§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
My Lords, before the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill is made, I wish to present a Petition from the Legislature of Newfoundland praying to be heard against the Bill by one of the hon. Members of the delegation who have been intrusted with the Petition. With your Lordships' permission I will read the Petition:—" We, the Legislative Council of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, beg leave to approach your honourable Parliament and to appeal for your protection and support under circumstances which have filled the minds of all classes of this country with profound anxiety and dismay.Your honourable House may be aware that the old-time difficulties, consequent upon the Treaties of Great Britain and France on the subject of the Newfoundland Fisheries, have of late years assumed an unaccustomed gravity producing a painful and ceaseless agitation among our people.Two delegates have proceeded from this country during the last year to represent to Her Majesty's Government the exorbitant claims of the French under the alleged sanction of the Treaties referred to, and, further, to point out the injustice wrought upon the natives of Newfoundland. Their efforts for redress have been so far unsuccessful, and we are now confronted with a new evil essentially more intolerable than any of those with which experience has rendered us so familiar. We refer to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government by the Bill now before your honourable Parliament to re-enact the Act of George IV., cap. 51, for the better conduct of Treaties between Great Britain and France respecting the Newfoundland fisheries, which Act expired in 1834.This Act embodied provisions of an arbitrary and oppressive character, wholly repugnant to those principles of liberty and justice which are held to be the basis of modern British legislation. They conferred upon the officers of Her Majesty's ships the duties of a protective service and intrusted them with the settlement of Treaty disputes, with powers of summary adjudication independent of all those restrictions and safeguards which British law has devised for the defence of the inherent rights of British subjects. These powers extended to the most severe penal inflictions, and were beyond all appeal, and when it is remembered that they were exercised by persons unacquainted with legal procedure, whose peculiar training and habits of thought and action were dictated by an unquestioning submission to decrees, it must be manifest that 1132 extreme hardship and injustice were the frequent inevitable results.It may be alleged that while the Act in question was yet upon the Statute Book it had been allowed to lapse into comparative desuetude, so incompatible with modern civilisation would have been the application of this barbarous law. Unhappily, the record of the years 1877, 1888, and 1889 gives instances of its enforcement, under assumed authority, with disastrous consequences to the property and industry of some of Her Majesty's subjects engaged in the fisheries of Newfoundland. We submit that this law cannot possibly be rendered applicable to the circumstances which it is designed to meet. All the social and general conditions of Newfoundland, particularly of those parts of the coast affected by International Treaties, have undergone a radical and complete change in the many years that have elapsed since the law was under consideration. There was then no resident population in those localities, which have been long since settled in considerable numbers; while trade from various sources of employment has become developed and yields its contributions to the Customs revenue.Several years ago Her Majesty's Government confirmed the occupation of the coasts by acceding to the desire of the residents for representation in the House of Assembly and for the appointment of Magistrates and police. They are periodically visited by the Supreme Court of Circuit; they have regular communication with the rest of the country and with Canada by mail and passenger steamers. In a word, they have all the ordinary institutions of civil life. The permanence of their position being thus conclusively assured and recognised, it can hardly be necessary to point out with what cruel severity and with what destructive effect the proposed law will operate upon the trade and industries and upon every other appreciable interest of this section.The loyal inhabitants of this whole dependency of the British Crown would, therefore, most earnestly implore your honourable House, by all its honoured and revered traditions, to desist from inflicting upon the people of this country the calamity of such an enactment as that now under contemplation.We would remind your honourable House that Her Majesty's Government and France lately agreed upon arbitration respecting the Newfoundland fisheries, such tribunal proposing to deal with one question only—the recent question of the lobster fishery. This partial proceeding has been decided upon, not only without reference to the Newfoundland Government, but against their emphatic protest. We on the part of the colony, beg to present an equally emphatic protest against the course adopted in direct violation of the principles of that constitutional form of government which it is our privilege