Ambassador Meyer to the Secretary of State.

No. 48.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that the project drawn up under the direction of the minister of the interior, A. G. Bulygin, for the creation of an institution of popular representation, is now before the council of ministers specially appointed for the purpose of examining into it.

The project proposes to call the permanent assembly of popular representatives the Gosudàrstvenny Dùma (Imperial Assembly). The idea of introducing the Zemstvo system into the Caucasus, Poland, and the Baltic provinces has been abandoned for the time being, but it is proposed to have the elections for the representatives take place according to the system of Zemstvo electoral assemblies under the Zemstvo regulation of January 13, 1864. In this way the elections will take place according to property census, but the details of this census are not defined by the ministry and are left to the decision of the council of ministers.

The Imperial Assembly, as a permanent institution, will not only have legislative rights, i. e., the right to consider new laws brought up by various departments and changes and additions to existing ones, but also the right of legislative initiative, independent elaboration of new laws (independently of the ministry), and in this connection special commissions may be formed from among the members of the Imperial Assembly.

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The Imperial Assembly has the right of consideration of the imperial rent-roll, the financial estimates of the ministry of finance, the right of examination of reports on the execution of the imperial rent-roll, and the estimates of the various departments and of the state control.

In the project of A. G. Bulygin the right of the Imperial Assembly to interrogate ministers and chief administrators of various departments is granted, but the ministers and the chief administrators are responsible only to the Emperor. The right of interrogation is not intended to include individual persons, representing one or the other of the ministries, but can be asserted only in connection with a whole department.

The total number of members of the Imperial Assembly will be from 400 to 600, and their term of service three years. Only those who are chosen by the people can be members of the Imperial Assembly, the president being appointed by the Emperor from among the members of the Assembly. Ministers and chief administrators of separate departments or their substitutes are to be members of the Assembly ex officio, their participation being justified by the necessity of giving explanations to the questions under consideration by the Imperial Assembly.

The Imperial Assembly, being the lower house, bills after being enacted are referred to the upper house (Council of the Empire) and until examined by the Council of the Empire and confirmed by the Emperor these projects of law will have no force. In case of dissension between the Imperial Assembly and the Council of the Empire questions will be decided by the Emperor, and in disagreements with the various ministries the ministers may come to an understanding with the Assembly.

The sessions of the Imperial Assembly will take place each year from November till January. By order of the Emperor the Imperial Assembly can be closed at any time and new elections ordered. The sessions of the Assembly are to be public.

In order that no section of the population shall at any time during the session of the Imperial Assembly be without its representative, the project considers the point of guaranteeing the personality of the members of the Imperial Assembly.

The members of the Imperial Assembly will not receive a salary, but in order to reimburse them for their expenses they will be given 15 rubles a day, and to avoid any criticism no one will have the right to refuse this money.

The members of the Imperial Assembly may make statements in the Assembly, not only individually, but also collectively.

Since it is proposed to have the elections take place on the basis of the Zemstvo electoral assemblies, in accordance with the Zemstvo regulation of 1864, it will not be superflous to recall that by this regulation it has been the custom to divide the population of the districts into three principal parts: 1, private landowners not belonging to the community; 2, city communities; 3, country communities. In accordance with this there were formed three electoral colleges—the congress of district landowners, the congress of municipal electors, and the congress of country electors.

It will, of course, remain with the council of ministers to accept or reject the project of the minister of the interior.

I have, etc.,

G. v. L. Meyer.