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GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES'. Thursday, June 15. The house met at noon. NOTICES OF MOTION. . The Speaker intimated to hon. members having Notices of Motion on the paper, that unless they were then renewed they would become lapsed questions. He also reminded members for their guidance in giving notices that, according to the Standing Rules and Orders, Tuesdays and Fridays were appropriated for Government business. A number of the Notices were renewed. Mr. Revans withdrew his notice for the appointment of a clerk, as now that Responsible Government was introduced he understood that the appbintment would rest willi' the Executive. Mr. Wakefield said, that in consequence of the formation of a responsible Ministry, he would withdraw his motion with reference to the appointment by the house of a Chairman 6f Committees. Major Greenwood renewed his notice to move that F. W. Merriman, Esq., be appointed Chairman of Committees of the whole house. Mr. Bartjcey gave notice that he would mov6 as an amendment that the1 hon. member for the Bay of Islands be appointed chairman of Committees. Mr. Weld' gave notice that he would on Friday move for the appointment of Committees on the respective subject of steam communication, the Bank of Issue, Beacons and Lighthouses, and Secondary Punishment. Mr. Lee gave notice " that on Tuesday he would ask the head of the Executive in that house whether it forms an' elementary part of Responsible Government for a Responsible Minister;of that house to nominate at pleasure a coadjutor or coadjutors without the precincts of this house ; and if so, in the absence of a close or packed borough,l how was Responsible Government to be carried out in its integrity. Mr. Fixz Gerald gave notice that on Friday he would move that the'house do agree, to a respectful address to the Queen, thanking her for a Constitution to New Zealand. Ministerial Statement. Mr. Fitz Geraxd then said, —Mr. Speaker, though not strictly in order, I will ask your permission to make to the house that statement which it is expected I should make. When I had the honour.to address the house on a former occasion I craved your indulgence as a matter of grace and favour. I now claim' that indulgence in the fulfilment of a promise ;: for during the long debats which has resulted in the recognition of the great principle of Responsible Government, the promise was often repeated from all sides that, should any one be called upon to fill the position, in which I have the hononr to stand, he should meet with the utmost forbearance, the utmost patience, and the utmost indulgence of the house. Indeed, Sir, did I not rely most implicitly upon that assurance, I should have shrunk from the task which' has been imposed upon me. Sir, before I commence that task,—before I proceed to develope the policy which his Excellency's Government have determined to submit to the house, it is due to the house, and it is due to myself and to my colleagues, that I should state distinctly to the house the events which have actually taken place, and which have resulted in the appearance of myself and my honourable colleagues as the responsible- advisers of his Excellency the Officer Administering the Government. Sir, as I informed the house on Wednesday at last sitting, his Excellency sent for myself and the hon. member for the Wairnea; and I wish to state, —(not that I think any such statement is necessary, but in order to set at rest any doubt which may have possibly existed on the subject,)I—l wish to state distinctly, that until I received his Excellency's summon? I had no intercourse whatsoever,either directly or indirectly, with the Government on the subject. Upon that occasion his Excellency was pleased to offer myself and my hon. friend the member for the Waimea, seats in the Executive Council, for the purpose of conducting the business of Government in this house so long as we could obtain the support and confidence of the Legislature. Upon leaving his Excelleuc3 rs presence, the hon. member for the Waimea and myself immediately agreed that it was our first duty to ascertain how far

we could act in common in advising his Excellency upon any line of policy: and in the course of a very long conversation upon the leading matters upon which legislation was necessary, I deeply regret to say we came to the conclusion that there was not that entire unanimity of opinion between us which would justify us in undertaking to act in concert iv the house. Ido not wish the house to understand that there was any determined difference between us upon any particular measures to be introduced. I should not be surprised if my hon. friend supported most if not all of the measures it will be our duty to propose. I should not accuse either >myself or him of any inconsistency should such prove to by the case. But we found we were thinking, if I may use the expression, in different schools; that we had different tendencies and Inclinations upon several important questions of policy ; and that it was possible, if not probable, that when we came to reduce our opinions to the definite form of Bills, we might come to a disagreement, or be compelled mutually to sacrifice opinion for the sake of harmony. Sir, we thought the risk too great to undertake; and we agreed to separate, for we both felt that any disagreement in the course of the Session would result in great embarrassment to the Government, and in great delay and disappointment in the house. I will not dwell upon the mutual efforts which I am sure the house will imagine we made each to persuade the otherto undertake the responsibility of office ; but I will not pass on without taking the opportunity of publicly thanking my honorable friend for the friendly and generous spirit in which he* determined to relieve, not indeed myself, for that could be no consideration, but the house and government from all embarrassment by withdrawing his superior claims and tendering to me all the support and assistance which he could without violation of principle afford. Sir, the next morning we met the At-torney-general, when my honourable friend formally resigned, stating the reason for his doing so—that he believed my views to be more in accordance with those of the majority of the house than his own. I was then charged by his Excellency to find two other colleagues in this house, one of whom was to be a professional lawyer. I immediately applied to the honourable gentlemen now beside me who finally agreed to accept places in the Executive Council. Sir, I applied to those gentlemen, because from long intercourse' with them, not only that they held opinions in accordance with my own, but .with regard to my honourable friend the member for the Wairau, that he possessed much extensive acquaintance with all the settlements of New Zealand—such abilities and such a character as could not fail to carry weight inj this house. And with regard to my honourable friend the member for Christchurch that he possessed in a pre-eminent degree those professional abilities and knowledge upon which demands will be specially made in preparing bills for the consideration of this house. Sir, without going to the full length of my honourable friend the member for the Hutt, in thinking it of very much importance from what Province the responsible advisers of His Excellency are selected, or that any particular Province should necessarily be represented in the Executive Government, and for this reason, that if a man is not able to comprehend the interests of all the Provinces in their relations to one another and to the General Government, he is not fitted to take a part in the government of the whole colony, and would, I am certain, very soon lose the confidence of this house. Although, I say, I do not go so far as the honorable member, yet, I did think that'just at this moment, and for the purpose of gaining at such a critical time the confidence of as large a'portion of the community as possible, and especially considering the present state of parties in Auckland,-1 did think it would be desirable that a member of this house should be added to the Executive Council enjoying as large as possible a share of the confidence of the people of Auckland, and capable of representing their aggregate interests. Upon this subject, however, I need say nothing more because his Excellency after full consideration is unwilling to add more than three members to the Executive Council—and this, for reasons wholly independent of the subject I am now speaking of; I need therefore say no more on that subject. But, Sir, the house will expect to be told upon what terms we stand in relation to the government and to this house : to be told how the