to possess.We would, in conclusion, respectfully invoke the aid of your honourable House for the protection of the Treaty rights of Newfoundland against the demand of the French for exclusive fishery, including lobster fishing, on those portions of the coast where they hold acknowledged privileges. The rights of British sub- 1133 jects have on several occasions been declared and the pretentions of the French disallowed by some of the ablest statesmen of Great Britain, notably Lord Palmerston, and only last year by the Marquess of Salisbury. We feel that your honourable House will recognise the justice of our prayer, and that the definitions of those high authorities shall not continue to be mere theoretic pronouncements which France is permitted to contravene; but that they shall be carried out in their true significance to their full practical effect.We beg to inform your honourable House that we have appointed the Hon. Sir William Whiteway, Augustus W. Harvey, Moses Monroe, George H. Emerson, and Alfred B. Morine a delegation to present this remonstrance; and we pray that they may be heard at the Bar of your honourable House.My Lords, having presented the Petition, I rise now, with your Lordships' permission, to move that the prayer of the Petition be complied with. I shall not, in justification of my Motion, say anything which could possibly prejudge the case, nor in any way go into the merits of the case; but I wish to point out that if your Lordships are pleased to accede to my Motion, you will be amply borne out by precedents. In 1838 Mr. Roebuck was heard at the Bar of this House against a Bill dealing with Lower Canada. In 1839 a representative was heard against a Bill affecting Jamaica; and in 1842 the House of Assembly of Newfoundland was heard by counsel at the Bar of this House against a Newfoundland Bill. In all those cases the Petition to be heard was granted, and I venture to think that in no instance was the case so strong as that involved in the Petition which is on the Table of your Lordships' House. In the case of Jamaica the difficulty arose out of extraordinary circumstances connected with the emancipation of the slaves; in the other two cases I have mentioned the machinery of partial self-government had come to a complete deadlock. But in the present case, the Colony of Newfoundland possesses full legislative powers and the full machinery of government. In all other and ordinary respects the machinery works perfectly smoothly, but in this one particular they protested most vigorously against legislation on the part of the Imperial Government on the matter set forth in this Petition. The Petition sets forth—whether rightly or wrongly of course I express no opinion whatever—that in the view of the petitioners the legislation involved in the Bill before your 1134 Lordships' House is subversive of their constitutional rights, is incompatible with the principles of liberty and justice, and would inflict great and grievous hardship upon numbers of our fellow-subjects and fellow-countrymen in Newfoundland. That in itself is a very weighty matter. I cannot conceive any allegations of a more weighty and more important kind than those embodied in this Petition, and if anything can add additional weight to them it is added in regarding the source from which the Petition springs. In all the precedents I have mentioned, the colonies, although enjoying Representative In stitut ions,w ere more or less directly administered by the Colonial Office, and were, therefore, more or less directly under the control of the Government here. But in this case the colony enjoys full legislative powers, and is in possession of all the responsibilities of responsible government. I do not mean to say that in the other cases the position of the colonies concerned was any reason whatever why their grievances should not have been heard; but the case here is different, and I submit that a Petition of this kind coming from a colony of the status of Newfoundland, therefore, requires, if possible, our greater attention. The Petition has been intrusted to a very influential deputation, representing all shades of political opinion in the colony, comprising the present Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, and other prominent Members of the Legislature; and, with these facts before us, I do not think it is in the least necessary for me to enlarge upon the desirability of granting the prayer of the Petition. I feel confident that on account of the colony your Lordships will be glad that its people should have every opportunity of expressing their opinions on a matter about which they feel so very deeply. And 1 think also on account of this House, your Lordships, whatever action you may take in a matter involving such complicated and difficult questions, your Lordships would wish that the House should be put in possession of all the facts and all the arguments in the case. My Lords, I beg to move that the prayer of the Petition be complied with, and that Sir -William Whiteway, Prime 1135 Minister and Attorney General of the colony, be now heard at the Bar.
Petition ordered to lie on the Table.
Moved, That Sir William Vallance Whiteway, K.C.M.G., one of the delegates, be heard at the Bar in compliance with the prayer of the said Petition (The Lord Kenry [E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.])
