§ Mr. Ward
* I am aware of the difficulty at a time when party spirit runs high, and party struggles occupy too many of those hours which ought to be given to the practical purposes of legislation, of inducing the House to give a patient healing to a question, which not only has no party interest to recommend it, but which it is necessary to illustrate by a particular class of facts, and details, to which very few Members of this House are in the habit of attaching that importance, which in my judgment, they deserve. Feeling this, and knowing how little it is in my power to impart any attraction to the subject, beyond that, which its instrinsic merits may command, I should have shrunk from bringing forward the motion of which I have given notice, if I had not felt that the question was one, which not only ought to be brought under the consideration of the House, but which could not, in justice to the country, be deferred. I admit, that there are no hopes of legislating upon it during the present Session: but I call upon the House to fix the grounds, upon which future legislation must rest,—to affirm the principles upon which the Government must act,—and to permit me to shew what there is in the establishment of those principles interesting to the community at large, and more peculiarly to that portion of the community, whose industry is their daily bread. No man who thinks at all, can look at the present condition of the working classes, the state of excitement that prevails amongst them, and the wild theories, that have been broached by their leaders at the public meetings which have recently taken place, without feelings both of commiseration, and alarm. I have watched narrowly the course of the present movement, and, when I look to the fact, that the peace of England has been endangered, during the last twelve months, by an agitation against property— against law— against society itself, I think myself entitled to ask, even those who have least faith in the possibility of a remedy, whether any experiment that holds out the hope of a remedy ought not to be tried? Sir, I am convinced that no great popular movement has ever taken place, without having economical causes at the bottom of* From a corrected report, published by Ridgway.842 it. It is physical suffering that engenders political discontent. In the present instance this is pre-eminently the case. Chartism is a knife and fork question—a bread and cheese question, as Mr. Stephens has called it—an attempt to effect great social, through the medium of great political changes—to acquire property by acquiring the franchise—to get rid at once of political disabilities, and distress. We, in this House, know perfectly well, that these hopes are illusory, and that the welfare of the working classes in this country depends, in a great degree, upon the preservation of that very artificial system which they denounce, and would destroy if they had the power, to-morrow;—since, without the assistance which capital and credit afford to the poorer classes in this country, they could not exist. In lieu of the comparative comforts which many enjoy, they would be left a prey to absolute starvation. But how convince them of this? How reason with empty stomachs? How persuade men, who work fourteen, fifteen, and even sixteen hours a day, for a pittance barely sufficient to sustain life, that there is not something unsound, and rotten, in a system that produces such results? And it must not be forgotten, that the sufferings of the poorer classes in this country are enhanced by the constant contemplation of the luxuries of the rich. They see every comfort, and blessing, that it is possible for wealth to purchase, or human ingenuity to devise, showered down upon the affluent, as if in mockery of their own distress, while they are entirely, and hopelessly, deprived of all anticipation of ever participating in blessings, which they may learn to appreciate, but can never enjoy. I have visited many countries, and I have no hesitation in saying, that in no part of the world does there exist such a fearful distinction between the richer, and poorer, classes, as here—in no country is the line of demarcation between them so rigidly drawn, and so seldom crossed,—in no country are the extremes of wealth and poverty brought into such fearful, and dangerous, juxta position. I can well understand, under these circumstances, how the feelings originate with which the Chartists have been taught to regard what they term the property classes in this country. Feelings of jealousy, hatred, and distrust have been excited against all who possess property amongst us, and a belief has 843 been engendered in the minds of the labouring classes that they are money mongers, profit mongers, blood suckers—men who would grind the faces of the poor for their own unworthy ends. Expressions of this kind are invariably applied to the property classes by the Chartist orators and the Chartist press; so that those who have nothing, are induced to regard as their natural enemies, all who have any thing to lose. Much ingenuity has been shewn by some of the Chartist leaders, in enforcing these doctrines by the most singular misapplication, and perversion, of Scriptural texts. Every one must have observed this who has been in the habit of reading the productions of the Chartists; for it was only in a newspaper of Sunday last, that advocates their principles, that I saw a most singular interpretation of the text, "Be ye fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it," which was construed not only into a permission, but a command, to every man of the age of twenty-one, to marry, whether he could support a family or not, with the assurance that, if labour failed him, he might claim as his inheritance a portion of the land. He was told, that if he could not obtain the means of subsistence otherwise, he was justified in demanding, or taking it, from the produce of the land. This feeling has been encouraged still more by the language of persons, who have refused to countenance the resort to physical force, or other outrage. An hon. Friend of mine, whom I regret to see not in his place, I mean the Member for Birmingham—who has always kept honourably aloof from the violent proceedings of the Chartists, has, nevertheless, given the sanction of his authority to some of the extravagant opinions which they put forth. He has said, that it should be in the power of every man to procure "a fair day's wages for a fair day's work, and a full day's wages for a full day's work." Now, I cannot help expressing my regret at finding such a doctrine held by such a man, who has thus given the sanction of his name to what I cannot but regard as a gross politico-economical heresy. It may be said, that the diffusion of education would put a stop to such errors, but we have not time to wait for the result of education when opinions like these are generally entertained. I listened with deep interest to the opinions expressed on the sub 844 ject of education the other night by my hon. Friend, the Member for Liskeard; but looking to the state of so large a portion of the population, I should like him to explain how we can expect to educate men, whose lives are spent in procuring the means of living from day to day? What is the state of the population employed in the Factories? They are engaged in long hours of wearisome toil every day of their lives—and in procuring food for the body, have no time to think of food for the mind. The Hand-loom weavers are still worse off. I recollect in the debate on the Corn-laws, I referred to the case of a man named Marsden, which made much impression on the House, but several hon. Members immediately asked me whether this man was not a hand-loom weaver, when I had described the privations endured by him, and on my answering in the affirmative, many turned away, as if they were not surprised at such sufferings when they heard the occupation of the man. But are the Hand-loom weavers "Pariahs?" Are they outcasts from society? Are one million of human beings to be exposed to such sufferings without pity or prospect of relief? It is now well ascertained, that their distress is not caused by the mere competition with machinery; for it was proved before the Commissioners appointed to enquire into their condition, that one great cause of the pressure on the Hand-loom weavers is, the competition that exists in the trade itself. It was called by Mr. Symons "the common sewer of our industry," because so easily acquired, and, therefore, always overstocked. But how are we to bring education to bear upon men whose condition is so wretched, yet who form such a large mass of the population, as they amount in number to upwards of a million? Mr. Symons, in his report upon their state and prospects, says,When a man's whole faculties are strained to the utmost, from sunrise to sunset, to procure a miserable subsistence, he has neither leisure, aptitude, nor desire for information. He is assimilated to the beasts of burthen, and gradually partakes of their animalism, for in the degree in which extreme privation bars out civilization and refinement, is scope given to each brutalising impulse and passion.He says also,That there is a total decay of reading amongst them—that there is little scope for the exercise of prudence—and that religion has lost its influence,—as their only care and 845 anxiety is how to procure their daily meal. Their children are growing up in a state of semi-barbarism, and yet they have the strongest desire to educate them. There is no communication between them and the wealthier classes, for rarely do the language of sympathy, or the kindlier influences of charity, gladden their damp, and dreary dwellings.The pressure is very great on other classes as well as the Hand-loom weavers. If we inquire, we shall learn that in the Factories the hours of labour are increasing, while the amount of wages is gradually growing less. If we go to the agricultural districts, more particularly in Devonshire, we shall find, that wages during the last winter were only six, or seven, shillings a week, while wheat was ten shillings a bushel. Again, what is the condition of at least one-half of the human race in this country? We are in the habit of boasting of being a moral country, and of the distinction and care with which women are treated amongst us. Yet in no country with which I am acquainted does there exist so vast a mass of female misery and degradation as here. Not more than one woman out of three can marry at an early age, because such is the pressure of population upon the means of subsistence, that not more than that proportion of men can afford to do so. Employment of any kind is so difficult to be procured by females, that after working sixteen or seventeen hours a day at needlework, they hardly obtain sufficient to give them a bare subsistence—I believe not more than eight pence a-day. The consequence is distress, and prostitution, to an extent, and beginning at an age, unheard of in any other Christian community. Thousands every year are running their brief career of misery, drunkenness, disease, the canal, or the unknown, and unhallowed, grave. This is the fate of a large portion of that sex, which we profess to love, to honour, to revere, and which, under happier circumstances, sheds the brightest influence over our lives. Sir, these things may shock delicacy, and wound national pride, but they ought to be known. They are truths that must be told, for they are part of the system, with which we have to deal, and of the evils that we have to remedy, if we wish to avoid the danger of what are termed revolutionary principles. Revolutionary principles are harmless in a sound and healthy state of society, but 846 they become highly dangerous when put forward in a state of things like that which this country now sees, when men, in a condition of intense suffering and poverty, add to ignorance, an organization of numbers, with little or nothing to hope from things as they are, and who are, consequently, prepared to welcome any, and every, change. Among the population of this country, there is an immense mass of disaffection arising