Page images

fairly chosen by ballot. Was it to be supposed, for a merit, that the Members of that House, in giving in thei lists by ballot, would not consult their duty, and act as fa-irl^ as they would do if any other mode ot proceeding wer"« adopted? He believed they would, and therefore he fhoulc certainly persist in moving, that the Committee be appoin tec by ballot. The right honourable gentleman had spoken witl much personal civility of the last Committee, but had observed, that they had given great dissatisfaction to every impartial man. Mr. Pitt here observed, that some of those who pretended to be impartial men, might be, perhaps, a little partial. It was not by any means easy to decide correctly who was partial, and who was impartial, on such a. subject. He declared, that he could not conceive how diiTa.— tisfaction could have arisen in the breast of any man again it that Committee, and he firmly believed that no dissatisfact ion had existed. The Committee must report the facts, and the vouchers on which they proceeded to ground their opinion. They were, therefore, extremely liable to detection, if they did not report fairly. For his part, he had an equal personal respect for all the individuals who composed that Committee, on account of their knowledge, information, and integrity. He was persuaded that when the subject came a second time under consideration, it would afford the highest satisfaction, since the more it was revised and examined, the more it would appear that the Committee had performed its duty. It was his intention and his wish to procure an adequate report on the subject, but he should not controvert the right honourable gentleman's proposition, that there were 011 the opposite side of the House, some gentlemen of abilities and knowledge, who were extremely capable of throwing light upon the subject. Undoubtedly there were. At the same time, however, he hoped the right honourable gentleman would not deny, but that there might happen, perhaps, also to be some persons, and at least as many, on that side of the House, who were capable, and also very much inclined, to discharge their duty with fidelity and honour; and whatever number of Members might be chosen from one side of the House, or from the other, it was his sincere wish that, for the purpose of obtaining an useful and distinct report, in all respects worthy of the consideration of the House, and of the Public, they might be selected from both. Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox expressed his satisfaction at discovering that they were not to have such a Committee as the last; but he still thought that the better way of chusing the Committee would be by the House acting openly, rather than in a concealed manner, by means of a ballot; for all knew perfectly well how those sorts of ballots were managed. He thought that,


m&deriag the delegation of so great a trust, the House

£ml' declare the names of those whom they conceived most

ntacompose the Committee.

-Mr. Chancellor Pitt answered, that either at the present Mr. Pitt, rouait, or at any moment, the best proof which he could jisetliat the former Committee had done their duty, was, tin be felt no difficulty in letting the subject be revised, so that if any error had escaped, it might be detected.

The Speaker then put the question on the first motion:

"That the several accounts, and other papers presented "to this House, in this session of Parliament, relative to the '• public income and expenditure, be referred to the conside"ration of a Select Committee, and that the said Committee "be directed to examine and state the same, and also to reu port to the House what may be expected to be the annual "amount of the said income and expenditure in future."

Mr. Chancellor Pitt next moved,

"That the number of the said Committee be nine.

"That the said Committee be chosen by balloting.

"That the Members of this House do on Monday next, ;'at two o'clock, propose lists to be put into glasses of nine "persons' names, to be of the said Committee."

These motions were carried.

Theorderof the day for taking the report of the Quebec W! into farther consideration, having been read,

Mr. Huffiy begged leave to inform the House, that he had Mr. 1 petition to present from a number of very respectable per- Hussey. '•:'nsagainst the bill in question. They had conceived that it *alikely to prove prejudicial to their trade.

The petition was brought up and received. It contained 'sprayer of several merchants, warehousemen, and manu'icturersof Quebec, that the bill might not pass into a law, "jsrnuch as, after having duly weighed the consequences of '"•) they feared that it would be attended with great injury, particularly to their trade and commerce. The petition was ordered to lie on the table. The Speaker then put the question, "That this report be new taken into farther consideration." Mr. Hussey moved " That the bill be re-committed." Mr. Fox remarked, that the bill contained a variety of Mr. Fo», fWes, of the utmost importance, not only with respect to As country to which they immediately related, but to Great •niain. Many of these clauses appeared to be very excep;:«able, and such as he could by no means subscribe to. The TM1 proposed to give two Assemblies to the two provinces, and ^os far it met w;tj, hjs approbation; but the number of per^of whom these Assemblies were to consist, deserved paricular attention. Although it might be perfectly true, that

a countrv,

a country, three or four times as large as Great Britair ought to have representatives three or four times as numi rous, yet it was not fit to fay, that a small country (hbul have an Assembly proportionably small. The great objei in the institution of all popular Assemblies was, that th people should be fully and freely represented; and that th representative body should have all the virtues and the vice incident to such Assemblies. But when they made an Astern bly to consist of sixteen or thirty persons, they seemed to hir to give a free constitution in appearance, when, in fact, the; withheld it. In Great Britain, we had a septennial bill but the goodness of it had been considered doubtful, at least even by many of those who took a lead in the present bill The right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) had himself sup ported a vote for the repeal of that act. He did not now mean to discuss its merits; but a main ground on which il had been thought defensible was, that a general election ir this country was attended with a variety of inconveniencies. That general elections in Great Britain were attended with several inconveniences, could not bedouhted; but when they came to a country so different in all circumstances as Canada, and where elections, for many years at least, were not likely to. be attended with the consequences which they dreaded, why they should make such Assemblies not annual or triennial, but septennial, was beyond his comprehension. A septennial bill did not apply to many of the most respectable persons in that country; they might be persons engaged in trade, and if chosen representatives for seven years, they might not be in a situation to attend during all that period; their affairs might call them to England, or many other circumstances might arise, effectually to prevent them from attending the service of their country. But although it might he inconvenient for such persons to attend such Assembly for the term of seven years, they might be able to give their attendance for one, or even for three years, without any danger or inconvenience to their commercial concerns. By a septennial bill, the country of Canada might be deprived of many of the few representatives that were allowed by the bill. If it should be said, that this objection applied to Great Britain, he completely denied it; because, although there were persons engaged in trade in the British House of Commons, and, many of them very worthy Members, yet they were comparatively few ; and therefore he should think that, from the situation of Canada, annual or triennial Parliaments would be much preferable to septennial. Of the qualification of electors he felt it impossible to approve. In England, a freehold of forty shillings was sufficient; five pounds were nccessaiy in Canada. Perhaps it might be said, that when

