No. 4, Legislative
Victoria, 3th March 1864
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to forward herewith to Your Grace copy of a Resolution of the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver's Island upon the subject of the appointment of a common law Barrister of certain standing to the Office of Chief Justice of this Colony, and offering, in suchcaseManuscript image case to provide a retiring pension for the present incumbent of the office at the rate of Five Hundred pounds (£500) per Annum.
2. I have called upon Mr Cameron, the present Chief Justice, to state his views in respect of this matter as far as it affects himself, and I enclose herewith copy of his reply, by which Your Grace will perceive that Mr Cameron is willing to resign his office, andtoManuscript image to accept the pension offered him, provided it be secured to him by an Act of the Legislature.
3. I have therefore recommended the Legislature to pass such an Act, so that all difficulties that might obstruct Your Grace in carrying out the wishes of the Assembly at an early moment should be removed. A Bill has accordingly been introduced and advanced a stage, and I have no reason to suppose that it will not be carried.
InManuscript image
4. In further relation to this matter it may be desirable that I should mention that the Assembly has expressed a decided opinion against the removal of Mr Cameron, except he be superseded by a common law Barrister, who is not a Member of the Judiciary or Bar of this Colony, or of British Columbia, and it has been understood by the Assembly that Mr Cameron will not resign until his Successor arrives fromEnglandManuscript image England; the object of the Assembly evidently being to avoid the possible contingency of a Chief Justice, who as a member of the Bar in a small Colony like this, must in the course of his practice have acquired an intimate acquaintance with private and personal interests in general, and whose judgment, in consequence, may be less sound than that of a person entering upon the important and responsible position of Chief Justice, anentireManuscript image entire Stranger to local jealousies and local interests.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Graces most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The present Chief Justice receives £808 per ann. By the proposed Civil List arrangement (had it been accepted by the Assembly) a Salary of £800 is attached to the Office, to be increased to £1200 when a LawyerManuscript image is appointed. It will probably be considered hazardous to nominate any Barrister from this Country to the Office until the Civil Establishments are placed upon a more permanent footing?
VJ 30 April
Sir F. Rogers
We have every reason to believe both that it is highly desirable that Judge Cameron should retire, and also that he should be replaced by a well qualified Lawyer from this Country. I think that it is creditable to the patriotism and good sense of the local Assembly that they insist so much themselves upon this last condition.
But then there is the difficulty which Mr Jadis points out, that as they have rejected the Civil List, we have no guarantee for the salary of the future Chief Justice, and may create a grievance if we send him out until that is secured. On the other hand the delay is very undesirable. The question to be considered is whether we can venture to send out a new Chief Justice in the hope that the Assembly will notManuscript image disappoint us when they find their wish for an English Lawyer gratified, or whether we must go through the long process of writing out to them, extracting from them, if possible, a law placing his income beyond risk, and then procuring and sending out the Judge. The gain will be that we shall have a better hold over the Assembly and not run any risk; the loss will be that Mr Cameron will be kept for some time in Office after the arrival of the new Governor, a fact which on account of personal reasons is not unlikely to embarrass his proceedings, and to disturb the harmony of the new Administration.
TFE 30 April
Mr Jadis
I shd like to see the Act under wh Mr Cameron receives 800£ a year. From what source does he receive it?
The Act is an annual appropriation one. I annex that for the service of 1862 [marginal note: 73 of/62]. The "source" of Supply is the general revenue of the Colony. Considering the uncomfortable position we are at present in withManuscript image respect to a Civil List in this Colony I think we had better not add to the complication of the matter by having any peace meal legislation on account of a Judge. To me this proceeding of the Legislature appears rather an impertinent slap at the S.S. Within a month of their rejection of the terms offered by the S.S. for surrendering the Crown Revenue in exchange for a Civil List the Legre readily finds £500 a year to pension off an (obnoxious) Judge, knowing that they will necessarily afterwards have to vote a much larger salary for his Successor. I really think that the safest course for this Office to take is to Ack. the despatch and direct Govr Kennedy to take the subject of it into his consideration in connection with the Civil list question, and report his opinion to the S.S. witht loss of time.
ABd 2 May
Mr Fortescue
The salary (800£) is voted year by year, subject to the following provisoManuscript image Provided always that the sum aforesaid shall not be paid out of or charged upon the General Revenue of the Colony until the entire Revenue including the instalments due on Land, and the Public Lands of the Colony are placed under the control of the Legislature.
The Lands in V.C.I. have not been placed under the control of the Legislature, and the annual payment of 800£ a year to Mr Cameron is therefore really illegal. I do not think it wd be safe to make a new appointment to an office of wh the salary is thus not only dependent on the annual vote of the Legislature, but dependent on their continued connivance of whatManuscript image appears to be an illegal practice.
I should be inclined to write that the Secy of State could of course have no objection to the proposed pension if it were quite clear that it was the deliberate desire of the Assembly that such a pension shd be paid
I would not say this, but take the Resolution of the Assembly as it stands. I believe Mr Cameron has done his duty well—and he is only superseded because the progress of the Colony renders a professional judge necessary.
(It looks to me a little like a job) but that it would be plainly impossible to expect that the Ch Justiceship wd be accepted by any lawyer equal to the performance of its duties unless the S. of St. were able to offer him a better security for the payment of his salary than is afforded by the present law.
FR 4/5
I agree.
CF 5
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Write to V.C. Island that the arrangement proposed is one which appears to be very well worthy of adoption: but that the S.S. cannot propose to any member of the Bar of England to go to V.C.I. until he has the means of giving him a sufficient assurance that his office will have the independent & permanent character which it is on public grounds so desirable for him to have.
EC 6 May
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Copy, Resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly, 15 February 1864, respecting the appointment of an English barrister to the chief justiceship of the colony, and the pensioning of the present chief justice, signed by J.S. Helmcken, speaker.
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Copy, Chief Justice David Cameron to Colonial Secretary W.A.G. Young, 27 February 1864, stating his willingness to accede to the resolution as soon as the terms were embodied in an Act and passed by the Legislature.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Kennedy, No. 4, 12 May 1864.