§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
suggested that a Bill of such great importance, and relating to matters on which differences of opinion existed, should not be brought on in such a thin House, but should be postponed until it was able to secure a better attendance.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, he would have complied with this suggestion had it been made at an earlier period of the Session, but full Notice of it had been given, and he did not think it necessary to postpone the Order because noble Lords had not thought it worth while to attend in their places. Observations might be made at any future stage, and the whole matter had been discussed more than once. The sole object of the Bill was to carry into effect the Fishery Clauses of the Treaty of Washington in accordance with Article 33, which provided that certain Articles should take effect as soon as the 943 Legislatures of Great Britain, Canada, Prince Edward's Island on the one hand, and the Congress of the United States on the other, should have passed the laws required to carry them into operation. The Bill was of the same nature as the Act passed, in 1854, its purpose being to suspend an Imperial Act, such suspension being necessary to the operation of the Treaty; but the provisions of the Treaty were, of course, different. There was also this difference—that in 1854 the United States Congress had already passed the necessary Act; while at present this had not been done. The Canadian Parliament, however, and the Legislature of Prince Edward's Island had passed the necessary Act, and Congress, on meeting in December, would no doubt do the same; but as Parliament might not meet after the Prorogation until early next year, when the fishery season would have come on, the Government had thought that the necessary legislation should be taken this year. The Act would not, of course, come into effect till Congress, on its part, had passed an Act. Thinking it needless to go through and defend the clauses of the Treaty, he would only take this opportunity of stating that, although, in the first instance, the Treaty was undoubtedly received with a certain amount of dissatisfaction in Canada, that dissatisfaction to a great extent disappeared on its being fully considered, and its provisions better understood. He would remark also that when the Treaty came on for discussion in the Canadian House of Commons, it was so well supported that on the second reading of the Bill the Government had a majority of 66—and what was more remarkable, there was a majority from every one of the Provinces. Ontario gave a majority of 44 to 34; in Quebec the numbers were 45 to 16; Nova Scotia 13 to 2; New Brunswick 10 to 3, the other Provinces being unanimously for it. It should also be specially noted that the three maritime Provinces, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the Provinces specially affected, gave a majority of 68 to 21 in favour of the Bill. It would be unfair to ascribe the majority solely to satisfaction with the Treaty, though he was confident that its provisions, when the roughly understood, were found more favourable than the Canadian people at first supposed. He attributed it also in 944 no small measure to the good feeling manifested throughout the Dominion towards this country, and to the desire which they entertained of acting in unison with the policy of the mother country, and of supporting it on all occasions. That spirit was markedly exhibited during the debates, and it was alike gratifying to England and honourable to the whole Canadian people. He was not aware that in Prince Edward's Island there was any serious opposition to the Bill; while in Canada it was unopposed in the Senate, and the opposition to it in the other House was withdrawn after the second reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Kimberley.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, he would not utter a word in depreciation of the loyalty of the people of the Dominion, or in diminution of the just eulogy passed on them by the noble Earl. They had shown a desire to co-operate with the people of this country, both in accepting the Fishery Clauses, which must in many respects have been very distasteful to them, and in waiving their just claim to compensation for the Fenian raids. But, however flattering to ourselves, it was, nevertheless, hardly consistent with historical truth to suppose that they had been influenced solely by sentimental reasons for the courteous and friendly course they had taken. Her Majesty's Government had obtained the co-operation of Canada; but it must not be forgotten that, in return for that co-operation, they had consented to a certain financial operation which added considerably to the price this country would have to pay for the Treaty. This country was, in fact, about to undertake the hazardous guarantee of a large sum the Dominion was to borrow. He regretted that the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) had not consented to wait and submit this important measure to a fuller House, when it could have been more carefully gone into; but it was certainly consolatory to think that, however badly the interests of England might have been looked after by the Government in the proceedings of which this Bill was the crown, that they had been attended with no diminution of the good feeling which existed, and he hoped would always exist, between Canada and this country.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, he would not presume to criticize the remarks of the noble Marquess. Why he made no allusion to the proposed Imperial guarantee of a loan of £2,500,000 in aid of the expense of canal improvements and the construction of the Pacific Railway was, that no reference to it was contained in the Bill. Under the agreement with the Dominion the guarantee was to be proposed on the Treaty coming into effect, and this involving legislation by Congress, which did not meet till December, it would not be proposed till next Session.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
said, that the Government of the Dominion had condemned the Washington Treaty in most unequivocal terms, and accepted it only on condition of the loan being guaranteed. Our Government had agreed to guarantee this loan solely because we had not sufficient moral courage to enforce the claims against the United States for the Fenian raids. The course which had been adopted in this matter was a very exceptional one, was not honourable to this country, and was likely to afford a most dangerous precedent for the future.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.
§ House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, 'till To-morrow, a quarter before Five o'clock.