1852, English, Book edition: A letter to The Honorable the Speaker of the Legislative Council on the formation of a second chamber in the legislature of New South Wales / by John Nodes Dickinson. Dickinson, John Nodes, Sir, 1806-1882.

User activity

Share to:
A letter to The Honorable the Speaker of the Legislative Council on the formation of a second chamber in the legislature of New South Wales / by John Nodes Dickinson
 
Bookmark: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/43256938
Physical Description
  • 10935 words
  • Book
  • 32 pages ; 22 cm.
Published
  • xna, W.R. Piddington, 1852
  • Sydney : W.R. Piddington, 1852.
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • A letter to The Honorable the Speaker of the Legislative Council on the formation of a second chamber in the legislature of New South Wales /​ by John Nodes Dickinson.
Also Titled
  • A letter to The Honorable the Speaker of the Legislative Council on the formation of a second chamber in the legislature of New South Wales
Author
  • Dickinson, John Nodes, Sir, 1806-1882.
Published
  • xna, W.R. Piddington, 1852
  • Sydney : W.R. Piddington, 1852.
Physical Description
  • 10935 words
  • Book
  • 32 pages ; 22 cm.
Subjects
Summary
  • iA : ■ Vk . " OF THE THE SPEAKER LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, ON THE FORMATION OF A SECOND CHAMBER IN THE LEGISLATURE OF NEW SOUTH WALES, JOHN NODES DICKINSON, ESQ., ONE OF THE JUDGES OF THE SUPREME COURT. SYDNEY: PUBLISHED BY W. R. PIDDINGTON. 1852. Price One Shilling. TO THE HONORABLE THE SPEAKER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. * Sydney, Ist January, 1852. Sir, — * The Imperial Parliament having left to our local Legislature the determination of the important question respecting the existence of a second Chamber in the Colonial Council, and as the agitation of that question by the distinguished body over which you so worthily preside, may, ere long, be pending, a well wisher to the future prosperity of this important portion of her Majesty’s dominions, and to its permanent connexion with the other territories of the British Empire, embraces this happy season of calm repose from all political disquietudes, as a fortuqate opportunity, before any differences of opinion have arisen, or passions been excited, on the momentous question, to suggest a few remarks upon the formation of a second House, in the earnest hope that the proposal of a scheme embracing to some extent the peculiar feature of British legislation, may (even if it should be impracticable,) induce the public to consider, whether the future Colonial may not be more closely assimilated to the Imperial Legislature, than merely by transferring the nonelective elective members to a second Chamber. In the first place it is to be remarked, that a Legislature is to be framed, not for an independent nation, but for a British Colony. But it is to be hoped that the Legislature will be so framed, that, as the Colony advances in wealth, in science, and in population, it will not become a mere inferior dependency, dency, but be federated with England on the terms of the strictest equality. -A. _^v-v M33fps) Fq (L ? May I, Sir, be permitted, at the outset, to intrude upon your notice the expression of my sincere belief, that Her Most Sacred Majesty Queen "V ictoria has in no portion of Her dominions a body of subjects more affectionately attached to her family and person, more steadily loyal to her throne, or prouder of their membership of the Great Britannic Empire, than are the inhabitants of New South Wales. The pride which the Colonists feel in being members of the greatest body politic which this world has ever seen, is enhanced by the fact, that though circumstances have not hitherto permitted their enjoying the inestimable glories and advantages of the British Constitution to their full extent, it has, nevertheless, been announced on the highest authority, that a Colony is to be considered as an English county, and that Colonists are not the inferiors, but the equals, of their fellow-subjects in the British Isles. Great, therefore, has been the satisfaction excited in this Colony, by the British Parliament having decided that the inhabitants of New South Wales shall themselves conduct the management of their internal affairs by a constitution modelled upon that of England, and that the connexion of this Colony with the Empire is to be inviolably maintained. The Colonists are gratified at once by Mr. Peel’s expressed opinion in favour of “ stamping the impress of the British Constitution on their institutions,” and by the declaration of the first Minister of the Crown, “ that it is the bounden duty of Parliament to maintain the Colonies which have been placed under the charge of the British Government, and that the latter body cannot get rid of the obligation to govern them for their own benefit.” A popular author* has lately written : “ When the day shall “ come (as to all healthful Colonies it must come, sooner or “ later) in which the settlement has grown an independent “ state, we may thereby have laid the seeds of a constitution “ and a civilization similar to our own, with self-developed * Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. “ forms of monarchy and aristocracy, though of a simpler “ growth than old societies accept, and not left a strange motley “ chaos of struggling democracy —an uncouth livid giant, at “ which the