§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
Sir, the noble Lord at the head of the Government commenced his speech by explaining the principles on which our colonial empire was founded. He then stated facts bearing upon the population and commerce of that empire, and from thence inferred that it would not be to the advantage but to the detriment of the kingdom, were our colonial possessions to be abandoned. In most of the observations of the noble Lord with respect to these points, I entirely agree. The noble Lord then proceeded to explain the future colonial policy of the Government; but I must say, that in some respects the explanation was one which I did not distinctly understand. The noble Lord spoke of granting constitutions to the colonies, and he referred to certain old colonial charters giving power to the colonies in whose favour they were granted to frame their own constitutions. If the noble Lord intends to adhere to the principles of the 568 old charters, he will find me a warm adherent. Next the noble Lord proceeded to censure an association of gentlemen which had been formed for the purpose of obtaining a reform in colonial government. Now, as I am a member of that association, I will state what were the reasons which caused its formation. Its members organised it because they entirely agreed with the noble Lord, that we ought to maintain our colonial empire—because they knew that discontent prevailed extensively throughout our colonies—because they had no hopes of reform from the Colonial Office—and because they believed that a train of errors and blunders, similar to that which lost us the United States, was now endangering the colonial possessions which remained to us—and because they had little faith in the Colonial Office as regards its promises to give free institutions to the colonies. The inhabitants of Australia complain that every year since the present Government came into office, they have been promised free institutions, and every year those promises have been systematically violated. Now, Sir, that the complaints to which I allude are not ill-founded, I think that the following history of promises made to Australia will prove: Pour years ago—on the 14th August, 1846, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies began by stating that "he hoped and trusted that Her Majesty's Government would be enabled in a short time to consider a better form of government for Van Diemen's Land." On the receipt of this intelligence great was the joy of the inhabitants of the Australian colonies; they believed that the Secretary of State for the Colonies was going immediately to fulfil all the expectations which had been raised by his unofficial speeches on colonial reform. And greater still was their joy when they received the intelligence, three years ago, that on the 17th May, 1847, the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies had announced to this House "that a measure was in contemplation, he might say in preparation, with a view to give the benefits of the British constitution to the Australian colonies generally"—"the measure "said the hon. Gentleman, "was in an advanced state, and would assuredly very speedily, either in that Session or in the next, be brought under the notice of Parliament." Now, how was this promise, made three years ago, fulfilled? No such measure was brought under the notice of Parliament in the Session of 1847, nor in 1848; but instead of it came a shower of fresh promises, each of them again to be broken. On the 569 7th of March, 1848, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade appeared amongst the promise-makers, and stated that "the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies hoped during the present Session of Parliament to propose a measure for granting free institutions to the Australian colonies." On the 31st of the same month the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, having found a seat, declared "that he was only waiting for an opportunity to introduce a Bill." On the 8th of May, 1848, the noble Lord the Prime Minister stated "that it was his intention to introduce a measure at the earliest moment that it was possible." Again, I ask, how were these promises, made two years ago, fulfilled? May, June, and July passed away without the arrival of the "earliest possible moment" of the noble Lord. For four months the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies waited in vain for "an opportunity," At length, on the 18th of August, 1848, the hop. Gentleman assured the House that "at the very earliest period of the next Session, the Bill would be laid upon the table of the House." How was this promise kept? On the 16th of April last I heard to my astonishment the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies reckon the Australian colonies among those which possessed free institutions, because, as he explained, they had had representative institutions conceded to them in principle, and were included in a Bill which he hoped shortly to lay on the table of the House. At length, two months afterwards, on the 4th of June last, the Bill was produced—the offspring of three years' protracted parturition. But even then its birth was premature; it had to be immediately withdrawn, and Bill No. 2 was produced; on examination Bill No. 2 proved to be so mis-shapen a cub, that on the 2nd of July the Prime Minister announced that it would be necessary to make some most important changes in it; and finally, on the 17th of July, the noble Lord withdrew his changeling. Thus, regularly every year for the last four years, the fairest promises have been made to these colonies, and their hopes have been raised, and regularly every year those promises have been broken, and the hopes of the colonists bitterly disappointed. Naturally enough this repeated promise-breaking has produced the greatest discontent, and under the influence of angry feelings the colonists attribute the worst motives to the authors of their disappointment. They blame the 570 people, the Parliament, and the statesman of Great Britain. They say that the people and Parliament care nothing and know nothing about the colonies, but abandon them entirely to the Colonial Office. They accuse the statesmen of Great Britain, especially those connected with the Colonial Office, of being in their hearts unwilling to deprive themselves of power and patronage by bestowing free institutions on the colonies. Thus many of the colonists, unfortunately believing their rulers to be selfish and faithless, have begun to despair, and in despair to ask one another how they can redress their own grievances. And in reply some of them answer, that it was by rebellion that Canada obtained responsible government, that it is by threats and menaces that the men of the Cape are successfully striving to save their colony from convict pollution; and they ask one another whether Anglo-Australians are less energetic than the habitants of Canada, or less bold than the boors of the Cape. That such language is used, and that such sentiments are entertained but too generally throughout some of the most important of our colonial possessions, no one acquainted with those colonies can deny, or fail to lament, if, like myself, he be anxious for the preservation of the colonial empire of Great Britain. Who, I ask, can deny that discontent prevails throughout the colonies? Every year it is increasing in intensity and becoming more alarming; from every quarter menacing sounds are heard, bitter complaints of colonial government, and fierce denunciations of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Cape of Good Hope denounces him for having broken a solemn promise, attempted to insult and degrade an innocent colony, and driven its once loyal inhabitants to the brink of rebellion. Van Diemen's Land curses him for a breach of faith in renewing transportation, which now afflicts that ill-fated country with crimes too loathsome to mention. New South Wales, dreading a similar fate, answers with a threat of rebellion his proposal again to send convicts to that colony. His own colony of Victoria, of which he was once the chosen representative, now bids him defiance, and drives his convict ships from its shores. And even Western Australia indignantly protests against his making it a penal settlement. All Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and South Africa, accuse him of having year after year raised their hopes of 571 obtaining free institutions, year after year disappointed those hopes, and, on some flimsy pretext, falsified his word. British Guiana, Jamaica, and the rest of the West Indies, look upon him as their worst foe, as the enemy to that economy and retrenchment so much needed in their present distressed condition. Canada taunts him, with its trembling Governor rewarded for his prowess with a British peerage, and makes his policy a pretext for seeking to be annexed to the United States. Ceylon and the Ionian Islands accuse him of having with indecent haste approved of and rewarded deeds which disgrace the British name, and which, in the opinion of Europe, rival in atrocity those of Haynau and Radetzky. And Malta taxes him with conduct unworthy of an Englishman, in refusing asylum to political exiles, and thus setting a bad example, of which the despots of Europe too gladly avail themselves. Thus, from every quarter, north, south, east, and west—from Canada and Australia, from the West Indies and South Africa—charges are brought against the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, of injudicious appointments, ignorance, negligence, vacillation, breach of faith, and tyranny. Though all the colonies unanimously cry out against the noble Earl, yet, I maintain that it is not the individual, but the system, which is the real cause of the existing discontent—that as long as that system is unreformed, it matters not who may be the Secretary of State for the Colonies, discontent will prevail throughout the colonies—every year increasing in intensity, menacing the stability of our colonial empire, and threatening its forcible tearing asunder, to be accompanied perhaps by hateful civil wars, with vast expenditure and much misery both to this country and to the colonies. To avert this impending danger, Parliament must hasten to make a complete and thorough reform of our system of colonial government. There is no time to be lost. There has been too much delay already. The question is, to what extent the policy propounded by the noble Lord will effect a reform in our colonial system. Now, in the observations I am about to address to the House, I shall confine myself to the colonies, properly so called. I mean those colonies in which the European race may be expected to increase and multiply. In those colonies there are three chief causes of discontent: first, some of the colonies complain of the want of free institutions, or of the want of the 572 power to alter and amend existing ones; secondly, all the colonies complain of the appointments made by the Colonial Office; and, thirdly, every colony complains of the arbitrary interference of the Colonial Office in its internal affairs. The noble Lord contends that it is the duty of those who blame the existing system, and who wish to retain our colonial empire, to point out the line of policy they think should be adopted. Now, I shall attempt to meet the challenge thrown out by the noble Lord, not by expressing in abstract terms my opinions with respect to colonial policy generally, but by considering some of the measures which he proposes. In the government of a colony there appear to me to be two distinct questions to be considered: first, the form of government or constitution of a colony; and, secondly, the powers to be delegated to the colonial authorities. With respect to the form of government, I could not distinctly gather from the noble Lord what form he intends for the Cape of Good Hope. With respect to the Australian colonies, the noble Lord has said, that the present Bill is a reproduction of the Bill of last year; but the noble Lord rather surprised me when he called it a copy of the British constitution. The noble Lord intends, it appears, to give to all the Australian colonies the present constitution of New South Wales. Now, let me just describe to the Committee what is the present constitution of that colony. Suppose that 110 Members of this House had seats in virtue of holding office under the Crown, and for as long only as they held office; and that in addition to the 110 official Members, there were 110 other Members who were appointed Members by the Government at the commencement of every Parliament, making in all 220 votes at the disposal of Government. Suppose, likewise, that the House of Lords were abolished, and that, instead of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, we had a governor of the ordinary description; then we should enjoy the benefits of the British constitution after the fashion of New South Wales. How would such a constitution work with us? We should be divided into two permanent factions, actuated by the fiercest hatred of each other. One party would pride itself upon being the representative of the people, and would look with scorn and contempt upon the other party as the base and subservient tools of the Government. No question would be considered 573 to be settled which was decided against the wishes of the elective Members, and the official and nominated Members would be held up to public odium and hatred if they ever presumed to defeat the wishes of the elective Members. It is evident, that in theory such a constitution is absurd, and that in practice it must be a very bad one. But the noble Lord said that the Australian colonies are to have power to alter or amend their constitutions to the extent of forming a second chamber. Now, I acknowledge that if this power be fully conceded to them, my objections to this portion of the Bill of the noble Lord will be considerably diminished. But, I must say that, in my opinion, sufficient power to amend their constitutions would not have been given to the colonies by the Bill of last year; and I presume, from