§ MR. SCOTT
said, he did not propose to offer such an opposition to the Motion as would, if carried out, defeat the purpose of the measure—his object was rather to obtain more certain information as to the wishes of the colonists on the subject. He was anxious to improve the government, and to extend liberty to the inhabitants of our Australian colonies; and he admitted that no measure had ever before emanated from the Colonial Office, conferring so large an amount of civil liberty as the present. But there were constitutional questions in the Bill so important that they must be considered before the principle was affirmed. It certainly was the interest, and he believed it to be the duty, of every State to give to its dependencies institutions similar to those which it enjoyed itself. That was the best mode of extending our empire, and cementing the affections of our colonies to us. Our connexion could not long continue with colonies to which we gave institutions essentially differing from our own. They were now about to give to the colonies of Australia a new constitution; but what he complained of was, that there was not in that constitution a single feature in common with our own. The constitution they were about to confer on the Australian colonies assimilated rather to the Republican Government of France, or the federal form of government prevailing in the United States, than the constitution of England. This was the point to which he wished, chiefly to draw attention. There were various questions involved, as the prerogative of the Crown, the veto, and others which were too intricate to venture upon at that stage of the measure, and into which he would not enter. The Bill before them contemplated the existence of one chamber in New South Wales instead of two; and the argument on which this change from our own constitution was based, was the wish of the colonists themselves. The Government stated their own opinion that two chambers were preferable to one; but they surrendered their own opinion in deference to the wishes of the colonists. But he maintained that no sufficient evidence has been given that such was really the desire of the people of the colonies. Now, let the House look at the constitution which Her Majesty's Government were conferring on the colonies of Australia. One- 977 third of the members of the chamber would consist of nominees of the Government. In New South Wales, the chamber itself would consist of 36 members; 24 of those would be elected, and the remaining 12 would be either officials or nominees of the Crown; and the Bill provided that, in the event of the chamber being extended, these proportions were to be retained. Now, in point of fact, this arrangement would be found, upon most questions, to afford an actual majority to the Government, because they would have one-third official persons always present, and these could, on most occasions, command a certain number of votes, so as to overwhelm popular sentiment. Suppose the British House of Commons to contain 230 Members, actual nominees of the Government, holding their seats in the House according as they voted in favour of the Government—that would afford a pretty accurate idea of the form of representative government proposed for our Australian colonies. It was said, however, that this was the original form of government given to the colonies in question; but it ought to be recollected that the Act giving that form, which was the 5th & 6th of Victoria, was introduced by Lord Stanley, and passed through the House of Commons without discussion, and passed through the House of Lords after a remark or two from Lord Monteagle. But that Bill had been given as a step towards more extended liberty, and the continuance of such a measure in opposition to the wishes of the colony, was much more likely to hamper the Government than to assist them. There was no precedent for having a single chamber. The custom throughout had been to give two chambers in preference to one; and if two had been given to the Cape, and two to Nova Scotia, how could the House expect that the continuance of one in New South Wales would give satisfaction to Australia? Moreover, it had been admitted that rash legislation was more likely to be prevented by two chambers than by one; and he could give more than one instance in which very disastrous consequences had been likely to follow from the impetuous conduct of a single Chamber. He knew Her Majesty's Government would reply, that power was given the colonists to alter the constitution if they wished; but then the single chamber was recommended, whilst the colonies were told that they might adopt any other form of government they pleased. The 978 hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had said the other night that jealousy and divisions were likely to be excited by such legislation; and he (Mr. Scott) certainly feared that, if one set of colonists were thus excited against another set, the divide et impera policy, by which the Colonial Office was enabled to manage parties in the colonies, would create anything but harmony. The question was, why had Her Majesty's Government abandoned the form of government they themselves considered fit, and recommended the single chamber? He knew it would be said that they had done so in compliance with the wish of the colonists, and that the papers heretofore presented to the House would be brought forward in proof of the inclination of those colonists in favour of one chamber. But, in looking at the papers, he asked whether any such preference was to be found for one chamber over two, either in the petitions contained in the papers, or in the decisions of the legislative council, or in the representations made to the Government? Sir William Denison was in favour of two chambers instead of one. Sir Charles Fitzroy had given his opinion that the assimilation of the constitution of the colony to that of the older British colonies, where distinct legislative councils existed, was extremely desirable. The Legislative Council itself had given the preference to two chambers over one, even though one of the two chambers should be entirely composed of Government nominees; and the petitions from the colony which were cited the other night, set forth the admiration of the petitioners of two separate chambers. When the Bill of last year, which was very similar to the one now proposed, had reached Australia, the Legislative Council of New South Wales was sitting. It continued its sittings for three weeks afterwards; and he was very desirous of knowing what papers Her Majesty's Government had since then received in reference to the measure. If they had received any in favour of the single chamber, why were they not presented? He thought this Bill had been introduced without due deliberation, and he was unwilling to go to the second reading of a measure which, in its principle, perpetuated, or sought to perpetuate, a form of government that prevailed in the United States, and that only had a parallel in the constitution of France, and in the constitution originally given to Corsica. He 979 was for giving a distinct co-ordinate chamber to the colonies of Australia, and thus investing the colonists with the full benefit of popular representation. The proceedings of the Legislative Council of New South Wales fully proved that its members possessed talent and ability, and a capacity for business, and that many of its most prominent speakers were men of high character; and, as evidence of this fact, he need only refer in particular to Mr. Went-worth and others, who had taken part in moral and religious questions, and shown their aptitude for taking the place of independent members. He believed the double chamber would elevate the tone of society, exalt the morals, and conduce more than anything else to cement and attach Australia to the parent State; and with the express wishes of the colonists before the House in favour of the double chamber, he thought hon. Members wanted more evidence to be laid on the table before they advanced the Bill now proposed another stage. He, therefore, moved as an Amendment that that stage of the Bill be postponed until further papers on the subject be laid on the table of the House.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would forbear from going into the details of the Bill, because at that stage it was not desirable to go at any great length into a discussion of the measure itself, but to confine that discussion to the principle. He apprehended the general principle was to enlarge the powers of the present legislature, so as to enable the colonists to frame a constitution for themselves which they might send to this country for confirmation, if confirmation to it here should be considered advisable and proper. The hon. Gentleman who had just spoken stated his belief that it would be more satisfactory to the colony that we should frame a constitution for it resembling that which Her Majesty the Queen had been advised to grant to the Cape of Good Hope, that of having two chambers. He (Mr. Labouchere) presumed to doubt whether that hon. Gentleman, in the present state of the colony, did actually represent the wishes and feelings of those of whom he was the agent in this country, for, from all the means Her Majesty's Government had had of judging of their wishes, they were quite contrary to what the hon. Gentleman had just stated to the House. The hon. Gentleman had said that there was no support of the single chamber in the papers already laid upon the table. He (Mr. Labouchere) 980 admitted that there was not evidence in those papers to show that it was the deliberate opinion of the inhabitants that finally and permanently the single chamber would be better than two chambers; but it was the almost universal opinion of the inhabitants that they should be left to their present institutions, with only such alterations as should enable them to propose a scheme of government for themselves, rather than that any constitution should be sent out, cut and dry for them, from that House. This was the substance of the evidence the papers contained. He would call the attention of the hon. Gentleman to a very remarkable despatch, written by Sir Charles Fitzroy, when transmitting a petition from a large public meeting held at Sydney upon this subject. Sir Charles said that the petition had been signed by upwards of 3,000 persons, who prayed Her Majesty not to assent to any change in the constitution of the colony, which should not receive the assent of the colonists at large—that this petition had been signed by men of all shades of opinions—that public meetings for a similar purpose had been called throughout the colony—and that other similar petitions were in progress of signature. [Mr. SCOTT: What is the date of that despatch?] The 2nd of February, 1848. [Mr. SCOTT: TWO years ago.] The prayer of the petition adopted at the Sydney meeting, was to the effect that Her Majesty would not assent to any change in the constitution, which should not have received the previous sanction of the colonists. Sir Charles Fitzroy had sent over at the same time a report of the speeches made at the public meeting, many of which were very able. One of them had been delivered by Mr. Wentworth, the gentleman already referred to in the course of this debate, who declared that although some difference of opinion might exist as to the formation of another House, yet that the only objection he bad to the present council was, that it did not possess power enough—that it was powerless for good, and potent for evil. This did not express any distrust in the Legislature as at present constituted, or any unwillingness or inability to frame right and proper measures to enlarge its powers. Now, by the Bill at present proposed, the colonists would be left to suggest those measures and that form of government which, in their opinion, most suited their position; and he (Mr. Labouchere) thought Her Majesty's Ministers 981 had acted wisely in forming the measure on such a principle. He agreed with some of the views laid down by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark touching the management of our colonies; and he thought that, in matters of such, great concern as those now involved, it was not asking too much that the Crown of England should consider the plans suggested by the colonists of Australia; and he could assure the House that Her Majesty's present Government would approach the task of considering them with a sincere desire to conciliate the wishes of the parties immediately concerned, and to satisfy the people of the empire at large. The hon. Member for Berwickshire had repeated an observation made the other night by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, for he said the remedy now proposed would be imperfect, inasmuch as the body to whom the new powers were to be entrusted, would consist, one-third of them of nominees of the Crown, and that these nominees would outvote the representatives of the people. But there was no just foundation for the doubt thus expressed. The colonists themselves had expressed no apprehension that from the mixed council, composed partly of the nominees of the Crown, there would not issue recommendations and measures which would be suited to the community among whom they lived; and, indeed, it was the most idle of all apprehensions to suppose that, because there existed these nominees of the Crown, the representatives of the people were to be outvoted. He thought it a very groundless and unfounded apprehension to imagine that the assembly would not work well and efficiently. There had been a choice of difficulties in the question. If two chambers were not to be established, then no one would expect that the single chamber should be left without any nomination from the Crown. He would not wish to live under, or to see introduced, such a form of government as should exclude that nomination; and though, as a general question, he quite preferred two chambers to a single chamber, yet, if they had a single chamber, there must be a counterpoise in it. He thought it most desirable that the House should confine itself at present to the principle of the Bill, reserving details for future consideration when the measure should have gone into Committee. He had no apprehension that it would not secure the approbation of those whose interest it was designed to promote. 