§ The House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the chair.
§ Clause 7.
MR. V. SMITH
said, that it appeared to him that they were proceeding with too much haste in carrying this Bill. The last clause, the latter part of which contained maay inconsistencies, had been agreed to with very little deliberation. As regarded New South Wales, its history could not be too frequently told, as it did not appear to be well understood. The New South Wales Bill, which some Members talked of as being a model of a Bill, was more a make-shift than a piece of legislation. From 1788 to 1823 they treated New South Wales more as a prison than any thing else; and so badly did the House treat that colony, that in the year 1823 the Government was compelled to bring in an Act of Indemnity, and from that time up to 1839 they were engaged discussing how they should deal with it. In 1840 the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government brought in the Bill under which the government of the colony was at present conducted; but he stated at that time that it was only to continue for ten years, as he thought that the colonies might in the course of that time wish for the same institutions which their North American colonies possessed. The House, however, had decided otherwise. They now proposed to leave the colonies to shift for themselves; but when he looked at the vast amount of emigration which had taken place, he thought that it was too bad to deprive them of the advice of their mother country. Their representation in the Assembly was at present inefficient. The rate of qualification was too high, as by it they excluded from the Assembly a large interest which was composed of an influential and intelligent body, he meant the "squatting" interest.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
wished to take the Chairman's opinion upon a point of order. The Committee were now upon the 7th clause, but the right hon. Gentleman was discussing a subject which related only to the 6th clause.
was sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had too much knowledge and respect for the House to do that which was irregular. The fact was, the subjects were so intermixed that it was difficult to separate them.
MR. V. SMITH
contended that he was 629 in order. In despatches from Sir G. Gipps in 1844 and Sir C. Fitzroy in 1848, the rights and claims of the squatting interests were admitted. Yet, from 1844 to 1850, nothing had been done for their admission to the franchise; and, therefore, he asked the House not to give their sanction to any proceeding which did not include this respectable class. Her Majesty's Government wished to leave this question to the decision of the colonists themselves; but he contended it would be inconsistent with the purpose of the Bill if that course was taken. The squatting interest would in that event have no voice along with the other colonists in many most important questions. Why, before the franchise was extended to them, duties would be appropriated, districts settled, judges' salaries fixed, and all the laws passed relative to waste lands. Under these circumstances, it was advisable for the House to consider whether, having decided upon a single chamber, they were not bound to make that single chamber a clear representation of the people. He had the best authority for saying there was no objection to the admission of the squatting interest into the Assembly, for it was composed of an intelligent and respectable body of persons; and he suggested that a clause should be introduced into the Bill to meet the case, so as to enable the Assembly to represent the whole population on those important questions, the decision upon which would afterwards become the constitution of New South Wales.
§ MR. HAWES
said, that the principle upon which the Bill proceeded was to leave the existing constitution of New South Wales as nearly as possible in the state in which it now stood. It might be very possible to suggest various improvements; but the object, as he had said, was not to vary or alter the New South Wales Act in any material point. The right hon. Gentleman had said that when the Bill of 1842 was introduced, something like a promise was held out that within a period of ten years the colonists would receive a representative constitution, framed upon the model of that of the mother country. Well, within that period of time this Bill had been introduced, which gave the existing legislature of that colony the power to frame such institutions as might be thought most suitable to the wants and condition of the colony. So far the promise had been fulfilled in a generous spirit towards the colonists. But the right hon. Gentleman said that there was a very important body—the leaseholders, or the 630 squatting interest, as they were called, who ought to be represented. He (Mr. Hawes) fully admitted the importance of that object; but the Government had hesitated to introduce a clause to the effect desired by the right hon. Gentleman, because they had informed the colonists that they did not mean to make any serious alteration in their constitution without previous communication with them, and obtaining their consent. He must say, that he thought it far better to leave the existing Legislative Council to make the necessary alterations themselves, because, as the popular members were as two to one to the official members, if there was any real pressure upon them from any considerable body of their constituents bearing upon any point of reform which they wished, the representative members were both numerous and able enough to carry it.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that the answer of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies was no answer whatever to the right hon. Member for Northampton. That right hon. Gentleman had stated that there was a large interest in New South Wales called the squatting interest, which had not at present the franchise, and was not represented in any way. Therefore, said he, if you allow the council to frame the future constitution for the colony, the most important body in the country will be entirely unconsulted in the arrangement. In reply, the hon. Under Secretary stated that which was applicable to quite another point, that he considered that what he thought the popular part of the council would carry it over the nominee part of the council. It was clear that the Government had only two courses to pursue, cither to make a good constitution well, or prepare the constituent assembly to reform their own constitution. They had broadly laid down, however, that they did not undertake to frame the best constitution themselves, and, as the hon. Under Secretary had stated, had given a constitution which would not represent the feelings of the community, and in which the largest and wealthiest class would not be in any way represented.
§ MR. WYLD
wished to call the attention of Government to the peculiar position of Van Diemen's Land. Did the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies think the existence of a free legislative assembly in that island, having full power over the taxes and the Government, com patible with the presence of a transport 631 population amounting to 34,000? What was to prevent the Assembly from laying a tax on every individual employed as an assigned servant? The effect of that would be to have the whole convict population returned on the hands of the Government. He feared that unless some stipulation was made with respect to the convicts, they would be brought into direct collision with the Assembly of that colony. He proposed, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government should reserve to themselves full power over the convict population, and that the principal officers—the chief justice, the colonial secretary, the comptroller general of convicts, the colonial auditor, and the chief police magistrate, should form an executive council, with power to administer the law relating to convicts.
§ MR. MOWATT
agreed with the hon. Under Secretary that they were hardly in a position to set the question upon a satisfactory footing; but it would well become the Government to state what was their opinion of the matter more distinctly, and probably give the House some sort of assurance that they would bring it under the attention of the governors of the respective colonies.
SIR W. MOLES WORTH
said, that in Van Diemen's Land and South Australia the legislatures now by law established were to possess under the Bill the power of establishing universal suffrage, and no property qualification for the elected. He wished to know why the same power was not to be given in the case of the legislatures of New South Wales and Victoria?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
did not think that they could arrive at satisfactory conclusions on points of detail, and thought that such questions as the right of voting and the like would much better be settled by the local legislatures.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
said, that the noble Lord had not answered the question he had put. The 6th clause enacted that "such legislatures"—those of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia—"respectively, by such laws or ordinances as aforesaid, may, if they so think fit, reduce the minimum value of lands and tenements, and the minimum yearly value of a dwelling-house required to confer the right of Toting at such elections."
§ MR. HAWES
said, that by the 11th clause the provisions of former Acts on this subject were to remain in force. The new councils would have no such power as the hon. Baronet mentioned; but that any 632 measure for altering a constitution would have to be sent home for the consideration of the Colonial Office and the assent of the Crown, before it could become law. He begged to direct the attention of the hon. Baronet to the first part of the clause, which enacted that the proceedings of the now councils, with reference to the alteration of a constitution, should be in accordance with "the conditions now by law required;" consequently, whatever laws were passed with respect to an alteration of the franchise, and the Secretary of State refused to give them his sanction, this House would have an opportunity of questioning the decision of the Secretary of State.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
Then it followed that no constitution could be established in the colonies until this Bill had been sent out, and they had agreed to a constitution, transmitted it to the Colonial Office, and it was sent back to them again. Thus they would not be able to have a new constitution in a shorter period than two years. He suggested, therefore, that they should not now pass this portion of the Bill, but wait for further information from the colonies.
§ MR. HUME
was inclined to accept the Bill without throwing any difficulties in the way of the Government. They were making immense strides towards the establishment of free institutions in the colonies, and, therefore, he was unwilling to look too narrowly into the details of their measure. He was not afraid that, even if the four colonies sent home four different constitutions, the Government of the day would offer any opposition to the wishes of the people.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, the colonies with which he was acquainted would infinitely rather that this Bill should be passed in its integrity than that there should even be a month's delay in its progress. He thought the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had not adopted a fair course towards the House and the Government in regard to the Bill.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
said, that no Bill would give more satisfaction to the colonies than this would; and he could assure Gentlemen who opposed it that they would get little credit in Van Diemen's Land for their opposition.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
Was it not the fact, that two years must elapse before a new legislature could be established in the colonies?
