HL Deb 29 July 1839 vol 49 cc930-2
The Marquess of Normanby

on the report of the Canada Government Bill having been brought up, moved an amendment on the third clause respecting the powers of taxation vested in the Governor and Council.

Lord Ellenborough

contended, that a more distinct specification of what was intended by "local objects" in the clause ought to be given. He was afraid that the measure would not turn out to be a temporary one. The noble Marquess, he much dreaded, would come down next year with a bill for the same purpose as this, with some slight alterations, and so things would go on from year to year, Lower Canada continuing to be governed on the principles of this bill. He was opposed to the scheme of a legislative union of the two provinces, which he regarded as wholly impracticable, inasmuch as the Government would find arrayed against them so strong an opposition in the House of Assembly as it would be impossible for any Government to contend with. The scheme, too, if practicable, would, he was convinced, prove the worst possible form of Government for the lower province. To setting up the forms without the substance of the British Constitution, he was utterly opposed. Nothing better than this could result from the project of an union, for more than a formal resemblance to British institutions could scarcely be expected amidst a population who were so completely different in habits, manners, and feelings, and among whom the trial by jury would not, he feared, afford any prospect of impartial justice. However, he was not without hopes that peace, tranquillity, and loyalty, might be recalled to the lower province by reestablishing a popular Government there. He thought further, that the Imperial Legislature ought to give the people of Lower Canada the largest means of improving their condition and that of the country by their own industry; but above all things, the most important omission, on the part of the Government, was their non-adoption of those measures so earnestly pressed upon them by Lord Durham for improving the internal communications of the two provinces, which would at once improve their commerce and make them strong in affection for this country.

The Marquess of Normanby

was disposed to agree with the noble Baron who had just sat down, in the importance with which he viewed the improvements in internal communication, and he could assure the noble Baron that it was not from any lethargy that the Government had not turned its attention to those points, but from the difficulties in the way of practically effecting those suggestions. Neither did the Government fear hereafter being able to establish a settled form of government which would be satisfactory. The object of taxation he thought to be clearly defined in the clause by the words "local improvements," meaning thereby, improvements not confined to districts, but extended over the whole country.

The Duke of Wellington

believed that the House had agreed generally that powers should be given to the Governor and Council to levy taxes for local improvements, but it appeared that the Governor's correspondence and the report made by the Council to the Governor, pointed to measures which could not in this country be deemed to be local improvements. He did not understand that either this or the other house of Parliament had approved of a general extension to the Governor and Council of powers to levy taxes, to establish local jurisdictions to build gaols, or for many other object; adverted to both in the despatches of the Governor and in the report of the Council Now, it was very desirable that this bill and the powers which it conferred should not be misunderstood in Lower Canada and under these circumstances he (the Duke of Wellington) earnestly recommended that a few words should be added to the proviso at the end of this clause stating to what objects the power of taxation should not be extended—in other words, setting forth from the words in the despatch and the report those measures and objects to which it was not the intention of the Government of this and the other House of Parliament that the power of taxation should apply.

The Marquess of Normanby

said, he would endeavour to have a proviso framed before the third reading, to meet the views of the noble Duke.

Report agreed to.