§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ SIR WILLIAM MOLESWORTH
said, he was much disappointed with the contents of this Bill. After reading it carefully through, and attentively studying its details, the favourable impressions which he had conceivod with regard to it from the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary had almost entirely vanished, and to the objections which he made on its introduction he had now many others to add. He had not only to object to an Upper House composed of Members nominated for life, and to the superintendents being nominated by the Governor, and not elective, but he found that the provincial councils were not municipalities, but positive Legislatures, and that there were to be municipalities in addition to the provincial councils. He found also that one of the most obnoxious powers of the Colonial Office, which the right hon. Baronet stated that it was his intention to abandon, had been substantially retained, and he found that the most important provisions of the Bill, namely, that for the surrender of the waste lands, was clogged with a condition which would greatly diminish its value in the eyes of the Colonists. In reading through this Bill, the first thing that struck him was the immense quantity of government which was to be imposed upon the scanty population of New Zealand, which amounted, at the highest estimate, to about 26,000 Europeans, and about 100,000 natives. It appeared from this Bill that, first, Now Zealand was to be divided into two parts, an English part, and a native part. Within the English pale, English laws were to be enforced; without the pale, in the native part, native laws and customs were to be maintained by the Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand, notwithstanding the repugnancy of any such native laws to the laws of England, or of Now Zealand, provided they were not repugnant to the laws of humanity. The part of New Zealand within the English pale was to be divided into six provinces. These would be, in fact, miniature Colonies; the two largest of them would have an English population of about 7,000 persons 923 each; the two smallest an English population of about 1,500 each, or about half the population of the smallest of our rotten boroughs. Each of these petty Colonies was, however, to have almost all the legal incidents of a regular Colony. Each of them was to have a separate and independent Legislature. Each Legislature was to consist of a Lieutentant Governor (called a Superintendent), and of a Legislative Council. Each of the six provincial Legislatures was to have all the ordinary powers of a Colonial Legislature, of making laws on all subjects, with the exception of a few that were specified. Each of these six Lieutenant Governors was likewise to have all the ordinary functions of a Colonial Governor, except that each of them was to be subordinate in the first instance, not to the Colonial Office, but to the Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand. For instance, each of these Lieutenant Governors would be bound to conform to his instructions from the Governor-in-Chief. Each of them was to have the power of giving or withholding his assent to a Bill of the Provincial Council. He was also to have the power to reserve a Bill for the assent of the Governor General, and if that assent were not given within two years the Bill would die a natural death. Again, if a Bill were assented to by the Lieutenant Governor, though it became law, still at any time within two years after it had been received by the Governor General he might repeal it by proclamation. By this proviso the Colonial Office substantially reserved to itself all its vexatious powers of repealing Colonial Acts, or of not assenting to reserved Bills; for within the two years there would be ample time for the Colonial Office to issue instructions to the Governor-in-Chief to repeal any provincial Act, or not to assent to a reserved provincial Bill, and to those instructions the Governor-in-Chief would have to conform. Therefore, many hon. Members, including himself (Sir W. Molesworth), had fallen into error when they cheered the statement of the right hon. Baronet, that he differed from Earl Grey with regard to provincial Acts, and had determined, in order to prevent delay, to delegate to the Governor General the power of giving Her Majesty's final assent to those Acts. The right hon. Baronet had substantially retained to the Colonial Office all the powers which Earl Grey had proposed to retain. They were, however, very bad and vexatious powers, and when the Bill was in Committee he would propose Amendments by which 924 they could easily be got rid of. In addition to the six provincial Legislatures, for these six petty Colonies, with their scanty population of about 26,000 Europeans, there was to be a General Assembly, to consist of a Governor-in-Chief, a Legislative Council nominated for life, and a House of Assembly. This General Assembly was to have, first, the exclusive power of legislating on all the subjects upon which the Provincial Legislature was prohibited to legislate; secondly, it was to have a power concurrent with that of the Provincial Legislatures, of making laws upon all the subjects upon which the Provincial Legislatures were to be permitted to legislate; thirdly, it was to have a power to repeal provincial Acts; and, finally, all Acts of the Provincial Legislature which conflicted with those of the General Assembly would be null and void. Therefore the General Assembly of New Zealand would hold towards the six provinces of New Zealand precisely the same position as the Imperial Parliament held towards the various Colonies of the British empire; and the Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand would hold towards the six Lieutenant Governors, or Superintendents, precisely the same position as the Queen, or rather Her Majesty's Ministers, held toward ordinary Governors. On the other hand, the Governor-in-Chief, like an ordinary Colonial Governor, would be under the control of the Colonial Secretary. The Governor-in-Chief would be bound to conform to his instructions. He was to have the power of giving or withholding his assent to any Bill passed by the Legislative Council and the House of Representatives. He was also to have the power of reserving any such Bill for the signification of the pleasure of the Colonial Office; but if within two years that assent were not given by the Colonial Office, the Bill would die a natural death. And again, if a Bill passed by the Legislative Council and House of Assembly were assented to, though it became law, was acted upon, and was inserted in the Statutes of New Zealand, yet within two years after it had been received by the Secretary of State, he might repeal it by Order in Council. It was evident, therefore, that by this constitution the General Assembly of New Zealand would have, in reference to the six Provincial Legislatures, all the legal incidents of an Imperial Parliament; and, in reference to the Imperial Parliament, it would have all the legal incidents of an ordinal Colonial Parliament: therefore the constitution which 925 was proposed to be given to New Zealand would not only be an imperium in imperio, but a nest of Colonies within a Colony. It would be a reduplication of our ordinary system of Colonial government: all the defects and vices of that system would be doubled. There would be two Colonial Offices: the old one in Downing-street, and her daughter at the Antipodes; and in all probability the daughter would be worse than the mother. Surely this would be a most complicated machine for the government of 26,000 Europeans and about 100,000 savages—a most Brobdignagian Government for a series of Lilliputian States. If this Bill passed in its present shape, there would be in New Zealand seven Governors or Superintendents. There would be nine Legislatures, one General Assembly, the Governor alone, with respect to native laws and customs, beyond the pale, and the Imperial Parliament. Therefore there would be nine distinct and frequently conflicting codes of laws, namely, six independent provincial codes, one general New Zealand code, one native code of laws and customs, and the Acts of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain. With these nine codes it would be difficult, or almost impossible, to know what was or what was not law in New Zealand. For instance, consider an Act of Parliament of New Plymouth, which had about 1,400 English inhabitants. That Parliament would have the power of legislating upon an indefinite number of subjects; in fact, upon all subjects except a few enumerated ones. It might make laws worthy of Solon, or Lycurgus, or Bentham; it might fill its Statute-books with those laws. Yet, alas! they might be all useless, and of no effect; for every Act of the Parliament of New Plymouth might, without its consent even, be repealed in three ways by three independent and distinct authorities; and also without being positively repealed, those laws might be null and void in three ways. First, an Act of the Parliament of New Plymouth might be repealed within two years, at the will of the Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand; secondly, within the same period it might be repealed by instructions from the Colonial Office; thirdly, it might at any period be repealed by the General Assembly; and that repeal might again be repealed within two years by this Colonial Office. Therefore, before a Judge could be certain whether any one Act in the Statute-book of New Plymouth was law, first he must hunt through the Government Ga- 926 zette to ascertain whether the Act had been repealed by proclamation, and, if not repealed, then he must hunt through the general code of New Zealand to find whether it had been repealed by a Statute of the General Assembly; and if he found that it had been so repealed, then he must hunt again through the Government Gazette to ascertain whether that repeal had not been repealed by an Order in Council. Again, an Act of a Provincial Legislature might be null and void in three ways, without being positively repealed: first, as being repugnant to the laws England; secondly, as being repugnant to the laws of New Zealand; thirdly, in consequence of its touching any one of those subjects upon which the Provincial Legislatures are prohibited to legislate. Now, surely this would be confusion worse confounded; the maximisation of legal incertitude. And for what purpose? He must observe that it was a characteristic feature of this Bill that whenever one found in it any clause which seemed to have a liberal provision in it, he would always find some other clause which destroyed that provision, and frequently a third clause which destroyed thedestroyer, forthis Bill was a system of check upon cheek, and the result was unbounded confusion. To administer this cumbrous mass of legal absurdity, these nine conflicting codes of New Zealand, there were to be two unfortunate Judges, with salaries of 1,000l. and 800l. a year respectively. Now, if the reason assigned for dividing New Zealand into distinct provinces with independent Legislatures were valid, namely, that those provinces were so entirely separate and distinct, then it appeared to him that there ought to be at least one Judge in each province, for a code of laws without a Judge to administer them, seemed to him to be the height of absurdity. But if it were said that the Judges could go about from province to province with sufficient facility to administer the law, then he thought there could be little doubt that the lawmakers could meet in any one province with sufficient facility to make laws. The right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary had stated the other night that in order to give to each of the superintendents of the six provinces a salary of 500l. a year, without augmenting the Civil List, he should diminish the number of Judges. This was an ill-advised change. He (Sir W. Molesworth) objected most strongly to the superintendents being nominated by the Governor or the Colonial Office, and 927 placed on the Civil List of New Zealand. They ought to be elected. This was the opinion of the present Governor of New Zealand; in his despatch of the 30th of August last he most earnestly recommended that the principle should he adopted that each province should elect its own superintendent. He stated that he wished to have each province treated as a large municipality, which had the power of electing its own mayor and corporate officers, and of determining the rate of remuneration of its officers. This was precisely his (Sir W. Molesworth's) view of what ought to be the form of government of the provinces of New Zealand. They should not be little colonies, but municipalities; they should not have the power of making laws upon an indefinite number of subjects, but should have the power of making by-laws on certain definite subjects; and, in his opinion, the municipalities should be created, and their powers should be defined, not by the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain, but by the General Assembly of New Zealand. He would return, however, to that subject presently, when he considered what ought to be the form of government for New Zealand. Before he did so, he must ask the House to consider what were to be the powers of the superintendents. They were to be subordinate to the Governor-in-Chief, but they were only to be removed by the Colonial Office. He presumed they were to have all the ordinary power of a Colonial Governor, executive as well as legislative: though, strange to say, in this Bill no reference was made to the executive powers of the superintendents, and no executive powers, but only legislative ones, were conferred upon them. He presumed, however, they were to have executive powers, and to be, in fact, petty Colonial Governors. Now, the powers of a Colonial Governor were immense; nothing could be done without his consent; all patronage was vested in him; no job could be perpetrated without his tacit sanction. He had usually the ear of the Colonial Office; he was the trusted servant of that Office; to attack him was to attack the judgment of the master who appointed him, and was held to be a sort of rebellion against that Office; therefore, complaints against him were little attended to, unless urged by influential persons; and an insignificant Colony at the Antipodes could rarely secure the assistance of such persons. In such a Colony the Governor was a petty despot, and the smaller the Colony necessarily the 928 greater the despot; he was generally surrounded by a petty court of sycophants, jobbers, and toadies; upon them he was apt to confer all his favours; they, in return, were always ready to come forward to do any dirty work for him, and to sign any address to anybody declaring the Governor in question to be the paragon of all Governors. A Colonial Governor must be a strong-minded man who did not get his head turned by the adulation to which he was constantly exposed. Therefore, when he considered the class of men who would have to be nominated to the office of superintendents of these insignificant settlements (especially since the opening of the gold fields of Australia), he felt convinced that, generally speaking, they would be jacks in office of the most odious description, unless constantly kept in control by being frequently subjected to popular election. When this Bill was introduced, he objected not only to the nomination of the superintendents of provinces, but to the nomination of the members of the Legislative Council. The right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary had stated that Earl Grey had decided that the Legislative Council should be elective, and that he had ventured to differ from the decision of Earl Grey. He (Sir W. Molesworth) questioned the wisdom of the right hon. Baronet's having done so. He should reserve his observations upon this subject till the question was raised in Committee, and would only now remark that system of nomination would, in all probability, work worse in New Zealand than in any other colony, because nomination had been rendered odious in New Zealand; a strong feeling had been excited against it. In some of the settlements, for instance in Otago, the inhabitants had assembled in public meeting, and had passed by large majorities Resolutions requesting some of their most respectable citizens not to accept the office of nominated Member of the Legislative Council. This feeling being once excited against nomination, was not likely to subside. The most influential and respectable persons in New Zealand would probably refuse to be nominated to the Upper Chamber, for if they wished to possess political power and influence, they would prefer a seat in the Lower Chamber; and all experience in the Australian Colonies proved that the most influential persons lost their influence immediately on becoming nominees. When the right hon. Colonial Secretary stated the contents 929 of his Bill, he (Sir W. Molesworth) had been delighted to hear that the waste lands were to be granted to the General Assembly of New Zealand. On reading through this Bill, he was, therefore, excessively disappointed at finding that this grant was to be clogged with the condition which would render it nearly valueless to the settlers in New Zealand. The condition was, that in respect of all sales of waste land the sum of 5s. for each acre should be paid to the New Zealand Company, until the sum of 268,000l., with interest at the rate yearly of 3½ per cent, should be paid. If the clause containing this condition were to pass, a great injustice would be done to the settlers in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Company would acquire a valuable property to which he did not consider them to be entitled. He entreated the House to protect this unfortunate Colony against a too influential company. He must beg leave to say a few words about that company, which threatened to be so great an incubus upon New Zealand. It was formed about the year 1839, for two objects: the one was to put in practice certain views with regard to colonisation; the other was to make money. Some of those views proved correct, others erroneous; the pecuniary speculations utterly failed, partly in consequence of obstacles thrown in its way by the Colonial Office, in defiance of whom it had been undertaken, but it had chiefly failed in consequence of great mismanagement. The directors repeatedly attempted to obtain public money to prop up their failing speculation, and, unfortunately, they had been too frequently successful. In 1846 they got an Act of Parliament, by which they obtained a loan from the Consolidated Fund of 100,000l. for seven years at 3 per cent. This money was to be applied chiefly to purposes of alleged public utility, and no portion of it was to be applied to the payment of the debentures of the company. A short time afterwards, in the same Session, the company obtained another Act, by which they were empowered to apply a large portion of their loan to the payment of their debentures. The next year, in 1847, the company obtained a third Act, by which they were relieved from the payment of interest on their first loan, and obtained a second loan from the Consolidated Fund of 136,000l. without interest. The same Act also provided, that if the company gave notice of being ready to surrender its cherter within a certain period of time, 930 their lands should revert to the Crown, their debt of 236,000l. should be remitted, and—There should be charged upon and paid to the New Zealand Company out of the funds of all future sales of Crown lands in New Zealand, after deducting the outlays for surveys, and the proportion of such proceeds which is appropriated to the purposes of emigration, the sum of 268,000l."