Sir WILLIAM V. WHITEWAY
May it please your Lordships,—On behalf of the Legislature of Newfoundland, I beg to express deep gratitude for the great privilege which has been conceded to its delegates by your Lordships in permitting us to appear at the Bar of this most noble and august Assembly to express the Legislature's objections to the Bill entitled—An Act to revise certain sections of an Act of the fifth year of the reign of George IV., chapter 51, for the purpose of carrying into effect engagements with France respecting fisheries of Newfoundland.I shall endeavour, my Lords, to express those objections as concisely as possible. It will not be necessary to tire your Lordships by reading those portions of the Treaties and Declarations which refer to Newfoundland, with all of which you are already familiar; and I will therefore content myself with saying that the 13th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) was revived by the 5th Article of the Treaty of Paris (1763), and that the Treaty of Versailles (1783) again restored the fishery rights of the French to their position under the Treaty of Utrecht. The Treaty of Paris (1814) restored matters to the status they were in in 1792, under the Treaty of Versailles, and in 1815 the third Treaty of Paris confirmed the Treaty made in the previous year. Your Lordships' attention is particularly drawn to the 6th Article of the Treaty of Paris (1763), to the 4th Article of the Treaty of Versailles (1783), and to the Declarations which accompanied the latter Treaty. With your Lordships' permission I will proceed to give a concise history of the legislation upon this subject. A brief history of the legislation in connection with the Treaties and Declarations will be found, I submit, instructive and significant when the arguments which I shall venture to adduce presently come to be considered. It is a remarkable fact that for 75 years—from 1713 to 1788—no legislation seems to have taken place with reference to the execution of the Treaties of Utrecht, Paris, or Versailles. The first Act upon the subject was passed in July, 1788, five years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. It first set forth the engagements made by the Treaties and Declarations accompanying the Treaty of Versailles, and then enacted as follows:—Section I.—It shall and may he lawful for His Majesty, his heirs and successors, by advice of Council, from time to time to give such orders and instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland, or to any officer or officers on that station, as he or they shall deem proper and necessary to fulfil the purposes of the definitive Treaty and Declaration aforesaid; and, if it shall be necessary to that end, to give orders and instructions to the Governor, or other officer or officers aforesaid, to remove or cause to be removed any stages, flakes, train vats, or other works whatever, for the purpose of carrying on fishery, erected by His Majesty's subjects on that part of the coast of Newfoundland which lies between Cape St. John passing to the north, and descending by the western coast of the said island to the place called Cape Rage, and also all ships, vessels, and boats belonging to His Majesty's subjects which shall be found within the limits aforesaid; and also, in case of refusal to depart from within the limits aforesaid, to compel any of His Majesty's subjects to depart from thence, any law, custom, or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.Section II.—And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons shall refuse, upon requisition made by the Governor, or any officer or officers acting under him, in pursuance of His Majesty's orders or instructions as aforesaid, to depart from within the limits aforesaid, or otherwise to conform to such requisition and directions as such
§ Lords, I do not propose on this occasion to make—nor do I think your Lordships would desire that I should do so—any remarks in reply to the speech of the noble Earl. I have only to say, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that we have readily assented to this Motion, the decision whether it should be granted or not resting with the House.
§ On Question, agreed to.
§ The delegates called in.1137
§ Governor or other officer as aforesaid shall make or give for the purposes aforesaid, every such person or persons so refusing, or otherwise offending against the same, shall forfeit the sum of £200, to be recovered in the Court of Session or Court of Vice Admiralty in the said island of Newfoundland, or by bill, plaint, or information in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster; one moiety of such penalty to belong to His Majesty, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety to such person or persons as shall sue or prosecute for the same; provided always that every such suit or prosecution, if the same is commenced in Newfoundland, shall be commenced within three months, and if commenced in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record at 'Westminster, within 12 months, from the time of the commission of such offence."
