The amalgamated assembly of Newfoundland, 1841-1847

Fizzard, Garfield (1963) The amalgamated assembly of Newfoundland, 1841-1847. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

By the end of the 1830's, Newfoundland's legislature was in trouble. As in most of the British colonies with "representative government", the nominated council and the elected assembly were so much in conflict that the functioning of the executive was being hindered. -- In 1842 Lord Stanley, the British Colonial Secretary, and Sir John Harvey, the Governor, decided that the council-assembly conflicts might best be eliminated if there was created a unicameral legislature. The system - known in Newfoundland as the "amalgamated legislature" - was established by an act of the British Parliament to continue until September 1, 1846, unless Parliament prolonged it. Under the system, the legislature functioned without the frequent impasses that had harassed its predecessor, for each bill was now subject to a majority vote in a single chamber. In addition, Harvey often intervened to prevent obstructive tactics by certain members; in many cases he encouraged the withdrawal of bills that were arousing bitter party antagonisms. In spite of its relative success, both political parties disliked the system. The Liberals, while in the majority among elected members, constituted the minority in the full assembly, and suffered many defeats. The Conservatives, on the other hand, had such a small margin that an absence or an abstention could result in failure for them. -- The Liberals began to accept "responsible government" (to a bicameral legislature) as their political aim. At the same time, they were ready to accept a return of their former constitution as an immediate alternative. The Conservatives, too, were ready to accept the old bicameral legislature. As the majority in the council undoubtedly would be Conservatives, they would be able to veto any legislation passed in an assembly dominated by Liberals. -- In deciding whether to continue the amalgamated system or to change it, the officials in Westminister in 1846 were guided by Governor Harvey. Although he was convinced that the existing constitution had some advantages, he was aware that it had few, if any, supporters among the colonists, and recommended that it be replaced by the old bicameral system. This the British Parliament did in 1847 after extending the amalgamated system for one year.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5544
Item ID: 5544
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [197]-208.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1963
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Newfoundland. House of Assembly; Newfoundland and Labrador--History--1763-1855

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