HC Deb 24 March 1870 vol 200 cc574-5

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to the Correspondence between Sir Alexander Galt and the Government which he declines to produce, Whether there are any expressions therein that justified Sir Alexander Galt in his letter to the Prime Minister of Canada in "stating his belief that the policy of independence had been arrived at by the Imperial Government," or in his speech to the Parliament of Canada, stating that "he was satisfied that such was the policy desired by the Imperial Government;" also, with reference to the letter from Sir Alexander Galt to Earl Granville, stating as quoted that "the existing relations would be safer and more durable if a term was fixed therefor," and the letter of Earl Granville, in reply, stating "how much pleased he was with the honourable spirit of such letter;" and whether there is any objection to produce a complete copy of the letters from which were quoted those extracts; and, in any case, whether the Government will be good enough publicly to repudiate the construction of their views and intentions by Sir Alexander Galt?


said, in reply, to the first Question of the hon. Member his answer was distinctly no. The second Question he did not understand. As to the third Question the House would probably recollect that two or three evenings ago he inflicted on them the reading of a long letter to Sir Alexander Gait, from Lord Granville, and he did so in the hope of removing any misapprehension that had arisen with regard to the transaction to which it referred. The whole substance of the letter to which the hon. Member referred was contained in the letter already read. But he must object to the establishment of a precedent for producing private letters between the Secretary of State and the Governor of a Colony respecting the conferring of honours by the Crown on an individual. If the hon. Gentleman would refer to the debates in the Canadian Parliament on the 20th of February last, he would find that Sir Alexander Gait had arrived at the conclusion he now maintained some time ago, and that he had expressed his opinion that the confederation of the Canadian Provinces would lead to ultimate separation from Great Britain. It was, therefore, from the acts of previous Governments and of this House that his inferences were drawn.