&c.The company gave notice on the 5th of July, 1850, and thus became the third mortgagee on the lands of New Zealand; the first charge being for surveys, the second charge being for purposes of emigration, and the third charge being for the extinguishment of the debt of the company. Then the important question arose, what proportion of the proceeds of the land sales was to be regarded as appropriated to the purposes of emigration? The question was submitted to the law officers of the Crown. They reported that they were of opinion that "the Crown had the power from time to time to fix and alter that proportion by instructions previously to the extinguishment of the debt of the company." It followed, therefore, that the Crown had the power to employ the whole proceeds of the land sales in surveys and emigration, without reserving any portion of those proceeds for the extinguishment of the debt of the company. And the company was only entitled to demand that those proceeds should be strictly applied to surveys and emigration, and to no other purposes except to the extinguishment of their debt. Now, it was scarcely to be believed, that the Bill now before the House, in its 74th Clause, represented the New Zealand Company to have the first charge on the Crown lands of New Zealand, and it proposed to enact that they should have a first charge on those lands to the amount of 5s. an acre; for the preamble of this clause omitted all mention of surveys and emigration. It referred to the Act of 1847, and recited that a "sum of 268,000l. was charged upon and payable to the New Zealand Company, out of the proceeds of the sales of new Crown lands;" and there it stopped, in the middle of a sentence, and omitted the important words in the Act of 1847, "after deducting the outlay for surveys, and the proportion to be appropriated to purposes of emigration." The omission of these important words was most remarkable. It would tend to mislead any hon. Gentleman who did not refer to the Act of 1847, and to induce him to think that the company were well entitled to the money 931 which it was proposed to grant them. He (Sir W. Molesworth) would not at present mention any other objections which he entertained to this Bill. He would reserve them for the Committee and should proceed to consider what ought to be the form of government in New Zealand. He thought, in giving a constitution to a Colony the wishes of the colonists should be taken into consideration, though not absolutely deferred to, especially when a Colony had not had any experience in self-government. Now, what were the wishes of the inhabitants of New Zealand? They had to a certain extent expressed their opinion. The House would remember that in the year 1850 new constitutions were given to the Australian colonies. During the debates which then arose, the theory of colonial constitutions was discussed at length, important alterations were proposed to be made in the measure of the Government, and he had presumed to lay before the House a sketch of what they thought ought to be the constitution of the Australian colonies and of New Zealand. Those debates had reached New Zealand, and had raised an expectation among the settlers that their time to have a constitution would soon come. In the three chief settlements of New Zealand, the question what ought to be the form of their future constitution had been much discussed towards the close of the year 1850, and petitions and memorials expressing the wishes of the colonists were to be found in the papers which had been presented to Parliament. First, about October, 1850, a petition was got up at Auckland. It was very numerously signed, considering the number of the population of the settlement, which, however, was the largest in New Zealand. The petitioners stated that the constitution which had been submitted to the House "would not only be applicable to their necessities, but would prove the most grateful concession to a free and loyal people." The petitioners, however, stated that, in their opinion, New Zealand should he divided into two separate and quite distinct colonies. If New Zealand were to be divided at all, this was the division which he should propose. But he agreed with the settlers of Wellington and Nelson, that New Zealand should form only one colony. On the 15th of October, 1850, a public meeting was held at Wellington. It was a very large one in proportion to the population of the settlement, which was the second in mag- 932 nitude in New Zealand. A Committee was appointed to report on the form of constitution which it was desirable to suggest to the Home Government for adoption in New Zealand; the committee reported to another public meeting) held on the 29th of January, 1851; the report Was then presented: it was fully discussed at a very large meeting held on the 3rd of February, 1851, and finally, the amended report was carried by acclamation, and sent to Earl Grey in the shape in which it was now to be found in a blue book which Was delivered last autumn. It was a document much too long and far too complimentary to himself (Sir W. Molesworth) for him to read it. It adopted all the positions of his plan, condemned the cumbrous and costly system of provincial government which then existed in New Zealand, as being framed for no other purpose than the increase of patronage and the extension of the influence of the Executive. This condemnation, it is evident, would apply still more forcibly to the plan of provincial government proposed in this Bill. The report from Wellington proposed "that New Zealand should constitute one colony and have only one Legislature;" it stated that "probably it would be found necessary to superadd the machinery of municipal government;" but it added, that "such a question was a purely local one, which should be disposed of by the local Legislature." This was precisely his notion of what ought to be the constitution of New Zealand, namely, one colony and one Legislature, with the power to give to each province municipal government, and to vest in each municipality powers of making by-laws on definite subjects. He would next state the opinion of the settlement of Nelson on the subject of the form of constitution for New Zealand. Nelson, in 1850, was the third in size of the settlements in New Zealand, and he thought that, on the whole, it was the soundest and the healthiest. No public money had been spent on it. At first it had great difficulties to contend with; it had over-come those difficulties, and it had more tilled land than either of the two larger settlements, one of which had twice the population of Nelsom On the 27th of December, 1850, the largest public meeting ever held at Nelson assembled for the purpose of considering what ought to be the future form of government for New Zealand. Similar meetings had been held in the rural districts, at which almost every 933 Man in the district had attended. The principles agreed to at those meetings Were embodied in a string of resolutions, and a committee was appointed to draw up a memorial to Earl Grey, which was to he found at page 113 of the blue book to which he had already referred. The memorial proposed a constitution essentially the same as that which he (Sir W. Moles-worth) had proposed. It recommended that New Zealand should form one colony, with one Legislature. It condemned the system of provincial councils which then existed, as beingCalculated utterly to destroy that unity of action accompanied by economy which could alone confer an uniform national character upon the different portions of the colony which it should be the desire of all to establish.It was evident that this condemnation applied still more forcibly to the plan of provincial councils proposed by this Bill. The memorial also stated that—One centrally-situated Executive, with the aid of steam vessels to keep up a rapid and regular communication between the settlements, would be infinitely more direct and efficient in its action, and far less costly in its maintenance, than any number of provincial councils could hope to be; while, to meet the wants of each separate district, municipalities, with extensive powers of legislation on questions merely relating to such districts, would amply suffice for all their local wants.The views of the settlers at Nelson had received the sanction of the Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand. On the 18th of June last the Lieutenant Governor delivered a speech in the Legislative Council of New Zealand against the system of provincial councils, the system contained in this Bill, for which speech the Governor had rated him soundly in a despatch to Earl Grey, after the fashion which Colonial Governors generally used to the Colonial Office subordinates who presumed to disagree with them. The speech of the Lieutenant Governor of the southern province was to be found at page 42 of the papers lately presented to Parliament. The substance of what the Lieutenant Governor stated was that—The colonists of the southern province would rather hare one general Legislature for the whole of New Zealand; that they were rather anxious for municipal institutions than for the erection of subordinate Legislatures.The Lieutenant Governor quoted, with cordial concurrence, an address from Nelson to the Governor of New Zealand, to the effect— 934That provincial councils would be cumbrous, expensive, and ostentatious; for, unless the provinces of New Zealand were multiplied to an amount which would entail upon the colony a ruinous Government expenditure, it would be impossible to divide it in such a manner as not to include within the same limits districts of dissimilar interest.The settlers at Nelson seemed to have anticipated a Bill like this, and had, therefore, beforehand expressed the most emphatic condemnation of the principle of subdivision contained in the present Bill. If that principle were carried out, New Zealand would have ultimately to be divided, not into six provinces with six subordinate Legislatures, but into sixty provinces, with as many subordinate Legislatures. For the time would come when probably New Zealand would contain more than sixty communities, each of them with a population six times as great as that of either Canterbury, Otago, or New Plymouth; and even then, the population of New Zealand would scarcely exceed 1,000,000. Now, each of these communities would be able to show that it differed in some respect from its neighbour, and ought to have the management of its local affairs, and so each of them probably ought, to a certain extent. And sixty municipalities would be nothing extravagant in a country with the area of Great Britain, though sixty subordinate Legislatures, after the fashion of this Bill, would be an absurdity. The address from Nelson, quoted in the speech of the Lieutenant Governor, and which was to be found at page 128 of a blue book presented last year, went on—To suggest one Central Legislature and Executive, as quite sufficient for every purpose of good government in New Zealand.The address remarked that—The employment of steam vessels upon the coast would remove all the obstacles to this form of government, and would afford a regular and easy intercourse between the settlements, which would produce moral and political results of the most beneficial character; for nothing would more certainly tend to unite the colony together, to lead to broader and juster views of policy, to remove local ignorance and prejudices, to counteract, in short, the narrowness of view and selfishness which never fail to arise in isolated communities. Steam communication, by practically reducing the size of the colony, would render the repetition of offices unnecessary, and diminish both the machinery and expense of government.These were the views of practical and well-informed men on the spot. The Lieutenant Governor of New Munster had stated that these views were fully shared in by 935 the settlers of Otago and Canterbury. From these facts, he (SirW. Molesworth) was entitled to infer, with regard to the wishes of the colonists of New Zealand on the subject of the future constitution of that colony — first, that the majority of them, including the Lieutenant Governor of New Munster, were of opinion that New Zealand should be one Colony with one Legislature, or, at most, should be divided into two distinct Colonies, altogether independent of each other. Secondly, they condemned the system of provincial Legislatures, and were of opinion that municipalities should be established, with powers to elect their corporate officers, and to make by-laws; and that on specific subjects, the municipalities should be established, not by the Imperial Parliament, but by the Legislature of New Zealand. He must also repeat that the Governor-in-Chief was of opinion that the provincial Councils should have the constitution of a large municipality, which should have the power of electing its own corporate officers, and of determining their salaries. The wishes of the colonists of New Zealand appeared to him to be very just and very reasonable. Why could not we comply with them? They could easily be complied with, and without any real departure from precedent. This Bill was utterly without precedent. To comply with the wishes of the Colonists of New Zealand, it would only be necessary first to give them the ordinary Colonial constitution, such, for instance, as that of the General Assembly in this Bill. No doubt, they would prefer to have, and he should prefer to give them, the constitution, the sketch of which he had prepared for them in 1850, and of which they had expressed their distinct approbation; but it would be unreasonable for him to ask the House at present to discuss that constitution, which would involve a complete change in our Colonial system. He hoped that the House, however, would understand that he did not in the slightest degree abandon that constitution, because he wished at the present moment, and under present circumstances, to confine himself to the practical question of amending this Bill so as to meet as far as possible what he considered to be the reasonable wishes of the settlers of New Zealand. To do so he should propose, first, to strike out of this Bill all the clauses which had reference to the provincial Legislatures; and, secondly, to give, if necessary to do Be, specific powers to the General Assem- 936 bly to incorporate municipal districts, to constitute municipalities, and to vest in them the power of making by-laws for specific purposes. With these powers the General Assembly of New Zealand would be able to gratify to the utmost the wishes of the settlers of New Zealand for municipal self-government. The essential difference between the plan of the right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary, and his (Sir W. Molesworth's) plan, was, that the provinces of the right hon. Baronet would have positive Legislatures, with powers to make laws upon an indefinite number of subjects, being restricted only from making laws upon certain enumerated subjects; while his (Sir W. Molesworth's) municipalities, if established by the General Assembly, would be restricted to making by-laws upon certain defined and enumerated subjects. By the Bill of the right hon. Baronet, New Zealand would be, in fact, divided into six States, federated together upon a plan which had always failed—namely, that of giving to the federal Legislature powers of concurrent legislation with the State Legislatures. This plan would insure a perpetual conflict between the provincial Legislatures and the General Assembly; and the weaker party would constantly appeal to the Imperial Parliament. The provincial Legislatures would constantly complain that the Central Legislature had repealed their Acts and spent all the money, without leaving any to be divided among them; and they would constantly ask the Imperial Parliament to repeal the laws of the General Assembly. On the other hand, the General Assembly would apply to Parliament for permission to curtail the powers of the provincial Legislatures. This conflict would only terminate either in the General Assembly cutting up the powers of the provincial Legislatures and reducing them to municipalities, or in the provincial Legislatures restricting the General Assembly to legislating only on those enumerated subjects upon which the provincial Legislatures were to be forbidden to legislate. Therefore, the ultimate result of the conflict would be either his (Sir W. Molesworth's) plan, or a system of six distinct Colonies federated together after the fashion of the States of the American Union. He must say he should be very sorry to see New Zealand divided into six distinct Colonies; for New Zealand was meant by nature to form one political unit. Though traversed by moun- 937 tains which rendered land communication difficult at present, it was so connected by sea, and its best parts were so close to the sea, that the moment steam vessels were established, its various parts would be more closely connected than the various parts of this island, even in the times of our fathers. The key to the good government of New Zealand was a steam vessel. Without steam vessels neither the right hon. Baronet's plan nor any other one could possibly work well; except that plan which he presumed no one would propose, namely, to divide New Zealand at once into six absolutely distinct Colonies, with distinct Governors, Legislatures, civil lists, and all the other paraphernalia of a Colonial Government. He should be sorry to see New Zealand so divided either now or at any future period; for New Zealand was so distant from any other country that it would have no natural enemies unless we divided it into two distinct States, who would certainly be jealous of each other, and hostile, like the towns of Italy or the petty republics of Greece, and whose hostilities would never cease until the more potent State absorbed or conquered all the rest. No good that he knew of had ever come to this country from Great Britain being divided into two kingdoms; and great inconvenience had been felt from two codes of law in the same island; and a similar inconvenience was felt at the present moment in the United States, where the vast extent of the territory had made the federal system the best, because the only possible one. This not being the case in New Zealand, which had not more available land than some of the States of the Union, and had a smaller population than the smallest of those States, why should we cut it up into morsels, and lay the foundation of six distinct States with six distinct Legislatures, certain to be ultimately hostile? It was said that the various settlements of New Zealand had been founded upon distinct and exclusive principles; that 1,500 Presbyterians had gone to one corner; that 3,000 Episcopalians had emigrated to another spot; and that 4,000 "what-do-ye-call-'ems" had settled in a third place, and 1,400 bumpkins in a fourth, and the two remaining settlements, with a population of about 7,000 each, were composed of publicans and sinners. It was said that the Presbyterians had carried to New Zealand their antipathy to a bishop; that the Episcopalians had taken a bishop along with 938 them as an advertisement; that the "what-do-ye-call-'ems" were voluntaries, the bumpkins were devoted to agriculture, and that the publicans and sinners stunk in the nostrils of the Pharisees of New Zealand. Therefore, it was said that each of these exclusive Lilliputian settlements should have its own little kingdom of Brentford, with its own peculiar and exclusive laws. He should be very sorry if the exclusive character of these settlements could be preserved, with their narrow animosities, religious feuds, and jealousies. He felt convinced that it could not be preserved unless these settlements continued in miserable insignificance. He thought the views of the settlers of Nelson, in their able address to the Governor of New Zealand, were much more enlightened and statesmanlike in their opinion. Efforts should be made to unite the Colony together, to remove local ignorance and prejudice, and to counteract, in short, the narrowness of view and selfishness which never failed to arise in isolated communities. Agreeing with those views, he should, when the time came, in Committee, propose the Amendments strictly necessary to carry out those views, and he hoped the House would never consent to this Bill in its present shape.