15 JUNE 1850, Page 1


VAIN successes and small defeats have checkered the fortunes of Ministers this week in Parliament ; the successes being to the full -as detrimental as the defeats.

- The principal prosperity may be accounted the triumphs in pushing on the Australian Colonies Government Bill through the _Committee in the House of Lords. Not without opposition ; and -in three instances the opponent to be overcome was formidable. As the Peers—and probably the Ministers not less—are quite-un- informed on the subject, Lord Brougham made the perfectly rea- sonable proposal that counsel should be heard against the bill at the bar of the House ; a proceeding which would have helped to put the blind authors and promoters of the bill on an equality with its objectors in point of information : but the authors and promoters resolved, by 33 to 25, that they would remain blind. The Bishop of Oxford made the more comprehensive proposal, to refer the bill to a Select Committee, -which might have taken evidence and corrected errors: but the House resolved, by 34 to 21, that it would remain uninformed and uncorrected. Lord Monteagle proposed to divide the single chamber into two, according to the overwelming balance of opi- nion on that point : but the House resolved, by 22 to 20, that the light scale should preponderate—that the apple should fall from the earth and water run up hill. All which determinations suitably affirmed the wisdom of Government. In the debate, Lord Grey • advanced two statements which add to the mass of inconsistencies '—of shnOling shifting pretexts, that have been multiplied in the passage of this measure. He declared that he never would con- sent to an elective second chamber : a bold resolve, considering the habit of official concession to belligerent Canada, and the pro-. bability that Canada will not long remain quiescent under the unpopular arrangement of her nominated Legislative Council. He declared that the power of the Colonies to alter their constitu- tion is not so great an innovation as it has been supposed to be—only what Jamaica already enjoys! So this boasted con- cession, after all, is—nothing! Reformers are told that it is much; Conservatives that it is a minimum of change. We believe, in- deed, that Lord Grey does not himself know what it is ' • he has so often dodged the critics, that he has forgotten where he stands. But the debate in the House of Lords proves one fact that may console Ministers : they have gained—we will not say that they have gained power in themselves, but they have gained additional im- potency in their antagonists ; Lord Stanley, cannot muster a ma- jority in the Upper House. The proud Lords are becoming as obedient to the official dictation as the brawling but truckling Commons.

• A. minor success is the appeasing of the Duke of Wellington in the matter of University incriry, by promising to appoint a Com- mission as safe as the Eeclenastical Commission. Lord Westmeath's bill to serve as rider to the oWcial bill for amending the Encumbered Estates Act, by checking.the operation of the act over estates slightly encumbered, was so far supported that Lord Carlisle did not think it prudent to persevere in his re- sistance; and he allowed it to pass,—hoping that the faithful Com- mons will perform for him the stern task of suppression.

A more striking defeat was inflicted by Lord -Naas, who carried a motion to go into Committee on the mode of levying the fluty on home-made spirits. In the ease of foreign spirits, the duty is levied on the release from bond for consumptien ; in that of home spirits, it is levied on drawing from the still—which allows nothing for waste and leakage. The official reply was, that the duties had been calculated and settled on a computation of the relative loss : but the Commons pledged themselves, by 85 to 53, to amend that unjust-seeming arrangement. When the division was inevitable, Sir Charles Wood unblushingly and confessedly spoke against time,

while the whippers-in collected votes : but they could do no better than we have seen ; and in Committee the House recorded its re- solutions. Ministers threaten another stand for the absurd ar- rangement, and as it is absurd as well as unjust, they may be obstinate.

They hold out for an absurd mode of levying duties, and stake their existence on Lord Grey's Australian Bill • but since the mode of conducting Sunday service in the Post-office lied been successfully defended, as combining the utmost amount of public convenience with a continual decrease of work on the day of rest, Ministers have given that up to the oft-contemned voice of "popular cla- mour, embodied in a chance vote Of the Commons ; surrendering one of their most effective departments, the Post-office,—as the po- lice of Constantinople, when there was an insurrection about dear bread, appeased the tumult by throwing a baker to the populace.

Mr. Turner wins golden opinions by a little Chancery- reform ; conceived in that modern style of " moderation " which is dili- gent in the redress of smaller grievances and leaves the larger grie- vanees hard by untouched : see the letter of our correspondent, A Chancery Practitioner," on the abuses which lie in Mr-. Turner's way to remove, if he had courage, or hope of courage in those whose sanction he must invoke.

The bill for abolishing the Irish Nrioeroyalty, _ not strongly reasoned on the part of Ministers, is less reasonably resisted by the Irish Members' banded in defence of small mercenary " interests;?' just as the Metropolitan Members stood out for the undertaker's right to poison the Metropolis, and with equal prospect of ulti- mately failing in their obstructiveness.

The vote for the Fine Arts Commission has raised a debate oh the progress and state of the Houses of Parliament ; often reverted to in the course of the week. When the Houses are near com- pletion, Members and Peers find that the halls made for thstit will not hold them, but that some part of their august bodies is treated as surplusage ; that they cannot hear each other, but are obliged to fall back upon "tomorrow morning's papers " to know what it is they are debating ; and that the period of their entry into possession has been specially reserved by the Commissioners—not of Fine Arts, but of Sewers—for a diligence about the neighbour- hood better suited to winter and to hardened senses. Even the in- mates of the old House of Commons are annoyed, and the neigh- bours of St. Margaret's are frightened : venerable Members posi- tively propose "to go batik to the old House,"—except those who prefer "to go home and to bed." This great " practical " nation, so admirable in its applications of mechanical power, so perfect

in its organization of private resources, cannot obtain a tho- roughly effective organisation of the public service—cannot com- mand enough of earnestness in any department to accomplish the thing to be done. There is just as much uneasy: consciousness of shortcoming as breeds discontent, not enough intelligent will to work out well-founded contentment.