the statement of the noble Lord, that he does not propose in the Bill of this year to give these colonies a greater amount of power. It appears to me, that neither Parliament nor the Colonial Office has been very successful in devising constitutions for the colonies. In fact, all the attempts of late years at constitution-making have failed. The model constitution of the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department was suspended the year after it was enacted. [Mr. HAWES: It was never given up.] No; but it was suspended. Then with respect to the Cape of Good Hope; it is said, that the Government requested Sir Harry Smith to send home the form of a constitution for that colony. Now, no one has a higher respect for Sir Harry Smith than I have. He is an admirable officer, and is well qualified to defeat Caffres; but I do not think that his despatches have proved him to be a Solon. With respect to the Australian colonies, I will merely say, that if the noble Lord at the head of the Government adopts the principle laid down in the charter of Lord Carlisle, and desires to frame constitutions which shall give satisfaction in the colonies, the opinions of the colonists ought to be distinctly taken on the subject. It is not sufficient to ascertain the opinions of a governor, or to refer to the sentiments of one or two newspapers, or the expressions of one or two public meetings. A constituent assembly, composed of the representatives of the people should be summoned, and to them should be delegated the power of determining the form of their constitution. Next, I ask, what are the powers which ought to be delegated 574 to the colonial authorities? That appears to me to be a far more important question than the mere question of a colonial constitution. I am sorry to find, from the statement of the noble Lord, that he intends to retain to the Colonial Office its present arbitrary power of disallowing all acts of the colonial legislatures, and thus of interfering in the internal affairs of the colonies. Now, this arbitrary power has been, and as long as it exists will continue to be, a perpetual cause of colonial discontent and of never-ending discord between the colonies and the Imperial Government. All the colonies complain of the arbitrary power of the Colonial Office. Those complaints are frequently but too well founded. How is it possible they can be otherwise than well founded? Consider who are the persons who are entrusted with this arbitrary power. The heads of the Colonial Office change with every change of government. They are absentee rulers, living at the distance of many thousands of miles from their subjects. They never have ocular experience of the condition of the colonies. They have no personal interest in the well-being of the colonists. They are always obliged to trust to second-hand and partial information with regard to the colonies. They are therefore generally ignorant, and, worse than ignorant—they are generally misinformed about colonial questions. They are said to be responsible to Parliament: that responsibility is a farce; for we cannot spare time to attend to colonial affairs; we cannot obtain accurate and impartial information about the colonies; we are necessarily ignorant; and our system of colonial government may with accuracy be described as government by the misinformed, with responsibility to the ignorant. This kind of government is most bitterly distasteful to men of our race and habits. How should we feel, if we were colonists distant a myriad of miles from our mother country, and were liable to have our acts of parliament disallowed at the whim and caprice of some noble Lord at the antipodes, responsible to a parliament sitting at Sidney, and knowing nothing about us? How should we like to have to wait three years before we could be certain that our acts of parliament are laws? Why does the noble Lord retain this arbitrary power to the Colonial Office? I presume because the noble Lord will say the Colonial Office is the guardian of imperial interests, and ought, therefore, to retain a power 575 of disallowing acts of the colonial legislatures, lest those legislatures should make laws injurious to imperial interests. Now, I acknowledge at once, that means must be taken to prevent the colonial legislatures from making laws injurious to imperial interests. But I deny that it is necessary for that purpose to retain to the Colonial Office its present arbitrary power of disallowing all acts of the colonial legislatures. We may take care of imperial interests in a much better manner, as I will explain in a few words. To do so, I must observe that all executive and legislative powers, with reference to a colony, may be divided into two classes. One class I call imperial powers, because they ought to be strictly reserved to the Imperial Government; and they ought to be so reserved, because they are indispensable for the maintenance of the unity of the empire, and for the management of the common concerns of the whole empire. Therefore they ought on no account to be delegated to the colonies, and the colonial legislatures ought not to be entitled to make any laws affecting or derogating from imperial powers; for if they were entitled so to do, the unity of the empire would be destroyed. Now, all other executive and legislative powers with reference to a colony, except the imperial ones, I call local powers, because they have reference to the management of the local concerns of a colony, as distinguished from the common concerns of the whole empire. Now, it is evidently of great and primary importance to this country, and to the empire as a whole, in what manner imperial powers are exercised; therefore imperial powers ought to be strictly reserved to the Imperial Government, and no colonial legislature should be entitled to make any law affecting or derogating from imperial powers. On the other hand, it is evidently a matter of little or secondary importance to this country, and to the empire as a whole, in what manner local powers are exercised, provided only that the colonists are not dissatisfied with the Imperial Government on account of the manner in which the local powers are exercised. Now, it is impossible for men on one side of the globe to manage the affairs of Englishmen on the other side of the globe without producing intense dissatisfaction. Oh the other hand, if the colonists were to obtain the uncontrolled management of their local affairs, and if in any respect they were to mismanage their local affairs, for so doing 576 they would have themselves to blame, and nobody else. Therefore I infer that we ought to delegate to the colonies all local powers, and entitle them to pass any law affecting their local concerns. Consequently, I infer that we ought to deprive the Colonial Office of its present arbitrary power to disallow all acts of the colonial legislatures, and to limit the power of the Colonial Office to questions affecting imperial powers. For this purpose it would be necessary carefully to enumerate and to accurately define the powers which ought to be held to be imperial powers. Now, the noble Lord says that it would be impossible to draw the line of distinction. He began his speech by saying, that he could not spare time to attend very carefully to these subjects. But I am sure that the noble Lord, if he applied all his energies to the question, could draw the line of distinction. Such a definition of imperial powers has not only been attempted, but made, by those Anglo-Saxon statesmen who formed the constitution of America; and glad should I be if the colonies were as much attached to the mother country as the States are to the American Union. I proposed last Session that a Royal Commission should be appointed for the purpose of defining imperial powers, and to prepare a measure of colonial reform. I regret much that the House did not assent to that proposal, for by this time the House would have possessed a more accurate enumeration of imperial powers than that which it can expect from me; but I am prepared, at this moment, if the Committee will bear with me for a few minutes, to enumerate the powers which in my opinion should be reserved as imperial ones. First, I would enact that there should be strictly reserved to Her Majesty all the following powers and prerogatives; namely, to send or receive ambassadors, to enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation with any prince, State, or Power; to grant letters of marque and reprisal during peace or war, and to grant safe conducts during war; to declare or make war—conceding to the colony, when actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as not to admit of delay, the power to engage in war; to confiscate the property of alien enemies in time of war; to establish prize courts; to command the militia in time of war, and at all times to command all regular naval and military forces employed in and about the said colony; to coin money or regulate its value, or 577 that of foreign coin; to grant titles of nobility; to regulate the transmission of letters by sea to or from a colony and any other place; to keep any land or naval forces in or about a colony, or the coast thereof; to erect forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings for military purposes; to place garrisons therein, and to exercise exclusive jurisdiction within the precincts thereof; to take possession of any waste land situate within the said colony, and of any other land therein, upon making due compensation to the owners and occupiers thereof, for the purpose of erecting such forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings, and for any other military purpose. Secondly, I would enact that the colonial legislature shall not have power to make any-law to affect or derogate from the aforesaid powers and prerogatives of the Crown; to establish slavery; to alter the succession of the Grown, or pass any act affecting the style and dignity of the Crown, or relating to the appointment of a regent; to absolve any person from his allegiance; to deprive any person of the right of appeal to Her Majesty in Council, in any case in which such appeal now subsists; to make any law containing any matter or thing contrary to the law of nations, as received and administered in the Court of Great Britain; to make any law respecting captures by land or water, or to define piracies and felonies committed on the high seas; to make any law affecting the command, regulations, or discipline of Her Majesty's military and naval forces; to make anything but gold or silver coin a legal tender; to define treason, or alter the law relating thereto; to lay any duty on supplies to Her Majesty's military and naval forces; to bring in any Bill of attainder; to impose any differential duty on imports to, or exports from, any part of Her Majesty's dominions, or any duty inconsistent with any treaty that already has been or may hereafter be entered into between Her Majesty, her heirs, and successors, and any foreign country; to confer any privilege or immunity on the inhabitants of New South Wales that shall not equally be conferred on the other subjects of Her Majesty, and every law or provision in a law in contravention of this clause shall be Void. Now, in consequence of these reservations, various legal questions would arise, which I would propose to refer to the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy 578 Council. Thus, I would substitute for the present arbitrary power of the Colonial Office a legally-defined power. Now, there is nothing which men of our race hate more than arbitrary power—nothing which they respect more than a legally-defined power. At present the colonial legislatures do not know what laws they may, and what laws they may not, make. In fact, they may at present make any laws whatever, affecting imperial interests in any manner whatever, provided the Colonial Office does not disallow them within a certain period of time. On the other hand, the colonial legislatures cannot make any law which the Colonial Office may not disallow. I propose, therefore, in the manner which I have explained, to enable the colonial legislatures to know precisely what laws they may make, and what laws they must abstain from making; and I propose to settle all disputes which might arise by means of the decisions of one of the highest and most esteemed judicial tribunals in this country. I have now answered the challenge that those who would effect reform in our colonial system should state what in their opinion the alterations should consist in. In order to reduce my principles into a practical shape, I have, with the aid of some legal friends, prepared a Bill for New South Wales. I do not propose to introduce that Bill; for to do so it would be necessary to have the consent of the Government. But if the Government and the House should desire it, I will introduce the Bill, pledging myself, however, only to general principles, and to a general outline, and not to minute details; for, in order to make a perfect measure, information would be required from the Colonial Office, and it would be necessary to consult constitutional lawyers. I must now beg pardon for trespassing so long on the attention of the Committee; but I must rest my excuse in the challenge thrown out by the noble Lord. In conclusion, I would say that our true colonial policy is to have faith in our colonists—to believe that they are as rational men as we are, and understand their local concerns better than we can; consequently we ought to give them the uncontrolled management of their local, as contradistinguished from imperial, concerns. Then the colonists, relieved from the hated tyranny of the Colonial Office; enjoying all the rights and privileges of British citizens; bearing true allegiance to the Monarch of these realms; willingly obeying the laws made by the Imperial 579 Parliament, or by the constituted authorities to whom Parliament shall have delegated legislative power; having, therefore, no reason, real or imaginary, to find fault with the Imperial Government—would be bound to the empire by the strong ties of race, language, and self-interest.
