UK, House of Commons Debates (22 March 1850)

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Date: 1850-03-22
By: The Globe
Citation: “News by the Europa,” The Globe (11 April 1850).
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News by the Europa.


On the motion of Lord JOHN RUSSELL, the House then went into committee upon the Austrian Colonies Government Bill, when Mr. HUME objected to the preamble, and advised the repeal of all hills affecting the government of the colonies, with the view of re-enacting, in a consolidated form, such portions as might be found desirable. The preamble was proposed, and the first clause was agreed to after a short discussion.

On the second clause being moved, Mr. MOWATT proposed as an amendment the omission of such parts of the clause as left to her Majesty the nomination of one-third part of the members of the Legislative Council.

Mr. LABOUCHERE objected to the amendment, because it tended to alter the existing constitution of several colonies without their consent.

Mr. COBDEN said the Government appeared, from that argument, to be of opinion that the colonists desired a system of nomination which he believed no Englishman ever did.

Mr. GLADSTONE, though thinking the amendment raised the question inadequately, should support it, because he was desirous of giving two chambers, both elective.

Sir R. PEEL opposed the amendment, not being inclined to give away the only restrictive check which the Government had against democracy in the colonies.

Lord JOHN MANNERS thought nominations a very poor check against democracy. He should vote for the amendment.

After some speeches from Mr. Adair, Mr. Page Wood, Mr. Bass, Mr. Hawes, and Mr. Mowatt, in reply, the committee divided, when the numbers were—

For the amendment – – – 77
Against it – – – – 165
Majority – – – ——88

The amendment was consequently lost.

Mr. WALPOLE moved the nomination of the clauses altogether, and the substitution of ————— that in each of the colonies of Australia and New South Wales there should be two chambers, a legislative council, and representative body.

Mr. HAWES resisted the motion, and read numbers of extracts from recent papers laid before Parliament, to show that such a proposed change had not the assent of the colonists themselves.

Mr. AGLIONBY also opposed it upon the same grounds.

Mr. HUME was in favour of a double chamber, on the elective principle, but as the measure of the Government left the option with the colonists of selecting the best, he would oppose the amendment.

Mr. A. HOPE supported the amendment.

Lord FRANCIS SCOTT followed in the same line of argument, referring to petitions from New South Wales, in proof that the new measure was generally hailed with great satisfaction in that country, and hoped the harmony of feeling would not be disturbed by the sweeping alterations involved in the amendment, on the expediency of which they had now no amount of opinion from the colonies.

Sir W. MOLESWORTH claimed for the colonists of New South Wales the power of altering and modifying their institutions, and strongly condemned the system of Crown nominees. He was in favour of a double chamber, on the elective principle and denied that there was a want of material to construct a second.

Lord JOHN RUSSELL replied to the objections against the bill, and detailed several reforms of the government, in the system of colonial legislation. The one chamber, after several years experience, was found to work to their satisfaction.

Mr. GLADSTONE supported the amendment, and, at considerable length contended for the superiority of the double over the single chamber.

The committee then divided, and the numbers were—

For the amendment, 147; against, 198; majority, 51. The double chamber was consequently lost.

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