamber was to consist of representatives freely chosen by the people, and the upper chamber was to consist of persons to be nominated by Her Majesty's Government for life. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: Hear, hear!] He should like to know what was the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's cheer. He (Mr. Denison) supposed that an upper chamber so composed was not democratic enough for the right hon. Gentleman. That, however, was the proposal of the council. The members 570 of the Legislative Council of South Australia said that there should be two chambers—one to be elected by the people, and the other to be nominated by the Crown for life. They therefore acknowledged that they were not satisfied with the proposed system. The Governor, then, in his despatch, qualified this; he said that he did not concur in the recommendation that the upper chamber should be nominated by the Home Government. He agreed, however, with the council, in thinking that there should be two chambers. There was something important also in the despatch which had been received from Earl Grey since the House last discussed the question. In speaking of the want of information which they had on the subject, he said that it would be still more important in the consideration of this question that the opinion of the colonies should be had. They had on the one hand directions from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that they should take into consideration the sentiments and opinions of the colonists; and on the other hand the sentiments and opinions of the colonists conveyed in the most perfect form, that it was their belief that in the formation of a legislature it would be to their advantage that they should have two chambers. With regard to the question as to whether they should have one or two chambers, they had the opinions of three governors in favour of the latter. These were Sir W. Denison, Sir H. Young, and Sir C. Fitzroy. They had the opinion of the council that there could be no general system of legislation made applicable to all the colonies; that a price for the waste lands which might suit one colony would not suit all. That with regard to the federal system, it would be inexpedient on account of the great dissimilarity in the pursuits and interests of the different colonies, and the preponderance that the larger would have over the smaller ones. The council could not see any one point in which benefit could be derived by the establishment of such an assembly. He now, therefore, rose to make an appeal to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, to ask him whether, having all this information, he seriously intended to go on with the Bill? He had wished to support the measure in its entirety, if possible; but in the course of discussion, one point after another had given way. The Federal Assembly was virtually given up. With it the land man- 571 agement fell to the ground. It was clear that the colonists had a preference for two chambers rather than one, and it would be a great injustice on South Australia to inflict this Bill upon her. He could not believe that after all that had been talked about consulting the feelings of the colonies, the House would be called upon further to consider the Bill in its present shape.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, if his hon. Friend had given a calmer attention to the circumstances to which he had referred, he would hardly have made the appeal which he had addressed to himself. His hon. Friend made it upon the ground that the people of South Australia had come to a resolution that there ought to be two chambers of Government, and were favourable to the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark. Now, what had happened was this. With the exception of New South Wales, there was not in these colonies any representative assembly whatever, and those legislative councils which now existed, were councils named by the Governor; they were, in the phraseology of the hon. Baronet, the nominees of the Colonial Office. However improper that phrase might be, they derived their authority from the nomination of the Governor, approved of by Her Majesty. It appeared that the Legislative Council of South Australia had come to a resolution that the legislature should consist of a governor and two chambers. That, so far as these persons nominated by the governor were concerned, seemed to be the opinion of the legislature of South Australia; but if he went on, he—"found that the second chamber should be composed of members elected by the people, with the exception of certain officers of Government, which shall be ex-officio members of the chamber, the Colonial Secretary, the Advocate General, the Colonial Treasurer, the Collector of Customs, the Surveyor General, and the Commissioner of Police.Six persons, therefore, in the second chamber were to be ex-officio members of it. But what was the upper chamber to be? It was to be composed of members nominated by Her Majesty for life. No-thing, in fact, could be more unlike the proposal of the hon. Baronet than this. The present Bill proposed that there should be a chamber in part consisting of members nominated by the Crown; but the proposal of this legislative council was, that there should be two chambers, neither of them 572 wholly elected by the people: one consisting entirely of members nominated by the Crown, and nominated for life; the other consisting in the greater part of representatives of the people, but with the addition likewise of several persons nominated by the Crown. This was totally unlike the proposition of the hon. Member for Southwark. But still it might be said—"If this be the general wish of the colony of South Australia, it would not be proper for this House to entertain a Bill enacting a single chamber; they wish for a constitution far more aristocratical than that we propose—a House of Lords and a number of official persons in the House of Commons, not elected by the people." But it did so happen that, so far as they were informed, this opinion of the legislative council was not the general opinion of the people of South Australia. There had been a very large public meeting, at which this opinion of the legislative council was altogether denied as representing the opinion of the colony, which was declared to be in favour of a single legislative chamber. The authority which had been cited was certainly so far good that it showed that the legislative councillors named by the Crown did not like to part with their authority. Representatives of the people were added in their scheme to those named by the Crown; and they thus hoped to preserve the whole authority in their hands. This was a very natural feeling, not at all to be wondered at. It certainly appeared that the opinion of the governors was in favour of two chambers; but, so far as the people were concerned, nothing appeared to alter the decision of the House.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the noble Lord must allow that the question now before the House was between a single and double chamber. It was evident, therefore, that the noble Lord was dealing with things on their superficial aspect, and not according to their principles, when he thought there was any difference between the proposition of the Legislative Council of South Australia and that of the independent portion of the House at this moment. The proposition of the latter was, that there should be two chambers as independent estates; that of the Government was, that Crown influence should run through the whole frame of the legislature. They proposed separate independent estates; the Government amalgamated and controlled estates. It mattered less what the nature of the upper chamber might be; the noble Lord was evi- 573 dently dealing with a matter of detail and subsequent decision. In principle, the colonists were clearly against the noble Lord; but then the authenticity of their opinions was doubted. How were they to ascertain the wishes of the colonists, if not from the resolutions of their legislature? Whatever attempts the colonists made to speak out, it appeared as if they were always to be told that that was not the way to speak. If they spoke by the Governor, he was reprimanded; if by the Legislative Council, Ministers took advantage of their own wrong, and told them that they were nominees, and did not represent the feelings of the people whom they governed. Were they to judge from the information that was before them, or from some mysterious oracle, dimly hinted at, in the background? However conclusive their argument might be, still it appeared there were some apocryphal expressions of the colonists of which they had before heard nothing, but which they were called upon; to take on the authority of the Government. He wanted to know where any record of these wishes were to be found? They had looked through the papers laid before the House, but had been unable to find them. Did the Government lay claim to that gift of clairvoyance which it was said was tampered with by Ministers of State on the Continent, in order to ascertain what was I taking place at the other side of the globe? If it is by this process these aërial wishes have struck senses of theirs which unministerial mortals were not cognisant of, this becomes a vote of unusual confidence. They were told by Ministers they would give a much better constitution to these colonies but "for sights they see we cannot see, and sounds they hear we cannot hear." All this they were to take for granted. Now, he refused to give such credit, and for this reason—that he did not think the mode and kind of information which they bad given on the subject encouraged such confidence as to induce them to take for granted what they had not given. Let them consider the kind of information that had been laid before them, for that was the only mode by which they could estimate the character of the further information which the Government said they had received, but would not produce. When this subject came before the House at the beginning of the Session, all the information given was contained in two blue books, being the despatches of 1818 and 1849; and after perusing these despatches, he 574 quite agreed with Sir W. Denison, that no man in his senses could say that the colony of New South Wales had objected to two chambers. All the information these papers gave was, that the colony of New South Wales had been frightfully alarmed by a sort of monstrous caricature of the British constitution which had been sent to them after being rejected by New Zealand. All they said was, "Leave us our present constitution till you have consulted us as to our wishes with regard to the future." It should be recollected that at that time when a tripartite constitution was proposed, there could have been no fears or doubts entertained by the Government as to the non-existence of sufficient materials in the colony for a second chamber; and he should be glad to know if the Government thought the colony had materially fallen away in prosperity since? The next piece of information which they had was, that the majority of the colonists of New South Wales, having heard the nature of the constitution proposed for them last year, had expressed their gratitude to the Government for the boon; but it appeared that the opinion of Sir W. Denison was the right one on this point, that the colonists having been excessively alarmed at the constitution that had been before offered to them, and looking out with anxiety for the next arrival, had expressed their gratitude at any improvement which promised to give them something like a constitution. The next piece of information which they had to consider was rather a striking one. In the progress of this debate, the Government stated that though any delay in the measure would be most disastrous, and might be considered as almost fatal to the interests of these colonies, still, as they saw that the House was not in possession of sufficient information, or rather because the House would not read the despatches in the spirit which the Government wished, they would consent to a considerable delay in the progress of the Bill, in older to lay fresh information before the House. They waited with anxiety for this fresh information; but when it came what was it? A collection of extracts from old despatches, with one very attenuated extract from a new one. He said, when he first saw it, that this meagre extract, with such copious asterisks, was more dangerous than any amount of positive information could have been; and he more particularly thought that such a mark of respect as the publication of the entire despatch 575 ought to have been paid to one whom he considered the most statesmanlike of our Governors; or, at all events, that something more than the first and last line of the despatch should have been given. But though there was this paucity of information on the part of Her Majesty's Government, they had a considerable amount of information the other way. They had, in the first place, the advantage of the opinion of an individual of great authority in the colony—Judge Terry, in favour of two chambers of legislature; and they had also the opinion of another gentleman of equal authority (Mr. Speaker Nicholson), who had been speaker to two successive councils in the colony, and who, though he was not in this country, had written many letters expressing similar views with regard to the proposed constitution. They had also a pamphlet written by Dr. Lang, who expressed his unbounded astonishment at the manner in which Government had misunderstood the opinions of the colonists on this matter. There was also a resolution before the legislature of New South Wales, proposed by Mr. Lowe, very boldly expressing an opinion in favour of self-government of a much more complete description than this Bill proposed. As it appeared that newspapers were also to be looked upon as authorities, the Government might likewise refer to the leading paper of New South Wales, the Sydney Herald, in which some very strong comments favourable to Mr. Lowe's resolution were given, and only adding to them a stronger opinion of the necessity of a double chamber. He did not know of any other information on this subject except the petition that had been presented by the noble Lord just before the recess. The language of that petition was so peculiar, that he might hope to hear from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies where it had been drawn up. If the hon. Member, however, refused to tell them, the petition itself contained considerable internal evidence on the point. Out of about a hundred signatures to it, perhaps a dozen were those of persons who had been in New South Wales. Others were men connected with the colony as agents and members of commercial houses; and others were merely persons who, like himself, took an interest in the colony. These gentlemen stated their opinions as far as they could judge of the matter; but he wished to know what peculiar means of forming a correct judgment 576 did the majority of them possess? He would, for instance, take the name of Mr. Enderby. That gentleman had been engaged in the South Sea whale fishery, and his whale ships occasionally might have touched on the coast of New South Wales; but was that any reason why Mr. Enderby should be a better judge of the feelings of that colony than he (Mr. Adderley) who had a different kind of occupation in this country? That was the whole of the information they had given them; and he submitted that it was not such as would enable the House to place that umeasured confidence in the ipse dixit of the Colonial Secretary that the Government demanded of them, as to the people of New South Wales approving so completely of their plan. For his part, he never entertained any misgivings as to the final result of this measure. He had from the commencement staked his credit that the Bill never would be carried into successful operation. He did not mean that the Government would fail to carry it into a law. There were few propositions that the Government could not at present carry through Parliament; but what he denied was, that it would ever be carried into successful operation in the colony. He had the most perfect confidence that they had only to wait for a short continuance of favourable breezes, and that they would in a few