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he should be glad to state to the House the contents of a petition which he was too late to present when the order for the second reading of the Bill was read. It expressed the sentiments of a portion of New Zealand, in which he was personally more interested than in any other, namely, the portion connected with the Canterbury Association, no unimportant portion of this important Colony. The petitioners stated that they viewed with feelings of deep satisfaction the Bill which had been introduced into the House to establish in the Colony of New Zealand a constitution founded upon a principle which would give them due control over the management of their own affairs. They said, that having made themselves acquainted with the provisions of the measure, they were able to assure the House, that without referring to subordinate circumstances, about which there might be a difference of opinion, the measure, as a whole, and in all its main features, was hailed by them with the greatest satisfaction, as a boon of inestimable value. It was only owing to the debate having come on rather earlier than was expected, that petitions of a similar kind, from individuals in Eng- 939 land, authorised to speak the sentiments of other provinces in the Colony, had not been presented, expressing similar satisfaction with the measure now before the House. He could tell the House that the question was too far gone, and a great deal too ripe, to hear with such delay as was proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite. It was all very well for hon. Gentlemen to propose, year after year, further delay till a measure was finished and polished off most exactly to their own minds; but he would tell them and the House that it was hazarding the integrity of the Empire to play in that manner with the feelings of the Colonists belonging to it. Those Colonists were asking for the power of self-government; they did not ask it as a boon or a favour, but they asked for it as a right which should be extended to them, giving them all the privileges of British subjects. If they were to go on in this way from year to year, owing to the change of Governments at home, or to the change of circumstances that might affect themselves locally, they would create, and they were at present stirring up, a great amount of irritation and bitter discontent in a Colony which was firmly attached to this country; and which possessed distinguished qualities that might make them either valuable appendages to the Empire, or make them most dangerous subjects of Her Majesty. He would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that it was now seven years since that House acknowledged that New Zealand had a right to a constitution such as they were then discussing. In 1845, that was amply acknowledged by all the leading Members of the House, by the late Sir Robert Peel, by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell), and by several other hon. Members, including the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) himself, who took part in the debate. The question had been brought forward by the late Mr. Charles Buller, and an abler advocate the Colonies never had. In 1846 the Governor of the Colony sent a despatch to the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), then Colonial Secretary, urging upon him to give self-government to the Colony; and Earl Grey in the same year drew up a Bill, within a few months of acceding to office, for that purpose; but upon certain grounds alleged by the Governor of New Zealand, and which only attached to the northern province, that Act was suspended. The Governor, since then, had twice attempted 940 to establish provincial Councils, under certain limited powers given to him, in the last instance with only one-third of the members nominated; but he did not succeed. When the present right hon. Secretary succeeded to office, he found it to be his duty to introduce this measure. The measure had been actually handed to him by his predecessor; and the right hon. Baronet had undertaken to complete the measure. They were in the peculiar position of having three courses open to them. They had either to continue the present Suspension Act, or to do nothing at all, and allow the suspended Act of 1846 to come into force next year, or they might pass the measure now before the House. He was perfectly sure he was not only speaking his own sentiments, but those of the Colonists of New Zealand, when he said that the first would be the worst course of all; while, in his opinion, the last proposition would be the best. Whatever they did, they must not continue the present Suspending Act. That would be a measure that would drive the Colonists of New Zealand into a frantic state of irritation. They were now under an illegal autocratical system; their rights were acknowledged in despatches, only to be obstructed—improvements for opening the country—roads, harbours, lighthouses—they were deprived of the means of undertaking; they complained-—which was highly creditable to them—that in the present state of things they were prevented from establishing a militia for their own defence. That was a complaint which never had been made by any of their Colonies since the days of the old North American Colonies; and he was sure it must be a gratification to the House to hear that the British Colonists in New Zealand were desirous to establish a force for their own defence. With regard to the second course, he thought it would not ha so had as the first; and if a choice were given to the Colonists between a further suspension and the operation of the Act of 1846, he was authorised to say that they would prefer that the Act should come into play. But why not take the best course of all, and pass the measure now before the House? He did not see the hon. Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) any longer in the House; but if he were present he could tell him that not one of the grounds he had alleged against the Bill had the slightest foundation even in the documents to which he had himself referred. The hon. Baronet said that the Bill be- 941 fore the House was not what the Colonists asked for—that what the Colonists asked for was one Central Legislature and one Central Executive; but he begged leave to tell the hon. Baronet that he must have wholly misread the document to which he referred. At the large and influential public meeting held at Nelson in December, 1850, it was stated in one of the principal speeches made on the occasion, that in a Colony like New Zealand, offering here and there large tracts along the coasts available for settlements, separated by formidable physical barriers, a form of government that would confer on several districts large powers of dealing with all local questions would be the most satisfactory and efficient. It was also said, that the municipal government, in its widest and most ancient sense, was the form best adapted to them; and what did they mean by municipal? They meant the powers that the North American Colonies had in their infancy, such as were given by the constitution of Rhode Island. The next reference which the hon. Baronet made, was to a public meeting held at Wellington in November, 1850. The hon. Baronet appeared to have read only the first part of the document referring to that meeting; and indeed he almost invariably omitted to read the whole of the documents. After discussing the necessity for a Central Legislature and Central Executive, they went on to say that on matters of detail, such as electoral districts, and questions of municipal government, they should be disposed of by the local legislatures themselves— bodies, the existence of which, according to the hon. Baronet, was never contemplated by them. He might also refer to a meeting held a few months afterwards at Otago. He need not go into a detail of the expressions used at that meeting; hut he would ask the hon. Baronet before they went into Committee to read the whole of the despatches, of which he appeared only to have read the first paragraphs. Whether the colonists wished it or not, it appeared very clear that the hon. Baronet desired to carry out his own measure, and to force on New Zealand the draft constitution which he had sketched for New South Wales. But it was then contemplated that when all the Australian colonies had got such a constitution, they were to federate. ["No, no"] It was contemplated, if not by the hon. Baronet, by others—by the noble Lord the Member for London in his Bill. At all events, that was a consti- 942 tution for one single colony. And let them now consider what was the difference between the hon. Baronet's proposition and the measure of the right hon. Colonial Secretary. The hon. Baronet proposed that a Central Legislature and Executive should be constituted for the whole group of those Colonies forming facilities for communications between each of them, but that municipal bodies should be established in the several localities to carry out simply the municipal functions; and what was the difference between that measure and the measure of the right hon. Colonial Secretary? He (Mr. Adderley) admitted there was one material point of difference, and allowed that in the concurrent legislation of several local legislatures, there was a blot in this measure. If a distinction could be drawn to give a definite set of subjects to the Central Legislature, and to leave all matters connected with the provinces to the local bodies, the Bill would secure all the real practical benefits which the hon. Member for Southwark's proposition proposed as an Amendment upon the Bill. The hon. Baronet talked of overlaying New Zealand with legislatures too great for such a population, and he had adopted the line of argument that was used lately in some of the journals; and perhaps those articles might have made an impression upon the minds of some hon. Gentlemen who were ready to adopt opinions ably drawn up for them on the subject; but he (Mr. Adderley) had to weigh against those articles the opinions contained in two papers published in London, and immediately connected with New Zealand. Both the papers connected with New Zealand had unreservedly accepted the Bill as a great boon and a satisfactory measure for the Colony, and they expressed the opinions of men connected with the Colony, and in correspondence with it; and those opinions might be set against articles more ably written by philosophers with great schemes in their minds, but not so qualified to deal with practical legislation upon the subject. He thought that some of the hon. Baronet's friends in the Colony would be astonished at finding that their principal advocate had spoken of them in such depreciating terms. He thought it should have occurred to him that, in point of number, they were quite as great, and were also as intelligent and vigorous, as the Englishmen who had formed some of the earlier Colonies which were now amongst the leading nations of the earth. Therefore he (Mr. Adderley) did 943 not think that the number of 26,000— being the whole extent of the community of the islands of New Zealand—had anything whatever to do with the form of government they required. He had only one word to say with regard to the Few Zealand debt. The colonists were the best judges of this subject, and were willing to take the debt upon themselves, and how was it their interest to prevent them from doing so? The debt was recognised by Act of Parliament, and must be paid by this country or by the Colony; and he (Mr. Ad-derley) thought it was more just that this country should pay it, because the debt had accrued, owing, he would not say to the blunders, but to the unfortunate policy carried out by their own Colonial Ministers. He did not say the whole amount of the debt was proved; but whatever the amount of the debt might be, either this country or the colonists were bound to pay it; and if the colonists wished to pay it, what object could they have in standing in their way of what they thought to be a satisfactory adjustment? Though the colonists would think it a hardship to have the debt charged upon the revenue, they had submitted to have it charged upon the land sales on condition of having the option as to the price of land, and that option was given by the Bill. The condition on which they consented to pay the debt being included in the measure now before the House, and that condition being fulfilled, he was authorised to say that the colonists of Wellington, one of the principal settlements, had expressed their readiness to undertake the payment of the debt as proposed. Before he sat down he begged to read a letter from Mr. Well, who was authorised to speak on the part of the Wellington colonists; and here was the language he held with reference to the Bill:—I have heard that it is in contemplation to oppose the New Zealand Bill on the ground, amongst others, that the colonists are opposed to the creation of separate local governments in the several settlements. I beg to assure you of my firm belief, that not only will such provincial governments be most popular, but it is my own private opinion, and that I think of every one acquainted with the country, that such are the means by which its peculiar requirements can be met.The writer stated, in conclusion, that though they might object to certain details of the measure, they were ready, on the whole, to consider it as a great boon; and if it were deferred, they would despair 944 of obtaining the political rights which had been so long promised to them.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he had ventured, when the Bill was last before the House, to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington), while fully acknowledging the ability he had shown in mastering the subject, the expediency of not pressing such a measure in the present Parliament. On that occasion the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) had denounced him (Mr. V. Smith) as a person indifferent to the feelings of the colonists; but, now, the hon. Baronet had apparently come completely round to his views in regard to this Bill; and while he (Mr. V. Smith) quite agreed in every part of the speech, that evening, of the hon. Baronet, he certainly did think that the consistent conclusion would have been a Motion to read the Bill a second time that day six months. There were no good reasons for proceeding with such an important Bill, which it was impossible the House, under present circumstances, could adequately discuss; while there were innumerable reasons for giving it up until next Session. This was a Bill which included every great question of Colonial Government, each one of which questions was entitled to deliberate discussion. The thirteen classes of questions which were not to be submitted to the consideration of the local Legislatures constituted one mass of difficulties. There was, besides, the great question of giving up the land sales to the colonists. He quite approved of this proposal; but such a concession would cause great jealousy in Australia, where a similar power was not given to the colonists; and therefore should not be given up lightly, or considered at all except from the general point of view for all the Australian Colonies. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), had detailed three courses open to the House to pursue; and he had stated his opinion that the first course, namely, a continuation of the Suspension Act, would be the worst. He (Mr. V. Smith) did not agree with the hon. Gentleman. He could not understand why a year's delay should cause such frantic irritation as the hon. Gentleman had anticipated. The colonists would see the anxiety which was felt by the House of Commons to extend to them liberal institutions. They would see that the House of Commons itself was in a state of dissolution, was in a novel position, and was incapable, for the time, of 945 giving to this topic the attention which its intrinsic importance would under ordinary circumstances demand. Therefore, every allowance would he made by the colonists, and they would submit to a necessity which the House and the Government, too, were compelled to recognise. Another important point in the Bill was with regard to the settlement of the debt. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) professed to speak on authority when he said that the Colony would undertake the responsibility for the debt. The hon. Gentleman spoke with the authority of a single person; but it was exceedingly dangerous to take isolated opinions on such a matter. He (Mr. V. Smith) denied that there was anything like unanimity of opinion in the Colony on the question; and until it was well and carefully ascertained the direction in which the mass of opinions tended, it would be most injudicious to come to a premature and hasty conclusion as now proposed. Another delicate topic referred to a settlement with the New Zealand Company. He had understood this matter to have been settled by the Act of last Session; and he could not see why a Bill dealing with a constitution should be made to introduce a new settlement of this kind. What was proposed was a deviation from the former agreement; and it was a deviation, he begged to observe, more favourable to the Company than to the colony. Here was a point which would give rise to considerable controversy, and which could only be satisfactorily determined after lengthened discussion. On all these grounds—that the Bill, if persevered in, could only be passed in an imperfect state, and that a far greater evil than delay was a legislation in regard to the colonies which required subsequent consideration and amendment—he hoped that the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies would be content with having declared his own views, and with having elicited the feelings of the House, and that he would withdraw the Bill for the present Session.
