HL Deb 06 July 1854 vol 134 cc1184-6

said, he wished to put to the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Newcastle) a question of which he had given him notice, relative to a subject which appeared to be of considerable importance. But before putting his question be would freely acknowledge that the information on which it was grounded was derived entirely from private sources. In the first place, however, he must allow that the noble Duke had very properly corrected him with regard to a matter of fact, in a discussion which took place a short time ago, when he (the Earl of Derby) was under the impression that the Legislative Assembly of Canada had proceeded to pass a measure enacting the secularisation of the clergy reserves. The noble Duke, however, had informed their Lordships that the Legislative Assembly had never met since the passing of the Act of Parliament, and, consequently, could not have had an opportunity of dealing with such a subject. But information had now reached him (the Earl of Derby) that on the very earliest occasion on which the Legislative Assembly was called together an amendment was moved to the Address, going to the effect of dealing with the clergy reserves in Canada; and the proposal had the further effect of dealing with the church property generally in the Colony. Now he had not heard any of the details of the proposal, but he was assured that it was made in opposition to the Governor General and the local Executive, and that the amendment embodying it was carried, in consequence of which it was anticipated there would be an almost immediate dissolution of the local Parliament, and very probably a change in the Administration. What had been the effect of such proceedings he could not undertake to say. But the question he wished to put to the noble Duke was, whether Her Majesty's Government had received any information of the nature to which he had adverted?—because he could not help thinking that if such a proceeding took place, and in the manner adverted to, on the very first occasion on which the Legislature of Canada could adopt a proposal of that kind, it formed some grounds for inducing Her Majesty's Government to reconsider a change which had recently taken place with regard to the Legislature of Canada, by which the whole power was placed in the hands of two elective Chambers.


said, Her Majesty's Government had received no official information upon the subject to which the noble Earl had referred, the last. despatch received by the Colonial Office from the Governor General being dated the 17th of June last, the last day before, if not the very day, upon which the mail left Quebec. That despatch contained a copy of the Governor General's speech to the House of Assembly; but it, of course, contained no such general views as that to which the noble Earl had referred. Having stated that Her Majesty's Government had no official information upon the subject, he ought to add that no written information could possibly have been received. The information in this country alluded to by the noble Earl must have been derived by telegraphic message from Quebec to Halifax, four days subsequent to the departure of the mail, namely, upon the 21st of June. He was, therefore, quite unable to afford any information relative to the matter in addition to that already received from newspaper telegraphic messages, the truth of which he was unable to confirm in any way. He had had no information from the Governor General leading him to suppose that such a course would be taken; but, at the same time, presented as the circumstance was in the shape described by the noble Earl, he was rather led to believe that the transaction alluded to had occurred. And in fact, it could not be a matter for surprise if it had, for they all knew what could be effected in a popular assembly by a combination of parties. It must not be matter of surprise that in a popular assembly, and against a Liberal Government, a Conservative opposition should take such a course, when they in another place saw Members of a former Conservative Government adopting a particular course with regard to church rates and other measures objected to by Dissenters, merely for the purpose of placing a Liberal Government in a minority. They must not be surprised, therefore, that a similar course was taken by the late Conservative party in Canada, in order to place the Liberal party in the Colony in a minority.


My Lords, I hope the answer just returned by the noble Duke will satisfy your Lordships of the advantage derived from there being another assembly where opinions hastily pronounced by a popular body may, at all events, be revised.

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