days have news from the colony bearing out the views which he, and those who acted with him, advocated to their fullest extent. The New Zealand accounts had not arrived, but those from South Australia and Van Diemen's Land had been already received. Let them, however, put out of consideration both those Governors' opinions, strong as they were, so much so from Sir W. Denison as to amount to his declining to carry out such a measure as this. It would not, indeed, be the first time of such a result taking place. The Government had already attempted to carry into effect a constitution for New Zealand, but the Governor sent it back to the Secretary of State, telling him that it would be an utter failure, if he attempted to carry it out in that colony. He would call upon the Government now to acknowledge that the present Bill was only one of a long list of failures of a similar kind, and that this measure was but the result of a feeling of despair on the part of Earl Grey, who, having so often failed in individual cases, had now decided on a sort of omnibus 577 constitution, and of throwing some half-a-dozen colonies into a single measure. He would ask every man to lay aside for ever that most infamous argument of uniformity, leading to the monstrous proposition, that while they were giving a vicious constitution to New South Wales, they must sweep every other colony within a certain number of degrees of latitude into the same category. They should consider how unjust in every point of view such a line of proceeding would be. As long as New South Wales enjoyed a more favourable constitution, there never had been an attempt to extend the same constitution to the other colonies; but the moment they proposed giving a worse constitution than they approved to New South Wales, under the pretext of its own wilfulness, then they were to decide on giving inferior constitutions to the other colonies also, for the sake of uniformity. He hoped that proposition would be laid aside now and for ever. Another proposition which he hoped would be also laid aside was this—the proposal of dealing with the colonies in groups, so that any argument against one colony should be taken to lie against another grouped with it. Suppose any hon. Gentleman got up and said that the colony of Van Diemen's Land had been so damaged by the convict system that it was incapacitated from receiving a free constitution. Supposing that this ungenerous argument were used—though he could hardly believe such a thing possible, were it not that he had seen something like it shadowed forth in Earl Grey's despatch to Sir W. Denison, when he threatened to fix the incipient stage of freedom on this colony as its permanent constitution—still that could be no argument against granting a free constitution to South Australia, as it was exempt from this taint. There was, besides, a guarantee in the charter of that colony that it should be always legislated for by laws expressly and specifically enacted for itself. Having laid down these two points, he would briefly compare the two rival propositions before the House for these colonies. Both propositions presented themselves in two different aspects; both offer the colonies a basis constitution, and both offer powers of alteration and subsequent self-adaptation. The rival propositions maybe contrasted with respect to the basis constitutions they offer in their main feature, the constitution of the legislature. There were gentlemen who considered the question of a single or a double chamber as 578 one of minor consideration. He thought these gentlemen were entirely mistaken. It seemed to him that the question between a single and a double chamber involved the whole point at issue—that it comprised the whole question whether they should adopt the contral or the municipal system of colonial government? That is, whether they should retain a control over local colonial affairs in the bureaux of Downing-street, and so exaggerate the centralised system of France, or throw at once the responsibility and the cost of local government on the distant colonist wholly and unreservedly, in acknowledgment of the fact that Englishmen abroad are the same animals as Englishmen at home—energetic, self-relying, capable of managing their own affairs—impatient of needless and domineering interference. The retention of the Colonial Office, with all its paraphernalia, its patronage and bribes, its vetoes and obstructions, its folios of flummery despatches, and its cant of dilettante and speculative legislation, was the only spot in England where the Crown legislated without the consent of its subjects—that might be called the main feature of the one system. The distinction between imperial and local functions, and the consent and representation of the colonists in their own legislatures, might be considered as the main feature of the other. But the question of single or double chamber was the shibboleth—for the one was the detector of despotic principles—the other of a free representative constitution. Single chambers of legislation invariably became the practical residence of single power—either the simple instrument of the sovereign will, or the organ of a despotic democracy. Double chambers afforded the needful check between the two, which results in liberty, stability, and order, and which was the very secret of the British constitution we are pretending to give. [The hon. Member here read an extract from De Lolme, attributing the stability of the British constitution to the division of the Legislature.] But it was rightly said to depend much on the sort of double chamber meant; whether the upper house was to be an estate of itself, or only a creature of the estate above or below it. On this point the colonial reformers were all agreed, and the Government antagonistically opposed to them—the one wishing to make the upper chamber an estate of itself, the other (if they must have it at all) to put it under the influence of the Crown. Those who 579 were led by simple sounds, and misled by the use of similar phraseology for distinct ideas, supposed that the colonial reformers were divided on this point. They said that one proposed nominees for life—another hereditary peerage—others, elective processes of various decriptions. But these were all struggling for the same essential object, conceiving different means to carry it out—their one common object being the independence of the upper house; whereas the Government were only anxious to catch and retain in whatever number of estates the constitution might be composed of, their beloved patronage and Crown influence. This was the idea of representative institutions in the minds of the liberal Government, who, twenty years ago, convulsed the country rather than allow one seat in that House to be in the nomination of a Peer; and yet they were now dividing the very House so reformed in favour of model constitutions in British colonies, in which 33 per cent of the members were to be nominated by the Crown. The question of single or double chamber amounted, in fact, to the question of separate and independent, or amalgamated and controlled estates. But let them compare the two schemes, no longer as bases of constitutions, but in their comparative means for alteration. The principle of alteration given by the Government was unlimited power to suggest alterations, provoked and stimulated by the constituent basis, being the very corpus vile itself to be altered; with an equally unlimited veto to be exercised at home on all such suggested alterations. On the other hand, the principle of alteration adopted by the counter plan was to give a basis carefully complete, so as to require as little alteration as possible, specifying the points where alteration was permitted, and leaving such alteration entirely in the hands of the colonists without the retardation (to borrow a word from the late Colonial Office petition) of reference home. The utter impossibility of the first plan of alteration working, had been too ably argued by Sir W. Denison for him to waste their time in repeating it. The plan necessitated alteration, and afforded no possible chance of good alteration, or such as this country would not be forced to veto. But the second plan necessitated no immediate alteration. If the Government sincerely thought there were not the materials for immediate legislation on the spot, this was a most important advantage over their plan. Alteration hereafter whenever neces- 580 sary would not be discussed, under a ready prepared hostility and collision of parties on the spot, and at home, but as a joint concern, in which the whole community would be equally interested. The Government used the see-saw argument. If it was said that their scheme was a bad one, they answered, "But there is a power of alteration in it;" and if they then said that the process of alteration proposed is the worst part, they answer, "There is nothing new in our proposal." He would not trespass further on the time of the House. He thought he had shown that, as far as the colonists had expressed an opinion, they were in favour of a double chamber; that the counter proposition offered against the Government Bill was consonant with their wishes and interests; and that at all events there were no grounds for that blind confidence which the Government asked them to repose in it on this question.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to address the House at this time; but the manner in which the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat has spoken on this question obliges me to offer a few remarks. The hon. Gentleman has been expressing an anxiety for favourable breezes. Now there has been a continuation of favourable breezes, which have brought us intelligence from that part of the world—not, be it remembered, through the contaminated channel of the Colonial Office, but through a source much higher in the estimation of the hon. Gentleman—the Jerusalem Coffee-house. Those who had read Sir H. Young's despatch would have read the announcement that—A public meeting of the colonists in Adelaide has been convened for Friday next, the 21st instant, the proceedings of which shall be duly communicated to your Lordship.From the newspapers brought by the hon. Gentleman's favourable breezes, it appeared that the meeting so announced had been held accordingly at the Exchange, to consider the proposed new constitution. The greatest excitement, it was stated, prevailed on the occasion, so much so that all other business was suspended; there were 2,000 persons going in and out of the Exchange during the proceedings, and, independent of these, from 1,200 to 1,500 persons occupied the Exchange itself, the subject of the new constitution being considered of so much importance as to engage the entire attention of all. The report went on to state, that the sheriff hav- 581 ing read the requisition calling the meeting, Mr. Fisher rising to propose the first resolution, read one of the clauses of the Bill, the very one now under discussion; and proceeded to declare his conviction that a single chamber was quite enough for the present wants of the colony, declaring that the colony wanted no second chamber, composed of nominees for life of the Crown, and expressing his hope that Her Majesty's would not sanction any such proposal, even should the Government propose it. Mr. Fisher then proceeded to propose his resolution, a resolution altogether in contrast with the violent invective and wholesale denunciation of the hon. Member. This resolution, "though peril to his modesty," he would read to the hon. Member and the House:—Resolved—That the Bill lately laid before the Imperial Parliament for the better government of the Australian colonies, as far as regards South Australia, meets the wishes and wants of the colony; that in its essential provisions and its concession of a representative body with such extensive powers, we regard it as a most liberal and comprehensive measure; and the thanks of this colony are hereby given to Earl Grey and to Mr. Hawes, to Lord J. Russell, and Mr. Labouchere, Members of the House of Commons, who prepared and brought in the Bill.Now, that is the opinion of a great meeting in South Australia. We had first the opinion of the Governor and of the law officers of the colony, and finally of the colonists themselves, that they wanted no second chamber—[Sir W. MOLESWORTH: No, no!]—at least no second chamber composed of the nominees of the Crown. The hon. Gentleman seems to think it a matter of secondary consideration, and of mere detail, whether the second chamber is to consist of nominees for life, or to be an elective chamber. I confess that the Government regard the two cases as extremely different. I gathered from the hon. Gentleman that it was an open question with the Colonial Reform Association whether the second chamber should be composed of nominees of the Crown, for life or otherwise, or whether they should be elected, and be the representatives of the people of the colony. Now I think myself that that is a most important distinction in the discussion on which we are now proceeding, and I shall state in a few words my objection to either of these propositions. With regard to the second chamber being appointed by the Crown—that is to say, in practice, by the Governor of the colony, or his nominees, whether 582 for a period of years or for life—I believe it will give no content or satisfaction to the people of the colonies. Instead of having the nominees of the Crown sitting among their representatives in the proportion of one-third—and where the opinions of their representatives on a division will be enabled to overwhelm those of the nominees of the Crown—if, instead of that, eight or nine persons are to sit in a separate chamber, and to control altogether, and to put an absolute veto on the legislative measures proposed by the representative assembly, I believe that such a proposition would cause the greatest dissatisfaction. Therefore that is not a proposition which I can entertain. But then comes the proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, and my objections to that are of a totally different nature. My objections are, that we are not at present in a state to come to a perfect solution of that question. I do not think that we are, either with regard to New South Wales, South Australia, Van Diemen's Land, or any of the other colonies, possessed of information which would be sufficient to enable us to come to a solution of that question. It may be that they would find a difficulty of finding a number of persons willing to give their time to the consideration of legislative measures sufficient to form two chambers. It may be that there are not, as it certainly may be that there are a sufficient number of such persons. I own I am not prepared to come to a positive decision even on that part of the subject. Next, if there is to be an elective upper chamber, as well as a more popular chamber, how is that upper chamber to be composed?—what is to be the qualification of those who are to sit in it, and what the qualification of those who are to elect them?