No. 107
New Westminster
26th August 1868
My Lord Duke,
I have had the honor to receive Your Grace's despatch No. 40 of the 26th June, on the subject of the opposition exhibitedbyManuscript image by the Legislative Council to the Draft Ordinance which was transmitted to me in Your Grace's despatch No. 81 of 13th Novr 1867.
2. Though I anticipated, as now informed by Your Grace, that the Draft was sent for our assistance and that it was not Your desire to preclude the Government and Legislature from adopting any other mode of dealing with existing anomalies yetIManuscript image I caused it to be introduced to the Council as a Government measure. Most of the Public Officers requested me to command them to vote for it, if it was to be carried, and unofficial members begged me not to enforce the Bill. As stated in the Minute I enclose, by the Acting Colonial Secretary, I might possibly have got the Bill through by force, but I anticipated Your Grace'swishesManuscript image wishes and did not exert a pressure which would virtually have changed the Legislative Constitution of the Colony. I consented to amendments and, yielding by degrees, finally allowed the Bill to be defeated, and another Bill passed. That one I have now the honor to forward. It will receive Your Grace's consideration as solving (in local belief) in a manner, the difficulty now existing.
3. It will be satisfactorytoManuscript image to Your Grace to hear that during the summer, when Mr Chief Justice Begbie is on circuit in the Interior, there is not much inconvenience in the present state of things. Early in the winter I shall call the Legislature together and finally settle the matter, if it be not finally settled in the mean time by Your Grace's approval of the Bill I enclose.
4. The Extreme illness of the Attorney General mustbeManuscript image be my excuse for the delay which has occurred in transmitting this Bill. He has resumed his official duties this week.
5. I enclose copy of the Bill adopted by the Council and of the Attorney General's Report upon it. I confess it does not entirely satisfy me. It seems to invade the perogative of the Governor and to Legislate in more detail than is required.
6. I need not say that whatever Your Grace's wishesmayManuscript image may be they shall be carried out in the next Session of the Council.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient,
humble Servant.
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
See 11070 & 11071.
The Sketch of an Ordinance respg the Supreme Court which was sent from home was rejected after 2 days debate.
This Ordinance provides for a Supreme Court, only one Chief Justice, & one or more Puisne Judges, &c &c.
WR 13 Oct
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This Act simply establishes a Supreme Court with a Chief & Puisne Judge as if Mr Needham & Mr Begbie did not exist. And this they do on the expectation that the Home Govt from its "wide spread patronage" will provide for one of the Judges.
Of course if the Duke of Buckingham can & will provide for one of their Judges in a manner with wh that JudgeManuscript image will be satisfied, the Act wh seems a perfectly good one abstractedly—may be assented to by the Queen—subject at least to a reference to the Council Office as to the appeal to Privy Council, & to the observation that Rules of Court need not be sent home for the approval of the Crown in this country (SS XI).
But if HG has not the means of removing Mr Needham or Mr Begbie, then I think the proper answer is that H.G. has perused this Ordinance, but that it is impossible for him to submit it for HM's approval inasmuch as it contemplates a Supreme Court comprised of a Chief Justice & Puisne Judge & is therefore inapplicableManuscript image to the existing state of things in B. Columbia in which unfortunately there exist at present two Chief Justices.
As to their arguments—the state of things is of course inconvenient. But if they had any disposition to make the best of it, there could not have been any real difficulty in accepting the sketch ordinance making additional provisions when their local knowledge disclosed a defect & in particular providing that the authority of each Court (the writs &c) shd run throughout the whole Colony—wh ought, I agree, to have been explicitly laid down in the sketch.
But the fact is they want to force the Home Govt to remove the evil by refusing any proposalManuscript image for its effectual mitigation.
They are obliged however by mere force of inconvenience to pass Act No. 3 (11070 herewith).
FR 16/10
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The rejection of this Ordce shows very imperfect Crown Governt. Probably the removal of one CJ, even by promotion, would be difficult. I fear Sir F's 2nd Draft ansr is the only one.
CBA 19/10
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The question of removal of the judge to another appointment rests much with the judge himself. I offered Mr Needham a transfer which his [peers?] in England thought he should accept but on telegraphing to him he declined to accept, although complaining much of his position & irregular & uncertain salary.
B&C 22/10
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Copy of Supreme Courts Ordinance 1868 not on microfilm.
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W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to Seymour, 31 July 1868, regarding Council's opposition to Buckingham's sketch ordinance.
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H.P.P. Crease, Attorney General, to Seymour, 25 August 1868, explaining why Council had rejected the sketch ordinance.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Buckingham to Seymour, No. 94, 26 October 1868 rejecting the proposed ordinance “entitled An Ordinance "to establish a Supreme Court of Justice in the Colony of British Columbia,"” which contemplated “a Supreme Court composed of a Chief Justice and [a] Puisne Judge."