out of physical suffering, combined with ignorance,— with a consciousness of civil and political rights, a sense of injustice done, and a hopelessness of redress, which give a most formidable character to the present movement. But it is said, "Oh, we can easily stop this movement, and put down the Chartists," No doubt it is easy to suppress any temporary acts of violence but Chartism cannot be put down in this way. The Legislature can only deal effectually with Chartism, by going to its-source, and by removing, or mitigating, the pressure, which occasions it. It is an evil of a purely economical character—a social evil,—the growth of freedom, not of political abuse. It is not an evil which has arisen from bad government, or bad laws,—it would be impossible to point out any law, the removal of which would place the working population of this country at once in a healthy state. It is to be traced clearly to the disproportion between our population and the field for the employment of labour, in spite of the thousand channels which capital and credit have opened to our industry. And not only in the humblest classes does this disproportion exist. The Church, the Bar, the Army, the Navy, trade, all are subject to it. Every department is overstocked. There is but one prize for one hundred blanks. Profits are less—the demand for educated labour is less—for every opening there are twenty competitors. No man can rise above his original position in the world, and the most persevering industry is often cheated of its reward. Even the wealthier portion of the community, though placed far above the reach of poverty, feel the pressure, to some extent, for their children, and connections, if not for themselves. The picture, Sir, which I have drawn, is not an exaggerated one. I have no wish to exaggerate it. It is a picture which no lover of his country could contemplate without deep distress, if the hopes of alleviation were limited to the 847 confines of the British islands. Fortunately, however, this is not the case. There is another, and a mightier, resource available,—a resource to which I have referred in my motion, this evening. I believe this resource to be an almost inexhaustible one. And why? Because it consists in a proper disposal of the waste lands in our colonies, and is limited only by their extent. And what is that extent? Look at the British Colonial empire — the most magnificent empire that the world ever saw. The old Spanish boast that the sun never set in their dominions, has been more truly realised amongst ourselves; and not only do we possess in our colonies every possible variety of climate, and of soil, but the power of producing almost every article of which our manufacturing industry stands in need. These are the treasures that Providence has bestowed upon us. To what account have we turned them? How have these materials of wealth been dispensed? Have colonies been regarded as an integral part of the empire?—a place of refuge for thousands, who are wasting their lives in profitless labour here? No; there has been no principle, or system, or plan, in our colonial policy, at all. Government has simply looked on the colonies as a field for patronage, and the Legislature has regarded them as a source from which contributions to the revenue might be drawn. The Legislature has done nothing. The Government nothing. Whatever good has been achieved is due to individual enterprize and to individul enterprize alone. But surely the land in our Colonies is intended to serve higher and better purposes than those to which I have referred. What are termed the waste lands are emphatically public lands, theinheritance—the patrimony of every poor man in England, Ireland, and Scotland, who pays allegiance to the Crown —and as such I claim them. They are a trust, which the Government of this country is bound to administer for the public good; and, further, so to administer, as to afford the means of reaching the Colonies, if they desire it, to all those whose poverty, not their will, binds them to our shores. Fortunately, the attainment of this great object is attended with little difficulty. In the first place you cannot introduce any sound, or equal, or practical system of dealing with the lands in the colonies, without creating a revenue 848 from them; and, judging from the result in other countries, in which the experiment has been tried, this revenue must be very large. Take, for instance, the United States, which are situated somewhat like ourselves in this respect. In forty-two years they have realised from this source a sum of not less than seventeen millions sterling, while during the very period in which they have been doing this, with incalculable national advantages, our waste lands have remained waste lands in every sense of the word. Yet the American colonies—for their's are colonies as much as ours, there being no essential difference between an emigrant's going to the Back-settlements from the coast towns of the United States, and his going to Australia from England—so far from having been retarded by what might appear to be a heavy tax, have actually flourished, not only in spite of the tax, but in fact, in consequence of it, to a degree, which is quite unprecedented in the history of the world. They have advanced, by the most rapid strides, to wealth power, and internal comfort. New towns, new states, have every where sprung up, while, on the other hand, the land in our colonies, which has been lavishly granted for the most unwise purposes, has produced no revenue, created no wealth. Our settlers are few, and full of just complaints. Sir, I cannot help thinking that this lamentable contrast in itself sufficiently bespeaks the fact, that there must be some fundamental error in the principle on which we have proceeded. That fundamental error was pointed out some ten years ago, in a work called "England and America," the author of which is now known to be Mr. Gibbon Wakefield; a work, which—whether I look to the admirable clearness, with which the theory of colonization is developed in it, the vast array of facts brought to bear upon it, or the great practical results, to which it must lead—all the offspring of one man's mind—I cannot but regard as an honour to the country, and the age. I only trust that the theory thus developed will be taken up, and acted upon by the Government of this country on a large scale, and within the shortest possible period of time. Mr. Wakefield, in "England and America," lays it down as the first principle of colonization, rightly understood, not to disperse labour, but to concentrate it; to keep the population together, so as to secure for the 849 colony, from the first step in its career, the advantages of co-operation, and of a continuous supply of combinable labour. He has shewn further, that some pressure from without is necessary to produce this effect—to check the natural tendency of every man who emigrates to a new country, from one, where people are plentiful, and land scarce, to become a proprietor of land himself, under the idea, which he carries out with him, of the value attached to land, in his own country; forgetful that land without combinable labour to employ upon it, is of no more value than the sky above, or the sea around it. The consequence of this fallacious tendency, wherever it has been indulged, has been to isolate the settlers—to divide labour into fractional parts—the single pair of hands of the single individual—to prevent combination, exchange, or progress of any kind. All history, all experience prove that when once a colony is suffered to fall into this state of stagnation, it never advances. Where there is a dispersion of settlers, there can obviously be no co-operation, and subsequently no improvement. Nova Scotia is a proof of this, amongst our own colonies. The Gauchos of the Pampas are another. The Spaniards there are precisely what their forefathers were before them, 300 years ago; and if there are other colonies, which have not shared this fate, it is because the successors of the original settlers, being men of greater energy and capital, have corrected the vice of their position, by having recourse to the labour of slaves, in default of a supply of free labour, by the aid of which slave labour, they have raised a vast amount of exchangeable produce, and created an abundant trade. This is the real history of slavery, which in a certain state of society, steps in to supply the place of that hired labour, which capital can always command in a country where people are plentiful, and land scarce, but which no capital can command in a country where this proportion between land and people is reversed. Hence, too, it is, that the colonies of all nations have undergone, in their infancy, the curse of slavery, for even where black slavery is not practised, there is white slavery to supply its place. To this day there is white slavery in Australia and it produces an infinitely worse moral effect than the black slavery, which it has cost us twenty millions to get rid o in the West Indies. At the present mo 850 ment, however, but for the white slavery, which is called the convict system, in New South Wales, that colony would be absolutely ruined, as it has no other combinable labour at all. What is the remedy for these evils?—To change the system;—to create a sufficient check on the power of acquiring land, to secure the advantages of combined labour at once;—to prevent the poor emigrant from becoming, upon his landing, a poor and useless landholder; and to prevent the capitalist from surrounding him with a desert which he has no means, or hope of cultivating. There must be a power somewhere to give land, and a power to withhold it. In whom should this power be vested? In the Government or the individual? Both are bad. If we vest the power in the Government, a glance at all past colonial history shows what the result will be. If, on the other hand, it be vested in the individual, a few selfish persons, acting pon the true dog-in-the-manger principle, may take possession of a great tract of country, and shut out all other settlers from it. There, must, therefore, be some established principle, some fixed rule, by which all parties are bound; and I believe that the more this subject is investigated, the more it will be seen that there is no fixed rule so fair, so equal, so just in its operation as between man and man, as "Price." Price is the only basis on which a sound principle of colonization, in reference to the disposal of waste lands, can be founded. True, Price may, and will, vary according to the circumstances of each colony; as for instance, the price of land in the West Indies, where half an acre of land suffices to support a family in abundance, must, under any system, be more than the price of land in Canada; but the principle is, that the price of land in every instance should be a "sufficient" price to secure to every capitalist a supply of hired labour, while it holds out to the labourer the prospect of such wages, as will enable him to become in turn a capitalist himself. Upon this part of the subject I may be al lowed to quote two passages from a very able circular addressed by the Government to the governors of the West-Indian Colonies, in January, 1836. The circular said:—In order to prevent this, (the indisposition of the apprentices to work for hire) it will be necessary to prevent the occupation of any Crown lands by persons not possessing a pro. 851 prietary title to them, and to fix such a price on Crown land, as may place them out of the reach of persons without capital. The natural tendency of the population to spread over the surface of the country, each man settling where he may, or roving from place to place in pursuit of virgin soil, is thus impeded. The territory, expanding only with the pressure of population, is commensurate with the actual wants of the entire community. Society, being thus kept together, is more open to civilizing influences — more directly under the control of the Government—more full of the activity which is inspired by common wants, and the strength which is derived from the division of labour, and altogether is