Imatges de pÓgina

opposite view. He could, however, quite understand that it might have been thought and might still be considered expedient that some Act of Parliament should be passed with a view to relieve these persons alto

might have upon them, and also with reference to the question of claims for compensation which might arise under the peculiar circumstances of the case. With regard, however, to the mere question raised by the present Motion, whether the Crown obtaining territory under such circumstances as the present, had or had not the power to abandon it, he must maintain that the means resorted to were the right ones, and that the Crown, acting under the advice of the Privy Council, had a perfect right to give up that territory.

who were subject to the dominion of the Crown in the territory so acquired, thought proper, at a recent period of history, to quit the territory of the Cape, and to establish themselves within the territory of the Orange River. They did so for the pur-gether from all claims which the Crown pose of avoiding the jurisdiction and dominion of the British Crown and of establishing themselves independently of it. They were pursued by the power of the Government, and the Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith, proclaimed the sovereignty of the British Crown over the territory which the Boers had so occupied. They resisted his power; they arrayed themselves against the troops of the Crown; they were overcome, subjugated, and compelled to acknowledge the dominion they had attempted to resist. Now, he said that persons in this position were inhabitants of territory acquired, not by occupancy, but by conquest, and the territory acquired so without the intervention of Parliament, could also be ceded and given up by the Crown without the intervention of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman admitted this discretion with regard to a large class and description of territory; he said, for example, that with regard to fortresses and places of arms, such as Calais, Dunkirk, and Gibraltar, this might be the case, but he denied the rule in respect to large tracts of territory. Why? Upon what principle could the Crown give up Calais, Dunkirk, and Gibraltar without the intervention of Parliament, and not the Orange River Sovereignty? There was really no difference in point of principle. Each comprehended a large number of inhabitants. Gibraltar contained, he supposed, 100,000 inhabitants; and if the Crown could give up Gibraltar, which was acquired by conquest, why not this territory? He could see no difference between the two cases. The legal proposition of the power of the Crown, therefore, rested upon this-that what the Crown had acquired by cession or conquest, and over which it had absolute sovereignty, the Crown could deal with without the intervention or the co-operation of Parliament. It appeared to him, therefore, that the course pursued had been the right one so far as the question of law was concerned. It had been said that a different opinion had been given. He was not aware upon what that opinion rested, but nothing would make him feel so little confidence in his own judgment as know that two legal friends of his, for whose opinions he entertained the highest respect, were to propound and entertain an The Attorney General

SIR FREDERIC THESIGER said, his hon. and learned Friend was mistaken in supposing that he differed materially from him upon this point, because, although his opinion was that under the peculiar circumstances of the case it would be much better there should be an Act of Parliament which should remove all doubt, yet he had never expressed any opinion that an Act of Parliament was essential, and undoubtedly that was not the opinion he entertained at the present moment. At the same time he had certainly been led to adopt that conclusion in a different manner to that in which his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had arrived at his, because he did not entirely agree with him that this was a case of conquest, and that therefore it was in the power of the Crown to abandon this territory without the sanction of Parliament. It appeared to him that there never was any conquest of this territory; that the sovereignty existed under most peculiar and extraordinary circumstances; that there really never was any territorial sovereignty acquired, and never was any annexation of landed dominion to the British Crown. The Boers and farmers, at an early period, began to wander beyond the Cape Colony to find their sheep and to return afterwards, thus going and returning at intervals; but in 1836 they fixed for themselves a more permanent abode beyond the Colony, began to assume independence, and to exercise dominion over the natives of the district. That led to abuses which called for the intervention of to the British power. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) seemed to assume that by the Act of Parliament passed in 1836, by which jurisdiction was