Now, my Lords, war terminated the Treaty of Versailles; and though the Treaty of Paris (1814) restored to France
the colonies, fisheries, and factories of every kind which were possessed by France on the 1st of January, 1792,
it does not appear to have been considered that this Treaty revived the Act above quoted, for in 1824 an Act entitled
An Act to repeal several laws relating to the fisheries carried on upon the banks and shores of Newfoundland, and to make provision for the better conduct of the fisheries for five years, and from thence to the end of the then next Session of Parliament,
contained two sections, 12 and 13, which were almost literally the same as those which I have just read; and these two sections it is proposed to re-enact by the Bill now before your Lordships. An Act was passed in 1829 to continue the Act 5 George IV., chapter 51, which I have last referred to, until the 31st of December, 1832; and in 1832 the Act 5 George IV., chapter 51, was further extended until 1834, "and no longer." Here I beg to draw your Lordships' particular attention to the fact that that Act which I have just mentioned, the continuing Act enacted that the Act so prolonged should continue until a certain time "and no longer." In 1832 a Legislature was granted to Newfoundland, its first Assembly taking place in 1833; and Parliament did not in 1834 further continue in force the law enacted in 1824, leaving to the Legislature of the colony the task of passing laws and enforcing regulations to carry out the Treaties and Declarations. The Legislature of the colony did not, however, assume this duty, nor does it appear by the records that its attention was ever called to the matter. The fact remains, however, that in 1834 the last Act of Parliament in this connection expired by virtue of one of its own provisions, and that from that year until the present time no legal authority has existed for the enforcement of Her Majesty's instructions to naval Commanders upon the coast of Newfoundland. It is now proposed to reenact the provisions of the Act 5 George IV., chapter 51, and to give them an application in a manner never before suggested. The Act now before your Lordships' House contains the following clauses:—
1.— (1) The enactments set out in the schedule to this Act shall be revived and have ful effect, and the Treaty or Treaties therein named shall include not only the Newfoundland fishery engagements, but also any temporary arrangement made with France either before or after the passing of this Act for adjusting the differences arising out of those engagements.
Now, my Lords, having thus briefly stated the provisions of the Treaties and Declarations, and the history of the legislation connected with this subject, I will proceed to state our objections to this Bill, and we humbly beg to solicit your
attention to the objections which the colony entertains to the Bill now proposed. First, we object to the passage of the Bill now before your Lordships because it was introduced into Parliament before the Government, the Legislature. or the people of Newfoundland had an opportunity to accept or oppose it, or to suggest its amendment. This is opposed to the principles of responsible government granted to the colony, and in direct opposition, as we conceive, to the assurance given to the colony in 1857, when the right hon. the Secretary of State sent the following Despatch to the Government of Newfoundland announcing the abandonment of a proposed Convention, with which your Lordships are familiar, with France:
§ "Downing Street, March 26, 1857.
§ "Sir,—When Her Majesty's Government entered into the Convention with that of France, they did so in the hope of bringing to a satisfactory arrangement the many complicated and difficult questions which have arisen between the two countries on the subject of the Newfound. land fisheries. But they did so with the full intention of adhering to two principles which have guided them, and will continue to guide them, namely, that the rights at present enjoyed by the community of Newfoundland are not to be ceded or exchanged without their assent, and that the constitutional mode of submitting measures for that assent is by laying them before the Colonial Legislature.
§ "For this reason they pursued the some form of proceeding which had been before pursued in the case of the Reciprocity Convention with the United States, and which was in that case adopted and acted upon by the Newfoundland Legislature. It was in perfect uniformity with the same precedent that it appeared necessary in the present instance to add a condition respecting Parliamentary enactment, in order that, if necessary, any existing obstacles to the arrangement in the series of Imperial statutes might be subsequently removed.
§ "The proposals contained in the Convention having been now unequivocally refused by the colony, they will, of course, fall to the ground. And you are authorised to give such assurance as you may think proper that the consent of the community of Newfoundland is regarded by Her Majesty's Government as the essential preliminary to any modification of their territorial or maritime rights.
§ "I have, &c.,
§ "II. LABOURCHERE.
§ "To Governor Darling, &c., Newfoundland."
