§ Resolutions [March 24] reported.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that he had given notice of his intention on the Vote for the Defences of Quebec to call the attention of the House to a very important point—what is reported to have been said in the Canadian Parliament relative to this Vote; but at that late hour he would not undertake to initiate a discussion upon so important a subject. If the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) would consent to postpone the Report until Thursday he would then bring forward his Motion, but should that be inconvenient to public business he would take an opportunity on Tuesday, the 4th of April, to move for papers and extracts of Correspondence relative to the Defences of Canada.
§ Resolution 1 read 2° and agreed to.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
hoped the noble Marquess would give an answer to the noble Lord. The question which it was desired to discuss was of great importance, and although the House had already had it under its consideration, yet it was desirable that the Government should afford an opportunity of still further considering it.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that in the hum of conversation that had been going on in the House, he had not heard distinctly anything which the noble Lord had said; but he gathered that it was his intention on the 4th of April to move for papers with a view to a discussion upon the subject of the Defences of Canada.
§ LORD ELCHO
admitted that as the Vote was passed it was now too late to repeat his request for an adjournment of the Report, and therefore he had no alternative but to announce that he would bring the subject under the notice of the House on Tuesday, the 4th of April.
§ Resolutions 2 to 8 agreed to.
§ Question proposed, that Resolution 9 be read 2°,
§ MR. BENTINCK moved the adjournment of the debate. He did so, he said, because he was anxious to have from the Government some answer to the appeal which had been made to them by his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho.) Since the discussion upon the Defences of Canada had 360 taken place, information had reached this country by which the whole circumstances of the case were entirely altered. One of the objections which he on a former occasion took to the scheme of the Government was that they had given the House no assurance that the Government of Canada was an assenting party to the proposed arrangements. It now appeared that that Government distinctly stated that they were not assenting parties to it, and that they took exception to the amount of the grant, which was intended to be given by this country for the defence of the Canadian frontier. Under these altered circumstances, he wished to know whether another opportunity of discussing the question would be afforded by the Government?
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he did not know on what authority the hon. Member could state that any objection had been made by the Canadian Government to the proposed arrangement. No information, no despatch, had reached him, which led to the belief that the Canadian Government were dissenting parties. He believed, on the contrary, that the Canadian Government would be found satisfied with the proposal made by Her Majesty's Government; and though no despatch had reached him which he was justified in quoting, his belief was that the Canadian Government would fulfil their part in the matter.
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the House that the course which was being pursued in continuing the discussion on a Resolution which had alredy been disposed of was quite irregular. The Resolution now before the House was the last of the Report, and the question was that the House do agree with the Committee in the said Resolution. To that Resolution, therefore, the discussion ought to be confined.
§ MR. BENTINCK
rose to Order, observing that he had moved the adjournment of the debate, and that he apprehended to be the Question before the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Gentleman simply proposed to move the adjournment; but even admitting that he had moved it, and that the Motion had been seconded, still it would not have been open to him to enter on a discussion of the Vote for the Defences of Canada, which had already been agreed to.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ MR. HENNESSY moved the adjournment of the House. He did so, he said, 361 because when the first Vote was put he believed no hon. Gentleman sitting below the gangway was aware of what was going on, and because several Members were anxious before the Vote was agreed to to hear from the Government whether a fitting opportunity for the discussion of an important subject would be afforded. The Vote, however, having been passed without the knowledge of the great majority of the House, his hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) took occasion on the last Vote to move the adjournment of the debate—which he had distinctly heard him do—and to make an appeal to the Government on the subject of the defences of Canada. Now, he would put it to the House whether it was not the duty of the Government to respond to that appeal, and to let hon. Members know what they proposed with respect to giving an opportunity for discussing that subject on a future occasion.
§ MR. BENTINCK
begged to second the Motion, remarking that the House was proceeding in a somewhat dangerous course, so far as the liberty of discussion was concerned, if the example of that evening were to be followed up. It was not his fault that his proposition had not reached the Speaker's ear, and he regretted it had not been put from the Chair. The result, however, which he sought to bring about would be as effectually secured by the Motion of his hon. Friend as that which he had made, and he, therefore, wished again to ask the Government whether, under the altered circumstances of the case, ample opportunity for the discussion of the important subject of the Canadian defences would be afforded?
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Hennessy.)
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
My noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) stated, so far as we could make out, owing to the hum of conversation, that he wished the Vote for the Fortifications to be postponed; but that if it would be inconvenient to do that he would make a distinct Motion on Tuesday next, in which he would raise the whole question of the defences of Canada. Now, we accepted the latter alternative; and you, Sir, afterwards put from the Chair the Vote for Pensions to Wounded Officers. The hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) then moved, or intended to move, 362 the adjournment of the debate for the purpose of bringing on the discussion of the Vote for Fortifications, which I submit would be a perfectly irregular course, for the only discussion which he could legitimately raise must have been confined to the particular Vote before the House. The hon. Member is, therefore, I think, entirely mistaken as to the position in which he stood with regard to his Motion.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, the noble Viscount had clearly stated what had taken place when he first rose to put a question to the Government. No answer, had, however, been as yet given by his noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) to that question. He would also remind the Secretary for the Colonies that the real point at issue was not whether Canada was prepared to accept or not a certain sum as the cost of the proposed fortifications, but whether there was a clear understanding between the two Governments as to the proportion which each was to bear. He thought he would be able to show that there was a certain amount of ambiguity and discrepancy existing on the subject between the two Governments; and he hoped if he were unable to bring on his Motion on Tuesday next he would have an opportunity of doing so on the following Thursday, which would, in all probability, be a Supply night.
§ MR. CARDWELL
explained that he did not say that he had received from Canada any despatch accepting the proposal of the Government. What he did say was that he was not aware of anything which would justify the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) in stating that the Canadian Government had expressed dissatisfaction with their proposal, or had refused to perform their part in the defence of their country. He understood that a deputation from the Canadian Government was coming over here to have a conference with Her Majesty's Government upon the subject.
§ MR. SPEAKER
In putting the Question I desire to say a word upon the point of Order. As I have already stated, there were two opportunities upon which any hon. Member who wished to address the House upon the subject of the fortifications in Canada might have done so—one upon the Question that the Resolution should be read a second time, and the other upon the Question that the House should agree with the Committee in the I Resolution relating to that subject. There has been, I admit, one irregularity, and 363 that was that when the hon. Member for West Norfolk, having put off anything that he had to say until the last Resolution, proposed upon that Resolution to raise a discussion upon the Vote for Fortifications, I did not interfere more strictly, and call the attention of the House to the irregularity and impropriety of forcing on that discussion at that moment. However, the House was interested in the subject, and the hon. Member put his Question, and it was answered by the Secretary of State. As far as that there certainly was an irregularity in our proceedings; but the irregularity was not that no opportunity was afforded, but that too wide a latitude was allowed, to discussion.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
said, that there were other irregularities besides that referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. Questions were sometimes read in a half whispering tone, so that Members sitting on the further benches could not possibly know what was really going on; and sometimes when they supposed that they did know what was going on they were told that the time had gone by, and that they had missed their opportunity. As he understood the matter, his hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk did not make his Motion for the purpose of raising a discussion, but only to elicit from the Government a clear understanding as to what day they would afford the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire an opportunity for bringing on the question of the Defences of Canada.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Resolution agreed to.