HL Deb 28 May 1850 vol 111 cc426-9

proposed to take the second reading of the Australian Colonies Government Bill for Thursday next.


, having urged the propriety of postponing to a more distant day the Australian Colonies Bill, asked his noble Friend whether any other papers than those already on the table, which were necessary to the explanation of the principle of that measure, had been recently received by the Government? He knew that two or three packets had recently arrived from Australia in this country; and, if any important papers had been received by them, it would be advantageous to their Lordships to have those papers for consideration, before they came to a decision on so grave and critical a constitutional question.


observed that, with regard to the postponement of the Australian Bill, he was anxious to meet the wishes of the House; but he was anxious to remind the House that they were now arriving at that period of the Session when there was always a great pressure of business in the House of Lords. If they deferred this Bill now, they would have shortly from the other House a large number of Bills, which it would be impossible for them to discuss hereafter fully and fairly. Though the notice for Thursday was but a short notice, yet the Bill had been for a long time be fore Parliament. All the most important papers relating to it had been laid on the table at the end of last Session. The Bill had been long and deliberately discussed in the House of Commons, and had been in the hands of their Lordships before the Whitsuntide recess. Noble Lords had thus had ample opportunity for preparing themselves for the discussion; and, unless it should be a serious inconvenience to his noble Friend to take the second reading on Thursday next, he should be most unwilling to postpone it to a more distant period. He was not aware that any new papers had arrived, save one, which would be laid on the table immediately.


would add another motive for the postponement of the second reading. It was true that the Bill had been for some time before their Lordships, but no notice for the second reading had been given before that evening. There were other parties besides the Government interested in the constitution to be given to the colonies. Some of them had recently arrived in this country, and were anxious to bring their views on the subject under the consideration of Parliament, either by petition or by some other mode, before the Bill was read a second time. Now, if notice had been given of the second reading a week ago, no allegation of surprise could be made; but, under the circumstances which he had just stated, the second reading of the Bill on Thursday would operate very injuriously against those who intended to petition against it.


saw no validity in the plea which the noble Baron had urged for postponement, and hoped that his noble Friend (Earl Grey) would not comply with the noble Baron's request.


observed, that though there were some portions of the Bill to which he entertained great objection, he had no intention of opposing its second reading. He did not know whether his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) intended to oppose the principle of the Bill on its second reading, but he imagined that he did not. He admitted that their Lordships were, to a certain extent, taken by surprise in consequence of the indisposition of his noble Friend the President of the Council, which had induced the noble Secretary of the Colonies to fix the second reading of this Bill for Thursday; but he thought that that stage of the Bill ought not to be deferred for any length of time. Would his noble Friend opposite see any difficulty in taking Friday instead of Thursday for the second reading of the Bill?


remarked, that as far as he was personally concerned, he should raise no objection to the second reading on Friday; but the parties who would be taken by surprise—and he gladly admitted that his noble Friend (Earl Grey) had no intention of taking any party by surprise—were those who had recently arrived from the colonies, and who would be precluded from presenting their petition. If he had an opportunity of presenting their petition before the second reading, he should be satisfied. He had no intention to divide against the principle of the Bill any more than his noble Friend (Lord Stanley).


thought that the House ought not to be asked to postpone the second reading of this Bill merely because certain parties wished to petition against it. He saw no difficulty in naming Friday for the second reading instead of Thursday. His only reason for fixing Thursday originally instead of Friday was, that there were two Bills standing for discussion on Friday, namely, the Sunday Trading Bill and the Distress for Rent (Ireland) Bill, but neither of those Bills would, in his opinion, occupy much time.

After a few words from Lord EDDISBURY

Subject dropped.

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