§ MR. ANSTEY
agreed with the hon. Baronet that the veto of the Colonial Secretary ought only to be given to acts of the colonial legislatures affecting imperial interests. The hon. Baronet proposed to abolish the Colonial Office under one name, and to renew it under another. His scheme proposed to abolish Earl Grey, and to transfer his functions to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. [Sir W. MOLESWORTH: No, no!] He understood the hon. Baronet to say that in those cases where a question arose as to whether the local legislature had exceeded its functions by trenching upon the prerogative of the Crown, the decision was to lie with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. [Sir W. MOLESWORTH: No, no!] Then he had been very much misled. But if so, the scheme left them without even the assistance of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in order to ascertain whether the interference of the Crown was called for or not; and they would have litigation without end, not of a peaceful, perhaps, but almost of an armed character, between the Crown and the colony. If, however, the impression which he had first received of the plan was a correct one, then its adoption would be simply to transfer the Colonial Office from Downing-street to Whitehall. He thought the true objection to the plan proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government for the Australian colonies was, that it contemplated the creation of a council one-third of whose members should be nominees of the Crown. He was, however, prepared to accept for the present even a much worse scheme than had been proposed by the noble Lord. If the council elected under this Bill proceeded to exercise the powers with which they were invested, he thought the noble Lord, acting in conformity with those sound, enlightened, and statesmanlike views which he had that night enunciated, would not advise Her Majesty in Council to countermand the alterations they might see fit to make. Speaking more particularly with reference to Van Diemen's Land, the operation of the scheme would be this—that one-third of the members would be the nominees of 580 the Crown. The majority which would be found to support the measures of the local Government, would form perhaps two-thirds of the entire council, because the financial position of Van Diemen's Land, derived from the time when Sir George Arthur was Governor, had resulted in placing almost the whole of the property of the island at the disposal of the chief officers of the Government, all of whom were shareholders and managers of the principal banks—banks possessing mortgages over nine-tenths of the property in the colony. They would therefore be able to compel those who had property, to execute implicitly their will and pleasure; and their influence being brought to bear on the elections, the consequence would be, that the chief proprietors of the island would be at the disposal of the Government. If they must have nominees of the Crown, let them do in Van Diemen's Land what they proposed to do in the Cape of Good Hope—create two councils, and let those not influenced by those banking establishments—those who were either not proprietors, or who had small properties—elect the Lower House, and leave the great proprietors to elect the Legislative Council. The evil, for the present, would no doubt be great; but they might hope to see the time when the state of the colony would be so much improved that the system would be found to work with great advantage.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, it was not his intention, on the present occasion, to enter into any general observations on the very important subjects which the noble Lord or the hon. Baronet had brought under their notice that evening. Indeed, he should confine the very few remarks he had then to make, to one only of the colonies which had been mentioned by the noble Lord. The noble Lord had entered into a statement with respect to the constitution which had been granted to British Guiana, and declared that the franchise in that colony had been considerably increased. Now, as he (Mr. Baillie) believed the noble Lord, doubtless from the multiplicity of the subjects which he had to bring under the notice of the House, had been misinformed on the question, he would beg leave to make a statement of the real facts of the case to the House. The Committee which sat to consider the grievances of British Guiana, recommended that an alteration should be made in the constitution of that colony; but it also recommended that that alteration should be made in 581 friendly concert with the colonial authorities. Now, when that paragraph of the report was under discussion, he took the liberty of asking the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth what was the interpretation which he placed upon it. He asked him explicitly if, in his opinion, it could be considered in friendly concert with the colonial authorities for a Bill to be introduced into the Court of Policy, and forced through that court wholly by the official votes; and the right hon. Baronet stated that he should consider such a proceeding most objectionable. Now, he (Mr. Baillie) was prepared to state to the House that this was the course which the Governor of British Guiana had resorted to. The new Franchise Bill in British Guiana was forced through the Court of Policy by official votes only—every one of the elected members voted against the measure, which was merely carried by the double vote of the Governor, and became law. Every one of the elected members, considering this to be an arbitrary proceeding, resigned his seat; and although every one of them, he believed, would have been returned under the new Bill, they positively refused to allow themselves to be put in nomination. Now, the noble Lord stated that the number of the electors had been increased; but he (Mr. Baillie) was informed, on the contrary, that the number of the electors—very small as it was before in British Guiana—had now been reduced by 200. And in order that the House might have an illustration of the manner in which the elections were now carried on under the new Bill, he would just state what took place at the election for the county of Essequibo. The former Member for that county refused to stand; and the candidate sent to replace him was the Solicitor General. There were just two electors present at the election; the one elector was the gaoler, and the other the county clerk. The Solicitor General was proposed by the county clerk, and seconded by the gaoler, and was returned as the Member for the county of Essequibo. So that a Government officer was proposed by one Government officer, and seconded by another, and then elected by the two! That would illustrate the sort of constitution which the Government had granted to British Guiana. It was not his intention to enter into the general discussion of the measure at present. Doubtless another opportunity would be afforded for doing so; and then he should enter more generally into the question.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
hoped the few remarks he would address to the Committee would be ill strict harmony with the same calm and dispassionate tone which he rejoiced to find the House had observed hitherto, in the discussion of the highly important subject brought under its notice by the noble Lord—a tone which he trusted would prove an augury of the manner in which colonial subjects were to be discussed this Session, and which he thought it of the deepest importance they should ever observe, when it was considered that an incautious remark, or an excited expression, although made in that House without any such intention, might yet have the effect, when it reached the colonies, of producing incalculable mischief. He was particularly anxious to address the House, having borne a share, as a Member of the Committee of Privy Council in Trade and Plantations, in recommending to the adoption of the Government the two important measures that were submitted to the House relating to the Australian colonies and to British Guiana. And he wished to refer to some remarks made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, which he thought likely to create an erroneous impression that ought to be removed. He was quite ready to concede the general principle of the propriety of the mother country giving the most ample powers of self and free government as regards all matters strictly connected with their local affairs to those of her colonial dependencies which were peopled by the English race; and he rejoiced that the Government, after so much vague declamation had been used on this subject, had had an opportunity of proving that its professions were not mere empty words, whilst it at the same time solicited the advice and assistance of the House on these difficult questions deeply affecting the interests of a great and distant colonial empire. And he thought no fair and candid man would hesitate to admit, however he might differ from the views of the Government with regard to the details of these measures, that with respect to their scope and tenor, Her Majesty's Ministers had been animated by a sincere desire to give freedom—constitutional freedom and local self-government in the amplest possible manner—to the inhabitants of these vast and growing colonies. He had heard, he confessed, with considerable surprise, very great censures passed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark on the plan which the Government had proposed for 583 the Australian colonies; but he rejoiced that they bad already received intelligence from that part of the world which led him to suppose that there were very good grounds for stating that the inhabitants of the Australian colonies themselves would receive in a very different spirit and manner those proposals of the Government which had drawn so much stricture and objection from the hon. Baronet. It was quite true that he had not yet any official despatches on the subject to offer to the Committee on this occasion; but there existed other means of information regarding the feeling of colonies like these, that were of a nature scarcely less valuable and trustworthy. He held in his hand a copy of a leading newspaper, published in New South Wales, which must be well known to every gentleman who had taken a deep interest in the affairs of that part of the globe. He meant the Sydney Herald—a journal not only of the greatest circulation in the colony, but which represented the opinions and sentiments of by so far the more popular party. Now he begged the House to contrast the language of that paper with the words of Gentlemen speaking in the name of the colonists on the floor of that House that evening. The paper had just arrived in this country, the date being the 19th September last. The language of the Sydney Herald, referring to the report of the Committee of Privy Council on Trade and Plantations, was couched in terms too flattering and complimentary certainly to those who had drawn up that report; but, considering the object for which he quoted it, he trusted it would not be ascribed to personal vanity if he read it to the House:—Those of our readers who have attentively perused the long and elaborate report of the Committee of the Board of Trade, published in our columns in May last, will no doubt agree with us in thinking it one of the ablest and most consolatory documents of the kind ever laid before a colony. To what extent other British colonies may have experienced kind treatment from the Home Government it is not for us to say, but certainly we must testify that never before has the colony of New South Wales received so large a share of Ministerial consideration, liberality, and kindness as it has in the present instance. Her Majesty in Council has been graciously pleased to concede to us nearly everything we have asked for.He, perhaps, ought to make some allowance for the first burst of gratitude on receiving a great gift, and he was not so ignorant of human nature as to think such expressions did not require some degree of qualification; but at the same time he 584 thought he had a perfect right to say that the Government had not been altogether unsuccessful in conciliating the public opinion of the inhabitants of New South Wales, in framing the proposition they had ventured, after much deliberation, to recommend to the adoption of Parliament. So much, then, as to the state of public opinion in New South Wales. But he had also another paper that had arrived by the same mail from Port Phillip. He was less acquainted with the character of this paper, and therefore could not speak with so much confidence of its value as an authority as he had done of the other. It was the Victoria Colonist of the 14th September, and it stated as follows:—It must be highly gratifying to Earl Grey and the rest of Her Majesty's Ministers to find that the boon granted by them to the Australian colonies in the new constitution before us, has diffused such a general satisfaction throughout