982 So far as could be judged from the newspapers published in every part of Australia, there was every reason to suppose the colonists had received it with gratitude and satisfaction. He hoped nothing would occur in the House to bar or interfere with that harmony and goodwill which was now subsisting between England and Australia. The Bill had been prepared with a sincere desire to promote the welfare and prosperity of the Australian colonies; and therefore he hoped the House would assent to its second reading.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he perfectly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat, that in the present stage of the measure the House ought to confine itself to a discussion of the principle, and not enter upon the details. Now, the right hon. Gentleman had said, that in his opinion the principle of the Bill was simply to give an enlarged power to the existing legislature in the colony of Australia. He had stated, in so many words, that there being in the colony a certain form of legislature, the powers were now restricted by which the parties might act, and that the whole object and intent of the Bill was to take this legislature and give them a sort of unlimited power in making constitutions for themselves, which constitutions were to come home and receive the assent of the Crown. That was the principle of the Bill. Now, he (Mr. Roebuck) at once objected to that principle. Remark how the right hon. Gentleman wished to proceed. He wished the House to proceed—first, by making legislative councils in a great measure nominated by the Crown, with hardly any power from the people in the colony, and afterwards, when that was done, to give to these nominees of the Crown, or at least a large portion of the nominees, the great powers of legislation which that House (the House of Commons) ought itself to exercise. He complained of the Government, and would complain of the House, if it were so contented to divest itself of its great powers of legislation, so far as the dependencies of the Crown were concerned; for, if it were so contented, hon. Members would be confessing their own ignorance and weakness, and saying they were not fit for the government of the colonies. [Mr. HUME: Hear, hear!] He was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Montrose cheering this statement, as if he (Mr. Roebuck) had been saying something which was opposed to the liberties of the 983 colonies. What was he objecting to? He was objecting to giving powers to people who did not derive their will from the people of the colonies. He wanted the House to frame a legislature, to send that legislature out to the colony, and when it got there to plant at once liberal institutions, and not to go through all the contest and agony which would be created by the passing of this Bill. He had supposed when the noble Lord at the head of the Government came down the other night, and said, he was going to explain the policy of Her Majesty's Ministers respecting the colonies, he thought the noble Lord was going to lay before the House some large and liberal policy, some well-defined measure, some well-digested plan; whereas of all the abortions ever put forward by an incompetent Administration, this Bill was that which bore away the palm. He defied any one to understand it without the greatest care, attention, and even knowledge. If he took into his hand the Act of Parliament creating the constitution of the Canadas as brought in by Mr. Pitt, nobody would find any difficulty in understanding that. It was clear, defined, logical. It began by defining the limits of the colony. It created the actual form of the constitution. It told us of whom the various parts of that constitution should consist. It told us more than that—what should be the constitution of the representative assembly. It told us what should be the franchise that should elect the assembly, and in fact it was what it purported to be, the constitution for the colonies. Now, what was the present Bill? He was not going to discuss the details of the measure as details, but he was discussing it as the constitution for a colony; and he would invite the attention of the House and the country to the way in which it had been framed. It began by enumerating, he did not know how many Acts of Parliament, but there were between seven and eight Acts of Parliament. It did not repeal, it recited them. He wanted to know the meaning of that? If there was no portion of them repealed, why recite them? If they said to the people of Australia—" Here is your constitution," how were they to understand it? At the end of the first clause, they divided a certain colony and made a new clause, and then they proceeded to deal with each separate colony with reference to all these Acts, so that to understand any one portion of the Act, you must have all the other Acts in your hand—you must compare and 984 understand them with the eye of a lawyer; and none but a lawyer could understand them. That was not the way to draw up a constitution for a people of any sort. It was not like the Reform Bill brought in by the noble Lord. That was an exceedingly elaborate performance. It told us what was the constitution the various towns and boroughs were to have in order to make the House of Commons. Parliament was now about to divest itself of the power of approval. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the Crown should reserve certain powers to itself. He would not deprive the Crown of that. He could well understand that the Crown should preserve it through the governor; but he could not agree that they should on every occasion send their legislation, not for the approval of this House, but of the Colonial Office. That was not what he thought this House ought to do. But he asked what the House ought to do? Was it not clear that it was the duty of the House to consider the whole of our colonies that were of the description of the Australian colonies, New Zealand and South Africa, as one set of colonies, and at once to prepare a legislature for them. Now, he was given to understand that there had gone out of the Colonial Office a ready-made constitution for South Africa. If the Colonial Office could send out a ready-made constitution for South Africa, he wanted to know why the Parliament of Great Britain might not send out a ready-made constitution for the Australian colonies. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire objected to one cut and dried by Parliament, and yet he did not object to the cut-and-dried constitution that was concocted in the Colonial Office. He was told that that was a really beneficial constitution, and he did not object that it was cut and dried. There were five colonies in Australia, but the letters the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had quoted, and the petitions, all came from Sydney; and he told them it was the opinion of their legislature there that their constitution should not be altered without their approval. The right hon. Gentleman had foisted in the word "colonist." He wanted to know what was the meaning of the word "colonist." The right hon. Gentleman had quoted declarations made at a public meeting. He knew what public meetings were. They were generally got up to serve the purposes of those who called them. He 985 could not understand why the Government should divest itself of the power of legislation. He hoped the House would not so divest itself, and when the time came he should test the opinion of the House on the subject. He did not object to a single council if it was to be wholly elective. He did not ask for it, and he did not know a single colony that did ask for it. But that was what their experience in Canada convinced them must take place. He wanted to know, when they had had that long experience in Canada, and when the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord were both convinced that the legislative council chosen by the Crown was a source of mischief, why they should introduce into South Australia this newfangled doctrine. He did not use the word to bring it into contempt, or to imply that he objected to a newfangled doctrine; but this was altogether contrary to our experience. We had had nothing at all like it, to have a body of people elected by the colonists, and a set of men chosen by the Colonial Office, or by a clique in the colony. Calling it the act of the Sovereign did not lend it dignity; it was no more than a means of giving power to a small body of the colonists, a power opposed to the opinions of a large body of the people. They might hide it as they pleased under fantastic names; they might call it a single chamber; they might talk about the attributes of this country, and about connecting it with this country. It was no such thing; it was a mere device to retain the power in the hands of a few. He warned the Government and all those connected with the colonies, that so sure as they created this body, so sure did they create a constant source of discontent and quarrel. Now he should ask the noble Lord to justify to himself, and to the country, this strange anomaly. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, who said it was the opinion of the colonists. It was the opinion no doubt of those that he quoted; for they did not dislike the supposition then in their minds, that there was to be no alteration without their approval. But he would ask the noble Lord if this legislature was like that which they were going to send out to South Africa? Let them send out to New South Wales such a legislature as they were about to send out to South Africa, and he should be very much mistaken if the people of those colonies did not receive it with great thankfulness. But recollect we were not taking 986 a step from which we could go back. This the noble Lord introduced as the commencement of a new system. He said the colonies were about to be deprived of the benefit of the connexion with England through monopoly, and, therefore, said the noble Lord, "We are about to begin a new system; we are laying the foundation of a great empire." Therefore, he would ask this House to see how they laid that foundation which they could not unmake. It was like a building which when once the foundation was laid, it took as much trouble to alter as to lay it. This Bill, when it had passed and gone out to Australia, would be a species of charter. He hoped that in time it would work beneficially—that they would in time have a good constitution, but they would have it in spite of this legislation, not in consequence of it; whereas they would find that in South Africa they would not have the difficulty they would have in these colonies. These were their model colonies, and they were going to place in that large district of the globe a set of institutions which were totally unfit. Two plans were brought forward. The noble Lord at the head of the colonies, of his own unbiassed judgment, sent out one to South Africa, and from some strange caprice this other one was brought to the House and called a constitution. Why, they had left all the power in the present assembly; they were divesting themselves of every means of legislation, and the only check they had was the check of the Colonial Office. It was a Bill for perpetuating the power of the Colonial Office. If the House of Commons was prepared to throw from its shoulders all care about the colonies, let it do so boldly at once; but do not let us create a dominion in Downing-street, which all the long years of our colonial experience had taught to be most mischievous. Ask anybody what had been the effect of the Colonial Office on the destinies of America, beginning with New England and Virginia down to Canada. When the people of New England were left to themselves they thrived and became a great people; and when the Colonial Office interfered, quarrels took place, something like rebellion was constantly breaking out, and from one end of New England to the other they had constant discontent, and at last the consummation of it was the declaration of independence in 1776. Cross the St. Lawrence, and they found the same influences 987 exist. In Upper and Lower Canada they traced the power of the Colonial Office for mischief. There they had the nominated legislative council. They had themselves acknowledged that that nominated legislative council could not be maintained. And