§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, that this Bill had been introduced for the purpose of rectifying a mistake which might otherwise be attended with considerable inconvenience. By the Act of 13 & 14 Vict. "for the better Government of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies," each of the Australian colonies was empowered to substitute for a Legislative Council two bodies, consisting of a Council and a House of Representatives; but in order that any Bill passed in any of those Colonies for the purpose of effecting such a change should be valid, it was required that it should be reserved for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure thereon, and that a copy of it should be laid before both Houses of Parliament for a space of at least thirty days before Her Majesty's pleasure thereupon should be signified. Acts for this purpose have been passed in each of the Australian Colonies; but in the case of the Bill for constituting the new Legislature of South Australia that condition had not been complied with, for the measure had not been sent over to this country, in consequence of an oversight on the part of the Governor of that Colony. A contest had thus arisen whether all the subsequent Acts passed by that Legislature were not invalid; and it was in order to remove that doubt that he brought forward the present measure. The Bill was made of general application to the Australian Colonies, although it was meant specially to meet the case of South Australia; because doubts had arisen whether there might not exist informalities of the same nature in respect of other Acts. He trusted that under those circumstances their Lordships would allow it to be passed as speedily as possible.
§ Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, that this Bill 252 had been so suddenly introduced that he was not prepared to say whether he could give it his assent or not. In 1850, when the Bill for the better Government of the Australian Colonies was before Parliament, he was in favour of giving the Colonies as extensive powers of self government as possible. That opinion had certainly been much shaken by what he had read of the management of Australian affairs by their Councils. If this mistake had arisen from the simple mistake or negligence of the Governor of the Colony, it was no great matter; but if this want of compliance with the requirements of the Act indicated that the Colonial Assembly desired to effect these changes without the sanction of the Imperial Government, he thought it would sanction an awkward precedent if they were to pass this Bill. He hoped, therefore, if the noble Duke found more instances of error than the one he had just mentioned, that he would at least represent them to Parliament, in order that their Lordships might see to what extent the Colonies had transgressed the provisions of the Imperial Legislature.
§ EARL STANHOPE
said, he imagined it was the duty of the Legislature in each Colony, and not of the Governor, to send home these acts for the approval of Her Majesty and Parliament. He thought an Act which would be one of simple negligence on the part of the Governor assumed a very different character when it became one of the Legislature of the Colony, and he should therefore like to know, whether the Governor or the Legislature of South Australia were answerable for not sending home the Act.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
explained, that it was not the duty of the Legislature, but of the Governor, to transmit these acts to the Home Government. The mistake was one entirely on the part of the Governor, who had given his assent without being in the least aware that it was his duty first to send the measure home—he had overlooked the provision of the 13 & 14 Vict. Their Lordships might blame the Governor for his negligence, but he thought there could be no hesitation in passing an Act to remedy his mistake.
§ Motion agreed to
§ Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half-past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Five o'clock.