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, it was clear that the plan of the Government would create far more delay than any other plan which had yet been suggested. Who was the origin of the delay which had taken place but Ministers themselves? They had been urged to proceed with the measure before Easter, but they delayed the debate a month or six weeks, in order to reproduce old despatches, from which they could draw no information whatever.
§ Clause agreed to, as also were Clauses 8 and 9.
§ Clause 10.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY moved the omission of the whole of the proviso, his object being to allow the Government to have only a certain number of nominees in the chambers at first established, which should not be increased, even though an increase in the number of members constituting the assemblies should be afterwards made. He supposed the object of having a proportion of Crown nominees in the first legislative assemblies was to secure something like order in their proceedings, by infusing into them persons of education and habits of business. This clause gave the legislative councils power to alter their constitutions by increasing the number of members of those councils; but if Sir W. Denison was right in his supposition that there was not in Van Diemen's Land a sufficient number of persons qualified to constitute an assembly, this clause would, in that colony at least, be entirely inoperative. The restrictions placed on the franchise would so far narrow it that there would not be more than 5,000 or 6,000 electors in either Van Diemen's Land or South Australia; there could, therefore, be no danger that the assembly would represent extreme democratic opinions, or endeavour to enforce democratic principles; there was, consequently, no reason for increasing the number of the nominated members. He should, therefore, move the omission of the proviso which directed that the nominees should increase with the elected members in the proportion of one-third. His own opinion was, that the 634 presence of even one nominee in these councils was too much; and his Amendment would render the legislative councils simply elective assemblies.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that the enactment in the New South Wales Act of 1842 was, that one-third of the members of the legislative council should be appointed by the Crown, and that of the non-elected members not more than one-half should hold any office or emolument under the Crown, so that no more than one-sixth of the whole number could be officially connected with the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman now proposed that that provision should not be carried into effect should there be any increase in the whole number of members. Such an alteration, it appeared to him, would lead to inconvenience, by giving occasion for a struggle, with the view of increasing the number of elected members, not in accordance with the requirements of the colony, but in order to disturb the proportion of the nominated to the elected members.
§ MR. MOWATT
concurred in the views of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal; but, as this question had been previously raised, he thought it would be inexpedient now to give the Committee the trouble of dividing upon it. He (Mr. Mowatt) had, however, given notice that on bringing up the report he would move an Amendment to reduce the proportion of nominees of the Crown to one-fourth of the number constituting the legislative councils.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down was quite consistent in the course he had pursued; but the consistency of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had moved this Amendment was not equally apparent, as he had before voted against a second chamber, to be free from the nominees of the Crown. He (Mr. Adderley) could not see why the colonists should exclude men of education and friends of order, such as the Crown proposed to nominate. The hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to have no objection that the Crown should nominate eight out of a chamber of 24, but he had a strong objection that they should nominate 12 out of 36.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
would leave it to the Committee if it was fair to charge him with being favourable to give the Crown a right to nominate any portion of the chambers, seeing that he had divided the Committee 635 on Friday night against the principle of allowing the Crown to appoint any nominees.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he understood his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies to describe this Bill as a mere beginning, as a sort of make-shift, which he hoped would ultimately result in two chambers. If that were so, why did not the Government leave it to the colonies to decide on the relation between those who were elected and those who were nominated by the Government?
MR. HAWE S
said, he had before distinctly stated that the Government professed to stand on the Act for New South Wales, which had worked well, and against which no complaint had been made.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that in order to alter the constitution, it was necessary to have a large preponderance—he believed two-thirds—of the whole Assembly. He could not understand, therefore, why the Government should press for this number of nominees, if they intended the constitution ever to be altered, and if they had the confidence which they professed to have in the colonists.
§ Amendment withdrawn. Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 11 was agreed to, with some slight verbal amendment.
§ Clause 12.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
said, the clause only applied to the four colonies of Victoria, Van Diemen's Land, South Australia, and Western Australia. He should wish to hear some reason assigned for omitting New South Wales from the list.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
thought the salary ought not to be altered during the period that a judge retained his office. To effect such alteration in New South Wales, the previous consent of the Colonial Office was necessary, and he should like to know why a different rule was to be applied to the other colonies?
§ MR. ROEBUCK
objected to the power of altering judges' salaries being given, at least without reserving to the Government a right of considering the matter afterwards. As his hon. Friend did not understand the clause, he was sure no other occupant of the Ministerial bench knew anything about it.
MR. V. SMITH
said, what the Committee wanted to know was, what the intentions of the Government were with regard to this most important point.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, his right hon. Friend knew very well that the power of the colonies to deal with certain subjects depended very much on the instructions sent out by Her Majesty's Government to the Governor of the colony. The Governor was instructed to reserve certain subjects of legislation for consideration by the Home Government, and not to assent to them until he received the advice of the Colonial Office. But there were also certain alterations which the Governor was absolutely prohibited by Act of Parliament from acceding to; and among these was the question of the judges' salaries in New South Wales. The present clause merely went to remove that prohibition in the case of the other colonies; but the Governors would, of course, still act under the instructions which they received through the Colonial Office.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
wished to know whether the Government admitted the principle that the salaries of existing judges should not be interfered with?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
quite agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the salaries of existing judges ought not to be interfered with; and he was quite ready to agree to a proviso, if the hon. and learned Gentleman thought fit to insert one, that the salaries of judges should not be interfered with, so long as they held office.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 13.
§ MR. J. E. DENISON
wished to call attention to the subject of the disposal of the waste lands of the Crown, which by the Bill was vested in the Federal Assembly—a tribunal which, he believed, would never meet, for if—as had been stated, it would be difficult to find men of leisure and independence to form a second chamber, it must be much more difficult to find such men willing to take a long voyage to meet in general assembly, where they would have nothing of importance but this question to discuss. Earl Grey "antici- 637 pated that, for the present, that part of the Bill would probably be inoperative;" and the Governor of Van Diemen's Land and the Legislative Council of South Australia did not regard this as a good tribunal to create for the consideration of such a question. The people of South Australia were satisfied with the present upset price of land, and he felt indisposed to allow any change. In Van Diemen's Land, on the contrary, the land was so much improved, that it might be considered as an agricultural country, and the means of communication had been extended so much recently, that in a short time few districts would be more than sixty miles from water carriage, so that the colonists were prepared to demand a higher price than was obtained at present. The case was, he was sorry to say, very different in New South Wales. The soil was so destitute of water, and in many districts so sterile, that it might be considered a purely pastoral country. It was, in fact, one great sheepwalk, without any internal water communications, and but little chance of extensive improvement. Formerly the price of land in New South Wales was 5s. an acre, but the Colonial Office had raised it to 20s. The House might judge what was the real value when he told them it required six or seven acres to feed one sheep. The report of a Committee of the House of Assembly contained a few facts as to the result of the rise in price, which he would state to the House. While the price was at 5s. an acre, the sales of land had been in 1837, 368,000 acres, in 1838, 315,000 acres, in 1839, 285,000 acres, in 1840, 189,000 acres. The price was raised to 1l in 1842. Let them mark the effect. In 1843 the sales of land amounted to 4,000 acres, in 1844 to 4,200 acres, in 1846 to 8,000 acres, and in 1848 to 7,000 acres. That could not have been caused by any falling off in population, for the number of colonists had increased from 85,000 in 1837 to 196,000 in 1846, and a corresponding increase had taken in wealth. The advance in price, instead of checking jobbing and favouring immigration, as intended, was said in the report to have promoted the one and to have prevented the other, while it annihilated the value of land. That report had been laid before the Land and Emigration