§ On the Motion, that the House resolve itself into a Committee on this Bill,
§ MR. DIVETT
said, that it was most important that the Bill should be sent out as soon as possible to the colonies, but he was afraid, if the House continued to discuss the question of what was the best form of constitution as they had done, that the Bill was not likely to pass that Session. He only wished, at present, to call the attention of the Government to the fact that the people of South Australia were apprehensive of being placed under the dominion of New South Wales. On that account he had given notice for the purpose of striking out the federal clause; but he understood that it was possible so to amend the Bill that it would be unnecessary for him to do so. He objected to the course proposed by some hon. Gentlemen of making the constitution of too artificial a kind. He was in favour of one chamber, because he did not think that the materials for a second chamber existed in some of the colonies. He thought that there should be as little delay as possible in separating the province of Victoria, and giving it a representative assembly. With respect to the land fund, he would reserve any observations he had to make till they went into Committee; but he hoped that the principle of a maximum fund would be strictly maintained
§ House in Committee.
§ On Clause 1,1259
§ Clause agreed to.
§ On Clause 2,
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he had a question to put to the noble Lord respecting the filling up of the blank in this clause with "one-third" of nominated members, which it would be convenient to have answered before the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst brought forward his proposition. As the clause was framed, one-third of the members of the legislative council were to be nominated by the Crown; but he believed it was intended that of these only one-half or one-sixth of the whole chamber might be officials. As the Act was framed, however, it was doubtful whether the whole one-third might not be officials. He wished to know from the noble Lord whether one-third or one-sixth only might be officials?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that he considered the present Bill would have the effect of limiting the number of persons holding office among those nominated by the Crown to one-half. That, certainly, was the intention of the Government in framing the Bill, but he was not able to state whether, legally, the words of the Act would bear that interpretation; if he found that they would not, he would take care that some words should be inserted which would fully carry out his views.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
thought that the uncertainty of the noble Lord as to the meaning of this clause afforded a pretty strong proof of the necessity of simplifying the Bill.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that he had referred only to the legal interpretation of the words; he did not consider that he was lawyer enough to give an opinion upon such a subject. The views of Her Majesty's Government had been clearly enough stated.
§ MR. HUME
thought, that as the Bill proposed to give two elective councils to the Cape of Good Hope, there was no reason why the Australian colonies should be dealt with in a different manner. If the power of appointing the Crown nominees were removed, he believed the measure would meet with the general concurrence 1260 of hon. Members on his side of the House, and afford greater satisfaction to the colonists, who had entertained great objection to nominees.
§ MR. MOWATT
was of opinion that it was a question of comparatively little moment whether the colonies had one or two chambers, provided the power was left with them of deciding which they would have. The only blemish in this Bill was the clause which they were now discussing, in which it was proposed to nominate one-third of the council proposed by the Bill, and afterwards provided that the colony should make such alterations as they thought proper—the very power of expresing an opinion upon the subject being taken from the colonists by the introduction of the Crown nominees into the council. He was anxious to know whether the Government intended to adhere to that part of the Bill with respect to Crown nominees?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that the House would recollect that originally the legislative council of New South Wales was altogether appointed by the Crown, and no person could sit in that council except by appointment from the Crown. That state of things had been altered by a subsequent Act of Parliament, and two-thirds of the whole body were allowed to be elected, one-third still remaining in the nomination of the Crown. The proposal of the hon. Member was to alter altogether that constitution, and to have one legislative council, excluding all members nominated by the Crown. An alteration of that nature would be a very extensive one, and one to which he was not prepared to assent.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, that in that case he would move the Amendment of which he had given notice, namely, the omission of such part of Clause 2 as leaves to Her Majesty the nomination of one-third part of the number of the members of the legislative council. He admitted that the alteration he proposed was an important one, but its only effect would be to leave the legislative assembly free to declare whether in their opinion it was desirable or otherwise that there should be in it an official person or persons nominated by the Crown. He believed the colonists were at present indifferent whether there should be a single or double chamber. But he was of the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that that House should consider, not only what the colony might desire at the present time, but, 1261 guided by the experience of the Imperial Legislature, should consider what constitution was likely to work best for them at all times; therefore he did not think that they should be bound by the expression of public opinion at that moment in New South Wales. However strange it might appear, he thought that the introduction of a body of Frenchmen would be less prejudicial to the healthy working of the constitution than a body of nominated members amounting to one-third. For these reasons, he moved that the Crown should not have the power of nominating one-third of the members.
§ Amendment proposed, page 3, line 12, to leave out from the words "Governors and Council" to the end of the clause.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
considered the proposal of the hon. Member as altogether at variance with the principle of the Bill before the Committee. The object of the Bill was not to make new constitutions for the colonies, but to take those constitutions to which they had reason to believe the people of the colonies were attached, and enable them to build upon those foundations such improvements as time and experience might suggest to them. The opinion which had been expressed by the colonists was not against any particular form of constitution, but against any plan being sent out to them by this country different from that which they then enjoyed, without their having had the opportunity of expressing their opinion upon its merits. He did not feel called upon to argue upon this stage of the Bill whether the proposed constitution was a good one or the reverse, or whether the power of nomination should or should not continue in the Crown. He was satisfied, from the inquiries and investigations which he had been able to make upon the subject, that the safest course for the Committee to follow would be to confirm the powers which the colonists already possessed, and give to them fresh powers to make such alterations hereafter as they might deem advisable. He altogether objected to the Legislature of this country taking it upon itself to decide questions which the colonists were better able to decide for themselves.
MR. V. SMITH
said, that the right hon. Gentleman assumed that all these colonies had constitutions. That was not so. There were only two of them which had constitutions, and those had existed for only seven years. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government took 1262 the institutions in the colonies as they found them, and that they were going to do nothing new. But were they not giving them a federal assembly? Was that nothing new in the colonies? On the contrary, this was one of the most extraordinary, most exciting, and largest novelties proposed to that House for a long time. Let not the House, therefore, be carried away by the notion that this was an adhesion to the old colonial system. But he rose for the purpose of saying that it would be better, before they discussed the proposition of the hon. Member for Falmouth, to decide the question raised by the Motion of the hon. Member for Midhurst, whether there should be one or two chambers. When the latter question was decided, they would be in a better position to consider what the composition of the chamber should be.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, that he had no objection to postpone his Amendment, in order to allow of the main question being first decided, if he could bring it forward when that question was disposed of.
informed the hon. Member that it would not be competent for him, if he postponed his Amendment, to bring it forward at a subsequent stage.
§ MR. J. E. DENISON
thought that if the Motion of the hon. Member for Falmouth was now discussed and decided, it would also go far to decide the question whether there should be a single or a donble chamber, because if there were no power of nomination left in the hands of the Crown, it would then be necessary, for the purpose of constitutional government, that a second chamber should be called into existence; they were now discussing a Bill which gave four constitutions to four different colonies, all of which were differently circumstanced. For instance, the colony of new South Wales, from possessing more experience in public business, might be prepared for more advanced constitutional forms than Victoria or South Australia; and, therefore, it might be desirable to adopt a different rule with regard to colonies which were, for the first time, to be raised to a constitutional rank, and those which already possessed constitutions. He thought that the lesser colonies should follow in the wake of the larger ones.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
thought, that if the Committee carried upon a division that there should be Crown nominees in the one chamber, it would most materially affect 1263 the decision of the question respecting the double chamber, as many of those who would be best fitted to sit in the second would be absorbed in the first chamber, and it would be doubtful whether a sufficient number would be left to form a second chamber.
§ SIR J. PAKINGTON
suggested, that as the hon. Member for Falmouth would not have the opportunity of again bringing forward his Amendment in Committee, if he then postponed it, the better course would be to proceed at once to a decision upon the point raised by his Amendment.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
thought, that the proposition of the hon. Member for Falmouth had been most unfairly met by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who represented it to be against the principle of the Bill, whereas it was quite in accordance with it. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman, the Legislative Council was to be a constituent body, and, therefore, ought not to have nominees amongst its members. If then the colony was to be appealed to in order to form their own constitution, he should certainly vote with the hon. Member for Falmouth, considering that there ought to be no nominees, but reserving to himself the right to vote for the Amendment of the hon and learned Member for Midhurst afterwards.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
considered that Her Majesty's Government, in bestowing the form of constitution which it did, gave it with the understanding that the colonists had the power of altering their institutions whenever they thought fit. His (Mr. Labouchere's) opinion, regarding the number of chambers, was, that a constitution could work better with two chambers than with one. But then much, he might say all, depended on the circumstances of the colony; such as the state of society, the advanced position of the population, and the means at hand for the composition of a second chamber. His object in rising was to protest against the interpretation put on the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, which were the very opposite of those interpretations; because, while conferring on the colonies these institutions—which they had reason to believe would be hailed as being of great importance—they at the same time thought it right to concede the power to the colonists of altering these institutions whenever they should think fit.
§ MR. BAILLIE
thought it a very strange 1264 proceeding that they should commence a discussion on a Bill by debating the competence of the chambers, before they decided, in the first instance, whether there should be two chambers or only one. There would be abundant opportunity of debating the principle of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falmouth; and therefore he (Mr. Baillie) thought the House ought to allow the hon. Gentleman for the present to withdraw it.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
was understood to say that if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falmouth was determined on moving his Amendment in Committee, the present was the time; as, were it withdrawn now, he could not again introduce it in Committee.
§ MR. MOWATT
should have much preferred that the question of a single or double chamber had taken precedence of his own Amendment, as also whether both chambers or only one, as the case might be, should be entirely elective. He believed the question of double or single chamber was of less importance than the elective question. The noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, in bringing in the Bill, as much as declared the unfitness of the parties in the colonies to form a legislative body; and therefore he thought to remedy that unfitness by the appointment of Crown nominees. No he (Mr. Mowatt) viewed the measure in the light of a plan by which the colonists might, on the arrival of the Bill amongst them, assemble a body of their citizens, and from them select the fittest representatives; but at the same time, their influence would be more or less neutralised by the power of appointment retained by the Crown. His object was, that the colonists should have a full opportunity of expressing their free opinion; and if one-third of the Members of Council were nominated by the Crown, he contended the expression of opinion emanating from such a body could not be called the opinion of the colonists.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, it appeared to him to be the desire and the object of Government that the Amendment should be brought under the consideration of the House, and that the hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat brought in his Motion then, not because he conceived it the best opportunity, but because he was afraid that no fair opportunity would be allowed him at a future stage, were he to postpone the Motion at present. If such was the case, and if the Government were disposed 1265 to act in such a manner, he supposed they should, in accordance with the forms of the House, decline making any strong appeals, but take the question as they met it. The course which he was about to take would be this—he was prepared to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falmouth. It was his opinion that, though a constitution formed of one chamber would be a very indifferent one, yet, at all hazards, he was disposed to vote with the hon. Gentleman rather than adopt the constitution which the Bill of Her Majesty's Ministers propounded. The first object to be gained was a double chamber, because it was certain to right itself as to the details, if not right at the outset. The second object was that both chambers should be based on the elective principle—and the third object with him was, that Her Majesty should be empowered to retain the right of conferring honours and rewards, to a limited extent, on the most distinguished colonists whilst that was his object and purpose, yet he would not for the sake of it do anything that might impede that which he conceived to be the more important object—namely, the establishment of a double chamber, and next providing that these chambers should be regarded as sources of political power, composed of those who possessed a right in the society to which they belonged, and were returned on the elective principle. They should, in his opinion, first decide the number of chambers; yet, as the composition of the single chamber was the question then before them, he should say he was prepared to vote with the hon. Gentleman for the exclusion of Crown nominees. Whether the present was or was not the time to enter into questions of detail, he was not going to say. But he should say he was satisfied with the statement of the intention of hon. Members, and would reserve his own views on the question until they should come to the matter of principle, whether there should be one or two chambers.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that the Government were able to decide the course which the hon. Gentleman should adopt, and in what manner the vote of that House should be taken. He begged to say that that was entirely decided by the forms of that House. It was quite impossible for them to do otherwise than the forms of the House directed, and if they had wished to alter the forms of the House, 1266 the Chairman would have told them they were not able to make that alteration. The fact was, that the mode in which the Amendment was given notice of had decided the question of priority. If the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst had chosen to bring forward, in an early part of this Bill, his Amendment, it would have been competent for him to have done so.—[Mr. WALPOLE intimated that he had been informed by Mr. Speaker that he could not have done it in the same form.] But, if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falmouth wished to amend the clause when they had gone through the clause, the opportunity of amending it was gone. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had clearly informed them that he intended to vote for the hon. Gentleman's Motion, but the reasons he gave had entirely escaped him (Lord J. Russell). It appeared there were four different propositions before the House. The first was the proposition of the Government to have nominees or official members. Finding that constitution in existence, they had made it the basis of this Bill. The second proposition was that of the hon Gentleman the Member for Falmouth, to have only one council, and to have that legislative council entirely of elected members. He (Lord J. Russell) considered the Amendment as a great departure from the present constitution, and that an entirely elective chamber was not likely to work well. The third proposition was to have two chambers, one of them being appointed by the Crown. The fourth proposition was to have two chambers, and both elective. There were four distinct propositions, and those who voted with the hon. Gentleman must vote on the ground of having only one legislative council, without any person being nominated by the Crown.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
should say he was in favour of legislation by a double chamber, because the principle appeared better than legislation by single chamber for new communities, both chambers to be based on the elective principle. If they were to have only one chamber, he preferred it should be wholly elective to one-third being nominated by the Colonial Office. If the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government intended to form a convention, and give the inhabitants of New South Wales a power of determining the constitution, he confessed he would have no hesitation in voting with the noble Lord. But the noble Lord proposed 1267 to start them with a bad constitution; and therefore he (Sir W. Molesworth) supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falmouth, because he proposed a better constitution than the noble Lord. However, the Amendment of that hon. Gentleman did not preclude him from introducing the subject of the second chamber, and also deciding whether one or both should not be wholly elective. For his own part, he thought there should be two chambers; but confining himself for the present to the question before them, he should say it was his intention to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falmouth.
§ MR. COBDEN
thought, if he understood the noble Lord aright, that the colonies, after all, should have the power of deciding their form of government. But the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade assumed what he (Mr. Cobden) did not at all admit—namely, that the colonists preferred having a portion of their rulers nominated by Government, a portion of one-third nominated by the Crown. He could not imagine how any person could assume that a body of Englishmen, resident at the Antipodes, would prefer being legislated for by nominees, to being legislated for by their own representatives. What he was anxious for was, that they should legislate at present in such a manner as to prevent the necessity of the Bill coming back to them in a more obnoxious form, and perhaps at a time when they would not have a voice to pronounce a free opinion on the matter. Had the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade considered the effect that the intelligence of their giving a constitution to the Cape of Good Hope free of nominees would have on their Australian colonists? Could it be doubted that the Australians would argue in this way—"The Cape colonists have got a freer constitution than we have received, because they put themselves in a menacing attitude, in an attitude of almost open rebellion, and therefore the Government have given them a better constitution." He thought it was desirable they should not give the Australians grounds for such an argument. He apprehended the Australians were competent to legislate for themselves, as competent as were the hon. Members sitting in that House; yet it was proposed to give them one-third nominees, who would have a control over the public purse. He thought if they sent the Government measure 1268 in its present form to Australia, there was certain to be an agitation got up out of doors to oblige the assemblage to alter the constitution; because he denied that Englishmen would in any case prefer nominees to their own representatives.
§ MR. SEYMER
did not think the Government system, as at present constructed, could work well. He believed the democratic principle would prevail after, it may be, a lengthened and painful struggle over the system of Government nominees. Also thinking that there should be a double chamber, and that both should be elective, he was prepared to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falmouth.
§ SIR R. PEEL
, in voting upon this question, would exclude all contingencies that might arise on a future occasion with reference to the constitution of another House. He should consider this clause simply on its own merits, namely, that he was to assume there should be one legislative assembly, and to provide the mode in which that assembly should be constituted. If there was to be a democratic body without any external check, it did not necessarily follow there should be another council, either elective or nominated; but to effect that he had to alter the constitution that at present existed in New South Wales, without, as he understood, provoking any discontent or dissatisfaction on the part of the people. He had, indeed, a single assembly there; but the democratic principle in it was qualified by a certain power of nomination on the part of the Crown. That might be a bad way of qualifying the democratic power, but it was the only way that existed at present, and he had, therefore, to inform the inhabitants of New South Wales, who had expressed no dissatisfaction with the way of qualifying the democratic principle, that without consulting them he had altered their constitution—that he had been content to forego that degree of check he at present possessed, and to form a constitution on pure, unqualified, unmitigated, democratic principles—and that he applied that to New South Wales, and to the colony of Victoria also. If he was to assume that there was to be but one body, he could not say he was prepared to say he was so very liberal as to part with the qualified check which he at present possessed, and which he understood gave no dissatisfaction to the people.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
would vote with the hon. Member for Falmouth, for he was 1269 not so innocent as to believe with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth that nothing would be done in future, because he could not banish from his view the various Amendments on the paper. One reason for his voting with the hon. Member for Falmouth was, that by excluding nominees from the legislature, the noble Lord would be compelled to decide in favour of a double chamber. He did not wish to infuse a democratic spirit into the legislature, but to increase the chances of constitutional government in the colony.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
believed that it was the sincere wish of the Government to give the colonists the power of choosing their own form of constitution; but with a certain number of nominees in the legislature they would not have the opportunity of deciding on it themselves. It had been stated that the inhabitants of New South Wales were satisfied with their present constitution; but he denied it. They only deprecated having forced upon them a worse constitution than they had already got, and they had declared that they were anxious to enjoy a form of government founded, as nearly as circumstances would permit, on the principles of the British constitution.