Neither the present Act nor any other specific Act has ever been submitted to the Colonial Government or Legislature for definite acceptance, rejection, or amendment. Information that this Act would be introduced was not given to the Government of the colony till the 17th day of March last, nor to the Legislature till the 18th day of the same month, though the British Government determined in the middle of January to procure its enactment, and transmitted a Despatch to Governor O'Brien on the 19th of that month, giving information in regard to this Bill, which must leave been received by him before the middle of February, but was not submitted to the Government of the colony until the date above mentioned. Knowledge of the introduction of the Act into Parliament on March 19 last was first received by the Government and Legislature of the colony on the same day by means of telegrams from private persons, and repeated applications by the Legislature to the British Government fur a copy of the text of the Bill failed to procure it prior to our departure from the colony. If this Bill had, before its introduction, been submitted to the Government and Legislature of the colony, with an intimation of the British Government's intention to procure its enactment by Parliament, I have no doubt but that such arrangements might have been made as would have prevented the present unpleasant condition of affairs. We respectfully submit that the power of legislation on all matters concerning the territory within the jurisdiction of the colony is vested in the local Legislature, subject, of course, to Her Majesty's assent; and, although we do not pretend to contend that power to legislate for the colony does not reside in the Imperial Parliament, we most humbly urge that it is a power which should not be exercised before the local Legislature has most clearly and distinctly refused to enact laws adequately meeting the necessities of the case, and then only in cases of extreme emergency. By Clause 1 of this Bill it is provided that—
Any temporary arrangement made with France either before or after the passing of this Act
is enforceable as though it were a Treaty. I would draw your Lordships' attention
to those words referring to "any arrangement made' before or after the passing of this Act." And, by Clause 2
Any permanent arrangements" with France "with respect to the differences which have arisen upon the Newfoundland fishery engagements
are also enforceable as though they were Treaties. To us it appears that these provisions are intended to legalise the modus virendi made with France in 1890, as well as its renewal this year, and, therefore, that it is retroactive legislation, calculated to injuriously affect suitors claiming damages for losses sustained in 1890 in consequence of the operation of that modus vivendi; and we submit that this is an interference with a right of the subject which ought not to be, and will not be, permitted by your Lordships. But a far more serious danger, and a far greater infringement of constitutional right than this, appears to be contemplated 'by the provisions legalising future arrangements. As we interpret the Act, the Government would have power, were it enacted to cede to France the most valued rights of the colony without the colony's consent, and in spite, indeed, of its most earnest protests. Nay, more, the Imperial Parliament itself seems by the terms of the Bill to be virtually deprived of a constitutional check which it has exercised at all times. It is proposed by the Bill that when any permanent arrangement with France has been made it shall be lawful for Her Majesty to enforce it by Order in Council; and, although it is provided that such Order must be
Communicated to the Government of Newfoundland and laid on the Table of both Houses of the Imperial Parliament for a period of not less than one month,
no effective means of protest and no power of rejection is secured to the colony while the mere omission of the Imperial Parliament to express its disapproval of the Order in Council would for ever fasten upon the colony the burden of any arrangement which might be made. The Legislature of the colony is appalled at the danger with which it is thus menaced. Arrangements proposed in the past have caused it to fear undue concession of the rights of the colony to France, and it is feared that it is now intended to impose upon the colony an arrangement to which it would not willingly consent. Whether this be the intention or not, the Bill now before your Lordships evidently confers power to do so, and is, therefore, a menace to that right of prior consent promised to the colony by the British Government in 1857. The people of the island may at any moment find themselves hampered by arrangements which may prove ruinous to their interests, without any opportunity to prevent them; and we beg, further, to remind your Lordships that Conventions were made in 1857 and in 1884–5, which provided for concessions to the French, which, if carried out, would have been attended with the most disastrous results to the fishing interests of the colony. What has occurred we say may occur again, and the Bill now before your Lordships provides the opportunity of making such arrangements permanent. It is, indeed, provided that the Legislature of the colony may enact legislation to take the place of the present Bill; but this Bill is not to be suspended until the local Legislature confers upon Her Majesty in Council the precise powers she would have under this Bill, and this provision is therefore but an illusory concession, meaning only that the burden of an Act of this Parliament can only be removed by enacting a similar Act in the colonial Legislature. In referring to the arrangement of 1884–85, the right hon. the First Lord of the Treasury has publicly stated that it was at first accepted by the Government and Legislature of Newfoundland and afterwards rejected. In this the right hon. Gentleman was misinformed. The Government of the colony refused at the outset to do more than submit the arrangement to the Legislature after certain Amendments were made, and the Legislature was not consulted in any manner at that time. Before the proposed Amendments were agreed to a new Administration had come into Office; and in the Session of 1886 the concluded arrangement was first submitted to the Legislature, which referred it to a Joint Select Committee of both Houses, which considered the matter for two Sessions, and ultimately the arrangement was unanimously rejected. We may be allowed, in reply to a statement that the colonial Legislature acted unreasonably
in rejecting the Convention, to call attention to a very significant fact. Sir George William Des Vœeux, now Governor of Hong Kong, was sent to Newfoundland to induce the Legislature to adopt the Convention. Within a few months of his arrival he expressed his views on the subject, in a Despatch to the Colonial Office, in the following forcible language:—
Now that I fully comprehend the present position of the colony, it is to me no longer a matter of wonder that the Legislature has hitherto failed to ratify the proposed ' arrangement' with France; indeed, I can scarcely conceive it possible that this arrangement will ever be accepted so long as the bait clause remains in it, and no security is taken that the export bounties -will not be maintained in their present footing. For though all the other Articles have the appearance of concession on the part of the French, and some are no doubt substantial concessions. they are all immeasurably outweighed by the single concession required on the part of this colony. For if there were granted to the French an inalienable right to procure bait here, the future, not only of the coast where they already have fishing rights, but of the whole colony,. would practically be placed within the control of their Government.