this was fairly considered, it would make no material disseisee, and this he suspected to be the case; but granting that it did not, when we were giving to the world, by this bil our notions of the principles of election, we mould not klii out that the qualifications in Great Britain were lower than they ought to be. The qualifications on a House were iill higher; he believed, ten pounds. He thought that the fhole of this constitution was an attempt to undermine and C3ntradict the professed purport of the bill: the introduction cf a popular Government into Canada. But although this was the cafe with respect to the two Assemblies, although they were to consist of so inconsiderable a number of Members, the legislative Councils in both provinces were unlimited as to numbers. They might consist of any number whatever, at the will of the Governor. Instead of being hereditary councils, or councils chosen by electors, as was the cafe m tome of the colonies in the West Indies, or chosen by the King, they were compounded of the other two. As to the points of hereditary powers, and hereditary honours, to fay that they were good, or that they were not good, as a general proposition, was not easily maintained; hut he saw nothing lo good in hereditary powers and honours, as to incline as to introduce them into a country where they were unknown, and by such means distinguish Canada from all the colonies in the West Indies. In countries where they made 1 part of the constitution, lie did not think it wife to destroy them j but to give birth and life to such principles in couutries where they did not exist, appeared to him to he exceedigly unwise. He xould not account for it, unless it was that Canada, having been formerly a French colony, there rrnght be an opportunity of reviving those titles of honour, the extinction of which, some gentlemen so much deplored, wiito revive in the West that spirit of chivalry, which had fallen into disgrace in a neighbouring country. He thought these powers and honours wholly unnecessary, and tending M'*r to make a new constitution worse than better. If the council were wholly hereditary, he stiould equally object to *1 it would only add to the power of the King and the Governor; for a council, so constituted, would only be the tool of the (Governor, as the Governor himself would only '* the tool and engine of the King. He did not clearly coinirehend th° provision which the bill made for the Protestant c-rgjr. Hy the Protestant clergy, he supposed to he underload not only the clergy of the church of England, but 3'l iklcriptions of Protestants. He totally disapproved of 'he clause, which enacts, "That whenever the King shall 11 make grants of lands, one seventh part of those lands (hall k Jppropriated to the Protestant clergy/' He had two

objecobjections to these regulations, both of them, in his opini«> r of great weight. In all grants of lands made in that coura r »to Catholics, and a majority of the inhabitants were of th persuasion, one seventh part of those grants was to be appr-03 priated to the Protestant clergy, although they might r»<:3 have any cure of fouls, or any congregations to instru«St One tenth part of the produce of this country was assignee] and this, perhaps, was more than one seventh part of tl-i. land. He wished to deprive no clergyman of his just rights but in settling a new constitution, and laying down nevfc principles, to enact that the clergy mould have one sevent li of all grants, he must confess, appeared to him an abs-ircJ doctrine. If they were all of the church of England, thi := would not reconcile him to the measure. It might be asked why should not they have as much as those of the churcrni of England? In this country, we had that which some condemned and others praised; we had a kind of shew, but stil Jt a proportion must be observed. The greatest part of these? Protestant clergy were not of the church of England; they were chiefly what are calted Protestant Dissenters in this country. They were, therefore, going to give to Dissenters one seventh part of all the lands in the province. Was this the proportion, either in Scotland, or in any other country, where those religious principles were profesied? It was not the proportion, either in Scotland, or in any other ecclesiastical country in Europe; we were, therefore, by this bill, making a fort of provision for the Protestant clergy of Canada, which was unknown to them in every part of Europe; a provision, in his apprehension, which would rather tend to corrupt than to benefit them. The regulations were likewise, in part, obscure, because, after it had stated that one seventh portion of the land should always be set aside for the Piotestant clergy, it did not state how it should be applied. The bill was likewise exceptionable, as far as it related to the regulation of appeals. Suitors were, in the first instance, to carry their complaints before the Courts of common law in Canada; if dissatisfied with the decisions of those Courts, they might appeal to the Governor and Council; if dissatisfied with their judgement, they might then appeal to the King in Council; and next, to the House os Lords. Now, if the House of Lords was a better Court, which he believed it to Le, than the King in Council, why compel them to appeal to the King in Council, before they could come to the House of Lords? Why not apply to the House of Lords at once? This could answer no possible purpose, but to render lawsuits exceedingly expensive, and exceedinglyvexatious. Those were the principal objections he had to this bill. There had not yet been a word said in explanation

2 of

« PreviousContinue »