§ MR. HAWES
entreated the House to consider the nature of the Amendment. First, let him state that the Bill introduced nothing new into the constitution of New South Wales. He would go a step farther, and say, not only did the colonists intimate in an authoritative manner, through resolutions, despatches, and petitions, adopted at public meetings, their satisfaction with the constitution as it stood, but their warm desire that no alterations should be made in it without their assent being previously obtained. Now, what they were called upon to do, was to make an important alteration in that constitution without their consent. The entire Bill was based in a desire to give satisfaction and content to the colonies. He altogether should dissent from the statement of the hon. Member for the West Riding, that they assumed the colonists were content with nominee legislators, as the Bill before the House conferred on them the power of altering their constitution as they thought fit. He denied it was in the power of the nominees of the Crown to control the council of New South Wales. The number composing that council was thirty-six, twelve being nominees, and twenty-four elected representatives. If the Crown and the Minister were disposed to change the 1270 constitution, he did not see how, under such circumstances, they could effect that change. But the Crown had declared, and Parliament was then about to affirm that declaration, that they were anxious the colonies should possess that form of constitution best suited, in their belief, to their wants and feelings. Let the House, therefore, understand that by the present vote, if rescinded in favour of the Amendment, they would be acting in contravention of the wish of the colonists, who desired the constitution should not be altered without their consent. He would not go into the merits of the question of a single or double chamber; but he entreated the House, if they wished to act in conformity with the wish of the colonists, they would not alter without consent the existing constitution.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said, no person could be more opposed to the single chamber—however constructed—than he was. They were told by the right hon. Member for Tamworth that the Crown should have some check, by nominees, on the democratic principle. However, he (Lord J. Manners) objected strongly to the representative system, whether in single or double chamber, where that representative system was checked by Crown nominees. The last accounts from Sydney stated that Mr. Lowe, a member of the legislative council, had given notice of a resolution declaring that no enactment which the House of Commons might pass, relative to the constitution of that colony, would give satisfaction unless it should contain a provision similar to that contained in the Amendment of the hon. Member. The Sydney Herald, too, a not unimportant organ of public opinion in the colony, had declared in favour of a second chamber. It was not correct, then, to say that the inhabitants of New South Wales were satisfied with the existing constitution.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
thought the question was one of such great importance that every Member might be excused for explaining his opinion, notwithstanding the impatience of the House. The House was about to take a step in proceeding with this measure which would affect the future happiness or misery of that part of the empire which he trusted would be long a flourishing State. The hon. Member for Roxburghshire was perfectly right in the observations which he made when he said that, in point of fact, they were then deciding upon the question of the two chambers. If they decided for the Amendment 1271 of the hon. Member for Falmouth, they would be obliged afterwards to vote for two chambers, as it was admitted on all sides that some check must be established. It was proposed that there should be no check whatever in this single chamber, and if they adopted any strong impulse, however objectionable, it must be carried into effect, because no Government could long resist it, therefore the check must be in the seccond chamber. He confessed that after an attentive perusal of the correspondence and other papers on the table, he had some difficulty in coming to a conclusion as to whether the people of New South Wales had made up their minds on this subject according to the various modes in which it might be presented to them. As it was, it was only presented to them in a light which was calculated to be offensive to them. It had been in the power of the meetings held in Australia to take into consideration the question of the two chambers; but he found no traces of such a suggestion having been considered. This Bill, if sent out, gave a constitution which would allow them to decide for themselves by a legislative assembly, with whose powers and observances they were acquainted. It appeared to be something presumptuous on our part to say that we had decided that they should have two chambers, and that they should be legislated for by a body very different from that which now represented them, and in which they had confidence. In theory he thought the existing system objectionable, but he wished to leave it to the people of Australia themselves to decide on the matter. If the House decided that there should be two chambers, they would then have to determine whether they would give the full democratic element in each; but on this point also, he thought it should be left to the colonists themselves to decide. If the people of New South Wales were anxious for the preservation of the present form of government, he should be unwilling to oppose them. On these grounds he felt called upon to vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falmouth.
MR. S. ADAIR
said, he should have voted for the Amendment had he not discovered from the papers that the nominees were not entirely subservient to the Crown. On the 16th of May last an address to Sir Charles Fitzroy was moved, in relation to a proposition which had been transmitted to that governor from the Colonial Office 1272 at home. In that address it was proposed to express the strong sense which the Assembly entertained of the indignity to which the people of the colony had been subjected. There were on that occasion eleven divisions. The aggregate number of votes was 137. Twenty-eight votes were given by the nominees of the Crown, nineteen of which were in favour of an address, which was clearly obnoxious to the Crown. Under these circumstances, he could not vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. MANGLES
wished to ask the Chairman whether it was not competent for the Committee to postpone the consideration of this subject, as they had done the preamble? It appeared to him to be most absurd that the Committee should be thus trammelled by the forms of the House.
§ MR. BASS
, feeling, as he did deeply interested in the colonies in New South Wales, had felt it to be his duty to make some inquiries from gentlemen connected with these colonies, and who were now in this country, as to the feeling of the colonists on this question. He was most unwilling to vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Falmouth; but he should do so, as he found the general feeling of the colony was in favour of maintaining the Legislative Assembly as it now existed.
§ MR. MOWATT
conceived that those Members who were in favour of a second chamber must vote for his Motion, as it was only one step towards the attainment of that object. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth seemed to be alarmed at the increase which the adoption of this proposition would give to the democratic element; but surely the right hon. Gentleman did not rely upon the nominees in the council being an efficient aristocratic check.
That the words 'and such number of the members of the Legislative Council of each of the said Colonies respectively as is equal to,' stand part of the Clause.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 165; Noes 77: Majority 88.
§ MR. WALPOLE
then rose to move the following Amendment:—And be it enacted, that there shall be within each of the said colonies of New South Wales and Victoria a Legislative Council and Representative Assembly. If that Amendment should be carried, to move the insertion of other clauses, whereby it 1273 will be provided that the first Legislative Council shall be composed of members resident in the colonies, to be appointed by the Crown, under its sign manual, for twice the period which is fixed for the duration of the Representative Assembly, and that at the end of such period, or in case any vacancies shall occur in the mean time, the Legislative Councils shall be composed of members resident in the colonies, to be appointed by the Crown, in a similar manner, but to hold their seats for the term of their lives. To these clauses will be added a proviso, that not more thane one-third of the members of such Councils shall ever be allowed to hold any place or office of emolument under the Crown within the said Colonies.The object of his Motion was, in substance, to substitute for the second clause of the Bill a short clause of which he had given notice, by means of which he should take the sense of the Committee on the question whether there should or should not be two houses of legislature in the Australian colonies; or, to state the question in another form, whether they were to act on the principles which had hitherto guided them with reference to the governments granted to colonies, or whether they should adopt a different form of government, having, in his opinion, nothing to recommend it except its novelty. A more important question could not be brought under the consideration of the Committee. For whatever measure might then be adopted, it would not refer to the Australian colonies alone, but it would be a type or precedent for future legislation with respect to others. The question, therefore, amounted to this—whether there should be established in the Australian colonies a form of constitution differing from that which was now possessed by the mother country from which they had emanated. It was very important that they should clearly understand the exact principles upon which they were to proceed. He thought those principles ought to be these. First of all, in giving a government to any people, they ought to adhere as much as possible to the habits and usages to which that people was accustomed, and they should depart as little as circumstances would admit from the form and character of that kind of government which time and experience had proved to be the best. Secondly, on grounds of public policy as well as on grounds of abstract justice, the Legislature ought to secure to the colonist, so far as it could be done by prudent legislation, all the rights and all the privileges which he had previously possessed in the land of his birth. The third principle which 1274 he would lay down was this, that when they were giving a constitutional government to any colony, they ought to form it on a permanent basis, that it might accommodate itself gradually to the growing wants of the inhabitants, without incurring the perils and hazard which always attended any material change in the constitution of a State. Those were the principles on which, as a nation, we had hitherto acted, and these were the principles which, so far as he could understand their reasoning, the Government were disposed to carry out, though unfortunately they had not embodied them in the present Bill. Down to the commencement of the present century we had invariably acted on the principle of giving to our colonies a constitution similar or analogous to that we possessed ourselves; in other words, of reproducing, if he might so express it, in the different colonies a miniature model of the British constitution. To this there were only four exceptions, if indeed they could be called exceptions, by the exceptions which were referred to in a paper laid on the table by the Committee of Council on Trade and Plantations—Gibraltar, Malta, Newfoundland, and Sierra Leone. One saw at a glance, however, that Gibraltar and Malta were no exceptions in fact, for they were military stations, and governed of necessity by military laws. Like the old colonies of the Roman empire, they must rather be described in the language of the great statesman of antiquity—Propugnacula populi et speculœ Imperii Anglicani. Newfoundland also was no exception, for, until recently, it had been treated almost entirely as a fishing station. Sierra Leone, too, being in the hands of an incorporated company, could scarcely be regarded as an exception to the rule which had hitherto prevailed. It might, therefore, be assumed that down to the commencement of the present century it had been the invariable practice with regard to the colonies to endeavour to reproduce in them a miniature model of the British constitution. Since that period this country had acquired seventeen new colonies: three across the Atlantic—Trinidad, St. Lucia, and British Guiana; three in Africa, including the Cape of Good Hope; four eastward of the Cape—the Mauritius, Ceylon, Hong Kong, and Labuan; three in New Holland, which were, more or less, the subject of the present Bill; one in Van Diemen's Land, one in New Zealand, and one at the Falkland Islands. Now, let it 1275 be observed that there was not one of those colonies in which the legislature had not been framed on the model previously adopted in this country. The internal regulations of all these colonies had placed them under a governor sent out from England, an executive council, appointed by the Crown, and a representative assembly elected by the people; to this there was only one exception, the exception being that of New South Wales in 1842. There was then introduced for the first time in the history of this country the strange anomaly which the Government were trying to perpetuate by this present Bill—the anomaly of a Legislative Council composed in part of elective members, and in part of nominees of the Crown. They were not only going to perpetuate this anomaly in New South Wales, but they were going to introduce it into the other colonies which constituted Australia. He was perfectly convinced that such an assembly could never work well for any length of time. For its first introduction there may have been wise and prudential reasons. He believed that it might be introduced with great wisdom and propriety, to enable a colony to pass through a transition state, from a complete dependence on an executive council to the full enjoyment of representative freedom. As a temporary measure he was not disposed to disapprove of it. The question now was whether they were to make it a permanent measure. Taking it as a permanent measure, he was perfectly certain that a single assembly, of which one-third was nominated by the Crown, could never hold long together for any practical purpose of legislation. One of these consequences would follow: under ordinary circumstances, when everything ran smooth, it was perfectly clear that the nominees of the Crown would exercise by their number so great an influence over the assembly as almost, if not completely, to stifle the free expression of opinion. If times of difficulty arose, when undue excitement existed in the colonies, he should be glad to know how these nominees of the Crown would dare to resist the pressure from without? Therefore it would be found that when they wanted a check for hasty legislation, they would be unable to find it. And when they wanted a counterpoise for any demand which ought not to be granted, that counterpoise would not be forthcoming. All arguments were against such an institution, and he thought that all experience was equally apposed to it. He 1276 would presently advert to the experience they had of it in New South Wales, but in the meantime he could not help reminding the Government of the way in which a similar constitution had worked, granted by one of the greatest philosophers that ever lived in this country, Mr. Locke. What was the fate of the two Carolinas? A similar anomaly had been established there, and after the brief existence of 23 years, it ended in disappointment, anarchy, and civil confusion. The inference was obvious. And if he referred to the historians of the United States of America, he found it drawn with this just observation—that what had happened offered to mankind the instructive lesson to be content with the principles handed down to them by their fathers, and to be cautious how they removed ancient foundations in the eager ness to adopt the speculations of theorists. He did not think that that observation was altogether inapplicable, and he hoped he need not say to the noble Lord——Mutato nomine, de teFabula narratur.He now thought that he had established the propositions that it was the principle of this country always to give to their colonies similar forms of government to that which they possessed and prized themselves. He was sure this principle had been recognised by the noble Lord and every Member of the Government who was conversant with the subject. And he believed that all would agree with him that such a principle was not the one on which the Bill before the House was founded. In a paper laid before the House, the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Plantations stated as follows:—We think it desirable that the political institutions of the British colonies should be brought into the nearest possible analogy to the constitution of the united kingdom. We also think it wise to adhere as close as possible to our ancient maxims of government on this subject, and to the precedents in which those maxims have been embodied. The experience of centuries has ascertained the value and the practical efficiency of that system of colonial policy to which those maxims and precedents afford their sanction. In the absence of some very clear and urgent reason for breaking up the ancient uniformity of design in the government of the colonial dependencies of the Crown, it would seem unwise to depart from that uniformity.Therefore, unless the Government had strong and urgent reasons for departing from this principle, they themselves admitted that they should steadfastly adhere to it. But this was not all. The same 1277 Committee furnished another paper, dated the 30th January in the present year, which contained their own advice offered to Her Majesty:—Should Your Majesty be pleased to adopt our advice by sanctioning the creation of a general legislature in the whole colony, in which its inhabitants should be represented, the next question to be determined would be, should that legislature consist of a single deliberative body, on the principle of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, which, with the governor, should exercise the powers of legislation, or whether it be better that the old colonial system should be adopted, of a legislature of three estates, consisting of a governor, a legislative council, and a representative assembly? We have no hesitation in giving it as our opinion that the latter should be preferred.The noble Lord at the head of the Government would, no doubt, say that there were reasons for their not doing so. [Lord J. RUSSEL: Yes.] To these reasons he would presently advert. In the meantime, he begged to observe that in making this proposition, he did not do so from any hostility to the Government, but because he maintained so strong an opinion on the matter, that he could not refrain from bringing it forward. Now, it was perfectly true that, though these were the opinions laid down by the Government with reference to the Cape of Good Hope and the South Australian colonies, yet they endeavoured to find reason in both these cases for departing from the rule which they otherwise thought they ought to have adopted. But he must say that nothing had astonished him so much as the extraordinary manner in which the Government had misunderstood and misrepresented the facts of the case as they were then put. He would first take the Cape of Good Hope, which was the subject of the last report, before he would go to the colonies which were more immediately the subject of this Bill. In the last report the Government had found their reason for departing from the principle which they otherwise approved of, and a very singular reason it was. Their reason was, that the chief justice of the Cape of Good Hope recommended the infusion of the popular element into the legislative council; and they thought it so advantageous and so applicable that they could not resist the force of his views. It was almost marvellous how they should have stated in that paper that the opinion of the chief justice was to bind them against the rule, when the chief justice himself had recommended the establishment 1278 of two assemblies, with the infusion, no doubt, of the popular element into the upper house, reserving to the Crown the power of nominating one half of its members. Moreover, it should be remembered that Mr. Montague, the secretary, Mr. Rivers, the treasurer, the attorney general, and the two puisne judges, had, every one of them, told the Government that they ought to have two assemblies at the Cape, and that the members of the upper one should be nominated by the Crown, and sit for life. With regard to the Australian colonies, the Government had found another reason for departing from their own principle. What was that reason? It was this: they said, that custom had attached the colonies to the present form of government, and they did not desire any material alteration in that respect. They also added that it was not wise to establish a different form of government in different parts of Australia, seeing that those colonies must form one group, in which they ought to have something like uniformity. Now, on this part of the subject, he would bring into the court as witnesses against the Government, the Government itself, and first he would produce the evidence of Earl Grey who was at the head of the Colonial Department. The Legislative Assembly in Australia was established in 1842, and on the 31st July, 1847, Earl Grey sent this despatch to Sir Charles Fitzroy. After stating that the Government contemplated some changes which they intended to introduce into New South Wales, he says—You are aware that in the older British colonies the legislature, as in New South Wales, is generally composed partly of nominees of the Crown, and partly of the representatives of the people; but there is this important difference between the two systems, that in one case the legislature is divided into two separate houses and chambers, in the other the representatives of the people and the nominees of the Crown form a single body under the title of the Legislative Council. It does not appear to me that the practical working of this last system would by any means justify the conclusion that it is an improvement upon that which it was formerly the practice to adopt; on the contrary, I see many reasons for belief that the more ancient system by which every new law was submitted to the separate consideration of two distinct houses, and required their joint consent for its enactment, was the best calculated to ensure judicious and prudent legislation,What did Sir Charles Fitzroy say in answer to that letter? Sir Charles Fitzroy, in his answer dated the 6th of January, 1848, said— 1279The recurrence to the old form of colonial constitution by the division of the legislature into two separate chambers, will not, I apprehend, be ill received, at all events by those persons in the colony who understand the subject, and will give it fair consideration. I can have no hesitation in stating my own opinion, founded upon long practical experience, that it will be a decided improvement upon the present form of legislation in this colony.There was the evidence of that gentleman upon the subject. But did he change his mind? The subsequent despatch, dated August 11, 1848, would answer that question:—It only remains for me to add my own opinion, which is, I believe, confirmed, and that of the most experienced and unprejudiced persons who have watched the workings of the present constitution of the colony, that the assimilation of the constitution of the colony to that of the older British colony, where distinct legislative bodies exist, would be generally considered to be extremely advantageous to its interests," &c.Nor was that all? Here was the despatch of Sir William Denison, from Van Diemen's Land:—March 10, 1849.Without wishing or presuming to give an opinion on the general question of the real 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. …The members of this, call it senate, or what you may, will be raised in some measure above the general level of society; they will be rendered independent of popular blame or approbation; but being also free from the suspicion of acting under the control of the Government, they will conciliate popular feeling, and hold a fair position between the Executive and the Legislature.Here then they had the evidence of Earl Grey, of Sir Charles Fitzroy, and of the Lieutenant Governor Sir William Denison, all concurring in saying that a prudent system of legislation would be best introduced by having two houses of legislation, and the Government were of opinion that it would be extremely advantageous. This question was submitted to the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and they decided in favour of the proposition, that the assembly should be divided into two houses, though in other respects it was clear that the colonists did not require any material alteration in the constitution of these colonies. [Mr. HAWES: Without their consent.] Yes, certainly. Without their consent. But then it must be remembered when consent was talked of, the whole of those papers referred to a state of things different from that which they were now discussing; and any arguments which they might attempt to derive from these statements, 1280 or any inference which they might endeavour to draw from them, would be totally inapplicable to the question before them. Earl Grey had intended to alter entirely the constitution of the colonies in New South Wales, and to establish municipalities and district corporations, which should send representatives to the legislative assmbly. The colonists objected to that proposition because it would destroy the whole notion of a legislative government, and because the persons sent to the House of Assembly would never be brought into contact with the electors. But if they looked at the petitions which had been placed on the table of the House on this subject, they would find that they all proceeded on the assumption that they claimed as a right all the benefits of the English form of government, and, in point of fact, they expressly stated their desire to have the British form of government as nearly as they could. Arriving, then, at that point, he could not help coming to the conclusion that the reasons assigned by the Government for departing from the principle on which up to this time they had always acted, were futile and insufficient. But that conclusion compelled him to consider, since the plan as proposed was not a wise one, what other form of government should be established in its stead. In his opinion, their course was plain. He thought, that when they substituted any other form of government different from that which had been introduced in New South Wales, they ought to fall back on the older principles to which he had referred. They ought to give the colonists the same institutions as those which they lived under when they left the mother country, and the institutions so given to them should be placed at once on a permanent basis. If they did this, if experience and not experiment were to guide them, he could not help arriving at this result, that they should now revert to the ancient practice; that is to say, they should grant to the colonies, as nearly as possible, their own form of government. They ought to combine, so far as they could, the conservative caution of the House of Lords with the vigorous activity of the House of Commons, and they would thereby afford some kind of check to hasty legislation, and some means of combating the proverbial fluctuations of the popular will. They ought to bring the constitution of the colonies into the closest harmony with that constitution which had worked so well in the parent State. They ought 1281 to guarantee and secure to the colonists the same advantages in the land of their adoption as those which they enjoyed in the land of their birth. They ought to convince them, that though the chain which connected them with this country might be lengthened by distance, it was not broken by mistaken legislation. They should not give them bad forms of government with the hope that they would change them to something better. In short, they should follow out, with regard to their modern colonies, the same principle as that which they pursued with regard to their older ones; there were different modes for doing this. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield suggested that both chambers should be elected; but there were grave objections to such a proposal, because if the chambers were founded on the same basis, they could hardly serve as checks on each other. The hon. Member for Southwark, who had taken a great interest in this subject, had proposed, by the Amendment which he would lay on the table of the House, that the colonies should be divided into senatorial districts, and that from them the members of the upper house should be chosen; that these members should have higher qualifications, and should be men of higher standing than those who were elected for the lower assembly. In the proposition, there was much to recommend it. But if the principles which he (Mr. Walpole) endeavoured to advance were sound, he did not think that it was as good a one as that which he proposed. Believing, however, the hon. Baronet's proposition to be so much better than the Bill which was brought in, and thinking it so essential to have a check on hasty legislation, he would support that Amendment in preference to assenting to the present Bill, particularly if there were engrafted in it the suggestion of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, that the Crown should have the power of rewarding virtue and merit, by the nomination of a portion of the members of the council. Nevertheless, under all the circumstances, he must say, he preferred the Amendment which he himself should substitute, instead of the hon. Baronet's measure. He preferred it, because it was consistent with their former practices, and with their own form of government, and he could not help thinking that he ought to succeed even with the consent of the Government in carrying it—they themselves had maintained 1282 the same principles which they emphatically said ought not to be departed from, unless for very urgent and convincing reasons, and he was sure that in this case no such reasons had as yet been adduced. He rested his case on two grounds: first, on the right of the colonists to demand from them the same institutions in the country to which they emigrated, as those which they enjoyed in the country which they had left; secondly, because there was nothing which would strengthen their connexion with the colonies so much as by giving them an identity of laws, of habits, and institutions. There was one observation which fell from the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, at the commencement of this Session, in his admirable development of colonial policy, which ought to induce him to adopt these conclusions as strenuously as he did. The noble Lord adverted to an unpatriotic opinion expressed more loudly beyond these walls, opinions abroad, but only in a whisper in that House, that their colonies, instead of being a benefit to the country, were a burden and incumbrance. A more erroneous impression could not get abroad, and he was happy to find that the noble Lord expressed his determination to maintain and preserve the dominions of the Crown unbroken and entire. In that determination no one would give him more strenuous support than he (Mr. Walpole), remembering, as he did, the expression of M. Talleyrand, that if the enemies of England could deprive her of her colonies, they would break down her last wall and fill up her last dyke. Nothing would induce him to part with one of them from a beggarly feeling of paltry economy. He believed that in a pecuniary as well as in a political point of view, our colonial possessions were of immense advantage to us as outlets for their population, as one of the main sources of their trade and wealth, as a principal mainstay of their strength and power. In proportion, however, to the depth of his conviction on this part of the subject—in proportion as he was persuaded that there were numberless advantages constantly flowing from them to us, and from us to them—in proportion as he was convinced that we could not separate without weakening the stability and unity of the empire, in the same proportion he was also convinced that we ought to give them the same institutions which had made and would keep us great and prosperous. If we refused to do this, we could not expect the same results. 1283 As outlets for our population they would not be so beneficial, for the better kind of colonists would not go out to them, or having gone out they would not remain there, unless they could enjoy the same advantages, and realise still the same expectations as those which they might enjoy and realise at home. As sources of our wealth, also, they would not be so advantageous; for though he admitted that our trade and commerce owed much to British skill and enterprise, he believed that it owed still more to the mixed form of government under which we lived—that happy combination of freedom and order, of preservation and progress, of allegiance and authority which gave to property an infallible security, and guaranteed to industry a never-failing reward. And if he regarded them as one of the chief mainstays of our strength and power, he was firmly persuaded that they would gradually fall away, from the want of coherence, unless we bound them to us by the generous ties of a common patriotism—unless we built them up and constructed them, as it were, upon the broad platform of a common liberty, deriving its strength from common institutions under which, as a people, we might unite for ever. He said "as a people," for he thought we should consider our fellow-subjects in every part of the world as forming a portion of one great family who were, or ought to be, joined together by that alone which could constitute a people agreeing in laws and community of interests. Populus enim, non omnis cœtus hominum quoque modo congregatus, sed cœtus multitudinis juris consensu atque utilitatis communione sociatus. If we gave them the juris consensum, the utilitatis communio would be sure to follow. Therefore he would grant to them, freely and frankly, as nearly at least as circumstances would admit, the same institutions which we had ourselves, believing that wherever those institutions were extended, there it would be found that liberty and law, morality and religion, would always flourish. And thus, by extending the dominion and resources of this great empire for our own advantage—the empire of its freedom, the empire of its power, the empire of its commerce—we might also promote in no mean degree, by the force of the example we should set to others, by the goodness of the principles we might be able to communicate, the moral advantage, the social well-being, and the intellectual improvement of every 1284 nation with whom we might come in contact. He felt that he owed some apology to the House for bringing forward a subject so great and so difficult as this was; but believing, as he did, that a great opportunity was now given of uniting the colonies more strongly to us than ever, by identifying their interests with those of this country, and by admitting them to institutions like our own, he could not refrain from submitting these observations to the better judgment of others; and having done so, he had only to express his thanks to the House for the kind indulgence with which they had heard him.
§ MR. HAWES
complimented the hon. and learned Member upon the tone and character of his speech; and, before commenting upon it, would ask the House to bear with him whilst he explained the grounds and the circumstances which had induced the Government to propose the Bill as it stood. He should endeavour to show, in the course of this explanation, that, if they had departed from recommending those institutions which were time-honoured and universally respected in this country, it was upon no light grounds that they had done so. Her Majesty's Government believed that they were consulting the feelings and wishes of the colonists, and that they acted upon the broad principle which had ever been a distinguishing feature of the liberal party and of enlightened policy, of endeavouring to frame our institutions and conduct our government so as to obtain the consent and approbation of the people at large. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the despatch of his noble Friend Earl Grey, dated January, 1847. It was that despatch which first opened, in our Australian colonies, questions of the greatest moment with regard to their constitution and future government; and the hon. and learned Gentleman was perfectly correct in saying that the subsequent discussions upon these subjects were originated by that despatch, and preceded any knowledge of the Bill now before the House. He (Mr. Hawes) was perfectly willing to make this concession, but without in the least relinquishing any part of the force attaching to the petitions and resolutions of the colonists, which were the basis and groundwork of the present Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also referred to the report of the Committee of Council, and he had truly observed that the members of that body had 1285 stated, strongly, their impressions in favour of a double chamber; but the hon. and learned Gentleman omitted to refer, of course not intentionally, to a very important statement in the report immediately following the paragraph he had read, which assigned the reasons for departing from that general rule. He (Mr. Hawes) would refer the House to the passage in question. The Committee of Council said they had reason to believe the colonists generally were satisfied and contented with their constitution as it existed; and there had been no official intimation whatever, nor was he aware of any popular intimation independently of official channels, showing the people of New South Wales to be discontented with their form of government, which the House were aware consisted of a single legislative chamber, a governor, and executive council. The Committee of Council therefore said—Of this fact the most conclusive proof is to be found in the number of petitions recently presented to Her Majesty and the Houses of Parliament from large bodies of the colonists, praying that no change may be made in the constitution without the consent of the inhabitants.The force of this passage consisted in the fact of the colonists requiring that if any change were made in the form of government, it should be made only with their consent. It by no means intimated that they were bound by the form of government now proposed or retained; on the contrary, they could alter, change, and amend it, by the Bill as they thould think most fit, and most in accordance with their own feelings. Was not this opinion of the Committee of Council founded upon facts? Was it not borne out by resolutions and petitions from public meetings in the colonies? Was there not, in fact, a unanimity of opinion prevailing in the colony about which there could be no doubt? Whatever alterations they might desire—whatever their content or discontent with their present constitution, they were all agreed, that before any material alteration was made none should be made without their consent being first obtained. A very important despatch from Sir Charles Fitzroy had frequently been referred to, transmitting petitions to this effect. He would not trouble the House with reading these petitions. All he asked was that they would allow him to read their prayer, and that they would bear them in mind during the observations he should have the honour to make. One petition from 1286 Sydney prayed Her Majesty to be graciously pleased "not to assent to any change in the constitution of their government which should not have received the sanction of the colony." This petition was signed by 3,100 persons of great respectability—
§ MR. HAWES
admitted they had not, and had already admitted it; but though it might have been agreed upon in ignorance of the Bill, nevertheless whatever alterations might be proposed, the petitioners were all agreed in desiring that none should be made without the consent of the colony. There was also a petition to the same effect from Port Phillip. This petition objected to the constitution proposed by Earl Grey, as disturbing the form of government with which they were contented, and as altering their rights as British subjects. He referred to this petition because it afforded an indication that, with certain exceptions, they were content with the existing form of government. Another petition to the same effect from Windsor, New South Wales, and the inhabitants of Picton, prayed that all alterations in their laws and government might be "left in the hands of the Legislative Council as at present established." Then there was a memorial from certain inhabitants of the district of Port Phillip, forwarded in the Governor's despatch of September 23, 1848, which prayed that—no pressure of public business may prevent your Lordship from taking steps to procure the separation of the district of Port Phillip from the colony of New South Wales, with a local representative council, which it was the object of the Bill to grant.He would also refer the House to a resolution agreed to after a discussion in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, upon the subject of two chambers. No proposition occurred in the course of that debate, so far as he was aware, indicating any desire to have an elective legislative council. He was far from meaning to say that such a desire might not exist; but the simple fact was, that in that discussion, which raised the whole subject, no question was made, or put on the minutes, recording a desire for an elective chamber. The resolution was expressed in strong terms, as follows:— 1287That although the council has deemed it a duty to give its opinion upon the several propositions contained in the despatch of the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies, it cannot forbear from expressing its strong sense of the indignity with which the people of this colony are treated by the announcement that a measure so seriously influencing their destiny for good or for evil, will be introduced into Parliament without affording them an opportunity of previously expressing their sentiments upon it.Such were the opinions of the colonists of New South Wales; from which the House would see that their desire was that whatever change was proposed in their constitution it should be made with their consent, or not made without their previous assent. He was not, however, without further support of weight and importance to the measure now under consideration. The noble Lord at the head of the Government presented on Wednesday a petition signed by a great majority of the leading mercantile firms in this country trading with that colony, as well as by other parties temporarily resident here who had been members of the Legislative Council, and who, therefore, might be supposed to speak the sentiments of their fellow-coloists. And what did he find in that petition?—That petitioners believe that the said Bill is mainly founded on a report addressed to Her Majesty the Queen by the Lords of the Committee of Council for Trade and Plantations, of date the 4th day of April in last year, which report was approved by Her Majesty in Council on the 1st day of May in last year. That the said report having reached all the four colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Van Diemen's Land, and South Australia, in September of last year, appears to have been received with a high degree of satisfaction by the people of each colony, as indicating a policy on the part of the mother country towards the colonies pre-eminently calculated to preserve the lasting attachment of the colonies to the Crown and Parliament of these realms.If he had not in a formal shape testimony so strong as this in favour of the Bill from the colonists themselves, the distance from the mother country at once explained the reason; but if he might infer the opinions of the colonists from the unanimous testimony of the press—for he had received newspapers from every colony to which the Bill applied—the Bill had given a degree of satisfaction which had not attached to any other measure proceeding from the Colonial Department since he had had the honour of holding office. One and all, the newspapers urged the Government to carry the Bill forward. They approved of all its main details and leading principles; and 1288 on such evidence he was bound to say that, although in some particular provisions it might require to be modified, its main details and leading principles had met with general approval and consent. He had, in addition, some negative testimony to its merits, in two petitions that had recently been presented to the House. One was in a petition from certain persons in South Australia, praying that the clause relative to the disposal of waste lands might undergo revision and alteration; and the other was from Northampton, having reference to that part of the measure which made provision for public worship, the objections to the measure being confined alone to these provisions of the Bill. He might further refer to what had passed at a public meeting held in the colony, in consequence of Earl Grey's despatch. From the proceedings of that meeting, he inferred that those who engaged in it would not have spoken of the existing constitution as they had if they had not felt they had the concurrence of their fellow-colonists. One speaker said the constitution as it existed at present had worked well, and he had no fault to find with it. Another speaker, Mr. Wentworth, said, "there might be some difference of opinion as to the formation of another house, but there was no absorbing interest in the question." And a resolution agreed to at the meeting confirming the prayer of the petitions he had already referred to, namely—That the colonists are entitled to expect that no important alteration in the constitution which they enjoy shall be made without their previous consent.He would now refer to the part Earl Grey had taken when he had thus ascertained the feelings and wishes of the colonies. In his despatch of the 31st July, 1848, in consequence of the opposition manifested to the constitution then proposed, and in reply to Sir Charles Fitzroy's despatch transmitting these proceedings, Earl Grey says—I regret the delay which has occurred (although from causes independent of Her Majesty's Government) in carrying into effect this necessary and urgently required measure; but the time lost will not be regretted if the consequence of that delay should be the framing of a measure more complete in all its parts, and more in accordance with the now ascertained views of the Australian community, than could have been the case if legislation had been attempted during the present Session.In consequence of the opinions prevailing in the colony, Earl Grey came, wisely as he (Mr. Hawes) thought, to the conclusion, 1289 that it was not his duty to force upon the colonies institutions they did not solicit. He thought it wise not to force upon them a form of government fitted for England undoubtedly, and superior to any hitherto devised for at once maintaining order and securing popular liberty, but for which they were not prepared. And here he would observe that if we wished institutions to take root, and be permanently respected, it was not by forcing them upon a free people, that this object could be accomplished. They must rather be allowed to spring out of the wants, necessities, feelings, and opinions of the community. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst had referred to the opinions of the Governors of New South Wales and of Van Diemen's Land, upon the question of a second chamber. He (Mr. Hawes) admitted that the opinion of the Governor of Van Diemen's Land was favourable to two chambers; but he also said, speaking in concurrence with his executive council—We think the form of government that is to be upheld in New South Wales should be extended to Van Diemen's Land, inasmuch as colonies so closely connected should have the same form of government.But this question was not to be considered now for the first time. Long ago, in 1842, the subject had been brought under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government by Sir Richard Bourke. It had been considered by Sir George Gipps, Mr. Charles Buller, and Mr. M'Arthur, and all concurred in opinion that the present constitution, a single legislative chamber, was best adapted to the condition and wants of the colony; a single chamber, then, had the sanction of able and experienced men—men intimately acquainted with the, interests and feelings of the colonists. The hon. and learned Gentleman said we had all along conferred upon our colonies institutions akin to our own—something representing King, Lords, and Commons; but he was mistaken in this respect. The early American charters contained no such form of government. According to the early American charters, the form of government consisted of a governor, assistants, and assembly, sitting in one chamber. He believed, then, that if we allowed our fellow subjects in the colonies fairly to consider the subject, and left them to carry out their own feelings and opinions, institutions would gradually spring up among them, as among all free people, more likely to be permanent than the best 1290 we could confer upon them here. He relied upon the perfect liberty the colonies would have to form and mould their own constitution, as a far better security for the permanence and utility of such institutions as they might create, than any the most perfect we could devise and establish, if establish them we could, by Act of Parliament The Bill, then, professed to make no alteration in the constitution of New South Wales, and it proposed that the same form of government should be extended to the other colonies. There was much advantage in this. When the question of the separation of the district of Port Phillip was under the cognisance of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the Governor, in the course of the examination of the witnesses, asked some of the colonists of Port Phillip what form of government they expected when they were severed from New South Wales? Mr. Robinson, a member of the Legislative Council, replied, "The government which New South Wales enjoys." He (Mr. Hawes) admitted he should not have been able to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman unless the Bill contained, as it did, provisions for every colony, to alter and amend their constitution from time to time as they thought fit. He did not wish to conclude without saying a word as to the value he attached to our colonial possessions. It was the fashion to say they were expensive, and that they were a source of weakness. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that if we lost them we should lose a source of wealth and power which nothing that this Parliament or people could do would be able to restore; and if we parted with them there were not wanting other Powers ready to avail themselves of what we should heedlessly cast away. But he was sure that England would never consent to separate herself from those splendid possessions, and that wise and prudent measures would yet bind them indissolubly to this country. He had now endeavoured to show the grounds upon which the Bill rested. It rested upon the opinion formally expressed, in the colonies, that no change should be made in the form of government to which two out of the four colonies had expressed their attachment, without their Consent; and as regards the other colonies, closely connected together as they all were, upon practical experience and its fitness for such communities. It was proposed in the belief that they would accept it as a boon, 1291 well adapted to their present circumstances, and containing in itself powers of amendment and expansion. A contrary policy, one which involved the forcing a constitution upon them, might be dangerous; for, suppose they should say, "We decline your measure," in what position would Parliament be found? Why, in that of forcing a constitution upon them, which would only enlist opposition. For these reasons he hoped the House would act in conformity with the known wishes of the colonies as expressed in their petitions and at their public meetings. Such a course was most likely to attach them to the Crown of England, and reconcile them to our authority. The conviction that the Parliament of England, having an undoubted right to impose any form of institution it pleased, had waived its powers, in respect to their feelings and wishes, would be found to have great influence. They would see that we respected their feelings and opinions, and we might hence safely calculate upon their respecting in return the authority of the Crown and Parliament, and thus strengthen the connexion between the mother country and the most distant of her colonies.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, that he was most anxious to give a second chamber; but yet he dared not vote with the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst, because his proposition was one that he did not deem to be at that moment expedient to adopt. He desired not to force his opinions upon others. He could not ask them to act upon that opinion, until they felt that what was given to them was a good thing, and one that they would be ready to maintain under all circumstances. Having the opinion of the colonists themselves, that they did not desire a second chamber, he dare not be a party to impose one upon them. At the same time he was anxious to place within their reach the means of acquiring such a constitution as they might think best adapted to their circumstances. If they were dissatisfied with the present council, they could elect another, and that council would have uncontrolled power to adopt such a form of constitution as they might think fit. Could this House judge for the colonists as well as they could judge for themselves? He believed not. He quite concurred that two chambers were desirable but, as at present advised, he should vote for leaving the question to the discretion of those for whose benefit the measure under consideration was intended.