in a sounder state— morally, politically, and economically—than if left to pursue its natural course.Sir, it is my conviction that these principles fairly worked out, will produce every where the proper proportion between land and people, give the fullest scope to industry, and the greatest encouragement to exertion. They will secure a rapid advance and render the colony to which they are applied, equally attractive to the capitalist and to the labourer, by ensuring to the one high wages, and to the other high profits, while they give to every man fair play. The field of employment will be always ready to expand but not too rapidly. If we look only to the colony, then, leaving the mother country out of the question, it is desirable that a price should be affixed to land; but the interests of the mother country are not less concerned. A price cannot be put on land without producing a revenue, and this revenue, if applied in a sound way to the purposes of emigration, affords the best emigration fund that the mother country or the colony could desire. By securing a certain supply of labour it encourages the capitalist in the mother country to invest capital in land, while the more land is bought, the more labour can be supplied. Indeed, in the regulations of the South Australian Colony, which is founded on the principles that I am now advocating, I find the word "price" defined to be "a contribution to the Emigration Fund," and it is stated by the Commissioners as the proud distinction of the Colony, that "this is the sole condition on which land can be obtained there." As to the probable amount of this Emigration Fund, having no experience of our own to guide us, we must look again to the United States, and inquire what has been the system pursued there, and what the results. In the first 852 place, I find that the right to all lands' with some exceptions in the old Atlantic states, is vested in the Federal Government by Act of Congress. That Act of Congress has been at the bottom of all the good which the system has produced. There is one uniform price fixed of 1¼dollar per acre—a price which has been considered too low by the economists best informed on the subject. No credit is given. There is a perfect liberty of choice, and appropriation, at this price. Immense surveys are carried on, to an extent which strangers have no conception of. One hundred and forty millions of acres have been mapped and planned, at a cost of 2,164,000 dollars. There is a general Land-office at Washington, with forty subordinate district offices, each having a Registrar, and a Receiver, with salaries of 500 dollars, and one per cent, upon sales-Maps, plans, information of every kind, are accessible to the humblest persons. There is also the best check on the proceedings of these offices, by the means of annual reports to Congress, while at the same time every facility is given to individual enterprise. A man, if he pleases, may invest a million of dollars in land. If he miscalculate, it is his own fault; the public is, under any circumstances, the gainer. What has been the result of this system? Since 1795, when it was first established, the amount actually realized and paid into the Public Treasury, has been eighty-four millions of dollars. The National Debt is paid off. There is a surplus revenue to divide;—and these results are perfectly intelligible when we look to the produce of the land sales since 1795.
These are the pecuniary results of a system of disposing of waste lands by sale, fairly and honestly carried out. The moral results, if I may so term them, are equally great. The whole of the Western wilderness of America has been converted into the most thriving combination of States that the world ever saw, full of the elements of prosperity, public and private,— fast increasing in population, wealth, happiness, and power. How melancholy a contrast does this present to the state of things which a contrary system has pro 853 duced amongst ourselves! What was the English system up to 1831, when some beneficial changes were made in it? There was no Act of Parliament,—no responsible board, or officer,—no land offices,—no information to be had—plenty of surveyors in the colonies, well paid, but no surveys, no maps or plans,—no publicity—contradictory regulations constantly emanating from the Government as to the disposal of land, all in force at the same time; —the public lands, in short, were regarded as a sort of secret service fund, out of which lavish grants were made to any individual, who happened to possess political, or personal, influence at home. The whole system was a system of favouritism, and jobbing; and, as a necessary consequence, the public derived not one shilling of advantage from all these lands, while to individual colonists the system was equally fatal. I might mention many instances of this, but I will content myself with one,—the case of the Swan River. Never was there a colony founded with more legitimate purposes, or with higher hopes. A cousin of one of the ministers of the day (Mr. Peel) was at the head of it; he took out a capital of 50,000l., which was invested in stock, seeds, agricultural labourers, and implements of various kinds. Many highly respectable individuals were joined with him in the undertaking; but all these advantages were neutralized, and destroyed, by the absurd principle on which the land was then disposed of. Mr. Peel began by taking to himself a grant of half a million of acres; the Governor took 100,000 acres, another person 80,000; and so an embryo right of proprietorship was spread over half the colony before a settlement of any kind was formed. In addition to these grants made in England, land was sold in the colony at 1s. 6d. an acre; and the consequence of these contradictory proceedings was, that the labourers who went out with Mr. Peel deserted him, and dispersed themselves over the wilderness; the stock was destroyed, the seeds rotted on the beach, and the colony itself was only saved from starvation by liberal supplies from the neighbouring colony of Van Dieman's Land. But in 1831, a new system was introduced; and certainly I cannot speak of that system in the presence of the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, without expressing my thanks for the service which that noble Lord has rendered 854 to the cause of common sense and to the public interests, by the part he has taken in reforming the mode in which the Crown had previously disposed of the waste or public lands. The noble Lord has given up a great deal of what was most exceptionable in the former system. He introduced a system of sales in the colonies. He laid down a general rule, that there were to be no further grants of land in any place, to any person, of any class, whatever his influence might be,—a fair and equal principle, as far as it went. My only complaint against the noble Lord is, that his principle does not go far enough; and that even as far as it does go, it has not been honestly worked out. As to its not going far enough, the first objection to which it is open, is, that there is no guarantee for permanency, no stability, no act of Parliament, no responsibility;— that it is considered as mere waste paper in America; and that it is subject to be changed with every change in the Colonial Office, since it is upon the will of the Ministers of the day that it is made to depend; and, when the House reflects how many changes have occurred in this department in the course of only the last ten years, it will, I think, admit that any thing which is to be called a national system, should not rest on so precarious a foundation. Since 1830, that is to say, in nine years, there have been no fewer than seven Colonial ministers; Sir G. Murray, Lord Goderich, the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Glenelg, and now the Marquess of Normanby; and he must be a bold man who would predict who would be Colonial Minister in June 1840. Now, no two of these ministers have agreed precisely upon the application of the principle which Lord Ripon introduced. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when Minister for the Colonies, undid a great part of what Lord Ripon had done; but in return, he gave a Charter, on very sound principles, to South Australia, which his predecessor (Lord Stanley) had refused. The first step in the right hon. Gentleman's colonial career, however, was to devote a large portion of the funds arising from the land sales in New South Wales to colonial purposes, to colonial police, for instance, and not to immigration. Upon this subject, Dr. Lang, in his excellent work, makes these observations:— 855
Dollars. In 1796, the proceeds were only 4,836 In 1811 1,040,237 1819 3,274,422 1835 11,000,000 1836 24,000,000It was thus virtually enacted by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that a large portion of that revenue, which had been so unexpectedly, and beneficently, created, as if by the immediate interposition of the providence of God, for the counteraction of the enormous moral evils that had resulted from the past mismanagement of the transportation system in Australia, and for ensuring the moral welfare of these Colonies in all time to come, through the importation of virtuous, and industrious, free emigrant families from the mother country, and to the exclusive application of which to that object the inhabitants of New South Wales were looking with intense anxiety, should be applied towards the perpetual maintenance of the Colony as a mere gaol, and dunghill, for the British Empire.Sir, if this fact be true, and I am certain that it cannot be denied, I must tell the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, that I consider it a misapplication—a bastard application, of the principle which was sanctioned by him in 1831, and I feel myself entitled to call upon him to assist me in ensuring to it the fair trial which it deserves. The noble Lord understands the principle too well not to see the absolute necessity of giving a Parliamentary sanction to it, before it can be worked out to any practical extent. He knows that the land sales must be anticipated before we can judge of their probable amount; he knows that competition for land, if it is to produce any extensive, or beneficial, results, must not be confined to the Colony; that we must bring Englishmen, and English capital, into the field, as well as colonial capital. Besides, we are bound to consider the peculiar position in which our Colonies are placed. We have no backwoods, no continuous communication with the Colonies. We are separated from them by a great gulf, which the poor cannot pass over unless they are assisted. We must bridge it over for them; we must give them a conveyance if we wish to take them there, and this on a sufficiently large scale to effect what is wanted, both in the colony and here. The actual produce of the land sales will not suffice to do this, but they will serve as an ample security for any money which may be required for the purposes of emigration, so as to bring the system into practical operation at once, if we have an act of Parliament as a guarantee. What, for instance, might not the United States raise upon a branch of their revenue, which has produced four millions sterling in one year? If we wish 856 to equal America—if we wish to give the same impetus to our population—we must adopt her system. We must pass an act of Parliament as she passed an act of Congress;—we must create a responsible Land Board,—we must give to all classes the same advantages, and facilities, and then, but not till then, we may arrive at the same results. With an act of Parliament there would be no lack of capitalists to put the machinery in motion. The security is known, and liked, in the British money market already, and well it may be, since the whole loan is spent in adding to the value of the security. The land sales in New South Wales, though the land is sold at a most inadequate, and insufficient, price, (5s. an acre), while land in South Australia is selling at 20s., without the aid of English competition, or an adequate supply of labour in return, have realized a very large sum.
