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COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieutenant-Governor LATROBE to the
My LORD DUKE,
Ir is out of my power officially to forward, by the present overland mail, the Bill for the establishment of a new constitution for Victoria, which will probably be read a third time and pass the Legislative Council before the day closes. It will of course be my duty to reserve it, when laid before me, for Her Majesty's consideration, and it will be transmitted by the very earliest opportunity with such explanation and information as may appear to be called for.
The Duke of Newcastle.
Melbourne, March 24, 1854.
2. In the meantime, so much anxiety is evinced both by the members of the Legislature and the public that no time should be lost in making your Grace acquainted with the general import of this important measure, and also that every facility should be given to its early consideration, if possible, during the present session of Parliament, that I take leave to enclose the amended draft as it now stands in the Council papers for final reading, together with other documents all bearing on the subject, for your Grace's information.
I have, &c.
(Signed) C. J. LATROBE.
Enclosure in No. 5.
REPORT from the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on a new Constitution for
[Extracted from the Minutes.]
CONSTITUTION FOR THE COLONY.-The Colonial Secretary, with leave of the Council,
1. That a select committee be appointed to consider and report upon the best form of constitution for this colony, and that his Excellency's message, No. 2, be referred to such committee.
2. That such committee consist of the following members: the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney General, the Speaker, Mr. Smith, Mr. O'Shanassy, Mr. Haines, Mr. Miller, Mr. Greeves, the Auditor General, Mr. Goodman, Mr. W. Nicholson, and Dr. Thomson. Debate ensued.
Mr. Rutledge required that the select committee be appointed by ballot.
Question, That a select committee be appointed to consider and report upon the best form of constitution for this colony, and that his Excellency's message, No. 2, be referred to such committee, put and passed.
The Council then proceeded to the ballot for such committee, to consist of twelve members, and the following members, being reported to have the greatest number of votes, were declared by the Speaker to be members of the said committee, viz., the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney General, the Auditor General, Mr. Haines, Mr. O'Shanassy, Mr. Greeves, the Speaker, Mr. Miller, Mr. Goodman, Mr. W. Nicholson, Mr. Smith, and Dr. Thomson.
REPORT from the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on a
IN reporting on what should be the future constitution of Victoria, your committee will avoid entering into those details which have been embodied in the Bill now presented to your honourable House.
They will not attempt to discuss at any length even those leading principles which have caused so much debate in the adjacent colonies. It is due however, to themselves, to state some of the views which have actuated them in adopting a form of constitution different from those prevailing in most other British dependencies.
Encl. in No. 5.
Desirous as they are in all practicable points to approximate our future constitution to that of our mother country, and determined to uphold the just prerogative of the Crown here as fully as in the United Kingdom, they have unanimously concurred in thinking that the social condition of this colony renders a close assimilation to certain British institutions impossible, and that an attempt to imitate them is likely not only to fail, but to introduce the evils, without the advantages, experienced from them in England.
They recommend that the Legislature should consist of an Upper and a Lower House; the opinion of the greatest statesmen of all nations, and they believe of the majority of this colony, concurring in that view.
They are. unanimous in advising that the Legislative Council should be wholly elective that it should represent the education, wealth, and more especially the settled interests of the country. The universal failure of the nominee element in the British colonial system-forming, as it has proved, no check on extreme views, but ensuring a preponderance to whatever party may happen to possess the supreme power-has determined your committee to look for an enlightened policy essential to wise legislation in that portion of the community naturally indisposed to rash and hasty measures.
For the Legislative Council they are therefore of opinion that a high freehold qualification should be required, partly to ensure that its members should hold a large stake in the land, but more especially that it may consist of men who may reasonably be expected to possess education, intelligence, and leisure to devote to public affairs.
They recommend that its members should be of mature age, should be elected by the educated, independent, and permanent residents in the country; that they should hold their seats for ten years, thereby being removed from the influence of any sudden impulse of popular feeling; while, by the provision that the House never should be dissolved, but should go out by rotation, experience not only will be secured, but at the same time opportunity will be given to infuse new men and principles into the House, thereby preserving it in harmony with any abiding change in the circumstances of the country.
To such a body they propose to entrust the legislative functions of the House of Lords. Being convinced that nothing could be more impolitic than to legislate against the spirit of the age-viewing the universal tendency throughout the world towards the spread of popular institutions-they are prepared to recommend that the franchise for electing the House of Assembly should be placed on as wide a basis as possible. They have therefore proposed practically to include all whose permanent settlement in Victoria renders them justly entitled to it.