§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, the principal difference between hon. Members on opposite sides of the House, had reference to the functions of the central and provincial councils. That difference appeared to have arisen from the circumstance of the originator of the measure not being the person to carry it into execution. This measure originated with the Governor of New Zealand, but it had since passed into the hands, first of all, of the noble 946 Lord (Earl Grey), and then of the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary; and it appeared now to be very much changed from what it originally was. He would ask what were the particular functions with which the right hon. Baronet intended to invest the Central Legislature? Had this Bill been framed with the intention of the central Legislative council being supreme in the country, or with the intention of the district councils having in fact the whole administrative power in their hands? He could not but think that it would be the duty of Parliament to confine in the hands of the central council the main functions to be performed by the Legislature. Again, he would ask if those councils were to be municipal bodies or petty parliaments? If they were to be municipal bodies, they ought at least to elect their own superior officers. But if they were to be petty Parliaments, then, he thought, their functions were too much diminished. It was a most important principle to consider, whether the supreme power should be vested in the Central Government, or diversified through the different district councils. If it was intended to frame the Bill with that division of powers, he thought it was impossible the House would allow it to pass without great discussion and a close investigation of all the matters bearing on the points to which he had adverted.
MR. J. A. SMITH
begged to offer his thanks to the right hon. Colonial Secretary for the attention he had applied to this most important subject, and he would urge upon the House the expediency of at all events going into Committee upon the Bill, and proceeding with it as far as possible so as to satisfy the colonists that Parliament had done all it could to meet their wishes. It was difficult to decide what would be the best form of government for this rising colony; but, under the circumstances, he imagined that the most expedient course woul4 be, having formed a Central Legislature, to leave to that central Legislature the charge of arranging the functions of the other Legislatures that might be established. Mistakes would be better than delay, so earnest were the colonists for the introduction among them of representative institutions. He had been especially surprised at the expressions of the hon. Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) with reference to the New Zealand Company, when he reflected that for several years the hon. Baronet had 947 been himself a director of that company. On the part of the company he would affirm that, whatever errors the directors might have committed, it would be difficult to find a body of men who had devoted more time and more labour to the attainment of results which they deemed beneficial to the public, to the best of their judgment, and without any bias of private interest. He agreed in the opinion that any settlement of the affairs of New Zealand which did not hand over to the Central Government the management of the land, would be ineffectual, He should be ready to give his best aid in making a reasonable and equitable settlement of the claims of the New Zealand Company, which had never done any act to he ashamed of; and he was sure neither the Government nor the House of Commons would allow that body to be deprived of what they were fairly entitled to, by repeated decisions of the Legislature, confirmed in the most solemn manner.
§ MR. F. PEEL
said, there were many parts of the Bill of which he disapproved, but he would reserve his remarks on these until it came to be considered in Committee. He assuredly did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. V. Smith) that it would be better to pass a Bill suspending for a year longer the Act of 1846. He thought it better to pass this measure in the present Session, though certainly not on the ground urged by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), who argued that they ought not to disappoint the just expectations of the colonists, that upon the expiration of the Suspending Act the representative institutions granted them by the Act of 1846, which had been improperly withheld, would at last be accorded to them. If this Bill should pass into a law, he did not think representative institutions would have been given to New Zealand one day too late. Sir George Grey had been Governor of New Zealand six years; and, although he received that colony in a State of anarchy, civil confusion, and utter prostration, and at war with a powerful native race, it was but justice to him to say that he had succeeded in those six years in bringing it round into a condition of peace, progress, and prosperity, without a parallel in the annals of our colonial dependencies. Eleven years ago that Colony was peopled only by a few scores of European missionaries, traders, and South Sea whalers. Now, the European 948 population exceeded 26,000, while the native race was advanced and advancing in civilisation. Those who knew the early history of the colonisation of New Zealand would admit—as Sir George Grey had more than once stated-that the great question for the last ten years which this country had to solve in New Zealand was not how soon or to what extent we should give the colonists self-government, but whether or no we should succeed in the subjugation and civilisation of the native race. That object Sir George Grey had succeeded in effecting! but if the Colony had had representative institutions in 1846, it would not have been effected, for we should still have been struggling for mastery with the native race. The observations of the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Moles worth) went far to show that self-government, in its application to a new Colony, was not that unmixed and unalloyed boon it was generally supposed to be. The experience of a wide-spread Colonial Empire showed that in infant Colonies which were only thinly inhabited, and in the several districts of which persons were not to be found possessed of sufficient wealth and leisure to enable them to devote their time to the care of the public interests, what was intended to be a national representation of those Colonies dwindled into a very local representation—a representation, in fact, of that particular locality which was made the seat of Government; the Representative Assembly came to be composed entirely of those persons whose occupations or lines of business enabled them to reside at the place where the Representative Assembly held its sittings; and thus the interests of that particular spot were consulted, to the neglect or disregard of more remote parts of the Colony. What was the inference to be drawn from this? Why, that if they intended to give self-government, and' to make it a reality, and not a nominal self-government, they must make it a local self-government. Hence the necessity of splitting up those islands of New Zealand, which were only 800 or 900 miles in length, and 100 in breadth, into an aggregation of small and separate provinces, and giving to each of those settlements, insignificant though they might be in numbers and in wealth, all the machinery and the cumbersome and complicated organisation of a separate and self-relying State. This Bill proceeded on the principle of accommodation-—accommodation to the force of circumstances 949 in New Zealand. It was their part to attend rather to the condition and circumstances of the Colony for which they legislated, than to carry out any speculative notions of government which might be entertained in this country. The same thing had been passing at the Cape of Good Hope. While that Colony was ruled by the Governor and Council, no diversity of interests was heard of; but when it was proposed to give it a representative Government, the eastern districts asked that the seat of Government should be removed from Cape Town, the extreme limit of the western district, to a more central spot, as their members, they said, could not afford to pass half the year at a place removed entirely from their own country; or else that the eastern and western districts should be separated and made distinct provinces with independent Legislatures. He thought the general outline of this Bill was entitled to the support of the House, and was well adapted to the requirements of society in New Zealand. It was said you might either have local councils with plenary powers, or a Central Legislature and no local Legislatures; and it was complained that the Bill followed a plan blended of the two; that it would give rise to a medley of legislation which would be ludicrous but for its consequences to New Zealand. Now there could not be a question that there ought to be a general Legislature or Assembly for the whole of New Zealand, and that the General Assembly ought to have exclusive jurisdiction over those subjects reserved to it and enumerated in the Bill. No one could doubt the propriety of there being uniformity of legislation on such subjects as the customs tariff, the currency, the law of real property, and rights of that kind. Without a General Assembly, having exclusive jurisdiction over these points, they would have a system of ad valorem duties in one part, and of specific duties in another; one rate of postage here, another there; here a metallic currency, there a paper one; here the law of primogeniture in the descent of real property, there equal division among all the children; in one place, offences punished capitally or by transportation; in another, by fine and imprisonment. Could there be any doubt as to whether it was proper that those subjects should be reserved for the exclusive consideration of the General Assembly? At the same time it was necessary to provide local councils to meet 950 the legislative requirements of each province, because from what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, it appeared to be impossible that the General Assembly could meet constantly, or that there could be annual Sessions. He (Mr. F. Peel) remembered, moreover, that in a recent despatch of Sir George Grey, he stated that the expenses of the Members must be paid; and he added that if that was not done the whole plan must break down. Now the right hon. Gentleman had not inserted any provision for the payment of the members of the General Assembly, and it became, therefore, the more necessary that there should be local councils in the provinces in the first instance. From physical and social circumstances, the different settlements had at present more of an individual than of a collective character. Sir George Grey had shown that impassable mountain ridges in the northern island rendered one settlement inaccessible to another; and in Canterbury and Otago, if there were no mountains, there were rivers which were unfordable and without bridges. Then with regard to their social position, it must be remembered that the settlers went direct from this country to their respective settlements, and were unacquainted with the capabilities of any part of the country except their own; that all their exports were made direct to Australia, England, or California, and their imports were received direct into their own settlements; and there was no central port and no spot in New Zealand which could be regarded as the centre from which the interests of the country radiated, as was the case in other Colonies. Some of the settlements also were founded on class principles and sectarian exclusiveness, and were wanting in a bond of union, which would be necessary if they were all subject to a centralised Legislature for the whole island. He hoped, in the course of time, all those settlements would be merged into one, and New Zealand eventually form a single and confederated society. Therefore, he had always thought that provisions should be inserted, giving to the General Assembly not only exclusive jurisdiction on certain topics enumerated, but also a concurrent jurisdiction on subjects upon which the local councils might legislate. There could be no conflict between the councils and the General Assembly, as the General Assembly would override the local councils. Let such a power be given to the Gen- 951 eral Assembly, and if it felt itself competent to legislate for the local requirements of each settlement, it would not be debarred from doing so by this Act; while if, on the contrary, it was found that there was a tendency to decentralisation and a localisation of government, it would abstain from exercising its powers, and the local councils would thus become what he hoped they would not become, a permanent part of the political system of New Zealand. He had several objections to parts of the Bill, especially with regard to the constitution of the upper chamber of the General Assembly; to the powers of the General Assembly to appropriate the land revenues, and to control the management of the waste lands, which had hitherto been vested in the Crown, which had always been considered as the trustee of the waste lands for the benefit of the people of this country. He would, however, reserve the discussion of those points for the Committee; and he would only repeat what he had already said, that as far as he could judge, the Bill was in its outline and framework entitled to the support of the House.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said:* I consider it, Sir, before all things essential to the formation of a just opinion of the several details upon this measure, that the House should consider its general position. I assume that there is a prevalent, indeed almost an universal, opinion, that the existence of the present Parliament ought not to be materially prolonged, either by actual contests, or by the expression of possible differences of opinion, upon the details of a Bill relating to the constitution of New Zealand. If this be so, then it appears to me that the question which we have before us is, in its first aspect, this— whether we shall, each of us following out that particular scheme for a colonial constitution which he may prefer, proceed to develop and urge upon the House the adoption of such scheme in its various parts; or whether, upon the other hand, we shall be content to view the proposed plan of Her Majesty's Government as a whole—to say we like or dislike it as a whole, and as a whole we accept or reject it. It seems to me that this is the real alternative before us. As practical men, having a practical object in view, and weighing together, as well as we can, several advantages which in some degree conflict with one another, we must in the main be content to forego many things in 952 order to gain an object more eminently and comprehensively important than these things, however much we may esteem them.