Now, 240,000l. would be a security for a million of money, if required as an Emigration fund, but not without the aid of Parliament. What, then, is the objection to the interference of Parliament? It may be said, that it is an invasion of the prerogative of the Crown; but the prerogative of the Crown, in this matter, simply means that the Crown is intrusted with the administration of the waste lands for the public good. It is a great and responsible trust. It is a moral trust. And I ask the Government, and more particularly my hon. Friend, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whether, standing in the position in which he stands in this House, he can, without a blush, make himself responsible for the manner in which the prerogative of the Crown has hitherto been used? I ask him to look at the contrast between two cases—between the case of Canada, where the prerogative has exercised its virtues to the fullest conceivable extent, without check or limitation of any kind, and the case of South Australia, where the prerogative was very wisely waived. With the leave of the House—if I am not already tiring them—I will refer to those two cases more particularly. I 857 wish that all the facts should be before the House, in order that it may the better judge of the results, which the exercise of the prerogative will inevitably produce. The House will find, in the contrast between Canada and South Australia, some encouragement to give extension to the principles of colonization for which I am contending. Canada was specially excluded by my right hon. Friend, the Judge Advocate (Sir G. Grey) from the inquiries before my Colonial Land Committee in 1836. The abuses in Canada had arisen long before my right hon. Friend had become connected with the colonial administration; and I am convinced that my right hon. Friend's only motive was, for the sake of the country, to prevent disclosures, which he knew must be made. Unfortunately, however, for my right hon. Friend's views, Lord Durham's Report has since been published. Lord Durham has investigated the whole case, and has declared the result of his inquiries. There is, therefore, now no hope of preventing a disclosure of the real facts, however discreditable they may be to this country in the eyes of the civilized world. And what is the inference that must be drawn from the statements of Lord Durham? Why, that the land question is mixed up— closely and inextricably mixed up—with the whole history of our difficulties in Canada. The strongest dissatisfaction exists there with the manner in which the prerogative has been exercised, with regard to the disposal of land. The system adopted has been one pernicious to the colony, and useless to us. In the evidence taken before the commission, of which my hon. Friend, the Member for Liskeard was at the head, there is nothing to be found but a tissue of peculation, jobbing, mismanagement, and favouritism, countenanced by all the responsible officers of the Crown, by Legislative councillors, by the Government themselves—every man, in fact, who had any influence, trying to make something out of land, to the ruin and destruction of every body else. And what were the results? In Upper Canada, out of 17,653,000 acres which had been surveyed, there remain only 1,597,019 acres unappropriated, 450,000 of which are required for roads. In Lower Canada, out of 6,169,963 acres surveyed, no less than 4,500,000 have been alienated. In Nova Scotia, of 6,000,000 acres surveyed, 5,750,000 acres are alienated. In Prince 858 Edward's Island, it appears from the evidence, that 1,400,000 acres were alienated in one day, in blocks of from twenty to one hundred and fifty thousand acres. The greater part of this land has been ' granted to persons who have never taken possession of it at all, though, upon the; true dog-in-the-manger principle, they excluded every one else. Three millions of acres are left to this day as clergy reserves, and Crown reserves, scattered over the whole surface of the colony, and operating as a bar to all improvement. Not one-tenth of the land thus wantonly squandered has ever been occupied, and not one-tenth of the part occupied has been brought into cultivation. I find, I moreover, that the whole system of surveying in Canada has been conducted with the same reckless expenditure of means, and with the same unsatisfactory results. I find one gentleman receiving a salary of 500l. a-year for ten years, for superintending the sale of 100,000 acres of wild land. All titles are doubtful, in consequence of the inaccuracy of the surveys. Every duty of a government has been badly performed, while the country has been put to an enormous expense. With respect to emigration, of which the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, spoke in terms of very strong approbation, ' so far, at least, as the emigration agents are concerned, on the occasion of the discussion upon New Zealand last year,— with respect to emigration, I find Lord Durham distinctly stating in his Report, that nothing can be more inefficient, or worse, than the system of emigration to Canada as now conducted. There is great mortality in the emigrant ships, great distress on landing, no sort, of interference by the Government on behalf of the emigrants, no attempt to make provision, or give assistance, during the time that assistance is most required. The people in the interior of the province are dispersed, and isolated from the want of roads. Most of the settlers are exceedingly poor. The markets are few, and almost inaccessible. There are no schools, and the clergy reserves fail to afford the consolations of religion to one-half of the population. The colony is in a state of complete stagnation and decay. The farmers are ruined by the loss of their capital through the want of communications, which they ought to have, and of the emigrants from this country not less than three-fifths 859 have been forced to re-emigrate to the UnitedStates, who gain, by our mismanagement, in population and national wealth. Such is the state to which the Prerogative has reduced one of our finest colonies—a possession which, under happier auspices, might have been one of the most brilliant appendages of the British Crown. We have no means of getting over the difficulties which have been created by our own folly, but by retracing our steps. We must act upon the system, which Lord Durham has, with so much firmness and acuteness, recommended. We must impose a tax on wild land, sufficient to bring a portion of it every year into the market by making it too dear to keep; and we must then apply a sound principle of colonization, and emigration, to the Canadas, as the only way of making amends for the immense evils inflicted by the bad system pursued up to the present time. I ask my hon. Friend, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, if he can gainsay one word of the statement which I have made, as to the system adopted in Canada, by each successive Government for the last sixty years? My hon. Friend cannot do it. When he stands up, he must admit not only that the whole of those evils exist, but that they have been produced by the manner in which the Prerogative has been hitherto applied to the disposal of land in that colony. But have we no example of an opposite system to look to? Yes, we have the example of South Australia, where the Prerogative of the Crown has never been allowed to interfere; and I must now beg the attention of the House to the facts which I am about to state respecting this colony, as they are extremely curious. South Australia was founded on the 15th of August, 1834, by an Act of Parliament. The commissioners of Crown lands were appointed in May 1835, and the first vessel was chartered on the 24th of March, 1836,—three years ago,—at which time South Australia was a desert, on which a human foot had hardly ever trod. What is its condition now? The sales of land in South Australia up to the present time, (24th of June. 1839) were:—
Acres. £. In 1832 we sold 20,860 for 6,513 1833 29,001 12,528 1834 91,399 28,589 1835 271,945 87,097 1836 105,464 £240,091
These were principally sales effected in 860 England, but the total included the sales effected in the colony, up to the 22nd January, 1839, which amounted to 22,000l. As to emigration from this country, it appears that 7,482 persons have gone out, in seventy-one vessels, of 39,107 tons, at a cost of about 18l. for each adult. Adding to these 900 Germans, and about 600 emigrants from the neighbouring colonies, the total would be 8,982. The population of South Australia, therefore, is probably by this time between 9,000 and 10,000 souls. In the port of Adelaide the number of vessels which entered the harbour bearing the British flag, in 1838, was 101. The rise in the value of land in Adelaide is something perfectly incredible, but it only corresponds with the increase which the colony has made in every other respect. Captain Hindmarsh, the first Governor, purchased two rural sections of 134 acres, for 80l. each. They were sold when he was leaving the colony for 1,000 guineas each. The town of Adelaide now contains 700 houses of stone, brick, wood, and pisé, and about 300 mud and rush huts, according to the latest returns. Single acres in Adelaide have been sold for 1,000l. each. The twentieth part of one of these acres, which cost originally 12s. was recently sold for 70l. Mr. John Rigge, a proprietor of the town, lets a town acre at a rent of 50l. per annum. Others have realised higher profits on their purchases. The half of one of Captain Hindmarsh's town acres has been let at 50l. per annum, and an hon. Friend of my own, who was amongst the earliest of the fortunate adventurers in South Australian lands, has informed me that he has just let a town acre, for which he gave 12s., in 1835, to a highly respectable and responsible tenant, at an annual rent of 100l. The ordinary profits of sheep farming in the colony are estimated at 80 per cent. There are two banks in Adelaide, and a third is in progress. We have now South Australian Packet ships, —a South Australian Railway Company with a capital of 25,000l. for constructing a railway from Adelaide to the Port, about six miles; and in addition to the two South Australian newspapers established in the colony, we have the South Australian Record in England, which has a circulation of 2,000 numbers every month, among those who take an interest in the 861 new sources of prosperity which colonization is opening to this country. Now, I entreat the House to contrast these facts with the statements made by Lord Durham with regard to Canada a few months ago. The new principle of colonization in South Australia has been fairly tested, and the increase of the land sales in 1838, as compared with 1837, is the best proof of its soundness. The money realised by sales of land in the last five months of these two years was as follows:—