—whether the same or a different qualification from those who elect the more popular chamber? Now, when I introduced the Bill for the union and better government of the Canadas, I was for a considerable time previous in correspondence with the late Lord Sydenham, who was then Governor of Canada, and who himself consulted persons in various offices of high station—judges, and those who conducted the administration of the colony; and who, after long deliberation, was enabled to send me a tolerably perfect sketch of the Bill, which I afterwards brought forward. But in the present case we have not received from any of the colonies the necessary details on which we may legislate. Even if 583 it should be wise afterwards to establish a constitution with a double chamber, we are not now in a condition to legislate for that purpose. It is of the utmost importance—we have the example of our neighbours on this point at the present time, though perhaps no attention is paid to them, to show the importance of attending even to minute details on this question. In Belgium and Holland, in both countries, they have decided to have a double chamber, and that the second chamber should be composed of persons with higher qualifications than the members of the popular chamber. But in framing that qualification, the Belgian constitution has provided that a certain amount of land tax should be paid—that taxes on land and real property should form the qualification; while the constitution of Holland provides that the qualification should be something in the nature of our assessed taxes; and the consequence of this difference, which seems a very slight one—so slight as not to be regarded—is, that in the one country the upper chamber is composed of great landowners, and is a most conservative chamber, though entirely elective; while in Holland there are scarcely any landowners in the chamber, but it is composed of those who reside in towns, and have their chief expenditure in towns—a totally different class of persons from the upper chamber in Belgium, and whose policy is, therefore, totally different. This shows the importance, that even in small details such as these, we should commit no error in the formation of a second chamber. I do not think that the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, in dealing with this open question of the Colonial Reform Association—I do not think he is endowed with such a complete knowledge of the affairs of the colonies, the character of the landowners, the character of the people in towns such as Sydney, or the number of persons who would be likely to give their attention to legislative questions, as would enable him to give us a complete constitution for these colonies. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said, that the hon. Baronet had introduced a complete constitution for the colonies on the model of the British constitution. Now, I see one of the provisions of the hon. Baronet is, that if two-thirds of both chambers agree to ask for the removal of the governor, the governor shall be removed. It may be said that this can be put into effect, in some sort of way, by the provisions of the English constitution; but I don't know how. I never 584 heard that the Sovereign of this country can be removed by any vote of the Members of the Legislature in this country. I own, therefore, that on the whole matter, I think the establishment of a second chamber, composed of nominees of the Crown, would be utterly unpalatable to the colony; and that if you make such an alteration, it will be received in the colonies with surprise and dissatisfaction, and that you ought not to adopt it in consequence. With regard to the second proposition, which may be the best to adopt afterwards, I admit that; but I think we are not at present in possession of information that will enable us to settle it in a satisfactory manner. If, indeed, we were to receive accounts by those favouring breezes which have brought us the feelings of the inhabitants of New South Wales and South Australia on this subject, that the people there could not bear the notion of a single chamber, and that they wished for a second, that would alter the question materially. But they all seem to think, as we think here, that though after a time it may be advisable to have a second chamber, yet they object to one nominated by the Crown, and that the time has not arrived when they can say even for themselves what would be the proper composition or frame of a chamber that would be most conducive to their interests. If that is the case, I must ask the Committee not to be led away by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, as if we were doing an offensive act towards these colonies; but, on the contrary, this is an introduction, for the first time, of the representative element into those colonies—it is the giving them a power to elect their representatives, which they never had before; and in thus introducing the representative element, you will lay the foundation of a free constitution in these colonies, which I hope may long continue.
§ MR. ANSTEY
said, the noble Lord had so completely removed the difficulties raised by the hon. Members for Southwark and North Staffordshire, that he doubted whether he should attempt to add anything to the discussion; but as the question now before them affected not the colonies at large, but the colonies of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia, in particular the former, with which he was more immediately connected, he thought he could show that the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark was totally inapplicable to the circumstances of that colony. It was a mistake 585 to suppose that this Bill had not been considered by the colonies—it had been before them now for two years; and ever since the Bill passed for the government of New South Wales, the inhabitants of the other colonies had held themselves prepared for a measure of a similar nature being ox-tended to them. Yet he must say, that in all the correspondence he had had with influential parties in Van Diemen's Land, no feeling whatever had been expressed in favour of a second chamber, but all he had been requested to do was to endeavour to remove the nominees of the Crown from the single chamber proposed by the Government. Various public meetings had also been held on the subject, both at Hobart Town and Launceston, and the feeling expressed there was to the same effect. The peculiarity of the hon. Baronet's Amendment was, that its main support was with those who regarded the idea of an elective second chamber with horror; and who, if this Motion were carried, would turn round and say that they ought to carry into effect the recommendations of the Legislative Council of South Australia, and that in all the colonies the upper chamber should be hereditary, and be framed on the model of the House of Lords. That was the only body which had petitioned for a second chamber; and, as a proof how far they represented the feelings and wishes of the people, he might state that a year or two ago they had passed a Bill for the endowment of certain religious denominations in the colony out of the State funds, in opposition to the petitions and remonstrances of all the religious bodies in the colony. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would not delay the passing of this Bill, and that he would take the opinions of those on the spot, or who were otherwise conversant with the feelings of the inhabitants of the colonies, rather than the abstract opinions of the Colonial Reform Society. It was not difficult to foresee, that if the Amendment of the hon. Baronet was carried, it would be more difficult for the colonists to obtain a reform in their constitution than if the Bill of the noble Lord should be adopted in all its integrity; because it was not at all impossible that the representatives in the single chamber might unite together against the nominees of the Crown, and so carry a motion for reforming the constitution; but if the Amendment of the hon. Baronet was carried, there would be no hope of such unanimity, 586 because the members would enter at once upon the function of the power thus given them, and they would not readily abandon it. The Amendment of the hon. Baronet would, in fact, set up an oligarchy in its worst form, and it would be impossible to get rid of it. They would nut even have the advantage of nominees of the Crown in the chambers to neutralise by their presence the votes of a factious combination of oligarchs. The hon. Baronet had not been able to state a single authority in favour of his Amendment, with the single exception of Sir W. Denison, who, with more candour and respect for the opinion of others than had been shown by parties here, informed Earl Grey that he did not undertake to give the opinion of the colonists, but his own—that there was a difference of opinion among the colonists, though he could not say whether that opinion was general or not. With regard to the colony of South Australia, the hon. Baronet could not take the opinion of the Governor and the Legislative Council in support of his views, because it did not appear that one single member of that council, in supporting the proposition of a second chamber, had raised his voice in favour of the upper chamber being elective. The hon. Baronet should therefore at once declare in favour of a Canadian form of upper chamber, or council of Crown nominees, if he adopted the views of the Legislative Council of South Australia, or else he should give up their authority altogether. He (Mr. Anstey) did not think the proposition of two elective chambers for such colonies as those of Aurtralia as good as the plan of a single one. He only thought it better than a plan which should give to nominees of the Crown a right to sit in the solitary chamber proposed by the Bill. If before the bringing up of the report, or the third reading of the Bill, it should not be amended, as he hoped it would, he would be happy to support such a proposition as that of the hon. Baronet. But in its present stage, the hon. Baronet would find that he would lose many votes that he would have had if he had waited for a later period before submitting his Amendment. Sir W. Denison had expressed his doubt whether in Van Diemen's Land there could be found a sufficient number of qualified persons to compose the single house of assembly proposed by the Bill. Where, then, were they to look for the members of an upper chamber? Under all the cir- 587 cumstances, he should give his vote in favour of the original clause.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken as if he were an agent for some of the colonies. He did not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman was or was not; but, for his own part, he would be very glad to have some information upon the subject from Gentlemen who were intimately acquainted with the state of the colonies; for the chief difficulty with which the House had to contend was the ignorance of the Members upon the actual condition and feelings of the colonists. For his own part, he should have no objection whatever that it should be announced, that in the opinion of Parliament a second chamber was desirable for the constitution of the colonies; but, in his own total ignorance of their wants, he would have it left to themselves to adopt it or not as they should think fit. If Parliament were to fix the principle of the two chambers for the colonies, they did not know whether they would give effect to such a constitution or not. He would not debate the relative merits of the modes in which it had been proposed to frame the constitution of the upper chamber. He was merely addressing himself to the question of whether a second chamber were desirable or not, and he still retained the opinion which he had before expressed, that there ought to be an upper chamber if it were possible. Sir C. Fitzroy, in a letter dated January 26, 1848, gave his opinion in favour of an up per chamber for New South Wales. But on looking over the papers that had been laid upon the table, he found that a meeting had been subsequently held in the colonies, at which colonists of great weight and experience had ventured to throw grave doubts upon the subject; and there was no further information relating to that colony before the House. Amongst the papers recently presented, there was a letter from Sir W. Denison, dated December 28, 1849, in which he said he thought a second chamber should be constituted at once by Parliament for the colony of Van Diemen's Land; and he (Mr. Aglionby) presumed that the Governor would not have given that opinion unless he thought that the colonists were in favour of it. And in a letter from Adelaide, dated December 17, 1849, the Governor, Sir H. Young, en closed a resolution adopted by the Legislative Council in favour of an upper chamber. By way of answer to these, the noble Lord 588 produced a newspaper that had been fished out at the Jerusalem Coffee-house, in which appeared a resolution which had been agreed to (amongst others that the noble Lord had not read) at a public meeting of inhabitants of the colony, held at a date subsequent to that of the resolution of the Legislative Council, declaring the proposed measure of the Government a most liberal one, and just what they wanted. But their reason for so praising it might be that it was a better form of constitution than the one they had at present. He could not see how it was possible that either the Governor or the members of the Legislative Council could have any private feeling that could actuate thorn in recommending a second chamber. He would ask the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whether it would not suit the views of the Government to express an opinion in favour of an upper chamber, and then leave it to the colonists themselves to adopt it or not, as they should think fit? In any case, he thought the colonists would reap the greatest possible benefit from having the representative element introduced into them, even if only a single chamber were constituted. He would not then discuss the New Zealand question, but he would state that the nominee council there had laid on customs duties upon all imported articles used in shipbuilding, to the amount of from 12½ to 15 per cent ad valorem. Now, it was quite certain that no elected chamber would for a moment tolerate, far less introduce, such a suicidal act.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
did not differ very much from either the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, or the noble Lord at the head of the Government. The noble Lord thought two chambers better than one; and the hon. Baronet thought an elected upper chamber better than a nominee one. Well, then, they were all agreed that there ought to be two chambers; and the only question was, when these two chambers should be permitted to come into existence in the colonies. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had admitted that he did not know enough of the people of Australia to say how he was to form the second chamber. It was acknowledged that a nominee upper chamber was an exceedingly mischievous thing; and there was no doubt that an upper chamber, nominated by the Crown, was the most mischievous thing that could possibly be. If the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office was ignorant of the state of 589 the people of Australia, what was the duty of the House in such a case? This question had a very large area. They had a right to suppose that there were about to be large, numerous, and great communities in these colonies. He then said, it was not for the few inhabitants there at present to decide upon the future destinies of what might be called the Imperial colonies of England. What, then, was the best rule to be adopted for that great colonial empire of Australasia (for he thought the old name was, after all, the best, as being the most comprehensive)? Thus, as the mother country had sent out a portion of her population, who, under the protection of the power of England, had planted themselves in those distant parts of the world, what he should desire was, that they should be united to us in the relationship of friendly and brotherly colonists. He did not mean to separate them from the mother country. He wanted to have the English empire stretching out its arm over the whole world. But to do so they should make their colonies form part of their empire, not in the relationship of slave subjects, but as free subjects, united to us in all free institutions, but governing their own local concerns by their own local knowledge. How had this empire lost those mighty colonies which now, as a free nation, extended down to California, but by a want of forethought. Let them beware how they again fell into the same error. He sincerely believed that the noble Lord at the head of the Government desired, so far as his knowledge and information enabled him, to carry out the very views which he (Mr. Roebuck) had at heart. But he believed the noble Lord had made a great mistake. His ignorance misled him. He did not use the word "ignorance" in its offensive signification. The noble Lord had confessed himself uninformed upon the matter; and it was with the best feelings, and without the slightest hostility to the noble Lord or the Government, that he (Mr. Roebuck) expressed an opinion adverse to the noble Lord's. But surely they had the experience of the past to guide them; and was it right that they should ask whether a favourable breeze had wafted an unstamped newspaper to the Jerusalem Coffee-house, or a colonial despatch to Downing-street, in order that they