§ MR. HUME
said, that on the last division he voted with the minority, because he wished to give to the colonists the option of deciding what form of constitution they should have, and whether there should be one or two chambers. He objected to official nominees being placed on the council, for, if there were but one-third of the whole number devoted to the governor and his measures, he had only to bribe and allure four or five of the elected members to command a majority. Hence it was desirable to have the council entirely elective, that it might be a true exponent of the opinions of the colonists as to whether they would prefer one or two chambers. With regard to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst, he should say that one more inapplicable to the real condition of the colonies he had never heard. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to introduce into the Australian colonies institutions similar to those which now existed in this country, without considering whether or not they were adapted to the circumstances of the colonists. If he understood him right, he would institute a House of Lords with a bench of bishops, and he (Mr. Hume) was surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman say that we had acted wisely and well in trying to establish those institutions elsewhere. What was the fact? Why, that there had never been any peace in the colonies where they existed until they had been abolished. And with the knowledge of this fact, he was not disposed to scatter still wider the seeds of discord and disaffection by adopting the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He was decidedly in favour of a second chamber or senate, as a deliberative assembly, exercising a check upon the proceedings of the other house. He could not vote with the hon. and learned Member, however, because he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman was wrong in what he would force upon the colony. He looked upon the present measure as alike wise and liberal. It was the only way in which England could preserve her colonies. If we persisted in the mad and improper proceedings of the last five or six years, not a colony would be left us in a very short period; and on that ground he regarded the measure as a wise and politic one, that would secure to us the allegiance of the colonies, and all the advantages which could be derived from their possession. He was not one of those who would willingly part with the colonies, 1293 but he did wish to make them useful appendages to us in a commercial point of view, whilst they afforded an outlet for our population.
MR. A. B. HOPE
would support the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Midhurst, because it carried out a principle which had long been deeply implanted in his mind—he meant the necessity of giving to our colonies English habits, English feelings, English manners, English government, and, above all, he would say, though he knew it was in the face of the prevailing feeling of the day, English monarchy. Of course, in advocating a colonial peerage, he was not foolish enough to suppose that there were yet in Australia, or in any of our other colonies, the materials to form such a peerage as would be anything but suggestive of ridicule. He knew that the prestige of wealth and hereditary descent was the very last thing that could grow up in any new colony whatever; but while he felt the importance of avoiding any immature and hasty plan for establishing a monarchical system in our colonies, he was yet of opinion that we ought to lay the foundation for it in all of them. He was aware that climate had great effect upon character—he knew the hardening and roughening effect of a northern, and the enervating effect of a tropical climate; but in Australia and New Zealand, where the climate was as temperate and the habits of life the same as our own, he knew no reason why our Anglo-Saxon institutions should not thrive as well there as in the old country. It was clear then that the question was reduced to this dilemma—either that the old English constitution was a fallacy—which he did not admit—or that in a colony like Australia, founded by Englishmen and with an English climate to dwell in, it must be the fault of our Legislature if they did not enjoy English institutions. In what shape these institutions should be introduced—whether, for instance, there ought to be titles of honour given—he did not mean the highest titles of nobility, but whether there should not be baronetcies with the right of sitting in the upper chamber—he would not then stop to inquire; but he thought it was as clear as daylight, that if we were to retain the monarchical system ourselves, and at the same time preserve our colonies, we must give them far more of monarchical prestige than we had hitherto given them—that we must let them taste of its sweets 1294 as well as its bitters—and, as a first step to that, he would support the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he could scarcely understand from the speech of the hon. Member for Montrose whether he intended to support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst or not. The hon. Member stated that he was in favour of a second chamber; and yet he appeared to have come to the conclusion that he would vote against a Motion which provided that there should be in each of the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria a legislative council and a representative assembly. Now he (Mr. Scott) could not understand how, after stating that he was in favour of two chambers, the hon. Member could come to the conclusion of not voting for the proposition contained in the Amendment. The argument adduced by the Under Secretary for the Colonies himself would go against any legislation at all upon this subject at the present time. He said the House ought not to enter into a discussion upon the subject without having the express consent of the colonists themselves. That had been the opinion repeatedly expressed in this House, and upon that ground he (Mr. Scott) maintained that Her Majesty's Government were not at liberty to introduce the present Bill, They had not yet had the expressed consent of the colonists, and they knew it. The colonies of Australia differed in their circumstances and condition from one another to such an extent that it was impossible to legislate for them all alike. The only Australian colony he knew of which had a chamber constituted one-third of nominees and the remainder of elective members, sitting in one house, was that of New South Wales. The proposal contained in the Bill was sent out to that colony last year; and yet they had received no expression of feeling from New South Wales upon the subject. He was sorry that the question which had been introduced and argued so ably by his hon. and learned Friend upon a broad and extended basis, had been treated in so narrow a spirit by the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies. It would not be his (Mr. Scott's) fault, therefore, if, in replying to the arguments of the hon. Gentleman, he confined himself to observations which might otherwise have been utterly unworthy the attention of the House. When he found it brought forward upon authority, and stated boldly, he might say with an 1295 audacity which surpassed boldness, that the colonists had expressed an opinion upon the subject, he was obliged to confine his remarks to a refutation of the hon. Gentleman's statements. The hon. Gentleman had adduced the opinion of the Governor, of the Legislative Council, and of a public meeting held in New South Wales; and he had also read extracts from petitions which had emanated from various parts of New South Wales. But they had no opinion whotever from any of the other Australian colonies. And even that from New South Wales was an opinion not ad-verse to a double chamber, and therefore quite inapplicable to the question before the Committee. He did not believe that it was generally known what were the points upon which the colonists had expressed their opinions. The despatch of Earl Grey, dated the 31st of July, 1847, proposed to curtail the existing elective franchise of the colony of New South Wales, and to erect councils in different parts of the colony, to be called district councils—constituting as it were electoral colleges—the people of the various districts being the constituents of these electoral colleges, which colleges were then to elect the members of the legislative council. Thus the colonists would have been curtailed of the elective franchise, and, to a certain extent, deprived of their liberties; and it was in opposition to this measure that the colonists had expressed the opinions which the hon. Under Secretary had quoted to-night, as applicable to the question now under consideration. It was the hon. Gentleman who had forced upon him (Mr. Scott) the necessity of referring to the statements contained in the different petitions which had been received from the colony. First and foremost amongst those petitions was one which he (Mr. Scott) had presented to the House in the year 1848, and which was signed by upwards of 3,000 persons, after having been agreed to at the largest public meeting ever held in Sydney; Well, what did the petitioners say? They said that the change in the constitution of the colony, proposed in the despatch of Earl Grey, would have the effect of depriving them of the elective franchise, which they maintained to be their inalienable right as British subjects, and that they could not but be persuaded that by delegating their right to elect representatives they were deprived not only of the choice of election, but of that constitutional control over their legislature, 1296 without which no people could be considered free. How did they then proceed?—We are anxious to enjoy a form of government founded as nearly as circumstances will admit upon the principle of the British constitution; and to make this colony a subject of a theoretical experiment in legislation is a measure the justice or policy of which we cannot admit.The petition of the inhabitants of the electoral district of Singleton stated that the change propounded by Earl Grey would deprive them of the dearly-cherished birthright of Britons, the power of electing their own representatives, and thus give to them a bill of pains and penalties without the pretence of their having merited it. They prayed Her Majesty, therefore, not to assent to any alteration of the elective franchise, or to any measure which would diminish the rights they now enjoyed; but they wished to extend the representative system, to lower the franchise, to enlarge their liberties, and to approximate in constitutional freedom still nearer to that of the mother country. The third petition which the hon. Under Secretary had alluded to, was that from Port Phillip, which naturally sought to be erected into an independent colony. The petitioners stated, that the constitution proposed by Earl Grey was universally disapproved of, and condemned as being quite unsuited to them, as experimental, as disturbing a form of government with which in most particulars they were content, and as altering and abridging their rights and privileges. The district of Windsor was next brought forward in evidence by the hon. Gentleman; but they said that the proposed changes were uncalled-for and unexampled; that they would deprive the colonies of the elective franchise; and that they were desirous of enjoying a constitution as nearly as might be like that of the united kingdom. The Picton petitioners stated that the form of representation proposed was totally at variance with all their ideas of liberty, and utterly repugnant to them; and they, too, desired that their constitution should be as like as possible to that of the united kingdom. The petition from Maitland was of similar purport; and the Governor of the colony, in his despatch enclosing these petitions, expressed his own opinion, and that of the most experienced and unprejudiced persons, to be in favour of assimilating the constitution of the colony to the constitution of Great Britain, and that such a measure would prove most satisfactory. Then, with regard 1297 to the strong and decisive opinion given by the able Governor of Van Die-men's Land, he stated that, "under the peculiar circumstances of the colony, he should most strenuously recommend the adoption of a second, or an upper chamber." That was said, not of the colony of New South Wales, with its population of 220,000, but of Van Diemen's Land, which had a much smaller population, and where the necessity for an upper chamber could not be said to exist to the same extent. The only ground on which he had heard a double chamber opposed was the supposed unwillingness of the colonists to accept such an arrangement; and it was certainly a remarkable fact, that the opposition to the proposal was based upon an argument totally irrespective of its intrinsic merits. The opinions formerly expressed by Members of Her Majesty's Government did not bear them out in their present policy. On the 10th of August, 1848, Earl Grey delivered a speech, in the course of which he declared that it was a very great error to suppose that the Australian colonies had been formed by merely one class of society—that of labourers—and that so far from that being the case that there were to be found in those colonies retired officers of the Army and Navy, gentlemen who had taken high honours at the universities, and many other persons of education and great intelligence. From that language one might naturally conclude that the noble Earl must have thought that there existed in that country the elements of a second chamber. It was said that those colonies were not ripe for the creation of such a chamber; but that was no reason, surely, why means should not be taken to provide for its future growth, and for endeavouring to render the mother country, as far as possible, a type of her distant offspring. The experience of all times, and of all nations, showed that the best mode of attaching colonies to a mother country was to give them institutions similar to those which she herself enjoyed. But that was not the policy which Her Majesty's Ministers seemed disposed to adopt in dealing with our Australian colonies. In this country the constitution was territorial; in Australia they were determined, in opposition to the wishes of the colonists, to prevent those who held land from being the owners in fee of the soil. Before he concluded, he should frankly confess that he believed the Bill to be, in many respects, a good one; but, as he also 1298 thought that the adoption of the Amendment then before the Committee would be attended with the most beneficial results, he was prepared to give to it his cordial support.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Sir, I promise the Committee that I shall not detain them long, but I am unwilling to give a silent vote on the question now before them. I am unwilling to do so in the first instance, on account of my deep sense of the importance of the decision at which we may arrive; and I am also unwilling to do so, because it was part of my duty, as one of the Committee of Privy Council to whom the question of the constitution of Australia was referred, to consider the bearings of this important question, and to form an opinion upon them. I think I may further claim credit for the Government with regard to this measure, that the course which we have taken has been a frank one, and has been marked by good intentions towards those for whom those institutions were preparing, and I strongly feel on a question of this kind the truth of the observation of Burke, "that good intentions, plainly expressed, are of no mean force in the government of human affairs." I confess I do derive the greatest satisfaction from the result of all the intelligence that hitherto has reached us from the Australian colonies—intelligence, in my opinion, not the less important because it is derived in no great degree from official sources, but from newspapers there published, in which it is expressed with so much unanimity that it is impossible to doubt that upon the whole the measure proposed by the Government has been welcomed by the inhabitants of that colony. It is looked upon as a measure designed in a spirit most friendly and kindly towards them, and is in the main a measure that meets their wishes, and will provide for their wants, and which will establish a state of things in the colony to which they look forward with hope and confidence. I derive comfort from that knowledge, which supports me very much from the cavils and attacks which I hear made on this measure. I do not believe those attacks will mar the fair prospect that exists of this House and the Government being able to accomplish that which I deem to be a most arduous and difficult task, namely, to frame a constitution that will give freedom and good government to a population separated from us to the extent nearly of the habitable world, and to establish for them institu- 1299 tions which, while they will preserve the rights of the Crown of England, will at the same time secure to the inhabitants those blessings of free and impartial government which I am the first to acknowledge are the birthright of every Englishman in whatever part of the world he is placed. The question which is more immediately brought under your attention by the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst is, whether we should at once proceed to introduce into the constitution of Australia the system of two chambers, or content ourselves, as we do, by confirming and enlarging the institutions we now find in Australia, leaving to the colonists themselves, through the agency of those institutions, the means of modifying and altering that constitution as to them may seem fit, and of adopting, especially if they think the time is come, that principle of legislation by two chambers, which, I hold as strongly as the hon. and learned Gentleman, is, upon the whole—as has been proved by experience—the best form of government under which free monarchical instistitutions can be carried on. We may at least claim some credit for having pursued a frank and straightforward line of conduct. We thought it right to advise Her Majesty to refer this matter to the Committee of Privy Council, in which the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies—more especially charged with those affairs—might have the advice and assistance of some Members of the Privy Council, whose experience was of great aid to him on this occasion, as also the assistance of other Members of the Government. The Government was thus enabled to state the reasons and arguments on which the measure was founded; and I am rejoiced to find, so far as our information goes, this innovation also has been received in a most favourable manner by the people of Australia. It appears that they have been highly gratified at finding that all those questions, which to them are of such great importance, have received the calm and deliberate consideration of the servants of the Crown, before anything was done with respect to them, and even they themselves called into Council by having the reasons and arguments fairly submitted to them, by which the Government were at least enabled to show that they did not shrink from the closest examination of the motives by which they were actuated, believing as they do that those opinions are sufficiently valid and well-considered to stand the closest 1300 test of scrutiny and investigation. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman has said, that in the report of the Privy Council they did express an abstract opinion in favour of a system of two chambers rather than a single chamber, and in expressing that opinion they only expressed the opinion of every educated Englishman on that subject. But we have also frankly stated in that report the reasons that induced us, under the present circumstances of Australia, not to advise that it should be a compulsory measure, or carried into effect with regard to the inhabitants of that colony. Any Gentleman who has fairly considered the papers laid upon the table of the House must admit that there are great and weighty considerations to induce the House to pause before they say that without any more certainty we shall at once proceed to offer them a constitution so framed, and not give them the alternative of expressing any opinion of their own on the subject. Although I have been surprised at the objection to the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government, I have been most of all surprised when this objection came from the popular benches of the House. I thought whatever objections there might be to the course we have taken, it was obviously our desire to defer to the feelings and wishes of the people of Australia. A great deal of discussion has taken place, and doubts were expressed by the hon. Gentleman, who is the agent for the colony of New South Wales, as to the real feelings of the colony on this point. Gentlemen have said, when the colonists expressed their opinion, they had not the offer of an elective legislative council. They thought the offer meant nothing but a nominee second chamber, and they rejected the offer. I will not delay the House by referring again to the papers on the table; but no fair and candid man can read through those papers without coming to the conclusion that this is a matter of pride—honest and just pride—and feeling on the part of the colonists of Sydney, and that they object, not merely to any particular constitution we send over to them, but they object to being legislated for by the House, or that the House shall alter the existing institutions of the country, with which in the main they express themselves satisfied, without giving them some voice in the alteration. The objection applies as much to the proposal for an elective second chamber as it would do to a nominee second chamber. I ask any man 1301 to consider if it would be a proof of prudence or wisdom to risk a collision with the colony on a subject of this description, or the irritation that may be caused by any mistake we may make, when, from all the information we have received from those colonies, the colonists themselves accept this measure as one meeting their wishes? I do not know that I need, at the present moment, go much into the question raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst, whether (supposing this House to be disposed to think that we ought to insist upon a legislature composed of two chambers) the second chamber should be composed on the principle of nomination, or on the principle of election. A proposal has been made to establish two chambers on the principle of election at the Cape of Good Hope, and by so doing a great change has been made in the colonial policy of the country in that respect; but I am satisfied that if we wish to act upon the real spirit of the British constitution—that if we mean really to obtain a second chamber that shall have any means of resisting the momentary impulse that may carry away a popular assembly—we shall find that much more certainty in a council constituted on the principle of election, and, therefore, that has some hold on public opinion, than in a house composed of nominees of the Crown, or rather, as hon. Gentlemen seem to indicate, a council that contained in it the germ at least of a hereditary aristocracy. With regard to the principle of a hereditary aristocracy, I am one who value and regard it in the constitution. I believe that an ancient aristocracy, such as we possess, is endeared to this country by historical recollections. It holds a great national position in the country, and when it has grown up with all our recollections and institutions, it is a positive advantage. I rejoice that I live in a country that has what I believe to be that advantage, and I express that opinion the more fully and plainly because I am myself a man from the middle ranks of life, and have no pretensions of the kind; but I do hold that to attempt to force an aristocracy upon a community where there exists no natural elements for that aristocracy, is, in the first place, an impossible task, and, next, the attempt would be a very dangerous one. This subject was discussed in this House with transcendent ability, at a time when the question was of great importance, by the greatest men the Parliament 1302 of this country ever possessed—by Pitt and Fox, by Burke and Wilberforce—and the sentiments that I now venture imperfectly to express were enunciated with great force and eloquence by Mr. Fox, who at that time showed an earnest desire to cherish the rising liberties of France. It was on the occasion of the discussion about the Canadas, Mr. Pitt proposed in the Canada Bill the germ of an aristocracy; and I remember that Mr. Wilberforce, in supporting him, said, "Let us plant the acorns, and by-and-by they will grow to oaks." It was obviously their desire that we should establish the seeds of an aristocracy in Canada, who, though small at first, might end by being the counterpart of the British House of Lords. But Mr. Fox said—However valuable the aristocratic principle may be in a country such as England, it will utterly fail if you introduce it into Canada, where the circumstances are so entirely different;and the result has proved the wisdom of the prediction.Even Mr. Pitt (said he) is afraid to tell the names of his new peers in Canada; he is afraid to do it; the House would laugh at it.They must see the truth of the argument of Mr. Fox, for they could not adapt that, which was the growth of ages, to new institutions of that kind. Considering the circumstances that must take place in any new country, you would surely fail in such an experiment, engender bitter feeling, give rise to animosity, and mar the effect of any other measures yon might take for their prosperity. I therefore dismiss from my mind any attempts of that kind. I believe they are delusive. If the Australian colonies were to have two chambers, I would wish it should be on the principle of election; but I deny that it would be wise for us to undertake any task of that kind. I ask the Committee to