the province of Victoria. All the newspapers are unanimous in their expressions of approval, and there is not even one solitary instance of dissent.Therefore it would appear they had at present reason to believe that the inhabitants of the Australian colonies would be less critical and more easy to please on this matter than some of those, who, doubtless with the best intentions, stood forward to defend their interests in that House; and that they were inclined gratefully and readily to accept those measures which he might truly say were framed and devised with a sincere desire to promote their benefit and consult their wishes, and to place them upon that footing on which he was sure they had a right to be—that of free members of the British empire. The Government had reason, he said, for believing that their efforts in this respect had not been unattended with success, and that they would secure the object for which they were intended, and lay by this Bill the foundations of free institutions, calculated to produce happiness and prosperity for the colonies concerned. It had been urged by some that a constitution of three estates, following the model of the constitution of the mother country, was altogether preferable to the form of constitution now proposed for New South Wales. Now, the fact was, that that was the very same opinion as had been originally strongly expressed in the report of the Committee of Privy Council on Trade and Plantations; and it was only in deference to the strong feeling existing in the Australian colonies, as conveyed to the Home Government in 585 the resolutions passed at numerous public meetings, and annexed to the despatch of Sir W. Denison, that the original intention had been departed from. That was the sole reason why the Government now recommended that the mixed council should remain "here it was, whilst at the same time they should be invested with the power of altering it whenever they thought fit. The House would find numbers of petitions from different towns in the colony contained in the papers headed "Australian Colonies," now lying on the table. He would quote one at pages 3, 4, as a specimen. It was—That the contents of the despatch dated July 31, 1847, from Earl Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies, has excited in the breasts of your Majesty's petitioners indignation and alarm, as by it they learn that the electoral franchise enjoyed by them under the Act of the Imperial Parliament of 5 & 6 Vict., cap. 76, was about to be abrogated and superseded by a crude experiment no less at variance with the principles of the British constitution, than absurd and impracticable in a population dispersed, and located, as are the inhabitants of New South Wales. Second to none of Tour Majesty's subjects, in glowing loyalty to Tour Majesty's person, and deep veneration for the principles of the constitution of the parent State, as seen in operation in Great Britain, Tour Majesty's petitioners are unconscious of any adequate reason for depriving them of that dearly cherished birthright of a Briton, the power of electing his representatives in the councils of their country. That an Act effecting the change propounded by Earl Grey, would deprive Tour Majesty's petitioners of that power, and thus be in truth to them a Bill of pains and penalties, without a pretence that any conduct of theirs has merited punishment. That Tour Majesty's petitioners claim the right to enjoy, as nearly as circumstances will admit, the full benefit of the principles of the British constitution, and humbly and earnestly implore Tour Majesty to be graciously pleased to interpose your high authority to prevent this colony being made the field of theoretical experiments in legislation. That, as born subjects of Your Majesty, they conceive themselves entitled to all the blessings and benefits of Britons; and they have, therefore, a right to expect that no alteration in the constitution of the colony shall be effected without the previous assent of those whose liberties and property must be affected by it. Your petitioners, therefore, most humbly pray Tour Most Gracious Majesty will not assent to any alteration of electoral franchise of your subjects in this colony, which may have the effect of diminishing the rights they now enjoy, nor any such important changes in the form of their government, which shall not have been previously submitted for the opinion, and received the approbation, of the colonists.The Government, under these circumstance, had done exactly what the colonists wished; for whilst they had retained the institutions they now had, they included 586 within them the farther power of being altered when the colony should think fit, and he found that that part of the scheme of the Government received their unqualified approbation. So much for the question of the Bill for the Australian colonies now before the House. But the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had made some observations also on the constitution proposed to be given to the Cape of Good Hope, to which he felt it necessary to advert. The papers relating to this subject had certainly lain on the table but a very short time, and therefore he could not blame the hon. Baronet for the mistake he had made; but he assuredly could never have read the documents with any great degree of attention when he represented the plan of the Government to be what he had stated it. [Sir W. MOLESWORTH said, that he had not been guided by the papers which he had not read, but by the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.] The hon. Baronet said that the constitution for the Cape was to be left to the decision of Sir Harry Smith. [Sir W. MOLESWORTH expressed his dissent.] Nothing could be more completely at variance with the truth than this assertion, the truth being that the main principles of this constitution were imperatively laid down, there not being the difficulty in the case of the Cape, that was encountered in that of Australia. There they introduced that form of constitution in the abstract which they believed to be the best fitted for Englishmen—namely, that of the three estates—and gave the colony the Governor and the two Councils. The only thing left to Sir Harry Smith was certain details with regard to the qualifications and other matters, which the Government felt it extremely difficult to settle in this country, without sources of information which the Governor and his Council on the spot could most effectually command. And he was sure that any Gentleman who read with any care the able and talented papers emanating from the members of the Council at the Cape of Good Hope, from the Chief Justice and Secretary Montague, and Mr. Porter, the Attorney General, and observed the liberal and enlarged spirit in which they were conceived, must feel that the Government acted judiciously and wisely in leaving it to them to suggest these details, rather than incur the risk, by attempting to arrange them with their imperfect knowledge of the circumstances, of having them 587 sent home, in case of mistake, to be entirely framed anew. He did not think it necessary to trouble the House further on these subjects, but he must state his firm conviction that it would be most difficult in practice to draw a precise line of distinction between that class of questions which should be left entirely to the decision of the colonial legislatures, without reference to the Home Government, and those in which the Home Government should have the right of exercising a veto. He believed that every prudent English Government would desire, as far as possible, not only to promote, but to encourage all our colonies which had the blessing of free institutions in as far as possible, managing their own local concerns for themselves. He felt as strongly as the hon. Baronet could, the inexpediency, and indeed the impossibility, of our intermeddling in any manner that could prove beneficial to the colonies themselves, with the regulation of their own local affairs; but he believed it would be most difficult and dangerous to adopt a rule attempting to draw a precise line to distinguish imperial from local questions. He believed it might be done, however, for all practical and needful purposes, far better by the discretion and prudence of the Home Government, than could be effected by the fixed and arbitrary definitions of any Act of Parliament; and he agreed with what the hon. and learned Member for Youghal had said with respect to the solution of the difficulty which the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark saw, but could not solve. Leaving the difficulty of laying down definitions to the Privy Council, would occasion the most serious dangers and litigation. Even in the case of the United States of America, where the supreme court exercised the function of defining the limits of the authority of the State Legislature and the Congress respectively, serious difficulties had arisen, although the two separate jurisdictions existed in one spot and in the same country; and these evils he believed would be infinitely multiplied and aggravated whenever distant colonies were found contending with the Imperial Government at home on questions of the nicest distinction. He believed, that under such a system, the discontent of the colonies would be infinitely greater than under the system which now existed, provided it was discreetly and properly administered. He firmly believed it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to 588 work this system in a manner which would leave to the colonies, having local legislalatures, as far as possible, that unfettered and unrestricted management of their own concerns, which properly and fairly belonged to them. But he thought it was necessary for the general interests of the empire to reserve the ultimate and supreme control of the Government and Parliament of this country over all its scattered members. He admitted that that system might not be perfectly reconcileable in its working with the theory of the speculative philosopher; but, as Mr. Burke had said, it was yet found in its practical and daily operation to secure the freedom and happiness of all the different members of our great and widely-extended empire. And, therefore, he trusted the House would decide upon adhering to that view, without venturing upon what he believed to be the dangerous ground suggested by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he should be sorry to allow this occasion to pass without taking the opportunity of expressing his opinion upon a subject on which he had bestowed a considerable degree of attention. He understood the noble Lord at the head of the Government to have done two things that night: first, he had explained the general policy intended to be pursued by the Government with respect to our colonial possessions at large; and, next, he gave us an illustration of that general policy, in the shape of a specific measure. In support of the general policy which he was about to adopt, he had taken a review of the past history of our colonial system; but, by a most curious and extraordinary fatality, he had altogether omitted from his historical sketch the most important part of all our colonial history, namely, the colonisation of the present United States of America. The noble Lord moved that out of his path, and confined his observations to a certain charter given to Lord Carlisle in the reign of Charles I. with respect to one of our West India possessions; but if they had a policy at all in their colonial government, it was to be found in those remarkable charters which were granted to the United States of America. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark stated to the House that those charters were simply general powers conferred on the colonists whereby they might make unto themselves a constitution; but that was not the case. The charters given to those colonies were most peculiarly definite and specific, and 589 went into the particulars—so much so, that some of them even to the present hour are the actual constitutions of a portion of the United States. And one of the most despotic Ministers this country ever had, under one of the most despotic monarchs this country ever had—Lord Clarendon, in the reign of Charles II.