might be enabled to decide upon the form of a constitution for their great colonial empire. The question really was, should they govern the colonies in the 590 manner most fitted for subjects of this empire, or should they now begin again the direful series of events that must finally lead, as they before had led, to separation. They had once done so with the thirteen great colonies of America, which now formed the thirty-two United States; and he asked the noble Lord, had they not got such an experience in that matter as that they need not now appeal to the few colonists in Van Diemen's Land or New South Wales, as to the manner in which they should form a constitution for their Australian colonies? Then came the question before the House—two chambers or one? First, there was the Government proposition of a single chamber, one-third of the members to be nominees of the Crown. The next was a proposition for two chambers, one to be elective; and, thirdly, there was the proposition for two chambers, both of them to be elective. Now, let the House look hack to the epoch at which the American republic was established, and to the counsels of its founders. The constitution of the United States came to be considered in that extraordinary assembly where, for the first time, a constitution was actually written down and acted on—a series of able State papers, from the pens of Hamilton, Maddox, and Jefferson, appeared in the Federalist on the question, "Shall there be one or two legislative bodies?" Those great men answered, that there should be two. The first was a reason which all experience since that had induced men to accede to, namely, that in a single chamber there was danger of hasty legislation. What was wanted in legislation was stability; and stability was best secured by having each question considered twice by two sets of people of different tempers, habits, and feelings. The other reason was, that it was difficult to reconcile responsibility with accurate knowledge of matters of legislation. Those eminent statesmen wished to check a body which was rendered fugitive ill its nature by frequent elections; and the thought suggested itself that such an object would best be secured by a senate elected for a longer period, and composed of grave and deliberate men. It was necessary for every Government to have functionaries who were to be watched by the representatives of the people, and to be accused whenever they did wrong. Who was to be the judge between the accusers and the accused? An elective body was above suspicion. Now, were not the opinions of those great men—the origi- 591 nators of the American Republic—enough, without referring to newspaper accounts of what the people said in Australia and Van Diemen's Land? The House should be prepared to give the colonists such institutions as should relieve them from all difficulties. Did not every one perceive that a body, two-thirds of which were elected by the people and one-third nominated by the Government, contained in itself an element of quarrel? But it was objected, that the people were so small in number that in two chambers they would look ridiculous. Just try the experiment, and see how they would expand. Had any such difficulty arisen in America, in Texas, or California? But it was said that we were ignorant of the people of South Australia. He denied that we were so. The House knew that since the year 1832 great bodies of educated and intelligent Englishmen had gone out to Australia. He knew, therefore, that men as worthy and as capable as those they left behind them were now the colonists of South Australia. Should it be said that our countrymen were unfit for a constitution which the ragamuffins of Arkansas—the "loafers" of the Far West, were able to support—that our countrymen, trained under municipal institutions, in the practice of civil liberty, were unworthy to be blessed with constitutions so applied—successfully applied, in such instances as those he had enumerated? It was said that we were not in a position to decide, because we were not in the position of the inhabitants of Australia. To this he replied that we knew that there were in Australia instructed Englishmen—kindred spirits to those who in South Africa refused to accept a ship-load of our contaminated population, proving thereby the dignity of their nature and the superiority of their minds. The fact was, that the Cabinet did not know either how to make, to govern, or to foster a great colonial empire. An English Government had never founded a colony. The English people had, in spite of Parliament—in spite of Downing-street. Englishmen had founded a great empire on the shores of America; and when the Government trampled on them they had vindicated their rights, and had shown the world what it was to move free and untrammelled. Without any imputation on Downing-street, just let them compare New York and Montreal—let them compare the people of the United States and of Canada, separated only by a 592 river—the one a great nation, the other a fainéant, discontented, annexation population. ["Oh!"] But it was the fact. Let not the Government go over the same course with our Australian colonies. Let them have no hesitation or misgiving as to the power of Englishmen to govern themselves, but at once lay down among them the great principles of government enjoyed by ourselves, and allow our countrymen in the colonies to prove they were of the same blood as ourselves.
§ MR. TORRENS M'CULLAGH
had listened with great attention to everything that had fallen from the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, but he was yet unaware whether he intended to vote for the Amendment or not. Before the hon. Baronet and his Friends could hope to induce the House to affirm the principle which they contended for, they must either prove that "Van Diemen's Land was specifically better fitted for two chambers than New South Wales, or that the resolution to which it recently came, with respect to that colony, was erroneous, and ought to be reversed. The hon. Baronet quoted, in favour of his views, statistics from a despatch of Sir W. Denison; but that despatch, while it stated that 32,000 persons were capable of claiming political rights, also informed us that a still greater number of persons in that colony were undergoing the penalty of crime, or had been criminals. The House, after full discussion, had decided that, under the present circumstances, New South Wales did not require a second chamber for its good government; and the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield should show some new information or some new reasons why the alleged defects of its constitution had escaped his acute powers when the Bill for establishing it was before the House of Commons. He regretted very much the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, to whose historical arguments he should not allude, were it not that the hon. Baronet had reopened the question. The hon. Baronet, and also the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, had referred to the early plantations in America as proofs that a double chamber was preferable to a single chamber. In a work published in 1705 by Mr. Beverley, a resident in Virginia, and who had access to all the public documents, we were informed that—In 1620, an assembly of burgesses was first called, who sat in consultation with the Governor 593 and Council for settling the public affairs of the plantation; that, when the company was dissolved, the King continued the same method of government by a governor, council, and burgesses, which three being united were called the General Assembly; that this General Assembly debated all the weighty affairs of the colony, and enacted laws, and the governor and council were to put them in execution; that the governor and council were appointed by the King, and the assembly chosen by the people; that before 1680 the council sat in the same house with the burgesses; and that then the Lord Colepepper, taking advantage of some disputes among them, procured the council to sit apart from the assembly, and so they became two distinct houses, in imitation of the two Houses of Parliament in England.So much for the assertion that the first legislative body started with two elective chambers, or even one wholly elective chamber. Under this state of things, according to Beverley, the colony prospered greatly, and lasted for sixty years. It appeared then that one legislative chamber, and that of a mixed character, had been already found sufficient for developing the resources of an infant community. Allusion had been made to Massachusetts. He would take the case of that State, and show that it furnished no argument in favour of the double chamber. Hutchinson, in his history of that colony, oberved—"The magistrates, or assistants," as they were originally styled, "and the deputies, or representatives, sat together in one room and voted together." It also appeared that the checks provided lest the magistrates should be outvoted, were very much of the same character as those now existing in New South Wales, and that the colonists generally approved of that arrangement. A curious and interesting memorial of the early days of Massachusetts had been preserved, which was singularly illustrative of the point now under consideration. Some years after the first settlement of the colony, a number of persons in England, who felt themselves oppressed, in matters of conscience, by the Government of Charles I., determined on emigrating to America. There were amongst them several individuals of rank and fortune—Lord Saye, Lord Brooke, and others; and, supposing that the infant colony would eagerly welcome such an accession of wealth and numbers as they could bring, they proposed certain stipulations as the terms on which they would embark in the somewhat hazardous enterprise. The details of the negotiation had been preserved, and each demand, with its specific answer, are to be found in the work 594 from which he had already quoted. The fifth proposition was in these words:—That, for facilitating the despatch of business, and for other reasons, the gentlemen and the freeholders should sit and hold their meetings in two distinct houses.—Answer. We willingly approve the motion; only as yet it is not so practised amongst us; but, in time, the variety and discrepancy of sundry occurrences will put them upon a necessity of sitting apart.Thus it was clear, notwithstanding what had been stated to the contrary on a former evening, that the two loading colonies of North America, though differing in origin, feeling, and nearly every characteristic, alike followed, as if instinctively, the natural order of political development: content with simpler forms while their affairs were comparatively simple and few, and only resorting to more complicated Institutions when their wants had become various, and their experience more mature. His hon. and learned Friend had stated that the United States had been lost to this country, and said he much deplored it, but a great many of those who were going to vote with the hon. Baronet did not sympathise with him in that respect. But who separated from this country? Was it not those thirteen States which had two elective chambers? Separation was not even contemplated at a time when a single mixed chamber was in existence, nor could it be said that it had been seriously attempted by any colony where that primary form of government prevailed; and it was not until the American States arrived at the age of manhood they shoook of the yoke, and resisted the power of the country When a Bill similar to the present, which was said to be full of danger and novelty, had been introduced by Lord Stanley, in 1842, it passed through all its stages without a division or any opposition whatever. The Gentlemen who were so much afraid of the constitution proposed for Van Diemen's Land, allowed a similar one for New South Wales to receive the sanction of the last Parliament. That was the time for them to have been indignant, and to have resisted those so-called innovating doctrines. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, although Members of the last Parliament, allowed to pass through all its stages, without Amendment or opposition, a Bill which was to consign New South Wales to the degradation and detriment of a single house of legislation. Surely, if 595 a Bill so essentially bad was allowed by those hon. Members to pass for New South Wales without a single word of opposition, it was hard to expect that the House should sympathise with their present sorrow, indignation, and alarm, in their opposition to a similar measure. It appeared to him that the experience of America, and of all other colonies, pointed to this, that every effort should be made to infuse into our colonial possessions the spirit of the country from which they sprang—that there should, if possible, be infused into them the habit of finding remedies themselves for their own wants. At a distance of 16,000 miles we could not hope to make our colonial dependencies exactly resemble the mother country; we ought not to desire to trick them out in an old-fashioned court costume, and then imagine that we were enduing them with the character of their parent state. It had been described as one of the faults of a very great man that he had never been a boy. Let not this country prevent its colonies from going through their course of gradual development and experimental self-teaching, looking forward with patience and confidence to a happy and prosperous maturity. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had alluded, in terms of well-merited eulogy to the authors of the Federalist, and had cited the decision of those eminent persons, in 1789, in favour of two chambers of congress as a precedent in support of his views regarding the Australian communities. But, in point of fact, the main consideration which swayed the judgment of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Jay, was the necessity of reconciling the sovereign equality of the thirteen States with an appointment of representative power suitable to their disparity of extent and population.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