On the House of Assembly they propose to confer all the rights and powers of the House of Commons.
To the Legislature, composed of the Crown, represented by the Governor, and of these Houses, respectively possessing the powers of the Lords and Commons Houses of Parliament, your committee would entrust all legislation on matters of colonial interest. special power of veto on all questions affecting the empire should be continued, as at present, in Her Most Gracious Majesty.
The details of the Electoral Act it is proposed to leave to a future time, thus affording opportunity to obtain statistical information. The electoral divisions it is proposed to define at once, according to a fixed principle enunciated in the Bill.
Her Majesty having, by her Secretary of State for the Colonies, expressed her gracious intention to transfer to the Legislature of this colony all control over the Crown lands, on condition that a civil list should be granted sufficient to carry on the Government, your committee recommend your honourable House to follow the example of the United Kingdom, of Canada, and of other British colonies, by fixing a civil list moderate in amount, when compared to the proposed concessions.
In this civil list they have advised a schedule of 50,000l. per annum for the maintenance of public worship, feeling that, whilst they recognise the necessity of securing efficiency in all civil departments, they are equally bound to provide for the permanent endowment of religion.
From the great extent of Australia, and the widely differing circumstances of its several colonies, your committee do not think it essential for local legislation that uniformity of institutions should prevail. They have followed, as far as principle permitted, the Bills proposed in New South Wales and South Australia. If, therefore, in the various constitutional Acts about to be transmitted to England, any variance may appear, they would earnestly deprecate that it should furnish any reason for delay in the enactment of the proposed Bill.
But they do feel most strongly, that there are questions of such vital intercolonial interest, that provision should be made for occasionally convoking a General Assembly for legislating on such questions as may be submitted to it by the Act of any Legislature of one of the Australian colonies.
Your committee append the resolutions which they have arrived at, on which the proposed Bill has been founded, and they would urge that no unnecessary delay should be allowed, as it is most desirable that it should be received in London early in the ensuing session.
JOHN FOSTER, Chairman.
1. That this committee do, in the first instance, adopt a series of resolutions, upon which, in their opinion, the constitution of the colony should be framed.
2. That the Legislature of the colony should consist of the Governor and two Houses. 3. That the two Houses should be designated respectively the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly.
4. That the two Houses should be called the Parliament of Victoria.
5. That the Legislative Council should be wholly elective.
6. That the Crown should have no direct voice in, or veto upon, the election of members of the Legislative Council.
7. That the Legislative Council should consist of twenty-five members.
8. That for the purposes of election to the Legislative Council the colony should be divided into five electoral districts.
9. That five members of the Legislative Council should go out by rotation, according to seniority, every two years.
10. That on the occasion of the first election to the Legislative Council, those holding the lowest number of votes in each district should be the first to retire, and so in rotation according to the position of members on the poll; and in case of two or more members having an equal number of votes, the matter should be decided by lot.
11. That the Legislative Council should appoint its own president.
12. That the House of Assembly should have no direct voice in, or veto upon, the election of members of the Legislative Council.
13. That no legislative councillor should be eligible unless he be thirty years of age. 14. That the property qualification of a legislative councillor should be a freehold of 10,000l. value, or producing an income of 1,000l. per annum.
15. That no legislative councillor should be eligible unless he shall have possessed his property qualification for one year previous to his election.
16. That every legislative councillor should be a British born subject.
17. That the possession of a freehold valued at 1,000l., or producing an income of 100%., should be the qualification for an elector to the Legislative Council.
18. That any person having in possession a leasehold estate which shall have been held for one year, and shall have three years to run, and which shall confer upon him a beneficial interest over all charges and outgoings of 300l. annually; and any tenant in occupation of any leasehold estate who shall pay the sum of 3007. as the rent thereof, should be an elector to the Legislative Council.
19. That all graduates of any university in the British dominions who shall have been resident in Victoria for twelve months should be electors to the Legislative Council.
20. That all barristers and solicitors on the roll of the Supreme Court who shall have resided in the colony for twelve months should be electors to the Legislative Council.
21. That all legally qualified medical practitioners who shall have been resident in the colony for twelve months should be electors to the Legislative Council.
22. That all officiating ministers of religion, as defined by the Act 16th Victoria, No. 26, should be electors to the Legislative Council.