This being so, I shall endeavour to judge of the merits of the Bill viewed strictly as a whole. I shall state the points in which, as I think, it is a beneficial measure, and in which, considered with reference to previous colonial measures, it appears to me to be a decided advance upon our previous recent legislation. I shall also state with freedom the points in which it appears to me to be seriously faulty or doubtful: and shall endeavour to strike the balance between them with equity.
But, Sir, before I proceed to do this, I cannot consent to pass by an occasion of this kind, when we are called upon to deal definitively with the constitution of an important and remote colony, without calling the attention of the House to the false position in which, as I conceive, we stand with respect to the government of that colony, and of many others of our colonies. I am not aware, for myself, of any one case of a colony with which we have dealt by recent legislation, and in which we have at the present time arrived at a just, and what I may call for the sake of precision—I hope I shall not be considered as making a pedantic use of the word—a normal relation between the colony and the mother country. By the term "normal relation," I do not mean a relation founded upon the speculations of philosophers or economists alone; but I mean a relation which has been developed in the world of actual life, and which, with regard to its leading outlines and all its essential features, was the old relation that in former times—though you are accustomed to ridicule those times as having been comparatively unenlightened — subsisted between the mother country and the North American colonies.
The idea which we entertain of a colony at the present moment, as it appears to me, is this—we think of it as something which has its centre of life in an executive Government.—we think of the establishment of a colony as something which is to take effect by legislative enactments, or by the executive power of the Crown, and by the funds of the people of England. This administrative establishment, according to our present colonial system, is the root and trunk around which by degrees a population is to grow, under which by degrees that population is, according to our 953 modern, and in this case most unhappy phrase, to he trained for freedom, and to which in course of time some modicum of free institutions is to he granted. That I think is a true description of the manner in which, and of the idea under which, the foundation of our modern colonies has been ordinarily conducted.
Now, Sir, I conceive that this fundamental difference prevails between the colonial policy pursued in this country of late years, and the policy pursued in other great departments of the State. If we look at the policy which prevails in the Home Department, if we take the financial policy of the Government, or if we take the foreign policy of the country, as was well stated by my noble Friend near me (Lord Palmerston) upon another question in the earlier part of the evening, we find upon the whole, that with various differences with respect to matters of fact and to details, certain leading principles are continuously followed out, and that upon these leading principles there is a general concurrence of opinion; so that no person ever proposes seriously to alter the fundamental principles upon which the foreign policy of the country has been conducted under a long succession of Ministers. But that which I think requires still more and more to be presented to the mind of this House and of the people of England, until it become with them a living and practical conviction, is this proposition, that in the policy we have pursued in the foundation of colonies—I speak now of our free and planted colonies, not of military posts termed colonies, nor of colonies whose social relations are disturbed by questions of race—we have proceeded on principles fundamentally wrong; and that the Acts introduced and passed by Parliament for the purpose of raising, by slow and reluctant degrees, the structure of freedom in those colonies, have not been so much recognitions of a right principle, as modifications, qualifications, and restraints imposed upon a wrong principle.
Now what is this right principle of colonisation to which I refer? It may be enunciated in my view by one word, or at least one phrase, to which I will presently come. Your ancestors, two hundred years ago, when they proceeded to found colonies, did not do it by coming down to this House with an estimate prepared, and asking so many thousands a year for a governor, a judge, an assistant judge, a colonial secretary, and a large apparatus of minor 954 officers. What they did was this. They collected together a body of free men, destined to found a free State in another hemisphere, upon principles of freedom analogous to our own, which should grow up by a principle of increase intrinsic to itself, and, enjoying that freedom under the shelter against foreign aggression from civilised Powers which your imperial power was to afford them, should in process of time propagate your language, manners, institutions, and religion in distant quarters of the globe. But it was not on artificial support from home that these institutions leaned; and the consequence was that they advanced with a rapidity which, considering the undeveloped state of communications and of commerce at that time, was little less than miraculous. That was the consequence to them; and the consequence to you was this, that you never heard of pecuniary charges brought against this country for their maintenance; that, on the contrary, you found them ready to assist you in your foreign wars, and that instead of being called on to send regiments, service companies, and I know not what besides, to maintain the domestic police of those colonies, and keep the peace for them against unruly members of their own communities, or against savage tribes upon their borders, such was their admiration of freedom, and such their profitable use of it, that not only did they not ask you for your regiments and service companies, or petition you for means to keep the peace, but they held it as a grievance if you attempted to impose on them your little standing armies, and they considered that, having been educated in English habits and ideas, they were perfectly competent to follow out the paths in which those habits and ideas conducted them for themselves.
Such was the then state of things. Departing from that scheme of policy in later days, you have implanted a principle, if not of absolute, yet of comparative feebleness in your distant settlements. You have brought upon yourselves enormous expense; and, by depriving them of the fulness of political freedom, you have deprived them of the greatest attraction which they could possibly hold out to the best part of your population to emigrate; because Englishmen do not love to emigrate to countries where they cannot enjoy the political franchises which they enjoy at home, and where the regulation of their interests will be committed to the hands 955 of a Government which, however mild and equitable, must still be called in principle despotic. Whatever we may say as to despotism—and I am not given to take an over severe view of despotism, where it is adapted to the habits of a country and its social state—yet as regards freeborn Englishmen, such a system is most monstrous and most irrational; and the consequence has been that there is a subject of complaint present and familiar to us all, namely this, that you have been unable to get the superior classes of the community to emigrate; for the high-minded, well-educated men, who would have been themselves the centres of a valuable social influence, have been reluctant to leave the shores of England, because they were unwilling to forfeit the advantages of a state of high civilisation, and to incur a certain deprivation of the great bulk of their political liberties. And thus our modern colonists, instead of remaining, as formery, in continuous and hereditary possession of their liberties, after quitting the mother country, instead of keeping them, and handing them on as the regular and unquestioned heritage of their children in another hemisphere, go out to Australia or New Zealand to be deprived of these liberties, and then perhaps, after fifteen, or twenty, or thirty years' waiting, or yet more, to have a portion given back to them with great and magnificent language about the liberality of Parliament in conceding free institutions; while during the whole of that interval they are condemned to hear the whole of the miserable jargon which has grown into use about training them for free institutions, and fitting them for the privileges thus conferred; whereas, in point of fact, so far from thus training and fitting them, every year and every month during which they are kept out of the possession and familiar use of such institutions, and retained under the administration of a despotic Government, renders them less fit for free institutions, and the consequence is that the introduction of them at length is attended with great embarrassments; liberty comes to them as a novelty: its working is something strange and unknown, attended with hazard, uncertainty, and excitement; and thus you have inconvenient or disastrous consequences brought upon you by your own fault, which you might have avoided if you had only followed that which in this case no one need be ashamed of holding up to commendation as the wisdom of your an- 956 cestors-if you had only walked in the path they struck out for your guidance. Let the people you send out to colonise a distant land take root unmolested in their new ground as the seed of a future community, as the natural and living centre around which population is to grow; and instead of training them for free institutions, rely upon it that the best training they can have is the training they have already received before they left your shores, and while they are still British citizens; let them carry their freedom with them, even as they carry their agricultural implements, or anything else necessary to establish them in their new abodes; so let them hold it for themselves, and so let them transmit it to their children. This is the true secret of subduing the difficulties of colonisation.
I said that in propagating these opinions I did not rest upon the speculations of phi-losophers and economists—I rest upon the facts of history. The system which I re-commend, which I am certainly convinced will gain ground from year to year in the feelings and convictions of this country, is the very same system in the main with that on which the whole of the great and wonderful operation in colonising North America was conducted—the system which Mr. Burke studied, examined, and comprehended from top to bottom, and which he described in his great speech on American taxation, when he warned the Parliament against the erroneous and destructive consequences of attempting to establish administrative power over their distant dependencies, or to extract from them some miserable and contemptible pecuniary benefit, instead of seeing that the great interest and purpose of England in colonising was the multiplication of her race; that her policy was to trust to the multiplication of her race for the propagation of her institutions; and that whatever course of legislation tended most to the rapid expansion of population and power, in her colonies, necessarily tended most to enhance the re-fleeted benefits that she was to derive from their foundation. That sound colonial policy reached its climax in what I may call Tory times, although they were times immediately preceding the invention of our now familiar political designations. In 1662 the Charter of Rhode Island was granted. It is the most remarkable for its enlarged and liberal spirit of all the early charters; yet in its general character it is akin to the rest of the charters, under 957 which the infant settlements of New England throve and prospered. At this day it is Considered a monstrous idea that colonies should have free local jurisdiction for local purposes. It is not considered safe to allow colonies to pass at their own discretion a law relating to the making of a road the deepening of a harbour, or any local purpose; so that an act of this kind after passing a Colonial Legislature, nay, even after receiving the Governor's assent, is not secure from reversal, but is still, as it Were, held in a state of suspended existence for two years and upwards. It is remitted to England, considered in England, and again sent to the colonies; and thus, until the news is received there its fate remains Uncertain: in point of fact, a period of nearly three years may elapse in our distant Colonies between their final decision on local questions—the only criterion of fitness in this case which is worth a moment's attention — and their final knowledge whether their decision is to take effect. That is the state in which they are placed, and the way in which their affairs are managed. I should like to know what our feelings, temper, and humour would be if this was the mode of dealing with laws passed by us on subjects which we understand—say, for instance, an Act for the construction of a Great Western railroad, or other similar purpose —if such an Act, passed on our own knowledge of the circumstances and exigencies of the case, were to be transmitted to another quarter of the world, and there kept by somebody in an office for two years, while some person or persons unknown were deliberating upon its fate. That, however, Sir, is the system under which, in this age of freedom and enlightenment, we are content that our colonies should subsist.
But the old idea of a colony may be represented, as I have already said, by a single phrase—it was, in fact, the idea of a municipal corporation. Now, it will be useful to consider the sense attached to that phrase. In the departure from it we find a key to the alteration of our colonial policy from the old model. We do not now treat our municipalities with the same system of misplaced absolutism as we apply to our colonies; we place them under the restraint of the general laws of the land, but for purposes properly local we give them absolute freedom. The by-laws of Liverpool or of Manchester—places counting their population by hundreds on hun- 958 dreds of thousands—are not sent to the Secretary for the Home Department to be kept for two years, that he may consider whether they are to be carried into effect or not, but they go into operation at once. Shall I ask this House to consider, or would it be possible for us by any strain of imagination to realise to ourselves, what our condition would be if it were not so? Such a system would seem to us fitter for Turkey than for England. The system of those times was well considered, and was founded on the dictates of political justice. The colonies were subjected, on one hand, to the general restraints of the law of England; and again, according to the language of their charters, they were to have their laws, as near as might be, agreeable to the laws of England; whilst in other respects they were, for all practical purposes, absolutely and entirely free; and I must say, further, the degenerate and degrading ideas we now have of retaining the substance of colonial patronage partly, and still more the name, in this country, for the supposed benefit of Ministers or influence of the Crown, were totally foreign to the notion of your ancestors six generations ago. These colonies, on the general basis of municipal corporations, were the possessors of their own soil; they were for all purposes of police, except that of conflict with civilised Powers, the defenders of their own frontiers; they were the bearers of their own charges: they were the electors of their own officers; and they were the makers of their own laws. Now, you have reversed, within the last seventy years, every one of those salutary principles. Your policy has been this: you have retained at home the management of, and property in, colonial lands. You have magnificent sums figuring in your estimates for the ordinary expenses of their governments, instead of allowing them to bear their own expenses. Instead of suffering them to judge what are the measures best adapted to secure their peaceful relations with the aboriginal tribes, and endeavouring to secure their good conduct—instead of telling them that they must not look for help from you unless they maintain the principles of justice, you tell them, "You must not meddle with the relations between yourselves and the natives; that is a matter for Parliament;" a Minister sitting in Downing-street must determine how the local relations between the inhabitants of the colony and the aboriginal tribes are to be settled, in every point down 959 to the minutest detail. Nay, even their strictly internal police your soldiery is often called upon to maintain. Then, again, the idea of their electing their own officers is, of course, revolutionary in the extreme— if not invading the Royal supremacy, it is something almost as had, dismembering the Empire; and as to making their own laws upon their local affairs without interference or control from us, that is really an innovation so opposed to all ideas of imperial policy, that I think my hon. Friend the Member' for Southwark has been the first man in the House bold enough to propose it. Thus, in fact, the principles on which our colonial administration was once conducted, have been precisely reversed. Our colonies have come to be looked upon as being, not municipalities endowed with external freedom, but petty States. If you had only kept to the fundamental idea of your forefathers, that these were municipal bodies founded within the shadow and cincture of your imperial powers—that it was your business to impose on them such positive restraints as you thought necessary, and having done so, to leave them free in everything else— all those principles, instead of being reversed, would have survived in full vigour — you would have saved millions, I was going to say countless millions, to your exchequer; but you would have done something far more important by planting societies more worthy by far of the source from which they sprung; for no man can read the history of the great American revolution, without seeing that 100 years ago your colonies, such as they then were, with the institutions they then possessed, and the political relations in which they then stood to the mother country, bred and reared men of mental stature and power such as far surpassed anything that colonial life is now commonly considered to be capable of producing.
