No. 33
28 July 1862
I have the honour to forward herewith, the Copy of a communication from Mr John Ramage, President of the Municipal Council of New Westminster, transmittingtheManuscript image the enclosed Memorial for presentation to Her Majesty the Queen.
2. The professed object of the Memorialists is to represent grievances; and more especially to draw the attention of Her Majesty's Ministers to the fact that the Imperial Act of the 2nd day of August 1858, providing for the Government of British Columbia, will expire with the present year.
3. TheManuscript image
3. The prayer of the Memorialists is summed up under the following heads:
1st That the Governor should reside permanently in the Colony.
2nd That "a system of responsible Government similar to that possessed by the Eastern British North American and Australian Colonies" should be granted to British Columbia.
4. My views on the subject of establishing RepresentativeGovernmentManuscript image Government in British Columbia having been laid in much detail before Your Grace in my Despatches "Separate" of the 22nd April 1861, and the 8th October 1861, it is unnecessary to occupy your time by a repetition of them on this occasion.
5. It was stated in those Despatches that I saw in the almost total absence of agricultural Settlers, and of a landed proprietory, intheManuscript image the paucity of the British element, and in the migratory and unsettled habits of the population who had resorted to British Columbia, substantial reasons for maintaining unaltered, within the Colony, the Government of the Queen in Council, as by Parliament established.
6. The circumstances then contemplated have since somewhat changed. British Colonists are increasinginManuscript image in number, and it is expected that the Roads now being constructed towards the Mines will have the effect of producing permanent settlements; yet this progress, however satisfactory, is not sufficient to establish the expediency of maintaining a Constitution on the model of the populous and wealthy Colonies, with a House of Representatives and a Council, alluded to in the Memorial.
7. The Memorial is, I ampersuadedManuscript image persuaded, merely the work of a party, yet so fondly are we attached to the name of liberty, that I feel assured were it a matter of choice, every Englishman in the Colony, without stopping to enquire about its effects on the Country, or supposing that the administration would improve by the change, would at once give his suffrage on behalf of Representative Government: the concession of some formofManuscript image of popular government will therefore, I believe, give general satisfaction to the people of the Colony, and may probably be considered a political necessity. On that subject I submit, with diffidence, the following remarks.
8. In a community containing a small number of inhabitants, widely dispersed over a vast extent of country, I would advocate a simpler form of government, andoneManuscript image one capable of acting in emergencies with greater promptitude and economy than would be attainable under the forms recommended in the Memorial. A small and more select body, forming a single Chamber of perhaps 15 Members, one third nominated by the Crown, and the remaining two thirds elected by the people, would, I conceive, for the present, and probably for some years to come; perform all thefunctionsManuscript image functions really required in the existing condition of the Colony.
9. The power of assenting to, or negativing, or suspending for the assent of the Crown, the measures passed by Council, to be reserved for the Governor, and the initiation of all money votes in the local Government.
10. I would also recommend the adoption of thoroughly conservative principles in the construction of the Council.MembersManuscript image Members should, I think, be possessed in their own right of at least £500 of freehold estate; and with respect to electors, I would on the same principle provide, that no person should be qualified to vote for Members of Council, unless possessed of land, or other fixed or immoveable property of the marketable value of £100 sterling within the Colony.
11. I offer these remarks merely from a sense of duty,beggingManuscript image begging at the same time to assure Her Majesty's Government that whatever may be the conclusion arrived at with respect to the future government of the Colony, I shall be fully prepared to carry out their instructions to the best of my ability.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The earlier despatches & Memorials on this subject are under the Duke of Newcastle's consn.
With the exception of the Memorialists themselves I apprehend that few persons will be of opinion that B.C. is ripe for our highly finished form of Constitution. The permanent settlers are very few, and, excluding the officials, are chiefly of the Adventurer Class, devoid of means. The population is, for the most part, composed of migratory miners. These elements are notManuscript image favorable for the construction of a regular representative Govt. The inhabitants of B.C. will have to pass through the usual seething of early communities, & ought to prove their faculty for self Government by displaying their capacity for municipal business. Up to the present time New West., which is the only incorporated place in the Colony, has done nothing in that way, that we, at least, have had reported to us. Should, however, the Duke of Newcastle lean to granting immediately a more liberal form of Govt than now exists perhaps the establishment of an Executive Council composed of Senior public Officers, and a Legislative C. of mixed Officers & selected Civilians, both Councils on the Ceylon Model, might answer. Or an amalgamated Council on the model of the Council given to Newfoundland by Act of Parlt, which lasted 4 years and answered excellently. A simple Council might, a double Council would, at once, quiet the anger of the population and would, I think, work better than any other system whh could be given to the Colony at present.Manuscript image But could any liberal form of Govt subsist in B.C. without a Governor on the spot. Govr Douglas is a man who is essentially a despot. He relies upon & consults nobody but himself. He listens to opinions, reserves his own. Englishmen, wherever they are, do not choose to be governed by the will of one man. We are not apt to suppose any single ruler unerring and infallible, and in places, like V.C. Isld, & B.C. adjoining the U. States & so dependent for their population on that Country it is not very likely that they will be satisfied with a Govt so much less liberal than that of their neighbors. It may, therefore, be assumed that a Governor on the spot & some species of representative Govt will ere long be granted to B.C. the termination of the Act of Parlt relating to this Colony affording a favorable oppy. If Governor Douglas were not Governor of the two Colonies, & if he cd be set aside with honor to the Govt & satisfaction to himself deputies from B. Columbia might be sent to theManuscript image Houses of Legislature in VanCouver Island. Whilst V.C.I. has the advantage of a free port, and Coal fields B.C. produces gold, silver, [plumboys?], timber, fish, in short we don't know what it does not contain, so that though the products of the two countries are different their interests must blend with each other. Their union ought to constitute strength, ensure harmony and save expense. But a very jealous feeling has arisen in B. Columbia. The inhabitants think that V.C. Island is preferred and favoured by the Authorities whilst they are neglected. I fear that to roll B.C. up in the V.C.I. Legislature would affront andManuscript image dissatisfy the Colony. And, on the whole, it appears to me, that there is nothing else to be done except to give the Columbians, at the proper time, a Government to themselves so framed as to enable them to do themselves as little mischief as possible.