Acres. Amount. 60,643 at 12s. per acre £36,404 88,095 at 20s. per acre 88,095 148,738 £124,499
Now, it is my desire to see the principles acted upon with regard to South Australia universally applied. I want to see them applied to all colonies, in which they can be fairly brought into operation; but they can only be applied to other colonies in the same way, namely, by an Act of Parliament. It is not a thing that prerogative, without the interference of the Legislature, can do. I insist on this point the more, because it is one on which her Majesty's Ministers seem to entertain a doubt. Without an Act of Parliament the system is worthless as regards the public at large: it never can produce any thing but half measures on the part of Government, and the most unsatisfactory, and insufficient, results. I may be told that the question of jurisdiction is full of difficulty. No doubt it is. Difficulties may be raised, which it will require some management to meet. But the right of the mother country is unquestionable, for the sovereignty of a colony is never abandoned by the parent state. It is not enough that men have been located upon one portion of a colony, in order to have a claim over the remainder. The colonists have their rights within the limits of the settled lands, but the home Government retain its original rights; and in giving a local government to those, who occupy part of the land of a colony it by no means follows, that the inherent rights of the Crown to deal with the waste land which remains, is given to them also. The right of disposing of it is not delegated to any number of settlers, or to any colonial legislature that may be formed. But suppose there be a disputed jurisdiction; we know from Lord 862 Durham's report that the colonial legislatures would gladly concur in the introduction of a sound system of colonization, in which they would have as great an advantage as the mother country. In fact, they claim the sovereignty over waste lands only in the hope of preserving them from abuse, and as a security against jobbing. The present system is just as destructive to them as to us. The question of jurisdiction may, therefore, be very easily settled by the concurrent action of the Imperial Parliament, and the colonial legislature, if the Government be willing to act upon any defined and intelligible plan. We must always retain a great power over the colonies, because they want the stream of emigration which it is in our power to direct upon them. Over emigration, at all events, the mother country has perfect control. If Canada interpose difficulties in the way of a sound system of colonization, this country may direct its emigration to Australia. England is, in fact, bound to direct her emigrants' to those places in which, as colonists, they will be enabled to apply their energies in the most effective manner, and derive from their labour the most ample reward. It is perfectly clear that we have duties as a nation to discharge towards emigrants, whom we induce, on the faith of our representations, to forsake their native land. There is one passage in Lord Durham's Report in which he lays down the full extent of the national obligations towards colonists in the strongest terms. After speaking of the disasters to which emigrants to Canada have been exposed, Lord Durham says:—
1837. 1838. August £480 £4,640 September 160 2,960 October 480 2,640 November 560 1,760 December 480 11,400In the report on emigration, to which I have alluded before, I find favourable mention of the principle of intrusting some parts of the conduct of emigration rather to 'charitable committees' than to an ordinary department of Government. From this doctrine I feel bound to express my entire dissent. I can scarcely imagine any obligation which it is more incumbent on Government to fulfil, than that of guarding against an improper selection of emigrants, and securing to poor persons disposed to emigrate every possible facility and assistance, from the moment of their intending to leave this country to that of their comfortable establishment in the colony. No less an obligation is incurred by the Government, when, as is now the case, they invite poor persons to emigrate by tens of thousands every year. It would, indeed, be very mischievous if the Government were to deprive 863 emigrants of self-reliance, by doing every thing for them; but when the State leads great numbers of people into a situation in which it is impossible that they should do well without assistance, then the obligation to assist them begins; and it never ends, in my humble opinion, until those who have relied on the truth and paternal care of the Government, are placed in a situation to take care of themselves.In this doctrine I entirely concur, and I hope that whenever the question is dealt with by the Government, as it will be, and must be, eventually, this portion of the subject which is most important, since it relates to the well-being of thousands of humble individuals who have not the information necessary to enable them to protect themselves, will receive the most anxious and ample consideration. The Government, however, both in this and in its mode of dealing with the waste lands, has only, in my opinion, to act on a sound and intelligible principle, to insure the hearty concurrence of the colonial legislatures.
I have stated in my resolutions that a separate department would be required to take charge of the details of the plan. My hon. Friend, the Undersecretary for the Colonies, will admit that, with the manifold duties which the Colonial Office has already to discharge, it would be utterly impossible to add to them a task of such magnitude. It is a task which will require the time, and ability, of many able men. The interest and feeling about emigration are now universal. That feeling the Government may guide, but cannot dam up, or control. We find now, in this country, what has not been seen before for the last two centuries, men of high connexions and family interesting themselves in colonization adventures—disposed to give up the refinements of highly-civilized life, with the dependence which is the lot of younger brothers in this country, whose energies can find no outlet in our overcrowded professions—and prepared to carve out their own fortunes in the wilderness. Why should they not have full scope for these feelings, highly-honourable and manly as they are, and not only honourable to themselves, but beneficial to us. My hon. Friend, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, and the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, know that the Government cannot check the tide of emigration. Last year Ministers were entreated to take into their own hands the 864 guidance of the movement by which New Zealand is about to be colonized; and had they consented, they might have prescribed the conditions, and laid down the rules by which all parties would have agreed to abide. They refused, however; and what is the consequence? New Zealand is colonizing itself. Enterprise and energy in this country cannot be repressed by the refusal of the Government to aid them in their attempts. Some of the first men in the kingdom are taking part in the colonization of New Zealand, in a spirit similar to that which distinguishes the history of maritime adventure in the reign of Elizabeth. Lord Durham is at the head of the New Zealand Land Company. Lord Petre is one of the Directors. So are the hon. Member for Thetford (Mr. F. Baring), the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Hunt), the hon. Member for Caithness (Sir G. Sinclair,), the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. J. Abel Smith), and the hon. Member for Sunderland (Alderman Thompson.) The brother of the hon. Member for Leeds (Sir W. Molesworth), has embarked his fortune in this colony, together with the sons of Lord Petre and of the Member for Caithness. The feeling which influences these gentlemen cannot be repressed, but it maybe regulated and guided by the co-operation of the Legislature. This New Zealand Association has sold, up to this day, 666 sections, containing 67,266 acres of land, and the sale has produced within a fraction of 70,000l. There is another part of our colonial dependencies—Natal, and the south-eastern coast of Africa, with respect to which there is an absolute necessity that the Government should adopt some measures. We have had petitions presented from Glasgow, from Liverpool, from the merchants connected with the African trade in London, calling on us to deal with this question of Natal. There are still more cogent reasons fordoing so. There has been a re-emigration, from the Cape, of 5,000 armed Boors of the old Dutch race, who have declared themselves independent of Great Britain, and have seized a large tract of unoccupied territory, which forms the district or country of Natal. This re-emigration is owing as much to economical as to political causes. Population at the Cape is becoming cramped for room, while, in the Natal country, there are fifteen millions of acres of fertile and well-watered land, unoccupied by any na- 865 tive tribes. Under these circumstances, emigration in Southern Africa will go on, and the only question is, whether it shall go on uncontrolled, and under irresponsible guidance, or