23. That all licensed occupants of Crown lands possessing 8,000 sheep or 1,000 head of cattle, free of all charges and incumbrances, and having been in possession for one year, should be electors to the Legislative Council.
24. That no person should be an elector for the Legislative Council unless a British born subject or naturalized for three years.
25. That no person soever should be an elector for the Legislative Council unless resident for one year previous to registration.
26. That the duration of the House of Assembly should be three years.
27. That the colony should be divided into counties, according to the geographical features of the country, and, so far as may be, of equal extent, the present counties being subdivided into ridings, if necessary.
28. That each electoral division of the country should be one or more of these counties or ridings.
29. That every county containing 200 electors should return a member itself; but, if not, it shall be annexed to one or more counties until the required number is obtained.
30. That the county of Bourke should be divided into north and south ridings, and that the city of Melbourne, the towns of Geelong, Portland, and Belfast, the ridings of Bourke, and the counties of the colony, should return members in proportion to the number of electors in each, according to the following scale :
and one additional member for each additional thousand electors; and the city of Melbourne, towns of Geelong, Portland, and Belfast, ridings of Bourke, and counties of the colony, should be divided into electoral districts, each electoral district returning not more than two members.
31. That when the number of representatives shall exceed 100, then an additional representative should be given to any electoral district for every additional 1,500 electors; and when the number of representatives exceed 200, for every additional 2,000 electors.
32. That the qualification for a member of the House of Assembly should be a freehold estate of the value of 2,000l., free from all incumbrances, or of the annual value of 100%.
33. That every member should be required at the commencement of every new session to make a declaration that he is possessed of the qualification required by law, and to give a description thereof.
34. That no naturalized alien should be qualified to be a member of the House of Assembly, unless he shall have been naturalized for five years next preceding the registration before election, and resident two years in the colony before such registration.
35. That the qualification of an elector to the House of Assembly should be one of the following:
1st. Freeholder of 5l. annual value.
2d. Leaseholder of 10l. annual value, in sole or joint occupancy.
3d. Householder of 10l. annual value, in sole or joint occupancy.
4th. The holder of a salary of at least 100l. yearly.
5th. Any person giving consideration which will entitle him to occupy Crown lands for twelve months.
Six months possession, prior to registration of any one of these qualifications, in the same electoral district, should be necessary.
36. That the disqualifications of an elector should be:
1st. Being under the age of twenty-one years.
2d. Not being a natural born subject (unless naturalized or holding letters of denization).
3d. Being attainted or convicted of treason, felony, or other infamous offence, in any part of Her Majesty's dominions (unless having received Her Majesty's pardon, or having undergone the period of sentence).
4th. Non-payment of rates and taxes.
5th. Any person who shall have come of age after the 1st January 1856, and shall be unable to read and write.
6th. Any person who shall not have been twelve months resident in the colony, previous to registration.
37. That the Governor only should have power to convoke and prorogue Parliament, and that he should have power to dissolve the House of Assembly, but no power to dissolve the Legislative Council.
38. That the Parliament should meet at least once in each year.
39. That the privileges of members of the Parliament should be the same as those possessed by members of the House of Commons.
40. That the power of the two Houses to punish for contempt, should be the same as those possessed by the House of Commons.
41. That all Bills affecting the privilege of either House should originate only in the House affected.
42. That all money bills should originate in the House of Assembly. The Legislative Council to have the power of refusing, or returning them for re-consideration to the House of Assembly, but not the power of altering them.
43. That all appropriations should be proposed by the Government, and should rest with the House of Assembly.
44. That the Parliament should be empowered to make laws for the good government of the colony of Victoria.
45. That the entire management and control of the waste lands of the Crown, in the colony of Victoria, and the gross proceeds of any such lands, and of all other proceeds and revenues of the same, from whatever source arising, within the said colony, including all royalties, mines, and minerals, should be vested in the Parliament of the said colony.
46. That it should be competent for the Governor, if he shall think proper, to reserve any Bill which directly affects Imperial interests for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure; but he should be required to assent to, or dissent from, every other Bill within thirty days after the same shall have been presented to him for the royal assent, and in case such assent shall not be given within that period, the Bill should be considered to be vetoed.
47. That no Bill should have the effect of law until it shall have been assented to by Her Majesty, or in Her Majesty's name by the Governor.