Frankenstein may well tremble —not because it is “ a giant, but because it is a giant half completed. Depend “ on it, the New World will be friendly or hostile to the Old, “ not in proportion to the kinship of race, hut in proportion to “ the similarity of manners and institutions —a mighty truth, “ to which Colonists have been blind.” Whether this author be accurate in his prophecy, that this Settlement will one day become an independent State., is a question which I have no inclination to discuss. Suffice it for the present to observe, that I agree in opinion with (as 1 believe) the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Colony, in anticipating that New South Wales will for centuries enjoy a grander position among the Nations as a distinguished member ber of the great Britannic Confederation, than as an isolated, even if independent, territory. But I cordially agree, that whether connected or independent, the Colony will be friendly to its Parent State, not in proportion to the kinship of race, but to the similarity of manners and institutions. The question, therefore, seems to be, how the Colonial Legislature shall be so constituted as to induce the required similarity of manners and institutions. On perusal of the debates upon the Australian Constitution Bill in either House of the Imperial Parliament, it may be observed, that almost every one considered as indispensable the existence of a second Chamber in our Legislature, which should put upon hasty legislation the salutary check which is exercised in England by the House of Lords. From these debates we may clearly perceive, that though it was felt that so august a body as that of the House of Peers could not be instituted in a youthful colony, it was nevertheless desired that the honors which are incidental to a monarchic state, should be bestowed by the British Crown among its Colonial subjects ; and that the Legislatures of this Colony, and of others similarly circumstanced, should respectively contain a body of individuals in a second Chamber, more independent of the popular constituencies than the members of a lower Chamber ought to be. That though a House of Lords like that of England, could not possibly be introduced into a Colony, there should be, notwithstanding, in every dependency dency of the empire, a chamber conferring on its legislation the same advantages as are afforded to that of England by its House of Peers. And here. Sir, I trust you will excuse me for inviting your attention to a few extracts from Hansard’s Reports of the Debates to which I have alluded, I quote at full length, as applicable to the question under discussion, some observations of Mr. Roebuck, Lord Monteagle, Earl Grey, Mr. Gladstone, stone, and Mr. A. B. Hope. Mr. Roebuck. —It was all very well to say our Colonies should be governed by British institutions. The Colonists could not rely on us ; and they had no materials for an aristocracy. If, then, we could not make an aristocracy, we were bound to put a check on hasty legislation, by the arrangement of a second Chamber, under circumstances different from the democratic body, and calculated to insure greater stability. Lord Monteagle. —Our Colonies did not all of them, it was true, commence mence with two Chambers ; but all our British Colonies, properly so called, had adopted two Chambers, as soon as they found that form of government practicable ; and they had found it practicable, when their social condition was much less advanced than that of the Australian Colonies at present. Our Colonies, indeed, had universally held to one general principle, to which they had adhered from the outset to the present time, and that was a love for the institutions of their Mother Country , and a desire to adapt those institutions to their condition. To which Earl Grey replied The noble Lord had said “ Introduce into these Colonies our own institutions.” That was very fine, but unhappily pily it was impossible to do so. A House of Lords existed in this Kingdom, but it existed no where else on the face of the earth. It had grown up from the time of the Conquest; but it was an institution they could no more create than they could create one of the magnificent oak trees which had been planted at the Conquest, and which were now crumbling into dust. Mr. Gladstone. —The first object to be gained was a double Chamber, because it was certain to right itself as to details, if not right at the outset. The second object was, that both Chambers should be based on the elective principle. Ihe third object with him was, that Her Majesty should be empowered to retain the right of conferring honors and rewards on the most distinguished Colonists. Mb. A. B. Hope would support the motion of his honorable and learned friend, the Member for Midhurst, because it carried out a principle which had long been deeply implanted on his mind-he meant the necessity of giving to our Colonies English habits, English feelings, English manners, English government, and above all, he would say, though it was in the face of the prevailing feeling of the day, English Monarchy. Of course, in advocating vocating a Colonial Peerage, he was not foolish enough to suppose that there was yet in Australia, or in any other of our Colonies, the materials to form such a Peerage as would be anything but suggestive of ridicule. He knew that the prestige of wealth and hereditary descent was the very last thing that Could