whether it shall be properly directed. This calls for the instant attention of the Government, which cannot leave matters as they are. The evils of the false and bastard system on which we are now proceeding are most acutely felt. The hon. Member for Kent, whom I now see in his place, has taken great interest in the -question of the aborigines. Now, both in Southern Africa, New Zealand, and the other islands of the South Seas, the aborigines have been the great sufferers by the existing system of emigration, which has inflicted upon the native inhabitants the worst evils of the worst periods of colonization, without any of the good. The scum and refuse of the population of this country are directed there, instead of the best and most orderly. Mr. Williams, the missionary, gives an account of one fiend in human shape who has taken up his abode in one of the South Sea islands. Having brought with him the arts and weapons of civilization, it is stated that he has destroyed, without risk to himself, 700 human beings, during the space of four or five years. The settlers in New Zealand have introduced muskets, gunpowder, rum, spirits, lawless habits, and whatever it is most desirable to exclude. The worst evils of civilised society are thus engrafted upon the passions of the barbarians, and the seed thus sown is producing a plentiful crop of immorality and bloodshed. Against this I ask the friends of the aborigines to set the establishment of regular intercourse, under fixed and well-ascertained laws, and the gradual introduction of civilized habits, arts, industry, and trade, which must be the best preparation for Christianity itself. I cannot understand that false and mawkish sensibility as to the state of the aborigines which opposes a bar to colonization, when with proper precaution, it ought to be as beneficial to them as to ourselves. I shall be told, perhaps, that the two races will not amalgamate; but this is not true. I may be true of the warrior tribes of North America; but there are, at this day, eight millions of Indians employed in agriculture in Mexico, Columbia, and Peru. The great desideratum is, to regulate, upon principles of strict justice, the intercourse between civilized and uncivilized man, and 866 to this a proper disposal of colonial lands, is the road. The rights of the aborigines ought to be respected. They should be most carefully and tenderly treated, and justice should be done them in every way; and therefore I repeat it, they ought no longer to be left a prey to the present system of colonization, which inflicts upon them all the evils of civilization, without communicating any of the good. Why not apply this principle at once to Natal— a country repeatedly ceded to British subjects by Chaka and Dingaan, the Zulu chiefs — rich in pastures — admirably adapted to sheep farming—the natural emporium of the Bechuana and interior rade—and placed by steam communication within four days of the Cape—in lieu of leaving it in its present most anomalous state, an English garrison being stationed at the present moment at Natal, for the express purpose of excluding British ships, which are not allowed, without a special licence, to enter the port? Sir, in preaching this doctrine of colonization, I do not look to any barren extension of territory; I look to a great impulse being given to our manufactures and trade—a relief from pressure here—a rapid increase in our colonies in consequence of that very relief. Colonial markets are the best and least fluctuating of markets for the manufactures of this country. They afford a market which wil survive the convulsions of war or Revolution itself. Plant a colony of men imbued with English wants, tastes, habits, and feelings, upon a virgin soil, where each man can raise ten times the amount of exchangeable produce that he could have raised at home, and you create at once the most certain demand for every article that the manufacturing industry of England can supply. A very short reference to the state of our trade with different foreign countries as compared with our colonial trade will prove this—the one being stationary, the other always an increasing trade when the colonies have fair play, and this whether we retain our political connexion with them or not. It grows with their growth, and strengthens with their strength, even where the connexion with the mother country is dissolved. Thus, I find from some old returns at the Board of Trade, that the exports from England to the United States before the war of Independence, amounted, in 1762, to 1,667,285l., and, in 1773, to 867 2,462,148l. The ruin of England was predicted when these colonies were lost; but how far, in reality, has trade suffered by their independence? In 1827, the exports from England amounted to 7,018,272l.; in 1831, to 9,053,583l.; and, in 1836, to 12,425,605l., or to more than one-half of the value of our shipments to the whole of Europe, with a population fifteen times as great as that of the United States. Look, on the other hand, at our trade with European countries, fluctuating as it does, in consequence of political changes, and of alterations in their tariffs. To Russia, with its enormous population, our exports, in 1827, were only 1,408,970l.; in 1834,1,382,300l.; and, in 1836, 1,743,433l. The exports to other countries were—
Compare with this the trade with our own colonies. The exports to the British North American colonies were, in 1827, 1,397,350l, and in 1836, in spite of the Canadian disturbances, 2,732,291l. The exports to the West Indies were, in 1827, 3,583,222l., and in 1836, 3,736,453l., notwithstanding that those colonies have undergone the greatest social change that was ever accomplished without bloodshed. The increase of trade with other colonies shows something of the rapidity which marks the case of South Australia, to which I have already referred. The exports were:—
In 1827. 1836. To Prussia 174,338l. 160,782l. Germany 4,654,618 4,463,729 Portugal 1,400,044 1,085,934 Mexico & Colombia 906,772 439,994
considerably exceeding the total amount of our exports to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, in 1827, which was 190,776l., and nearly equalling it in 1836, when it reached 284,079l. The exports of Van Diemen's Land have risen in twelve years from 14,000l. to 420,000l.; the amount of wool exported being in 1827, 192,075 lbs., and in 1835, 1,948,800 lbs. The exports of New South Wales were, in 1828, 84,008l., and in 1836, 513,976l.; the quantity of wool in 1828 being 138,498 lbs., and in 1836, 5,240,090 lbs. Sir, these facts are my case. I have now done with details. There are some people, 868 indeed, who say we don't want to extend our colonies—we have "colonies enough." I ask in return, have we markets enough? Have we employment enough? Are wages high enough, and profits high enough? Is there no political discontent—no physical suffering? Yet the National Petition, with its twelve hundred thousand signatures, stands for discussion to-night; a petition which, as I began by proving, is at once the child, and the emblem, of national distress. That distress may be overcome, but not by refusing to look the danger in the face. Our trade is diminishing—our exports are changing their character—foreign competition is growing up. Is it not desirable, and wise, to open a safety-valve in time? I believe that the most effectual remedy will be found in the resolutions which I have laid upon the Table of the House. I believe, that they will tend to promote the welfare of many millions of human beings, and to enlarge the sovereignty of the British Crown. The Government is not called upon to incur any risk in order to make the attempt, but simply to lay down sound principles, which individual energy, and enterprise, will work out. If I am asked what is to be the result of such an experiment, I say the creation of new communities, in which the laws, the language, and the virtues of England, will be preserved long after the ties which connect them with the Mother country are dissolved. As to our future hold upon these communities, we may let futurity take care of itself. It is enough for us to know that, in the plan proposed, there is neither cost, nor outlay, nor risk; while if it succeeds—and it will succeed if we have the wisdom to let our colonies govern themselves, we may have more people in the colonies, and more people at home, and all better off. I hope there will be no lurking indisposition on the part of the Government to entertain the question fairly, in all its comprehensive bearings; and I trust that my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of the Colonies will not, by committing himself against it, shut himself out from the greatest career of practical utility that has ever been opened to an English statesman at a most critical time. With these feelings, Sir, I beg leave to move the following resolutions:—
In 1827. 1836. New South Wales & Van Diemen's Land 449,892l. — 1,180,564l. Cape of Good Hope 216,558 — 482,315 Algoa Bay alone 55,201 in 1834 236,000,
- 1. That the occupation, and cultivation, of waste lands in the British colonies, by means of emigration, tend to improve the condition
869 of all the industrious classes in the United Kingdom, by diminishing competition for employment at home, in consequence of the removal of superabundant numbers, creating new markets, and increasing the demand for shipping and manufactures.
- 2. That the prosperity of colonies, and the progress of colonization, mainly depend upon the manner in which a right of private property in the waste lands of a colony may be acquired; and that, amidst the great variety of methods of disposing of waste lands which have been pursued by the British Government, the most effectual, beyond all comparison, is the plan of sale, at a fixed, uniform, and "sufficient" price, for ready money, without any other condition or restriction; and the employment of the whole, or a large fixed proportion, of the purchase-money, in affording a passage to the colony, cost free, to young persons of the labouring class, in an equal proportion of the sexes.
