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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 80a

—No. 17.— — The Marquess of Ripon to the Earl of Glasgow

—No. 17.—

The Marquess of Ripon to the Earl of Glasgow.

My Lord,


I Have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 3rd December,* with its enclosures, respecting the recent appointments to the Legislative Council of New Zealand.

Your Lordship questions in that despatch the propriety of an appeal from the Government of a Colony possessing Responsible Government to the Colonial Office upon such a matter.

I would observe, in the first place, that such an objection to a reference to this department should, if taken at all, be taken at the time of the reference, and comes too late if not made till after my opinion has been asked. Your Ministers submitted to your Lordship a memorandum in which they invited my attention to the difference which had arisen, and this memorandum, with others that passed subsequently, you rightly transmitted to me. In doing so you commented upon the statements of your Ministers, and after expressing your own opinions

* No. 16.

page 68 you concluded by leaving the matter in my hands. I do not find that you raised any objection, either in your correspondence with your Ministers or in your despatches to me, to their action in referring the question to me; on the contrary, you were, as I understood, and as you recognise in your despatch under reply, yourself a party to the reference.

Neither I nor my predecessor, during whose tenure of office this reference was actually made, in any way sought it. It came to me as a joint reference from yourself and your Government.

I do not feel myself called upon to express any opinion upon the advisability of the course taken by your Ministers in seeking my advice on such a question; but I am of opinion that I should not be justified in refusing an expression of my views when it is asked for by the Governor of the Colony or by his constitutional advisers.

You proceed to express the opinion that, when Ministers are unable to come to an agreement with the Governor, they should, if they consider the case sufficiently important, tender their resignation. This is, no doubt, the step which in the last resort a Colonial Ministry must take in the case of any acute difference between the Governor and themselves, in order that it may be made apparent whether they are supported by the Colony. But it is for the Colonial Ministry to judge whether this step should be taken. On the occasion now under discussion they thought proper to adopt another course, and, with your concurrence, to refer the matter at issue to my predecessor.

With regard to the Returns which you enclose in the despatch under acknowledgment. I would observe that I had to arrive at my conclusions on the materials then in my possession. In one of the memoranda from your Government it was stated that some of the vital points of policy in their measures were defeated by large majorities in the Legislative Council, and that an inspection of the division lists of the preceding Session showed that the Government could, as a rule, only rely on the support of five members. The Returns now sent do not show to what extent the divisions referred to therein proceeded upon party lines, and I do not (eel able to draw the inference from them that your Ministry would, with the help of the twelve appointments, have necessarily commanded a majority for party purposes in the Legislative Council. Indeed, it appears that in Committee on the Land Bill, the Bill to which Mr. Ballance especially referred as rendering it necessary to strengthen his position in the Legislative Council, the Government were only able to muster at the most six supporters, and at times only two, three, and four.

As the matter has now been disposed of by the appointment of the additional members reported in your despatch of 2nd December,* I have only to add that I have received with great satisfaction the assurance that you do not feel that your personal position has been in any way detrimentally affected by the fact that my decision has been against your view, and I fully recognise the difficulties which you felt in regard to the question, and your desire to represent the whole matter to me in the fullest light.

I have, &c, (signed)


Governor, The Earl of Glasgow, G.C.M.G.

* No. 15.