why? Because the growing intelligence of the colonists was such that they would not put up any longer with it. The fault lay with the Colonial Office rather than with the Colonial Minister. The Colonial Minister did not govern the colonies; it was the persons constantly in the office—the men who maintained power through all changes of the Administration. The Ministry were but lost in their hands; they wielded power according to their own will, and not according to that of the Ministry; and this it was that rendered this Office the bane of the colonies. It was not the really responsible Minister who governed; he was a mere instrument in their hands. He had seen ten or twelve changes in the hands of the Colonial Office: in one Administration there were four or five. No sooner did a man go in and learn something, than he was changed for the exigencies of the Administration, and thus the power fell into the hands of the clerks. They were going to do the same with this Bill. The consequence would be, they would hold up this Bill as they did now the great mistake made by Mr. Pitt in the constitution of Canada—namely, the nominated council, the mischief of which was pointed out by Mr. Burke at the time, who said they could not make an aristocracy in the Canadas. There were not the elements. Now, were there the elements in Australia? Then why did they retain this anomaly? They retained it under the influence of persons behind them who wished to maintain power, and they designed to retain it by specious contrivances. The noble Lord had, on his own judgment, sent out a constitution to South Africa, and before twelve months were over they would have a legislative council in both the Canadas, in Nova Scotia, and in Newfoundland; in a short time they would have the same demand from Australia, and they would have to retrace their steps. He asked them to take at once that step which they knew in their hearts to be right. He saw the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies present, but he did not wish to prefer a charge against him, for he, like his noble superior, was a tool in this matter. He was no more answerable for it than he (Mr. Roebuck) was. His 988 mind had had nothing to do with it; and if his hon. Friend could make it out that it was his noble superior's, then he should think so much the worse of him. The people in Australia were exactly the same class of people as in South Africa, with this exception, that in South Africa they had two races—the Dutch and the English. Some of our own colonies had been penal colonies; but he believed that the nature and character of the convicts rapidly changed, and that they would find the people in New South Wales as moral and as well conducted as in any country that had not been a convict colony. And that being so, why had they two measures for the same set of people? Would his hon. Friend get up and tell him that the colonies desired it? Would he tell him that New Zealand desired it? or that Port Phillip desired it? No, he would only tell him that certain persons in Sydney desired it; and upon that ground alone had the hon. Gentleman justified this strange anomaly. In one colony he created two chambers, both elected by the people; and in the other he had one chamber, and put into it one-third who were nominees, not of the Crown—he would not so dignify them—but nominees of a clique. At the present moment the great receptacles for our emigrant population were South Africa, New Zealand, and South Australia. The people liked to go under British law. There was a feeling that Canada would not remain under it long; he was sorry for it; he wished to preserve it. There was a feeling growing up, that in going to Canada they would soon be under the United States, and would cease to be Englishmen. People might call it a prejudice if they liked—he was glad there was such a prejudice; but Englishmen would rather be under the protection of England, and, therefore, they preferred going to Australia and New Zealand. They were now making a constitution for Englishmen, and he wanted to know how his hon. Friend and his superior could justify themselves to the English people for making such a constitution as this? Because this was for ages yet to come, and over a tract of land as large as Europe. At this present moment he believed that South Australia, taking one colony only, was very near as large as France and Spain put together. He anticipated the time when these would be great nations; and why should they not, as wise and prudent legislators for the future, why should they 989 not lay the broad foundations of justice and right, and not to do, as they had always done, except in the case of the noble Lord sending out a constitution to South Africa, endeavour to preserve a power which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade called the power of Crown, but which he (Mr. Roebuck) called the power of a clique? They had desired to do that, and for the purpose of doing that, they had done all they possibly could to prevent the improvement of the great body of the people. Compare the emigrants who went out from England to America, and their success, with those who went out from the United States further west, with their success. It was no answer to say that Englishmen had the Atlantic to cross. It was just as difficult for the Americans to take the land journey and cross the Mississippi, to Missouri and Arkansas, as it was for Englishmen to cross the Atlantic. If they compared the colonies of the United States with ours, they saw the real reason of the rapid success of the one, and of the deterioration, or rather slow success, of the other. He thought the noble Lord at the head of the Government read the other night certain figures as to the increase of the Canadas and of the United States. Let the noble Lord compare the separate States; let him compare Ohio with any portion of our colonies; let him compare any one of the free States, he did not say the slave States, with our colonies, and he would see why it was that our colonies did not show that prosperity that the colonies of the United States did. There was nothing so miserable for a traveller a crossing the St. Lawrence. On the one side he found a people not under a Colonial Office, but governing themselves. There was every improvement, rapidity of transit, exertion, law, peace, energy, success, activity, happiness. Let him cross the water, and every man was looking across the Atlantic to know what Downing-street should say. There was nothing of the activity on the other side of the water. The traveller asked himself, how is this strange contrast? Here we have as fertile a soil, as genial a climate, as sagacious a people, as on the other. So striking a difference could not, he observed, be believed on the wide globe, the difference being the more apparent from the identity of the sources of prosperity on each side of the river. Go from one canton in Switzerland, from a Protestant to a Catholic canton, and they might find some difference, but nothing like 990 that of which he was now speaking. The grandeur, the magnificence, the spirit of commercial enterprise on the south border of the St. Lawrence, compared with the crushing, cruel misery of the other, was one of the most painful spectacles for an Englishman to witness. Now he wanted to ask the House not to cast this mildew into the other colonies. He entreated the House to curb and control that power which it was about to continue, and not to spread this terrible mischief over our colonial empire.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, I think I never heard a speech marked by so many errors and mistakes, with regard to constitutional theories, with regard to history, and with regard to practice, as the speech just delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He has called to our attention the Act which was passed for the separation of the two provinces of Canada; but I think the hon. and learned Gentleman could not have chosen a more unfortunate model than that Act to ask us to follow. Sir, the consequence of that Act was, that the Government of Canada, being divided into a legislative council named by the Governor, and into a popular assembly named by the people of Lower Canada, who were pent up in Lower Canada, and divided from Upper Canada, there was, for a long series of years, the most bitter dissension between the council and the assembly; and at length that constitution came to an entire stop, owing to the impossibility of making the two parties act together; and the result was, that even a sufficient number to form a House could not be collected in the popular assembly. And that is the model which the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes us to follow. [Mr. ROEBUCK: It was only for the logical precision with which the constitution was drawn that he had commended it.] With regard to the logical form, if we can provide a measure calculated practically to benefit the people, I think I would give up something in point of logical precision as regards language, for the sake of the substantial benefits of good government. The hon. and learned Member says, that at the commencement of this Bill various Act a are recited and referred to. I think that this is only a characteristic of this Bill, which is common to many other Bills. Nay, more, the hon. and learned Gentleman says it requires care, attention, and legal knowledge, in order to understand this Bill. Why, I don't mean to say that persons careless and inattentive will alto- 991 gether be able to follow this Bill. Some care and attention on a Bill which is to govern a great colony, is surely not too much to ask. With respect to legal knowledge, I do not think it requires any more than that knowledge of the general principles of law with which most Members of this House ought to be familiar on matters of legislation. But then the hon. and learned Gentleman says, "After all, why is it that, in the substance of your Bill, you prefer a legislature which is formed of a single body, instead of having a legislature of two bodies, both of which shall be elected?" And the hon. and learned Gentleman says, "Surely Parliament ought to frame a constitution for the Australian colonies." He says, in substance, "Never mind what the opinion of Australia is—never mind what is said by New South Wales—never mind what their wishes are—but form a constitution according to your own notions of what theoretically must be right." Now, I think that is rather new language from those who have always asked us to give such a mode of government to the colonies as they wish to provide themselves. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, "Take a mode of government which shall be approved by the opinions of this House, and do not take any fanciful measure of our own." Why, this "fanciful measure of our own "is, in fact, the kind of constitution by which, since 1842, New South Wales has been governed. The hon. and learned Gentleman totally omits the fact with which we have to deal. He seems to assert that we come forward with a proposition for a legislature formed of a single body, entirely of our own invention, when we might refer to far better models and other institutions. And on this subject the hon. and learned Gentleman talks of the Colonial Office in the way that he and others like him talk of the Crown in this country. It is, in fact, the power of the Crown exercised through the Secretary of State, which is the only formal means by which the Crown can exercise power. The Crown now has the power, and always has had, in the colonies of this country which are not governed by Act of Parliament, and where there are no other stipulations otherwise to bind the Crown—the Crown has the power to introduce a council and an assembly as a mode of governing such colonies. Such has been the power of the Crown without at all referring to Parliament; and if I do not misunderstand the hon. and learned 992 Gentleman, he proposes to dispute this power—to say that the Colonial Office (substituting the Colonial Office for the Crown) should no longer have this power, but that every constitution of a colony must in the first instance be settled by Parliament. But now as to the facts. They are—that in 1842, after a council nominated by the Crown, with the Governor, had been legislating for New South Wales, an Act of Parliament was introduced, which had been a good deal considered under the former Government, having, I believe, been introduced by Lord Stanley; and a Legislative Council was introduced, one-third of its members to be named by the Crown, and two-thirds by the people of the province. Well, if the people of New South Wales said, "We do not approve of this constitution; we wish to have two chambers instead of one, and desire that that change shall be made by Parliament;" those representations would be laid before the House, and the Committee of Privy Council, to whom this question was referred, would have seriously considered the mode in which such a constitution should be granted. Because, again, when the hon. and learned Gentleman talks of the Colonial Office, he altogether indulges his fancy on this topic. The clerks of the Colonial Office, to whom he alludes, although they do their duty with great ability, have not to decide questions of this kind, nor have they to be decided by the Secretary of State. He refers a