recollect that there is a practical point not unworthy of attention, namely, the delay which must take place if we now attempt to form a second chamber on the principle of election. Can we frame the details of any such measure? Can we settle the qualifications, or many other points that must necessarily arise, if we attempt to frame a constitution founded on the principle of election? Great delay must take place; reference must be had to the colony, and this at a time when it is necessary we should legislate on the subject, in the present Session, 1303 because questions of great practical importance to the well-being of the colonies are postponed until those measures are passed—for example, the separation of the colony of Victoria from the colony of New South Wales, which is urged upon us with great emergency and pressure by the colonists, and which it would be desirable to effect in the present Session. I beg to call attention to one question more which bears upon an important point. I am of opinion that permanently and ultimately it would be better for the people of Australia that they should adopt a system of two chambers instead of one. I hope they will do so; but imperfect institutions to which people are attached, are better for them than far more perfect institutions, which for any reason may be repugnant to their wishes. Therefore, it is more a question for the people of Australia to decide than for us. I doubt whether, in the present state of those colonies, there do exist in all of them the means for the establishment of two chambers with due advantage. I doubt if there would be sufficient persons to occupy places in the two chambers, or that you could find them in sufficient numbers to constitute an assembly and a second chamber at the same time. I am strengthened in that opinion by finding that that was the decided opinion of two of the most distinguished men this country ever sent to the colonies, Sir George Grey and Sir George Gipps. It was their opinion that materials do not exist for two chambers; and men in Australia of the most popular views and principles, and who have no abstract dislike to two chambers, have come to the conclusion that two chambers at present are not advisable, as the best institution for the conduct of the government of those colonies. I was very much struck with a resolution of which notice was given by a very distinguished member of the Assembly at Sidney, Mr. Wentworth. [An Hon. MEMBER: He did not propose it.] He did not propose it, but gave notice of it, and it was to the effect, that the Council was adverse at present to the introduction of the old system of colonial government, containing two chambers, one composed of the nominees of the Crown. ["Hear, hear!"] I understand that cheer. You assume he was opposed to a second chamber composed of nominees of the Crown, but not to an elective chamber; but I beg to call your attention to his reasons: first, because there is not and will not for a considerable period to 1304 come, be any class of sufficient fortune and stability to be raised to the station of hereditary legislators; and, secondly, the second chamber would be composed of nominees of the Crown for a limited period. It is quite true that Mr. Wentworth makes no reference to a second chamber on the elective principle; but if Mr. Wentworth was prepared to say that was the true solution of the difficulty, and that the colony does contain persons to hold seats in the second chamber and the house of assembly, I have no doubt that he would not have excluded that proposal from the resolution he laid before the house. It is impossible for any man to look at the petitions and resolutions that have been adopted, without seeing that their main jealousy is directed not so much to this or that proposition coming from this country, as to any proposition coming from it that will be of a compulsory description, and which will render it impossible for the colonists to express their opinions upon it. We are not legislating for a colony that is groaning under intolerable aggression, or suffering under the pressure of institutions from which they desire to be released. That is not the case. We have the satisfaction of knowing that the institutions of Australia, as they at present exist (particularly as regards the most flourishing colony, Sydney), are free institutions, and all they ask is to enlarge those institutions, and enable them to provide for their wants by such alterations in those institutions as they may deem advisable. That is the prayer of Australia to this House. The answer to that prayer is the Bill upon the table of the House. It meets that prayer precisely, and we have reason to believe that the measure will be received with satisfaction by the people of Australia. All the leading merchants of this city whose interests are connected with Australia, and who have a deep interest in the well-being of the people, have petitioned the House to pass this Bill. And I now ask the House to support the measure of the Government, at least in that important particular which it is sought to overthrow; and my belief is, that the measure which the House has devised in the spirit of goodwill and friendship, will be received in a corresponding spirit by our fellow-subjects in those colonies.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
I am anxious, Sir, before the Committee comes to a final decision on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst, to make 1305 some observations with regard to the question which we are now discussing. The subject is one of considerable importance, and the Committee will acknowledge that the decisions at which we shall arrive will be not only of great and immediate importance to the colonies concerned, but of great and lasting importance to the whole of the British empire; for we are agreed that our colonies in Australasia, being inhabited by Englishmen, are now entitled to possess the institutions of Englishmen; and we are, therefore, assisting at the birth of the constitutions of the British communities that are destined, in future ages, to cover the southern hemisphere, and there to form nations and mighty empires of the Anglo-Saxon name. Again, we are, no doubt, all agreed that it is the duty of the British Parliament to undertake the difficult task of framing the first constitutions of these colonies; and according as we perform that task well or ill, so shall we either confer lasting benefits, or inflict deep injuries, upon those communities; so shall we either strengthen and make permanent our colonial empire, or weaken and ultimately destroy it. A heavy responsibility hangs over us, and I trust that a deep sense of that responsibility will influence the conduct and votes of hon. Members on this occasion. The question for our consideration is, what would be the best form of government for the Australian colonies. To answer that question, it appears to me that we ought first to inquire what are the institutions which theory and experience have proved to be the best for similar communities of English origin; and having answered that question to the best of our abilities, we ought to give to these colonies those institutions which our deliberate judgment pronounces to have been the best; and, in order to guard against the consequences of errors in judgment, and, in order also that the constitution of a colony may change with its changing circumstances, we ought to empower these colonies to alter and amend the institutions which they will receive from us. To this last position I attach great importance, and the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade assents to that position. I may, therefore, assume that we are all agreed that in a Bill for the better government of the Australian colonies there ought to be some provision empowering the colonies to alter the institutions which, in the first instance, we are to frame for 1306 them. The question at issue is, therefore, what is the best form of government for these colonies to commence with? With what constitution ought we to start them into representative existence? I repeat, with that constitution which theory and experience have proved to be best for similar communities. This position appears to me almost self-evident; but the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House seems to contest it, for he proposes to start these colonies with a legislature composed of a single chamber, in which one-third of the members are to be nominated by the Colonial Office, and, in fact, are to hold their seats at the will of the Colonial Office; that is to say, the noble Lord at the head of the Government, the illustrious author of the Reform Bill, proposes to start these colonies with a house of legislature similar to what the House of Commons would be if we were to repeal the Reform Bill, reinstate 110 Gattons and Old Sarums, and place the 220 seats at the disposal of the Minister of the day. Such a constitution is absurd in theory; all experience testifies against it, and I believe every authority condemns it. But the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade has just stated that these colonies will have the power to amend their constitutions; that is to say, he proposes to start them with a bad constitution, on the plea that they will have the power to blunder into a good constitution at some future period. Is this the policy of a statesman? There is an old and true maxim, applicable to the colonies, namely, "rear up a child in the way he should go." That maxim Her Majesty's Government propose by this Bill to reverse. The noble Lord at the head of the Government would rear his colonial children in the way they should not go, and trust to the chapter of accidents for setting them right. In opposition to the single chamber proposed by this clause, the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst has proposed that the legislature of the Australian colonies should consist of two chambers. So far I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and shall vote for his Motion, which, if carried, would only pledge the Committee to the opinion that the legislature to be constituted in the Australian colonies should consist of two chambers, and would not in any way pledge the Committee with regard to the form of the two chambers. The hon. and learned Gentleman intends subsequently to propose that one of the chambers 1307 shall be nominated by the Crown. On that point I entirely disagree with him, and intend to move an Amendment that both chambers shall be elective. Now, first, with regard to the general question of two houses as opposed to one house. The hon. and learned Gentleman has shown that, according to theory and experience, a legislature composed of two houses is a better form of government than a legislature composed of a single chamber; and every hon. Member who has spoken on this Bill—the noble Lord at the head of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, the Under Secretary for the Colonies—and out of the House, the Governor of New South Wales, the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, the Governor of New Zealand, and the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies—have all of them acknowledged that a legislature composed of two chambers is the better form of government. For instance, Earl Grey, in his despatch of the 31st of July, 1847, to the Governor of New South Wales, stated that the "practical working of the system of the single and partly-nominated chamber did not by any means justify the conclusion that it was an improvement upon the system of two houses; "and the noble Earl added, that "he saw many reasons for belief that two distinct houses were best calculated to ensure judicious and prudent legislation." Sir C. Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, in his despatch of 6th of January, 1848, said that—he could have no hesitation in stating his own opinion, founded upon long practical experience, that two separate chambers would be a decided improvement upon the present form of legislation in that colony.And he repeats that opinion in the strongest terms in his despatch of the 11th of August, 1848. The Governor of Van Diemen's Land, in a despatch dated the 15th of August, 1848, "strenuously recommends the adoption of a second or upper chamber." And the Governor of New Zealand, in a despatch dated the 29th of November, 1848, stated that—the reasons which induced him to recommend that a legislature should consist of two chambers were so obvious that he need not trouble the noble Earl with stating them.Thus every one who is deemed an authority by the Colonial Office is in favour of two 1308 houses of legislature being established in the Australian colonies. But it is said by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that there are special reasons why, in the Australian colonies, the legislature should consist of a single chamber. The special reasons, as far as New South Wales alone is concerned, may be stated in a very few words. It is maintained that the constitution of a colony ought to be framed in accordance with the wishes of its inhabitants. It is asserted that the inhabitants of New South Wales are well satisfied with the present constitution, and prefer it to any other form of government, and that if they should wish to change it, they will be able to gratify their wishes under the provisions of this Bill. Those arguments are clear and distinct; whether they are valid or not, I will presently consider. But supposing for a moment that they are valid, I ask by what process of reasoning is the conclusion arrived at, that Parliament ought to give the constitution of New South Wales to the other four Australian colonies? It may be a fair argument to say, that as Parliament has given a constitution to New South Wales, though in so doing it has committed a great mistake and framed a very bad constitution—yet it ought not to change that constitution without the consent of the inhabitants of the colony. That may be a fair argument, but surely it is an absurd argument, to say that because Parliament has made a mistake with regard to New South Wales, it ought to make four similar mistakes with regard to four other colonies. I repeat, it cannot be wise policy to start a colony with a bad constitution—that is, in a wrong direction—on a plea that it will have the power to blunder hereafter into a right direction. The wise policy would be, to give the colony from the beginning those institutions which reason and experience have proved to be the best, and if, with deliberate folly, the colony should wish to change them for the worse, permission to do so should be granted. It cannot be pleaded that it is of importance that all the Australian colonies should have identically the same institutions, because by this Bill they are to be empowered to change their institutions, and therefore to make them differ if they please: and, lastly, there is not one tittle of evidence to show that either Victoria or Van Diemen's Land, or South Australia, or Western Australia, wishes for the constitution of New South Wales. 1309 I do not deny that these colonies would prefer any form of representative government to no representative government at all—for Victoria is most anxious to be separated from New South Wales; Van Diemen's Land hopes by means of representative institutions to get rid of transportation; South Australia and Western Australia long for some control over their own affairs. And for these reasons I have no doubt they would prefer this Bill to no Bill at all. For that reason I have not opposed this Bill in any of its previous stages, nor shall I oppose it after it has passed through the Committee. But I hope that the Committee will be persuaded to convert this Bill into a measure founded upon sound principles, and calculated to give not a momentary but permanent satisfaction to the colonies. If, however, the Committee think that there are solid reasons for not interfering with the constitution of New South Wales, I trust the Committee will at least start the other Australian colonies with good constitutions. It is affirmed that the inhabitants of New South Wales are well satisfied with their present constitution, and prefer it to any other form of government whatever. This statement has been so often repeated over and over again by the Ministerial press and by the agents of the Colonial Office, that many people have begun to believe in it. I believe it to be altogether a misstatement of facts, and that it is a great mistake to suppose that there is sufficient evidence to show that the inhabitants of that colony are well satisfied with their present constitution. The papers presented to Parliament only prove that the inhabitants of that colony prefer their present constitution to a much worse one, which the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies intimated his wish to bestow upon New South Wales. If hon. Members will refer to a despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor of New South Wales, dated 31st of July, 1847, they will find a statement from the noble Earl to the effect that the failure of the potato crop had for some time prevented Parliament from attending to the affairs of the Australian colonies; that the political institutions of those countries ought to be reconstructed; that the practical working of the constitution of New South Wales was not satisfactory; and that a constitution consisting of two distinct houses was best calculated to ensure judicious and prudent legislation; and then the noble Earl 1310 intimated his wish to make a most extraordinary change in the constitution of New South Wales. He proposed to disfranchise the electors of that colony, and to confer the right of electing members of the legislative council on certain municipalities called district councils. The noble Earl proposed, therefore, to make as great a change in the constitution of that colony as would be made in the constitution of England if all the electors were to be deprived of their votes, and Members of Parliament were to be elected only by the mayors and common council of the boroughs. Such a proposal proved the ignorance of the Colonial Office with regard to human nature generally, and specially with regard to colonial human nature. For, extravagant as such a proposal would be for England, it was still more extravagant for New South Wales; for the inhabitants of that colony entertained a special aversion to those district councils, and had resisted their establishment by every means in their power. Unfortunately, they are the favourite offspring of the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, which nothing will induce him to abandon. They are to be found in this Bill; they were inserted, it is said, at his desire, in the original constitution of New South Wales. When the noble Earl came into office, he was deeply pledged to give a constitution to New Zealand. Immediately he framed for that colony a constitution founded on district councils. He was compelled to suspend that constitution; and, in fact, his own governor has assured him that the principle of indirect representation was all wrong. The noble Earl, however, clung to his misshapen offspring with all the tenacity of a fond parent, and determined to foster it in New South Wales, where the colonists, indignant at the idea of being deprived of their franchises, were still more indignant at the proposal to bestow those franchises upon their hated district councils. Public meetings were held; petitions were addressed to Her Majesty. They are to be found in the blue books. They all speak the same language. They all denounce the constitution of the noble Earl as a crude experiment at variance with the principles of the British constitution, as being absurd and impracticable, as filling them with the utmost apprehension and dismay, as repugnant to their wishes and adverse to their interests. The petitioners state that "they desire to enjoy a constitution as near as may be like to that of the 1311 united kingdom." They complain of the "apathy and indifference of Parliament to their interests; that the Colonial Minister is perfectly uncontrolled, and can fix the sanction of Parliament to any measure he pleases; and therefore they pray Her Majesty not to consent to any measure of the Colonial Office without their previous approval." Thus the intense antipathy of the inhabitants of New South Wales to the fixed idea of the noble Earl, has, with considerable skill, been represented as a feeling of affection for their present constitution. To infer from these data that the colonists of New South Wales are well pleased with their present constitution, is as illogical an inference as it would be to conclude that a man would like to be hung, because he would prefer hanging to being burnt alive, or impaled. These petitions unequivocally prove that the petitioners, like the rest of our colonial fellow-subjects, entertain a profound distrust of the rashness, ignorance, indiscretion, incapacity, and experimentalising propensities of the Colonial Office, and therefore they pray that the Colonial Office may not be permitted to tamper with their institutions without their consent. But I cannot conclude from these petitions that the inhabitants of New South Wales would be dissatisfied if the British Parliament were cordially to agree with all our colonies in distrust of the Colonial Office, and were to show its want of confidence by taking this question out of the hands of that Office, and giving to the colonies institutions which every statesman and every writer of any note belonging to the British name—which the experience of the whole of the British race—has found to be the best for our government; and whatever may be the feelings of New South Wales upon this subject, I am certain that the inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and New Zealand, desire that which every Englishman in foreign lands invariably prays for, namely, institutions as like those of the British constitution as circumstances will admit. But it is said, that if the colonies wish for British institutions, they will be able to get them, because they are to have power to alter and amend their institutions. Now, to whom is this power to be entrusted? It is to be given, according to the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, to a legislative council, in which one-third of the members will hold their seats at the will of the Colonial Office. What will be the consequence? 