Why and How the Colonies Should at Once be Given Home Representation in England.
T. H. Grocott, Steam Machine Printer, Grahamstown : Church-Square.1885. page break
"That a Copy of Mr. Orpen's Lecture on 'Home Representation' be sent to the Secretaries of the Federation League in England and to the Secretaries of the Capetown and Grahamstown branches of the Empire League, with the request that it may be taken into consideration by their bodies; and that copies be also sent to the Right Hons. W. E. Gladstone, Sir Stafford Northcote, Lord Salisbury, and W. E. Forster, with a request that they will give their earnest consideration to the solution of the question of giving the Colonies Home Representation."
Why and How the Colonies should at Once be Given Home Representation in England.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,—I felt much honoured by your Committee's invitation to read a paper on the desirability of the Colonies being soon given representation in the Supreme Councils which influence or decide upon matters deeply affecting their welfare as Colonies and as parts of the Empire. I was glad, too, of this invitation because I believe that both you and I can contribute something to the movement and discussion now in progress, on matters so important to every part of the Empire and to all whom its destinies affect.
You are aware that the subject has been taken up for practical consideration and solution by great associations, and many of the ablest men of all parties in England and the Colonies, have joined the movement. Men are taking prominent part in it who have been, or are, or will be, Her Majesty's Ministers in England and the different Colonies. Even our future Sovereign is said to be now associated with it. You have no doubt read much that has been said and written of late upon the subject, including the proceedings of the Federation and Empire Leagues, an article in the Nineteenth Century, by the Right Hon. W. E. Forster, and lectures delivered in this Colony by Judge Shippard and the Hon. J. X. Merriman. In these the grounds for our now pressing our need for Home Representation, are given very ably and from many points of view. I shall, therefore, now only mention some of the principal grounds, and try to bring out the deepest meaning of the reasons given, and my main endeavour in doing this shall be to bring into more due prominence with regard to all other reasons, that one reason which appears most vital, their really most salient point. In any political movement or discussion this appears the best course to adopt. It gives a short effective war-cry in the strongest reason for a movement in masses on the very citadel of the position, so that each soldier may fully grasp the ultimate design of the movement and the routes by which to struggle to the object in view. There has been, to my mind, some defect in the very initiation of the movement and the names of the Leagues for these purposes in England and this and other Colonies. There is danger to the movement from this cause. The army of volunteers, so to speak, has been called up and met with shouts of enthusiasm, but no clear course has been pointed out to them towards one visible definite object; no immediate action in practical politics; no instant steps to move those Councils which govern the Empire. The army is thus baulked and at a standstill. The danger is that it will be discouraged by this want of decision and action, particularly when some leaders suggest only the occupation of some unsatisfactory present position, or a distant realisation of a vague ideal. People will not sacrifice time and energy in discussing abstract questions and urging ideals which only their descendants may see fulfilled. To fight zealously they want to be led into action at once, to gain victories worth having, which they may secure in their own immediate day, even if they are intended to page 6 prepare for more hereafter. If the day's own battle is not waged, the time for it may pass by, and the distant object also be lost. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone heartily desiring the success of the movement to devise some course practical to-day, in the place of indecision and inaction. If he fail to shew something practical, that route can be struck out on the map, and the way is cleared for another proposal. For this reason, this paper suggests, in its very title, that there is a reason for immediate action, and an assurance of immediate victory worth having. It proposes the question Why and How the Colonies should be given "Home Representation,"and that at once; and "Home Representation at once"is the war-cry I should desire inscribed on the banner of the League.
We shall first deal with the question Why ? and this will naturally and throughout lead up to the solution of the question How ? because it will show what the requisite conditions are which are now wanting and need fulfilment. And when we come to examine the different measures suggested towards meeting these needs, we shall test them by their fulfilling or not, these conditions.