Commissioners, but those gentlemen, so far from thinking the price of land too high, said it was not high enough; and no change had taken place, though he hoped the Go- 638 vernment would seriously consider the subject. The next question to which he wished to draw the attention of the Committee was, what would be the effect of leaving the management of the land fund to the Federal Assembly? According to the proposed constitution of that body, New South Wales would have 12 Members, Victoria 4, Van Diemen's Land 5, South Austraha 4. So that New South Wales would have a greatly preponderating influence on the spot, and would no doubt use that influence to reduce the price of land. He asked hon. Gentlemen who were anxious to keep up the price to see if that would not be the result, and he could not think the Government meant to retain their present proposition. Connected with that subject was the very important question whether any interest was to be reserved in these lands for the labouring poor of this country. At present half the purchase money was appropriated to the purposes of emigration, and he could not think it unjust to ask the colonists that a certain portion of the land fund should be distributed in the same way. An immigration of a now character was going on in Now South Wales. It had been found easy to import Chinese, who answered very well as shepherds, at a cost of 10l. each, and with annual wages of about 6l., while an emigrant from this country would cost about 15l., and had wages of not less than 18l. It was not improbable, if the matter was left in the hands of the colonists, that the disposition towards such an immigration would increase. That was a subject not unworthy of consideration, and he hoped Government would look to it. The next question was, in whose hands would Government place the managing and controlling of the lands? He thought that the respective legislatures of each colony should possess the power over their lands, as they would be far more likely to do justice than the Federal Assembly. He bad given notice of an Amendment to that effect, and would submit it to the consideration of the Committee, unless the noble Lord gave some reason for the present course, or offered some better suggestions than he had been able to make.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
hoped his hon. Friend would hear the course It was proposed to take on this question before he pressed his Amendment. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to two evils complained of in New South Wales as growing from the prices placed on the waste land; but 639 he had not adverted to the previous history of several of our colonies, in which the grants of waste lands had produced the greatest evils, and had been fatal and destructive to the interests of the colonists. Western Australia, for instance, which had been founded with the best intentions by Sir George Murray, when Secretary of State for the Colonies, had never been able to make any effectual progress, owing to the very large grants of land made to the early colonists. There were several other colonies in which at the present time this was the source of constant dispute, and where the making of roads, the improvement of the land, and the condensation of the inhabitants, were prevented by the immense tracts of land in the hands of single proprietors, who could not improve or cultivate it. These evils had been brought before the public with great ability by Mr. Wakefield; and in 1831, Earl Grey, who was then Under Secretary for the Colonies, proposed to the Earl of Ripon to introduce a plan of sale of 5s. an acre in the Australian colonies, which was approved of and adopted by the Earl of Ripon. Afterwards the price was raised to 12s. an acre, and subsequently to 1l.: but during that period there had been considerable discussion always going on; first, as to the principle of the scheme itself, and next as to the alterations in price, which were said to be made capriciously, and which, whether made capriciously or not, being subject to fresh views, could never be of a uniform character; so that the system could not give security to the person who had bought land that there would not be a sudden fall in price. After matters had gone on in this way for some time, and after a thorough inquiry into the subject by the Committee on South Australia, a Bill was introduced, which passed in 1842. The hon. Member for Malton had omitted that part of the consideration, for, after the Bill was passed, it was no longer a question for the Colonial Office, but one settled by Parliament, who decided by the 5th and 6th of Victoria, c. 36, that there should be a certain price for these lands. The preamble declared there ought to be a uniform system, and then proceeded to provide how the waste lands should be disposed of, and also that the power which had hitherto been exercised of licenses for pasture should not be prevented; but that the licenses for occupation, given by the Governor, should not exceed twelve months in duration, thus leaving the land to be occupied at a much 640 lower rate, and reserving the power, if the land was likely to sell at 20s., of refusing to continue the license. In another part of the same Act, after providing for all expenses of survey and management, a clause enacted that the gross produce should be divided into two parts—one to be appropriated to the public service of the colony, the other to the emigration of persons from the united kingdom. In making provision with respect to the waste lands in the present Bill, the Government were desirous to preserve the uniformity which had been the object of the former Act; and they considered that if each colony was to have its own separate system of disposing of the waste lands, there could not be any uniformity; but that, the price being considered high in one colony, the legislature of another might think it a temptation to lower the price, and thereby considerable evils would be produced. He did not know whether the Congress of the United States allowed each State to put a separate price on its own land, but rather thought Congress decided that question. The plan of his hon. Friend was objectionable for the reasons he had stated; but he (Lord J. Russell) admitted that, on reconsideration of the plan he proposed, there were many valid objections to giving to the Federal Legislature the power of control as to the waste lands. There had been a despatch very lately received from the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, entering at length into the subject, but he (Lord J. Russell) must confess he had not yet had time to peruse it carefully. The despatch alluded to some resolutions of the Council of New South Wales, which had not yet been received here, and of which no notice had yet arrived from the Governor. Such being the state of the question, and the Government thinking it was not likely this Federal Legislature would very soon he brought into operation, he must confess he thought the better course would be not to introduce into this Bill any provisions on the subject, and thereby to leave the question of the waste lands as it at present stood. There might be some alteration of the law made hereafter which might be more satisfactory to the colony than the present arrangement; but he concurred with the hon. Member for Malton in thinking that the promoting and facilitating emigration from the united kingdom to the Australian colonies, was an object which would not only be advantageous to this country, but likely to be of benefit to those 641 colonies, and that in all our legislation that object should be kept in view.
§ MR. DIVETT
was delighted to hear what had fallen from the noble Lord, as it was perfectly in accordance with his own convictions. With regard to the Federal Assembly, he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Malton, that the Federal Assembly would be perfectly inoperative. There was a strong disposition among what might be called the outer colonies, not to let the powerful legislature of Sydney override them, and they were more disposed to draw their connection closer with the mother country than with each other. The noble Lord, in the statement he had just made, had met an amendment which he was about to propose, that the question of waste lands should be kept as it was settled by Lord Stanley's Bill in 1842. He had given great attention to the working of that Act, and he was satisfied that it was well fitted to assist in removing large masses of our population from this country to Australia. Of the 300,000 who left our shores last year, 30,000 went to Australia, and 270,000 to the United States; and though he did not suppose that these numbers would ever be reversed, or even that the figures could be kept up in succeeding years, still he believed that if this measure were let alone, an increasing number would be found every year to go to the Australian colonies. After having given much attention to the subject, he was convinced the system of selling land at the minimum price of 20s. an acre was the best that could be adopted, and that each emigrant got full value for his money. After the fullest consideration which he had been able to give to the subject, he felt quite persuaded that the best course to pursue with respect to South Australia consisted in a close adherence to the present system, as far as regarded the sale of land; and in that opinion he begged to observe that he was by no means singular. He had an extract from the South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal of the 2nd November last, in the sentiment of which he agreed completely, with one exception, and that was where an expression was used which cast a reflection upon the Colonisation Commissioners. Now, he had watched the proceedings of these commissioners closely, and he felt quite satisfied that they had shown the greatest possible wish and anxiety to do their duty faithfully to the colonies and to the labouring population of the mother country. The writer of the article assert- 642 ed that to reduce the minimum price of waste land in the colonies would be most objectionable. It would be destructive of the main source of their prosperity. And he then alluded to the conduct of what he called "the present plundering and reckless commissioners," which was the expression he (Mr. Divett) disapproved of, and thought unjustified; and recommended that the expenditure of the revenue derived from the sale of the waste lands should be entrusted to some paid servants of the colonists themselves. Now, having said that he approved of the sentiments expressed in that article, he would beg leave to refer to the Act of 1842 (Lord Stanley's Act), which was the present law. He differed from his hon. Friend the Member for Malton as to the effects produced by that Act. The depression of which his hon. Friend had spoken had been produced by a variety of causes. The depression in the price of wool was one; and the squatting system was not to be overlooked in its operation and consequences. The individuals holding licences for pasture in 1849 numbered, in the middle districts, 1,520, and in the Port Phillip districts, 827, in all, 2,347; 685 of whom held more than one licence each. Of those, 298 held more than 60,000 acres each; 73 held above 100,000 acres; 33 held upwards of 150,000 acres; 24 held above 200,000; 14 above 250,000; 3 above 300,000; 4 above 350,000; 2 above 400,000; 1 above 555,000; 2 above 600,000; and 2 held above 800,000 acres each. The gentleman who had given him that information asked what inducement could those men have to buy land at any price? They did not even want labourers from this country, for they were satisfied with such Chinamen, Indians, and South Sea island-era as they could occasionally import for trifling wages. They had no motive for buying land except small freeholds occasionally for building purposes. He (Mr. Divett) was not going to object to the system of granting those licences; he merely stated certain facts connected with them. As to South Australia, the Act came into operation there on the 1st of January, 1844, and between that and the 31st of December, 1848, 201,144 acres of land were sold, and they produced no less than 258,739l. 14s., being an average of about 25s. an acre. It had given him great satisfaction to hear the noble Lord at the head of the Government say that he intended to adhere for the present to a sys- 643 tem which had conferred such numerous benefits upon the colonies.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