question of this magnitude to the Committee of Privy Council. They make their report to the Government on the subject. It is considered by the Government, and then a measure is introduced. The colonists could not say we have maturely considered the question between a legislature composed of a single body and a legislature composed of two bodies, but they say that we have a legislature in which there is a large popular element, in which two-thirds of the members are elected by the people, and we should not like any change in the principle of that legislature until we have had ourselves an opportunity of considering such a proposal. Now that is all that we propose to adopt. We propose to give weight to the opinions of the colonists. We say we will listen to your opinions, and we will introduce among you a legislature similar to that which you have at present, giving more power to the legislature, but maintaining the principles of its constitution, and that will remain until you 993 have maturely considered a different form of representation; and if you think of framing a better legislature, then that shall he considered in this country, and a favourable view will he taken of your opinions upon that subject. The Crown may give its assent; but that is the nature of the constitution of this country. In the case of South Australia, the Crown has proposed, by an Order in Council, to give that constitution; that is a power inherent in the Crown of this country, and unless the hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to take away that power from the Crown, it will remain the constitution of this country. But there are greater matters to consider. What we propose is, in the first place—a point on which the hon. and learned Gentleman did not dwell—to give to South Australia and to the new province of Victoria, legislative councils, which they had not before, Victoria being united with New South Wales, and South Australia having had a representative constitution before. But if we had to frame a second Legislative Council—to frame another house as it were—for Australia, it is very doubtful whether the Members of this House would frame at once such a provision with regard to the constitution of that second chamber as would meet with the approbation of the colonists of Australia. In the Cape, we have proposed that the election shall be vested in certain bodies, and among others certain persons holding offices under the governor of the Cape. I do not believe that similar offices exist in Australia; but if they did exist, it is not clear to me that the people of New South Wales and Australia generally would prefer such a body of electors to the single chamber which is now proposed; therefore we should have the risk of framing a constitution which did not suit their opinions, which did not meet their wishes, or else we should be obliged to resort to a measure which should be sent to Australia, and only upon the return of the reports from that colony a year hence should we be able to frame a Bill. Is it not a more rational and practical course—the Committee of Privy Council having framed a report in March last—that we, having introduced a Bill towards the end of the Session, and that report and Bill having gone out to Australia, and having met with the assent and approbation of the great majority of the colonists, now propose to carry out a measure founded on those principles, leaving it to be settled 994 hereafter whether there shall be any changes in that constitution? The colonists might think that the democratic power would be more likely to prevail in a single chamber, two-thirds of whose members were elected, than if they had a separate chamber, composed of persons of greater property, or in any way likely to counteract the popular wishes of the colonists. For, supposing the single chamber to consist of 36 members, if the 24 elected by the people, or even less, voted one way, the nominees of the Crown would have no power to counteract their will; but, supposing there to be two chambers, and the popular assembly to be unanimous in favour of a particular measure, the other chamber would have a positive veto when the measure came before them. Now I am not saying it is not a better thing to have a constitution of two chambers, than it is to have a constitution with one. I think it is a better form of constitution to have two. I submit that we are certainly pursuing a course which is more in accordance with the different opinions of the colonists than that which the hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to pursue. There are other questions connected with this subject which are of no inconsiderable difficulty. It is a general principle of our constitution to adhere to a House of Lords and Commons, and it is said we should have in the colonies a governor, a council, and an assembly. But when the council is to be formed, it is desirable that that council should have a certain weight and authority—that it should be composed of persons whose experience or whose name will carry with it a certain degree of influence when its decision should come to be known. It is desirable also that it should act in some manner as a check, and that it should not be merely the echo of the popular representation which is to form the basis of their power. Now, between those two difficulties the task is by no means easy. In several of our colonies the Legislative Council has had little weight, because it did, in fact, consist of persons nominated by the Crown, and who had no authority, except as being nominated by the Crown, when they went into that assembly. On the other hand, the persons forming the Legislative Council should not be nominated merely because they are likely to agree with the representative body, and should be elected to keep up the harmony with the representative portion of the council. That is a considerable 995 evil. In an ancient society like this, with all the advantages of great achievements, of great properties and of historical events, you would get over the difficulties which I have stated. In a country like the United States of America, consisting of a very large population, where you have the means in the different States of finding men of great capacity and experience from their youth in the modes of legislation, you have the means of forming a Senate. A Senate formed of such materials in the United States is uniformly respected in those States, and throughout the world. There the problem may he solved; but it is not easy at once, pointing to a given colony, to show at the same time how two chambers may be formed to have authority and influence with the Government. If it can be formed, they should point out to us how it can be formed, and how those conditions can be fulfilled which shall have all the authority and independence that may be required. We propose, therefore—and that is the general principle of the Bill—to continue in New South Wales, and to introduce into other parts of Australia, that form of Constitution which was introduced by the Act of 1846. We do not imagine that we are forming a constitution for all time, but we do say, we are continuing a constitution against which we do not hear any loud remonstrance. The hon. and learned Gentleman, at the end of his speech, pointed out what was the difference between Canada and the United States, and attributed to that bugbear, the Colonial Office, all that was defective in Canada, and all that contrasted with the freedom of the United States. I do not know in what respect the United Provinces of Canada are not as free as the States. It is true that they do not elect their own governor. On the other hand, with regard to their tariffs, and several other subjects—with regard to the duties on customs which are imposed—they have far greater liberty than the United States have, and are more at liberty to pursue their own course. I believe the dissensions which have prevailed in Canada for many years have been a great obstacle to their progress. I believe that the unfortunate difference made on the suggestion of Lord Granville between Lower and Upper Canada, was the cause of the slow progress made by one province as compared with that of the other; the navigation of the St. Lawrence had been prohibited by the jealousies and dissensions 996 prevailing between the two provinces; and the shutting up the French people in one province, and allowing the British race to flow into the other, had been an extremely injurious course. Whatever the cause, they have now freedom of constitution, a great increase of wealth, as shown by the imports and exports, an increase of population, and a prodigious increase in the amount of property assessed in those colonies. What was there, then, to prevent those provinces making as great progress—not as the newly-formed States belonging to the United States, for that would be altogether an unfair comparison—but as any of the American States which had been settled an equal time with that province? If so, the hon. and learned Gentleman's objection to the interference of the Crown was altogether misplaced; for there was no need of waiting for communications from Downing-street with respect to any measure which the Canadians thought necessary for their own internal benefit; to no such measure would the Secretary of State for a moment hesitate to give his approbation when it was required. But the greater part of the questions arising in the Canadian legislature were, in fact, settled by the people of Canada themselves; and the Secretary of State and the Colonial Office, of which the hon. and learned Gentleman has so much horror, said nothing at all, and in no way interfered, to prevent the execution of whatever the colonists thought best for themselves. I look with confidence to the support of the House to the second reading of this Bill. It has been formed with considerable care, after knowing the general opinions entertained in New South Wales, and having gone out to New South Wales, it has been approved of there. The House would do unwisely to throw away a Bill of this kind for the purpose of framing a constitution on their own notions, which might be found unpalatable to the people of the colony. And, lastly, on the principle of allowing the people to govern themselves, this Bill is more consonant with that principle than the scheme of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who, in stating the history of the colony, and misrepresenting the constitution of this country, sought to induce the House to set aside the opinion of the colony, and to legislate on some unsatisfactory notion of his own.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
hoped he would find an apology for addressing the House in the importance of the measure 997 then under discussion. That importance was drawn from the circumstance that the Bill proposed not only to establish political institutions for five separate and distinct colonies, sharing between them nearly all the existing settlements in that great tract of country, Australia, but also to found a federal union between them for the management of their inter-colonial concerns. To the greater part of the measure he had no objection to offer. He approved of the separation of Port Phillip from the colony of New South Wales. He thought it was wise, in the existing state of feeling in the Colonies, and jealousy of all interference, to allow the legislative council in these Colonies to alter by Act the charges on the civil list, with the single exception of the governor's salary, without rendering it necessary that that Act should be reserved for the signification of the Queen's pleasure before it came into operation. He thought it was wise, too, to introduce provisions for cancelling those corporate institutions under the management of district councils, which had been created by letters patent, issued under the Constitutional Act of New South Wales, and which had excited discontent, and appeared to be un-suited to the wants and wishes of the colonists. But it was what he conceived to be the main principle of the Bill which had his hearty approval—he meant the recognition of popular representation as an indispensable element in the form of colonial government. His opposition was pointed against the organisation of the legislative assembly. He owned to a predilection in favour of a double chamber. He should like to see the legislative power shared by two distinct and independent branches, each exercising a control over the other, and each having a negative upon the other's proceedings. His ideas and sentiments on that subject were grounded not only on general political reasoning, but also upon the uniform sanction which experience had given to the conclusions of abstract theory. The policy of a division in the legislative body was something more than true only in the region of thought. History and the experience of this country had made it a great practical truth; but it was a truth which it was unnecessary for him to demonstrate, because it was admitted and conceded by the noble Lord himself, and, he (Mr. Peel) believed, in the report which was framed by the Committee of Council. The noble Lord said he should have proposed to Parliament the adoption of a 998 double chamber, but for one consideration, and that was, that the colonists had clearly expressed and recorded their wishes in favour of a single chamber.