Those who have not very deeply considered the subject, put in the foremost light, the material advantages of the existing union between England and the Colonies, and look to cementing that union by some representation of the Colony, mainly as a means of preserving and increasing those ad-vantages. They propose this because they share an undefined general uneasiness lest this connection should come to an end, as some day it must and ought to end, as fruit when ripe drops from a tree. We shall follow the natural course of thought by considering first what the material advantages of the union are; and this will lead up to an examination of its more fundamental value and to our trying to reach the bottom of the uneasiness about it. It is hardly necessary to ask what England would be without the Empire. That means without Colonies, ships and commerce; so we shall consider the matter from the points of view of the Colonies and wide Empire itself. We are communities collectively possessing immense material wealth and amassing more; we thus offer rich booty to robbers from without and within, and we are in danger from fires of revolution and war. But as part of a great Empire, we form a great protective and mutual insurance association, though the Colonies are not represented on the Board of Directors, and the protective organisation is therefore defective and inadequate, considering the immense wealth and interests involved. Still, the association is a great protection as it is, and besides, an immense economy, and it promotes the comfort, wealth and happiness of the hearths and homes of every one of us. It gives us great immunity both from foreign and civil wars, and it gives our Government and ourselves credit at low rates of interest, which enables us to do reproductive work, and grow richer. Small countries and republics such as the Empire might split up into, are exposed to dangers from without and within, and these destroy credit. The Transvaal Government, for instance, is unable to borrow in Europe, and its people are similarly out of credit. Some time since there was a talk about republicanism being aimed at by a large organisation of Colonists, who have since emphatically declared their loyalty to our institutions and flag. That talk at the time perceptibly injured the credit both of Government and individuals in this Colony, and we all became the poorer for it. If the danger were more real, the effect would page 7 be far greater. Not only are there other Powers possessing immense armies and navies and Imperial ideas, and crying out as Napoleon did, for more "ships, Colonies and commerce,"and ready to seize this Colony in particular, but the Colony itself is inhabited by many races, and is far less homogeneous than other Colonies, though it is happily growing in unity under free institutions. So the common danger of other Colonies from disruption, and their common interest in union, is intensified in our case. United, we are the bundle of sticks which, separated, could be broken to pieces.
But at the outset of the consideration of the material advantages of the union of the Empire, the necessary question suggests itself: Why have we become so rich and strong ? The principal reason is evident. The Empire carries with it such freedom and protection of the law everwhere, that there is general content and desire for the unity which produces it. There is thus no waste of force and grinding taxation to keep one large portion of the population unproductively wasting their lives as a force to keep the others down, and each individual is given immense vitality and activity by freedom from restraint, and individual and general wealth is thus piled up by the production which perfect liberty—that is, the reign of justice,—developes. Thus, though the Empire maintains but a small army, it has an immense reserve force of loyalty and material wealth, and stands like a great pyramid on the broad base of the loyalty of its people, and appears indestructible; so that it seems strange, at first sight, that a strong movement should have set in throughout the Empire for further organisation to secure it against the possible danger of its falling, or being broken to pieces while so strongly built up.
In Mr. Merriman's able lecture he rightly rejects the ignoble reasons for this movement—National pride—Imperialism and imperiousness—a mere desire to be part of something big and strong and able to control a great part of the world's inhabitants for the glory or benefit of one race or class, or for any government by force or autocratic power. Such power is just what Imperialism developed must end in, for the principles of liberty and tyranny are irreconcilable, and cannot continue to exist in the same body. One must eventually destroy the other; one is life and the other is death. The Czar of Russia, the greatest autocrat of our time, was bound for self-preservation to destroy trial by jury—the one speck left of liberty for the people in his dominions. Slavery in America was bound to break up the greatest Re-public the world has seen, or be destroyed itself, and after one of the greatest struggles the world has known down it went. Macaulay says somewhere that the establishment of free, pure, open courts of law in India, had done more than armies or conquests to establish the Empire there on firm foundations. While remembering that this was both an emancipation from individual oppressors, and practically one sort of representation of the people in open council restricting the power of Government, we must not forget that it is recognised, that this one boon, like letting in of daylight and fresh air, evolves a power of growth which must develope more and more perfect liberty—that of the press and so on—so that unless Government anticipates and prepares gradually, as it does, for what this liberty must ultimately grow to, it must ultimately destroy the power of England in India. If it were not for its tending thus to educate the people in liberty, that power would be pure Imperialism.