grow up in any new colony whatever ; but while he felt the importance of avoiding any immature and hasty plan for establishing a Monarchical system in our Colonies, he was yet of opinion that toe ought to lay the foundation for it in all of them . He was aware that climate had a great effect on character —he knew the hardening and roughening effect of a northern, and the enervating effect of a tropical climate ; but in Australia and New Zealand, where the climate was as temperate and the habits of life the same as our own, he knew no reason why our Anglo-Saxon institutions tions should not thrive as well there as in the old country. It was clear, then, that the question was reduced to this dilemma—either that the old English Constitution was a fallacy—which he did not admit —or that in a Colony like Australia, founded by Englishmen, and with an English climate to dwell in, it must be the fault of our Legislature if they did not enjoy English institutions. In what shape these institutions should be introduced duced - whether, for instance, there ought to be titles of honor given—he did not mean the highest titles of nobility, hut whether there should not be Baronetcies, with the right of sitting in the Upper Chamber, —he would not then stop to enquire ; but he thought it was as clear as daylight, that if we were to retain the Monarchical system ourselves, and at the same time preserve serve our Colonies, we must give them far more of Monarchical prestige than we had hitherto given them—that we must let them taste of its sweets as well as its bitters. Each of those Statesmen (Earl Grey excepted) appears distinctly to have advocated an Upper Chamber. Though every reasonable person will agree with Lord Grey in his remark, that such an Upper Chamber as the House of Peers cannot be introduced into a Colony; and though his Lordship ship cannot be gainsayed, when he asserts that a House of Lords exists nowhere but in England; we may be, theless, permitted to imagine, that had the Kingdoms of the European Continent possessed an Upper Chamber like the House of Lords, they might have escaped the fearful ful revolutions by which, in these latter times, so many of them have been convulsed, and by which the United Kingdom with its Legislative Peerage has hitherto been unscathed. It may, therefore, not be unimportant for the Colonial Parliament deliberately to consider, whether there may not be some quality in the House of Lords susceptible of introduction into our legislation, thereby rendering the social and political condition of the Colony less exposed to those popular convulsions, vulsions, by which the countries wherein no such Chamber as our House of Lords exists, have been so often agitated. Let us enquire, then, what element exists in the British House of Lords that is, at the same time, a valuable ingredient dient in legislation, and is, moreover, independent of the form of the institution and of the feudality of its origin. That element I humbly consider to be foresight. By foresight I mean not an unreasoning conservatism, which would remain at anchor in a dangerous offing, but a cautious ’watchfulness which would, before changing position, carefully fully study the best charts which the world’s experience has compiled. Such quality is exercised by the House of Lords, because each Peer is naturally anxious for the preservation of his name in the land, and of his title to posterity. He, therefore, anxiously deliberates how a proposal, if enacted, may affect the fortunes of his posterity. His interest in the continuance of his title, and of the existing state of affairs, renders him cautious against precipitate legislation, while the independence of his Parliamentary position emboldens him to say for the benefit of his country and posterity, “ this measure must undergo further deliberation.” The great advantage conferred upon the British people by the House of Lords, is a confidence of stability in their political arrangements. The inheritor of possessions, the acquirer of property, and the steady pursuer of a business or a profession, enjoys the feeling that things, in the main, will proceed next year as during the present period. Though living in a country where the democratic element has fair play, and is working vigorously and even rapidly , yet no one in England ever fears that his fortune may be snatched from him, or his position debased. by any sudden convulsion of popular excitement. The cautious deliberation evinced by the Lords, and their natural distrust of innovations, induce them to pause before consenting to any measure that has not been thoroughly sifted and discussed. cussed. It by no means follows that a measure will certainly be passed through the Upper House, because on its first promulgation mulgation it may have found favour with the House of Commons, or excited popular fervour without the Parliament. Experience has shown, that every really good measure introduced into the British Parliament has been finally enacted, but hardly ever until by discussion and deliberation the Lords have been satisfied that the whole country was convinced that it ought to become the law. The Lords are enabled to prevent intemperate and hasty legislation, to secure deliberation, and effect amendments, simply because they are not immediately amenable to constituencies, ■who may eject them from their position as senators. Though the British people are aware, that by the