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The New Zealand Constitution Act [1852]: together with correspondence between the Secretary of State for the colonies and the Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand in explanation thereof

Extract from a despatch addressed by Earl Grey to Governor Sir C. A. Fitzroy, dated 30th August, 1850

Extract from a despatch addressed by Earl Grey to Governor Sir C. A. Fitzroy, dated 30th August, 1850.

"13. The effect of sections 13, 17, and 18, is to give the legislature a considerably increased control over that part of the colonial expenditure now charged on what is called the Civil List. The legislatures will have the power to alter, by Acts passed for that purpose, all or any of the sums specified in the schedules. In the case of these alterations affecting the salary of the Governor, or the appropriation for public worship, it is required by the present Act of Parliament that the Colonial Acts should be reserved for the signification of her Majesty's pleasure.

"14. In the former Act there was a power given to the Governor, by the 38th section, of varying the sum appropriated to the purposes of Schedule B, and the savings accruing from such alteration were exempted from the control of the Legislative Council. This latter proviso has been omitted in the present Act, as there appeared to be no sufficient reason why the ordinary power of the legislative body should not extend to these particular savings.

"15. This extension of the authority of the legislature has been rendered expedient in the view of her Majesty's Government, by the evidence of the hitherto successful progress of constitutional government. The manner in which the people of New South Wales have hitherto exercised the powers they possessed through their Representatives seemed fully to justify the grant of the enlarged power which will now be entrusted to them in relation to their financial affairs; but it has been deemed right by Parliament, in order the more completely to maintain the independence of the judges of the Supreme Court, to provide that no diminution of judicial salaries by colonial enactments shall affect Judges appointed previously to the passing of such enactment.

"16. All other salaries, except those of the Governor and Judges, are placed by Parliament under the ordinary control of the legislature. With regard to the mode of exercising this control, you will, however, observe that reductions of fixed establishments, or of any expenditure provided for by permanent laws, can only be effected by Acts of the Legislature, which, of course, require the assent of the Crown, signified by page 78 yourself, and confirmed by her Majesty; but I wish you distinctly to understand that there is no desire on the part of her Majesty's Government to prevent prospective reductions of charges which, in the opinion of the colonists, will safely admit of being diminished. The interests of existing officeholders must be protected, because they accepted those offices with expectations which cannot justly be disappointed. But, subject to these interests, there is no objection to the legislature fixing whatever scale of emoluments they may think fit for public servants to be hereafter appointed. I should, for my own part, consider it highly injudicious to reduce the salary of an office so as to render it no longer an object of ambition to men of ability and of respectable station. But this is a matter in which the interests of the colonists only are involved, as they will be the sufferers from any failure to provide adequate remuneration for those by whom the public service is carried on; the determination, therefore, of what is sufficient must be left to the legislatures, with whom will rest the responsibility for the judicious exercise of the power.

"17. I consider it, however, absolutely essential that whatever may be the rate of payment, the salaries of all the principal officers of the Government should, for the reasons stated in the Report of the Committee of the Privy Council, be permanently granted; that is, not voted from year to year, but provided for in the same manner as charges on the Consolidated Fund in this country by Acts, and therefore only susceptible of alteration by Acts of the Legislature passed in the ordinary manner, with the consent of the Crown. You will therefore understand that you are not at liberty to give the assent of the Crown to any Act which may be passed reducing the salaries of those who are now in the public service, or rendering dependent on annual votes any of the charges now provided for by permanent appropriations. Any Acts of this sort you will reserve for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure, unless you consider them so manifestly objectionable as to call for their rejection. Subject to this restriction, you are authorized to exercise your own judgment in giving or withholding your assent from Acts for the reduction of the fixed charges on the colonial revenue."