rose for the purpose of making one or two suggestions. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated that he was not aware of the course which the Congress of the United States took with regard to their waste lands. Now, whatever that course might be, there was one matter respecting them in which the American Congress pursued what appeared to him a very wise course—they defined the limits of all places under their authority, and thus prevented disputes respecting those waste lands that ought to be at the disposal of the general government of the country. In his opinion, definite and not very wide limits should be assigned to our existing colonies in Australia, so that the tracts of land intervening between each of those colonies might be at the disposal of the Imperial Government. So long as there was a possibility that any individual colony could lay claim to a large extent of waste lands, so long would there be grounds for quarrels and disputes respecting the tracts which might be outside the proper but yet undefined limits of a colony. When the noble Lord said that he saw no near prospect of the meeting of a general assembly in Australia, he (Mr. Roebuck) did not agree with him. No one would have thought in 1670 or 1680 that there would have ever been a congress assembled in America, yet fifty years afterwards there was assembled a meeting which was the germ of the United States; and it should be remembered that that was in an age when there were no railroads. It was scarcely safe to hazard any prediction when we remembered how men were now enabled to coerce nature. Let them look at what might be done by means of railways. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might smile, but they would soon hear of railways running through wide tracts of desert places. There was one line at present laid down which passed over a tract of sixty miles, on which there was not at present a single house. Let the people of Australia be allowed to look forward to the time when a general assembly might meet there, for they would soon become a great people. He wished to recur to the suggestion that he had thrown out, namely, the expediency of assigning limits to all our colonies in that part of the world, without which provision he conceived it to be utterly impossible that quarrels between neighbouring 644 and rival States could be prevented. By taking timely measures of that kind, they would soon be enabled to see what amount of land they might have available for, and as an appanage of, the poor of this country; and in planting colonies the Government of Great Britain ought not to proceed as if they were establishing something subject and inferior to this country; but, on the contrary, they ought to regard such colonies as an extension of England. They should show the world, that though the seat of government was placed in an island, the limits of which were contracted by nature, yet the great spirit of the people carried them far beyond those contracted bounds, extending their country to the most remote parts of the globe. But, though he thus contended for defining the limits of colonies, he desired to see every colony in possession of control over those lands which lay within their own boundaries. He would put this case:—Suppose it was thought desirable to plant a new colony—was any one at present prepared to say what land lying between Sydney and Port Phillip could fairly be declared to belong to neither?—were there defined limits to Sydney and Port Phillip? He earnestly entreated the Government to take the common precaution of defining the boundaries of those settlements, and not give up all intervening spaces to the existing colonists. In British North America, we did not possess now the power of taking any such precautions; but he hoped that in Australia they would not be neglected till it was too late.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, as the noble Lord did not intend to make any alteration in the disposal of the waste lands, he should not have troubled the House with any remarks, had it not been for the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. Much of that hon. and learned Member's argument he agreed with, but there was a fallacy in some parts of it, which he wished to point out. He considered the suggestion for defining colonial limits as an admirable and valuable suggestion, and worthy of adoption. The next point of the hon. and learned Member had reference to the disposal of the waste lands. The hon. and learned Gentleman wished the outside lands should belong to this country, and the lands inside the boundary to the local legislature. He did not see this was a necessary conclusion to the premises of the hon. and learned Member. He did not see why the lands inside the limits of 645 the colony should belong to the colonists, any more than the lands outside of the limits. He was of opinion that colonists had no right to dispose of or claim any right over the waste lands of colonies which they never bought. The only plea which could be urged in favour of such a practice was expediency; but was it expedient in the present case? It would not be safe to give the colonists power over the waste lands or the funds which waste lands might produce; nor did he think it was expedient that the price of land should come from that quarter. Until separation from Great Britain took place, he should advise the House not to place the power over these lands in the hands of the colonists.
MR. J. B. SMITH
was very glad that the noble Lord had consented to withdraw that part of the clause which related to the sale of the Crown lands. He would be disposed to give to the colonists full control over all the revenues of the colonies, if they would undertake to bear their own expenses. They had made a great mistake when dealing with Canada, in not having made such a bargain with the inhabitants. The consequence was that the colony was an enormous expense to this country. The present was the proper time for a revision of our colonial history. Adam Smith had said that our colonies were a source of constant loss to us. What were they now? From the last returns of exports made up in 1848, he found that the total value of goods exported to those colonies that did not pay their own expenses, amounted to only 7,150,000l., whilst they cost this country between 4,000,000l. and 5,000,000l., besides what was paid to them for the sugar monopoly, by which they received more from this country than the market price by 1,800,000l., and the timber monopoly, which cost us 1,700,000l. more. So that the total cost of the colonies to this country was about 7,500,000l. per annum.
§ MR. DISRAELI
rose to order. The Committee were now discussing the 13th clause of the Australian Colonies Bill, and he wished to know whether the Chairman thought the hon. Member had a right to discuss the question of the sugar trade thereupon? He believed that Australia was not a sugar-producing colony. He wished the Committee to proceed with the Bill before them, not in a hurry, but at least in a business-like manner.
understood that the 646 hon. Member for Stirling was about, by some analogy, to state certain arguments against the 13th clause of the Bill. At present he could not pretend to predict whether the hon. Member's analogy was likely to be made out.
MR. J. B. SMITH
wanted to show that our policy hitherto in giving away the Crown lands had been wrong. It was just the reverse of that which was pursued by America with regard to her colonies. In America the revenue derived from the sale of land, and the revenue derived from imports, wont to the support of the Government, and each of the States maintained itself by direct taxation. Our colonial policy, he maintained, had been injurious, inasmuch as we had given up to the colonies the Crown lands and revenues. He should be glad to know from the noble Lord whether this was not a favourable opportunity to propose to the colonies to pay their own expenses on condition of having their own Crown lands and revenues.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
was not aware that any such negotiations were upon the tapis. They were negotiations, indeed, the difficulty of entering on which was obvious. But he might say in reference to the subject, that although he would be ready to concur in all feasible means for reducing colonial expenditure, yet that he would never consent to give up, on the part of the central Government of the British empire, the right and the duty of defending our possessions in any quarter of the globe.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
wished to know whether Government intended to press the clause as it stood in reference to the management of the waste lands; or whether they intended to postpone it for the present? The question was whether the waste lands were to be confined to the Imperial Government, or to be left to colonial administration?
§ MR. HAWES
explained that the clause, as it now stood, maintained in the hands of the Imperial Government the management of the waste lands. It was proposed not to interfere with the Appropriation and Land Sales Act, but to leave it in all its integrity.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that there was an important point as to the settlement of the boundaries of different colonies which ought to be taken up by Government.
