UK, House of Lords, “Canada”, vol 45, cols 6-7 (5 February 1839)
By: UK (House of Lords)
Citation: UK, HL, “Canada“, vol 45 (1839), cols 6-7.
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Upon the Lord Chancellor’s commencing at 5 o’clock to read her Majesty’s Speech,
The Earl of Durham rose and said—My Lords, I have a question to put to the noble Viscount at the head of her Majesty’s Government previous to the reading of her Majesty’s speech? My Lords, I wish to ask the noble Viscount when it is his intention to lay upon the table that information respecting the affairs of Canada, which has been referred to in her Majesty’s speech?
Viscount Melbourne—My Lords, that information will be laid before your lordships almost immediately; but part of that information was of such a nature, that it could not be laid upon the table by the authority of Ministers, until Ministers themselves had the opportunity of examing into its contents.
The Earl of Durham —My Lords, my observation referred to the Report I presented as Lord High Commissioner, and the dispatches I addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department. I understood, that they would be laid upon the table to-day. I am aware that not a very long time has elapsed since Ministers were put in possession of them, but I think a sufficient period to enable them to judge whether they should form a portion of the information to be communicated to the House or not. I do not ask them for any decision upon it, but I should hope that the report would be placed upon the table at the earliest possible period, confident as I am, that it will show I have redeemed the pledges which I gave in this House, and that I have zealously discharged my duty to my Sovereign and to my country.
Viscount Melbourne —The dispatches will be laid upon the table without delay. The report it is the intention of Ministers to lay upon the table, but that report was only received in form at the Colonial-office yesterday evening, and the appendix has 7not even yet been received, and it is necessary that the Ministry should have some time to consider it before they, upon their own responsibility, lay it before the House. There is no intention whatever to withhold that report, or any other information, which, when it is laid upon the table of the House, will, no doubt, amply answer the description which the noble Lord has given of it.
Earl of Durham —My Lords, I beg it may be understood that though only a few hours may have elapsed since Members had an opportunity of reading the report officially signed, that yet the proof sheets of that report have been in their possession since Thursday last.
Lord Brougham —My Lords, nothing can be more certain than that both parties have acquitted themselves in the most honourable manner. Ministers cannot be expected to lay papers before the House which they have not had time to consider; and, on the other hand, nothing can be more honourable and natural than the anxiety of my noble Friend behind me (Earl Durham) that the earliest opportunity should be given to the country to judge of his statements.