In the place of Imperialism, Mr. page 8 Merriman worthily puts in the foreground the more true and noble value of the British Empire, which this movement is designed to knit together and ensure. He shews it to be a power of encouragement and resistance in the struggle of the principles of Government, through representatives of the people, against the opposite principles of Government by force—autocratic power. To use his own words—"the surpassing value of the Empire to humanity and the world at large, consists in the fact that not only does it profess the doctrines of freedom, of law, and of justice, but it has also the material strength and power to maintain those rights, and to spread over the world an ideal of Government which is certainly the best and purest which has yet been seen; and the problem which faces each citizen in that Empire is, whether it is possible so to keep together the wonderful fabric, as to continue its noble and beneficent work, or whether the task is so hopeless that a more or less speedy dissolution of the natural bond must take place."
If we ask "but why is there any such danger of dissolution ? "it is evident that a fundamental reason is, that just in the most important part of our Constitution,—just where our point of engrafting into the Empire lies—there, is missing that which has given us us even our national wealth, happiness, and all that is worth conserving. There is missing that representation of the people of the Empire—that franchise, that freedom, that "life blood of the Constitution,"as Mr. Forster calls Representation, which is in general its characteristic of the most surpassing value. Just in that part lies Autocratic Government which is an irreconcilable element—and the very thing to which our constitution is the strongest antagonist. It is thus we have a kingdom divided against itself, which cannot stand. It is not, as has been repeatedly said, because in granting self-government to the Colonies a principle has been introduced which must, it is said, be "counteracted"—by representation at Home—lest it break up the Empire. Were it rather said unless "perfected"by representation, this would be more like the truth, but it is only really true in the sense that the principle of liberty is radically antagonistic to that of autocracy.
Many looking superficially at things would say "the Colonies are in the happy position of having perfect constitutional freedom plus protection—there can be no dream of dissatisfaction."And these would point to the Australian Colonies as most absolutely free within the Constitution and satisfied with the state of affiairs. Yet it is just from one of those Colonies, from Victoria, that the most emphatic claim for something more comes, and this from its very Ministry supported by the whole Colony. Its Premier, Mr. James Service, wrote giving the adherence of his Government to the principles of the Federation League for these reasons. He says "the chief of these considerations is the very anomalous position which these Colonies occupy as regards, respectively, local government and the exercise of Imperial authority. In regard to the first, the fullest measure of constitutional freedom and Parliamentary Representation has been conceded to the more important Colonies, but as regards the second we have no representation whatever in the Imperial system. Subjects in this part of the Empire may be deeply interested in the action, or it may be inaction, of the Imperial authorities but they have no voice nor vote in those Councils of the Empire, to which Tier Majesty's Ministers are Responsible. Thus in all matters in which the exercise of the Imperial Authority has interests for them, that authority is to all intents and purposes an unqualified page 9 autocracy. On the one hand we are under Constitutional Government, on the other under an antiquated Autocracy or Bureaucracy."
Now for every point at which the Imperial Authority affects Australian Colonies, there are a hundred at which it affects us. All Mr. Service has said is thus far more urgent in our case. Here the action of Imperial Authority may, every day, involve us not only in European wars, but in African wars and only recently we were, through it, within measurable distance of civil war. It is not long since that a treaty with Spain which overlooked our interests, so injured our wine trade, that the whole Colony has ever since suffered. If we had been represented, many, if not every one of certain sad mistakes in South Africa, or affecting it, would have been prevented.
I have emphasized what Mr. Service has said about Colonies having no voice nor vote in those Councils of the Empire to which Her Majesty's Ministers are Responsible, as this is the special condition which is missing and which is to be fulfilled in a remedial measure. But strong though the point may be which Mr. Service here makes, it is only one half the truth and the other half makes it doubly strong. Not only is the general exercise of Imperial Authority irresponsible and irresponsive to the Colonies, but, so far as it concerns the interests of all outside England, it is practically irresponsible even to the Home Parliament, for that Parliament must practically be uninformed with regard to those interests which have no representation in it, and it cannot exact responsibility in respect to what it does not know. Therefore, the antiquated autocratic force of which Mr. Service complains, is sometimes mere blind force acting in ignorance and not even qualified and tempered by steadiness of aim by being that of one mind and person, and capable of unity of reason and purpose and conscience, as even a pure tyranny might be.