§ MR. HAWES
replied, that the House must not understand that no boundaries 647 had been fixed. In this very Bill a boundary was laid down between New South Wales and Victoria. The South Australian boundaries were also settled by it. The boundary of New South Wales to the north was not indeed fixed by the Bill, but a power existed under Acts in force of defining it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
observed, that the question was not merely of drawing limits between colonies, but between the colonies and the waste lands.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
advised the Government to settle the limits of the different colonies in the strict topographical manner adopted by the United States, and above all things to make these limits as narrow and as circumscribed as possible.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
admitted that this was a question beset with much difficulty. He was satisfied that the arrangement proposed in the Bill for the disposal of waste lands could not possibly be carried out, and he was glad that the Ministry had gone so far as to concede the point that it would be injurious to leave the disposal of those lands with the general assembly. As to the general assembly, the proposal to make it compulsory would be the most direct mode of defeating it, for he believed that the surest way to prevent its taking place would be to dictate it. But whether the general assembly took place or not, a body so constituted was the very worst to which could be committed the charge of the waste lands; and he need hardly point out the impropriety of placing the sale of waste lands—an everyday matter of arrangement—in the hands of a body that would not be in existence for years to come, if it ever existed at all. The question before the House, then, was whether, as proposed by the hon. Member for Malton, the power of disposing of waste lands should be given to the local colonial legislatures, or left with the Board of Commissioners on Land and Emigration? Now, as regarded the operations of this latter body, he would call the attention of the economical school in the House to one or two facts. The Land and Emigration Commission spent 14,000l. a year in their office. Of this, 8,000l went to the salaries of the officers, and the remainder was spent in some other way. Every year 50,000l., on account of land sales, came into their hands, and the number of emigrants they sent out was 2,000 a year; that was to say, the commission spent at the rate of 20l. per head on every emigrant sent out to Australia, 648 being something about 100 per cent more than emigrants could be sent out for by other means. Now, he thought this was rather an extravagant way of managing matters. The resolution to sell lands at a minimum of 1l. an acre had a tendency to check emigration, and ought therefore never to have been adopted. Those who held that waste lands in the colonies were an appanage of the poor in England, would, he hoped, acknowledge that it was for the benefit of the poor that such lands should be managed as wisely as possible; and, if so, why should they be put into the hands of those who by their measures checked emigration, and destroyed the advantages that would otherwise flow from a judicious administration of those lands? He only rose, however, to say, that to deprive the colonists of the power to dispose of the waste lands, would be at variance with the principle laid down by the Government, that all local questions should be left to the decision of the colonial legislatures.
SIR W. MOLES WORTH
was glad to hear the announcement which had been made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but if the hon. Member for Malton had moved his Amendment, he should certainly have seen it his duty to support him. He agreed with what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that they should without delay proceed to place these waste lands within the narrowest bounds.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Stafford shire, that this was a most difficult part of the subject, but at the same time it was a most important one to the people of this country. He understood the hon. Member for Malton did not mean to press his Amendment, but that he meant rather to reserve his proposition till the bringing up of the report. Perhaps, however, he (Sir J. Graham) would be allowed, with a sincere desire not to increase the difficulty, very shortly to state what course he would be prepared to take. He thought the noble Lord at the head of the Government had come to a wise determination in agreeing to withdraw the decision with respect to the waste lands from the general assembly that was to be created. He would venture to express a strong opinion that the suggestion offered by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield was a most important one. It was an Amendment of the Act of 1842, and he thought it was 649 one well worthy the consideration of Government. If he understood the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it was that it was desirable to narrow and define the waste lands within the limits of each colony, and leave the disposal of those lands to the colonists themselves; but that everything beyond those limits, as strictly defined, should be left to the disposition of the Imperial Parliament. That would, in his opinion, be a certain means of preventing much confusion and future discussion, while it would retain to the Crown undisputed possession of everything without the limits so narrowed and defined, and reserve to the people of this country, through imperial authority, direct access in the easiest way to the waste lands. He thought, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government ought seriously to consider a proposal so well worthy of their consideration.
§ MR. J. E. DENISON
said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had in a thin House made a very important alteration in this Bill. The management of the waste lands, which by the Bill was to have been given to the general assembly, was now withdrawn altogether from colonial authority. The House had now to consider the position in which this matter stood. When the Bill was introduced last year, it contained no provisions as to waste lands at all. The noble Lord was asked whether he intended to withhold the administration of waste lands from the colonies. After considering the matter for a few days, the noble Lord came down to the House, and said it was the intention of Government to concede the management of waste lands to the colonies. Now this had gone forth to the colonies, and when they received intimation from all the colonies of the great gratification with which the Bill had been received, he did not know how much of that gratification was not to be attributed to their supposing that they were to have the management of the waste lands. He admitted the question was one of serious difficulty; but whether they should withdraw from the colonies the management of the waste lands, was a matter to him of serious doubt. He did not know whether he exactly understood the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke, and who proposed that the limits of the various colonies should be distinctly marked out, and that all the land beyond those limits should be reserved for the appropriation of the Home Government, and that all within those limits should be conceded 650 to the colonies. [Sir J. GRAHAM intimated that that was his meaning.] The right hon. Baronet, then, supported his proposition. He had stated that a great and important alteration had been made in the Bill. He thought it highly improper that the House, on so short a notice, should decide the question. Under the circumstances, he should, with the leave of the House, not bring forward his Amendment now, but he should withdraw it until the bringing up of the report. A despatch from Sir W. Young had been spoken of as having been received. He thought it should be laid before the House before the Bill was further proceeded with.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, in spite of what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, he again protested against the British people being deprived of what he conceived to be their rights. He would ask the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon whether he had considered the question in detail, or merely affirmed the general principle? He thought there would be great difficulty in defining the limits of a colony. He could see no distinction whatever between waste lands within the limits, and waste land without the limits.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, a great many suggestions had been offered to the noble Lord at the head of the Government as to what he ought and what he ought not to do. He would suggest to him one thing—that he ought not to permit that pseudonyme attached to a company which went and obtained from the wild inhabitants, for a factitious price, a supposed power over large tracts of territory, to interfere with his arrangements. It was very desirable that the limits of each colony should be made plain and simple, dependent in some measure on its geographical formation, before grafting on it a power of disposing of lands. By the mere fact of its being defined to be a certain colony, they gave to it a certain body of laws. After that was done, the people might be allowed to dispose of their own land; for their interest was so hound up in the small areas to which they belonged that they were beyond the power of jobbing. All without the limits would be available for purposes of imperial concern.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
trusted, that the limits of each colony would be narrowed and defined with respect to the waste lands. Certain clauses in this Bill specified the boundaries of Now South Wales on the southward; on the northward, he understood, no limit whatever was assigned. 651 He thought, with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that the land to which the Act of 1842 applied, should be narrowed and contracted, and all beyond those limits held at the free and unfettered disposal of the Imperial Parliament. Within these limits, he concurred with the hon. Member for Malton in thinking that the disposal should be given to the Colonial Governments.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the subject would of course receive every consideration; but he thought it well to mention that there was now a power, by the Act of 1842, to issue letters patent under the Great Seal, by which the limits of the colony of New South Wales might be defined. He thought it important also to mention that though there existed those powers for assigning limits to that colony, and making provision for the government of places beyond those limits or elsewhere, the question was a very different one from any of a similar kind that might occur in North America; because where there were great districts of pastoral country, with few inhabitants, they must be ruled by an authority from a distance, not having the means of government within the district. This was a practical difficulty, and one which must be considered amongst other matters.
§ MR. J. STUART
thought that the doctrine propounded by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and countenanced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, required serious consideration. As he understood the proposal, it was this, that in this Bill relating to a constitution for New South Wales, the limits of the colony should be accurately defined within which the constitution was to exist, and that all the territory beyond the limits of the colony should be reserved to the Crown, with a right to the Crown to make grants of the lands so reserved and excluded from the scope of the constitution. Supposing the limits of the colony accurately defined, and a grant made beyond them, under what law or what constitution would the person receiving such a grant hold his property?
§ MR. WALPOLE
admitted that the difficulties of the question were so great that the Committee could not at present come to a decision upon it. As the matter at present stood, the noble Lord had consented to withdraw the power conferred on the colonial legislature, by the 32nd clause, of granting waste lands. They were, therefore, driven back to the 13th clause, 652 which related to the sale of waste lands, and to Lord Stanley's Act. He thought the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had made a most invaluable suggestion. Within the limits of the colony the local legislature should have the fullest power of dealing with all matters relating to the colony. It was of the utmost importance in granting privileges to the colony that they should be liberal and complete. In answer to the hon. and learned Member for Newark, he might remark, that the Crown might have the power of extending the jurisdiction of the colony from time to time, or of creating a new colony. The question of waste lands was particularly important at the present moment. In New South Wales the squatting district was some 1,600 miles by 300 broad. They had been told that several persons had obtained land in that district for sheep-walks; some to the extent of 150,000 acres, some 300,000, and two to the extent of 800,000 acres. He hoped the Government would consider the question, and give to the colonial legislature the fullest power over the lands within the limits of the colony, reserving to the Crown the right as to lands beyond that limit.
believed the system they had hitherto pursued in the Australian colonies with regard to the sale of land had not been judicious or successful. Instead of setting it up at high prices, they should have sold the land land at low prices; and, instead of having an establishment in this country for promoting emigration, the utmost they should have done was to make due preparation for the emigrants on their arrival in the colonies. He concurred with the opinions which had been expressed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, and approved of the suggestion which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. The matter required consideration; and he would advise the noble Lord to leave the question concerning waste lands altogether out of this Bill, and reserve to the Government the power of adopting such measures with respect to the waste lands as more accurate information on the subject might suggest.
wished to know, before agreeing to the clause, if there would be another opportunity during the progress of the Bill of considering the question of waste lands?
