No. 73
23rd May 1870
My Lord,
I have the honor to report that I have suspended Mr Thomas Basil Humphreys from the exercise of his Office as a Member of the Legislative Council until Her Majesty's pleasure shall be known.
2. This course was taken with the unanimous approvalofManuscript image of the Executive Council, and in accordance with the almost unanimous Resolution of the Legislative Council, of which I enclose a Copy, with a transcript of the proceedings upon which the Resolution was founded.
3. I have some doubt whether the Legislative Council acted wisely in attaching so much importance as they did to the abusive language alleged to have been used by Mr Humphreys at a Public Meeting in Victoria;
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Quite so.
but when hisdisrespectManuscript image disrespect to the Council had been formally brought to my notice in the manner in which it was laid before me,
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He shd have dissuaded them from pressing it formally, I think.
and after the strong opinion of the Executive
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Council, Members of which, unofficial as well as official, were personally cognizant of all that had passed, it appeared to me that I could not without lessening the dignity of the Legislature of the Colony, refuse to comply with their request that Mr Humphreys should be removed, and suffer hisconductManuscript image conduct to pass unrebuked.
4. Mr Humphreys has been acquainted that I would transmit any statement or explanation which he might desire to furnish, but he has failed to forward any, though ample time has been afforded to him.
5. The matter is practically of little importance, though it has given occasion to a "public meeting" of irresponsible persons in Victoria, at which a ResolutioncondemnatoryManuscript image condemnatory of the conduct of the Council was passed. The question of suspension will perhaps practically be settled almost before Your Lordship receives this Despatch, if you have approved of my suggestion that the Legislative Council should be reconstituted.
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Bill is in H. of Lords.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Herbert
Suspension of Mr Humphreys from his Seat in the Legislative Council for an abusive speech at a Public meeting agst the Council—& the Commr of Lands.
The offensive speech was in terms as follows—according to the Minutes of the Council.
That as to the Lands & Works Office Duke Trutch or Lord Trutch (Commisr of Lands & Works) had for the past 4 or 5 years control of the Office without the slightest check upon him & that about $500,000 had passed thro' his hands of which no account could be obtained & that when an inquiry into the conduct of the said Officer & the disposal of the monies was asked for in the Legislative Council itManuscript image was "burked" or choked off by the Officials with what object he would leave it to the Public to say. That he felt degraded as a man by taking his Seat in that infamous rascally rotten arrangement across the Bay (The Legislative Council). They call it an honor to be a member of that House—for my part I can't see any honor in it whenever I go over I feel degraded & ashamed.
To this language the Council expressed the readiness to accept the following apology.
It was not my intention by any words said by me at a Public Meeting to express anything derogatory to the dignity of the Legislative Council or of any one ofManuscript image its Members, nor to cast any imputation of dishonesty or improper conduct whatsoever on the Chief Comr of Lands & Works or any one connected with that Dept—& if any words then spoken by me convey such an impression I hereby retract them & express my regret at having used them.
Mr Humphreys does not appear to have denied the language imputed to him—but declined to make the apology as above—but offered to make the following
If I used any language at a recent Public Meeting reflecting upon the honesty of the Chief Comr of L & W I sincerely regret having used it as such was not my intention to do so by any words that I thenManuscript image used.
And if I used on the same occasion & at the same place any language that has been interpreted as disrespectful to the Council as such instead of being in denunciation of a Non-Representative Council I regret it as my language was directed agst the Non-Representative Constitution of the Council.
This was not deemed satisfactory by 15 to 1.
The Council therefore passed a Resolution asking the Govr to suspend Mr Humphreys, & this with the unanimous approvalManuscript image of the Executive Council the Governor has done.
The Governor's power of suspension is under Clause 14 of the Order in Council of 11 June 1863—to be conducted in accordance with Clause 22 of Gov. Musgrave's Commission.
Mr Humphreys from the language he used deserved no consideration, tho' I hardly see how he could sign the apology dictated by the Council—tho' his own was at the same [time] insufficient, & he must as it appears to me be left to takeManuscript image [the] consequence of his use of violent unjustifiable & intemperate language.
CC 27 June 70
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See also 6776 from Chairman of a Public Meeting in favor of Mr Humphreys deeming his offered apology sufficient.
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I think it was altogether a mistake of the Council to take this matter up so seriously, and to press it so far. Mr Humphreys used language which was calculated to give offence, but he offered what seems to me a sufficient apology, and Mr Trutch, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, whose administration of his office he had attacked, and who dictated the terms of the apology which the Council would accept, was asking too much when he required Mr Humphreys to say that he had not desired to impute any improper conduct whatever to the Chief Commissioner of Works, or any one connected with that Department. The resolution was adopted by so largeManuscript image a majority of the Council that it is difficult to refuse to confirm the suspension. I think however that the case might be reviewed, and the Council invited to rescind their resolution.
A reply might be made to the effect that it is always much to be regretted when language unnecessarily strong and liable to be misconstrued is used at meetings with reference to the public men or institutions of a colony, and Mr Humphreys cannot have failed after reflection to perceive that he acted very improperly in holding up the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands, and the Council of which he was a member, to the contempt of an excited assemblage. Lord Granville is however on the whole disposed to think that the apology tendered by Mr Humphreys, explaining as it did that he intended no reflection upon the honesty of the Chief Commissioner, nor any disrespect to the Council itself, but merely dissatisfaction at its non-representative constitution, was such as the Council might have accepted without any derogation from its dignity. It appears in fact to Lord Granville that there is no substantial difference between the apology dictated by the Council, and that tendered by Mr Humphreys, except that the former required Mr Humphreys to declare that he had not intended to impute any improper conduct whatever to the Chief Commissioner, or any one connected with the Lands and Works Office. With regard to this point it is unnecessary for Lord Granville to observe that if Mr Humphreys desired to express dissatisfaction with the manner in which the business of that Department was conducted, the proper course would have been for him to do so in his place in the Council. As however he was ready to declare that he made no chargeManuscript image against the character of the Chief Commissioner, it was perhaps requiring more than an opponent of the Government could concede, when he was asked to state that he had had no intention of expressing dissatisfaction with the manner in which that gentleman's department was administered. It is indeed obvious that Mr Humphreys believed (Lord Granville trusts quite wrongly) that the administration of the Crown Lands office was open to censure, and he could not therefore be expected to express confidence in it.
In making these observations Lord Granville does not desire to be understood as justifying in any degree Mr Humphreys conduct at the meeting, which he strongly reprobates, but looking to the length of time during which Mr H. will have been under suspension, and hoping that the Legislative Council may now be prepared to accept an apology which in their first moments of indignation they deemed inadequate, Lord Granville thinks that the requirements of the case would be met if the Resolution of the Council were rescinded, upon Mr Humphreys presenting himself before the Council and making the apology
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An apology of the nature of that….
which he had previously offered. It would be very satisfactory to Lord Granville if both parties could agree in this course—but otherwise he would not be prepared to withhold his confirmation of a decision recommended by so large a majority of the Council.
RGWH July 2/70
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I do not see what better can be done.
FR 2/7
WM 3/7
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I agree.
K July 7/70
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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"Copy of the Votes and Proceedings in the Legislative Council of British Columbia in reference to an alleged Breach of Privilege committed by Thos. Basil Humphreys, a Member of the said Council" (12 pages).
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Kimberley to Musgrave, No. 4, 11 July 1870.