given to the courts of the Cape Colony | territory, but gave no sovereignty whatover offences committed between the con- ever; and he contended that neither by fines of the Colony and twenty-five degrees occupancy, nor by cession, nor by conquest, of south latitude, we had asserted juris- was there any acquisition whatever of diction over the Orange River territory. territorial dominion in respect of that disNow, it was no such thing. Parliament trict of the Orange River. Lord Grey was merely asserted a jurisdiction over British of opinion that that proclamation made an subjects within the Orange territory. We improper distinction between British subdid not by that Act claim dominion over jects and natives, holding all to be subjects the territory, but only over our own Bri- who were within the territory over which tish subjects, the same force as was given the British power extended. In March, to the Acts of Parliament a few years 1851, letters patent were issued under ago which declared it to be felony for a the Great Seal, by which the Orange British subject to hold slaves. It appeared River Sovereignty, as it had been prethat that territory was divided among viously called, was erected into an indedifferent tribes, at the head of whom were pendent Government. Upou a despatch, various chiefs, the most conspicuous of however, from General Cathcart, mentionwhom were Adam Kok and Moshesh. In 1846 Sir Peregrine Maitland entered into a treaty with Adam Kok, by which treaty the independent sovereignty of that chief was expressly acknowledged. Mr. Porter, the Attorney General at the Cape, it appeared, entertained the opinion that this territory was acquired by occupancy, but the law officers of the Crown came to a different conclusion, for they thought it had been an acquisition by conquest, and recommended that an Act of Parliament should be introduced, reciting that doubts had been entertained how the territory had been gained, and whether it could be abandoned by the mere authority of the Crown, and then to proceed to allay those doubts by enactments proper to the case. Therefore he thought he was entitled to say that up to that time it was the established opinion that there had been an acquisition by conquest in the Orange River territory. There was nothing whatever in the documents before the House to show that there had been any acquisition by conquest of the Orange River territory, and, indeed, the facts themselves went to disprove any such supposition. Sir Harry Smith subsequently entered into treaties with the two chiefs he had named, but they were like treaties between independent Powers for the purpose of ensuring harmony and tranquillity, and undoubtedly no sovereignty was recognised by those treaties over the tribes. On the 3rd of February, 1848, Sir Harry Smith issued a proclamation, declaring that they were under the absolute and paramount sovereignty of Her Majesty; but that proclamation could have had no authority without the assent of the chiefs, or unless it were the result of a treaty. According to his view, those treaties conferred the power upon the Governor to exercise jurisdiction over the British subjects in that

ing the circumstances of those letters patent, and expressing an opinion that the tribes had always been considered to be independent and had never acknowledged any vassalage to the Crown, the Duke of Newcastle desired General Cathcart to withhold the promulgation of those letters patent, and, in consequence, they never had been published. Though he (Sir F. Thesiger) arrived, therefore, at the same conclusion with his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, that this sovereignty might be abrogated without the necessity of the sanction of the Legislature, still it appeared that he arrived at that conclusion upon totally different grounds. He would not offer any opinion on the general and important question, how far it was competent for the Crown to dispossess itself of any portion of its dominions without the assent of the Legislature. The question was one of great difficulty, for Lord Loughborough had expressed an opinion one way, and Lord Thurlow another. According to his (Sir F. Thesiger's) view, it was unnecessary to enter into that, for there was no conquest, and he could not conceive that there was anything more than an abstract sovereignty to be exercised over British subjects, which could be relinquished without the interference of the Legislature. He admitted that the Crown could not give up the allegiance of its subjects; but nothing of the kind had occurred in this case. These people, born in the Cape Colony, had wandered into this territory, which must be considered and treated as a foreign country, and their allegiance had travelled with them. They were now replaced in the position in which they originally stood when they left the British territory, and they could not divest themselves of their allegiance, neither could the Crown dis

charge them from it. Upon the whole, he thought that it would have been more satisfactory if the Government had applied to the Legislature before the abandonment was resolved upon; but such application was not essential, and no ground, therefore, he thought, had been stated for agreeing to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley).

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MR. PACKE moved for leave to introduce a Bill

"To relieve Dissenters from the payment of Church Rates in certain cases, and otherwise to amend the Law respecting the making, assessing,

The object of this Bill was to pay respect to the consciences of Dissenters by relieving them entirely from all payments towards the worship of the Church of England, and at the same time to place the maintenance and repair of the fabrics upon a firm and satisfactory basis. He understood from the noble Lord the Leader of the House that the Government would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, and he trusted that, under these circumstances, the House would allow it to be read a first time, reserving the discussion for a subsequent stage.

MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE said, he wished to say one word on the important and collecting Church Rates in England and constitutional question which had been al-Wales." luded to by his hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down. His hon. and learned Friend had alluded to the difference of opinion between Lord Loughborough and Lord Thurlow; but it was well known that Lord Loughborough was one of the least scrupulous of political partisans-that he was making a violent party speech at the time-that no lawyer supported him in his assertions and that he was immediately contradicted by Lord Thurlow. It should be remembered also that Mr. Fox, in the House of Commons, though he agreed on the general question with Lord Thurlow, yet he never ventured to assert that the Crown had no power to abandon her colonies. In fact, the question resolved itself into this, whether they were living under a monarchy or under a republic. Mr. Justice Blackstone laid down the right of the Crown to abandon colonies as clearly as could be the check against abuse being the responsibility of Ministers to Parliament. In fact, the point admitted of no dispute, and English history furnished so many examples of its exercise, that he was surprised how any lawyer could entertain a doubt on the subject.

MR. ADDERLEY, in reply, said, it would be presumption in him to put his opinion on a point of law against the high legal authorities who had spoken to-night, but still he thought the time of the House had not been wasted, as it had tended to settle the question that in the case of a territory occupied and settled as this was, the Crown had the power, without consulting Parliament, to abandon it. He must say one word with respect to the right hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith), who had recommended the policy of abandoning other colonies besides this.


would remind that right hon. Member that the policy of abandonment was the policy of a declining country, as the policy of acquirement was the policy of a thriving country. He believed that this country in a few years would again bring the British sovereignty to the Orange River terri

Sir F. Thesiger

MR. HADFIELD said, he must oppose the introduction of this Bill, unless he heard some further explanation of its provisions than had been given by the hon. Gentleman. As a Dissenter, he regarded with great jealousy any measure coming from the other side of the House; and when the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) and the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay) had given notice of their intention to introduce measures upon this subject, he could not but think that a third Bill was altogether unnecessary.

SIR WILLIAM CLAY said, he would recommend his hon. Friend not to oppose the introduction of the Bill. For his own part, he would welcome any attempt to attain so desirable an object, from whatever quarter it might come.

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON said, that he would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, but should reserve to Government the right to deal with it as they thought fit when they saw its provisions. He would also recommend the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) not to oppose it at this stage.

MR. HADFIELD said, after what had fallen from the hon. Baronet and the noble Lord, he would not press his opposition.

Motion agreed to; Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Packe, Mr. Sotheron, and Mr. Miles.

Bill read 1°.

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of their receiving public relief paid out of
the rates; and it would not make any very
great distinction whether that relief was
given to him with or without the name of
The evil consequences of re-
ceiving relief would equally follow in both
cases. At the same time there was no
doubt that improvements might be intro-
duced into our present system of adminis-
tering medical relief, and he should there-
fore assent to the appointment of the Com-

Motion agreed to.



MR. DIGBY SEYMOUR then moved for leave to introduce a Bill" to make fraudulent dealings with regard to Bills of Exchange felonious in certain cases. object of this measure was to check the proceedings of the sharpers who were in the habit of inducing young persons to accept bills of exchange, for which they received little or no consideration. These were then passed about from hand to hand, and the unfortunate acceptors were compelled, often without notice, to answer for their full amount. Every one conversant with the proceedings in our courts of law, must be aware of the ruin and misery thus entailed upon young inexperienced or imprudent persons. The cause of Sherwood

He considered that the importance of this
question could hardly be over-estimated,
when it was remembered that it involved
an annual expenditure of 4,000,000l.; nor
could it be contested that the present sys-
tem under which medical relief was admi-
nistered was exceedingly defective, since
that had been admitted by the late Mr.
Charles Buller, when President of the
Poor Law Board in 1848. Looking at the
question as it regarded the poor, it could
be shown that the provision by which no
person not receiving relief from the rates
could receive medical relief had produced
70 per cent of the present pauperism;
while, as regarded the medical officers, it
was clear that their salaries were wholly
inadequate; in fact, it could not remune-
rate them for the cost of the drugs they
were obliged to dispense if they conscien-
tiously performed their duties. It was
not, therefore, surprising that the system
worked in a very unsatisfactory manner,
and he could prove that in many cases
poor persons had died from want of medical.
relief. That relief might be much more
satisfactorily given, and at a reduced cost,
by remodelling the system under which it
was administered; and under these cir-
cumstances he hoped the Government
would not oppose the appointment of a
Select Committee.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL said, that there could be no doubt that this was a very important subject, because the medical relief given to the poor formed a chief part of the poor relief of the country; and he should therefore be very sorry to interpose any obstacle to the appointment of a Select Committee, before which valuable evidence might be given. At the same time he could not encourage the expectation that any very great benefit would be derived from separating the medical from the general poor law relief. His hon. and learned Friend had said that 70 per cent of the relief given was distributed under the head of medical relief, and that the persons so receiving it were thereby made paupers, as if the whole distinction consisted in their bearing the name of paupers. Now it was evident that what really distinguished them from others was the fact