§ Clause agreed to, as were Clauses 14 and 15.
§ Clause 16.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
took occasion to suggest to the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether he should not introduce some provision into this Bill for the creation of a supreme judicature, having the power to adjudicate on questions of dispute arising between the different Australian colonies.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 17.
§ * MR. LUSHINGTON
Sir, though it is of course my intention to confine my observations to the special points of this Bill, on which I am to move an Amendment, yet I may, perhaps, he permitted in the first place to state that I listened to the able, instructive, and enlightened speech which the noble Lord at the head of the Treasury delivered on his introduction of the Bill, with great pleasure and satisfaction; because I discovered in it a desire to conciliate the colonies to which he referred, and a disposition to restore that cordiality and confidence in the Home Government on their part, which past transactions have unhappily contributed to impair; and I would say this with the greater force and earnestness, because I should deeply regret that anything which I may say in this House, or may have done out of it, should be deemed to be inconsistent with sincere respect for the noble Lord's public services, or my general attachment to his Administration.
I have, however, to make one important exception. Speaking more particularly, for instance, of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, one branch of the administrative arrangements appears to me to be of a character highly obnoxious to the feelings of the colonists, and calculated to produce in its operation extensive social mischief. The Bill provides for the present maintenance, with certain conditions, of the existing constitution in New South Wales, and enables the colonists eventually to effect in it a most essential, alteration. Laws for the peace, welfare, and good government of the country may be conclusively enacted there, and the taxes may be raised, appropriated, and issued by local ordinance; but here the confidence ends, and an ungenerous distrust ensues. The colonists may make 654 laws, raise money and spend it, they may even remodel their constitution—but in matters of religion, that concern the dearest of all things to all men, of which all mankind is supremely jealous, the resolutions on that vital and delicate point must be subjected to the confirmation of Downing-street officials. Thus, when Port Phillip shall have been erected into a separate colony, the sum of 30,000l. now appropriated out of the colonial revenues by Act of Parliament, for the maintenance of religious worship for New South Wales, including that province, is to be increased to 34,000l., of which 6,000l. is to be assigned to Port Phillip, under the name of Victoria—a distinct annual sum of 15,000l being allotted to Van Diemen's Land; and this aggregate of 49,000l. is not to be diminished nor altered without the previous sanction of Her Majesty.
These colonies are now blessed with four Established Churches. The Church according to the Established Church of England, the Church according to the Roman Catholic faith, the Church according to the Presbyterian ritual of Scotland, and the Church according to the Wesleyan communion, the grant being distributed in proportion to the numbers of each sect.
On the revisal of the sums allotted to the sustentation of public worship, it was discovered that an undue proportion had been given to the Church of England; but this inequality was redressed by the Order in Council, not by a deduction from the share of the latter, but by an additional charge on the public revenue. A notable contrivance, under which the colonial community have been further mulcted, in order to make an unjust preference quadrate with an arbitrary assessment. What a halcyon state of things! Four establishments (Benjamin's share given to one, as if purposely to irritate) containing as it were the elements of a well-known mixture—the sweets of religious predominance and class assumption, combined with the concentrated acid of discord and recrimination.
Sir, the 17th clause, if passed in its present shape, will have the most exasperating effect in the colonies concerned. It is not only a violation of religious liberty, but it implies an ungenerous and degrading imputation, that the colonies themselves are unwilling to make provision for the support of religion in any manner, an imputation which their efforts in this respect most fully disprove. I will not 655 touch the Dissenters, who reject all State aid, but I will show what the Church of England can do on the voluntary principle. If hon. Members will take the trouble to refer to page 97 of the blue book, entitled. Further Correspondence on the subject of Convict Discipline and Transportation. they will find a letter from the Bishop of Tasmania to the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, stated, that during his episcopate, the members of the Church of England alone, have, without the aid of Government, erected twenty buildings for Divine worship (most of them of a humble description it must be admitted), besides endowments, both in money and lands; 36,000l. has been subscribed by private liberality; and the Bishop calculates that from the same source, 1,000l. a year can be raised for the purposes of religious instruction.
In South Australia, the Ecclesiastical return in the blue hook, specifies 16,689l. as the amount of private funds contributed to the Church of England places of worship from the first settlement of the colony, and 2,57l. as the amount contributed by the local treasury in aid of their erection. The people of Sydney, in addition to their payments for Christianity, voted 1,000l for a Jewish synagogue. This last vote does not appear to have been allowed by the Government, otherwise we should have had a fifth Established Church in Australia, and that a Hebrew one.
Although at least one-third, probably one-half, of the entire population of New South Wales, including Victoria, derive no benefit from this Parliamentary assessment, because it is contrary to their religious principles to accept State support, yet it cannot be supposed, that if you left the discretion to their exercise, they would seek to withdraw any portion of the allowance from individual holders, or that the colonists at large would wildly and wantonly disturb existing arrangements, without providing an equivalent on the voluntary principle. The people of Adelaide, on the contrary, have openly promised to furnish the substitute. The Council of the South Australian League say, in one of their addresses with reference to the renewal of the grant for public worship—Let the grant be rejected, and an appeal made to the whole Christian community; and if it is not responded to by a contribution more munificent than the sum voted by the Council, then let voluntaryism be pronounced a failure.Again, addressing the Bishop of Adelaide, 656 their language is most generous and conciliatory:—Yield then to us in a spirit of Christian courtesy, what we think and claim to be our right; deprive us of the possibility of a future victory by defeating us now by kindness; and you at once call upon our gratitude to concentrate the energy we are prepared to put forth in a long and sustained contest, into an effort for your assistance, so far as you may require or accept it.Trust, then, to the generosity and good feeling of the colonists, and they will requite you with liberality and forbearance. If, on the contrary, you treat them with distrust and insult, you must prepare to encounter their indignation and resistance.
From the South Australian Gazette of October 21st, 1848, it appears that a large number of persons in the colony are prepared to oppose the renewal of the grant for religious worship. They have publicly announced their determination to resist it. They recommend that there should be no further delay in commencing a vigorous, unremitting, and systematic preparation for opposing the grant, should it be again included in the coming estimates, and for resisting the substitution of any similar measure in its stead. And in the earlier part of the letter to the bishop which I have just quoted, they remind him of the hopelessness of a contest in the event of a representative government being granted to the colony; indicated by the fact, that to the memorial against the grant (transmitted to the home Government in 1846), were appended 2,000 signatures, while only 200 persons petitioned in its favour, many of whom have since been satisfied that the measure was unnecessary, inexpedient, and injurious.