I will proceed to recite in a few words, the main provisions of the charter of Rhode Island—which is, on the whole, the best and most perfect exhibition of your ancient maxims of government applied to the American settlements. Its constitution consisted of three orders—a governor, a body of assistants, and a body of freemen. The freemen, as it was anticipated in this charter that they would become numerous, were to meet by representation; and thus in these elected freemen, with the distinct order of assistants, a principle was laid down, the principle of the double chamber 960 for legislation, which had stood the storm of the American revolution, and the strain of all subsequent political vicissitudes; and which at present subsists with undiminished vigour, in every single State, I believe, of the American Union. But further, Sir, while the first Governor was named in the Charter, and was to hold his office for a year, his successors were to be appointed by the free voice of the colonists; and, doubtless, to many who hear me it will appear astonishing that that power should have been conceded in 1662, when not merely the warmth, but the fever, of Royalism was at its height in this country. They were not only to elect their own Government, but to make their own laws, subject to no other restraint in the world, except that, as far as circumstances would permit, they should he not contrarious but agreeable to the laws of England. They were to appoint their own officers and judges; they were to constitute their own courts of justice; they were to arm, embody, and march their own force for self-defence, and appoint its commanders; they were to be the possessors of their own soil; and lastly, they were to be the bearers of their own charges. It might be asked what security was taken for their good behaviour to others. The security taken, whether perfect or not, was certainly as perfect as any more recent policy has furnished; it was provided that, in case of their offending any Prince or Power in alliance with the Crown of England, they should either be bound to make restitution to the satisfaction of the Crown, or else (says the charter) they shall be "put out of our allegiance and protection." Now, Sir, two centuries have passed, and have produced many changes in the character of mankind, and I will not say that in all points, which may now be in debate, that Rhode Island charter ought to be implicitly and blindly imitated; but this I will say, that when we look at the constitutions we have given of late years to our colonies, the Acts we have passed, the difficulties we have had with them, the millions we have paid for the suppression of insurrections, and for the maintenance of wars with savages, the worrying processes to which colonists have been subjected, the complaints on all sides of the deteriorated tone of society in many of these dependencies, the reluctance once universal, and still somewhat prevalent of educated and superior men to cast their lot and make their home there—when we notice all this, 961 and when we see that 200 years ago a systern, conceived in another spirit was carried out by our forefathers, we surely cannot draw the comparison, I should rather say the contrast, without a blush upon our faces.
I shall now come to the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, which I shall endeavour to discuss in a spirit of fairness, and without offensive insinuations. I am bound to say, then, that on the whole this Bill is creditable to Her Majesty's Government, not because it goes back to the system generally represented by the Rhode Island charter, but because on the whole it indicates a real intention to approximate to that system, and concedes a larger measure of freedom than has hitherto been given, under Parliamentary enactment, without perhaps a single exception, to any of our colonies. My hon. Friend the Member for Southwark complains of the Bill as recognising too much the political existence of the local settlements, and he proposes that it should be left to the Central Legislature to create local political authorities according to the dictates of expediency. On the contrary, I must say, notwithstanding my respect for his authority, and my general concurrence in his views of colonial policy, that I think the recognition of these local settlements one of the most excellent features of the Bill. One of the characteristics of our modern legislation, as far as colonies are concerned, has been its arbitrary character. You have endeavoured to draw lines for yourselves, instead of following those which nature and subsisting circumstances have drawn for you. It is a mistake in my opinion to say that you require a large amount of population to constitute a self-governing political society. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies has said, here are six settlements, the inhabitants of which are united by proximity to one another, by common pursuits and relations, in a great degree by common ideas, and a common industry and trade; but generally separated from one another by wide intervals of space. Well, there is, if I may so call it, the social unit; and the right hon. Gentleman has recognised it, and has departed from the modern traditions of colonial policy by granting a considerable share of political power to those small communities working independently one of the other. I am glad to find in this arrangement a protest against those attempts to centralise by law where 962 there is no sufficient attraction to a natural centre, which can only produce weakness and dissatisfaction. When I consider how well an opposite system has worked in North America; when I consider how much of the character of the Union and its stability depends on the strict division into States, and the rigid maintenance of their separate authority and jurisdiction, I do not hesitate to say that the recognition of these small communities which are to have a substantive political existence of their own, while they are likewise to be associated together for other more general purposes, is, in my view, one of the fundamental merits of the Bill, and promises, nay, constitutes, a real advance in the spirit of our colonial policy. Indeed, as I shall presently show, the Bill would be much better if it went further in this respect, and endowed these settlements severally with independent legislative power for all purely local purposes.
I come now, Sir, to the passing of laws: and with respect to this part of the subject, I must observe that the right hon. Gentleman has introduced what is called the thin end of the wedge, although it is a very thin end indeed, to relax, and finally, as I hope, to break up the present system. It is now for the first time proposed by a Minister, that Bills may be passed in a Colonial Legislature, and may finally pass into law, without being subject to what is termed the veto at home. The district legislatures of New Zealand are to be empowered, if Parliament should adopt the Ministerial plan, to make laws upon all subjects whatever, with certain specified exceptions, These acts are to be liable to veto only from the Governor of New Zealand: and although an unduly prolonged period of time is assigned him for the exercise of that power, yet in principle the concession is important; for if that officer shall not think fit, these measures will never be heard of in Downing Street as subjects for deliberation at all. Now this is a matter in which much care and consideration is requisite, and the ground must carefully be measured and ascertained, before we go to the extreme length which, on general principles, might be thought desirable: but, keeping those principles in view, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the qualified recognition of them by the provisions of his Bill.
Another valuable feature of the measure I find in the arrangement proposed with regard to the composition of the smaller or 963 district legislatures. Here, again, the right hon. Gentleman has had the courage to burst the bonds of another most mischievous modern superstition: I mean that superstition which prescribes that a certain number of nominees shall be introduced into the legislative constitutions of our Colonies, in order to maintain what is called the just influence of the Crown: a topic on which I shall touch more largely by and by, when I come to the question of an elective as compared with a nominated Upper Chamber for the Central Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman has provided that in the district legislatures there shall be only one house or chamber. This I so far regret, that I should have preferred a plan based upon the old distribution into the two orders of assistants and freemen, which supplied the groundwork for a division into two separate chambers, whenever it might seem advisable. But as we are to have only one chamber, I am heartily glad that there are to be no nominees in it. No Crown in-fluence is to be cherished by such spurious means; election, and election only, is to prevail; and the Secretary of State has delivered himself and us from that idea, which sat upon us in former times like a nightmare, that a colonial constitution could not work without an infusion of nominated members—a device that, so far as I can perceive, has no purpose except that of sowing and perpetuating dissension.
The right hon. Gentleman has moreover made another step in advance, a step much in accordance with the old spirit with which our first colonies were guided. He has proposed to hand over, with certain restrictions, the control of their own land to the colonists. Now this I take to be no small merit in the Bill before us; especially when I remind the House that two years ago, when we were invited to legislate for New South Wales, it was in vain that some Members urged upon the Government, and upon Parliament, the necessity and the equity of doing the same thing. The Bill gives to the colonists of New Zealand that right of dealing with their own lands which we refused in 1850 to the more mature and powerful colony of New South Wales. And although this boon is clogged, as I shall show, with objectionable conditions, yet by it the right hon. Gentleman shows that in principle he is willing to assent to the demand made by the colonists in regard to this weighty particular. There is another point also which I think of great importance; without which, indeed, I do 964 not think I could consent to waive the objections I might take to the details of this Bill. I refer to the largeness of the power of alteration. Every single regulation, every single enactment of the British Parliament in this Bill, is subject to revision and alteration. The right hon. Gentleman does not attempt to exempt any one of them from the touch of the profane hands of the Colonial Legislature. This measure permits the Colonists to pass Bills for the purpose of altering every political arrangement that may be made for them by the British Parliament, only providing, which I cannot think unreasonable, that such Bills as deal with organic changes should be remitted home. Now, these are the great merits of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman; and on the ground of these merits, on the ground that they are so many approximations upon his part to the old Colonial system of this empire, I am disposed to sink many of my own peculiar opinions and desires, and to lend a hand, if I can, to the progress of the measure.
I come now to the gravest of the points in which I am disposed to object to the provisions of the Bill; and, first, I agree with an objection urged by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark. I am afraid that a great difficulty will arise from that which is called the concurrent jurisdiction of the legislative bodies. There is an unnecessary complexity in these institutions. You have positively got a hierarchy of three orders of legislative bodies in New Zealand, topped by a Government and Parliament at home. You have a Central Legislature, and a district legislature. Under them you have a municipal legislature, properly so called. I cannot help suggesting that this municipal chamber might with very great propriety be swallowed up in the district legislature. You have an unnecessary complexity; and depend upon it, where there is such a complexity there will be confusion. The more simple your plan, the better it will so far be likely to work. Moreover, these district legislatures would, after all, be legislatures only for 1,200 or 1,500, and from thence up to some 5,000 or 6,000 people. If that be the case, of which there is no doubt, there can be no necessity for a municipal legislature —the district legislature will be thoroughly adapted to all the purposes which we commonly call municipal. A concurrent legislative jurisdiction is a matter of great difficulty. We know that it would be so in this country; and I do not perceive how it 965 can work without confusion in the Colonies. And here I detect the lack of a guiding principle in the framing of this Bill. Take, said the hon. Member for South-wark, the Central Legislature, and make it the fountain of power; on the other hand I say, let the district legislature be for New Zealand, and under its circumstances the fountain of power. But I do not think this Bill proceeds consistently either on the one principle or on the other; and concurrent jurisdictions, I must confess, are to mo subjects of apprehension and alarm. A concurrent jurisdiction in the business of legislation means uncertainty, conflict, and confusion. The overriding of arrangements, already made under authority deemed competent, by extraneous power, must ever lead to annoyance and angry feeling. What reason can there be, if these district legislatures are fit to deal with the subjects which come before them—what reason can there be that their decisions should be subject to revision? I will put this in the form of a dilemma. If these district legislatures are fit to deal with the subjects you entrust to them, why not let them deal with them? If they are unfit to deal with them, why put into their hands the power to meddle with them? Unity of power is essential— clear discrimination and accurate division of power are essential to the repose of a community, and to the harmonious working of its institutions. Look to the United States, which is the great source of experimental instruction, so far as Colonial institutions are concerned. There you will find unity of power, and correct division of power; but you will not find concurrent jurisdiction. This proposition in the Bill rests upon the notion that there is no unity in the political system. Whereas it is an essential condition of a healthy and a strong Government that there should be unity. We know very well where the organ of power lies in this country. It lies with us in Parliament. Certain functions are delegated by us to other bodies, hut we do not interfere with them or override them in the exercise of functions so delegated. But these district legislatures are not to exercise certain powers delegated to them by the Central Legislature. They are to exercise all powers whatsoever except only upon certain limited and specified subjects. I look upon this objection to the Bill as one of very great force. If I am asked why, recognising the force of this objection, I do not join the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark in deprecating the further 966 progress of the Bill? My answer is, the large powers of alteration which the right hon. Gentleman has given in this Bill, render it unnecessary. My belief is that the highly intelligent community you have foended in New Zealand, more thoroughly reflects the spirit, the character, and intelligence of England, than almost any other among all your Colonies; and my opinion is, that they will exercise so clear an intelligence in discerning what is for their own good, that they will rectify the error of our crude legislation, and will, extricating themselves from this complexity, attain to a unity of system and a clear and accurate discrimination of power.
Another great objection to this Bill is this: Having constituted these local legislatures, you enable them to pass laws upon all subjects, except certain ones, which are reserved. Now, the great bulk of the laws they will pass, will be purely local. Indeed, as to the district legislatures, there can hardly be such a thing as an exception. There will, therefore, be no necessity for referring these laws home. This proposition is, I must observe, virtually acknowledged: for it is required, not that these Acts shall come home, but simply that they shall go to the Governor of New Zealand. Only to the Governor: you ought, therefore, not to subject the Colonists to so long a period of uncertainty as two years before they can ascertain whether their measures will be approved of or not.
Now, Sir, I must confess that, under the circumstances, I am disposed to make great sacrifices of opinion, and to yield my own private views, in order to see this Bill have a chance of becoming the law of the Empire. But if this Bill is to be fought in Committee, as it is termed, and if all opportunities are to be taken by Gentlemen, thoroughly educated in the doctrine and discipline of colonial philosophy, for lecturing the Government and the House of Commons upon the pure theory of colonisation, I am afraid we shall have but a small chance of such a desirable consummation. I do not, therefore, speak of amendments and divisions in Committee: but I simply put it to the Government whether the proposed term of two years is not rather too lengthened a period; and I suggest, especially as those Acts will be local, that a period of from four to six months would be amply sufficient for the purpose, and that this limitation would, moreover, detract nothing in any respect from the value and efficiency of the Bill. I have 967 said already that I do not feel disposed to pursue my own opinions, that I am ready to yield them in the most important details of this political arrangement, because I have placed before myself the only alternative which remains, namely, the acceptance or the loss of the Bill. Sincerely wishing, then, that this Bill should pass, I shall, notwithstanding refer to one or two Amendments, which, as at present advised, I think if not absolutely essential, yet in a high degree valuable and expedient for the measure, reserving it to myself to act in regard to them hereafter as shall on the whole appear most prudent.