§ MR. F. PEEL
thought it at all events to be so stated in the report of the Committee of Council, upon which this Bill was acknowledged to be based. If that was so, he (Mr. F. Peel) approved of the wisdom of the course which had been taken. He did not think they should be justified in legislating on any abstract notions, or upon general reasoning, or even upon the conclusions of historical experience, against the expressed wishes or the peculiar circumstances of the colonists. But he could not so readily admit that the colonists had expressed their wishes on this matter in that clear and unmistakeable way which would alone justify in his mind a deviation from the usual type of colonial governments. The opinions of the colonists of New South Wales might be collected from four distinct sources: from themselves, in their public meetings; from their organ, the legislative council; from the executive council; and from the Governor of the colony. With respect to the sentiments of the people of New South Wales, so far as they could be collected from the resolutions arrived at in their public meetings, he thought it was in the middle of the year 1847 that Lord Grey first communicated in a despatch to the Governor of New South Wales his proposition for remodelling the constitution of the colony. That scheme met with great opposition, and excited much discontent. It undoubtedly contained a proposition for dividing the legislative body into two branches; but it was not against that part of the scheme that the indignation of the colonists was directed. It was against that portion of it which proposed to place the legislative council and the district councils in the mutual relation of representative and constituent. It was to that portion of it which proposed to deprive the colonists of the franchise they then enjoyed, and reduce them to the condition of mere primary electors—to give them only a right of electing the district councillors, by whom again the representatives in the legislative council were to be nominated. He ventured to say that in no petition, contained in the papers which had been laid on the table of the House, was there any opinion expressed adverse to the legislative authority being shared by two 999 chambers. The burden of complaint in every petition was the attempt to deprive them of their legislative franchise; with one single exception, he thought, that was so. If that was the case with the people, so far as their sentiments could be collected from their public meetings, how did the matter stand with their organ—the legislative council? The legislative council was not in session when Lord Grey's despatch arrived in that colony; but no sooner did the legislative council meet than they resolved themselves into a committee of the whole house, for the purpose of arriving at a certain resolution upon the subject-matter of that despatch. The resolution was put to the vote, after considerable discussion, and was carried by, he believed, a small majority, in a committee of the whole house. It was not, it was true, reported, and did not, therefore, appear on the records of the proceedings of that house; but he was justified in saying that the legislative council came to that resolution by a majority in its favour. It was resolved—That this council is disposed to view favourably the proposition of separating the deliberations of the nominees of the Crown from those of the representatives of the people.With respect to the opinion of the executive council, he believed they were unanimously in favour of a division of the legislative body—at least, they all voted in favour of that resolution which he had read to the House. And with respect to the opinions of the governors of the colonies, justly entitled to great weight, because expressed in a very unqualified manner, he would read to the House the opinions of the Governor of New South Wales, and of the Governor of Van Diemen's Land. The Governor of New South Wales said—My own opinion, confirmed by that of the most experienced and unprejudiced persons who have watched the working of the present constitution of the colony is, that the assimilation of the constitution of this colony to that of the older British colonies, where distinct legislative bodies exist, would be generally considered to be extremely advantageous to its interests.With respect to the Governor of Van Die-men's Land, he said—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.So that to whatever source of public opinion he looked, he could not say he found any 1000 opinion adverse to the dividing the legislative authority between two bodies; and, believing that that policy was approved on general reasoning, and that the truth of that general reasoning had been demonstrated by experience, and not finding either in the circumstances, or character, or in the wishes of the colonists, anything which would make him believe that any form of government other than that which had been usually applied to the colonies of this country, would be better fitted to the people of Australia, he could not but think it would be advantageous to them that the legislative authority should be shared between two bodies. These considerations were, he thought, equally applicable to the structure of the General Federal Assembly. But there was one other consideration connected with this part of the case to which he would briefly advert. The federal union should represent the interests of the States as collective bodies, and the interests of the inhabitants of those States as individuals. So far as the first class of interests were in question, each State being as independent and sovereign as another, should have an equal representation in the Assembly; but, so far as the second class of interests was concerned, that State which was most populous should have a preponderance in the number of its representatives. He could not but think that if the link of connexion which it was proposed to establish was to be permanent, it would be necessary to place a constitutional barrier against the encroachments of the one State against the other; and that that would be best secured by requiring the representatives of the States to sit in one chamber, and the representatives, of the inhabitants of the States in another. He was obliged to the House for the attention with which it had listened to him. He took, indeed, some interest in this question. He believed it was the destiny of the people of Australia to increase and spread themselves over that great continent. He believed that they had sown there the germ of future nations, and that what was now an unproductive waste, would be, at no distant day, the site of thriving communities. And being firmly persuaded that the form of colonial government would exercise a very powerful influence upon the maturity of that country, which was now in its infancy, he did hope the House would stamp on that form of government the impress of the British constitution, and would enable the colonists to enter upon that career which lay open before 1001 them with all the advantages in the way of political institutions which it was in the power of the mother country to confer on them.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
said, it appeared to him that it would be wise policy on the part of this House unanimously to assent to the principle of this Bill, and to show to the Australian colonies that they were anxious as speedily as possible to give them the benefit of representative government. Therefore, in his opinion, it would be better to offer no opposition to the first stages of this Bill, but that all questions concerning the form of government, and the powers to be delegated to the colonial authorities, should be carefully considered in Committee. He thought, however, if this course be adopted, it was not too much to ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the noble Lord should consent to give, full opportunity to discuss the details of this measure, and to propose amendments to it. Did the noble Lord assent to this? If so, it appeared to him (Sir W. Molesworth) that before the Bill is discussed in Committee, the noble Lord should alter its shape and form. For in its present form many of the most important questions with regard to the government of the Australian colonies could not be directly raised upon the clauses of this Bill, but only indirectly by reference to the clauses of a former statute upon which this Bill was founded. The noble Lord's Bill was founded upon the constitutional act of New South Wales, 5 & 6 Vict, c. 76. The Bill first repealed one portion of the Act, then continued another portion of it, then altered and amended a third portion of it, then added several new clauses, and then applied this statute, so altered and amended, so curtailed and augmented, to the separated colonies of New South Wales and Victoria, and to all the other Australian colonies. Certainly, in its present shape and form, it was a confused Bill. It was not possible for an hon. Gentleman to understand it, unless he had previously almost learnt by heart the Constitutional Act of New South Wales. On the other hand, if he began by reading the Constitutional Act, he could not tell what portion of it was to continue to be law till he had carefully studied the Bill of the noble Lord. Therefore, if an hon. Member wished to make himself acquainted with the details of the noble Lord's measure, he must go backwards and forwards from the Bill to the Constitutional Act, and from the Constitu- 1002 tional Act to the Bill. For instance, suppose an hon. Member wished to ascertain what were to be the powers of district councils, he would not find them in this Bill, but he would find sundry clauses which would refer him to the Constitutional Act; in that Act he would discover numerous clauses about district councils, one of which would appear to him to be utter nonsense, and then he would have to return to the noble Lord's Bill to ascertain whether that incomprehensible clause was or was not to be repealed. Again, suppose an hon. Member wished to ascertain what is to be the elective franchise in the colony, say of Van Diemen's Land. He would not find it in this Bill. He would find in Clause 6, that the present legislature of Van Die-men's Land "may reduce the minimum value of land required to confer the right of voting." He would then naturally ask where was the amount of this minimum value to be found? and the clause would answer, in provisions not specifically contained in this Bill, but "hereinafter by reference contained" in it. He would then proceed to search for these "hereinafter by reference contained provisions," and would find in Clause 11 that this expression meant certain provisions of an Act of the sixth year of Her Majesty, as altered and amended by an Act of the eighth year of Her Majesty, and after having carefully read through both of these statutes, he would arrive at this result, which might be stated in a few words—namely, that the legislature of Van Diemen's Land may fix the minimum value of land required to confer the right of voting at any sum not eceeding 200l. It would be easy to multiply instances of this kind. But his chief objection to this Bill was, that it would not offer fair opportunity to discuss some of the most important questions of colonial government. Neither the question of the amount of the franchise, nor of the amount of the property qualification of members, nor of the duration of colonial parliaments, nor of the power of the governor to reserve bills, nor of the power of the Colonial Office to instruct the governor, nor of the power of the Colonial Office to disallow Bills—not one of these important questions would be directly raised by this Bill, but only indirectly, in the 11th clause, by reference to the Constitutional Act of New South Wales. Consequently it would be very difficult to take the sense of the Committee on these questions. Therefore, if the noble Lord be willing that hon. Members should have 1003 a fair opportunity to discuss the details of his measure, and to offer amendments to it, he should consent to alter the shape of his Bill; he should consent to consolidate it with the Constitutional Act of New South Wales, and the two short Acts which amend and explain the Constitutional Act—that is, the noble Lord should propose to repeal those three Acts, and should introduce into his Bill clauses re-enacting in full such portions of those Acts as the noble Lord wishes to have re-enacted. Then, all questions with regard to the form of government, with regard to the powers to be reserved to the Colonial Office, or to be delegated to the colonies, would be brought under the consideration of the Committee in a clear and distinct manner, and each question, as it would arise, would be discussed and easily settled. The convenience of such a mode of proceeding was self-evident. It might, however, be said, that such an alteration in the form of the Bill would cause delay in going into Committee: but he thought it need not do so; for he believed, in one day, with the aid of a learned gentleman skilled in drawing bills, the alteration proposed by him in the shape of this Bill might be easily made. Then they should have a Bill which could easily be understood and discussed, and, if it were passed, would not, on account of its form, be an opprobrium to their legislation; for if it became law in its present shape, the constitution of the Australian colonies would not be contained in this Bill, but might be described as being contained in an Act of the 10th year of Her Majesty, for the Government of the obsolete colony of New South Wales, as cleared of doubts by an Act of the 8th year of Her Majesty, as amended and explained by another Act of the same year, as partly repealed and partly amended, augmented, and applied to all the Australian colonies by an Act of the 14th year of Her Majesty. He asked the noble Lord to consider this subject. He did not ask him to make any alterations in the details of this measure, but merely in its form, in order that they might have fair opportunity to discuss the details in Committee, and to propose amendments. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had stated that the principle of the Bill was, that the Australian colonies should have power to frame their own constitution in the manner they thought best. He (Sir W. Molesworth) completely agreed in that principle. The 1004 real question for the House to decide was, not what was theoretically the best form of government, but what was the form of government with which the colonies would be best satisfied. It appeared to him that they did not possess that intimate acquantance with the affairs of the colonies which would enable them to judge what was the form of government best suited to their wants and interest; and if they let the colonists frame their constitution in the manner they thought best, they would have themselves to blame, and no one else, if it proved unsatisfactory. Though he agreed in the proposition which had been so clearly laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and agreed also in the observations of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he was very far from agreeing with them as to the mode in which it was proposed to carry out the principle of his measure. Let him, by this Bill, enact that the governor of each colony should, in a certain period of time, convene a constituent assembly elected by the people of the colony, and delegate to that constituent assembly the power to frame their own constitution, limiting that power afterwards to whatever extent he thought proper. That was the mode and manner to carry out the principle of this measure. The more he considered the clauses of this Bill, the more certain he felt that it would fail to give permanent satisfaction to the inhabitants of the Australian colonies. In support of this opinion, he would call the attention of the House to certain new resolutions which Mr. Lowe, a distinguished member of the legislative council of New South Wales, gave notice that he would move on the 14th of August last. [An Hon. MEMBER: They were withdrawn.] They were withdrawn; but Mr. Lowe said they were so withdrawn, not because he or his friends had changed their opinion, but for other reasons. The fact was, that intelligence having been received from Canada of the disorders there, the spirit of loyalty, which he was proud to say at present exists in New South Wales, induced the friends of Mr. Lowe to advise him not then to bring forward the matter, lest it should embarrass the Government. These resolutions were to the effect that no form of constitution for the colony of Now South Wales would be acceptable, permanent, or beneficial, which did not embody the following requisites:—1. An explicit recognition of the right of the 1005 colonists of New South Wales to have their government administered by persona responsible to their representatives. 2. A government removable by the vote of the colonial legislature, and invested with all colonial patronage. 3. An elective assembly, in which no person nominated by the Crown shall have a seat. 4. The placing the sum of 81,000l., contained in the schedules A, B, and C, appended to the Act 5 and 6 Victoria, c. 76, together with expenses of the customs department, at the disposal of such assembly, 5. The repeal of the Act 5 and 6 Victoria, c. 76, and the transfer to the local government and legislature of the management of the waste lands of the colony and the revenue derived from them.And if these concessions were made, Mr. Lowe proposed also to move, that—In consideration of them the colony of New South Wales would be willing to pay for such military force as, in the judgment of the Colonial Assembly, might be necessary for its protection in time of peace.Now the Bill of the noble Lord did not contain any one of those conditions without which Mr. Lowe said that no form of constitution would give permanent satisfaction to the colonists of New South Wales. He was persuaded that Mr. Lowe's assertion would prove true with regard to all the Australian colonies, and that no assembly would be acceptable to those colonies which should contain members nominated by the Crown. Of still greater importance was the question of the powers to be exercised by the Colonial Office. He was convinced that if we wish to frame a measure which should remove the great and fundamental causes of colonial discontent, we must deprive the Colonial Office of its present power of interfering in the internal affairs of the colonies. A good illustration of the present vexatious power of the Colonial Office had been lately brought under his notice, which he would mention to the House, For some time the inhabitants of Sydney, a city of some fifty thousand souls, have been complaining of the practice of slaughtering beasts within the precincts of that city—a practice which, in that warm climate, they consider to be an abominable nuisance, and injurious to their health. They were, therefore, anxious that the slaughter-houses should be removed; and on the 31st of May, 1848, a select committee of the legislative council recommended that the slaughter-houses should be removed to a place called Globe Island, and that to pay for their removal certain lands upon which a cattle market stood should be sold. Now it appears from the Sydney Herald, of the 22nd of September, 1849, that up to that date the nuisance of the alaughter-houses 1006 had not been abated, and would not be abated for at least a year more; because, according to the statement of the colonial secretary of New South Wales, the sanction of the Secretary of State for the Colonies must be obtained before the recommendation of the committee could be attended to; and with the utmost despatch that sanction could scarcely be obtained in less than a year. Thus, for more than two years, a city of 50,000 inhabitants, in a semi-tropical climate, will be exposed to the fevers and other disorders arising from the putrefaction of animal matter, because it could not sell or buy a plot of land without the consent of functionaries at their antipodes. They might be assured that every noxious odour that arose from the slaughter-houses of Sydney was a germ of hatred to the Colonial Government. Now, was it necessary for the interest of the whole empire that the Colonial Office should retain powers of this description? He maintained it was not; and that as long as the Colonial Office had an arbitrary power of interfering in the local affairs of the colonies, there would be perpetual discord between the colonies and the Colonial Office. The only mode of removing this cause of discord was by strictly limiting the power of the Colonial Office to questions affecting imperial interests. He knew some hon. Members would exclaim, "If we deprive the Colonial Office of its power, what will remain? what will become of the connexion between the colonies and this country—the colonies will be separated from the empire?" Now, it appeared to him that in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen there were grave errors and a great confusion of ideas on the subject of what constitutes, and ought to constitute, the connexion between the colonies and this country. From old associations and ancient prejudices, some of them were apt to look upon the colonies as subject communities—that is, as communities subject to the British communities; therefore to look upon themselves as kings, and the colonists as subjects, and to consider that the connexion between the colonies and this country consisted in dominion on our part, and subjection on theirs. Therefore they thought, to preserve that connexion, it was necessary to rest that dominion in some department of the State; in short, that the power of the Colonial Office hound the colonies to this country, and that the Colonial Office was the connecting link, which would be broken asunder if the Co- 1007 lonial Office were to be deprived of its present power. He maintained a diametrically opposite doctrine—that the Colonial Office was the institution which tended to alienate the colonies from this country; that in proportion as the power of the Colonial Office was curtailed, the union between the colonies and this country would be strengthened, for with the destruction of the arbitrary power of the Colonial Office the colonists would cease to be subjects of that office, and would become true citizens of the empire. They ought to look upon their colonies, properly so called, as integral portions of the British empire, inhabited by men who ought to enjoy in their own localities all the rights and privileges that Englishmen do in England. Now, the colonists had no right to interfere in the management of local affairs in Great Britain, and they ought not to interfere in the management of the local affairs of the colonies. They were entitled to reserve to themselves the management of the common concerns of the empire, because imperial power must be located somewhere for the maintenance of the unity of the empire. And here he must say that it would tend much to consolidate the empire if they could admit into the Imperial Parliament representatives from the colonies. That was a subject well worthy the consideration of statesmen.
§ MR. ANSTEY
considered that, in discussing this question, they should not refer to the opinions of governors, but should refer to the opinion expressed in public meetings of the inhabitants of New South Wales, the only Australian colony in which this experiment had been tried. That opinion was unequivocally spoken against a single chamber composed in part of elected representatives, and in part of nominees of the Crown. The last papers from that colony brought an account of public complaints of the attempt to reintroduce into that colony British convicts; and Mr. Lowe, at a meeting on the subject, declared, amidst the applause of the thousands that surrounded him, that no confidence could be placed in the Legislative Council so long as one single Crown nominee was allowed to sit in it; and he said the nominees of the Crown were so despised by their brother members, that it was difficult to get for them a fair share of the courtesy of the house. The experiment had been tried, and he must say it had resulted in a sense unfavourable to renewal of that experiment; yet the noble Lord at the head 1008 of the Government now proposed to extend the same plan to all the colonies in Australasia. He would suggest to the noble Lord that he should leave to the provisional councils, which were more likely to be biased in favour of the Crown than of the democratic element, the power he proposed to give them, but without control. He might be sure they would not use it in a sense too favourable to the people, and that they would make the franchise high enough. For his own part, he should have much greater confidence in the decision of an aristocratic assembly so constituted, than in the decision of an assembly composed of popular representatives and nominees of the Crown.
§ MR. MANGLES
gave his very cordial support to the measure brought forward by the Government, because he was persuaded they had a sincere intention to give free institutions to those colonies that are in a proper state to receive them; but at the same time he could not conceal from himself the fact that they had made a great and serious mistake in the measure they proposed, so far as it regarded the constitutional chambers, and he believed the reasons they gave in support of that proposition were founded on a serious fallacy. It was said that the people of New South Wales had given their sanction to one chamber; but his opinion was, that they never had the opportunity of making the selection, or thought that two elected chambers were attainable. Would they be satisfied when they heard that two chambers were given to South Africa? He was sure they would most willingly accept a similar constitution. He thought there was a great fallacy running through all the analogies that had been drawn in reference to this measure. It was assumed that the House of Lords were the nominees of the Crown. They might have been at some remote period nominees of the Crown, but they were now no more nominees of the Crown than any other Gentlemen around him. And in what a different situation they stood from the gentlemen nominated by the Governor of Australia to the Legislative Council, who held their offices for five years only, and were removable at the end of those five years entirely at the pleasure of the Crown. He did not wish that the House should throw out this measure, because he considered it to be a large step in advance.