I think, my Lords, we cannot find more conclusive evidence of the wisdom of the Legislature of Newfoundland in rejecting the proposed arrangement of 1884-5 than is contained in this Despatch of Sir George William Des Vceux, who went there, intending to urge that the arrangement be accepted, and then, having been converted to the views of the colony, addressed the Home Office in such strong terms. Secondly, my Lords, we object to this Act because it is modelled after an Act passed at a period when the colony had no Legislature of its own, and when there was but a small population upon the coast directly affected, whereas the colony has had a Legislature for over half a century, and the Treaty shore is now settled from end to end. The colony was granted a Legislature in 1832, and settlement upon the Treaty shore has been permitted by the British Government for many years past. With their consent grants of land, subject to French Treaty rights, have been given, and the land has been settled upon and improved; with their consent, representation in the Legislature has been granted to the settlers, Magistrates and Customs officers have been appointed upon the coast, telegraphic, steam, and mail communication have been established, taxes are collected, and public money expended. In face of this great alteration in the whole condition of affairs, it should be impossible to re-enact a law first made over a century ago, and which would make it possible for naval officers to render valueless every iota of property on the land or in the waters of the Treaty shore—the property, not alone of the thousands who dwell there, but also of the other thousands who annually visit and fish there—for no provision of any kind is made in the proposed Act for compensating persons whose property may be in any way affected; and under this Bill power would be vested in the Governor of Newfoundland, or any officer on the station, on his mere volition arbitrarily to remove a British subject and his property from the Treaty coast, and to leave him absolutely divested of any redress or compensation whatever. In the face of these facts, we submit it would be a terrible injustice to British subjects to give the power to. naval officers which is contemplated and given by this Bill. Should this Bill become law, it must necessarily have the effect of preventing capital from being invested for the development of the minerals, of agricultural and lumbering resources,. on one-half of the island of Newfoundland. This part must ever remain a wilderness, for with the possibility of establishments being removed at any moment, on the mere volition of one man, surely persons will not be found to risk their capital in so uncertain and precarious a venture. If this Bill becomes law, and British people can be removed from British soil at the will of a naval officer, we humbly submit that, so far as this part of the island is concerned, the sovereignty of the island is a mere myth, a name without value, whilst the possession of an easement by the French to catch and dry fish on the strand vests in them all that is of value. Thirdly, my Lords, we object to the Act now before your Lordships' House, because it is to be used to enforce Regulations to carry out Treaties, the interpretation of which is disputed, and which Regulations have hitherto been framed in a manner making them oppressive and unjust to British subjects. British statesmen have declared that under the Treaties the French have only a right to fish in the waters along the Treaty shore in common with British
subjects. But, acting under Regulations and Orders similar to those which this Act seeks to legalise, British naval officers have prevented our fishermen from exercising common rights with the French, have driven our boats out of the harbours of shelter along the shore, and have otherwise acted as though British subjects had no rights at all upon the Treaty shore, which were not inferior to those possessed by the French. Thus British statesmen have practically invited our people to do those acts for which British officers have punished them, and thus it will be in the future until the meaning of the Treaties is definitely decided. We ought not to be subjected to burdens at once odious and uncertain. Fourthly, my Lords, we object to this Bill because, utterly ignoring the Municipal Courts of the island, it commits the enforcement of the Treaties and Regulations to the care and supreme control of naval officers not learned in the law, unskilled in legal procedure, and not trained in a manner qualifying them to adjudicate upon abstruse questions affecting, it may be, the peace of the Empire on the one hand, and the rights of individuals upon the other. The sovereignty of the island of Newfoundland is in Her Majesty, and the right of fishing and drying fish on the coast was conceded to the French merely as an easement. To the enjoyment of this easement they are entitled, and for any interruption or injury they may allege to have sustained, appeal for redress should be made by them to the judicial tribunals of Her Majesty the Sovereign of the soil in the first place. We therefore most earnestly urge that Her Majesty's ordinary Courts of Justice in Newfoundland are the tribunals which should adjudicate upon questions arising between British and French