, in explanation, referred to Mr. Bancroft's work, to show that after a few years the Virginians adopted the principle of a double chamber. But all he asked was that the colonists should not be asked to go through so many stages of admitted imperfection. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last wished the colonists to end well, but he (Mr. Roebuck) wished them to begin well and end well too.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had told the House that so great was the ignorance of the Government and this House with regard to the feelings, wishes, and position of the colonists for whom they 596 were about to legislate, that they could not fairly and properly take upon themselves to say whether one or two chambers were better for the Australian colonies or not. If the noble Lord was sound in his reasoning, they would thus be debarred not only from deliberating upon the propriety of having one or two chambers, but from deliberating upon this Bill at all. When the noble Lord said that two chambers could not be legitimately settled by this House, he would allow him (Lord J. Manners) to ask by what process of reasoning he had arrived at the conclusion that the House, in the absence of that necessary information, could take upon itself to say that a federative assembly of all those Australian States ought to be called into existence? True, he read a paper to show that some manifestation of feeling had taken place in one of the colonies against the proposition, not of the hon. Member for Southwark, but of the hon. Member for Midhurst. But if a newspaper report, which had not been seen by hon. Members, was to be taken as evidence, he (Lord J. Manners) asked the noble Lord if the paper then lying by his side might not be taken as equally good evidence that the proposition contained in the Bill was distasteful to the population for whom he was about to legislate. So far as he could gather, the feeling was unanimously against a federative assembly. Why, then, were they to be debarred from considering the question of two chambers, whilst they were competent to legislate not only with their ignorance, but with their knowledge, of the opinion of the colonists upon the subject of a federative assembly? They were called upon to lay deeply and broadly the foundation of a colonial constitution, which should afford a shelter to law and to religion. He should have thought that all experience, all analogy, and all traditional feeling, would point to a second chamber as the more preferable form of a legislative body. But the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dundalk dived into the recesses of American history, and brought to the notice of the House two circumstances, which, however, had been satisfactorily disposed of by the hon. and learned Gentleman who sat near him. The hon. and learned Member referred to Virginia; but what was the burden of his story? Why, that Virginia, after some years, found the anomaly and confusion created by the system so great that the system broke down under the burden—and, with a candour that did 597 him credit, the hon. and learned Member also admitted that every one of the American States, as soon as they had the opportunity, upset the very system he now called on the House to adopt for the colonies. Some hon. Member had referred to the single chamber of France. What was the spectacle the capital of that country presented? Why, that the very existence of civil society depended on the struggle for a single seat in this single chamber between a licentious novel writer and an heroic tradesman. He thought there was no need to refer to the experience of the past—the experience of common sense would suffice to tell them that a double chamber was the best for all purposes. He did not hear the principle openly repudiated by Her Majesty's Government; the noble Lord, however, took care not to indicate a preference for a single chamber. But this was to be expected from those who aspired to tread in the footsteps of Pitt and Fox. He would detain the House for a short time by referring to an expression of opinion by Mr. Fox in 1791. If the opinion of that statesman had any weight with the noble Lord, he would remind him that in the debate on the Quebec Bill in 1791, Mr. Fox said that—"on every ground and consideration it was indispensably necessary that an aristocracy should constitute a branch of the constitution for Canada. It was equally important with the monarchical and popular elements of the constitution.Government did not openly repudiate this opinion—they simply passed it by. The papers on the table of the House showed unmistakably what were the opinions of the governors of the colonies. The noble Lord had told the House that the opinion of the Legislative Council of South Australia was of little worth, as the members were nominees of the Crown. If that was a valid ground for placing no value on an opinion, what would be the worth of an assembly to be constituted under the Bill of the noble Lord? Was it not clear, from all that had transpired as connected with the subject of colonisation of late years, that Government could not do too much to create enterprise in that direction? How could a combined movement be secured, unless by holding out inducements for respectable parties to go out to the colonies? If you desired to see men and women of gentle blood and high breeding led to take a part in the colonial enterprise of the day, it could only be effected by holding out a new home, in which they 598 would find the refinements, the courtesies, and, may be, those honours, which in their I own country they would not be debarred from. It was partly on that ground he was anxious for a second chamber, not that he thought it would be wise at once to create an hereditary chamber, such as the Legislative Council of South Australia recommended, but because, by laying the foundation deeply and broadly, they might rely on it, feelings would spring up which would in time enable the colonists to carry out sound constitutional principles to their full development. This was one of his main reasons for supporting the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark. He might quote numerous despatches which had been recently received in support of his views, but he would not do so, as they doubtless were familiar to the House. Those despatches, however, must have due weight with those who wished to do justice to the colonies. He was anxious the House should decide in favour of a double chamber, because of his conviction that, by including as much of the aristocratic element in the government of the colony as was advisable, we should see the benefits of it in after time. Whatever might be the decision of that House, he should have the satisfaction of knowing he had done his duty, and he would now venture to ask the House to support the proposition of the hon. Baronet, feeling convinced that as we valued and benefited by the institutions we derived from our forefathers, so it was right Australia should also enjoy the benefit of similar institutions.
§ MR. KEOGH
said, they heard from the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark that it was the right of Englishmen to be be governed by laws made by the majority of their representatives, and in that sentiment he concurred. He hoard similar sentiments from the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and he apprehended there would be no difference of opinion on either side of the House on that subject; but when he looked at the Amendment, he was indeed at a loss to reconcile it with that sentiment coming from the hon. Baronet. He asked the hon. Baronet with what consistency did he say that Englishmen ought to have laws made by a majority of their representatives, when in this Amendment he proposed that no alteration should be made in the constitution either of Van Diemen's Land or South Australia unless two-thirds of the members of each house 599 should agree to these alterations. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield said the question they had to decide was whether or not the best system of government was the establishment of two chambers or one. He (Mr. Keogh) begged leave to differ from him; he asserted that that was not the question before the House, and that the question before the House was whether they should continue in the colony of New South Wales that constitution which had existed there since 1842, and whether they should establish a similar constitution in South Australia and Van Diemen's Land, with the full power and authority in the legislatures so to be established in those colonies immediately, if they thought proper; and if the population of these settlements were in favour of a change, to revert to the system of two houses of parliament. Now, the principle that had been laid down by those who came forward in favour of this Amendment was, that colonies should be allowed to govern themselves, and to mend their own constitutions; and he asked the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield how he proposed to carry out that principle by giving two chambers, and preventing them making any alteration without the consent of two-thirds? Were they to form a constitution for the colonists without the colonists being consulted? It was said by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire that the colonists were in favour of the plan of the hon. Baronet, and that they would not consider it any injury inflicted on them if two houses of parliament were constituted. On that subject he would refer to the despatch laid before the House of the 1st of June, 1848, signed by the Governor of New South Wales, in which he called attention to a petition agreed to at a public meeting attended by 3,000 of the inhabitants, and in which the principal clause was one praying Her Majesty not to allow any new constitution to be imposed upon them without their being first consulted. Now, did any one say that they had been so consulted in favour of the plan of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark? He (Mr. Keogh) could show distinctly that the feeling was against two chambers. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire said he had read every one of the papers. Then if he had, he had read the report of the meeting of June, 1848, to which Governor Fitzroy referred. If he had, he would find that there was not a single speaker who did not 600 speak against the adoption of a second chamber. How then, he asked, could it be contended that there was no evidence of the disinclination of the inhabitants of New South Wales to a change in their constitution? It was with a view to show the disposition of the inhabitants that he had referred to these documents, because he was not contending adversely to any hon. Gentleman there, for the superiority of a single over a double chamber; he was not asserting that at some future day, it might be in the next year, they might adopt a second chamber; but he asked the House not to adopt a second chamber, unless the wishes of the colonists were eon-suited. So far as to New South Wales; but it was contended that the cases of South Australia and Van Diemen's Land came under a different category. Were they to be governed by the despatches that had been read by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire? He thought a good deal of misapprehension existed with regard to these despatches. He would refer to the despatch of Governor Young and to the resolution of the Legislative Council in favour of two chambers. But there was a remarkable fact which disentitled this resolution of the Legislative Council to any weight whatever. The proposal was made by Mr. Moffatt, that the executive officers of the Government should be dismissed when they were disapproved of by the legislature; but they struck out of the resolution altogether the clause that they should be responsible to the legislature, and so they had made themselves Government officers for life. What was the resolution of the Legislative Council? It proposed distinctly that the second chamber should be nominated for life. Why, the Governor said he entirely disagreed with that recommendation. Governor Denison said they must be appointed for life, or for a long series of years. But Governor Denison's opinion, so often quoted, was not worth much if he gave two different opinions at different times. Were they to follow him in 1848 or in 1849? In the despatch of the 15th August, 1849, he gave it as his most decided opinion that the same system ought to be adopted in Van Diemen's Land and South Australia as was adopted in New South Wales; he said the Australian colonies were so connected together, so identified with each other, as far as the character of the inhabitants was concerned, as to make any change in the system, if applied only 601 to one colony, a matter of doubtful policy. It was perfectly unnecessary, in supporting this Bill, to support one chamber over two, because the 35th section of the Bill provided that the colonists might alter the constitution. [The hon. Member read the clause, and at the request of Sir W. Moles-worth, read the proviso at the end that no such alteration shall be reserved for Her Majesty's pleasure until a copy of the Bill had been laid before the House of Commons thirty days at least.] The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark thought that proviso was perfectly conclusive; but persons on the spot attached very little importance to it. In the Adelaide Times of the 1st of October, 1849, a paper which was opposed to Government, and which demanded the most extensive powers for the people—he found in that organ of the public opinion of the colony a statement, after mentioning that the Bill, besides giving the power of amending the representation, provided for making any other amendment that experience could suggest; that if the Bill were carried out they should be quite content with it, notwithstanding the stipulation that those amendments, in order to their becoming valid, should be submitted to Her Majesty's pleasure and to Parliament. Now, he asked the hon. Baronet if that clause would not give the colonists all they desired? He had stated that the object of the Bill was not paramount to establish a single as preferable to a double chamber. The Bill proposed to give power to the house of legislature to establish two houses at any time they might desire; and it was not open for any Gentleman to say that with these extensive powers given to them, they would not exercise these powers if they thought that the exercise of them would be advantageous to the country. But he believed it was not the case that the inhabitants were in favour of a double chamber. He had read many papers which had come from the colony, and in every one of them he found the most unbounded satisfaction with this Bill. Against the Bill there was no doubt the opinions of the Colonial Reform Association. But were there any two gentlemen, members of that association, who, though resolved upon to have two chambers, would agree as to what was to be the constitution of the second chamber? The hon. and learned Member for Midhurst thought they should be nominated by the Crown. The hon. Member for Southwark was of opinion that it should be elective. 602 The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield said that no want of information existed on the subject, and that they should at once resolve on the constitution of these two chambers. He (Mr. Keogh) thought the House was devoid of information which would enable them to proceed to the formation of a second chamber, and not having the information before them, he did not think they should adopt the suggestion of the Colonial Reform Association, and at once fix upon the constitution. He considered the proposal of the Colonial Reform Association to be one on which it would be unsafe for the House to stand; and as the colonists had pronounced in favour of the existing constitution, he trusted the House would not adopt the perilous course of establishing a different system.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I understand that we are now in Committee upon the sixth clause of the Bill; there is an Amendment proposed to the sixth clause; the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Athlone calls our attention to considerations which do not affect the question at present before us. That question is whether the colonies are to have one or two chambers. His considerations are apart from this clause, and it would be well enough that the real question should be divested from them; for it is surely of itself sufficiently grave. Indeed, I hardly know one more difficult to decide, or one on which the responsibility of a vote would be felt more sensibly by any Member of Parliament. This question, however, is not new to the House. It is not four years ago a Government was founded, one of the meritorious characteristics of which was to be that of colonial reform; and in questions so extremely complicated as the construction of political constitutions, we naturally look with great expectation to the existing Government to be our guides, philosophers, and friends. That Government, on the instant of its formation almost, without entering the House, without any intimation of the policy they thought ought to be pursued with respect to the very question now under consideration—presented a constitution for a distant colony, contiguous to those we are now discussing. We had, therefore, then the opportunity of obtaining the opinion of the Government, and especially those members of it who were known to be colonial reformers; and it appears by their first project of a constitution for one of these distant colo- 603 nies, three years and a half ago, that the Government were of opinion that there ought to be two chambers. Some time after that the Government produced another project of a colonial constitution; for one, indeed, of these very colonies, and one of greater importance than that to which I have just adverted; and after still more mature reflexion—after having been in office some little time—after having profited by their former experience and previous experiments, the Government again produced a constitutional project, which again included the plan of two chambers. So far the Government, during their somewhat brief career, had afforded renewed instances of their approbation of this principle. But a great change occurred after that time in the policy of the government. Their projects had not been fortunate, and both their constitutions bad been rejected by the populations to