§ MR. HUME
said, that the question now before the House was, whether they would 1009 read the Bill a second time, or postpone it till they received further papers. He was against any postponement, because he was anxious that the Bill should pass as speedily as possible, though he should endeavour to amend the blots it contained. He considered the measure to be a healing one, and as one tending to preserve the colonies. He valued this Bill, not for what it gave, so much as for what it gave the means of obtaining. The Bill was clumsily framed—but still he thought it a good measure, and hoped it would be speedily passed. To make the colonies useful and effective, it was absolutely necessary to give them elective government. Much as was the benefit derived by Canada from responsible government, the want of an elective council was felt to be a great drawback. He had received a letter from a gentleman in Van Diemen's Land, dated 1849, who said that their case there was desperate—that they were depending entirely on the House of Commons—that they only wanted the power of managing their own affairs, of appointing their own officers, and expending their own money, and that if that power were given them they would readily consent to contribute to the expense incurred for protection. He (Mr. Hume) did not fear any evil result from a spirit of democracy. He believed, on the contrary, that if our colonies were fairly treated, that we need have no apprehension whatever of their separation from British government, for they were fully impressed with a conviction of the advantages they must derive from the connexion. On this point, although he regarded the present measure as an immense advance, he relied more upon the words of the noble Lord and the Under Secretary for the Colonies, and felt satisfied, from what they had said, that the Government did intend to give responsible government to our North American colonies, which were still without it; and that if those colonies did call for a second chamber they should obtain it. There, was, however, an exception made in this Bill, which he objected to, as calculated to create much discord—he meant the money for the Church. Now, these colonies had ample means from land to meet their wants in that respect; and as certain as he stood there, it would form a bone of contention. Another reason why he wished the Bill should pass was, as a friend to voluntary emigration, which had been obstructed to an extent scarcely credible by the want of proper government in our colonies. Out 1010 of 34,000 persons who had emigrated to New Zealand, only 20,000 remained, the rest being so disgusted that they left and proceeded elsewhere. On the whole, he rejoiced in the measure as a means for rendering our dependencies so many great advantages, instead of being sources of embarrassment and difficulty to the country; still there were some imperfections in it which he hoped the Government would allow to be remedied in Committee.
§ MR. HAWES
said, that he would venture to anticipate that the present debate was one which would give great satisfaction to the colonies. The desire which had been manifested from all parts of the House to frame—whatever the differences of opinion among hon. Members on other subjects—constitutions satisfactory to the colonies, could not fail of giving satisfaction to the parties concerned. One of the objections which had been urged against the Bill was, that it proposed to establish a form of constitution in the colonies, not exactly similar to those generally existing, and not in exact accordance with what had been called the British constitution. Now, upon the subject of the double chamber, with respect to which this objection had mainly arisen, hon. Members would find that, if they took the report of the Committee of Privy Council, the opinion of Ministers of the Crown, the governors of the colonies, and even many of the colonists themselves, there would be found to be a general concurrence of opinion in favour of the double chamber. He was perfectly ready to make that admission, and those who differed from him in opinion might take the full benefit of that admission. Well, then, it might be asked, why had the Government departed in the present Bill from the usual form, especially when there was such a unanimity of opinion in favour of the double chamber? The answer was to be found in the fact that, in order to make any alteration in the existing constitution of the colonies, it was necessary that the representatives of each colony should be first consulted on the subject. The people of New South Wales were content with their present form of government, and the legislature of that colony had formally and authoritatively requested that if any alterations were made in their constitution, they should be first consulted upon the subject; and it was absolutely essential, before making any change in that constitution, that they should be consulted. In the case of the 1011 Cape of Good Hope, there was no legislative system in that colony, and nothing, consequently, to prevent the Government from adopting at once, and completely, the recommendations of the Committee of Privy Council. The Committee of Council had laid down the outlines of the constitution, leaving them to he filled up by the colonists themselves. There was nothing, therefore, to prevent the Government from carrying out that recommendation. With respect to New South Wales, the case was entirely different. Were they prepared to force upon that colony a double chamber, without their consent having been previously obtained? No consent had been given, and no complaints had been made, of the existing form of government there. Parliament, therefore, were justified in saying to that colony, "your constitution having given you satisfaction, and you having made known to the Crown that you did not wish any alteration to be made without your being previously consulted, and no opportunity having been afforded for consulting you upon the subject, we do not propose to make any alteration in your existing constitution, but the power will be conferred upon you by the Bill of making the alterations yourselves, if you should wish to do so." There was, therefore, no necessity whatever for forcing this double chamber upon them. If they wished for such a form of constitution, they would only have to exercise the constitutional powers given under the Bill, in order to obtain the required change. If the House intended to give to these colonies the double chamber, they would of necessity greatly retard the progress of the Bill, as it would be necessary first to obtain the opinion of the colonial legislatures upon the subject. A great deal of time, too, would necessarily be lost in obtaining the requisite information from the colony. For instance, it was not at present known whether there existed in the colony of New South Wales the materials for a second chamber. He believed that there did exist these materials, but he had nothing like tangible grounds for the formation of that opinion. There was no reason which he could assign for his having come to that conclusion, except that it was a thriving, prosperous, and highly-intelligent colony. It was, in his opinion, highly desirable that no unnecessary delay should take place in passing this Bill; and, seeing that it provided the means for obtaining the double chamber, in cases 1012 where it might be required, he trusted that no unnecessary delay would take place. It had been urged that there was no security for the colonies obtaining this double chamber, even if they desired it, as the influence of the Crown nominees would stand opposed to such an alteration. There was, however, no ground for coming to such a conclusion, because the Crown nominees, knowing the opinions expressed by the Ministers of the Crown to be in favour of the plan, they could not be supposed to place themselves in the position of preventing its being carried into effect. As to the provision for the Church, the New South Wales Church Act which now existed gave pretty general satisfaction; and this Bill created nothing new in this respect; it simply respected existing rights, and left the arrangements as they now stood. Notwithstanding all the criticisms which had been made upon the Bill, he believed that it would be found most acceptable to the colonies, and would also be found to work well. From all the colonies, from the newspaper press of the colonies, and from communications which he had received, and the deliberate opinion of one of the colonies itself—South Australia—there had been a general opinion expressed in favour of the Bill as it then stood, and he believed it would be the height of imprudence to attempt to alter the principle upon which the Bill was framed.
MR. V. SMITH
said, that he thought by this time the subject had been pretty well threshed out. But, after the speech which they had just heard of the hon. Member the Under Secretary of the Colonies, he was really at a loss to know what it was they were discussing. The whole of this debate had originated upon a single clause of the Bill, and he certainly had never before heard of a debate upon a single clause of a Bill upon which everybody was agreed, or rather upon which everybody agreed. The hon. Member the Under Secretary of the Colonies had stated, that the governors of the colonies, Her Majesty's Ministers, and, indeed, everybody, was in favour of a double chamber. Then, why not let them have a double chamber? They were about, in spite of all these unanimous opinions in favour of a double chamber, to vote them a single one. But what was the defence put forward by the Government for this conduct? It was, that the present constitution had given satisfaction to the colonies. How had that satisfaction been expressed? 1013 From three of them there had been no such satisfaction expressed, because such expression must come from the representatives, and they had no representatives. From New South Wales had the only expression of satisfaction been heard. And that satisfaction was founded upon the experience of seven years, being exactly the duration of one Parliament in this country. It was upon that experience that they were about to legislate for the whole of the colonies. Some allusion had been made to the popular feeling expressed on the subject in the Sydney Morning Herald; but that expression of feeling was made with respect to a totally different measure. They preferred, no doubt, the constitution which they then possessed to the one that was offered; but if they had been offered something better, no doubt they would have gladly accepted it. He did not attach any weight to the argument made use of, that any alteration in the Bill would involve delay. A year's delay was not to be thought of when they were deciding upon the constitution of a number of important colonies. He regretted that the Bill had not been brought forward in a more simple form, and with more of the appearance of a model Bill. If that debate did not go out to the colonists along with the Bill, to explain the intentions of Parliament, they would think, from a perusal of the Bill itself, that it contained the only constitution that was intended to be given to them. But how would such a chamber as the proposed one operate? In times of popular tumults and excitement, those officials would be unable to stand out against the pressure of the popularly elected representatives; whilst in times of tranquillity, and when the popular mind would not be much worked upon, so as to compel the representatives to act together, the officials would have everything their own way. There was one other important question involved in the Bill, that of federation. He should say that he had not heard from his noble Friend at the head of the Government, or from his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, or from his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, a single valid argument in favour of the proposed federation. For such a principle there was no parallel—no satisfaction expressed by the colonists—no experience to which they could appeal. Why, then, did they adopt it? It appeared to him to be exactly what they did not want 1014 in Australia. The principle of federation in the United States of America had been adopted for the purpose of dealing diplomatically with foreign States, which it certainly was not intended to give to the Australian colonies the power of doing. It appeared to him to be establishing a new principle that was totally uncalled for. The federal system was a republican institution; and he was not one of those who wished to see England establishing republican institutions all over the world. As to the question of one or two chambers, he hoped the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark would introduce in Committee the principle of the double chamber; and their object should be to give the best possible constitution to the colony. And such being their object, he had hoped that the debate would have been allowed to go on without an attack upon the Colonial Office. Some allusions, however, had been made to it and its influence, and he regretted to hear the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield again introduce his allusions to an invisible agent. He wondered who the invisible agent was. Formerly Sir James Stephens was always understood to be the invisible agent. But he regretted the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield was not then in his place to explain to the House who the new invisible agent was. There were two important points still left untouched—the military expenditure of the colonies, and the question of transportation of convicts. He regretted there had been no further debate upon them. When the estimates came on they would be told that that was not the time to discuss so large a question as the military expenditure of the colonies; and the question of transportation had been but partly discussed by the hon. Member for Stafford when he took the House away from its consideration to other topics. The colonies cost this country about 3,500,000l. a year. [Lord J. RUSSELL: How much does Great Britain cost?] Their cost to this country was enormous; and if it could be shown that they could be governed and kept for less, it was the duty of the House, as conservators of the public purse, to set about reducing the expenditure. Now, with proper representative institutions, many of the colonists thought that they could bear their own burdens entirely; and many persons in England thought so too, and that with self-government they could manage also self-defence. As to the question of transportation, the people of this country were looking with great anxiety 1015 to know what Parliament was going to do with the convicts. He had been greatly struck by a letter signed "H. Denison," which he had seen in the public papers. That gentleman pointed out that the convicts had no chance of redeeming their characters in this country. The only chance of reclaiming them was the sending them to a colony. The colonies were calling out for labour. And although he (Mr. V. Smith) did not think that they should be overwhelmed by an influx of convicts, which might disgust them, he yet thought that a considerable number might be sent out who would both be serviceable to the colonies by giving them labour, and stand a better chance of being reclaimed from their evil courses than if they were suffered to remain at home.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