fishermen. From any Judgment in such Courts a final appeal would lie to Her Majesty and the Privy Council. In no case should naval officers be permitted to try causes arising as aforesaid, since Courts of Justice already exist in the colony for the purpose; and if it be deemed impossible for the ordinary Courts to enforce the law in such a manner as to adequately insure justice to the French, then we ask that special Courts should, as they could of course, be established. Fifthly, we object to this Bill because it is intended to aid in the enforcement of a modus vivendi—(a) both made and renewed without the colony's consent; (b.) renewed after a positive pledge that it was " for one year only;" (c) renewed without providing for the operation of factories erected, completed, or made ready for operation in consequence of the pledge that the original modus vivendi was for " one year only; " (d) renewed without providing for the compensation of those who relied upon this pledge. Sixthly, we object to the Bill because it provides for the enforcement of the award of an Arbitration Commission definitely empowered to deal with one issue only, and that an issue against the separate submission, of which the colony has again and again protested. The colony is ready and willing to submit to unconditional arbitration all the questions arising under the Treaties and Declarations, asking only that no single question shall be decided until a decision has been arrived at as to all other points at issue, and that the award shall then be enforceable as a whole. According to the terms of the agreement for arbitration recently entered into, no questions can be submitted except those which affect the fishery upon the French Treaty shore, and these only as they may be agreed upon from time to time. This totally excludes from the purview of this arbitration one most important question which the colony desires to have decided—that, namely, which refers to the French occupation and use of the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon—and makes it possible for either of the high contracting parties to withhold any of those questions affecting even the fisheries themselves which such party may deem it inexpedient in its own interests to have decided. Either party, at any time after the settlement of the lobster question, or whenever dissatisfied with a decision upon any particular point, may withdraw from' further arbitration; and such a result may occur at a time most embarrassing to the other side. While, therefore, the colony perceives that under the present arrangement it will be impossible to have all questions decided, it has no assurance that upon certain issues adverse decisions may not be arrived at with no compensating advantages from decisions in its favour upon other points. While, therefore, it would welcome arbitration upon every question at issue, it deprecates in the most earnest manner a piecemeal settlement. My
Lords, it has been publicly stated by the right hon. the First Lord of the Treasury that the terms of the arbitration agreement were made known to the Government of the colony before they were finally agreed to. This, we regret to say, is not the case. On the 7th of March last, the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies informed the Governor that arbitration would shortly take place on the lobster fishery question; and the Governor of the colony promptly telegraphed a protest against any arbitration which did not include all the questions arising under the Treaties and Declarations. Seven days afterwards—on the 16th of March last, that is—the right hon. Secretary of State telegraphed that an agreement for arbitration had been signed five days before, and then first made known its terms. Seventhly, my Lords, we object to this Bill because, while it permits the removal of property from the Treaty coasts, it makes no provision for the compensation of those who may suffer loss thereby, and thus makes the title to property extremely precarious. The effect which this Bill will have in retarding the development of the colony's resources has been already dwelt upon, but we cannot too strongly urge the duty of protecting private rights, and if the settlers upon the French Treaty coasts are to be liable at all times to removal by naval officers they ought at least to be assured of compensation. If the few are to be sacrificed for the good of the many, surely the many should compensate them, and to this compensation they should, we submit, be entitled by the terms of any Bill which may be enacted by Parliament. We are not unaware or unappreciative of the difficulties with which Her Majesty's Government have to grapple, and we are sincerely desirous of aiding in their solution. Actuated with this spirit, we have approached the Government with proposals calculated, we sincerely believe, to give all necessary power to execute the. Treaties, Declarations, and Agreements with France according to their true intent and meaning. Those proposals are as follows: —First, (a) The Newfoundland Legislature to pass immediately an Act authorising the execution for this year of the modus vivendi, the award of the Arbitration Commission regarding the lobster question, and the Treaties and Declarations under instructions from Her Majesty in Council; (b) the