whom they had been addressed. A considerable change, I say, took place then in the manner in which the Government prepared their future operations; and I am dwelling with some detail upon these circumstances, as being very remarkable and almost unprecedented in Parliamentary history. There was a delegation of the duties of the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies to a Committee of the Privy Council—a most remarkable circumstance, because, undoubtedly, after a Government so distinguished for the abilities of its members, and particularly for the high reputation of the individual who presided over the Colonial department, had taken office, great hopes having been held out of wise and salutary changes, it did appear strange that the Secretary of State should announce that he was incapable of forming his opinion upon those particular points which had hitherto been supposed to be so much his own subjects, and those upon which he was so peculiarly fitted to form an opinion as to point him out as the man to be the Secretary of State for the Colonies. But we were told that there were subjects of great difficulty involved—such as the system upon which the waste lands should be sold, and the principles on which the political constitution of the colony should be framed—that these were subjects of such extreme difficulty that the Secretary of State found it necessary to delegate the consideration of them, and the decision of these most important points, to a Committee of the Privy Council. Why, if a man was not prepared to incur the responsibility of 604 advising his Sovereign upon questions which had been so long discussed and so thoroughly investigated, and which had occupied the strict attention of all who were worthy the name of statesmen, such as the sale of waste lands, the conduct of emigration, or the principles upon which political constitutions were to be given to the colonies—I should have said that such a man was the very last who would have been ambitious to become Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear, hear.] Well, the performance of these duties was delegated, as I have said, to a Committee of the Privy Council, and it was that Committee who decided upon these points. We know who they are, for we have their signatures to a document. One of them is the nobleman now filling the office of Lord Chief Justice of England, and who, I do believe, will hand down to posterity a name and reputation as eminent as any of his predecessors. Lord Campbell was then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I have a sincere respect for Lord Campbell, but I want in this matter the responsibility of the Minister for the Colonies, and not the responsibility of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Another Member of this Committee of the Privy Council was the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the President of the Board of Trade. He has, no doubt, every qualification for a Colonial Minister, and he distinguished himself as Under Secretary of State for the Colonies; but if he was to decide these questions, he himself should be responsible for the administration of the colonies, and not a person who leaves to him the performance of the functions. But hitherto in the appointment of the Members of this Committee, the House will observe that they have this constitutional security. These two Members of the Privy Council are also Members of Parliament, and the House of Lords or the House of Commons hold them responsible for the advice they give, however much you may disapprove of the circumstances under which that advice was solicited. There was a third Member of the Privy Council, a gentleman who hears the name of Sir—somebody Ryan—[An Hon. MEMBER: Sir Edward Ryan]—who is not a Member of the House of Commons, and of course not of the House of Lords. How, then, is the responsibility of a Minister in the person of this Sir Edward Ryan secured? If I want to know who Sir Edward Ryan is to 605 secure his responsibility, I must send for the Red book; and if he live at an hotel, his name would not be even there, and the responsibility is not to be found. Yet it is to the advice of Lord Campbell, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and Sir Edward Ryan, it is to the delegation of the duty and responsibility of the office of Colonial Secretary to these three persons, consequent upon previous failure and apparent incapacity to fulfil the duties of the department, that we are indebted for this sudden change, in the project of a double chamber—a project to which the Ministry had for a considerable period given their adhesion, drawing up schemes of legislature founded upon that principle, and not only that, but passing them, and sending them to the colonies. Just let me call the attention of the House to the most important document in our possession on this subject, the one which is the basis of the whole policy of-the Government, namely, the report of the Committee of Privy Council, dated the 1st of April, 1849. The noble Lord at the head of the Government may urge there is nothing unconstitutional in a reference to a Committee of the Privy Council for Trade and Plantations, and that for years before the institution of the office, the duties of a Secretary of State were fulfilled by them. But then the Lords of the Committee for Trade and Plantations were Members of Parliament. The vice of the old system from which you escaped when you founded Parliamentary and responsible government in this country, of giving power to persons with whom the people are not acquainted, and who cannot be brought into any answerable position, that is now attempted to be revived by the present Government. But listen to what is the decision of the Committee of the Privy Council upon this very question of a single chamber:—We think it desirable that the political institutions of the British colonies should thus he brought into the nearest possible analogy to the constitution of the United Kingdom. We also think it wise to adhere as closely as possible to our ancient maxims of government on this subject, and to the precedents in which those maxims have been embodied. The experience of centuries has ascertained the value and the practical efficiency of that system of colonial polity to which those maxims and precedents afford their sanction. In the absence of some very clear and urgent reason for breaking up the ancient uniformity of design in the government of the colonial dependencies of the Crown, it would seem unwise to depart from that uniformity.606 What were the circumstances that were so overpowering, that they forced the Government entirely to change their policy, and this Committee of the Privy Council to give advice opposed to all their constitutional doctrines? They say it is entirely based upon the state of public feeling on the subject in New South Wales. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Athlone has just made an apparently triumphant appeal to the House on this subject. He says, there has been a great public meeting held at Sydney, in which the idea of a second chamber was universally condemned. But I want to know what sort of a second chamber that was? I want to know whether it was put to the inhabitants of Sydney, and to the colonists of New South Wales, that the second chamber they would have was to be the chamber indicated by the hon. and learned Member? Certainly, if the inhabitants of Sydney were asked whether they would have another chamber filled with the nominees of Government, I am not surprised they should have rejected such an offer with derision and indignation. I said that the duties of the Secretary of State were delegated to the Committee of Privy Council. The noble Lord at the head of the Government seemed to doubt it.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that neither the question of emigration nor the question of the waste lands had been referred to that Committee.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I have here the report before me, which mentions the subjects on which they advised, and it appears that Lord Campbell, Sir Edward Ryan, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, gave advice to the Government, or rather counselled their Sovereign first, respecting a division of the colony of New South Wales. Now, conceive a Secretary of State not competent, according to his own view, to recommend to his colleagues and his Sovereign the division of a colony, without requesting a Committee of Privy Council to do it. The next point is the establishment of municipal councils. This is a subject on which I humbly think a Secretary of State should be competent to form an opinion without calling in this unconstitutional aid. The next subject is the levy of rates in those districts. The Secretary of State could not form an opinion upon it without the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, another Cabinet Minister, and 607 a retired Indian Judge, being called in, not to aid him, but absolutely to settle the question independently of him. The next point is the management of waste lauds; and they recommended "after well considering the subject, that one-half the revenue derived from the sales of waste lands should be appropriated to local improvements." Is that no interference with waste lands? Are these cases which you would suppose the Secretary of State upon his own authority could not decide? But let me now call attention to their political labours. These gentlemen were resorted to in the distress of Government, who, having foundered with their plan of a second chamber, from the manner in which it was proposed, took upon themselves the kind and delicate duty of getting the Government out of the scrape. In fact, they adopted all the duties, and I suppose, all the responsibilities, of the Cabinet. They thus describe the old colonial constitutions of the country. [The hon. Gentleman here read a passage which described the old constitutions of the colonies as consisting of three estates—the Governor representing the Sovereign, the Assembly nominated by the Crown, and the Assembly elected by the people.] I never heard before that Her Majesty was an estate of the realm. I always understood that an estate of the realm was a class of the Queen's subjects invested with political privileges. Certainly there are three estates of the realm in England. The estate of the Lords Spiritual, the estate of the Lords Temporal, and the estate of the Commons; but to say that our Gracious Sovereign Queen Victoria is an estate of the realm, is to say that Her Gracious Majesty is a class of her own subjects. Yet these were the gentlemen who were to decide upon the great question of a single or a double chamber. Nor is this a slip of the pen; for we find the same observation repeated in the most solemn language in the summary of their opinions. So these gentlemen, who were drawing up a constitution to send to the Antipodes, after weeks, perhaps months, of consideration, were quite ignorant of what an estate of the realm meant, and described the governor of a colony as a political estate. We have now seen in this review of the colonial career of the Government, for less than four years, circumstances which must make us hesitate before we adopt them with confidence as guides upon 608 this question. They have been within a very brief period advocates of two chambers, in instances over which they must have pondered long, of measures which they must have elaborately matured, and which, at great trouble, they sent out upon the longest and most fruitless voyage that ever awaited legislative enterprise. In the midst of this eventful term of four years, it appears that the Secretary of State, that hot and fervent colonial reformer, from what reason, whether in consequence of a too sensitive feeling of his failures, or of the upbraiding remonstrances of his colleagues, I will not pretend to decide, appointed a Committee to fulfil his duties, and the result of their labours was a total change in the opinions of the Government upon the vital principle we are now discussing. Now, without giving any further opinion upon that course, I think the House may come to this safe conclusion, that the Government are not the best guides to follow on this question. Then what can you do? Do you mean to lay it down as the principle of your conduct that you will act in accordance with the general feeling of the inhabitants of the colony? From the eagerness with which the noble Lord referred to that heavensent journal which fell into his hands, one would suppose that any public meeting at a coffee-house that decided in favour of the proposition of the Government, would settle the decision of the Cabinet on this question. I am not for a moment presuming to recommend any counsels that would act in total defiance of the opinions and feelings of the colonial population, although it may be of a limited character, for those feelings should be consulted. I think even their mistaken interests should, in a great degree, be deferred to, and that upon such a question as this a community so distant should be approached in a conciliatory tone; but I cannot agree in the principle of the Government, that we are to decide this matter solely with reference to the feelings of the colonies at this moment, even if we could ascertain them. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dundalk told us we should not anticipate the future; but if ever we ought to legislate for futurity, it is when we are legislating for a colony. I shall give my vote in favour of the principle of two chambers, because I think that under all circumstances they would add to the stability of society. It is a great mistake to suppose that the action of a second 609 chamber is adverse to popular liberty. It may be adverse to popular passion, but it is the best security for popular liberty. I look upon it as representing the conservative principle in its purest element; and its purpose would be to secure the society of the colonies, to improve it, to save it from the gusts of popular caprice, and to introduce into those communities aspiring elements. I feel assured, if the question was properly put to the communities of Australia, whether they would have two chambers or one, always supposing they were not to be full of Government nominees, that their decision would be universal and unanimous in favour of two. And I feel persuaded that when this and other debates that will arise in consequence of this Bill have reached those countries, and public opinion there is enlightened, the noble Lord will never be able, though he passes his Bill through this House, to pass it in the colonies which it is intended to regulate. It is not the first constitution that has been returned upon his hands; and I wish the noble Lord to profit by experience. If the noble Lord wished to prosper in his colonial legislative enterprises he would not have come forward upon such a subject without himself having a very clear conception upon this vital point—are the inhabitants of the colonies clearly aware of what is meant by two chambers? Because if the inhabitants of Sydney suppose that those who advocate two chambers are advocating a second, to be composed of Government nominees, that is not the feeling of the House of Commons, nor of the country. It is clear to me the governors of the colonies have not that idea of the elements of a second chamber. But, says the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk, it is better to support the Government Bill than to legislate upon mere theory. Is the opinion of the Governor of Van Die-men's Land mere theory? Is the opinion of the Governor of South Australia mere theory? It is the duty of the Government, when they come forward with new projects, which they recommend upon an assumed acquaintance with the state of colonial feeling and opinion, to be sure they are acquainted with them; but it appears to me, from all that has fallen from the Treasury benches during this discussion, and from their despatches and documents, that the Government are not well informed upon this subject. Nay, the Secretary of State has told us within the 610 last few hours that he is lamentably ignorant of it. Will you legislate in such ignorance? I think not; and I therefore venture to recommend the noble Lord to inform himself upon these important topics before he proceeds with his colonial legislation.