Meikham, very recently tried in the Court of Exchequer, furnished a good illustration of the practices of the persons to whom he had referred. The defendant in that action, a young man, gave a bill to a person named Elliot, in order to get it discounted; the latter endorsed it over to other parties, who sued the payee, although he had never received a farthing on account of the bill. It appeared to him that the character of our legislation was brought to a certain degree into contempt, unless such proceedings could be checked by the strong arm of the law. It was competent, by very simple legislation, to meet attempts to frustrate justice by bringing technical objections, and to defeat the ordinary tricks practised in such cases as had lately come before the public.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL said, he had no doubt that most nefarious frauds were perpetrated by a class of persons who pretended to be bill discounters, but were, in fact, bill stealers, and any measure to make the law more stringent as regarded these persons, must be productive of great benefit to the community. At the same time the House was not in possession of the details of the sub

ject, and he apprehended that serious Gentleman would refuse to allow the Bill difficulty would be found in dealing with to go to a Select Committee, particularly it. It was far from his intention to offer as the subject was a most delicate one, and any resistance to the proposal, which concerned not only the money, but the should be received with indulgence. feelings of the people.

Motion agreed to; Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Digby Seymour, Mr. Atherton, and Mr. Bowyer.

The House adjourned at half after Eleven o'clock.


Wednesday, May 10, 1854.

FRIENDLY SOCIETIES BILL. Order for Committee read. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

MR. T. DUNCOMBE said, he would suggest to the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Sotheron), who had charge of this Bill, that it would be much better to refer a subject of the delicate and painful nature embraced by the Bill to a Select Committee, especially as he saw that notice had been given of a great number of Amendments, in order that such Select Committee might consider not only the particular clauses of the measure, but the whole subject. Evidence might be taken before the Committee, and a satisfactory arrangement arrived at. It was evident from the petitions presented that no subject had ever made a greater commotion among the working classes. At the same time every one gave credit to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sotheron) for the kindness of his intentions, and the conciliatory spirit which he had manifested in considering any suggestions in reference to the present Bill.

MR. BRIGHT said, he could bear testimony to the conciliatory disposition of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sotheron), to whom he had introduced several deputations, who left him with the impression that he was only anxious to do good to the working classes. He (Mr. Bright) believed that a strong opinion existed at the Home Office with respect to some of the clauses of the Bill; and it was impossible for any Member who had received deputations not to see that the Bill, if passed in its present shape, would not work, but would only produce something in the nature of a revolt among the population of the north of England, who were deeply interested in the subject. He could hardly conceive, under these circumstances, that the hon.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That "to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Bill be committed to a Select Committee,' instead thereof.

MR. HUME said, he should support the Motion for a Select Committee. The question affected large masses of the community, and not only the Bill, but the whole subject, should be considered in a Committee upstairs. He had found by experience that when individuals or deputations were allowed to state their own views before a Committee, the latter were enabled to draw the just and proper line between the different interests. It would very much abate the anxiety out of doors if the Government declared in favour of a reference of the whole subject to a Committee upstairs.


MR. E. C. EGERTON said, he trusted that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sotheron) would accede to the proposition for refer ring the Bill to a Select Committee. Bill, though meant in the kindest spirit by the hon. Gentleman, would operate very hardly on some societies. The whole subject should be considered in a Select Committee, for there existed such a variety of different Acts in connection with it that the precise law was difficult to be understood. If the question were inquired into fully, the result would be increased confidence among the working classes, and increased desire to provide for their own funerals; and, at the same time, many of those mischiefs and deplorable occurrences which had arisen out of the existing state of things might be prevented in future.

MR. BROTHERTON said, he also must urge the propriety of appointing a Se lect Committee. He had not recollected so much excitement among the working classes for many years past as now existed on this subject.

SIR GEORGE GREY said, that he had no objection to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, but he did not think it was desirable that they should enter upon the investigation of the whole subject; for the House must recollect that there had been several previous Committees of inquiry into friendly societies, and that they had obtained all the information upon the subject which could possibly be elicited by a new inquiry. The only effect of thus

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