further progress of the Bill now before Parliament to be deferred until the passing of the above Act, and the Bill then to be withdrawn; (c) the terms of an Act to empower Courts and provide for regulations to enforce the Treaties and Declarations to be discussed and arranged with the delegates now in this city as rapidly as possible, and to be enacted by the Legislature 'of the colony as soon as agreed upon. Secondly, (a) The present arbitration agreement not to be allowed to operate further than the lobster question without the prior consent of the colony, and in this case the colony to be represented upon the Arbitration Commission; (b) the colony desires an agreement for an unconditional arbitration on all points that either party can raise under the Treaties and Declarations; and if this be arranged between Great Britain and France, Newfoundland will ask to be represented upon such arbitration, and will pass an Act to carry out the award. We regret that up to the present moment these propositions have not been accepted, nor has any hope been held out that they will be. The temporary legislation which we have proposed to procure the enactment of would be immediately adopted by the Legislature of the colony, and present needs thereby amply met. I may here observe, my Lords, that we represent before you to-night all shades of political opinions in the island of Newfoundland, and therefore our promise to do this may be relied upon as though the Act were passed. The details of a permanent and thoroughly satisfactory measure would be arranged and enacted without delay by the Legislature of the colony. The adoption of our proposals would at once cause excitement to subside and would induce peace under conditions which make coercion by warships extremely difficult, if not impossible. If the Bill now before your Lordships becomes law, its provisions will have to be enforced upon a resentful people; but if our propositions are adopted, every good object which the present Bill can have in view will be easily and pleasantly attained, and without injury to the proper pride of a people who, though few in number, are as much entitled to consideration as the inhabitants of the proudest portion of the British Empire. No good, my Lords, can possibly come from coercing, or threatening to
coerce, a people willing to do their whole duty; and to enact the Bill now before your Lordships, in face of the propositions made by us, would, we submit, be a needless indignity to a loyal people. In humbly praying that the Bill now before your Lordships may not be read a second time, we feel confident that we are consulting the best interests of Newfoundland and of the Empire. Its enactment will leave a rankling wound in the hearts of the colonists and establish a precedent that must ever give a feeling of insecurity to every self-governing. colony. In offering, on behalf of the Colonial Legislature, to enact laws adequately providing for the honourable fulfilment of obligations of an exceedingly odious kind, we are animated by a spirit of patriotism and devotion to the Empire, and we must respectfully submit that persistence in the passage of the present Bill would, under the circumstances, be but a poor return for that faith in Parliament which animated the Legislature when sending us to the Bar of this House. My Lords, in conclusion, I may add that the time at our disposal has notenabled us to prepare such a full and complete statement of our case as we wished to lay before you, and we had hoped that the time for making this statement would have been extended; but we have to express our gratitude for the patient hearing which you have afforded us, and we are confident that the defects in our case will be supplied by your Lordships, as we are aware of the deep interest which you take in, and your knowledge of, the subject under consideration. We, therefore, leave the matter in your Lordships' hands in perfect confidence that you will mete out to the colony we represent that justice which is traditional of this most noble House.
§ LORD KNUTSFORD
My Lords, I think 1 shall be meeting the wishes of your Lordships if I propose to take the Second Reading of the Bill on Monday next, so that full time may be given to consider the very able speech which we have just heard. Before proposing the Adjournment, I beg to move, as a matter of form, the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
As the Question has been put, I should have thought it would be better to do nothing further now.
§ LORD KNUTSFORD
That is what I proposed; but I was informed I was out of order. If it is not out of order I will move the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It would be rather odd to move the adjournment of a Debate which does not exist; but you can proceed in either one of two ways—either adjourn the further consideration until Monday, or move the Second Reading, and then move the Adjournment. It does not seem to me to matter a straw which way it is. Time is of importance.
§ LORD KNUTSFORD
My Lords, I have been furnished with a precedent, which says " That the further consideration and Second Reading of the said Bill be put off until Monday next" —curiously, the same day as in the present case. I would therefore move, my Lords, in that form.
Second Reading adjourned to Monday next.