This antiquated blind bureaucratic authority, which affects our most vital interests and our very lives, since it is thus irresponsible, is besides, in antagonism with human nature, which v requires to be governed by reason, but asks of all authority that it shall be responsible, that is, give a reason for its existence and its acts—that it shall have and render a reason why. You know the ancient song of the Cornish miners,—
And shall Trelawny die, and shall Trelawny die,
There are twice ten thousand Cornishmen shall know the reason why;
There are twenty thousand underground shall know the reason why.
Well, we are ten million Colonists already, and shall soon be twenty, and there will be twenty million o'er the sea shall know the reason why. But there is no reason why, for any authority among men which freemen, educated in freedom as Colonists are, can recognise, except in a Government in which they have some part, and which is in some way made responsible and responsive to them.
So radical is this principle of the responsibility to men of all Governments, that not only the rough Cornish miners of old grasped it, but even Kafirs do so. No Kafir chief was ever so stupidly ignorant of this fundamental principle in the art of governing men, that he did not on all important occasions hold open council with the representative men of every part of the tribe, or of engrafted tribes, and hear them give representations and render to them a reason why, for proposed actions of the authority which governed them collectively and affected their interests. It was reserved to the British Empire—the very ideal otherwise of Representative Institutions page 10 from top to bottom—thus to decitizenise and, in the radical meaning of the word, uncivilise its citizens—for civilise conics from civis, acitizen—and so we Colonists are in this respect less civilised, less citizenised than Kafirs. Curiously, too, even France and Spain give their Colonies representation in their Senate and Cortes, and a black man from Martinique has actually sat in the Parliament of France, while England has not allowed that right to its own free-born citizens in the Colonies.
This is, then, the fundamental need of the Colonies. Representation in the Councils to which the Supreme Authority which governs them, is responsible. Nothing less will supply this defect, which is that which causes rational fears for the dissolution of the Empire.
It was just this cause which did dissolve the bond of old between England and the Colonies which now form the United States of America. George III., when he ascended the throne in 1700, attempted to develope autocratic government. At that time only 160,000 out of 8,000,000 possessed the franchise in England. The House of Commons was, to a great extent, composed of representatives of rotten, extinct, or pocket boroughs. The King bought up many of these or their representatives; so while the Colonies were quite unrepresented, England was represented very imperfectly. The King was able to act without proper responsibility either to the Colonies or England, in which he attempted to put down even a free Press; and he was supported by what became called the King's Party in the House of Commons. The Colonies had been devotedly loyal, and had fought well and taxed themselves heavily through their own Legislature in the French and Indian wars, till the French power was crushed in America the year before the King's accession. He determined to tax those Colonies otherwise than through their own Legislatures, and to coerce them into obedience by armies. The noblest in England, led by Pitt and Burke, pleaded the cause of the Colonies. When the harbour of Boston was shut up to coerce the people, £30,000 was subscribed in London for their relief. Still in a few short years, these people, one in blood and sympathies, who had fought and given their lives beside each other as brothers, were brought into civil war and revolution by irresponsible rule. That it was want of Representation produced the breach, is evident from the whole history and discussions of that day. The wisest men of the time in England advocated the Representation of the Colonies, but it was impossible to carry such measures in a Parliament weakened and degraded by the King. Adam Smith advocated it. He said : "There is not the least probability that the British Constitution would be hurt by the union of Great Britain with her Colonies. That institution, on the contrary, would be completed by it, and seems to be imperfect without it. The assembly, which deliberates and decides concerning the affairs of the whole Empire, in order to be properly informed, ought certainly to have representatives from every part of it."