- 3. That in order to derive the greatest possible advantage from this method of colonizing, it is essential that the permanence of the system should be secured by the Legislature, and that its administration should be intrusted to a distinct subordinate branch of the Colonial Department, authorised to sell colonial lands in this country; to anticipate the sales of land by raising loans for emigration, on the security of future land sales, and generally to superintend the arrangements by which the comfort and well-being of the emigrants are to be secured.
- 4. That this method of colonizing has been applied by the Legislature to the new colony of South Australia with very remarkable and gratifying results, and that it is expedient that Parliament should extend the South Australian system to all other colonies which are suited to its operation.
§ Sir William Molesworth
* In seconding the motion of my hon. Friend, I need not, after his able speech, enter into any lengthened discussion of the principles upon which his motion is founded. My hon. Friend proposes, first, that in every one of the colonies a certain price shall be affixed to its waste lands, that price to vary according to the circumstances of each colony; and, secondly, that the net proceeds of the land-sales shall constitute an emigration fund, each colony to be furnished with emigrant labour in proportion to its own land-sales. The object of these regulations is first, by a fixed price, to put an end to the favouritism and other abuses, which have always resulted, and must, in my opinion, necessarily result from any system of free or conditional grants of land. Secondly, the* From a corrected Report.870 fixed price ought to be a considerable one, in order to prevent individuals from acquiring large tracts of land, without any intention to cultivate them, and merely in the hope, that, at some future period, they may become valuable by the increase of. wealth and population. And here I may remark, that all experience and reason have shown that such excessive appropriations are most injurious to a new community, by interposing deserts, and cutting off communication between its cultivated parts. And, lastly, the object of employing, in the promotion of emigration, the funds raised from the sale of land, is to afford a profitable field of employment for the surplus population of this country, and to provide the purchasers of colonial land with a steady supply of labour, wherewith to render their land productive, and worth the price put upon it. For land, without labour to cultivate it, is worthless. It is evident indeed that a few half sterile acres in this densely-peopled country are, on account of the facility of obtaining hired labour, far more valuable than millions of the, most fertile acres, in a place, where no labours can be obtained to reap the fruits of the soil. Now, if the regulations of my hon. Friend be adopted, the purchasers of colonial land would not merely purchase a certain number of acres, but would indirectly buy the services of a number of labourers proportioned to the amount of land bought. As the chief object of putting a considerable price on waste land is to obtain a supply of labour, it is evident that the price of waste land ought to be so high as to ensure a sufficient supply of labour to cultivate the appropriated land in the most advantageous manner; that is, to raise from it the greatest amount of produce compared to the number of hands employed: for in that case wages and profits would be high, and the community flourishing. For this purpose the price of land in each colony should be such, as, first, to produce a fund sufficient to convey to the colony the number of labourers required; and, secondly, to prevent the labourers, so conveyed, from passing from the state of labourers to that of land-owners, before their place can be supplied by fresh immigrants. These are the objects of the motion of my hon. Friend. They are founded upon the self-evident fact, that land, without labour to cultivate it, is 871 worthless. My hon. Friend, therefore, proposes to make the waste lands of the colonies valuable, by making the means of conveying labour to the colonies. My hon. Friend's motion is likewise founded upon the now acknowledged fact, that individuals (particularly from this country) will not labour for hire, when they can easily become independent landowners, even though their pecuniary gains as petty landowners be much less, than the wages they could earn as labourers. Therefore, if the price of waste land in a colony be very low, emigrant labourers too rapidly pass from the condition of labourers to that of landowners, and steady labour for hire is unattainable; consequently in a colony so circumstanced there would be very little or no combination of labour, no division of employment, no extensive branches of industry, and no profitable investment for capital; and this combination of circumstances would ultimately occasion a cessation of any demand for labour, consequently wages and profits would be low, and the community poor and half civilized. The history of colonization offers but too many instances of such a result having been brought about by an excessive facility of acquiring land. On this account my hon. Friend proposes to render the acquisition of waste lands difficult, by putting a considerable price upon them. In support of this plan I must observe, that experience has shown that, (except when accidental circumstances have obstructed in some considerable degree the appropriation of waste land) the only colonies, in which there have been from their commencement combinable labour and extensive production, and which have rapidly increased in wealth, have been colonies, in which slavery, in some shape or other, has been established; such, for instance, as that of the negroes in the southern states of America, and in our own West-Indian Colonies; of indentured labourers in the early times of Pensylvania, and of convicts in the penal colonies of Australia. As far as production is concerned, the effects of the plan of my hon. Friend would be the same as those of Slavery; namely, it would ensure the existence of combinable labour, of extended and profitable production, and of wealth. The moral means by which this result would be brought about, would be far different from those of slavery. Under 872 slavery, the labourer is directly compelled to toil by the lash, without any prospect of bettering his condition. Under the plan of my hon. Friend, the labourer would be indirectly compelled by the price of land to sell his labour, during a certain time, for high wages, with a hope, however, of ultimately not only acquiring landed property, but likewise of becoming an employer of labour himself: and this hope he could not entertain, were the price of land so low that, in a short period of time, the mere emigrant labourer could acquire a sufficient amount of land to maintain himself upon. I will not, after the able exposition of my hon. Friend, enter into any further discussion of the principles upon which his motion is founded. Though but recently discovered, the justice of those principles have been acknowledged by most persons well versed in the science of political economy. They were first put forth about the year 1829 by my friend, Mr. Wakefield, to whom, as my hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield most justly observed, the great merit of their discovery is exclusively due. In 1833 they were fully developed, in an admirable work of Mr. Wakefield's, called "England and America." The preceding year they had been partially adopted by the Colonial Office, in certain regulations, known by the name of Lord Howick's Regulations, to the utility of which, as far as they went, ample testimony has been borne. In 1833 they were embodied in the Act for creating the colony of South Australia, and they constitute the basis of that rapidly flourishing community. In 1836, they were distinctly recognized by Lord Glenelg, in a circular addressed to the West-Indian Colonies, but unfortunately for the industry of those colonies, they have since that period been entirely overlooked. In the same year they were carefully investigated and approved of by a committee of the House of Commons, of which my hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, was the Chairman. Last year they were fully confirmed by the numerous and intelligent witnesses examined before the Transportation Committee. They form no inconsiderable and by no means the least valuable portion of Lord Durham's Report on Canada. My hon. Friend, the Member for Liskeard, (Mr. C. Buller) has adopted them in his able report on the waste lands of the North-American Colonies. And, 873 lastly, within a few weeks, a company with a capital of 250,000l., has been established on these very principles, to colonize New Zealand. The facts, which I have just stated, show how carefully the principles contained in the resolutions of my hon. Friend have been examined, and how highly they hare been approved of by shrewd and intelligent men. I will now, with the permission of the House, attempt to comply with the wish of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend has requested me, as having paid much attention to the affairs of the penal colonies of Australia, and having; been Chairman of the Transportation Committee, to show to how great and important an extent the principles, upon which his measure is founded, are immediately applicable to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. For that purpose I must first make a few remarks with regard to the history of the industry and productions of those colonies. The House is aware, that the colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788, as a place of punishment for criminals. For many years after its commencement it was inhabited almost entirely by convicts, their superintendants, and the soldiers appointed to guard the prisoners. The first persons who acquired landed property in that colony, were some officers in the regiments quartered there; some convicts, the period of whose sentences had expired; and a very few emigrants. To these persons the Government made grants of land, frequently on the condition that they should maintain a certain number of convicts. These convicts became the servants, or rather the slaves of the settlers; for they were subject to flagellation, and other punishments, for neglect of work. They were employed by their masters in cultivating the land from which they raised a surplus produce. For that surplus produce the Government and convict establishments afforded a most excellent market. By these means, and by others of not so creditable a description, the first settlers rapidly made money; they obtained more land, and more convict servants, and accumulated capital: emigrants arrived from this country, and the colony appeared to be most flourishing. The history of the industry of Van Diemen's Land is nearly the same as that of New South Wales. It was first settled in 1803, as a dependency of New South Wales, and in 1825 was made, independent of that colony; 874 it is indebted for its wealth to the slave labour of transported convicts, and to the large sums expended on it by this country. In proof of the rapid progress of these colonies in production and commerce, I will read to the House a few facts which I have collected from Parliamentary returns. The House is aware, that wool is the staple produce of Australia. The sheep are chiefly of the Merino breed, with a slight cross of those from