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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 80a

— No. 16. — — The Earl of Glasgow to the Marquess of Ripon. — (Received 5th January 1893.) — [Answered by No. 17]

— No. 16. —

The Earl of Glasgow to the Marquess of Ripon.

(Received 5th January 1893.)

[Answered by No. 17].

My Lord,

Auckland,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch, dated 26th September 1892,* which enters fully into your reasons for advising me to accede to the advice of my Ministers with regard to the Legislative [Council] Appointments.

2. I beg your Lordship to believe that I fully appreciate the consideration which you have shown me in this matter; the incident is now closed, and it is in no controversial spirit that I venture to make some remarks on your Despatch, but simply because, by means of the light thrown on the affair by the proceedings of the Legislative Council during the last Parliamentary Session, I think that it would be well to consider the conclusions to be drawn from what has occurred.

3. Your Lordship was perhaps justified in assuming that the question had been referred to you by agreement between myself and my Ministers. Strictly speaking, I was a party to the reference, but it was only because I did not consider that it would he proper for me to decline to forward a memorandum when asked by my Ministers to do so; personally, I have always been strongly of page 44 opinion that, under the Constitution of New Zealand, the question might have been solved in accordance with the traditions of Constitutional Government within the Colony, but I did not think I had any right to express any such opinion to your Lordship, or to appear to interfere with the undoubted right of my Ministers to appeal to the Secretary of State.

4. It is evident that when I declined to accept my Ministers' advice they were not willing to resign, but it appears to me that when a difference arises between a Governor and his advisers, the only justification for it is its importance, and this can only be gauged by the result.

5. If after an exchange of ideas the Governor incurs the responsibility of adhering to his own view, and the Ministers consider the case sufficiently important, they should resign; if they do not do so, they should give way, but my Ministers did neither, and I submit that a Colony possessing responsible Government, and with the means of putting pressure on the Governor, which Ministers in such a Colony possess, an appeal to the Colonial Office to interfere between the Governor and themselves is not a course that would naturally be expected from a Ministry with a proper conception of the rights and privileges of a self-governing Colony.

6. In this case the question as to whether I or my Ministers most correctly estimated the effect of the proposed appointments can best be judged, as I think your Lordship will agree, by an examination of the Division Lists of the Legislative Council during the past Session.

7. From the Returns which 1 have the honour to enclose, it will be seen that without any addition to the Council, out of thirty-seven (37) Government measures introduced, all were carried except two, that had the nine (9) appointments been accepted, the Government would have had the majority in every Division in the Legislative Council except five (5), and that if twelve (12) appointments had been made, the Government would have been victorious in every Division except one.

8. The effect of the twelve (12) appointments may therefore be considered to be that the Government has now by their means obtained the majority in the Council, a result which I thought it my duty to do what I could to resist.

9. It is therefore apparent to me that had your Lordship, on receiving the Ministers' memorandum, replied that you thought the question was one that could be settled more satisfactorily on the spot, there would have been an entire collapse of the situation, for the simple reason that the results of the Session have proved that the assumption that nine (9) appointments were insufficient to give the Government adequate support rested on an unsubstantial basis, and that I was sufficiently justified in the position I took up.

10. The information derived from this result was, of course, only available after your Lordship's decision became known.

11. With regard to the different opinions expressed by your Lordship and myself as to which method formed the most reliable basis of calculation, as to the strength of the Government in the Legislative Council, I submit that further experience proves that neither would have foreshadowed approximately the result shown by the returns, and my opinion is that the Legislative Council as a body has voted in this Session according to conviction, tempered by a feeling that in those eases in which the Country's opinion is known, the Council should give way.

12. In conclusion I beg to remark respectfully, that I do not feel that my personal position has in any way been detrimentally affected by the fact that your decision has been against my view, but 1 submit that the experience gained by a review of the whole incident may be expressed in the following sentence:—That the practice of referring the differences between Colonial Governors and their Ministers to the Colonial Office, of the calibre at least of the one in question, is not one to be encouraged; the great Colonies all possess the inestimable boon of self-government as fully and freely as does the Mother Country.

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13. The range of questions in which the Governor has any discretion is reduced to a vanishing point, and what has happened docs not make his task on such occasions any easier; and on any occasion where a difference unfortunately occurs it should be remembered that the policy of leaning on the Colonial Office is not one that commends itself to Colonists generally.

I have, &c. (signed)

Glasgow.

To the Right Honourable The Marquess of Ripon, K.G., &c., &c., & c. The Colonial Office, London, S.W.

* No.11.