1312 If the nominated members act together as a body according to the directions of the Colonial Office, it will be very difficult for the elective members to defeat them; for this purpose it will be necessary that more than three-fourths of the elective members should act cordially together. We sometimes complain in this House that the number of official Members connected with the Government exercise an undue influence over our decisions, yet the number of official Members in the House of Commons does not exceed forty, or less than one-fifteenth of our number, and all of them are responsible to constituents, and that responsibility influences their votes. What would be the state of this House if 220 Members, that is, one-third of our number, held their seats at the will of the Government of the day, and were responsible to no constituency? Would it be possible ever to carry any measure against the Government? I should think not. No doubt the difference in the aggregate numbers will make a considerable difference in the working of a similar institution in the colonies. But I think that, nevertheless, it would be very difficult in these colonies to carry any measure against the Colonial Office. Suppose, however, that the elective members should succeed by unanimity or threats in defeating the Colonial Office faction, as it is termed, what would be the consequences? It is notorious that in New South Wales the elected members look down upon the nominated members as the mere tools of the Colonial Office, and as obstacles to good government. Therefore the elective members will, without doubt, propose that there shall be no nominated members in the legislative council. Will they then propose that there shall be a second chamber? I doubt it. They can only propose some form of nominated second chamber, or some form of elective second chamber. They will not propose a nominated second chamber, because they will argue again as they have argued before, that a nominated second chamber would be a greater obstacle to good government than a minority of nominees in a single chamber. For, with a single chamber so constituted, the nominated members could not defeat the wishes of the representatives of the people if they were well agreed together; whilst, on the contrary, with a nominated second chamber, the nominees of the Colonial Office would be able, whenever they might think proper, to reject the measures of the representatives of 1313 the people, however unanimous they might be. Therefore it is certain that they will not propose a nominated second chamber. Will they propose an elective second chamber? I doubt it. For when men have once tasted popular applause, when they have once enjoyed political reputation and power, they are not willing to raise up rivals to themselves, who will possess equal power and perhaps greater reputation. Now what is true of the individual man is generally true of bodies of men as far as passions and feelings are concerned. Therefore I do not believe that the elective members of the legislative council who in contest with the nominated members have been the leaders of the popular party, who have thus enjoyed great political reputation and power, will willingly establish a second chamber, the members of which will possess equal power and equal reputation with themselves, and would check and control their actions. I feel satisfied that if we were to abolish the House of Lords, Parliamentary ambitions and feelings would prevent us from establishing a second elective chamber in this country until much painful experience had convinced us that a single chamber worked ill. Now, if a single chamber would work ill in this country, as I believe it would, I think, for obvious reasons, it would work worse in a colony. But it may be said, that if the inhabitants of a colony are strongly in favour of an elective second chamber, they will compel their representatives to vote for it. I have no doubt they will ultimately do so, as they have done in America, but not till much painful experience has convinced them that a single chamber works ill. From that painful experience I wish to save them by giving them, in the first instance, those institutions which theory and experience have proved to have been the best for similar communities. If the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade be anxious that the constitutions of those colonies should be framed in accordance with the wishes of their inhabitants, he must take measures to ascertain their wishes. For at present we have no positive information on that head, we only know the fact that in New South Wales the inhabitants unhesitatingly condemned the model constitution of the noble Earl, and there is evidence to show that they are averse to nomination, either in a single or double chamber. But the question of a single elective chamber, or of two elective chambers, 1314 has never been brought under their consideration. With regard to Victoria, Van Diemen's Land, Western Australia, and South Australia, we have no information whatever, except a few lines of a mutilated despatch from an unpopular governor. Now, the best means of ascertaining the wishes of a community with regard to a form of government, is, according to the American fashion, to summon a convention or constituent assembly, and to leave it to frame a constitution. The convention should be a numerous body, elected by persons possessing a low qualification, so as to be a fair picture of the whole community. It should be so numerous that its members as a body should have no sinister interest in favour of one constitution over another. It should have no other business but constitution making—no other occupation, no taste of political power. This is the manner in which they do these things in America; but before they summon a convention, they do many other things in a very careful manner. Prom our independent colonies in America we may learn a useful lesson as to the best mode of establishing a good colonial constitution. Bear in mind that there are at the present moment in the United States four and thirty true colonies of Great Britain. One and twenty of these colonies are the offspring of the thirteen old English colonies. The founders of the old colonies carried along with them to the New World the habits, the feelings, and prejudices of Englishmen; they took along with them the common law upon which their jurisprudence is now founded—the principle of the liberty of the subject, upon which their Government is now based; spontaneously, at first without the consent of the Crown or Parliament, representative institutions broke out amongst them, and they copied, as near as circumstances would admit of, the forms of the British constitution. Their Houses of Representatives are the Commons' House of Parliament, and their Senates are the legitimate offspring of the House of Peers. The descendants of those men are now, with deliberate forethought, covering America with British institutions. Let me briefly explain how they do it. When a settlement has been made upon a portion of the previously unoccupied territory of the United States, Congress immediately provides a government for the new territory, consisting of a governor, appointed by congress, and two houses of legislature, both 1315 elected by the inhabitants of the territory. When the population of the territory has reached the amount which would qualify it to become a State of the Union, a convention is elected by the people of the territory. The convention has no other business but that of framing a constitution; and when the constitution has been framed, the territory, with the approval of Congress, becomes a State of the Union. Now, remark, that the convention invariably follows the example set by Congress, and frames a constitution similar to that which the territory had received from Congress. Thus Congress starts the new territory with the constitution which theory and experience have proved to be the best fitted for Anglo-Saxon men; and the people being started in the right path, spontaneously persevere in it, and the consequence is that every one of the thirty-four States or territories of the American Union is now governed by two houses of legislature, both elected by the people. Contrast this prudent and statesmanlike mode of framing a constitution for the government of a new community with the plan of the Colonial Office. The Colonial Office proposes, in the first instance, to turn the Australian colonies adrift with a bad constitution, and then, acknowledging the constitution, to be bad, the Colonial Office proposes to entrust these colonies with a power hastily and rashly to change their constitutions according to the whim or fancy of the moment. I acknowledge that these colonies ought to possess a power to alter and amend their institutions, but they should be required to exercise that power with caution and deliberation. For rash and ill-considered changes in the institutions of a community are evils of great magnitude. In the various States of the American Union, every effort is made to guard against rash and inconsiderate innovation. In these States when a constitution is once established, it becomes a sacred thing. It is the supreme law which the legislature is bound to obey, and cannot either alter or set aside. No portion of the constitution of a State can be changed without the solemn and deliberate consent of the people; and great care is taken to ascertain the deliberate opinion of the people on the subject. For instance, generally speaking, no alteration in the constitution of a State can be taken into consideration without the concurrence of two-thirds of the whole number of members of both houses of legislature; when that concurrence has been obtained, then 1316 the proposed alteration in the constitution must be published in the newspapers of the State for several months, in order that the people may clearly understand and discuss the proposed alteration; then a general election must take place, or a convention must be chosen; and finally the question comes on for decision whether the proposed alteration shall or shall not be made. Thus hasty and inconsiderate innovation under the influence of momentary excitement is impossible; and if there be foolish innovations it must be done with deliberate folly. Contrast this mode of proceeding with the plan of the Colonial Office. A universally condemned constitution to begin with, consisting of a single chamber, partly elected, partly nominated; which will become wholly elective if the elective members can either by unanimity or menaces overcome the resistance of the nominated members; and to this single chamber is to be entrusted a power of changing its constitution, which the most locofoco State in America would not trust to its legislature. Thus the plan of the Colonial Office is a strange mixture of folly and rashness, imprudence and locofocoism, or wild democracy, as some would call it. But it will be said these colonies are not to possess an absolute power of changing their institutions, but only a power subject to the control of the Colonial Office. Now, I ask, do you ever mean to exercise that controlling power? If you do, you will produce the greatest discontent in the colonies. For, having laid down the principle that the constitution of a colony ought to be in accordance with the wishes of its inhabitants, they will expect you to adhere to that principle. Therefore, you will be accused of tyranny and breach of faith if you reject any innovation however ill-judged it may be; and by rejecting it you will only make it more popular, and ultimately you will have to give way with dishonour and discredit to the Imperial Government. Be assured that your true colonial policy is to avoid conflicts with your colonies. Take precautions against rash innovations, but let it be by means of colonial institutions, which the inhabitants will respect, as being calculated for their benefit, and not by means of the arbitrary interference of the Colonial Office, which, however well intentioned, will be regarded as tyranny and hatred, because exercised by strangers living at the Antipodes, and necessarily ignorant and misinformed. I wish to ask a question of the noble Lord the Prime Minister, 1317 which I hope he will distinctly answer. I have shown that if this Bill be carried there will be an immediate struggle in the legislative council between the elected and the nominated members. If in this struggle the elective members are victorious, they will propose a single elective chamber. Now, I ask, will the noble Lord consent that they shall have a single elective chamber? This is a question so likely to be brought before him if this Bill passes, that it is his duty to have made up his mind upon it. I ask him, therefore, will he pledge himself to let these colonies have an elective single chamber, if a motion to that effect be carried in their legislatures. There are several hon. Members in this House who are in favour of a single elective chamber. I know that an attempt has been made to persuade some of them that by voting with the Government on this occasion they will have a greater chance of obtaining an elective single chamber. I hope they will not permit themselves to be deceived. They must be aware that they have no chance of carrying an elective single chamber in this House; and I shall believe, unless the noble Lord make a distinct statement to the contrary, that if in the colonies the elected members should overcome the resistance of the non-elective members, the Colonial Office would put its veto on a single elective chamber. Now, I ask those hon. Members whether there be any doubt that two elective chambers are preferable to the single chamber of the Government? If they have no doubt upon the subject, they ought to vote in favour of this Motion; for if it be carried, it is certain that two elective chambers will be carried, for there are very few persons who agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst in the opinion that one chamber ought to be nominated for life. Therefore, I feel satisfied that by carrying this Motion we shall obtain two elective chambers. Now, I beg hon. Gentlemen to observe that I propose that the colonies shall have power to alter their institutions; for instance, even to convert their two chambers into one, if, after full and careful consideration, they wish so to do. To insure careful consideration, I propose that no alteration shall be proposed in the constitution of a colony without the concurrence of two-thirds of the whole number of members of both houses; that then the proposed alteration shall be published in the newspapers of the colony, one year at 1318 least before the bringing in of any bill containing the alteration, and that no such bill shall be passed without the consent, for the second time, of two-thirds of the whole number of members of both houses. Therefore, if the people of a colony should deliberately wish for a single elective chamber, they would be able to obtain it. Therefore, the hon. Gentlemen who earnestly and seriously desire that the colonies should have a single elective chamber, if they wish for it, are bound to vote for this Motion. I will now proceed to show why, in my opinion, both theory and experience prove that a legislature composed of two elective houses is the best form of government for a colony. According to the theory of representative government, the legislature ought to be a copy in miniature of the whole community—that is, every great interest, want, and feeling should be represented in the same proportion in the legislature as they exist in the whole community. Now, in every community there are two great opposite tendencies, namely, the innovating tendency, eager for change; and the conservative tendency, satisfied with things as they are. Both of those tendencies should be duly represented in a legislature; for, if either of them be omitted, the result would be bad government, either in the shape of reckless change, threatening anarchy, or stolid languor, leading to the decay of the body politic. Now, theory and experience prove that the innovating tendency, being active, energetic and enterprising, is apt, if wholly uncontrolled, to acquire an undue preponderance. The problem is, how to control the innovating tendency, without, on the other hand, giving preponderance to the conservative tendency. Can this problem be satisfactorily solved by means of a single chamber? I think not, especially in a colony. For the single chamber must be so constructed as to contain either more of the conservative tendency, or more of the innovating tendency. If it contain more of the conservative tendency, it will be in frequent opposition to the more active, energetic, and enterprising portion of the community, and, consequently, will soon become unpopular. On the other hand, if it contain more of the innovating tendency, then the only controlling power would be the governor, that is, the Colonial Office; and if that controlling power be exercised, then there will be a perpetual conflict between the single chamber and the Imperial Government, which in the long 1319 run must always terminate in the defeat of the Imperial Government. Our true colonial policy is to avoid such conflicts—not to ally ourselves with one tendency, and thereby ensure the overthrow of the other tendency; but so to construct our colonial institutions, that the natural conflict between the conservative and innovating tendencies should be fought in the bosom of those institutions. For this purpose theory and experience have shown that the best institution is a legislature composed of two houses, in one of which there should be; more of the conservative tendency, and in the other more of the innovating tendency. The problem to be solved is, how best to secure in the upper house more of the conservative tendency. But in solving this problem special care must be taken that the upper house should be so constituted as to command the confidence and respect of the community. If this condition be not fulfilled, the upper house becomes an obstructive body, productive of nothing but evil. To fulfil this condition it is necessary, first, that the interests of the upper house should appear to be, and be, identical with those of the whole community; and, secondly, that its members should be esteemed as individuals and not despised. Now, it appears to me that the House of Lords in this country, and its legitimate offspring, the Senate of the States of North America, fulfil most of the conditions of good upper chambers. A very short consideration of the manner in which the House of Lords fulfils these conditions, will show that it is impossible to copy the form of that institution in the colonies, and that in attempting to copy its form we are certain to lose its substance. First, the interests of the House of Lords are identical with those of the whole community, because its numerous members are connected by their wealth and landed property with every great interest in the community; neither the agricultural interest, nor the manufacturing interest, nor the commercial interest, nor the mining interest, nor the banking interest, nor any great interest can suffer without some portion of the House of Lords suffering also; and, in fact, no great economical and political question is ever raised in this country which does not immediately find some advocate in the House of Lords; and by the time that a measure is ripe to be carried in the House of Commons, and the people have declared decidedly in its favour, it has made sufficient 1320 progress in the Upper House to induce the good sense of its Members to comply with the wishes of the people; therefore, though the House of Lords is decidedly a conservative body, it is not an obstructive one. Secondly, as individuals, the Members of the House of Lords are respected; in fact, that respect is proverbial—it is founded on tradition and old historical associations. Those traditions and associations have been the slow growth of centuries—they adhere to the institution—they cannot be suddenly created by the act of any legislature. It is idle to attempt to copy the forms of such an institution. It is an insult to it to say that a council nominated at will, or for a term of years, or even for life, by the Colonial Office, without interests permanently identical with those of the community, without any prestige in favour of its members, is a copy of the House of Lords. Such a council is in fact a burlesque on our Upper Chamber; it is looked upon in a colony, not as representing the conservative tendency of society, but as a screen for Colonial Office mismanagement; it becomes useless or obstructive, and its members are both hated and despised. Both theory and experience confirm this statement; and if any hon. Gentleman doubt its accuracy, I can point out to him the means of satisfying himself how a nominated second chamber would and does work in the colonies. Let him take the Peerage and read over the list of barons which have been created during the last thirty years. There are some 110 of them. Then let him fancy the House of Lords abolished, and these 110 barons nominated for life to be members of an upper house. How long would such an institution last? Would it command any respect in the country? Yet those 110 barons are a good sample of the peerage. They are equal in talent and respectability to any 110 hon. Members of this House; and I presume that in making them peers the Government of the day considered them to be the élite of the nation, and for their conduct in so doing, the Government was responsible to public opinion. Is it probable that in the colonies the irresponsible Colonial Office would or could select a better class of men? It has been said, on the part of the Colonial Office, and in opposition to a second chamber, that there are no materials in the Australian colonies out of which to constitute a second chamber. This a strange position coming from the Colonial Office, which proposed to establish 1321 a second chamber both in New South Wales and in New Zealand. I believe, however, that position to be perfectly true as far as a nominated second chamber is concerned, and true not only of the Australian colonies, but of all Anglo-Saxon communities; for we have too good an opinion of ourselves to acknowledge readily that any man is sufficiently eminent for talent and ability to be entitled to control the decisions of the representatives of the people. And if we were to abolish the House of Lords, there are, I think, not more than three men in this country whom the decided opinion of the public would place in a nominated upper house. I assent, therefore, to the position that there are no materials in the Australian colonies, or in any other colonies, out of which the irresponsible Colonial Office can fabricate a nominated upper house which shall command the respect and confidence of the people. I maintain, and will show, that it is a gross fallacy thence to infer that there are no materials out of which the people could elect a good upper house. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst has a longing for an hereditary upper house. Well, I acknowledge that an hereditary upper house, if possible, would be better than a nominated upper house. But how is he to establish an hereditary upper house? All known aristocracies have derived their origin from conquering races, heroes, or demigods; first, the oppressors of the people, then the objects of their worship. In this country the fame of unknown warriors, dimly seen through the mists of centuries, and the renown of some really illustrious houses who have rendered good service to their country—the Russells and the Howards, the Stanleys and the Percies, the Cavendishes and the rest of our prima vivorum have clothed the institution of the House of Lords with a mantle of honour, which gradually enfolds the recently ennobled. When such an institution has been created, it may with caution and prudence be upheld. But how to create it I know not, and cannot imagine. I object, therefore, to a nominated second chamber, because such a chamber cannot command the confidence and respect of the inhabitants of a colony. It will be looked upon as a screen for the Governor, as a tool of the Colonial Office, and not as the lawful representative of the conservative tendency of society; and therefore each conflict between the representative assembly 1322 and the nominated upper house, and consequently every conflict between the innovating and conservative tendencies would appear to be a struggle between the colony and the Imperial Government. For the same reason I object to a single chamber, for if it be partly nominated, then the conflict would take place between the representatives of the people and the nominees of the Colonial Office; if the single chamber be wholly elective, the conflict will take place between the single chamber and the governor appointed by the Colonial Office, and therefore in both cases it will also appear to be a struggle between the colony and the Imperial Government. It cannot be doubted, that in such struggles the Imperial Government must always ultimately be defeated, and that in fact, by allying itself with the conservative tendency, it discredits that tendency, encourages the innovating tendency, and ensures its ultimate victory, and with every victory so gained the Imperial authority is weakened, and a step is made towards the dissolution of the colonial empire. I propose, therefore, that there shall be an elective second chamber, because by being elective, it will command the confidence and respect of the inhabitants of the colonies. I propose that it shall be so constructed that it shall contain more of the conservative than of the innovating tendency of colonial society. With this object in view, I ask, what are the natural elements of the conservative tendency which exist in every society? and these elements I propose, as far as possible, to collect together in my elective second chamber. First, I observe that older men are generally more conservative than younger men; therefore I propose that the members of the upper house shall be of the age of, at least, thirty years. Secondly, I find that men possessing larger property are generally more conservative than men possessing smaller property; therefore I propose that members of the upper house shall have twice the property qualifications of members of the lower house. Thirdly, I find that men who hold their authority by a tenure of longer duration, are less inclined to innovation than men holding their authority by a tenure of shorter duration; therefore, I propose that the members of the upper house shall be elected for nine years certain, or for nearly twice the period for which the lower chamber is to be chosen. Fourthly, I find that the innovating tendency in its objectionable 1323 form acts generally by sudden fits and starts, and is not of long duration; I, therefore, propose that the members of the upper house shall not be elected all of them at one and the same time, but one-third of them shall be elected every three years. Fifthly, I find that larger assemblies are more apt to yield to violent passions and sudden impulses for innovation than smaller assemblies; therefore, I propose that the number of members of the upper house should be much less than that of the lower house. Thus, I propose, in in order to construct an upper house which shall contain more of the conservative tendency as it exists in colonial society, that it should be in comparison to the lower house a smaller body, consisting of older men, possessing larger properties, elected for longer periods, and not all elected at one and the same time. It is said, that there are not materials in the Australian colonies for an upper chamber. I have assented to the position that there are not materials out of which the Colonial Office can fabricate a nominated upper chamber, which shall command the confidence and respect of the inhabitants of the Australian colonies; but it is an obvious fallacy thence to infer that there are no materials for a good elective upper house. Many men, who, as the nominees of the Colonial Office, would entirely lose the confidence of the people, would possess that confidence if elected by, and responsible to, the people. For election and responsibility are with Englishmen the strongest grounds of popular confidence and respect. Now, the theory and experience of the States of the American Union prove, that, if there be materials for one elective chamber, there will be materials for two elective chambers; and, consequently, when Congress frames a government for a territory containing 5,000 male inhabitants of full age, it always establishes two houses. And, in fact, it is scarcely possible to imagine an English community containing that amount of population which does not contain the Conservative as well as the innovating tendency; and if so, in order to construct a good upper house, it is only necessary to collect in it the conservative elements in the manner which I have proposed. Then, with an upper house so constructed, the conflicts between the conservative and innovating tendencies would take place between the two houses without reference to the Imperial Government, and would be fairly decided according to the 1324 deliberate judgment of the whole community. The Government plan may be justly described as one for thoughtless and wild democracy, controlled by the fitful and accidental interference of an ignorant and misinformed Colonial Office despot. My plan is a deliberate proposal to take the colonies out of the leading-strings of the Colonial Office, to give them the complete control of their own local affairs, to start them with the institutions which theory and experience have proved to be best adapted for the self-government of the Anglo-Saxon man, and, finally, to empower them with due care and deliberation to alter and amend those institutions.