House of Commons representing the democratic and progressive spirit of the nation, every good proposition will certainly become a law, they as certainly are conscious that by means of the House of Lords, every proposition will be most cautiously considered so that its goodness may be tested. To ensure foresight, it appears, in the first place, desirable that the Upper Chamber of a Colonial Legislature should contain the hereditary principle. But at the same time I would protest against what, for distinction sake, 1 would call the hereditary system. By the hereditary system I desire to be understood as meaning the necessary succession of the son to the legislative functions exercised by the father. Time and consent, together with the transmission of large estates, have settled that system in England to the honor of the Peers, and the great advantage of the people. But even there, with respect to the newer portions of the Upper House, viz., the Scotch and Irish Peers, another system has been introduced of a selection of a few, by the general body, as their representatives. sentatives. The nomination by the crown of the members of an Upper House, although appointed for life, will hardly be regarded as a final settlement of the question. A House so constituted would resemble no British Institution. Unconnected with the people, and owing nothing to their suffrage, the independence pendence of its members would, however unjustly, always be liable to suspicion. A greater sympathy with the Sovereign than with the subject, would ever be attributed to them by the ignorant and disaffected. The members of such a house, having no relation with the times of their posterity, might be as liable as a democratic body, in seasons of political excitement, ment, to prejudice the interests of the future, by too fondly gratifying the exigencies of the present crisis. In every conflict flict between the two Chambers, the public, however erroneously, ously, would naturally adhere to that of their elected representatives. sentatives. The election by the people of the members of an Upper in the same manner as those of a Lower House are chosen, would, most certainly, not “ stamp the impress of the British Constitution on the Colonial Institutions,” nor would the British tish Parliament find it an easy matter “ to maintain the Colonies nies under the charge of the English Goverment, to be governed by it for their own benefit.” But, as the principle of election rather than of nomination is likely ultimately to prevail, I would suggest, therefore, the institution in this Colony of an hereditary order, of which the Nova Scotia Baronetage may be cited as a precedent, and that from such order an Upper Chamber should be elected. The hereditary dignity would afford great assurance that the foresight of the British House of Lords would be exercised by every member, so interested in the continuance of superior station. The precedent of the election of Scotch Peers by their brethren in each Parliament, would indicate that the election of Members of an Upper Colonial House should be not only from, but by, the members of the hereditary order. Without pursuing that subject further, it may be worthy of consideration, whether an Upper House should not be so elected at each successive Parliament. But should that plan be considered too exclusively aristocratic for a new country at this advanced period of the world’s existence, and that an Upper as well as a Lower House should be the creature, not of a class, but of the whole community ; then it were better that the election should be by the same electors as those who choose the Members of the Lower House. To enable an Upper House, however, though so elected as last mentioned, to exercise the foresight which seems the desirable property of such a Chamber, its Members should be elected for a longer period than those of the Lower House. For it is not altogether vain to imagine that a resistance by an Upper Chamber to popular fervour, which might be visited with indignation at the close of one Parliament, might obtain the approbation of the people at the termination of a second. It is evident that a Senator would act with more fearlessness and independence, if called upon to account at the end of six, rather than of three years. It would seem expedient, moreover, over, that Members of an Upper House should not be exposed to the ordinary tumults and expense of a popular election, nor resort to the manoeuvres of canvass and solicitation. tation. Such an Upper House, as proposed, implies the prior existence in the Colony of an hereditary order. Accustomed as the Colonists have always been to persons having the dignity of Knighthood, as residents in this territory, and following the Nova Scotia precedent, I would pi'opose the creation of a New South Wales Baronetage. The attainment of such a distinction would, as I conceive, be an honourable object of ambition to the Colonists ; and, if liberally bestowed by the Crown, a great inducement to all to the exercise of private and public virtue, and a great attraction to wealthy capitalists from England to fix themselves, selves, their families, and their fortunes in this quarter of the world. The creation of such an order, in addition to completing the British insti
Notes
Cited In
  • Ferguson, J.A. Bibliography of Australia, 9143
Terms of Use
Language
  • English
Libraries Australia ID
Contributed by
Libraries Australia