ABd 10 Sepr/62
TFE 10 Sep 1862
I have all the previous papers relating to this subject with a view to an early decision as to what shall be done next Session.
I wish this to be returned to me—with a sketch of the composition of the Ceylon Councils & of the temporary Council given to Newfoundland.
N 11
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Duke of Newcastle
On examining the nature of the temporary Council given to Newfoundland I think that although the Machinery worked excellently well in that instance it will not be applicable to the case under consideration.
The Legislature of Newfoundland having too hastily had the English form of representative government conceded to it came to a dead lock. The Electors and the Representatives were alike ignorant and tyrannical. Therefore in order to keep things going it became necessary to alter the system of Government at all events for awhile. And the then Secretary of State, Lord Stanley, introduced and carried the Act of 1842. By that Law, amongst other improvements which were to be effected when the constitution was restored, the Legislative Chamber was abolished,andManuscript image and a Council formed of 3/5ths of Members of the Legislative Council and 2/5ths of Members of the House of Assembly. Aided by a Governor, an Executive Council, and this amalgamated body affairs went on most smoothly for the space of four years, when, after a further one years' renewal of the Act, the suspension was removed, and the English form of Government, with the amendments pointed out in the Act, was revived. Thus it will be seen that a deliberative Council was constructed out of a Legislative Council and a House of Assembly, both Bodies being pre-existent. In British Columbia there is no Body of any sort, and any that may be established would have to be constructed out of the elements of the official class and the residents. It appears to me therefore that the Ceylon Model would be the most suitable for and analagoustoManuscript image to the state of society in British Columbia.
The Councils of Ceylon are constructed in this wise:
There is an Executive or Council of Advice to assist the Governor. It consists of the
Senior Officer in command of the Troops
The Colonial Secretary
The Queen's Advocate
The Colonial Treasurer, and the
Government Agent for the Central Province.
The Legislative Council consists of 15 persons—nine Officials—six Unofficials. The Official Members are the
Senior Officer in command of the Troops not in the Administration of the Government.
The Colonial Secretary
The Queen's Advocate
The Auditor GeneralTheManuscript image
The Colonial Treasurer
The Government Agent for the Western Province
The Government Agent for the Central Province
The Surveyor General
The Collector of Customs
The six Unofficial Members are selected by the Governor from amongst the principal Landed Proprietors or Merchants.
Six Members at the least, in addition to the Governor, form a quorum.
No Law, or question to be debated unless it has previously been proposed by the Governor.
But if a Member shall deem any Law, or question fit to be enacted or debated he is at liberty to submit a statement thereof to the Governor in writing, and may have the same recordedinManuscript image in the Minutes.
The Governor has no power of dissolving this Council, but he can suspend a Member of it, in the usual way.
Considering the extreme paucity of resident unofficials in British Columbia I do not see why the Falkland Islands model might not be copied and serve for awhile. In the Falklands the Government is Administered by a Governor and an Executive Council consisting of the Colonial Surgeon and Stipendiary Magistrate, who, with the Colonial Chaplain, and two unofficial members form the Legislative Council, all being appointed on the Governor's recommendation. The simpler the form of Government in the present very normal conditionofManuscript image of British Columbia the better, and the least to undo when the Inhabitants become fitted for a more complete institution.
The St Lucia model might be applicable. There is in that Island an Executive Council, and a Legislative Council composed of 5 Official and 5 Unofficial members, in which the Colonial Secretary and Attorney General have seats and votes, and the Officer in command of the Troops, who conducts the Government, is President. There is no Representative Assembly.
The Natal Constitution appears scarcely suitable for we want in British Columbia the elective element. The Legislative Council consists of 16 Members12Manuscript image—12 elective—4 non-elective. The non-elective are Officials or other persons nominated by the Crown. The elective are chosen by certain electoral districts. In this case the Governor can prorogue or dissolve the Legislative Council. The elected Members sit for 4 years. The Governor has the initiation of Money Votes.
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Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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President of Municipal Council to Colonial Secretary, 17 July 1862, forwarding copy of a memorial for transmission to the Secretary of State.
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Note on microfilm as follows: C.O. 60 Vol. 13, Folios 345r-350r being too large will be photographed later."