The right hon. Gentleman has thought it fit, following the traditions of his department in this particular instance, that the settlers in New Zealand, composed of Englishmen and natives as intelligent as ourselves, except in so far as they may have lost their intelligence by having lived so long under what must in strictness be called arbitrary government, the right hon. Gentleman has thought it fit that each one of his six districts should be governed by a Superintendent, who is not to be elected, but who is to be nominated by the Governor of New Zealand, and that this functionary, to relieve him from the risk of starvation, should have provided for him, by our parental care, a salary of 500l. per annum. I would respectfully suggest, Sir, if we could get rid both of the nomination and of the salary, it would be a great improvement in this Bill. Prom what source is it that political appointments derive their attractiveness and honour? I have the distinction of sitting in an Assembly of six hundred Gentlemen who give their laborious services to the country without fee or reward: we have, again, in the service of the State a great multitude of salaried offices; yet no man can say that these salaried offices, many of them bringing distinction as well as emolument, are coveted more than a seat in this House. Why is such a seat, with the heavy burden of duties attaching to it, so coveted? Because every seat in it is a mark of the confidence of a portion of our fellow-countrymen. That confidence stands instead of money, and it does the work of money better than money itself can do. If you would allow these communities to choose out from among themselves those whom they believe to be the best men, you would find, without undertaking to provide them with 500l. a year for their labours, that the office would become the object of honourable com- 968 petition; and it would be, in addition, I venture to predict, the means of making the colony attractive in a degree far beyond your present experience, of drawing from England to that colony men of a different class, men of a higher class than you can ever get to go in numbers to any of your Colonies, until you stamp them with the same broad, and deep, and indelible character of freedom which has been marked upon all your institutions at home.
There is another objection which I have to urge, which I consider to touch a matter of the deepest importance—I allude to the question of the nominated upper chamber or legislative council in the Central Legislature of New Zealand. The intention of the legislative council or upper chamber is, that it should check and control the other legislative chamber; and it is proposed that it should be composed of nominees of the Crown. In this important particular the plan of the right hon. Gentleman differs, and I must say greatly degenerates, from the plan of Lord Grey. Having had the misfortune frequently to differ from that noble Lord on his colonial policy, it is with the greatest pleasure that I acknowledge the excellence of his plan in this particular respect. His intention, as I understand, was that the council should be composed of persons elected by the district legislatures. It is quite plain whence he derived that hint. It was from the United States of America; and in going, as I have stated, to the constitution of the United States to draw hints and suggestions for the improvement of our colonial institutions, he resorted to the very best fountain of instruction founded on experience; and if there be one thing in the constitution of the United States of America which more than others entitles the great authors of that astonishing work to the gratitude of their countrymen, and to fame as wide and lasting as the world, it is the system which they have devised for the election of the Senate—which, proceeding on the principle of providing for the election of Senators from separate States, each considered as units and all as equal, establishes a check on the power of mere numbers or pure popular election. The right hon. Gentleman in this particular has fallen back upon the ordinary modern practice, and he proposes to create an upper chamber by the nomination of the Executive. Against that I say that this Bill ought not to make any such provision, but that the legislative council 969 ought to be elective. [Cheers.] Those cheers came from the Liberal side of the House—it is on that side that the elective principle finds favour. Now, let me illustrate this state of opinion here by a reference to what is taking place in the British North American Colonies. If you trace the recent annals of Canada, you will find that there have been, at more periods than one, several energetic movements made to get rid of nomination in the election of the Legislative Council. These movements have, however, been always defeated. And how have they been defeated? These movements have been all made by the Tory or Conservative party in the colony, and they have been all defeated by the Liberal party in the colony. And why? Not because the Liberal party were opposed to the principle of election—quite the contrary—but because the Liberal party have during those periods been in a position of power, they, without opposing the principle of the change, which, on the contrary, they, I believe, commended, have acted on the familiar and well-known principle, "Let well alone." When they came into power, they had an intractable Legislative Council, composed of nominees, to deal with—and how did they proceed? To use a homely phrase, which all of us understand, they swamped it, by procuring the appointment of a large number of persons of Liberal principles. Thus the majority was converted into a minority, and the minority into a majority; and the Council by this process was brought into harmony with the Assembly. But it is the Conservative party in Canada, the party which is opposed to rapid and incessant change, and which wishes to introduce a principle of stability and continuity into the institutions of the province, that desires to abolish the system of nomination. The same thing has occurred within the last few months in Nova Scotia, where there has been a great struggle of parties, and a division of opinion exactly similar. The Liberal party has there, too, succeeded in maintaining the principle of a nominated legislative council against the Conservative party, which is in favour of an elective council; but the victory has been gained by a majority of only one. Such is the division of parties on this question; but how does the system work? What lights do we obtain from experience? It is not difficult to bring a House of Peers up to London, but it is exceedingly difficult to bring members of a Legislative Council to To- 970 ronto; still more difficult, perhaps, to bring them to Halifax, and certainly much more still to Wellington. You have not the inequality of fortune in the colonies that you have here; you have no class of men possessing leisure and wealth, who it may almost be said are born to political pursuits; who can afford to leave their places of residence, and come to considerable distances to attend to public affairs. It is found necessary there to pay the representatives of the people, not indeed for sordid purposes, but to enable them to bear the expense of their journeys, and the absence of the emoluments which they derive from their ordinary pursuits. Now the colonies do not grudge that payment when it is given to their own representatives, but they will not endure it when it is given to your nominees. The right hon. Gentleman must know what are the consequences which sometimes arise from this state of things. He knows that the Government is occasionally brought to something very near a dead lock, and that there is the greatest difficulty in obtaining a quorum of the Legislative Council to transact the public business. The cause is, that they cannot afford to absent themselves from their homes during the Session without being paid, while the people of the colony will on no condition agree to pay them as long as they exist as members of the Council by your nomination. I have now shown that in practice it is found most difficult to work the system of councils elected by nomination; and I have also shown you that, as regards political principle and opinion, it is the party favourable to stability which is endeavouring to get rid of nominated legislative councils, and to substitute in their place elective councils. The real truth is, that here we have another of those vulgar superstitions which it is necessary to protest against from year to year, until we see them effectually and utterly exploded—the superstition, namely, which induces men to believe that it is right to have a body of men in the colonies appointed in this country for the purpose of checking the free action of popular sympathies in those colonies. Now, Sir, if it were true that this country had a set of interests distinct from the interests of the colony in respect to its local affairs, I grant that you would be acting on a sound and right principle, in making provision for the separate and independent maintenance of those interests. But it is not so. You have no conceivable interest 971 apart from those of the colonists. What serves their purpose best, serves your purpose best. That which contributes to their greatness—that which gives them strength, enlargement, and stability—that is their interest, and that is your interest also; and as for the notion of setting up a body of men by nomination who are to be the representatives of your interests, which are no interests at all, and whose offices are to be in the gift of Gentlemen in Downing-street, it is a most gross and serious error, not merely one of those idle errors that lie by in the lumber room and do no good and no harm, but an error full of practical mischief, and tending to keep up that intermeddling in the local concerns of the colonies, which is so prolific of weakness to us, and of vexation to them. For reasons like these, I must say it would be most gratifying if the Government would reconsider this question of a nominated upper chamber, and would introduce a provision similar to that of Earl Grey. There is yet, Sir, another point to which I must refer. It relates to the New Zealand Company. The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. J. A. Smith) has spoken of the disinterested conduct of that company: and I do not at all question that patriotic motives have governed the gen-tlemen who formed the direction. But I must confess that for colonial purposes, when once companies of this nature get beyond the purely commercial business of bringing the capital of the old country into contact with the soil of the new country, I look upon them with an ineradicable jealousy. So long ago as the time of Adam Smith they had acquired with him the' ill repute of being the greatest Obstacles to the well-being of colonies. We have one most unfortunate instance of this in the case of the Hudson's Bay Company, which spreads a death-like shade over a large region of North America. I object altogether to the management at home of the local affairs of colonies such as we have now in view; but if we are to have government from hence, I say let it be the Queen's Government; let it be the government we see on that bench, the government which we Can face and interrogate, with which we can argue, and whose errors we can expose and condemn; but as to companies of this kind, which fall into the hands of irresponsible individuals, into which necessarily a narrow spirit creeps, and a spirit that gradually becomes more and more narrow, I certainly look upon 972 them with the greatest jealousy, when once they get begond that which I have ventured to characterise as their proper sphere. No doubt there may be exceptions, and the New Zealand Company may be one of these. I certainly do not mean to draw a comparison between it and the Hudson's Bay Company; but I maintain that too much of territorial power and of political relation has belonged to it. I am afraid, too, that the course of its affairs has proved most unprofitable to the proprietors and directors, as well as most costly to the Treasury of this country. I will not now inquire who is right or who is wrong, but it is certain that besides a sum of 236,000l. already paid by us, there is an unpaid bill of 268,000l. more still owing by the colony to the Company. Now it appears to me, that by this measure we do essentially alter the position of the New Zealand Company in regard to this debt, which is already a subject of great soreness in the colony. Sir, I think that we ought not by this Bill to do any such thing: and I am not willing to be responsible for such alteration in favour of the New Zealand Company, and against the colonists. The Act of 1847 declared, that after winding up the Company—There shall be charged upon and paid to the New Zealand Company out of the proceeds of all future sales of the demesne lands of the Crown in New Zealand, after deducting the outlay for surreys, and the proportion of such proceeds which is appropriated to the purposes of emigration, the sum of 268,370l. 15s.So far the Bill of 1847 corresponded with that of the right hon. Gentleman, inasmuch as it was based upon the Calculation of 5s. per acre of the Company's lands, which if was proposed the Company should be entitled to receive. Now, there is all the difference between a first mortgage and a second; but the claim of the New Zealand Company was neither a first mort-gage nor a second, but something very indefinite and unsatisfactory to a creditor indeed—namely, a third mortgage. The first mortgage was for the surveys. The second was elastic beyond description, being such proportion of the proceeds as might be applied to emigration; the Company was only the third claimant. Now, what was the proportion appropriated to the purposes of emigration? I hold in my hand the opinion of the English law officers of the Crown upon a case drawn up for their consideration, and they Said—In obedience to your Lordships' commands 973 we have considered the case submitted to us, and hate the honour to report that we are of opinion that (regard being had to the Acts of Parliament, agreement, and land instructions above referred to) no definite proportion of the proceeds of future sales of demesne lands of the Crown in New Zealand is to be regarded as appropriated to the purposes of emigration, and that the Crown has the power from time to time to fix and alter that proportion by instructions previously to the extinguishment of the debt of the Company.So that the first charge is for the surveys. By the second charge you are to vote out of the proceeds of land sales so much as the Crown shall think fit for the purposes of emigration. And, thirdly, you are to pay over the residue to the extent of 288,000l. to the New Zealand Company. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, on the other hand, while it makes over the management of the lands to the Legislature of New Zealand, goes on to state, that in respect of all sales there shall be paid to the Company sums after the rate of 5s. for each acre of land so alienated; and this appears to he an absolute unconditional payment, independent of price; and a first charge, independent of the cost of surveys, independent of funds for emigration. I say, then, that in point of fact you are entirely altering the position of the New Zealand Company. [Sir J. PA-KINGTON made a gesture of dissent.] I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to alter it. I am satisfied that if he did alter it, it would be a matter of extreme delicacy and difficulty. Recollect you are getting very near the edge of the ground of the old disputes with America, and the old colonial revolutions: for this is, after all, a question indirectly, if not directly, of colonial taxation. These lands are deriving a value not from your passing any Act of Parliament to give it them, but from coming into proximity with other lands, where capital and industry have been invested, and where communities have sprung up, and the intercourse with those communities as it spreads from point to point creates the value of the lands. In the present instance those lands are under a mortgage of 268,000l. to the New Zealand Company, but it is a third mortgage. Keep it a third mortgage. I do not ask you to make their position worse: nay, I would protest against making them worse, but I am not prepared to make them better; and I do feel that this alteration of the incidence of a burden of such magnitude is a question of so vital a character, 974 touching the most delicate and nicest points of the relations between Great Britain and the colonies, that, with whatever reluctance I might adopt the conclusion, yet if the position of the New Zealand Company is to be varied to the prejudice, by one tittle, of the colony, I, for one, cannot take upon myself the responsibility of being a party to passing this Bill during the present Session.