§ MR. HAWES
hoped the House would consider that it was only a sense of duty which induced him to rise at this late hour and after a long debate; but there were some portions of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, which rendered it absolutely incumbent upon him to put the House right with reference to the state of the subject. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in opening his speech, stated that the question which the House had to decide, was this, whether they would confer the constitution of two chambers upon all the Australian colonies. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had altogether forgotten the debate which took place the other evening on this subject, where, with reference to New South Wales and the colony of Van Diemen's Land, the House decided against granting the constitution. The Committee of Council had been constituted to consider various colonial subjects, and the Secretary of State, in constituting the Committee of Privy Council, had delegated his duties, and had altogether abandoned his responsibility. If there was one thing which the hon. Gentleman had complained of more than another, it was that on great colonial questions the Secretary of State for the Colonies hitherto had decided upon them in secret, without due deliberation and advice, without asking for information; and now, when he gathered round him men of knowledge to advise, and was adopting the report they might make, the complaint was that the Secretary of State had delegated his authority and abandoned his responsibility. Who constituted the Committee? The hon. Member asked who Sir "Somebody" Ryan was, as if he did not know that Sir E. Ryan had been Chief Justice at Bengal. The hon. Member omitted to state that Sir J. Steven, whose knowledge of colonial affairs was universally acknowledged, was also a Member of the Committee of Privy Council. The hon. Member bore testimony to the ability of Lord Campbell and his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. The Committee of Council left it to the Colonial Secretary to adopt or reject the report. The noble 611 Earl adopted the report, and when he adopted it, and formed a measure on it, he took on him the full authority of his office; and, in supporting this Bill, he thought the responsibility was not one from which he would for one moment shrink. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire said that it was on the report that the Government abandoned its opinion. In 1842 Lord Stanley first introduced the single chamber. He introduced the Bill when the hon. Member himself was a Member of the House, and the Bill went through the House without a division. He would put it to the House whether it had not passed without a division, and without a single observation. So much for the circumstance to which the hon. Member had alluded, and upon which he made an appeal to the House to reject the proposition. But the hon. Member said that Earl Grey was ignorant, and had avowed his ignorance; that Government was ignorant. We could not be guided by the Government. The Government had in former times recommended two chambers. In the case of the Cape, the Committee of Council recommended two chambers. Did they change all their opinions because the Committee of Council recommended a single chamber in New South Wales? The Committee of Council, from the report of which the hon. Member made his quotation, stated the ground of this recommendation. What was the ground? Let us try the merits of the Bill on the grounds there assigned. The noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office altered his opinion—Upon what grounds? In 1842 there was a Bill which had given satisfaction, and when the colonists had a public meeting they prayed that the constitution might not be altered without their previous consent. The noble Lord did abandon his opinion, and adopted the opinion of the colonists. In his (Mr. Hawes') view this Bill stood on the broad principle that it was a Bill founded, as far as possible, on the knowledge of the opinion of the colony, upon their wishes and consent as expressed in formal documents. How was that to be evidence? Did hon. Members say that anything contained in this Bill was opposed to the wishes of New South Wales? Was the Bill opposed to the feelings of the colony of Victoria? He had in his hand a resolution transmitted to him, in which the people of Victoria prayed that there should be an executive and legislative authority, and that 612 the legislative council should consist of eighteen members appointed by the people, and nine appointed by the Crown. Then the argument was that they were now legislating for two colonies which had not constitutions at present. It was proposed, then, that for all four colonies constitutions should be given comprehending two legislative bodies. The answer to that was this—that the people were satisfied with the constitution which they had. The question was, were the people of South Australia satisfied with a single chamber or not? It was proposed to give them a constitution comprehending two legislative bodies; but upon that the people of South Australia and the people of Van Diemen's Land had made known their opinions. He (Mr. Hawes) admitted that the Governor of Van Diemen's Land was opposed to the establishment of a single legislative chamber; but what did the Governor say? He said exactly what his noble Friend had said in reference to the colonies. What he stated was, that he had no means of ascertaining precisely what were the opinions of the people, and then he went on to give them his individual opinion as to what the constitution should be. Those who had paid attention to the matter as he was obliged to do would have been cognisant of the same things that came before him. He was in the habit of perusing the newspapers, which, in matters of fact, he was accustomed to rely on, and there he found that, at a public meeting which was held for the purpose of petitioning Her Majesty, they prayed for an elective legislative council; but they did not pray for two chambers. All they prayed for was a single legislative chamber. "Then," said the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, whose views, as expressed that night with respect to colonial matters rather surprised him, and led him to think that he had not looked with his usual accuracy back to the history of America, "you ought to form for these colonies the best constitution in your power." He (Mr. Hawes) denied it. He distinctly denied it—he stood on a much broader principle than that. He contended that if they formed a constitution for the colonies, they ought to form it in conformity with the wishes of the colonies. Was the opinion of that House the opinion that was to rule in the colonies? His belief was this, that if their colonial institutions were to be permanent, they should be as far as possible the creation of the people, and as far as 613 possible in conformity with their wishes, and they should not form a constitution founded on their own theoretic notions of what they thought the best constitution. But then, said the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Virginia began with a single chamber, and that when they had derived experience they changed their system of legislation and had two chambers. He (Mr. Hawes) did not think, however, that the people of these States were less attached to the second chamber because they happened to have commenced with only one. If they had a second chamber in New South Wales, they would have it because the colonists wished it and desired it; and it was only under such circumstances that the establishment of a second chamber would be likely to have a good effect. In all these cases which had been referred to, this broad principle marked the policy of the American statesmen: all they did was founded on the consent of the people; and when they established a legislature there were the large consenting body among the people to give weight to it. It was by that system of policy that the Jeffersons and the John Adamses of the day were enabled to found those constitutions which had celebrated their names. Reference was made to the 35th clause of the Bill, and he was mistaken if it would not effect its object, because the consent of the Crown and of Parliament was necessary before any alteration in the constitution was adopted. He was now going to raise the question as to the veto of the Crown on all the acts of the legislative body in the colonies; but he was not at all afraid to appeal to the House on the matter, as he felt convinced that they were not now going to snap asunder the chain that connected them with the colonies, by saying that they should have no control over them. The policy of the Government was this, that in conferring that power on their colonies they should allow them to exercise it constitutionally, to procure those reforms and changes which they think necessary for their welfare. It must be admitted that this Bill, which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire declared to be the work of incompetent hands, had conferred on the colonies of Australia a local self-government, than which nothing better constituted was established in the States of America. He looked forward with great anxiety to the results of this question. It ought not to be made a party question, or 614 a question of whipping one side of the House or the other—it ought to be considered as a matter involving the welfare of their colonies, and if there was not the shadow of a shade of ground for saying that the colonies would not prefer the measure, then they ought to support a Bill like this, which was in accordance with the wishes of the people. There was no doubt that in a despatch of Earl Grey's it was proposed to them that they should have two chambers. They, however, objected to it, and what was his course then? He told them that he had discovered that they were attached to their old constitution, and to that he added the power of improving it, and gave them the means of working out their own constitutional changes. Was that a policy which was deserving of the censure which had been thrown on it that night? He heard the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark say that the Government were perfectly ignorant on the subject. He would ask of what part of it they were ignorant? Before they carried this matter into operation they would have to decide what the franchise should be, what should be the qualifications and the numbers, without consulting the colonists. It appeared to him that in framing a Bill of that kind, they were forming the foundation of a representative government, and that if it elicited the opinion of the colonies in favour of constitutional changes, they would give them the power to form a government suitable to their present condition. He would now content himself with saying that if this Bill were carried with the Amendment, a very considerable delay would take place in all the colonies in framing a Bill that would satisfy them. With these few observations, he would leave the question to the House, and he would ask the House not to consider whether this or that form of government was the best, but to consider whether they would not be more likely to conciliate the colonies, and to promote their interests by paying a deference to their opinions, and in so doing to enjoy the glorious anticipation of laying the foundation of institutions which the colonists themselves may look up to with pride and satisfaction as the work of their own hands, and not imposed upon them by a superior power.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The hon. Gentleman stated that I had omitted to name Sir James Stephen; but, although a member of the Committee, he did not sign the report, and I only alluded to those who had 615 signed the document. I was not aware that Sir Edward Ryan had been a judge, and I can only say that the Government were in a very bad state when they were obliged to call two judges to their assistance.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
was understood to say that there was not a governor in the whole Australian group who was not in favour of a double chamber. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had misquoted the only document to which he referred, when he led them to believe that the legislative council were not of the same opinion. The colonists were all desirous of having a constitution as near as possible to that of this country. He (Mr. Scott) asserted that the great preponderance of opinion in the colonies, as expressed by their governors, as well as by the petitions laid on the table of that House, was decidedly in favour of a double as compared with a single chamber. The despatches which had lately been received from South Australia and Van Diemen's Land decidedly expressed the opinions of the governors of the colonies; and though the noble Lord opposite had asserted that the opinions of the colonists were opposed to those entertained by the governors, yet he wished to know how he could prove that to be the case? By accounts which had been received from Port Phillip, it appeared that two public meetings had been held there without coming to any resolution whatever in the matter.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, the spirit in which this Bill was framed was so admirable, and the whole scope of its intention so liberal, that he was very unwilling to pronounce any judgment upon it; but the hon. and learned Member for Athlone and some other hon. Members had attributed to it so many qualities that it did not possess that he could not help making a few observations upon this measure. It was a most remarkable proposition, such, indeed, as had no precedent in the history of legislation; but he thought that the great defect of the Bill was this, that whilst the Government frankly confessed their ignorance of the real wants, and desires, and condition of the colonies, they attempted to legislate for those colonies on a permanent basis, and would not leave the colonies free practically—although the Bill itself in theory professed otherwise—to choose for themselves their system of government. No one who had read the despatch of Sir W. Denison could doubt for a moment what 616 were the wishes of the colonies with respect to this question; still they did not like to "look a gift horse in the mouth." Although he had a great interest in the colonies, he was decidedly of the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that the Imperial Parliament ought to legislate for the colonies, notwithstanding the professed ignorance of many of its members on such a subject. He contended that the history of our North American colonies showed that it was the duty of the Parliament of this country to legislate for the colonies, and to endeavour to profit by the lessons they had had elsewhere, by establishing such a system as they thought would work. He did not mean to say that they were not bound to take into consideration the opinion of the colonies; but he believed that if they attached too much importance to their opinions, they would have those colonists in a very few years turning round and saying, "We voted for that which was of little use to us, but, in point of fact, we were not competent judges, we had not the requisite experience." But if the question were fairly submitted to the colonies, as to whether they would rather leave their present form of government, one-third of the senate consisting of nominees of the Crown, or two chambers of representatives, to be elected by the people, could any candid man in that House hesitate for a moment as to what their choice should be? He could not sit down without expressing his regret that a Bill having such good intentions should unfortunately have this fatal blot, that they neither allowed the colonists to legislate for themselves, nor did they at once boldly legislate for them, on the experience which they already possessed.