Get this edition

None of your libraries hold this item.

These 5 locations in All:

Library Access Call number(s) Formats held Language
National Library of Australia. Open to the public 1845404; JAFp BIBLIO F9143; Np 328.94 DIC; SR N 080 PAM v. 5, no. 108; SR N 080 PAM v. 97, no. 1773; mc N 1475 item 108; mc N 1475 item 1773 Book English
State Library of NSW. Open to the public D 85/187; M DSM/ 308/ PA9; M DSM/ 042/ P4; M DSM/ 042/ P22; R MF/ 3P/ 2 Book English
State Library of South Australia. Open to the public Book English
State Library Victoria. Open to the public 2261918; held Book English
Trove Digital Library. Open to the public Book English
Show 0 more libraries...

These 2 locations in Australian Capital Territory:

Library Access Call number(s) Formats held Language
National Library of Australia. Open to the public 1845404; JAFp BIBLIO F9143; Np 328.94 DIC; SR N 080 PAM v. 5, no. 108; SR N 080 PAM v. 97, no. 1773; mc N 1475 item 108; mc N 1475 item 1773 Book English
Trove Digital Library. Open to the public Book English
Show 0 more libraries...

This single location in New South Wales:

Library Access Call number(s) Formats held Language
State Library of NSW. Open to the public D 85/187; M DSM/ 308/ PA9; M DSM/ 042/ P4; M DSM/ 042/ P22; R MF/ 3P/ 2 Book English
Show 0 more libraries...
None of your libraries hold this item.
None of your libraries hold this item.

This single location in South Australia:

Library Access Call number(s) Formats held Language
State Library of South Australia. Open to the public Book English
Show 0 more libraries...
None of your libraries hold this item.

This single location in Victoria:

Library Access Call number(s) Formats held Language
State Library Victoria. Open to the public 2261918; held Book English
Show 0 more libraries...
None of your libraries hold this item.

Found at these bookshops

Searching - please wait...

You also may like to try some of these bookshops, which may or may not sell this item.

Other suppliers

User activity


e.g. test cricket, Perth (WA), "Parkes, Henry"

Separate different tags with a comma. To include a comma in your tag, surround the tag with double quotes.

Be the first to add a tag for this edition

Be the first to add this to a list

Comments and reviews

What are comments? Add a comment

No user comments or reviews for this version

Add a comment