Religious discord has been the bane of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Canadas; yet now, in spite of experience, the Australian colonies are to be inoculated with this noxious element. Besides, you will ultimately defeat your own end. The population must increase immensely, and the allowance now assigned having become totally inadequate, the colonies will never be induced to augment an exaction which you originally forced upon them, and against which they have fruitlessly protested. The noble Lord has avoided all notice of this particular topic in his speech; but notwithstanding its extraordinary caution, I think there are some passages in it which will benefit my argument. Thus, in page 21 of that speech, the noble Lord says—"I believe that any man acquainted with the 657 administrotion of the colonies, will come to the conclusion that it is only in rare cases that the authority of the Crown ought to be interposed; and that with respect to local affairs, the executive and legislative authorities of the colonies are the best judges.Further, at page 35—I have stated enough to show, that both in the North American colonies and in the Australian, it is our disposition to introduce representative institutions, give full scope to the will of the people of those colonies, and thereby enable them to work their way to their own prosperity, far better than if they were controlled and regulated by any ordinances that went from this country.Again, in page 51, these lines will be found—I think the general rule should be, that you should send to the different parts of the world, and maintain in your colonies, men of the British race, and capable of governing themselves; and that while you are their representative with respect to all foreign concerns, you wish to interfere no further in their domestic concerns, than may be clearly and decidedly necessary to prevent a conflict in the colony itself.Why, the noble Lord, casting aside his own declaration, is running headlong to provoke the very conflict against which he professes to guard the colonists. Moreover, he would act in defiance of the noble principle enunciated in 1847 by Earl Grey, who, writing to Sir C. Fitzroy, remarks—The great principle of colonial government is, that all affairs of merely local concern should be left to the regulation of the local authorities; to that principle I know of no general exceptions, unless in cases where local interests may clash with the interests of the empire at large, or in cases where some one predominant class of a society might be disposed to exert such powers, so as unjustly to depress some feebler and defenceless class.Would the noble Lord call this endowment a matter of imperial solicitude, or designate the members of the four favoured establishments as belonging to the feebler and defenceless class? But let me remind the noble Lord, that the colonists have already expressed a determination to repel the threatened interference with their religious liberty; and the arrival of this Act in the colonies, empoisoned with this 17th clause unmodified, will be the signal of instant repudiation and the most furious dissensions. On this point I may add the testimony of an enlightened foreigner, who visited Sydney in 1839, and found religious discord infesting the community, in consequence of the grant for religious purposes. Captain Wilkes, the Commander of the United States' Exploring 658 Expedition, states with reference to this subject—The system of giving to the clergy an allowance from the Government for their support, is the fertile cause of dissension in the community. Many hard thoughts and harsh expressions are occasionally felt and uttered by one sect against the others, in the contest for the stipend distributed among the several denominations.Rely upon it, the ardent spirit and indomitable energy manifested by the descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers is not forgotten in Australia, nor will the colonists ever lose sight of their glorious resistance to arbitrary power. Threatened themselves with exaction, they must contemplate that resistance as an example which they may possibly have to imitate, but it is an example which it will ill become the noble Lord to goad them on to follow.
The reign of George III. is marked in the annals of history by futile attempts to coerce the colonists of North America, the stigma of which is somewhat effaced by unexpected beneficial results to mankind; but I trust that, taught by better experience, we shall confer blessings on Australia by the direct operation of parental fostering, and that, warned by former defeat in an unnatural struggle, the colonial sway of our present beloved Sovereign will not be tarnished by such attempted encroachments, nor disgraced by similar discomfiture.
§ Amendment proposed, page 10, lines 20, 21, to leave out the words "or altering the sums mentioned in the third part of any of the said Schedules A, B, and C."
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
begged to remind the Committee of the real state of affairs in the colony of New South Wales. By the present system a very moderate sum of money was apportioned to, and divided amongst the four principal churches in that colony; and the clause referred to in the present Bill maintained these churches and their grants substantially; and provided that there should be no alteration without the consent and approbation of the Crown. The introduction of that system had afforded great satisfaction to the colonists; whereas the previous system of giving exclusive privileges to one church (the Church of England) gave great offence and annoyance, which were only removed and quieted by the introduction of the present system. Whilst he (Mr. Labouchere) would strenuously resist any attempt at domination by any church over a different portion of the community—believing such to be opposed 659 to the true interests of religion—on the other hand, he was not alone prepared to promote, but also to encourage, the equality of all churches and the absence of religious domination. He was of opinion that encouragement to religious communities was a benefit, not an evil; and he, therefore, should regret any resolution that would disturb the harmony that at present existed. Under the present system there were vested interests of considerable importance. Additional churches had been erected, clergymen endowed, and public worship encouraged and extended; and he was therefore of opinion that the House would act wisely in not disturbing the existing arrangements. All the Government asked was, that these moderate endowments, provided, not for any one class of Christians, but for the four great divisions, should be secured and maintained; and this was only asking for the confirmation of an arrangement which had existed satisfactorily for years. The apportionment of the different sums would have to be decided afterwards.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
was somewhat surprised at the blowing hot and cold which distinguished the policy of the Government with respect to the colonies. One moment the Government were for giving them all sorts of powers, including that of making constitutions. That was the way the Government began; but at the end of the Bill there were schedules, and schedules always excited his suspicion. On turning to the 17th clause, the first thing which he found mentioned was the salary of the Governor. The colonists might make a constitution—they might split one house into two, they might get rid of nominees, they might have a thoroughgoing democracy, but they were not to get rid of the Governor's salary without a Bill which had received the approbation of Her Majesty. Now, he maintained that that was blowing hot and cold. Why did the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade wish to interfere in this matter? He would tell him. All the colonies had attempted to obtain a settlement of what they called the civil list, and there was none which had not had a quarrel with the mother country on that question. The Americans began by quarrelling about the Governor's salary and his perpetual power. The rebellion in Canada was raised for the very purpose of putting down something similar to what was then proposed. In Canada they had spent three or four millions of money, and had rendered annexa- 660 tion an inevitable necessity; and at present they had no power over the colonial administration of that colony, or a single farthing connected with it. In like manner they would retain what he objected to in the Bill only so long as the indignant colonists in Australia were unable to resist, and they would resist the moment they acquired the power of doing so. He desired quite as earnestly as any person on the Treasury bench to retain the colonies; but the only means of extending the colonies, and thus enlarging the power and capacity of England was to give the colonists full power of regulating their own concerns. He admitted that there should be a Governor appointed by the Crown, and he thought that was the only substantial and legitimate link by which the colonies should be kept united to the mother country. But if he were to be paid as the servant of the Government, let it be with English money. If he were to be paid by the colonists, they had no right to say how much he should receive. The schedule was altogether a curious one. The Governor of New South Wales was to have 5,000l. a a year; the chief justice 2,000l.; two puisne judges, 300l; and then there was the following large sum, which was very remarkable: "Salaries of the attorney and solicitor general, Crown solicitor, and contingent and miscellaneous expenses of the administration of justice throughout the colony, 19,000l" making a total of 29,000l. But that was not all. There were the following additional items: "Colonial secretary and his department, 6,500l.; colonial treasurer and his department, 4,000l.; auditor general and his department, 3,000l.; salary of clerk and miscellaneous expenses of executive council, 500l.; pensions, 2,500l. The addition of a sum of 28,000l. per annum under the head of "public worship," made a total of 73,000l. as the amount fixed upon the colony by this Bill. Now, was that in the spirit of the Bill itself? If the colonists were fit to govern themselves and to make constitutions, were they not fit to decide whether or not the Governor should have 5,000l. a year, and whether 28,000l. a year should be paid for public worship? But the most remarkable proposition was, that any saving below the 73,000l. should be reserved to Her Majesty to do what she pleased with. That was an insult to the colony. He would not affront Her Majesty by supposing that she had anything to do with the matter, but he maintained 661 that the Colonial Administration at home should have nothing to do with it. When the Committee came to this section of the clause, he should move the omission of it.