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, I should not think of troubling the House at this late hour—12 o'clock—but that I am anxious to recall the attention of hon. Gentlemen to what the question is on which we are going to divide. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark has proposed, as an Amendment, that we should omit in the Bill certain words affecting the composition of the legislative council, and that we should substitute other words in their place. But the hon. Baronet, in taking a view of the two chambers—one to be elected by the people, and the other to be elected by the same electors, but having a double qualification—does not state in his Amendment that the second chamber is to be elected. He has carefully avoided that point, as 617 have also the Gentlemen who support him. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire would not bind himself to the constitution of the second chamber, but said that the House of Commons would be in favour of an elective one. Now, I think that the House should not throw aside a plan of Government without seeing clearly their way as to what they could put in its place. If you have a second elective chamber, without any of its members appointed by the Crown, are you sure that you have the means of constituting that second chamber? Are you sure that if you have it in the way proposed by the hon. Baronet, you will not have a repetition of the first chamber, and that one will not be a mere echo of the other? Such, I believe, would be the case; but if the House is now prepared to accept the proposition of the hon. Baronet, let them consider it would be without more information than we have to attempt to frame a constitution so different to anything known to any colony of the British Crown. What we propose is in conformity with the Bill brought in by Lord Stanley in 1842. A Bill containing every provision of the present Bill was laid before Parliament last year. It has been sent to the Australian colonies, and from them, at least, no voice of dissent has come. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said that the colonists were in so great joy at the prospect of having anything like a constitution that they were ready to accept it at once, without examination. If, then, they are so pleased with the Bill as not to examine its details, I think that is a sign that our plan will prove more acceptable to the colony; and, with regard to this country, you have every one in the House who is connected by trade or property with the colony asking you to pass the Bill. The hon. Gentleman also said that there were not in this Bill powers enabling the colonists to alter the constitution. If there be not, let us take care to have a clause inserted giving them that power. That is what I wish, and what I propose is, that a measure which has been known by experience to a colony for eight years, is known to the rest by the proposition having been sent out, and has been generally received with approbation, should be adopted by the House, rather than that you should attempt to frame a new constitution, uncertain whether it would be adapted to the situation of the colony, uncertain whether it would be received with gladness, uncertain whether, when put in operation, it would work for the welfare of the 618 colony. The only other alternative you have is to delay this Bill for another year; and I can only say that I believe a decision to that effect would produce the greatest dismay in the colony. I have only further to say, that I hope this Bill will be decided with a view to the welfare of the country, and with no other view.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
, in reply, said the noble Lord had not quite correctly represented the nature of his Amendment. He proposed to make four distinct alterations in the clause then under discussion, and when altered it would road thus:—And be it enacted, that there shall he established in the colonies of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia respectively, a legislative council and a house of assembly, and that the members of such council and assembly shall be elected by the inhabitants of the colony in which such council shall be established.The noble Lord had expressed his objection to the Amendment, because, he said, if it succeeded in establishing two elective chambers in those colonies, the second chamber would be a mere copy of the first. In reply, he (Sir W. Molesworth) could only give the House the experience of the thirty-two States of America constituting the Union. The first, or upper chamber, would be much smaller than the second, that is, it would only consist of half the number of members in the second; the members of the upper chamber would be elder and wealthier than those whe constituted the second, and their terra of tenure of seats would be twice that of the occupants of scats in the lower chamber. The admirable manner in which so many millions of the Anglo-Saxon race lived under that system was a sufficient proof of its peculiar adaptability to the wants of the inhabitants of our colonies.
§ Question put, "That the words 'it shall be lawful for' stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 218; Noes 150: Majority 68.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, Sir T. N.||Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Alcock, T.||Bass, M. T.|
|Anderson, A.||Berkeley, Adm.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Berkeley, hon. H. F.|
|Anson, Visct.||Birch, Sir T. B.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Blackall, S. W.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Blake, M. J.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Bouverie, hon. E. P.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Boyle, hon. Col.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Brocklchurst, J.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Brockman, E. D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hatchell, J.|
|Brown, W.||Hawes, B.|
|Browne, R. D.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Busfeild, W.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Heneage, E.|
|Caulfield, J. M.||Heywood, J.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Heyworth, L.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Clay, J.||Hollond, R.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Howard, hon. E. G. G.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Howard, P. H.|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hutt, W.|
|Collins, W.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Keogh, W.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Kershaw, J.|
|Cowan, C.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Langston, J. H.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Curteis, H. M.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Lewis, G. C.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C.||Locke, J.|
|Divett, E.||Loveden, P.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Mackie, J.|
|Douro Marq. of||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Duff, G. S.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Duff, J.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Masterman, J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Matheson, J.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Matheson, Col.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Ellice, E.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Ellis, J.||Morgan, H. K. G.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Morrison, Sir W.|
|Evans, J.||Morris, D.|
|Evans, W.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Fagan, W.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Fergus, J.||Mundy, W.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Norreys, Lord|
|Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. J. W.||O'Connell, M.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Forster, M.||Ord, W.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Fox, W. J.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Freestun, Col.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Parker, J.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Patten, J. W.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Greene, T.||Peto, S. M.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Pigott, F.|
|Grey, R. W.||Pilkington, J.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Pinney, W.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Power, Dr.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Power, N.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Price, Sir R.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Pusey, P.|
|Harris, R.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Hastie, A.||Ricardo, O.|
|Hastie, A.||Rice, E. R.|
|Rich, H.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Rumbold, C. E.||Thornely, T.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Russell, hon. E. S.||Towneley, J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Tufnell, H.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Scully, F.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Seymour, Lord||Vivian, J. H.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||Wall, O. B.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Smith, J. A.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Smith, M. T.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Somers, J. P.||Wilson, J.|
|Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.||Wilson, M.|
|Spearman, H. J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Stanton, W. H.||Wood, W. P.|
|Staunton, Sir G. T.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Wyvill, M.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.||TELLERS.|
|Talbot, J. H.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Bellew, R. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Duncan, G.|
|Alexander, N.||Duncombe, hon. O.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Duncuft, J.|
|Arkwright, G.||Dundas, G.|
|Bagge, W.||Dunne, Col.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Baillie, H. J.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Edwards, H.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Estcourt, J. B. B.|
|Bankes, G.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Beckett, W.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Bennet, P.||Farrer, J.|
|Beresford, W.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Best, J.||Floyer, J.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Forbes, W.|
|Blair, S.||Fox, S. W. L.|
|Blakemore, R.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Bright, J.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Broadley, H.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Brooke, Lord||Greenall, G.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Greene, J.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Grogan, E.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Guernsey, Lord|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Gwyn, H.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Hale, R. B.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Christy, S.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Clive, H. B.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Cobden, R.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Heald, J.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Compton, H. C.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Conolly, T.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Cubitt, W.||Hotham, Lord|
|Deedes, W.||Hudson, G.|
|Denison, J. E.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Disraeli, B.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Dod, J. W.||Jones, Capt.|
|Dodd, G.||Law, hon C. E.|
|Lawless, hon. C.||Sandars, G.|
|Lennox, Lord A. G.||Sandars, J.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Scholefield, W.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Long, W.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Lushington, C.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Simeon, J.|
|M'Neill, D.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Meagher, T.||Smith, J. B.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Maudeville, Visct.||Stafford, A.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Stephenson, R.|
|Marshall, J. G.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Stuart, H.|
|Miles, W.||Stuart, J.|
|Monsell, W.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Mowatt, F.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Naas, Lord||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Napier, J.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Newport, Visct.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|O'Brien, Sir L.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Palmer, R.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Palmer, R.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Peel, F.||William, S. J.|
|Portal, M.||Wyld, J.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Adderley, C. B.|
§ In reply to a question from Mr. WILD,
§ MR. F. PEEL
observed that a limitation was placed upon the discretion to be vested in the legislative authorities of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia as to the number of persons to constitute the legislative council; but the same limitation was not extended to the legislatures of New South Wales and Western Australia.
§ MR. ANSTEY
then moved that the words of the clause which empowered the Crown to nominate a certain number of the members of the two legislative councils to sit with the elective members should be omitted.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided;—Ayes 159; Noes 27: Majority 132.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed.622
§ Committee report progress; to sit again on Monday next.
§ The House adjourned at One o'clock till Monday next.