—conferred on Rhode Island so liberal a constitution, that to the present hour it is the constitution of that State. So specifically was it given, that they were enabled under it to elect a body that is the governing body to the present hour. The noble Lord laid down a most constitutional proposition of great liberality. He said it was the intention of the Government to give to the colonies the management entirely of their own concerns. He (Mr. Roebuck) was delighted to hear him say so; and then the noble Lord began to deal with, and comment upon, the conduct of certain gentlemen, Members of that House, of whom he (Mr. Roebuck) was proud to be one, in respect to the present policy of governing our colonial possessions. If they wanted a justification for their conduct, or required anything to satisfy themselves and the country, the conduct of the noble Lord supplied that justification. A set of gentlemen, belonging to all sections of politics, and from all parts of the country, expressed the deepest interest in colonial government, and made the noble Lord aware that the country felt interested in it, and he was also obliged to give attention to the subject. He (Mr. Roebuck) was satisfied that if the country was quiet, and if they had not expressed their opinions, the noble Lord would not be so anxious as he was on the present occasion to satisfy them. The noble Lord's attention having been directed to the subject, he came, as he generally did, very gallantly up to the subject, and very nearly satisfied him as to the colony of South Africa. But he would tell the noble Lord that he could never have two measures for their colonies, nor three measures; and after what was proposed to be done for South Africa, he might be sure that the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, would all demand elective councils. That would be no new thing to him (Mr. Roebuck); he had been asking for something like twenty years for that elective council, and he saw a civil war arise because that council had been denied. He had seen a country held back in the race of improvement, because that was not granted. But the noble Lord's mind seemed now like a blank sheet of paper, ready 590 to receive impressions free and unbiassed. His mind was brought to the conclusion that a double chamber was necessary,; and that both should be elective. He was delighted to hear that the noble Lord had brought his mind to that opinion; but he could not understand by what process, having arrived at that conclusion respecting South Africa, he should arrive at exactly the opposite conclusion with respect to New South Wales. [Mr. HAWES: No, no!] The noble Lord had certainly come to a most opposite conclusion with respect to New South Wales. This was no new question, and had been brought before other assemblies than that. They all knew that the question of a single chamber was a question mooted in France since 1789. The great revolution of 1789 turned on that very question, and the Constituent Assembly made one single chamber out of three. The noble Lord had this question in his mind before, and decided in favour of two chambers, but coming to New South Wales, it appeared that the colonists were so satisfied with the present constitution that they would not accept that which he (Mr. Roebuck) supposed would be a much better one. A petition had been referred to in which the petitioners protested against unnecessary and theoretical experiments; but this was no theoretical experiment. They had seen two chambers in this country for a number of years; and all their colonies in North America, except Rhode Island, had two chambers. And when the noble Lord was about to make a model constitution in South Africa, which will go down to posterity as peculiarly his own, he proposed a double chamber. Though some notion might prevail in Sydney in favour of their present system, was all South Australia or Port Phillip bound to follow that most unhappy experiment? What had they got at Sydney? A council, two-thirds of whom were elected members, and one-third the nominees of the Crown. [Mr. HAWES: The Governor.] Nominees of the Governor. Now if this form of constitution were to be imitated, what would those nominees be? They would constitute a clique of gentlemen connected with the Government, who would be in constant hot water with the whole community. The popular mind would be for ever directed against them. He (Mr. Roebuck) might say he had lived in a colonial community; he knew what it was—it was a small narrow community, everybody knowing everybody, and almost 591 everybody hating everybody. He could not himself conceive anything so horrible to a man who did not wish constantly to be in hot water than living in that state. He knew what would be the consequence. The moment they got their council there, they would have a great constitutional question to discuss. It would be the subject of dispute and patriotic declamation. They would have opposition, and they would be always fighting with the Colonial Office—that is to say, the Colonial Office would be fighting with the colonies. [Mr. HAWES: About what?] My hon. Friend has been three years in the Colonial Office, and yet asks that question. Because the nominees of the Government would not satisfy the people. They might be the best possible legislature, but they would not be the legislature of the people. If it were composed of the most admirable men that could be found, the suspicions and prejudices of the people would be aroused, because there were a set of men sitting there who would be the nominees of the Government, and they would not be satisfied with that legislature. He asked the noble Lord, whose object he really believed to be to govern the colonies well, why did he halt thus in the march of improvement? His better mind was acting in South Africa, but in New South Wales it deserts him, and some evil genius now presides. Why, he asked, should they leave this single blot on the largest portion now of their colonial possessions? Taking the general name of Australia, it was the largest portion of land they had got to settle, and why should they maintain there a faulty constitution? It was admitted that, taking the general proposition, two chambers were better than one; but then it was said there was an instance in which one chamber at present exists, and as they were about to make constitutions for Van Diemen's Land, Port Phillip, South Australia, and another colony—as they were about to make five new constitutions in Australia, the Government were led to go against their better judgment, because there now exists one faulty constitution. He (Mr. Roebuck) asked the Government to deal with this question with a knowledge of human nature—he asked them to address themselves to the subject as men having a knowledge of human nature—he asked them, when making a great experiment like this, not to sow the seeds of discontent, and not to plant a quarrel which would overshadow the benefits to arise from this measure.
§ MR. HAWES
begged to call attention, in the first place, to two petitions signed by certain landowners and inhabitants of New South Wales. The petitioners stated that the 5 & 6 Vict., the Act establishing the constitution of New South Wales, was brought in and passed after serious deliberation; that it had only existed for five years, and was welcomed as a boon; and both prayed that no changes in this constitution might be made without their consent. There was also a petition to the same effect from Van Diemen's Land, objecting to any constitution but that conferred on New South Wales, and the Governor and Council of that island were also favourable to a single chamber. Now, New South Wales was the largest and most populous of their colonies, and what was the constitution it possessed? He was not going to defend a single chamber; he agreed that the old constitution was preferable, but what was the constitution that was so highly popular in New South Wales? The Legislative Council was elective, with this exception that one-third of its number consisted of nominees, the other two-thirds being elected by the people. It followed from that, that it was essentially a popular constitution, the numbers of official to elected members being in the ratio of one to two. If his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield referred to the papers, he would see that the question of a single and double chamber had been debated in the Council of New South Wales, and there was a very narrow division—the double chamber being negatived only by a single vote. That was evidence clearly that there was a strong feeling in the colony of New South Wales prevailing in favour of a double chamber, for the minority was so large that it was only over-ruled by a single vote. But on examining the division it would be found that nine of the elected members voted against a double chamber, and only four for it. So the elected members decided two to one against the double chamber. His defence of the proposition of the Government, therefore, was, that the single chamber was acceptable to the colonists, and that it worked well, and they thought it right to rest their measures on an established and tried constitution that had given satisfaction. In taking that course, was it decided by Parliament that there should be a single chamber? If hon. Gentlemen referred to the Bill of last year—and the Bill of this year in this respect was the same 593 as the last—they would find that the Legislative Council of New South Wales had power to alter this constitution. With this strong feeling in favour of a double chamber—with all this prepossession in favour of a double chamber, was it not wise to leave that question to be the subject of public discussion in the colony, to preserve their constitution intact, but to give to them the power, if public opinion became changed, of altering and modifying their constitution. That was the most deferential course towards their fellow-subjects in New South Wales that could be taken. Now he came to the observations that had been made in reference to the Cape. It was said they were establishing there what was an innovation upon their ancient colonial system, inasmuch as they were conferring on the Cape the privilege of having an elective Legislative Council; and it was said also that when once the Parliament of England declared the Legislative Council of the Cape should consist of elected members, it would be impossible to refuse to any other colony the boon they had granted to the Cape. Now, this must be considered, and so he would wish the House to consider it, that if any colony having a certain European population, desired to have an elective Legislative Council, their declaration for an elected Legislative Council would meet with no opposition from them. When an elected Legislative Council was granted to the Cape, it could not be objected to in other colonies, where the circumstances were the same. He did not wish to allude to anything of an angry or recriminatory nature that had marked the earlier part of the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark; but he must refer to the observation that, in consequence of the delay that had occurred in bringing forward this measure, the hopes of the colonists had been disappointed. That delay arose partly from the state of the business before the House last Session; and from that cause, and also from legal delays, they had been prevented from laying the Bill on the table of the House at the time they wished. But they had never any intention to depart from their plan. As far as regarded the constitution of the Cape and the constitution of the Australian colonies, the same plan was laid on the table of the House, in all its main provisions, in the early part of last year. He (Mr. Hawes) did not want to detract from the services conferred by the gentlemen belonging to the Colonial Reform Association; but he felt bound to say this—that those measures were actually 594 matured, and the intention to introduce them entertained, long before the Colonial Reform Association was formed. One of the members of that association was a former Under Secretary of State, and that association invited the colonists to send accredited agents to represent the colonists. He (Mr. Hawes) must say that a more dangerous or objectionable measure was never suggested. Who was to accredit those parties? How were they to ascertain their connexion with the colonists? How could they know they represented them? They professed to ask for popular sympathy and support; how did they know that any of those parties would represent the colonists? He knew the colonies well enough, and the parties so sent might not be able to give the best and soundest information. The hon. Baronet—who showed how much he attended to the subject by the sketch he had given of his Bill—seemed to think it would be a very easy thing to distinguish between what he called local legislation and imperial legislation. If he came to the clause of the Act of Parliament, he (Mr. Hawes) would defy him successfully to do so; but even if he succeeded in making it manifest and clear that the distinction could be drawn, he (Mr. Hawes) had an objection to make a judicial body the arbiters of the question whom they had not adverted to at all. He had heard it said that the colony of New South Wales, or of New Zealand, could not vote a sum of 50l. for the repair of the government-house or market place without writing home to the Secretary of State. That was not so. The money vote was taken in the Council; the appropriation vote was taken there as here, and the money was expended for local purposes long before the appropriation act came to them for ratification. While on the subject of local and imperial legislation, why did not the hon. Baronet refer to the question of the Canadian rebellion losses which had been discussed in that House? In that case, there was a Bill essentially local; but a very high authority in that House considered it to he a Bill involving imperial considerations; and he (Mr. Hawes) did not deny the weight of the arguments he had used in support of his views. He felt a deep interest in the question, and was of opinion at one time that a judicial committee might be formed. He had the pleasure of having many conversations with Mr. Godley, and could only say, that after consulting those who were best qualified to give information, and forming the best opinion in his power, he conceived what the 595 hon. Baronet proposed would be an injurious measure. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire said he would take a future opportunity of calling the attention of the House to British Guiana, and therefore he (Mr. Hawes) would not now refer to it; but he begged to point out a serious mistake in the few words which the hon. Gentleman had uttered. The hon. Member had said the franchise was limited, and referred to an election where only two men had voted. Now, it had been his (Mr. Hawes's) fortune to be elected without a vote. He had seen many elections in this country, even in Westminster, without a vote; but because there was no contest, was it right to say there was no constituency, or to represent there were only two voters because the names of a proposer and seconder only appeared? From the papers on the table it would be found that there was a large number of registered electors, and when the proper time came, he should be prepared to explain the clauses inserted in the Bill on the subject. Referring generally to our colonial policy, when the measures now proposed came before the House, he hoped it would be found that all their colonies had representative forms of government, and as nearly those of the mother country as circumstances would permit. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had stated, when speaking of the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, Sir H. Smith, that he was no statesman. He would remind the hon. Baronet that, as Governor of that colony, he was addressed by the Secretary of State, and enjoyed the fullest opportunities of consulting the Attorney General and Judges of the colony; and he could confidently refer to the documents on the table of the House as proving the ability with which the Governor had discharged the duty imposed upon him. The papers on the table reflected the highest honour alike on the Governor and his advisers.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that it was not his intention at that late hour of the night to enter into any general view of the colonial policy as laid down by the noble Lord at the head of the Government at the commencement of this debate; neither was it his intention to enter into any defence of those gentlemen who had associated themselves together under the name of the Colonial Reform Association. There might, perhaps, be points in the constitution of that society which were open to criticism; but he thought that at any rate it was entitled, in all fairness, to the credit of having 596 been a useful stimulus to the proceedings of the Government. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, observed that the Australian Constitution Bill was framed long before the formation of the Colonial Reform Association. Of that fact there could be no doubt; but it must he remembered that the Australian Constitution Bill was not the object of their admiration, but rather of their criticism. The credit which the Government had gained depended upon a much more recent production, namely, the outline of a constitution for the Cape of Good Hope; that, he apprehended, dated subsequent to the formation of the Association. [Mr. HAWES: No!] It was in January, 1850, that the idea of the elective council was canvassed in the Committee of Council of Trade and Plantations. He was very anxious to back the appeal which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and was most desirous that they should not commit a false step with respect to the Australian constitution. Against the motives and intentions of the Government in proposing a single chamber for the Australian colonies, he had not a word to say. He believed the Bill brought in for that object, had been conceived in an honest and friendly spirit; and if he ventured to recommend another arrangement, it was by no means with the desire of casting any discredit upon hon. Members. But how stood the case with respect to this single chamber of New South Wales? The hon. Member the Under Secretary for the Colonies stated that in the first Bill they preferred a double chamber, but that they had adopted a single chamber because the feeling of the people of New South Wales was opposed to the creation of an Upper House. He (Mr. Gladstone) believed only one Member of the Legislative Assembly spoke against a second chamber. The hon. Under Secretary added, that they had provided a remedy for the error, if it were one, because they proposed to give to the legislature which they were about to constitute, the power of remodelling itself, and of establishing a double chamber instead of a single one. Now, with respect to this remedy, he thought it a most imperfect one, because he took it for granted that the object of the Government was to ascertain the sentiments of the community of New South Wales. He knew of no public interests, of no Crown interests, and of no colonial interest, in any of the colonies like that of New South Wales, apart from the interests and feelings of the people 597 of the colony itself. The body which was to judge of the constitution, and which was to possess the power to alter it, was a body into which nomination largely entered. It was a perfectly conceivable case that in this council of thirty-six in New South Wales, there might be a majority of elected representatives who were favourable to a double chamber, but that such majority of elected representatives might be converted into a minority upon the whole, because the nominated members might object to the change from a single to a double chamber. And what was more natural than that the nominated members should so object? Because, of course, the second chamber, if desired, would be an elective one, and those gentlemen who sat, not by election, but by nomination, would naturally be arrayed upon the side of the single as against the double chamber. The remedy, therefore, proposed was a most imperfect one, and one which in all probability would be found entirely inoperative. But was the allegation of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies even correct, that this question of a double or single chamber had been fairly brought before the people of New South Wales, and decided by them in favour of the single chamber? He maintained that the question had not been so brought before them, and he joined issue with him upon a matter of fact. He maintained that, so far from their deciding in favour of the single chamber, the question had never been before them at all. The people of New South Wales had never dreamt that the Government would consent to give them an elective upper chamber. It was quite true that the question before them related to an upper chamber; but what question was that? It was, whether they would have an upper chamber composed of Government nominees? To that question they replied, "We have got our Government nominees, and we have got them combined in a single chamber with the popular representatives; and we think that system preferable to a house of representatives and a house of nominees." He was not sure that he would not have agreed with the colonists in that opinion. He confessed that he thought the existing constitution in British North America and in Canada was very defective. If the Government desired to draw out the plan for a second chamber, they must base it mainly and entirely upon the elective principle, and it would be of no use or value in 598 checking the movements of a popular assembly, unless the elements of election 'were included in it. What had they seen take place in Canada? They were told I a little while ago that Lord Elgin, upon his change of government, had swamped the Legislative Council. He found that he was obliged to bring it in harmony with the House of Assembly, and that it was impossible for him to suppose that a number of gentlemen, having no title beyond general ability, and nominees of the Legislative Council, could stand in collision with the Lower House; and it was for this reason that he found it necessary to add to the number of members, and thereby destroy the independence of that House. If, however, the second chamber were elective, it would have a strength of its own, derived from the same source with that of the popular assembly—precisely the same as they saw was the case in France at this moment. There, the President of the Republic, though but one man, yet appealed to the will of the electors who chose him, against the will of those who elected the Assembly. Placed in these circumstances, the people of New South Wales had no alternative but an upper house of Crown nominees; and the judgment which they had come to upon the subject was a perfectly natural one, but it did not raise even the faintest presumption that they were opposed to a double chamber. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies had stated that the Governor of Van Die-men's Land recommended a single chamber. Such, however, was not the case, for he had sent home a most emphatic recommendation the very reverse, in his despatch of August 15, 1848. He there states—Without, therefore, wishing or presuming to give an opinion on the general question of the best form of legislative body, I may say that, under the peculiar circumstances of these colonies, I should most strenuously recommend the adoption of a second or upper chamber.That was his opinion upon the subject; and that strenuous recommendation of an upper chamber was sufficient to dispose of the argument in favour of a single chamber, founded upon the assertion that the people of the colony had pronounced in favour of a single chamber. He would now briefly give his reasons why he conceived a double chamber preferable. In the first place, when the people of this colony learned that they were about to give an elective upper chamber to the Cape of Good Hope, it would at once be the signal 599 for a strong agitation for a new constitution; and, secondly, that this constitution proposed for New South Wales, although it might have been a very fair constitution to enact some seven or eight years ago, when the public mind was not so rife upon these matters, still it was not a good one for the present time. He did not like the idea of gathering together a fixed body of gentlemen, neither more nor less than twelve, who were to be placed in the face of twenty-four elected members, not distinguished persons placed there because they were the most distinguished characters in the colony, or who received it as the reward of their efficient public service. There was none of the grace or dignity attaching to their position which there was to appointments to the House of Lords in this country, where they had the most eminent men of their professions, great warriors, or those who had distinguished themselves in their various lines of life; on the contrary, there were twelve men put there by the influence of the Crown, to check and control the actions of the elected members of a popular assembly. The appointment of these men involved a fundamental and vital error. It proceeded upon the supposition that the Crown had something to defend which the popular assembly was likely to attack—it proceeded on the supposition that the Crown had a set of interests in the colony opposed to those of the colonists, which tended to the creation of a sect or party in the colony, which was presumed to be assisted in some particular manner by an exclusive title to loyalty and British attachment of a part of the colonists. He did not deny that those gentlemen so nominated were sincerely loyal; but, in his opinion, it was most dangerous for them to do anything which should tend to create anything like a feeling of sect or party in the colony. They should endeavour to make the whole colony one British party. The best course to pursue, in order to obtain that desirable end, would be to leave the colonists to themselves—leave them to the management of their own affairs, show nothing like a feeling of jealousy or distrust of them, nor endeavour to press upon them institutions which appeared to show that this country had separate interests and separate objects in view, for which they thought it necessary to appoint special means of defence, lest, if the colonists possessed entire liberties, those objects would be frustrated by their want of attachment 600 to us. When the subject came fairly before the House, he would be prepared to state more fully his opinions upon the question of a single chamber.