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that with regard to the question introduced by the hon. Member for Westminster, he felt that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had blown hot and cold throughout his observations. He said he was entirely against having one dominant church in the colony, as that would be sure to lead to great discord. He therefore wished to have four, because discord would thus be prevented, the minority being overpowered by the majority. There could, however, be no permanent advantage in the remedy for discord which the right hon. Gentleman proposed, because, as the population of the colony increased, the relative proportions of the sects might change so as to make the discord even greater than it would be Under one established church. He would ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government where was the wisdom of attempting to fix the sums of money which should be paid for the support of certain religious persuasions—not merely for the support generally of a church which was believed to be true, but for the support of three or four kinds of churches? He asked him how could they, at a distance of so many thousands of miles from the colony, undertake wisely, fairly, judiciously, usefully for the colonists, to decide such a question? If there were one question which more than another people could alone decide for themselves, it was the question of religious establishments, and of giving support out of the public funds to any religious faith. Was the noble Lord aware that at that moment there was a question growing up in Canada which probably in the very next Session of Parliament would have to be met in that House? He referred to the question of the clergy reserves, which had already borne the bitterest fruit in Canada, and which was now more prolific of such fruit than at any former period. As the law stood, the clergy reserves in Canada were regulated by the provisions of an Act of the Imperial Parliament, and the Canadian parliament did not even possess the power which this Bill would give the Australian parliament, of making a new arrangement without coming to this country. Probably in the next Session the Canadians would ask the Imperial Parliament to relinquish its power in that respect, and to hand it over to themselves. How much 662 better would it be if at this moment we had no option with regard to the clergy reserves in Canada—if the Canadian parliament had the same power with respect to the clergy reserves as the Imperial Parliament had with respect to any internal question relating to Great Britian or Ireland. Having before him the lesson taught in Canada, how was the statesmanship of the noble Lord shown in proposing a clause for the distribution of funds for the support of religious worship in Australia? The right hon. Gentleman appeared to suppose that if this clause were altered, there would be an immediate interference with parties who now received incomes from this source. The right hon. Gentleman thus admitted that the vote was contrary to the wishes and feelings of the Australian colonists; but he (Mr. Bright) did not believe that however great liberty might be given to them, the colonists would interfere with the incomes of persons now in the possession of clerical offices. He believed they would pay them as long as they continued to live, and for aught he knew they might retain the system permanently; but he would put it to the right hon. Gentleman what necessity there could be for the Imperial Parliament providing for the religious teaching of the Australian colonists when the United States never dreamt for one moment of providing such teaching for the colonists and States which were continually growing up and being added to that great confederation? If Americans and Englishmen, on emigrating to the western part of the North American continent, could provide for themselves the means of religious worship and teaching, surely Englishmen who had emigrated from this country to Australia might be allowed the same liberty? No man would contend that it was desirable to interfere with their fellow-countrymen on the other side of the globe; and he therefore asked the noble Lord (if he would not consent to withdraw the whole of the clause, to take away that part which he (Mr. Bright) believed would be a source of discord amongst people to whom we were wishing free institutions.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, it was not true that the arrangements as to the Canada reserves could not be altered without an Act of Parliament. On the contrary, they could be altered by the Act of the Legislature; all that was required was, that the Act should come to this country and receive the sanction of the Crown. At present the state of things now existing in 663 these colonies was, that sums had been voted. These sums were an advantage to the persons who had a vested interest in the receipt, and it must be some time before any question could arise as to any part of the sum appropriated by the Legislature. No present inconvenience could arise from leaving the question as it was now proposed to be established, and good reason ought to be shown for changing a system under which many individuals had embarked their fortunes. This system had greatly promoted the extension of churches and religious instruction, and had given religious peace to the colonies. It was not too much to give that degree of stability which was given by this Bill, namely, that no alteration should take place except by an Act of this Legislature.
§ MR. BRIGHT
explained, that his argument was, that unless they meant to exercise the power, they should not retain it. He believed that retaining the power was the way to make the colonist examine the power and resist. He believed it was more likely to be so resisted than if they had it in their own hands.
§ MR. K. SEYMER
entertained no great partiality for a system which endowed four churches. He thought the colonists were entitled to have the entire control of their own affairs, and was of opinion that they would act wisely in providing an endowment for religion, because it would show the emigrants that they would possess those religious advantages which they had enjoyed in this country. He believed that great jealousy would be excited among religious bodies by the present plan, and that it would perpetuate a system of religious discord in the colony.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, it was true that with the exception of the Church of England, attempts were making by the privileged classes in New South Wales, who happened to obtain more power, to destroy the principle, not of endowment, but of all religious equality, by cutting off the endowment. The other societies should be prevented from disturbing the religious peace which the Church had so happily preserved. If the popular franchise were adopted in these colonies, the universal cry of the people would be for the Church, for the maintenance of the clergy, and the integrity of religious equality which now prevailed.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
could not understood how the principle of endowing four churches could be defended. The attempt would 664 fail, for it was impossible that they could conciliate one church or the other. No hon. Member could stand up to defend the four great churches—the Church of England, the Church of Rome, the Church of Scotland, and what he had not before heard of, the Wesleyan Church. The Government apparently only wished to preserve the system as it now stood. It seemed to him that for the protection of vested rights the proposal was perfectly useless, and the attempt to preserve the Crown interference seemed to him one of the worst parts of the whole Bill, as nothing but evil could result from this country constantly mixing itself up with all the measures and policy of the colonies.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, this question had been argued as if there were a desire on the part of the Government to impose four church systems on Australia, and as if they recommended that as a good scheme; but that was not the question; it was this: In 1835 the Secretary of State for the Colonies, finding that there were great complaints that one church only was to be established in New South Wales, made it a provision that the four principal bodies in the colony should each have a certain sum allotted to them; and it was made a part of the condition on which certain sums for the erection of churches were to be given, that there should be equal contributions by the inhabitants of the district. Then they found that those sums had been paid for a considerable number of years, that the buildings had been erected, livings provided, and that individuals had subscribed. That being so, they proposed to continue an establishment which they found there existing; and they further proposed that any alteration that should be made with reference to those institutions should be sent over for the confirmation of Her Majesty, by the advice, of course, of the Government of the day. It would be, in his opinion, extremely unjust to say that the whole establishment should at once be put an end to, and that every clergyman who had gone out there should be deprived of his living, and those who had subscribed of the benefit of the contributions which they had advanced on the faith of the Government. There had been no perceptible degree of complaint hitherto. At the same time, if it should appear hereafter that this system was to be no longer agreeable to the colonists, then he thought it would be advisable that the Crown should have the matter before them. So also, if they were 665 to deprive persons who had gone out to the colony of their vested rights, or if the majority of those bodies in the colony were to say that the three others were to be deprived of all establishment, and that one was to be doubled or trebled, he thought that would be so unjust a proposal as likewise to require reconsideration. As he had stated, the Government found the present system in existence, and they did not think it wise that it should be declared by a vote of that House that none but the voluntary system could now be tolerated.
§ MR. LUSHINGTON
assured the noble Lord that he never intended to propose that the present grant should be cancelled. All he wished was, that it should be left to the general feeling of the colonists, being perfectly satisfied that they would not disturb vested interests.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, that the noble Lord had made a statement which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies could not have made, namely, that there was no dissatisfaction amongst the colonists on this subject. Now, the fact was, that there was no single point on which the colonists in New South Wales had felt, and would continue to feel, so much dissatisfaction as on that with regard to the schedules of appropriation. That was indeed the great grievance of Lord Stanley's Act—not that there was any want of generosity or justice among the colonists; but what they objected to was, that the Government of this country should control and regulate the amount of payment which they were to make for the support of their religion. The very last Bill which the legislature of New South Wales had passed, was a Bill for the establishment of a university in Sydney. He mentioned this as an indication of the generous and liberal feeling which existed in a colony which the Government considered sufficiently advanced to govern itself, but to which they denied the right of controlling its own expenditure.
§ MR. HAWES
begged to say that he had never heard of any dissatisfaction on this subject. The hon. Gentleman had talked of dissatisfaction on the schedules of appropriation, but that was a totally different thing. The question before the House was whether the grant of public worship, as now distributed, had given rise to general dissatisfaction. He could only say that if it had, he had never heard of it, and that he believed that on the whole the existing arrangement had been satisfactory. 666 The Committee would understand that the colonial legislature had the power of altering the existing arrangement; and if that power should be exercised, the Crown, he was sure, would be disposed to pay every deference to the wishes of the colony.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 203; Noes 54: Majority 149.
|List of the NOES.
|Adderley, C. B.
|Molesworth, Sir W.
|Muntz, G. F.
|Bass, M. T.
|Pechell, Sir G. B.
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.
|Repton, G. W. J.
|Roebuck, J. A.
|Scott, hon. F.
|Seymer, H. K.
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
|Smith, J. B.
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.
|Stuart, Lord D.
|Fox, S. W. L.
|Tennent, R. J.
|Fox, W. J.
|Thicknesse, R. A.
|Hardcastle, J. A.
|Tollemache, hon. F. J.
|Headlam, T. E.
|Walmsley, Sir J.
|Willcox, B. M.
|Lawless, hon. C.
|Lowther, hon. Col.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again on Thursday.