Burke, while a member of Parliament, was engaged as the first paid agent of one of the Colonies. This in itself showed their desperate want of Representation, as did the earnest petitions of the Colonial Legislatures to the Home Parliament. In Burke's celebrated speech in Parliament on the "Conciliation of the American Colonies,"he said : "My idea, therefore, without considering whether we yield it as a matter of right or grant it as a matter of favour, is to admit page 11 the people of the Colonies to an interest in the Constitution."He stated in his third proposition the principle of Representation, and its justice and expediency. He advocated it with wonderful power and force of illustration, but in the face of the impracticability of moving Parliament in its then condition to grant this, he only pressed, in conclusion, the constitutional freedom of the Colonies, and that they should not be taxed but by their own Parliament. He admitted the difficulties of Representation, owing to the distance of the Colonies, but prophetically said : "What nature has disjoined in one way, wisdom may unite in another; "and now that time and space are almost annihilated by steam and electricity, it is time for wisdom to satisfy this great need.
Charles Fox, Burke's pupil, one of the greatest statesmen and most persuasive speakers of the time, said of this speech of Burke's: "Let gentlemen read this speech by day and meditate on it at night; let them peruse it again and again, study it, imprint it on their minds, impress it on their hearts. They would then learn that Representation is the sovereign remedy for every evil." And to-day, when after a century of silence on the subject, the question of the relations of the Colonies with the Mother Country will soon be debated again in a Parliament truly representative of the people, nowhere will be found truer and more sympathetic and wise views expressed on the subject, than in that speech of Burke's, which is still worth careful study, particularly when he advises trusting to the responsive loyalty of the Colonies rather than to any bonds and stipulations to cause them to bear their share of responsibilities. Though the diseases in the body politic, of the causes and treatment of which he spoke so well, have not so grave a form, still, the causes are the same, the principles embodying them are the same, and the ultimate danger of dissolution is the same.
And now, in illustration of another fundamental reason for Representation, I have to point out a central idea underlying and giving unity to the considerations of those whom I have quoted, from Burke and Fox to Mr. Forster and the Hon. Mr. Merriman, who have moved public opinion in favour of giving Representation to the Colonies. All these naturally draw their analogies from the human body and soul, and speak of England and the Colonies being "members"of one body, of its "frame"requiring to be well-built, and of its "diseases"and "dissolution."Mr. Forster speaks of Representation being the "life-blood"of the English Constitution. Fox called it the "sovereign remedy."In fact the analogies between what belongs to the body politic and to the individuals and human nature of which it is composed, run so close that they are inevitably used, and must be borne in mind, to aid in giving unity and clearness to our thoughts upon the subject In the individual man, the consciousness of his existence as one sentient being, his health, strength, intelligence, conscience, and capacity for the individual and collective duties of man, and his affections, all depend on the subtle life circulating through the blood, and which through the nerves carries sympathy through all the parts and between them and the centres of life, thought, and feeling. If you divide the main nerve of some limb, or stop the blood from circulating about it, there is a dissolution of sympathy between it and the great centres, the parts can then no longer know of, or care for, or help each other. Something approaching death takes place, and such changes, continued on an extensive scale, would produce page 12 death. Restoration of the life blood restores sympathetic life. Just so that principle of Representation which Mr. Forster calls the "life blood of the constitution,"' gives the only life worth living to the body politic by bringing all parts into unity and sympathy with each other, and strength and ability to perform their duties to each other, and the whole to attain to the strong, full stature of a man, with one living, feeling soul awakened into natural conscience and able to feel with other men and nations, and therefore to do its whole duty (that is, as would be done by) in the great country of nations. Therefore what is wanting to preserve the natural unity and life of sympathy and strength in England and the Colonies, is more complete representation. And what may cause disolution is the want of representation, the warm life blood which should cause sympathy and warm affection through all the parts. Therefore, in the "formation of a nation"which Mr. Merriman speaks of, there should especially not be omitted a constitutional medium like the great bloodvessels for the circulation of what Mr. Forster calls the life blood of the constitution between the head and heart and members of the body politic. It is thus that if, for instance, the great arteries which convey the life blood to the head are ligatured, the force of the heart will distend other blood vessels to supply their place. Thus, too, some sympathy is maintained by channels which are not constitutional, between us who are of one blood with our kin in England.