§ MR. F. PEEL
said, he rose for the purpose of shortly supporting the Amendment. He said shortly, because he had already at an earlier stage of this measure taken occasion to state generally his acquiescence in the views of those who advocate a distribution of legislative power different from that contemplated by the Bill. His hon. and learned Friend, in recommending to the House the adoption of his Amendment, dwelt on the importance of assimilating the institutions of the colonies to those of the mother country, and of introducing the features and substance of the British constitution into the colonial governments of our empire. Many other reasons, he believed, might be urged in support of the Amendment; and, indeed, he greatly doubted, whether it would be possible for us to construct in our colonies a schema of government at all resembling that which prevails in this country, because we all knew that the constitution of this country had not been the work of any Act of Parliament, but had been the slow growth of a long series of ages. We all knew that the form of our Legislature represented a great deal more than simply the expediency of requiring the concurrence of two bodies in legislative acts. We knew it represented corresponding arrangements of society, and corresponding ranks and classes in the social state of our community, none of which could be created in the Australian colonies by any act of ours. But this very consideration made him more solicitous that we should hot make any false step in the direction we were taking; because, whatever was the form of constitution we recommended for the Australian colonies, it would have to rest for its support exclusively on the influence and authority of those who constituted the governing body, and on the good opinion of 1325 those who were governed. It would have no prescription to urge in its behalf, it would have none of that presumption in its favour which length of time conferred on every government; it would not have been moulded into its present shape by the gradual action of the tastes, feelings, and habits of the colonists. If the system we should recommend to them was to have permanency, it must be congenial to their wishes. And he left hon. Gentlemen to judge for themselves how far a legislative assembly, two parts elected, and one part nominated, would be likely to secure the good opinion of the colonists, or command a ready acquiescence in the decisions of its majorities. He had heard no argument urged in defence of the single chamber, unless it was this—that it was the present form of the institutions of the colony of New South Wales, and that the colonists had expressed a wish that no alteration should be made in the present form of their constitution without their opinions being first consulted, and their consent being first obtained. He would not deny that there were expressions to that effect to be found in some of the petitions contained in the papers laid on the table of the House; but he contended that the meaning of those expressions ought to be collected with reference to the occasion which gave rise to them. And that occasion was not a proposition to resolve their legislature into two chambers, but it was a scheme propounded by the Colonial Secretary, to deprive the people of their existing elective franchise, and to substitute in their place a small number of electoral councils. Many hon. Gentlemen who spoke early in this debate, admitted the existence of defects in the institutions contained in this Bill, but considered it unnecessary to press their objections on the ground that these objections were obviated by the provision in the Bill which enabled the people of Australia to alter and amend their constitution as they might think fit, and to have, if they thought fit, a double chamber, instead of a single chamber. Now, so far, he thought, was this suggested remedy from removing his objections to the Bill, that he believed it aggravated the inconvenience, and demonstrated the impolicy of the course we were now taking, because no sooner would the legislative council have met in session, than it would be called upon by this Act to discuss a grave constitutional question—to consider and review the fundamental 1326 principles of their constitution—and to rearrange and remodel the form of their legislature. It could hardly be expected that on a question of that kind the members of the legislative council would act harmoniously together—the interests of the elective members would be opposed to the interests of the nominated members. We were, therefore, he thought, deliberately laying the ground for future jealousies and animosities in the colony—we were laying the ground for local dissensions which could not fail to be aroused by the discussion of a constitutional question of that kind. But the evil would not be confined to the limits of the colony itself. We bad heard a great deal about the policy of drawing a distinct line of demarcation between local questions and imperial questions—between that class of questions in which the colonists ought to be left to judge for themselves without any interference from the Government at home, and that class of questions in which the Home Government ought to have a controlling authority. Now, it might be difficult to tell under which class of questions any particular question that they might mention ought to fall; but at least there could be no doubt to which category any proposition introduced into the legislative council for the alteration of the constitution would belong; because it was expressly provided by this Bill that any Act passed by the legislative council, for the alteration or amendment of the constitution, was not to be valid until it had received the assent and confirmation of Her Majesty in Council. Now, it was very possible that the legislative council would come to the opinion that the legislative power ought to be vested in a single chamber, without any admixture of nominated members; and he apprehended that the Government at home would not consent to that. We were, therefore, he thought, not only laying the ground for local jealousies, but hazarding the good understanding which ought to prevail between the mother country and each of her colonies, and precipitating the discussion of questions in which it was declared by this Bill, that the interests of the Government at home were concerned, and upon which the people of the colony might be opposed. He might be told that if there was a double chamber determined upon, there would be some difficulty in the constitution of an upper chamber. There might be a difficulty, he admitted, but it would be found that it was not an insuperable one, if they would turn 1327 their attention to the United States. In that Union there were thirty States—thirty sovereign communities—in each of which the legislative power was vested in a senate and a house of representatives. There were some of these States which had not a greater population than that of New South Wales. There were some of them which at one time had not more than a single chamber. He believed that Franklin prevailed upon the State of Pennsylvania to adopt a single chamber; but after a short experience they voluntarily relinquished that scheme, and modelled their legislative assemblies after the examples set them by other States. In Rhode Island also, he believed, a single chamber was tried for a time, and abandoned. The principal ground, however, on which he rested his support of the double chamber was, that it must influence very materially the form of the General Assembly of Australia; and he held that the powers of the different States of the Union could only be preserved in a general assembly by the establishment of two legislative houses. The wiser course, therefore, he thought, would be to vest the legislative power in two houses. Experience of course could alone determine whether that form of legisture was suited to the colonies of Australia. If tried by that test it should be condemned, the people of the colony might then properly carry into effect any change they might desire; but in so doing they would be acting not upon the suggestion of this House, not upon hypothesis, but by the light of experience, and with a practical knowledge of the people for whom they were called on to legislate.
The EARL of ARUNDEL and SURREY
had Come down to the House to support the proposition in favour of two chambers, and he believed he should have voted for the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst, but, from the debate, to which he had listened with considerable attention, his opinions had entirely changed. There were two or three things which struck him as particularly striking respecting the question under discussion. The wishes of the colonies, it was very certain, had not been consulted. From all the extracts which he had heard quoted, he was inclined to think that the colonies were very doubtful whether they were fit for the proposed change. And another great reason, in his opinion, for leaving the colonies to choose for themselves on this question was, that Englishmen, as 1328 well as all other people, were fond of creations of their own. They would not take any delight in a constitution that was forced upon them by a vote of that House. They would not take delight in it, as we did in ours, because we had worked it out for ourselves.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the hon. Member for Leominster had put the argument in favour of the Amendment in as strong a light as possible, but had in his opinion failed to advance reasons which ought to induce the House to vote for it. Adopting the view which had been expressed by almost every speaker on the same side, the hon. Member had stated that it was proposed to introduce into the legislature of New South Wales what never existed before, namely, a body of members appointed by the Crown, and that they were starting a constitution utterly strange and wholly unknown to Parliament. Now, this rendered it necessary that he should state what had been the course of the Legislature on that subject. In July, 1840, he had the honour of introducing a Bill containing a provision for forming a council in New South Wales, consisting of 36 members, of whom 24 were to be elective, and the remaining 12 to be named by the Crown. In 1842, Lord Stanley, who had in the interval succeeded to the seals of the Colonial Office, introduced a Bill which he stated to be founded on that brought forward by himself (Lord J. Russell) but which he had not proceeded with; and, with the exception of some provisions relating to the franchise, its provisions were in reality nearly the same as those of the Bill of 1840. Now he thought it might be presumed from that fact that no great discontent or dissatisfaction had arisen in New South Wales from the proposals which he (Lord J. Russell) had made in that House. Between July, 1840, and the introduction of the Bill of 1842, there was ample time for expressions of dissatisfaction on the part of the colonists, and had such expressions been uttered, he Imagined Lord Stanley would not have introduced his Bill. The Bill of Lord Stanley met with little opposition, did not call forth much comment of any kind, and became an Act of Parliament. From that time to the present, the constitution which had been represented as so monstrous a machine that it could not work, as acting wholly unknown in principle, and which it would be impossible to carry into effect in practice—this 1329 absurd, impossible, and impracticable constitution had been actually working in New South Wales; and the people of that colony seemed now to have discovered that there were such inherent faults in it as had been described. In introducing the Bill it had appeared to him a fair presumption that it was at least a safe course to proceed on the foundations which had been already laid, and which, hitherto, had not failed. One of two things must be presumed, either that the legislature which they were then confirming and introducing was one which would be replaced by two chambers, or by some different form of appointment and election, or that the present constitution, being-satisfactory to the people of New South Wales, would last. If they were to suppose that the constitution was to be changed, then, he said, wait till they heard the people of New South Wales and the Australian colonies, before they introduced a new form of government into the colony. If a man said his house was utterly unfit to live in, and he must have a new one, the prudent course would be for him to live in the old one until he had settled the plan of his new house; and to make a change before he had settled such a plan would be most unreasonable. What had happened with regard to this measure? The report of the Privy Council, written with great ability, and showing not only the course the Government were disposed to pursue, but also the reasons and grounds upon which it was based, was laid before Her Majesty in Council, approved, and printed in May, 1848. In that report a strong suggestion was made, and with all the force that could be used, for adopting such a change in favour of two chambers; all the reasons derived from our own constitution, from the state of our law, from the example of our colonies, were introduced in favour of such a change. The report said—In point of fact, the system now prevailing through the territories comprising the provinces of New South Wales was established by Parliament in 1842, and custom appeared to have attached the colonists to it. Public opinion in New South Wales appeared indeed to be decidedly opposed to an alteration in that respect of the existing institutions of the colony by the authority of Parliament.The main ground then on which the alteration was not adopted was stated to be the public opinion of New South Wales. But could anything be more obvious than that if public opinion was not in conformity 1330 with that report, they would have immediately had petitions from the colonies declaring the public opinion was in favour of two chambers, and that therefore it might be safely adopted? Could it be possible such would not be the case? And yet what allegations did he find in the petition he had had the honour to present to the House from a number of firms and influential persons in the colony! They said—That the report having reached the colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, and South Australia in September last, appeared to have been received with a high degree of satisfaction, as indicating a policy on the part of the mother country towards the colonies which was calculated to produce a lasting attachment of the colonies to the Crown.And the petitioners went on to say that the Bill was, in their opinion, suited in its various details to the actual circumstances of the colony. Those were persons who had the strongest interest in the welfare of the colony, and that nothing should be adopted by Parliament to cause discontent in those colonies. And from the intelligence he had received from those colonies, through the ordinary channels and other sources, he had asked the House to pass this Bill; and, in fact, not to adopt this great alteration. If an alteration must be made in the Bill, the question arose, what should the alteration be? At present New South Wales had a constitution of which the inhabitants approved; what was to be substituted for it? The proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst was not to make an alteration for the present moment, but to make an alteration in the constitution of the colony which would be as permanent as it would be great and serious. The proposal was that a legislative council should be nominated for ten years, and that, at the end of that period, legislative councillors should be named for life. It was obvious, therefore, that what the hon. and learned Member proposed—not with a view to any opinion or act of the colonists—what he contemplated was a permanent change in the constitution of New South Wales. He proposed that there should be two councils, one a representative assembly, the other consisting of persons appointed by the Crown. Now he (Lord J. Russell) doubted very much whether a council appointed by the Crown, and having the power of stopping any Bill which came from the representative assem- 1331 bly, would give satisfaction to New South Wales. On that subject they were in possession of the opinion of the elective members of the present legislative council, expressed not long ago. On the 2nd of May, 1848, the following resolution was proposed:—That this council is disposed to view favourably the proposition to separate the deliberations of the nominees of the Crown from those of the representatives of the people.A resolution which was perfectly in accordance with the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. An amendment was put and rejected. On the original question being put, the division was:—Ayes 11; Noes 10; but in the majority of 11 there were only four elective members, while in the minority there were no less than 9. So that by a majority of 9 to 4 of the legislative council of New South Wales, the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst was deliberately rejected. Now he asked the House whether, after it had been stated by the Ministers of the Crown that they wished as far as possible to consult the feelings of the people of New South Wales in regard to their future government, the first alteration made in the Bill before the House should be an alteration directly in the teeth of the recorded opinion of the elective representatives? If the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition were rejected, there would still be some risk; for the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark had proposed an entire code for New South Wales, of which a new construction of the legislative council formed a considerable part. The hon. Baronet proposed that New South Wales should be divided into provinces, and that each of those provinces should elect three legislative councillors, three to go out at the end of three years, three at the end of six, and the remaining three at the end of nine years; and that after the first election each councillor should remain in for a period of nine years. Now, there appeared to him to be various objections to this proposal; but the first and the main one, and which appeared to him to be a decided objection was, that it was a proposal novel to New South Wales, and that they were to adopt it entirely at the suggestion of the hon. Baronet without knowing that there were five men in New South Wales who approved of it. In the next place, the hon. Baronet proposed that these legislative councillors should be elected in provinces. Now, of the amount and extent of these 1332 provinces, of the population of these provinces, and especially how many persons there might be in each of these provinces who had 200l. a year in land, of all that they were utterly ignorant. And they might be here laying down a plan, forming a constitution, providing a chamber for the government of New South Wales, and find that in some of the provinces there were not more than five or six persons qualified to be elected; and they might be creating a close monopoly when they were professing to make an elective council. This appeared to him a strong reason why they should not adopt such a plan without information. Another objection was, that if they allowed these persons the right to sit in the legislative council without any power of dissolution in the Crown, that these persons nominally elected, not deriving their power from the Crown, and deriving it from the people with that restriction as to the amount of landed property which they possessed, they formed an oligarchy in New South Wales, which would obstruct any legislation for the good of the people. They were now to legislate for New South Wales, and no one should tell him that the adoption of the Motion of the hon. Baronet would not be to put power into the hands of a few rich people. The right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for the University of Oxford had another and a fourth plan—that these persons should be partly elected and partly nominated by the Crown. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No!] Well, he would not discuss that. He would only say that a plan still more complicated than that of the hon. Baronet could not be safely adopted by that House, and that at least they ought to have some information before they adopted such plans. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster had treated with indignity the notion that a new constitution should be made for the colonists without their consent, and yet that was a new constitution. Now, that was quite true, but, at the same time, all the negative evidence was that they would object to a constitution of any kind that was made entirely without their assent and without their knowledge. Then, what had the House to decide? Between what propositions was it that the House had to choose? They had to choose between the proposition of leaving the legislature in its present construction, and leaving it to the legislature of New South Wales to propose such alterations in that constitution as they thought were for their benefit. The pro- 1333 position, on the other hand, was either to make a council of nominees, which was sure to be distasteful to the colonies, and yet if they adopted a second chamber, that was perhaps the only proposition they could safely adopt; or, on the other hand, creating an entirely new constitution for the colonies, of which the success was uncertain, and which might bring back to that House petitions and remonstrances saying it was utterly unfit for the colony. Much stress had been laid, in this debate, on the constitution of other colonies, but he thought they would be exceedingly imprudent if they were to adopt these constitutions of other colonies as a rule for them in the legislation which they were about to adopt, because these constitutions, like our own constitution, had in many instances grown up, and gradually the colonies had become subject to them. Take Jamaica, for instance, which he thought afforded a useful example in considering what should be the constitution for New South Wales. At first, in the constitution of Jamaica there was a colonial governor, a council, and an assembly; but the governor and council sat together, and the executive council, by his advice, affirmed or rejected hills. Gradually, however, the executive council got the privilege of sitting alone without the presence of the governor, and they formed themselves into a legislative body. In New South Wales he felt satisfied that a body so formed, having originally been an executive council, and formed of judges, the attorney and solicitor general, and other persons named by the Crown, would not work with advantage. It had lately occurred that motions for retrenchment in Jamaica had been rejected by the council formed of persons holding official appointments, and consequently nominees of the Crown, Now, although he could conceive that in Jamaica the machinery of the constitution might be made to rub on after such a proceeding, in New South Wales, he feared, it would only he followed by discontent and disappointment. For these reasons he asked the Committee to adopt the proposition of the Government, which all the evidence showed could be applied without danger to the colony.