Sir, I most sincerely apologise for detaining the House so long upon this interesting subject, but the question of our colonial policy is one growing in importance from year to year; and having feelings deep and of long standing in regard to it, I have ventured to trespass on the time of the House, an offence for which I trust my apologies will be received with the same indulgence which has been conceded to my prolonged remarks.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he hoped, under the circumstances in which he was placed, the House would be kind enough to indulge him for a very few moments. He had listened with great pleasure to the able speech addressed to the House by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), in many of whose principles he certainly concurred. But when the right hon. Gentleman, with his usual eloquence and ability, argued, that the manner in which the very early settlements of our American colonies were formed, ought to be the model of our colonisation at present, he (Sir J. Pakihg-ton) could not concur with him, because the right hon. Gentleman had lost sight of the different circumstances under which they were formed, and had forgotten what a small and insignificant portion of our Empire our Colonies then were. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman bore in mind the effect which must be produced upon such questions by the enormous in-crease of our Colonies in all parts of the world, by the effect which this, of course, had upon our relations with foreign countries, and the extent to which those relations had affected the mode in which we must deal with our Colonies. Neither had the right hob. Gentleman remembered the extended commerce which had resulted from this great increase in our colonial Empire, nor that many of these Colonies had been founded by the outpourings of our convict population. He did not advert to these topics With the intention of dwelling upon them at any length; for, as they had been touched by the right hon. 975 Gentleman, they rather formed an essay upon our Colonial system than referred to the question immediately before the House; namely, the Bill now under consideration. The objections which had been made to this Bill resolved themselves, he thought, into two classes: first, it had been objected, that at this period of the Session the House ought not to think of proceeding at all with this measure; and then, again, serious objection was taken to the provisions of the measure as they stood. Now, he (Sir J. Pakington) had never concealed from himself or from this House the difficulty of an attempt to deal with a question of this interest and of this magnitude, commenced not only at a very late period of the Session, but at a very late period of a Session under such peculiar circumstances as the present. But he had put it to the House distinctly, in moving for this Bill, whether or not the circumstances in which New Zealand was placed, were such as to render it incumbent upon the Parliament to make an effort to legislate upon the subject in the present Session; and whether or not, considering these circumstances, there was not established a necessity for legislation which the House were bound to attempt to meet. The general sense of the House on all sides upon that occasion seemed to be that it was a subject with which the Government ought to deal, and the principles which he explained were such that the House appeared willing to enter upon them. As he had then explained his intentions, so it was the Bill now stood; he had made no alteration whatever in its principle. The question now was, whether there was any reason why the House should be deterred, by the lateness of the Session, from proceeding to make this an Act of Parliament? His own opinion was a strong one that they ought yet to proceed; and, subject to the pleasure of the House, he should endeavour to carry out that opinion; for he saw no reason why they should not be successful, providing they approached the measure in a spirit indicated by the hon. Member for Malton (Mr. J. E. Denison), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), namely, not to look at individual opinions, but to see whether the general principles of this Bill were not sound and safe; whether it would not confer upon this Colony a great blessing for which they were very anxious; and, above all, to look to that which no one speaker had mentioned, ex- 976 cepting only the right hon. Gentleman who had preceded him, namely, that he had introduced into this Bill large powers for the new Legislature, when constituted, to alter and remould their institutions in such maimer as their own experience might prove to be the best. He must say that when hon. Members had urged either that this Bill ought not to be dealt with now, or that the arrangements contemplated were in themselves objectionable, he thought they had not sufficiently regarded the peculiarity of New Zealand in many respects. The right hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith) had urged that this Bill ought to be sent out for the approbation of the Colonists. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot, that with regard to New Zealand we had opportunities of getting to know the opinions of the inhabitants better than those of any other of our Colonies. There was in this country, the New Zealand Company, the Canterbury Association, and the Otago Association, connected with which were a large number of persons deeply interested in the welfare of that Colony. There were also in England at this time very many gentlemen, residents in New Zealand, deeply interested, too, in the prosperity of the Colony, and he believed that for every one of those persons he was entitled to say that they were extremely anxious for immediate legislation, and, that, generally speaking, they approved of the provisions of the Bill which he had ventured to introduce. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) had stated that this Bill was opposed to the feelings of the inhabitants; but the fact was, that they had expressed no dissent, and he did not believe they were inclined to express dissent. It was perfectly true that meetings were held in opposition; but the parties who had promoted those meetings were now in England, and were among those who were urging the Colonial Office to legislate. There was no ground whatever to suppose that the provisions of this Bill would be unacceptable even to the very gentlemen to whom the hon. Baronet adverted. The hon. Baronet had objected very much to the division of the country into provinces, and to the provincial councils; he had talked of them as being little miniature Colonies in themselves, but in the next sentence he had proceeded to say that their acts would be null and void, and that they would be subjected to the control of the Imperial Legislature, thus complaining, in fact, that they were not suffi- 977 ciently independent. This objection, to say the least of it, seemed to involve a great inconsistency. He had heard with great surprise the hon. Baronet turning these settlements into ridicule, saying it was a settlement of Presbyterians, a settlement of Episcopalians, and a settlement of country bumpkins. Then the hon. Baronet adverted to New Plymouth in terms of ridicule, asking why it was to be created a distinct province with a legislature of its own? He (Sir J. Pakington) must say that he heard with great surprise the extent to which the hon. Baronet had turned the whole subject into ridicule. He always listened, not only with attention but with respect to whatever fell from the hon. Baronet on colonial subjects, because he (Sir J. Pakington) knew that no man in that House had paid more attention to those subjects, or understood them better: and he was therefore surprised to find him losing sight of the respect due to those colonies, their claims to popular institutions, and losing sight, also, of the manner in which New Zealand had been colonised. These colonies had not been founded round a nucleus of convicts; he was sure the hon. Baronet would admit that they were founded by the most respectable classes, by men of property and of education, and by men accustomed to the free institutions of this country; and that was the consideration which bore immediately on the objection which the hon. Member had urged. "Why," said the hon. Baronet, "are you going to have all this cumbrous machinery; why divide a small population of 26,000 persons into communities?" But the House was bound to consider of whom these communities consisted; they were bound to consider that they were composed of men of education, men of property, men who desired naturally in going out there to enjoy still the institutions of this country; and they would also bear in mind the advanced state of civilisation among the native tribes. They had not only to deal with these 26,000 Europeans, but (and it was a thing for which we ought to be thankful) to deal also with a native population advanced in civilisation, advanced in Christianity, and rapidly taking their places side by side with our European emigrants, and as desirous as they were for the enjoyment of free institutions. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, as well as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, had dwelt upon the objections which might be 978 raised to the clause introduced in the Bill with regard to the New Zealand Company. Now, he had introduced that clause solely upon the principle of justice. He thought he should lay this Bill open to very grave and serious objection if he should enable the New Zealand Company to say that, in making the attempt to bestow free institutions upon the Colony, he thereby put them into a worse position than they were in before. He could not help hoping, too, that he had been successful in his endeavour to do justice, inasmuch as he was accused to 'night of having done a great deal too much for the Company; while the New Zealand Company had done him the honour to pay him several visits complaining that he had not done enough for them. He hoped he might assume, therefore, that he had hit upon the just medium between the two parties. At all events, he had not put the New Zealand Company in as advantageous a position as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) supposed. He spoke under correction, as he had not long given his attention to this complicated matter; hut he believed he was right in stating that the claims of the New Zealand Company did not turn exclusively upon the Act passed in 1847. Subsequently to that Act, although there had been no more legislation, an arrangement was made, and now stood in writing, between the Government of this country and the New Zealand Company, in virtue of which arrangement they were to receive one-fourth part of the land. The right hon. Gentleman also complained very much of the hardship of the colonists having their local Acts hanging over their heads for two years before they knew whether they would be dissented from by the Imperial Government. But the right hon. Gentleman afterwards admitted that he (Sir J. Pakington) had intimated his intention practically to dispense with that power. Whether rightly or wrongly, he did think it was advisable that the power should be reserved to the Governor to send home for consent such Acts as he might he induced to think so much out of the ordinary course as to require it. His (Sir J. Pakington's) intention was, that the Governor should act under instructions from home; but, as a rule, all local Acts should be disposed of at once. The right hon. Gentlemen likewise objected that there should not only be a Central Legislature and Local Legislature, but the lower grade of municipal institutions. Now, we in this country valued our municipal insti- 979 tutions very Highly, and it should be remembered that the Bill merely reserved to the governing power in New Zealand the right and authority which at present existed to call municipal institutions into existence, as necessity Might require; and the right hon. Gentleman would admit, that although municipal institutions might he superfluous now, in subordination to the local legislatures, the day might soon come when, by the spread of population, new to was and villages Would spring up in the neighbourhood of the existing settlements, which would be glad to avail themselves of municipal institutions. He would not detain the House further at that late hour, except to say a few words with reference to the important question as to the policy of making the Legislative Council elective or not. Now, upon this point, he must say he differed widely both from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth). When he (Sir J. Pakington) moved for leave to bring in the Bill, he urged a fact which could not be contravened—that there we had no precedent for an elective Upper House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford said, he wished to draw a precedent from the United States of America. His (Sir J. Pakington's) answer to that was, that he Would rather draw a precedent from Great Britain; and he was disposed to think that, however lightly the right hon. Gentleman might treat the idea, it was a very general feeling in our Colonies. No complaints existed with respect to a nominee Upper Chamber in any of our existing Colonies. It would be remembered that the proposal to give an elective Upper Chamber to the Cape of Good Hope excited very strong feelings of alarm in that Colony; that it was anything but a popular proposal ever now; and his (Sir J. Pakington's) belief was that Parliament would yet be obliged to change it, in deference to the wishes of the colonists. It was a well-known fact that where there were two elective chambers, great difficulty was felt as to the mode Of election which Would give to the Legislature the full value derived from the cheek of an Upper Chamber. Nothing, he believed, was more difficult than to find such a mode of election. Looking, therefore, to the extent to which it was desirable to make the Colonies a reflection of the constitution of the mother 980 country; looking to the necessity of ah Upper Chamber as a check Upon a Lower; looking, moreover, beyond that to the fact that, as he had said before, we had no precedent for an elective Upper Chamber; that the nominee chambers Worked well in our Colonies; that the colonists had no desire to change them; and that the honour of a seat in them was much coveted by men of character and station in the Colonies—looking to all these considerations, he must say that his feeling was a strong one in preferring a nominee to an elective Upper Chamber. He hoped, therefore, that this point Would not be a serious impediment to the progress of the Bill. He did not understand that any serious opposition Was intended to be offered to the second reading of the Bill. When the Bill went into Committee, therefore, he hoped the House would deliberately and carefully address itself to the question as to whether the Bill Should be met in a spirit of concession and compromise — whether, looking to the large powers of alteration by the local authorities which it contained—the Bill should not be allowed to pass at once, and thereby put an end to the anxiety which prevailed in New Zealand, by giving them the advantage they had long prayed for, and which they were now urging as strongly as ever; Or whether the Bill should be met in a spirit by which every clause would be disputed, every nice point made the subject of long debate and division. If they adopted the latter bourse, he confessed he should despair of success, and should be obliged to resort to the alternative of passing a suspending Act, because he could not allow the Act of l846 to be revived. He hoped better things, however. He trusted that the Committee would proceed to discuss the Bill in a spirit that would enable them to pass the Bill in the present Session.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he did not rise at that late hour to protract the present discussion. The time for protracted discussion was already passed. In speaking for himself he would only say that he was not at all disposed to offer any opposition to the second reading of the Bill; and that he was perfectly ready to go into Committee for the purpose of discussing the various clauses in such a spirit that, if possible, the Bill should pass into a law during the present Session. He must say, however, that he entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford in thinking that 981 the clauses which related to the arrangement between the Legislature of this country and the New Zealand Company were clauses of immense importance. He agreed with his right hon. Friend entirely in wishing that the existing arrangement with the Company should be adhered to in every particular; and he was led to believe that the clauses to which he had referred, as they at present stood in the Bill, were a departure from the existing arrangement, and varied to a great degree from that arrangement in favour of the New Zealand Company. He had understood the right hon. Secretary of State for the Colonies to say that the measure of 1847 was not the only foundation of the existing arrangement with the Company, but that it rested upon a subsequent arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the matter as a document, not which he himself had seen, but of which he had heard. Now, surely, before the right hon. Gentleman introduced clauses of this importance, varying a statutable arrangement, he ought to have seen the document upon which they professed to be founded. At all events, he seemed to be aware of its existence. If, therefore, he had seen it, or was aware of its existence, it was absolutely necessary, before the House came to discuss the clauses in Committee, that the document should be produced.
§ MR. MANGLES
said, the members of the New Zealand Company would be quite willing that the statutory arrangement made with them should remain intact; but what they complained of was that the Government proposed to hand over the land, which was their security for a sum of 268,000l., to other parties. The arrangement had been made upon the verdict of a Committee of that House, appointed under Sir Robert Peel's Government, composed of Members hostile to the Company.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
was understood to say that before the Bill went into Committee, he would lay oh the table the letter containing the agreement made between Earl Grey and the New Zealand Company for carrying out the Act of 1847, and defining the portion1 of land to which the Company were entitled.
§ MR. WALTER
said, that, as the example of the elective Upper Chamber of the United States had been referred to, he might be allowed to observe that there was this essential distinction between the Upper Chamber of this country and that of the United States, that the members of the 982 Upper Chamber of the United States were elected only for life, whereas the essence of the Upper Chamber of this country consisted in its being hereditary.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
would, when the Bill went into Committee, vote for the omission of any clause or clauses which had the effect of setting up, either in the shape of a distinct chamber, or of a component part of a chamber, any body of nominees of the Crown.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°.
§ The House adjourned at half after One o'clock till Monday next.