§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (LORD PARMOOR)
My Lords, this is a Bill for confirming and validating certain Agreements between the Government of the Dominion of Canada on the one side and the Provincial Governments of Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia on the other. These Agreements, which have been unanimously approved both by the Dominion Parliament and by the Provincial Parliaments of the Provinces concerned, cannot be validated without the confirmation of the Imperial Parliament, and consequently 252 this Bill is introduced at the desire of His Majesty's Government in Canada, and is in accordance with the terms of an Address to His Majesty the King from the Senate and House of Commons of Canada.
Your Lordships will see from the Bill that it is not a Bill in ordinary loom, but it consists of Agreements between these various Provinces, none of which can be altered at this stage, and which, indeed, have only been sent forward to the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the purpose of confirmation and validation. They provide for the transfer to the Provinces named of the control and administration of their natural resources—land, mines, minerals and so forth. These hitherto have been vested in the Dominion Government. In the case of the original members of the Canadian Federation—those older members of the Canadian Federation in these particular Provinces—these assets already belong to the Provincial Governments; and these Agreements, which have been approved, as I say, by Acts of Parliament both of the Dominion and of the Provincial Legislatures concerned, are merely designed to place the younger Provinces on the same footing as the older Provinces which had been constituted at the time of the North America Act, 1867.
The reason why legislation by Parliament here is required is that the British North America Acts, under which there was conferred on the Parliament of Canada the right to establish new Provinces, also provided that (except in one point with which we are not concerned to-day) it shall not be competent for the Parliament of Canada to alter the provisions of any Dominion Act establishing new Provinces. It is not necessary, of course, to go into a matter of this kind about which there is no controversy, but the particular sections involved are Sections 3 and 6 of the British North America Act, 1871. No controversy of any kind arises with regard to those provisions and the necessity for confirmation is agreed to by everyone, the reason being that the various Agreements vesting in the particular Provinces their own natural resources cannot be made effective without confirmation by the Imperial Parliament.
253 His Majesty's Government in Canada have expressed the hope that it will be found possible for the Bill to be passed and receive the Royal Assent at as early a date as possible. The reason is that the Province of Manitoba was constituted a Province first in July, 1870. It was constituted first of all under a Canadian Act, but it was held that it required confirmation under the Act of 1871. When that confirmation was given the earlier date was accepted as the actual date on which the Province was constituted. At the present time what I may call a Jubilee is being prepared in Manitoba to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the Province. Extensive arrangements have been made in connection with that Jubilee, and it is desired both by the Government of the Province and the Government of Canada that on this occasion there shall be handed over, as confirmed and validated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, those natural resources which are now vested in the Dominion Government, but which hereafter are to be transferred to the Manitoba Provincial Government.
I am sure that all your Lordships will wish to join in congratulating the Dominion of Canada and the Province of Manitoba on having made this friendly arrangement, and that you will feel that it would add much to the effectiveness of the celebration if the transfer of those natural resources should be made on the date I have mentioned. I hope your Lordships will agree that we ought to do our best to make sure that this very reasonable request is complied with, and I trust that your Lordships will regard the passage of this Bill as entirely uncontroversial and as raising no political issue at all. I hope that we shall give it a unanimous assent. I am sure that we shall, and no doubt that will be given by the other House of Parliament too.
If I may mention it now on my Motion for Second Reading, I have a proposal which would enable us to carry this Bill through all its stages to-day so that it may go down at the earliest possible moment to another place. I hope that noble Lords who lead the Opposition—the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp—will be able to assent to that proposal. I think it would increase the compliment of our 254 unanimous assent if at the same time we bear in mind the desire of the Dominion Parliament and the Provincial Parliament to have this matter settled as early as possible having regard to the sixtieth anniversary of the constitution of Manitoba as a Province. I realise, of course, that this is an exceptional case. If none of your Lordships has any opposition I hope we may carry the Bill through all its stages to-day and send our best wishes for its quick progress and hope that it may be of advantage to all the parties concerned. I beg to more that the Bill be now read a second time. It will be a later matter to move the suspension of the Standing Order.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I need not tell your Lordships, on behalf of those for whom I speak on this side of the House, that our only wish will be to facilitate as far as we can the passage of this Bill into law. I will not dwell upon its merits as those are not in question. The question merely is whether we can make the procedure as quick as possible in order to show how glad we are to conform with the wishes of the Dominion of Canada and the Province of Manitoba. May I take this opportunity of saying that so far as we are concerned we shall offer in the circumstances no opposition to the suspension of the Standing Order as suggested by the noble and learned Lord?
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I would say on behalf of my noble friends how cordially we welcome the opportunity of saying a word or two in relation to this measure which only in a technical way really comes before your Lordships. I am glad that it has come because it gives us an opportunity not only of saying that we hope that the Bill will have an easy and immediate passage but also of conveying our very best wishes to the Province of Manitoba upon the happy anniversary which is just about to be celebrated. We hope that they may have a continued spell of prosperity for many years to come.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.255
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I need say nothing more in moving that Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with in regard to this Bill.
§ Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with.—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ On Question Motion agreed to.256
§ Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended, House in Committee: Bill reported without amendment.
§ Bill read 3ª, and passed, and sent to the Commons.
§ House adjourned at half past four o'clock.