48. That bills on Imperial subjects which may be reserved for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure, or which after being assented to by the Governor in Her Majesty's name, may be afterwards disallowed by Her Majesty within the period of twelve months, should be as follow, that is to say :
1st. Bills touching the allegiance of the inhabitants of this colony to Her Majesty's Crown.
2d. Bills touching the naturalization of aliens.
3d. Bills relating to treaties between the Crown and any foreign power.
4th. Bills relating to political intercourse and communications between this colony and any officer of a foreign power or dependency.
5th. Bills relating to the employment, command, or discipline of Her Majesty's sea and land forces within the colony, and whatever relates to the defence of the colony from foreign aggression, including the command of the municipal militia and the
6th. Bills relating to the crime of high treason.
49. That whenever any question shall arise as to the right of the Governor to reserve any Bill for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure thereon, or as to the right of Her Majesty to disallow any such Bill, the same should be determined by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and in no other manner except by the consent of the Parliament of Victoria, and such question should be raised by an address to Her Majesty in her Privy Council by both Houses of the said Parliament, setting forth the question so to be determined: Provided that all such Bills should be absolutely in abeyance pending any such determination, and that they should be afterwards submitted for the signification of of Her Majesty's pleasure thereon, or remitted to the colony for allowance or disallowance by the Governor, according to the decision of the Judicial Committee in each such case.
50. That it should be lawful for Her Majesty, with the advice of her Privy Council, or under Her Majesty's signet and sign manual, through one of her principal secretaries of state, from time to time, to convey to the Governor of Victoria such instructions as to Her Majesty shall seem meet for the guidance of such Governor in the exercise of the powers hereby vested in him, of assenting to, or of dissenting from, or for reserving for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure, Bills to be passed by the said Parliament affecting any Imperial subject, and so that such instructions do not in any way fetter the Governor's discretion in giving or refusing Her Majesty's assent to Bills of mere local or municipal concernment.
51. That the Civil List should contain provision for :
1st. The salary of the Governor and the expenses of his household.
2d. The salaries of the judges and the other officers connected with the administration of justice holding office during good behaviour.
3d. The salaries of the responsible officers of the Government.
4th. The salaries and expenses of the Executive Council, of the Legislative Council, and the salary of the auditor of public accounts.
5th. Pensions for officers holding during good behaviour.
6th. Compensation to officers not now liable to removal who will become so.
7th. Pensions to persons who may accept responsible offices.
52. That no person holding a place of profit should be eligible to sit in either House, unless he be included in part 3 of the civil list: Provided that this should not extend to any person in the receipt only of pay, half-pay, or a pension as an officer in Her Majesty's army or navy, or who shall receive any new or other commission in the army or navy respectively, or any increase in such commission.
53. That if any member of the House of Assembly should accept of any office of profit or pension from the Crown during pleasure, or for term of years, his election should be thereupon void, and a writ should forthwith issue for a new election as if such member were naturally dead: Provided that this should not extend to any official member of the Government or Executive Council promoted to any higher office.
54. That any person who shall, directly or indirectly, himself or by any person whatever in trust for him, or for his use or benefit, or on his account, undertake, execute, hold, or enjoy, in the whole, or in part, any contract or agreement for or on account of the public service, should be incapable of being elected or of sitting or voting as a member of such House of Assembly during the time he shall execute, hold, or enjoy any such contract or any part or share thereof, or any benefit or emolument arising from the same: Provided that this should not extend to any contract or agreement made, entered into, or accepted by any incorporated company or any trading company consisting of more than twelve persons, where such contract or agreement shall be made, entered into, or accepted, for the general benefit of such company: Provided also, that if any person, being a member of such House of Assembly, shall enter into any such contract or agreement, or having entered into it, shall continue to hold it, his seat should be void.
55. That the responsible officers should be the Colonial Secretary, to be called in future the Chief Secretary, the Attorney-General, the Colonial Treasurer, to be called in future the Treasurer, the Collector of Customs to be called in future the Commissioner of Trade and Customs, the Surveyor-General to be called in future the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey, the Postmaster-General, the Solicitor-General, and a Commissioner of Public Works.
56. That the Executive Council should consist of not less than four of the last named eight officers, and of not more than three persons not holding places of profit under the Crown.
57. That of the responsible officers of Government two at least should have seats in the Legislative Council, and two at least have seats in the House of Assembly.
58. That all the patronage of the Government should vest in the Governor.