But it is under unnatural conditions of straining and danger of rupture. It must be remembered, too, that Colonists are not all of one kin with the people of Great Britain, though we are all amalgamating happily here under free institutions. These attract people from all countries, and we and they become at home here, as the settlers before us (Dutch and English) have become united in this common home. We have even, perhaps in this room, gentlemen born in Holland, Germany and France—valued citizens of the Colony, who sympathize with us and vie with us in loyalty and devotion to the country which has given them a new home. Such naturalised foreigners become even our representatives in our Parliament—our central home, by our own free choice—and Ministers of her Majesty's Government here. The further sympathy is yet in course of development between them and our great centre, which we affectionately call "Home"and the "Mother Country"—which gave us our liberties. But this growing sympathy wants the full, free, natural medium of development by the life-blood of the constitution—representation in that Home. And the representative position should be an object of natural and kindly ambition to Colonists of every race, in which we should all rejoice, and it would make them yet more "at Home in the great centre of culture, intelligence, and science in England, and cause a wides-pread circulation of sympathy and thought between Colonial and English society. They should all be made as at home in the "Home"Parliament as they are in the Colonial Parliament. Mr. Forster wisely answers the cold reply to such appeals—"Oh, that is mere sentiment,"—by saying, "Well, sentiment has ruled the world since the world began."No millions of money can buy its value. It is what has always united and held nations together, and made them strong in defence of the unity of their home. And it is no valueless sentiment which makes Colonists speak of England as Home and its Parliament as the Home Parliament. Besides, a Parliament is in fact and origin simply page 13 the family home gathering developed till it becomes the tribal council, and then, the people's Parliament; and its main purposes and reasons for existence are still those of the family home, from which it took its root and grew. It is still the home for the nurture of the people, as one family in everything that makes them kind and noble, and knit together and strong, and in this sense our Home Parliament is our own home, in which we have a right to our own place.
It is for all these reasons that the present paper suggests as more effective the cry for "Home Representation "instead of "Imperial Federation."And, in concluding this part of the paper, giving the reasons why this movement should be supported, there remains but this to be said, that the invitation to that Home should come from Home, and that it should be without stipulation or conditions. It would be an unfortunate thing to keep the Colonies waiting on the cold doorstep when they are awakening to a desire to be admitted to their place in their own home. Treat them as aliens and they will be alienated soon.
It remains now to be considered how this Home Representation can at once be carried into effect as far as at present practicable. The Federation League itself declares—as nearly all admit—that the immediate realisation of a separate Federal Parliament is not practicable. None believe that there is at present any likelihood of Colonial delegates being admitted to their due place in the House of Commons, over-whelmed as it is by domestic legislation and obstruction, not to speak of mere want of room. In the House of Lords, however, there is both room and leisure, and the measure appears so practicable there, that a Liberal Peer and rising politician, Lord Rosebery, now one of her Majesty's Ministers—suggested last year in the House of Lords, that Colonial delegates should be admitted there as one measure in a reform of that House, with regard to which he gave notice that he would propose some motion this session. A Conservative Peer (the Earl of Pembroke), writes in the Nineteenth Century, that reform of the House of Lords is both imminent and necessary. He proposes the admission of both life peers and temporary peers, the judges and others. Probably the Bishops will, in such a reform, not retain a place in the House of Lords, as the retention of such power by what the electorate will consider only the representative of one of the religious bodies in one out of the three kingdoms, will not be capable of justification to those who will have to be considered. It is evident from all this that there is a practicable opening, in the House of Lords at least, for the admission of Colonial delegates. The thin edge of the wedge can evidently be best introduced then. The object should be to make it thin enough, and at the same time not to attempt any representation which would interfere with the existing power of the Colonial Legislatures. The representation should, on the contrary, be the natural out-growth of these Legislatures by evolution. They should for this purpose be the delegates of those Legislatures, and retain their seats just as long as they continued to be accredited by those Legislatures. The choice could be renewed, annually or otherwise, as they thought fit. Their position in the House of Lords could be in exact accordance with the precedent by which, as a temporary compromise, the delegates who are accredited by the outlying territories as distinct from the States of the North American Union, are admitted into its Upper House—the Senate—and given seats and a voice without a vote. A vote would perhaps do the Colonial delegates more harm page 14 than good. They would be few, and their mere vote would not have much weight—and