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that in venturing to implore the attention and indulgence of the Committee at that late hour, he would endeavour to merit it by passing in review as lightly and as rapidly as he could the arguments adduced upon this subject. Indeed, he should not have presumed 1334 to trespass upon the time of the Committee, were he not convinced of the importance of the principles involved in this proposition. Amidst the pressure of legislative business, it was difficult for hon. Members to consider even the leading provisions of the constitutions intended to be put in force at the Antipodes; but he asked the Committee to recollect that they were now about to lay the foundations of a form of free government of no less than five States founded by our fellow-countrymen of the Anglo-Saxon race, and that upon the first impression created by these constitutions the whole fate and destiny of those colonies, in these critical times, might depend. Let the Committee just consider the vote they were about to give. He conceived they were already agreed that if there were to be a single chamber in New South Wales, it should be a single chamber containing one-third nominees of the Crown. But the graver question to be considered was, whether they would adopt for those colonies the form of a double or a single chamber. He accepted the challenge thrown out by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and other hon. Members, in the spirit in which it was intended; and although he differed from many of the provisions in the Bill of the Government, he gave Ministers credit for the liberal and cordial spirit in which they had proposed the measure to Parliament. The noble Lord who had last addressed the Committee, said, there were three alternatives from which to choose, and defended the Government proposal on the ground that it was already in operation. Now, it had been extended to only one out of five, and he thought it an outrageous and a strange application of the conservative principle, and a worship of existing things merely because they existed, on such a ground to frame a constitutional charter for the five when it had been tried for only eight years in one. A Colleague of the noble Lord had said that this Bill had been received with approval in the colonies. But what kind of approval was it? Comparative approval had no doubt been expressed, but the Government could give no information, nor could they throw any light upon the extent of that approval. The Colonial Office was in possession of the most recent Information from New South Wales, but the extent of the approval on the part of the people there was not stated. He did not question but that there had been approval of this 1335 Bill in the colony. Escape from excruciating pain sometimes produced the effect of lively pleasure, and such pleasure might very well prevail in New South Wales. But it was said that no materials existed in these colonies for the formation of legislative councils. Now, how stood the matter? It was one in which they would be most safely guided by authority. And they had the distinct authority of the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, who recommended the appointment of an upper chamber in that colony. Now, what was the social position of Van Diemen's Land? Its numerical population was larger than that of Port Phillip or South Australia; but when they struck off the convict population, which he presumed would hardly afford materials for an upper house, and compared the residue with the newer colonies of Victoria and South Australia, it would be evident that both of these would afford as much means for the formation of an upper house as Van Diemen's Land. But the great argument of the Government was that the people of the Australian colonies had prayed that there should be no important change in their constitution without their previous consent. Well, what was the value of this argument? When he heard the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of the Colonies using it that evening, it certainly struck him as presenting a most flagrant instance of a man taking advantage of his own wrong. In 1842 it would be remembered efforts had been made to introduce a system of district councils, and in 1847 Earl Grey wrote that it was the opinion of the Government that though the plan had never been carried out, it should nevertheless not be abandoned. Was it to be wondered at, then, that the colony, so long exposed to experiments in constitution making, should desire that these experiments should be put an end to, and that no change in their constitution of a vital nature should be made without their consent? But how did Government understand, and how did they respond to that prayer? Was there no important changes proposed to be made by the Bill before the House? Were there no important constitutional changes proposed to be made by that Bill? Yes, it did contain provisions for various fundamental alterations, and that without the previous assent of the people of New South Wales. How, then, was Her Majesty's Government entitled to say, "We propose changes in the face of the letter of the people's 1336 prayer, but we object to your changes because they are in the face of the letter of that prayer?" The justification of the Government was, that the change which they proposed was in the sense of enlarging the liberties of the people of the colonies. If that justification was good in one case, it was in the other. If the Government could avail themselves of it, it would also cover the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend, which he was now advocating. They proposed, in fact, to do the same to a greater extent than Government. They proposed to enlarge, not to contract, the political institutions of New South Wales; and he hoped that the House would not be diverted from the adoption of the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend by the most futile plea of the Government, that the colonists desired no change. With respect to the power given to the colonists to alter the constitution for themselves, that was a point into which he would not enter; but he might remark that they were very much mistaken if they thought that by creating twelve nominee members and twenty-four elective members of the council, they would be giving the latter a preponderance over the former in the ratio of twenty-four to twelve. The nominee members would be always at hand—always being in the vicinity of the place of assembly—while the elective members would, coming from distant points, be by no means so readily available for the purposes of legislation and administration. And the influence thus exercised by the nominees would be in far greater proportion than their numerical power would at first sight lead one to suspect. But besides that, the principle of the Bill would be the signal for a permanent political contest in New South Wales. The noble Lord at the head of the Government stated that matters were quiet there at present, and that there was no evidence that the constitution had been received with discontent. But the House must consider the mode in which such a constitution was received with reference to the condition from which the people for whom it was intended had just emerged. Never having had the privilege of any representative government at all, they were naturally gratified by the application of even a very limited form of the principle to the colony. But now that a far wider range of political privileges was to be accorded to them—now that they were about to give the people of New South Wales 1337 power to alter and partially remodel their constitution—it was most important that that constitution should contain no element likely to lead to long-continued political strife. But what was the fact? Here they were placing twenty-four elective, and twelve nominee, members of council beside each other, the ratio of influence being, as he had explained, very different from the arithmetical proportion. By doing so they were not securing their majority, while they were exhibiting their jealousy of colonial influence; and thus, as he contended—power being given to the colony to change their constitution—they were sending out a set of political institutions which would be the signal for constant agitation until the constitution had been, as it would be, altered in favour of the popular principle. He hoped that the House would become acquainted with the very able pamphlet of Mr. Mackay upon the subject, in which there were abundant arguments and proof as to the mode in which the constitution would probably work in New South Wales. But he did not admit the alleged present contest of the colony as it had been depicted by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He believed that, in several respects, the colonists were discontented with the propositions before them. There was the evidence of Dr. Lang—not, perhaps, one of the most politically temperate witnesses who could be called, but still one whose opinions were entitled to considerable respect. He said, that the Australian colonists considered it a grave grievance that there should be nominee representatives in their legislature at all; and that he felt surprised there should be the present impolitic, unconstitutional, and unnecessary proposal made. He objected to the constitution before them, however, as to its principle. He held that it was radically vicious: to appoint a council formed of twelve nominated and twenty-four elective members, was to frame a bad constitution—a constitution tending to weaken the authority of the egislature, by introducing distinctions between the vote of this and that man. But he went further, and he urged that such a council would be a perpetual monument of a false principle. The presence of nominated members would be a lasting testimony to the false principle that the popular element in the colony ought to be controlled by influence from home. It was high time that they should understand each other upon that point. 1338 They spoke of democracy; but, democratic or not, they must work with the materials which they had at hand. And let them not suppose that if the influences to be dealt with were democratic, they could be made otherwise by a system of checks and interference and control from home. Besides being democratic, the House by so acting would tend to encourage and foster an anti-British feeling. What in his heart he desired to see was the closest possible imitation in our colonies of our own institutions at home. That was the principle which he had at heart. But they could only effect such an object through the medium of the inclination of the colonists. To attempt to create a Crown influence—a British influence—to rally a British party, and to make attachment to Britain a watchword in political strife, instead of being, as it ought to be, the common quality of all Her Majesty's subjects in the colonies and at home—let them attempt to do this, and their policy would recoil on themselves; and the consequence would be, that the national movement of the popular mind in colonial communities would be allied to something of distaste for the introduction or the continuance of British institutions altogether. The general principles of politics were not matters which should be discussed in that House; but in this case the principle was so well established that it hardly required their going into lucid details of the able and eloquent speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, who had demonstrated the principle in an unanswerable manner. The noble Lord at the head of the Government was mistaken in supposing that they would be led into minute details by adopting the course proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst, as there was no necessity for doing anything of the kind. He would tell the Government that if the responsibility was too great for that House to assent to pass a Bill creating a consitution with a double chamber, although the delay would be a great evil, he would rather send a good constitution out in 1851, than a bad one in 1850. It might appear a paradox for him to support an elective upper chamber in New South Wales, but he believed by adopting such a course they would gain the love and affection of the inhabitants of those colonies. They were not able to produce the elements of a House of Lords in the colonies, but be was convinced they would be infinitely more likely to attain a 1339 more satisfactory upper chamber by election than by nominees. The principle of nomination did not, however, apply in these cases. Although it was very well to call persons so appointed to a chamber the nominees of the Crown, they were actually merely the nominees of the governor. It was not on the ground of the excellent or superior qualifications of parties that they were made nominees; but the governor acted upon the exigency of the moment, and this was the constitution of a body which never could contest against the system of popular election. He was perfectly persuaded, when the inhabitants of New South Wales were informed of what had passed, they would regard this proposal as involving one of the greatest boons that could be conferred on these colonies. He would make this concession to the noble Lord, that he did not think the matter was one of vital importance at that moment, but it was their duty to make provision for the future of these colonies, therefore he was anxious to proceed on the experience they had of double chambers. He had no wish to cite authorities on this subject, but he could not help referring to the work of an eminent philosophical writer, which was not so often alluded to as it had been shortly after its publication—he alluded to M. de Tocqueville's work on the United States. That distinguished writer clearly pointed out the necessity of double chambers, and said that time and experience made the several States of America aware that there was no other mode of avoiding difficulties than by a second chamber. He says that the State of Philadelphia attempted to establish their constitution with a single chamber, and even Franklin got embroiled with the notion, but experience showed that the attempt would not be successful. He adds, that experience in the United States showed that a double chamber should be regarded as an axiom in political science. The theory of a double chamber rested upon the principle that in the upper chamber they would find in it solemness and steadiness, while the democratic element obtained in the lower chamber. Do not let the House of Commons depart from its proud characteristic of paying more attention to speculation than to experience, although they must speak with every respect of the speculations of political philosophy. He believed in our colonies there formerly had always been an adoption of this principle. He would join with the hon. Member for Leominster 1340 in appealing to the example of the United States, that they, perhaps, could not do less than advert to them while on the subject of planting colonies. Whatever he might think of the superior character of our own institutions, we may see, in point of stability and vigour, something to learn from the United States. In their outset they were rather corporations than colonies; but the great principle was recognised in them that the influence to govern the colonies should be local influence arising from the body of the settlers. In 1621 the first assembly met in Virginia. In 1624 the patent of the company at home, which had undertaken to rule the colony, was set aside. In 1628 the colony of Massachusetts obtained a charter, and in the next year they fixed the seat of government on the other side of the Atlantic. The principle on which the people of Massachusetts acted, was, that the law should pass with the assent of the people, and with the approbation of the governor and six assistants who were to act with him. In the constitution of Rhode Island it was distinctly provided that the assistants should be parties to act with the governor in regard to the making of laws. Therefore at that early period the governor and assistants might be considered the groundwork of the legislative assemblies in the United States, while the houses of assembly were considered as mere popular bodies. They should recollect what might be cast on them by the events of the American Revolution. They should look to the time which might arise when these colonies should assert, he hoped, with every regard and affection to the mother country that they were then suited by Providence for the management of their own affairs. Difficulties might attend the crisis, and modern history did not furnish them with instances of a mother country allowing her colonies to declare themselves independent. He was not very sanguine for the future; but when these new States came to be launched into the world, it was of the greatest importance that they should have amongst themselves the elements of good constitutions. In the United States, foolish and wicked as in other respects the conduct of this country might have been, we founded good institutions, and the people were now rewarded with the results. Some striking examples of the advantages which resulted from those institutions occurred at the termination of the American war. He would refer 1341 the House to the memorable words of Washington on that occasion, who said he never feared any danger; but the element of disturbance which agitated society gave him most trouble, and he never saw such danger as in these domestic factions. They all knew how anxious that great man—one of the greatest and most highminded men of modern times—was for the prevention of internal dissension. The serene and tranquil, but the brave and determined spirit of that man, who had left as pure a character behind him as ever was described in the page of history, was much troubled for some time with matters which had a threatening aspect in this respect. After he had carried his country through the dangers of the war, he was alarmed at the internal disorganisation which apparently was about to occur within it. It was by his reliance on the very principle of the division of power that he was able to place on his side the upper against the lower chamber, in which the popular feeling was so predominant. He placed his reliance on the more steady feeling of the country against the naked democracy which existed there. In his retiring address he alluded to the necessity of political checks on the constitution, such as existed in the upper chamber. In the time of the War of Independence the strongest feeling arose in America againgst anything like an hereditary feeling which had originated in the anti-British feeling, which had been generated and exasperated by the war. As an instance of this, he might mention that at the termination of the war it was proposed to form a private assembly of those who had been engaged in the war, and to be continued by their descendants in commemoration of the success of the war; but so strong was the feeling in the United States against anything which proposed to transmit an office from father to son, that the parties proposing it were obliged to abandon it. In 1789 Washington was obliged to resume the Presidency, and he said he did so with feelings like those of a culprit. At that time the feeling against Great Britain was most strong; and in 1793 it was thought that nothing could prevent a war breaking out; and parent and child, whose hands had so recently been imbrued in each other's blood, were again likely to be involved in the horrors of a contest. All the elements of disturbance were on one side, but on the other war. Washington, from the form of government which 1342 this country had granted to these States, was enabled to counteract all these evils by means of the upper against the lower chamber. In 1794 a Bill was brought into the House of Representatives of the United States to stop all trade with England. Look to the effects which were likely to follow an event which would so seriously affect a commerce which was carried on to such an enormous extent. The Bill passed the House of Representatives, but it was rejected by the Senate. Thus the Senate was found able to check the element of ungovernable zeal, and the predominance of popular passion. Again, a proposition was made to give the preference in trade to France over England. That was a measure which, if not an absolute declaration of war, approached very near to it. It was passed by the House of Representatives, but was rejected by the Senate. In 1795 these events had reached their crisis, and then Washington was bold enough, aided by the Senate of the United States, to conclude a treaty of amity and commerce with Great Britain. In the House of Representatives, motions were made against Washington, and carried; but notwithstanding all, Washington was able, by the aid of the Senate, who threw out those adverse motions, to conclude at last that treaty which thenceforward became the basis of permanent intercourse and friendly feeling between the two countries. That surely was a practical illustration of how, in a most perilous crisis in the colonies, the principle he (Mr. Gladstone) was now contending for was the right one. He besought the House, then, not to consent to this Bill. He could not consent to send out to Australia what he must call an absurd product of accident and confusion, and misunderstanding—for such it was, under colour of much that was pretended to be the will of the colonists in its favour. If the Government contended that they could not adopt this proposition without placing it before the colonists, then, as the least of two evils, he recommended them to take time, and to do so. For his own part, he did not believe that any power was given by the Bill to alter the constitution. The proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark gave a power to alter the constitution too, but the power given by the Government was clogged in the first place by the presence of a rather compact and formidable minority of nominated members; and, in the next place, the colonists would have to 1343 submit any change they might think fit to make to the revision of an executive government, or rather of a department in England. But what the hon. Member for Southwark proposed to give, provided a safety valve, and was a real power, subject to local checks alone, and not subject to the power at home. He hoped the House would not, at this critical moment, give their sanction to a principle so false as that contained in this measure. That the Bill of the Government was more democratic he did not doubt, and he believed that conservative principles would derive no benefit from the presence of these nominees who would cause a perpetual fret in the Assembly; while conservative principles they could not protect. He would now conclude by asking them if they were to send them a constitution to send them one which in its essential qualities shall be based on the same principles as their own, and which, as far as their best wisdom could provide, shall enable them to discharge their affairs with all that glorious pride that belonged to the descendants of England.
said, he must be allowed a few words, without which he could not vote with credit. He had agreed with, and had cheered nearly everything said by the hon. Member for Southwark, and had made up his mind to vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst, till the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) directed attention to the after-intentions avowed by the hon. Mover. He made a point of never following, where there was an after-intention he could not approve. The intention avowed by the hon. and learned Mover, was that in the end there should be a legislative council appointed by the Crown for life, with a proviso that not more than one-third should hold offices of emolument. Now who was there that wanted to land in this? Those who did, might vote for the Amendment; but to those who did not, he would suggest opposing in the present stage.
§ Question put, "That the Clause as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 198; Noes 147: Majority 51.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, Sir T. N.||Anson, Visct.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Armstrong, Sir A.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Armstrong, R. B.|
|Anderson, A.||Arundel and Surrey, Earl of|
|Anson, hon. Col.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Hastie, A.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Hastie, A.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Hatchell, J.|
|Bass, M. T.||Hawes, B.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Heywood, J.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Brand, T.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Howard, hon. E. G. G.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Howard, P. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Browne, R. D.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Langston, J. H.|
|Burke, Sir T.J.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Cardwell, E.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Carter, J. B.||Locke, J.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Mackie, J.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Childers, J. W.||M'Gregor, r.|
|Clay, J.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Clay, Sir W.||Marshall, W.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Martin, C. W.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Matheson, Col.|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Denison, J. E.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Moffatt, G.|
|Divett, E.||Moore, G. H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Morgan, H. K. G.|
|Duff, G. S.||Morris, D.|
|Duff, J.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Duncan, Visct.||Mure, Col.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Norreys, Lord|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||O'Brien, Sir T.|
|Ellis, J.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Enfield, Visct.||Ord, W.|
|Evans, J.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Evans, W.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Ewart, W.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Fagan, W.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Fergus, J.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Parker, J.|
|Forster, M.||Patten, J. W.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Fox, R. M.||Pelham, hon. D. A.|
|Fox, W. J.||Peto, S. M.|
|Freestun, Col.||Pigott, F.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Pilkington, J.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Power, Dr.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Power, N.|
|Greene, J.||Price, Sir R.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Pusey, P.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Grey, R. W.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Reynolds, J.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Ricardo, O.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Rich, H.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Romilly, Col.|
|Harris, R.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Russell, hon. E. S.||Towneley, J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Townley, R. G.|
|Scully, F.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Shell, rt. hon. R. L.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Tufnell, H.|
|Slaney, R. A.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Smith, J. A.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Somers, J. P.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Spearman, H. J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Stansfield, W. R. C.||Willyams, H.|
|Stanton, W. H.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Staunton, Sir G. T.||Wilson, J.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Wilson, M.|
|Talbot, J. H.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Wood, W. P.|
|Tenison, E. K.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Tennent, R. J.||Wyvill, M.|
|Thicknesse, R. A.||TELLERS.|
|Thompson, Col.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Thornely, T.||Bellew, R. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Fellowes, E.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Arkwright, G.||Forbes, W.|
|Ashley, Lord||Forester, hon. G. C. W.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Fortescue, C.|
|Bankes, G.||Fox, S. W. L.|
|Baring, T.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Bateson, T.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Beckett, W.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Beresford, W.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Blair, S.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Greenall, G.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Greene, T.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Grogan, E.|
|Bright, J.||Hale, R. B.|
|Broadley, H.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Broadwood, H.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Heald, J.|
|Burghley, Lord||Heneage, G. U. W.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Henley, J. W.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Henry, A.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Chatterton, Col.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Christy, S.||Hope, A.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hornby, J.|
|Cobden, R.||Hotham, Lord|
|Cocks, T. S.||Hudson, G.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Cowan, G.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Deedes, W.||Kershaw, J.|
|Dodd, G.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Duncan, G.||Legh, G. C.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lennox, Lord A. G.|
|Duncuft, J.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Dundas, G.||Lockhart, W.|
|Dunne, Col.||Lushington, C.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Edwards, H.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||March, Earl of|
|Farrer, J.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Meux, Sir H.||Simeon, J.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Miles, W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Monsell, W.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Moody, C. A.||Spooner, R.|
|Mowatt, F.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Naas, Lord||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Newry and Morne, Visct.||Stuart, J.|
|Nugent, Lord||Sullivan, M.|
|Osborne, R.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Packe, C. W.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Palmer, R.||Turner, G. J.|
|Palmer, R.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Perfect, R.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Portal, M.||Waddington, D.|
|Prime, R.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Reid, Col.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|Salwey, Col.||Williams, J.|
|Sandars, G.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Scholefield, W.||Wyld, J.|
|Scott, hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Seymer, H. K.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Peel, F.|
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again on Friday, 12th of April.