would offer but a very few observations to the House, as the arguments seemed to have gone so much one way. Almost every one seemed to be agreed that the grounds for giving only one chamber to the colony were insufficient. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies stated that there were two reasons for giving this new form of constitution of a single assembly, which had induced the Government not to give way either to their own wishes or to the arguments of others: and those two reasons were, that it was the wish of the colonists to preserve their existing form of constitution; and that it was necessary to have a representative basis. Now, the question of the express wishes of the colonists had been disposed of. It had been set aside. And, if he were allowed to quote two passages from a book that was before the House, he would show that there had been an entire misconception, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, of some of the information which they had received. In the report of the Privy Council, dated 1st May, 1849, it was said that—Custom appears to have attached the colonists to a single chamber; public opinion in New South Wales seems to be opposed to any alteration.He would beg leave to contrast that passage with a paragraph in a petition which appeared in the sixth page of the same volume, where it was set forth by the petitioners that they were—anxious to have a constitution as nearly as possible like that of the United Kingdom.Was the proposed constitution like that of 1016 the united kingdom? Again, he would beg to call attention to the reply of Earl Grey to Sir W. Denison, in order to show the way in which the wishes of colonists had been misunderstood by the noble Lord. There was one passage in Sir W. Denison's letter in which he made use of the expression—" that however much he might approve of the working of the existing constitution, he would most strenuously recommend the adoption of an alteration from one to two chambers." To which Earl Grey replied, that from the reasons he had given—in favour of the single chamber—it was not thought necessary to adopt his recommendation to introduce a second chamber; showing that the noble Lord had entirely misconceived Sir W. Denison's meaning. The other point to which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies alluded in arguing for the single chamber was, that it was necessary to have a representative body as the basis of the constitution. Now, in seeking to establish such a basis, there were two courses open. The one was to give the colonists full constituent powers to make their own constitution. The other to lay down at once a good constitution adapted to their wishes. But neither of these courses had been adopted by Her Majesty's Ministers. They had contrived a constitution, of which the best use the colonists would make would be to alter it. One reason for adopting the single chamber form was said to be, because there was a constitution ready to hand. Now, if it were an ancient constitution, one which had lasted for years, that might be a fair reason for the Government adopting it. But how long had it been in existence? How had they begun in New South Wales? By depriving the colonists of all British rights—of even trial by jury. The first time they were recognised at all as having any rights was in 1823, when Sir T. Brisbane having introduced a number of free emigrants, gave them a measure something like a constitution—a simple legislative council; and at the same time trial by jury. And it was not until 1842 that the constitution was given them which was now laid down as a sort of irrevocable basis from which they could not depart. Earl Grey had been doing his best to introduce a new form of constitution into New Zealand, which had been hanging over the heads of the colonists, who would rather have anything else than accept it. But the reason why they had had this constitution given 1017 them was, that Earl Grey had an extraordinary inclination for making constitutions. He copied as a model the old American constitution. It was clear that the subject was exhausted, but he hoped that the Bill would, in the next stage, be more completely debated. There was only one thing more to which he wished to allude, namely, the cause which had prevented the Government from carrying out its views. When the noble Lord stated that they were about to give the points of the British constitution to these colonies, the House naturally expected to see something like them proposed. But really one was quite disappointed at finding the proposition fall so far short of the promise. The fact was, the Government had not made up their minds. They were afraid of breaking up the present system at home, and it was so difficult to draw the line of demarcation between what was home and what colonial business, that, as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had said, it was almost impossible to do it. The hon. Gentleman then proceeded to read an extract from De Tocqueville's Democracy in America, to show the nature of the constitution of the United States, and said that no reason had been shown why the same system could not be introduced into the colonies. But the noble Lord had introduced the anomalous institution of municipal corporations into the colonies, and he now attempted to resuscitate it. There was another matter to which he should allude before sitting down. Before the bodies to whom the sale of the waste lands in the colonies was to be confided could be formed, a good deal of time must elapse, during which the sale would be altogether suspended; and the consequence of that suspension would be, most probably, that the Government would take up again the convict transportation system to supply the want of emigration. He objected to the formation of a congress of the Australian colonies, and for one reason especially—it was, that one colony alone would supply fifty per cent of the members of that body. One colony would have an overwhelming influence in it. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would bear in mind that it was utterly impossible for them to carry the Bill in its present state, and that they would make the alterations suggested to them. If they did so, they would get the entire and cordial support of that House, and of the people in the colonies.
§ MR. M. MILNES
said, that he thought Her Majesty's Government deserved praise for giving so large and liberal a permissive power to the colonies. He did not believe that any of the old American States had ever received a charter equal in liberty to that now offered to the Australian colonies: nor that in the history of the world a measure had ever passed which placed so completely in the power of colonists the conduct and choice of their future government as the Bill before the House. As to the objections raised to the Government for not having given two chambers to the colony, were they to do so, would they not, seeing that the colonists were satisfied with the present system, be rather allowing their own prejudices to interfere with the future destiny of the colony? Was it not much better to allow the colonists to modify their own forms as they found convenient? Besides, whilst talking about two chambers, hon. Gentlemen did not all mean the same thing. If the formation of a constitution resembling that of this country meant anything really like, it presupposed the existence of elements for an aristocratic chamber, like the House of Lords. It meant—if it meant anything—two chambers like the two Houses of Parliament, a lower Representative Chamber and an Upper Chamber, aristocratic in its composition, and either hereditary or nominated by the Crown. But there was nothing analogous existing in any colony. The elements were totally wanting, and the attempt to manufacture such a system amounted just to that "constitution-mongering" of which some hon. Gentlemen had spoken. They saw in America that most wise and eminent body, the Senate; but to attempt to form such a body at once in Australia would be doing just that of which hon. Gentlemen opposite were so fond of charging Her Majesty's Government. They saw in France the system of a single chamber lately adopted by the choice of the entire people; and in leaving to the Australian colonies the choice of one chamber or two, they were doing just that which was essential, considering the democratic nature of the insritutions which those colonies must adopt. He was anxious to express his gratification, that in the course of the debate not a word had fallen which might induce the colonists to believe that there remained in the mind of Her Majesty's Ministers the least reservation of those principles of interference with internal colonial affairs which had so long 1019 been a subject of annoyance to the colonists. Upon the principle of self-government all were agreed. And as to the question of the Federation, he did not see how it was possible for many great questions of vital importance to all the Australian colonies to be settled otherwise than by an assembly analogous to the Congress of the United States. Surely, the hon. Gentleman opposite would not wish to see the colonies outbidding one another in the matter, for instance, of the sale of waste lands. He highly approved of the plan of Her Majesty's Government; and trusted that the United States of the southern world might one day represent and advance the British name, British language, and British institutions, as well as the great federation of the world.
§ MR. WYLD
said, he did not see why Canada and Van Diemen's Land should not have representatives in the British House of Commons, or why they might not be treated in all respects as distant counties of one great kingdom. In his opinion, Parliament would not be doing justice to the colonies or to the empire if they did not admit those settlements of Englishmen to equal privileges with the other portions of the great empire over which Her Majesty ruled. He by no means thought that that House would suffer either in dignity or efficiency by admitting representatives from the colonies.
§ MR. STANFORD
said, that the noble Lord in introducing the measure before the House took a review of the history of our colonies; but he should have been much better satisfied if the Prime Minister of this country had thought proper to pay Some tribute of approbation to the enterprise and the energy of the men by whom our colonies had been founded and acquired. The noble Lord ought to have said something of the hundreds of millions of money expended in the acquisition of those colonies; he might have told the House that a great portion of the national debt had been contracted on account of them; neither had he done justice to the period of Elizabeth's reign, in which so many important colonial acquisitions had been made. He told them nothing of the treasure that had been expended, or of the lives that had been lost, in the acquisition of those colonies. The noble Lord, however, in the course of his speech soon quitted history for commerce and statistics; but it unfortunately happened for the credit of his information on these subjects, 1020 that the official despatches from the colonies on these subjects contradicted almost every one of his statements. The condition of British Guiana, of New Brunswick, and St. Vincent's, showed the evil of abandoning what the noble Lord called monopoly, but what he (Mr. Stanford) called protection. Those despatches showed the decline of all our colonial possessions under the free-trade system. Had the noble Lord by any part of his speech, or by the measure which he introduced, laid down any principles which could have the effect of cementing the union of the colonies with the mother country? The noble Lord told the House that his measures would put an end to commercial monopoly of every kind. Now, it might be doubted whether he succeeded even in that; but at all events he succeeded in doing what had an obvious tendency to alienate the colonies from the mother country, and if it could be said that there was any portion of his Bill more unsatisfactory than another to the colonies, it was that which snapped the tie which bound them to the United Kingdom. [" Divide, divide!"] He did not wonder when he made these observations that hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House were impatient for a division; but he could not conclude without expressing his regret that the noble Lord had thought proper to touch upon the subject of transportation to the colonies without disposing of it, nor even did he seem to have arrived at any practical conclusion. In the same way he took up the subject of emigration, and abandoned it without reaching any final or satisfactory result. His opposition to the Bill might perhaps be of little importance in the eyes of the noble Lord; but he felt bound to say that he must resist such a measure, prepared, as he thought it had been, without the care which ought to be bestowed on a Bill that was to form the basis of all future legislation. In justice, however, to the noble Lord, he must thank him for the conservative character of some parts of the measure, though he protested altogether against the commercial portion.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.