might involve them in mere insular party movements, and their weight would properly depend more on their high position and the greatness of their constituencies—equal to some European kingdoms—and on the power of truth and knowledge and sympathy in open Council. It would be possible, though not desirable, to restrict even their right of speech to subjects which were not of mere English domestic legislation. But this would be unnecessary and therefore invidious in the House of Lords, which has leisure enough, and the Colonial delegates would not be likely to trouble the realm much about what did not much concern them, and if they did, they might bring very valuable knowledge to the consideration of many subjects, from their having seen the problems involved being worked out under different or simpler conditions. Though this Representation would not be perfect, it would supply the immediate want. It would be real Representation in one part of the Imperial Parliament to which the Imperial authority is responsible. It would provide what is most wanted, by letting in fresh air and daylight in Councils upon the world, and thus a power of growth would be evolved, and gradually produce any further development as circumstances changed and required it. It has been suggested that the Ministers of the Colonies could support delegates, but that would not be pure Parliamentary Representation, nor would such delegates be untrammelled members of Parliament, representative individuals, (not plenipotentiaries) as the Colonial delegates should be so long as they remained accredited. The Ministers who had majorities would almost practically elect them. It has been suggested that the paid Agents-General of the Colonies should be the delegates. This should be a matter of choice to the Colonial Parliaments, and' the paid Agents have some functions which are rather incompatible. They are permanent officers, who are selected for capacity for office business and finance. Their permanence adds to their efficiency. Their attending to other business might impair efficiency, and, finally, they may not be the Representative men wanted.
The proposal for Representation in the House of Lords is the only one which appears immediately practicable, and fulfils most of the requisite conditions, and if the present opportunity is lost of the approaching reform of that House, Representation in any satisfactory form must be indefinitely postponed. One of the only other proposals now made for an immediate meeting of the wants of the Colonies, is that the Secretary for the Colonies should call on the Colonial Ministries to accredit their Agents or others to advise him on matters of interest to Colonies in a "Council of Advice."But he might not take their advice, and besides, the English Ministry could not serve two masters. They must be responsible to the Parliament which can hurl them from office. Divided responsibility would only increase the present irresponsibility. The "Council of Advice"would be no open Parliament, and would not have weight or move public opinion. Then the member of the Council, say for British Guiana, could give but little advice about South Africa, and vice versa; and the Secretary alone would not be able to discuss all the Imperial affairs which indirectly touched the Colonies. Only in open Parliament could these varied matters be properly discussed, and the Colonies properly represented.
Earl Grey proposes that such Colonial delegates should be members of page 15 the Privy Council, and form a Committee of that body. These would still be a mere "Council of Advice,"and then the members of the Privy Council are bound to secrecy, and there are reasons for its privacy, and it would be an innovation to force delegates into that private Council, to which the Sovereign alone calls persons will at. It, or any "Council of Advice,"is a Council responsible to the Sovereign, and not one to which Government is responsible, which is the condition required in our Home Representation.
The only other proposal of some immediate course is that a Royal Commission should be appointed to consider what is required. But what is wanted is abundantly clear, and what is immediately practicable is also clear, and while the Royal Commission was looking abroad for this, the one Home opportunity may pass for the Colonies—Representation in those Councils of the Empire at which its Government is responsible. But if the admission of the Representation of the Colonies to the one House of Parliament which can receive them, is pressed and carried out, then these representatives would take the place of any such Royal Commission. Those who were able men would naturally, from time to time, be called to Her Majesty's Privy Council, and they would become, in some way or other, the influential advisers of Her Majesty's Ministers, with or without any "Council of Advice."
It is, therefore, to the one immediately practicable measure for giving the Colonies real Representation in the present Imperial Parliament, so as to make the Colonists in fact, as well as in name, citizens, that the earnest attention of the Leagues and of Colonists, and of Her Majesty's Ministers should be called at once.
The hour has arrived and the man. Not only are Mr. Forster, the Duke of Manchester, Lord Rosebery, and many other members of both Houses prepared to press for the Representation of the Colonies, but Mr. Gladstone ought to be now addressed and asked to bring his mind and power to bear upon the satisfactory solution of this question, which must enlist his complete sympathy. He has now given Representation to two millions more at Home, and he has the mental capacity and political power to devise means by which many millions of Colonists over the sea shall be given "Home Representation at once."