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3-011 (Original)

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addressee,male author,male,Pakington,un
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Government English
Imperial Correspondence
Clark, 1975
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They have been fully impressed with a sense of the importance to be attached to that Petition, not only as proceeding from a great majority of the Legislature of the Province [...] a statement, moreover, which was accompanied by your assurance that its sentiments were shared by the most loyal, respectable, and influential members of the community.
But they are influenced, in addition, by considerations arising from those extraordinary discoveries of Gold which have lately taken place in some of the Australian Colonies, and which may be said to have imparted new and unforseen features to their political and social condition. [326]
They are sensible that they have now to consider the prayer of the Petition thus laid before Her Majesty with reference to a state of affairs which has no parallel in history, and which must, in all human probability stimulate the advance of population, wealth, and material prosperity with a rapidity alike unparalleled.
And with the evidence thus before them, they cannot but feel that while it has become more urgently necessary than heretofore to place full powers of self-government in the hands of a people thus advanced in wealth and prosperity, that people have on the other hand given signal evidence of their fitness to regulate their own affairs, especially under legislative institutions amended in the manner which the Council itself has pointed out in the concluding part of this Petition.
It is in this spirit, and with these views, that her Majesty's Government have approached the consideration of the great subject before them; and under circumstances thus altered, it becomes less necessary than it otherwise might have been, that they should enter minutely on the consideration of the separate grievances here alleged.
It is, however, their duty to state, that they concur in opinion with their predecessors as to a portion of these grievances, and consider the allegations concerning them to have been answered in substance by Lord Grey's Despatch of the 23rd January last. They agree with His Lordship that there is no just complaint in evidence before them as to the distribution of the patronage of the Crown in the Australian Colonies, and that the exclusive rule proposed by the Council could not be adopted without great prejudice to the public service. They believe that the wish of the Council that the Customs shall be subject to the direct supervision and control of the Local Legislature, has been, to considerable extent, met by the directions contained in Lord Grey's Despatches of August the 8th, 1850, and February the 12th last, and they will therefore not at present cuter further into that ground of remonstrance, except by saying, that they are prepared to give fair consideration to any representations or proposals which the Legislature of the Colony may be disposed hereafter to make with respect to it.
As to the more important question involved in the last head of the grievances stated in the Petition, namely, the demand for the exemption of legislative enactments of a strictly local character from the disallowing power of the Crown, Her Majesty's Government have no indisposition to meet the views of the Council, if any practicable mode can be devised of distinguishing Local from Imperial subjects of legislation. But as to the difficulty of fixing on such a mode, they cannot better express their views than has already been done by Lord Grey. [327]
Believing that neither the plan noticed and combated by His Lordship, nor other plans which have been suggested with the same general purpose, would prove useful or indeed practicable substitutes for the system now in force, they must add that, under the present mode of exercising the Royal Prerogative in this behalf, the grievance complained of is, in their opinion, rather theoretical than practical.
Upon the two remaining grounds of complaint, those, namely, which stand first in the Petition, Her Majesty's Government are ready to accede to the wishes of the Council and of the Colony in a spirit of entire confidence.
They are indeed unable to concede the claim advanced on behalf of the Colonists to the Administration of the Waste Lands as one of absolute right, in which shape the Petition asserts it. And here, again, feeling it their duty not to leave this claim unnoticed, they are unable to express their views on it better than by adopting the language of Lord Grey in the Despatch referred to.
They concur further in His Lordship's opinion, that when, and on what conditions, it may be desirable to transfer the control of the Waste Lands of a Colony to its Local Legislature, is a question of expediency and not of right.
But they have arrived, after full consideration, at the conclusion that, under the new and rapidly changing circumstances of New South Wales, the time is come at which it is their duty to advise Her Majesty, that the administration of these lands should be transferred to the Colonial Legislature, after those changes in its Constitution have been effected which are adverted to in the Petition.
It only remains for me to refer once more to the last paragraph of the Petition, which I conclude to express the sentiment of the Council, that a reform in the Constitution of the Legislature itself is expedient, along with that extension of its powers which they demand. In that sentiment Her Majesty's Government fully concur. They believe that the rapid progress of New South Wales in wealth and population, renders it necessary that the form of its Institutions should be more nearly assimilated to that prevailing in the Mother Country, and should be better adapted to the enlarged functions and increased responsibilities which will now devolve on the Legislative Body. I will not lengthen this Despatch by enlarging upon the advantages of a double Chamber, for the safe and satisfactory government of an important Community under representative Institutions. The people of New South Wales must not only be familiar with the recent discussions in Parliament on this subject, when their own Constitution was under debate, but they must be aware that the change has been recommended in several able Des-patches from yourself, and has been much debated among themselves both on public occasions and by their representatives. [328] In a remarkable Memorial from certain Inhabitants of New South Wales, forwarded to my predecessor in your Despatch, of April 12th, 1850, I find it stated as in their opinion of the highest importance, "to protect the Colony against rash and hasty legislation by the interposition of a second Chamber," a step in the progress of Constitutional improvement which, they add, has from the first been contemplated and ought no longer to be deferred.
Assuming therefore, that this is a change as to the expediency of which general agreement prevails, Her Majesty's Government believe it to be desirable for the interests of the Colony, that it should precede those important concessions which I have now the pleasure of announcing their readiness to make.
Ample powers for the purpose of effecting this alteration appear to be entrusted to the existing Legislature by the Constitutional Act of 1850, subject to the confirmation by the Crown of any Act passed for the purpose.
In compliance, therefore, with the opinion expressed by the Council in favor of a Constitution similar in its outlines to that of Canada, and with a view also to the most simple and expeditious mode of completing the whole transaction, it is the wish of Her Majesty's Government that the Council should establish the new Legislature on the bases of an Elective Assembly and a Legislative Council to be nominated by the Crown. Adopting this general outline they would leave it to the judgment of the Council to determine the numbers of the two Chambers, and, if they think it necessary, to make any change in the constituency by which the new Assembly is to be elected, subject to the approval of such change by Her Majesty when the Act is submitted to Her.
It is scarcely necessary to add, that Her Majesty's Government do not consider that the power which the Legislature of New South Wales at present possesses of changing its Constitution is to be considered as exhausted by this exercise of it; that power must be retained in case further reform should at any time appear expedient.
On the receipt by Her Majesty's Advisers of such a Constitutional enactment by the present Colonial Legislature as I have here generally indicated, with a Civil List annexed to it, in accordance with what I understand to be the intention of the Legislative Council, they undertake forthwith to propose to Parliament such measures as will be necessary to carry into effect the entire arrangement, namely, the repeal of the Land Sales' Acts, and the requisite alterations in the Constitutional Acts and Schedules annexed to them.
And, in the meantime, it is to me a source of very great satisfaction to be the Agent for conveying to you the consent of Her Majesty's Government which they trust will not only tend to promote the welfare and prosperity of the great Colony over which you preside, but also to cement and perpetuate the ties of kindred affection and mutual confidence which connect its people with that of the United Kingdom. [329]