government of the colony is to be practically administered in future. Nowhere lam authorised to say that His Excellency has given us his full and entire confidence, (hear, hear.) That he has placed all the information to be obtained in all the government offices at our disposal, and every assistance which the present officers of government can give will be afforded us. (Hear). With regard to my own position, I may say, it is not my intention, and it never has been my intention, (except there were an' absolute necessity, which of course cannot occur) to take permanent office under the General Government. I purpose to conduct the business of government in this house as an'unofficial member of the Executive Council. And if the house should be of opinion that it is not desirable that I should continue in that capacity, I will at once willingly and cheerfully retire. My honuuiitble friends "will explain their own positions in this respect. But lam authorised to say, that there will be no difficulty on the part of the present servants of the Crown retiring fronv office, so as to admit of the full introduction of the principle of responsible government should the house see fit to make a decent and reasonable provision for them in the event of their resignation of permanent offices. With regard to the Colonial Secretary especially that gentleman has announced his intention of resigning so soon as such provision shall be made for him, and so soon -as he shall be informed by his Excellency that the interests of the public service will be furthered by such a course. Sir, more than this I cannot say. Indeed His Excellency would not be justified in taking any step or giving any guarantee which would fetter his successor in the right of selecting his own advisers. But I may state my own conviction that should any of the present offices become vacant in the manner which I have indicated, persons will be called to fill those offices who shall possess the entire confidence of this house and of the colony at large. The house will I am sure feel that I cannot >ay more than this in the present provisional state of affairs. I proceed now to lay before the house an outline of the measures we propose to introduce as soon as they can be prepared. The first of these is a bill for fixing the form of the Executive Government and the several departments by which the general Government shall in future be administered. In the original form of Government in this colony the whole government, legislative as well as executive, rested virtually in the Crown, and the whole of the revenues raised in the colonyfwere Crown revenues and were solely at the disposal of the Crown. The power resided in the Crown by prerogative to establish such offices as were necessary to carry on the Government, and this po\v3r seems to have been exercised in this as in all other colonies, to establish the same offices, that is to say, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Law-Officer, or Attorney-General, and to have remained unchanged during all the changes which the Constitution has undergone. Up U> the passing of the Constitution Act, the authority under which these offices have been held has been undisturbed, because the Crown has always retained in its own hands a considerable portion of the public revenues under the name of a Civil List out of which it has provided for the payment of the salaries of the public officers. The case now however is entirely changed. A sum is still reserved by way of a Civil List amounting to £4,700 a year for the payment of the salaries of the public officers, but it is placed within the power of the General Assembly to dispose of this sum at its pleasure. The only instruction is this.that the provision for the public servants is not to be by way of annual vote but by way of permanent enactment. Sir, we think that the time has arrived when that power ought to be exercised : we therefore purpose to bring in a bill repealing the provision of the Constitution Act for the maintenance of the establishment of the general government, enacting that such and such offices shall exist in the colony, and that such and such salaries shall be permanently attached to each office, and authorising the government to pay those salaries out of the public revenues. These expenses will constitute the first charge on the revenues after the payment of the other sums specified in the schedule and otherwise provided by the Constitution Act (hear, hear). We do not propose in this Bill to constitute an Executive Council; that we conceive is sufficiently done by the Royal Instructions. And it would [Continued on page S.] '

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Bibliographic details

GENERAL ASSEMBLY., Lyttelton Times, Volume IV, Issue 186, 29 July 1854

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Lyttelton Times, Volume IV, Issue 186, 29 July 1854

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