§ MR. HAWES
said, that as the right hon. Member who had just resumed his seat had quoted incorrectly the opinion of Sir W. Denison, the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, with the permission of the House he would read some passages from the same despatch referred to by the right hon. Member, in order to show the error into which he had fallen:—In the face of this it would almost seem needless that I should say anything more upon the subject, as the chances appear to be that the Bill will have passed long before your Lordship can receive this despatch; but as delays may take place, and as your Lordship may not be able to carry the Bill through Parliament in the present Session, it will be but just to the members of the Executive Council, and to myself, that I should explain to your Lordship the grounds upon which we recommended the adoption of a form of government similar to that at present existing in New South Wales, without attempting to give an opinion as to the advantages or disadvantages contingent upon the adoption of that particular form. These reasons may all be summed up in the simple fact that the form was established in New South Wales, and that the Australian colonies are so connected together—so identified with each other, as far as the character and habits of the people are concerned—as to make any change in the existing system of representation, if applied only to one colony, a matter of very doubtful policy. The probability would be, that such a change would be looked upon with suspicion and dislike, and for that very reason would not be carried into effectual operation.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that the hon. Member had made an explanation, and had read some extracts; he wished, however, that he had continued reading a little longer, for he had just stopped at a very interesting part. The passage which he (Mr. Gladstone) had read, was the continuation of the letter. The object of the letter of the Governor of Van Diemen's Land was to show that it would be dangerous to alter the government of Van Diemen's Land from a single to a double chamber, while only one chamber remained in New South Wales; but he stated—and if the hon. Member had read on he would have seen the Governor's reasoning on the subject, which was as follows:—Without, therefore, wishing or presuming to give an opinion on the general question of the best form of legislative body, I may say that, under the peculiar circumstances of these colonies, I should most strenuously recommend the adoption of a second or upper chamber.
§ MR. HUME
looked on the present debate 601 as a most important one, for it involved the peace and tranquillity of the colonies. He was pleased with a great part of the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Nothing could be better than his promises and statements, and all they wanted was for them to be realised. Their colonies from north to south, and from east to west, were discontented, because they were never allowed to govern themselves. Instead of a source of strength, which they would be if well governed, these colonies were a cause of weakness, in consequence of the repeated blunders committed in the mode of governing them, and the manner in which they had been tyrannised over. What he wanted was, to see all causes of discord and discontent removed from the colonies, and not their separation from this country. If the noble Lord carried out the doctrines he laid down with regard to the Cape, he was sure they would give entire satisfaction. But if the principle he laid down were good for the Cape, with its 80,000 colonists, he did not see why it should not be equally good for New South Wales, with its 200,000. He agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that their other colonies would be discontented if they saw the people of the Cape obtaining better institutions than themselves, who were quiet, because the colonists of the Cape resisted, and defeated the Government. He therefore called on the noble Lord to treat all alike. Indeed he thought there should be an Act of Parliament, empowering the colonies to choose such institutions as they themselves liked best. He (Mr. Hume) was not one of those who feared a separation of their colonies; but he should say, he did fear separation if they continued to act towards them in the unkind and unjust manner they had heretofore done. The noble Lord had read to the House some chapters on colonial government; but he (Mr. Hume) could read for him chapter upon chapter condemnatory in the strongest measure of the proceedings of the Colonial Office, and complaining of the injury they suffered by reason of excessive taxation. Therefore he had to add his entreaty that the noble Lord who had first commenced, and commenced well, and he believed meant well, would continue, and assimilate the constitution of the other colonies with that which he intended to bestow on the Cape of Good Hope. He hoped and trusted, indeed he doubted not, that these colonies, as soon 602 as they got the power of regulating their own affairs, would give their full attention to them, whereby an immense saving, in every point of view, would be effected for this country. Therefore, he thought the result would be a healing of the dissensions that previously existed, and that the boon of self-government would be the means of promoting happiness and contentment, and putting down discontent and dissatisfaction.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that he cordially concurred in the sentiments which had been expressed by previous speakers, that this debate should be conducted with calmness and moderation; for if ever there was a debate which called for a display of calmness and moderation, and the absence of all party feeling or spirit, it was that of to-night. He fully believed that the consequences of this debate, in the course of the present Session even, would be either to rivet for ever the attachment of our colonies to the empire, and to relieve this country, wholly or in part, of her military burdens and expenses, or to exasperate the colonies, to disappoint their cherished anticipations, and perhaps to lose many of them for ever. After the very able and lucid speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the debate which had succeeded it, he felt that it would be something like presumption in him to occupy, at length, the time and attention of the House; but he could not refrain from expressing his congratulation to the House, to the country at large, and to the colonies, that there was at last found in this country a party desirous of promoting extensive reforms in our colonies, and that there was a recognised channel now established for giving expression to the public opinion of the colonies in this country, which had already succeeded so far as to force the noble Lord at the head of the Government to place in its proper position of prominency among the debates of the present Session this great colonial question—which had already forced the Government of this country to modify very essentially the principles which it had previously laid down in the Constitution Bill—and which he hoped would at last succeed in placing the interests of the colonists upon a surer and sounder basis. With respect to the Colonial Reform Association, the noble Lord had made some remarks upon it; but his criticisms were of so mild a nature that he (Mr. Adderley) could hardly quarrel with them. The noble Lord had 603 characterised some of the proposed plans as being "a matter of dubious policy." He thought, however, that they could bear with that criticism, on account of the great assistance which the noble Lord had given that night to the objects and aim of the Association. The only part to which the noble Lord seemed to object in the proposed plan of the Association, was the establishment of correspondence with the colonies; and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State alluded to the difficulties which attended the selection of accredited correspondents. To his (Mr. Adderley's) mind, however, the term "accredited "fully pointed out the nature of the proposed correspondence, and afforded a guarantee that it would not be correspondence pandering to the popular feelings of the colonies, and inviting complaints, but, on the contrary, calling for information upon all subjects affecting the interests of the colonies to open a free communication, and afford a free vent for the expression of the general feeling of the colonies—for giving the earliest information to this country, and for giving to the colonists a mode of expressing their opinion. If the noble Lord would suggest any mode by which they would attain the same objects more easily and more safely, they would be most thankful for the suggestion. As the noble Lord, however, had laid down the principle that British subjects were to be allowed to give expression to their opinions, he would, at all events, sympathise with the Association in their endeavours to supply the want of any mode of expressing that public opinion in this country. If the noble Lord would allow him to propose a contract, he would undertake to give up the "accredited" agents, if the noble Lord would give an elective council to New South Wales. He never felt the slightest reluctance in supporting the Government in bringing forward any measure which appeared to be adequate to the occasion; and if the noble Lord would bring forward such measures with respect to the colonies, he would most heartily give him his vote, and all the assistance in his power. He repudiated the notion that any opposition had been made to the colonial policy of the country from any personal hostility to any Minister of the Crown; but while he utterly repudiated any insinuation of that sort, he felt bound to say that he did not see in the scheme of policy laid down by the noble Lord any great advance beyond the measures of last Session, except in one 604 particular paper, which had been produced from the Privy Council, suggesting a new-constitution for the Cape of Good Hope, and which only appeared yesterday upon the table of the House. He did not see that any other great advance had taken place; if he had, he, for one, would have caught at it with the greatest earnestness. He could not agree with the other plans which had been laid down, or with the premises upon which they had been laid down, nor could he agree with the noble Lord in the historical sketch upon which he seemed to rest his policy and his statesmanship, when he stated that it had always been the policy of this country to give freedom to the colonies. By way of proof of that assertion, the illustration which the noble Lord used was, that whenever the prerogative of the Crown was highest in this country, liberty was then the greatest in the colonies. That was, no doubt, quite true; and Guizot, when speaking of the constitution of England, went beyond that, and stated, that whenever the liberties of England were the greatest, those of her colonies were the lowest. So it was that now, when the prerogative was the lowest in this country, the liberties of the colonies had all but disappeared. The reason why the constitution of the colonies had disappeared with the declaration of American independence was merely because this country adopted the plan of making her colonies penal settlements. It was the very constitution of a penal colony to have a despotic governor over it; and until they could introduce freedom into gaols, it would be impossible to introduce a pure constitution into a convict colony. The noble Lord had said, that if the colonies were to possess entire self-government, they would, upon the first moment of danger, appeal to some foreign country. Did history, however, bear out that assertion? Who conquered Canada for us? Was it not the colonial officers of America? Did the Americans appeal to France? The very first grievance which Franklin had to bring to England as the agent of Pennsylvania was, that England did not allow it to tax itself for the purpose of self-defence as they desired to do. They wished to place a tax upon the whole of the colony, including the proprietors. England, however, taking the part of the proprietors, refused to allow the taxation to that extent. A general rule appeared to be laid down by some hon. Members, that it was 605 utterly impossible to draw any line of distinction between imperial and local subjects, and, in his opinion, that was fatal to the whole plan. The noble Lord had stated, that such a distinction was a necessary part of the plan of the Government; and they had only qualified the proposal made to them by saying that the imperial exceptions should be of very rare occurrence—as of course they must be—the rule being that there should be local self-government, with a very few specified exceptions. The application of this principle had appeared before the House in the shape of two Bills—one, a Bill for New! South Wales, resuscitated from last year, with no alteration in it at all; and the other for the Cape of Good Hope, which had appeared within the last forty-eight hours. He thought that Her Majesty's Government had better allow the Colonial Reform Association to take the whole credit of this last measure, because otherwise it might be said out of doors that the Cape of Good Hope had got more than our other colonies, only because they had shown more spirit. But it had already been clearly shown, in the course of the debate, that the solitary ground advanced by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, for making this distinction between New South Wales and the Cape of Good Hope, was without any foundation. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would see no objection to giving the colonists of New South Wales what they most heartily desired—the most exact imitation of the British constitution which circumstances might allow. He could not help thinking, however, that the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office had still too much attachment to his old system of colonial government, and that he still wished to see his own influence, and that of the governors whom he had appointed, supreme. He would call the attention of the House to a most extraordinary feature in the Cape of Good Hope constitution, which, he ventured to say, was a novelty not introduced in any form of constitution since the world began. He supposed that the noble Lord felt scrupulous about giving up altogether the principle of nomination, and that his scruples led him to make the extraordinary proposition that the Upper Chamber of the; Cape of Good Hope should be elected by an electoral body of officials. This electoral body was formed in the most ingenious 606 manner to carry out the principle of parties in the colony. He did not object to that, but he could only account for the extraordinary artificial manner in which the scheme was drawn, by attributing it to the noble Lord's objection to part with the principle of nomination. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had said that the colony of New South Wales had expressed its assent to this Bill. He (Mr. Adderley), however, did not know how the House was to get at the expression of public opinion in that colony. The official tongue of the colony was tied by its connexion with Downing-street, and spoke only when the Colonial Office pulled the strings. The natural tongue of the colony had no utterance. What was the organ of public opinion in New South Wales? Was it the Sydney Morning Herald? He begged to say, that if any assent at all had been expressed, it was only in the form of an expression of gratitude for any change whatever, showing how eager they were for change, and how desperate their present condition was. It was alleged that there was a redeeming clause in this constitution of New South Wales—the clause which gave power to the colony to alter its own constitution. But he begged the House to bear in mind that whilst this clause was inserted in the Bill, its effect was neuralised by another, which reserved a veto to the Crown. He did not know whether it was worth while to take up any further the time of the House when the question had already been so fully discussed. He would only thank the noble Lord for his able speech, and remark, that in giving our colonies the power of self-government, Parliament would not yield anything to popular clamour, but would simply concede rights to which the colonists were entitled. A portion of the press had taken up the matter as if the schemes propounded by the noble Lord were a concession to a popular outcry; but he (Mr. Adderley) should be the last man in the world to yield anything to mere clamour. He would rather take arms against a colony than concede any claim of a rebellious tendency. It was because the grant of self-government was not a concession, but a restoration of the rights of British subjects, which our fellow-countrymen were entitled to abroad as well as at home, that he seconded the movement which the House was now making. There was great attachment felt in our colonies to the institutions of this country, perhaps even greater than 607 what was felt at home. Many persons were led away by the presumed analogy between colonies and children; but even if they were to be treated as children, that was no reason why children's rights should be taken away. The very first ship-load of colonists that ever left the shores of this country were perfectly ready, on arriving at their destination, to assume the functions of self-government, and the colonies founded on this principle grew and flourished. It was because this plan had been reversed, and the colonies were treated as children under governors and tutors, that so much misgovernment had taken place in colonial administration. We had our own destiny before us, and that was one of the very highest in the world. Colonies had been founded in former times for the purpose of war and the purposes of commerce; but the noble Lord had pointed out that there were higher motives for colonisation than either of these objects—that freedom and civilisation for which it might be hoped the foundation had already been laid.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
observed, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had made a remark on what he called the somewhat dubious policy of the Colonial Reform Association. Now he (Mr. Aglionby) saw no dubious policy at all in the proceedings of the Association; and he believed that its principles were based on truth, and that its action would be useful to the country. He could not help thinking that it would do good, both by encouraging Her Majesty's Government to persevere in the course which they had adopted, and by calling the attention of the public, and of Members of that House, to the subject of colonial reform. He did not think the worse of the Association for wishing to have accredited agents from the colonists. Information was much wanted, for the Colonial Office now relied on the statements made by governors, who did not always agree in opinion with the population over whom they presided. A very important remark had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that it was both difficult and dangerous to give one form of government in one colony, and a different form in another. But he regretted to observe, that, with respect to New Zealand, the noble Lord held out no hopes of a constitution, except under its present nominee form, until the 7th March, 1853. Would that be tolerated? He ventured to say that the noble Lord would 608 find it impossible to withhold one for so long a period; and he begged to call the attention of the House to this point, because when the Bill was brought before Parliament, and he found that New Zealand was not included in it, he should use his best exertions to extend the provisions of the measure to that colony. The history of New Zealand in this respect was most peculiar. In 1846 a constitution was granted, which was suspended on the 7th March, 1846, although the Government had the testimony of its own officer, Governor Grey, that the southern province was as fit as any in the world for representative institutions, although he did not think that the situation of the northern province was adapted for them. The constitution, however, was suspended in toto. The noble Lord said, that he would not give New Zealand a constitution on account of the natives. There were, certainly, some natives in the extreme north of the island, though not in the southern province; and in the middle island, a country as large as England, there were only 2,000 natives. As he had said before, when the Bill was brought forward he should press the claim of New Zealand for a constitution generally; and if he were defeated in that attempt, he should move that a constitution be granted to the southern province. The refusal of a constitution had produced the most deadly feud between the Governor of New Zealand and the colonists of the southern part of the island. He had been openly charged with deceiving the Government at home, and he would, therefore, caution the noble Lord not to reply too strongly on the opinions expressed by Governor Grey. He would now only thank the noble Lord for the gratification which he had experienced in hearing from him the very liberal sentiments which he had avowed in favour of self-government and representative institutions in the colonies.
§ MR. SCOTT
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had justly observed, that nothing was of greater importance than that our discussions on colonial matters should be conducted in that House with temper and caution; for that whatever occurred there was sure to reach the colonies, and there to be criticised and commented on. If, then, it were desirable that they should avoid falling into inaccuracies in the heat of debate, how much more important was it that statements deliberately and authoritatively 609 made should be unimpeachable. He regretted that such was not the case as to what had fallen from several Members of Her Majesty's Government on the subject of two independent chambers of the legislature of New South Wales. There never was a greater misconception—a statement more erroneous in point of fact had never been made in that House—than the declaration of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, echoed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and repeated again by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies—that the decision of the Committee of the Privy Council, in favour of a single chamber in New South Wales, was in consequence of, and in conformity with, the wishes of the colonists. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the opinion of the Sydney Morning Herald, as showing the opinion of the colony on the subject. That journal has the widest circulation, is the best conducted, and the most respectable in the colony; but when a house of legislature is sitting, no editorial remarks are to be taken as the index of the opinion of its members. Let them learn the opinion of the members from themselves. He might as well quote the opinions of the London Morning Herald as reflecting the opinions of the Parliament or the Government of this country. At the time alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, the Legislative Council was sitting, and there was ample opportunity of obtaining the opinion of that body. Why, he would ask, did he not state an opinion founded on the authority of the representative body in the colony? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had justly said that only one Member of the Legislative Assembly had expressed an opinion against a second chamber. The gentleman to whom allusion was made, was Mr. Wentworth, who certainly had expressed an opinion against a second chamber the members of which were to be nominated by the Government; but this would hardly be regarded as an opinion against a second chamber. The hon. Member the Under Secretary for the Colonies had said that one of the greatest arguments for a single chamber was, that it was "an essentially popular" assembly; and as a proof of this, he stated that if twelve members of it were nominated by the Crown, twenty-four were elected by the people. If, then, in that House 200 Members were nominated by the Crown, and 400 Members were elected by the various 610 constituencies, they would have, according; to the hon. Member the Under Secretary, a fair specimen of "an essentially popular" assembly, He (Mr. Scott) was altogether opposed to the Crown nominees sitting in cither of the colonial chambers. Every gentleman who had been in these colonies knew that there were ample opportunities for the Government officers to obtain seats in the chambers by popular election; and the fact was, that several persons holding official appointments under the Colonial Government in New South Wales, had been elected Members of the Council.' He entertained some doubts with respect to the society to which the noble Lord had adverted; but it should be recollected that peculiar circumstances had led to its formation. He would ask the noble Lord to name a colony in which there was not last year either distress or disturbance. The condition of the whole of our colonial empire was such as to occasion great alarm; and a strong feeling was excited that the connexion between the mother country and the colonies should not he severed by the vacillation of the Colonial Office. He was perfectly convinced that if the noble Lord had during last Session acted on those liberal views on colonial government which he had stated in so able and comprehensive a manner tonight, there would have been no desire to form such a society. The noble Lord had stated that the cause which led to the loss of our North American colonies in the last century, had been more the arbitrary nature of the government, than the unsteady policy which had been pursued. If this had led—and he believed it had—to dismemberment in the last century, the like causes were likely to have the same effects at the present time. We had pursued a policy the most vacillating and inconsistent. If they looked to the proceedings of the Colonial Office with regard to these colonies during the last three years, what did they see? A constitution bad been sent out to New Zealand which had been acted upon for one year in one of the islands, and then abandoned, and which had not been adopted at all in the other. Again, within the same period transportation to Van Die-men's Land bad been abandoned, and again readopted after some time, again abandoned, and since then again adopted. In 1846, the Under Secretary for the Colonies sent out a despatch to New South Wales announcing the grant of a new constitution. This constitution proved a mistake, and despatches were sent out in 1847, 611 again in 1848, and again in 1849, each proposing to change the form of it. To Canada, in like manner, a despatch deeply affecting its social condition was sent out by one packet, and another despatch to undo the former forwarded by the very next mail. Such was the shifting system of our colonial policy as carried out by the Colonial Office. Its effects have already been partially developed in Canada, and if persevered in, results yet more disastrous may follow elsewhere.
would propose a question, an answer to which would be interesting to large classes in the country. In the colonial constitutions which are to be, is provision made for admitting the aborigines and their descendants to the full enjoyment of political privileges, on their complying with reasonable conditions? It was clear, for instance, that the New Zealander stood in precisely the same position as our British ancestors did to the Romans. If then he chose to "clothe his pink'd and painted hide," and conform to the rules and habits of English society, was the way open to him to the privileges of a "true-born Englishman," like any other of the elements out of which that heterogeneous being had been compounded?
Then it was
1. Resolved—That provision be made for the better Government of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies.
Resolved—That the Governors and Legislative Councils of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies be authorised to impose and levy Duties of Customs on Goods, Wares, and Merchandize imported into such Colonies.
§ Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.