Bengal and the Cape of Good Hope. Their fleeces are of the finest quality, averaging about two and a half pounds weight, and worth from one to three shillings a pound. In 1796, the number of sheep in New South Wales was only 1,531; during the next year, Captain M'Arthur (a name which will ever be celebrated in the industrial history of that colony), obtained three rams and four ewes of the Merino breed. He applied himself to the rearing of fine-wooled sheep; he obtained, at different times, considerable grants of land from the Government (in all, 18,000 acres), and a number of convicts as shepherds. His flocks were the best in the colony, and to his exertions in no small degree is to be attributed the extraordinary success of this branch of industry in Australia. About the beginning of this century, the number of sheep, in New South Wales, amounted only to 6,757; in 1821 they were estimated at l20,000; in 1830 they had reached 500,000; in 1834 they were not less than one million; and now they probably exceed three millions. The first return, that I am able to find, of the quantity of wool exported from New South Wales, is for the year 1807; it amounted only to2451bs.; in 1815 it had increased to 32,000lbs.; in 1820 to 100,0001bs.; in 1828 to 834,0001bs; and in the same year, from the two colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, l,574,0001bs. were exported. Since 1828 the quantity of wool received from those colonies has increased fivefold; last year it amounted nearly to 8,000,000 of pounds weight, the value of which could not have been less than 600,000l., probably somewhat more. Thus the Australian colonies, which at the commencement of the century did not export a single pound weight of wool, now supplies us with about one-seventh of the whole quantity of wool imported. And I feel persuaded, that in less than, another half century, if those colonies be properly managed, our commerce with them in. wool 875 alone, will exceed our whole trade in that commodity at the present moment. There is known to be, in Australia, an all but indefinite amount of the finest pasturage lands; on these lands, flocks of sheep, with proper care, will double themselves in every two or three years; all that is wanted is, a sufficient amount of labour, and how, by adopting the principles of my hon. Friend, that amount of labour can be obtained, I will presently show. First, however, I will state some other facts, with reference to the progress of the industry of the penal colonies. The value of the fisheries of Australia has increased with great rapidity. They consist chiefly in the pursuit of the black and sperm whales.—In 1828 they produced about 38,000l.; seven years afterwards, in 1835, they had increased nearly sixfold, to 214,000l. The value of the exports from New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, in 1828, did not exceed 181,000l.; in 1836 they amounted to 1,168,000l., or about 15l. a head for every free person. The value of the imports into those colonies, in 1828, was 811,000l.; in 1836, it had more than doubled, being about 1,795,000l., or 23l. a head for every free person. The shipping of these colonies has likewise doubled during the last eight years. The number of vessels entered inwards, in 1828 was 268, With a tonnage of 56,000 tons; in 1836, the number of vessels entered inwards was 561, with a tonnage of 124,000 tons. In 1828, the number of vessels entered outwards was 202, with a tonnage of 44,000 tons; in 1836, the number of vessels entered outwards was 541, with a tonnage of 116,000 tons. Comparing the trade, revenue, and expenditure of the penal colonies with those of the United Kingdom, I find that, in proportion to their respective populations, the exports of the penal colonies, are seven times, the imports ten times, the revenue twice, and the expenditure one and a half times, as great as those of the United Kingdom. For the purpose of showing the great commercial importance of these colonies, and their value to this country, as compared with other portions of our colonial empire, I have instituted a comparison between their trade, and that of the larger of our other colonies. I find that in 1836 the commerce (including under that term the sum of the exports and imports) of this country with the penal colonies, whose population did not then exceed 125,000 persons (con- 876 victs as well as free), was equal to four-fifths of our commerce with the two Canadas, containing a population of one million; to three-fourths of oar commerce with Jamaica, containing a population of 361,000; to nearly double that with the Mauritius, and to one-third of that with our Indian empire. The extent of the market of colonies for the products of the industry of this country may be inferred from the fact, that in 1836, the exports of British produce and manufactures to New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land, were equal in value to about one-eighth of the whole of our exports to the colonial empire, whose population was nearly one hundred millions; to two-fifths of the exports to the North American colonies; to three-sevenths of the exports to India: they were nearly equal to the exports to the West-Indian colonies, both insular and continental; and were four times as great as those to the Mauritius. And, lastly, I must state as a proof of the wealth of these colonies, that in the immediate vicinity of Sydney, the value of land is from 100l, to 1,000l. an acre; and in Sydney itself, it has been sold at the rate of 10,000l. an acre. I wish to direct the attention of the House to the facts I have just stated, in order to impress the House with the importance of the subject which I am now about to discuss; namely, the causes which threaten the industry of these colonies, and the necessity of adopting the principles of my hon. Friend, in order to provide them with the supply of labour, requisite to maintain them in their present state. I have already remarked, that the rapid progress of these colonies is to be attributed, not to the circumstance that the Government has furnished the settlers with land free of expense; but that it has provided them with the combinable labour which renders that land productive, and which consists in convict slaves, transported at the cost of this country; and in addition to this, that the Government has created an excellent market in the form of convict, military, and civil establishments, paid for out of the British estimates. Since the commencement of the two colonies, the Government has granted away nearly seven millions of acres, only a trifling portion of which, and that during the last three or four years, has been paid for. About 110,000 convicts have been transported, most of whom have been assigned as la- 877 bourers; at the present moment there are probably between 30,000 and 40,000 convicts in private service. The amount of British funds, expended upon these colonies since 1786, was estimated by the Transportation Committee to have been at least eight millions of pounds sterling; the sum defrayed out of the public purse for these colonies, in 1837, was 461,000l., having increased from 354,000l. in 1831. These were the elements of the wealth of the penal colonies; namely, land well adapted to the growth of wool and other produce; a steady market at hand; and a constant and abundant supply of labour. As long as a sufficient supply of labour can be obtained, so long will these colonies prosper; and this brings me to the consideration of the present state of the Australian colonies, and to the deficiency of the supply of labour which exists at present, and will augment, unless means be taken of providing those colonies with labour from other sources than from the gaols of this country, which have of rate become inadequate. During the earlier period of these colonies the supply of convict labour exceeded the demand, and the Government granted various indulgences to the settlers, who would take convicts under their charge. At a subsequent period the supply of convict labour only equalled the demand; then there was no difficulty in disposing of convicts, and the strange system of confiding the punishment of offenders to the discretion of private individuals (called the assignment system) acquired its full extension. At present the supply of convict labour is much less than the demand; and the competition for labourers is very great. New South Wales, especially, is suffering from this cause. The flocks of sheep, from the want of shepherds, are twice the size they ought to be; numbers of sheep perish for want of care; and many proprietors, I have been informed, have been obliged to destroy their lambs. It was estimated last year, that no less than ten thousand labourers were required for that colony alone. Every arrival of late from New South Wales has brought complaints of the want of labour. The diminution in the general and in the land revenue last year may in some degree be attributed to this cause, the effects of which will every year become more striking, unless vigorous measures be adopted to remove the disproportion now existing between the demand 878 for, and the supply of labour. That disproportion is the result of a variety of causes; first, of the great increase of capital to which I have already referred; and which has occasioned a great increase in the demand for labour, in order to render that capital productive. Secondly, the deficiency of labour may be partly attributed to the manner in which the Australian colonies have been peopled; namely, chiefly by convicts, with a very unequal proportion of the two sexes. Population has, in consequence, increased very slowly; as the convicts who die rarely leave behind them children to supply their places. The fresh importations of convicts does little more than fill up the void occasioned by deaths, and by the secession of convicts from the class of labourers. Thus the transportation of convicts does not actually afford any additional supply of labour to the settlers in New South Wales, nor enable them to extend their field of production, in proportion to the extension of their capital. Thirdly, the employment of criminals as labourers has made various descriptions of labour discreditable for persons who have not been convicted. The free emigrants, who of late years have arrived in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, are therefore disinclined to adopt occupations similar to those performed by convicts; they are unwilling to labour in company, and thus to confound themselves with criminals under punishment. Precisely the same feelings act upon free persons in the penal colonies as operate upon the white population in the southern states of America, and which make it disgraceful for a white man, and cause him to be stigmatised as a mean white, if he consent to work in those kinds of industry which are the usual employments of the black race. And, lastly, this disinclination to labour for another is strengthened in the Australian colonies by the facility with which land can be obtained. For the price of land is so low, that any person, who has obtained a small sum of money, can set up for himself; and even the mere emigrant labourer can in a short time, by the saving from his high wages, become the independent proprietor of a small plot of land. These are the main causes of the disproportion between the supply of, and the demand for labour in New South Wales. In Van Diemen's Land the same causes do not operate- to the same extent; because the 879 territory of that colony is comparatively limited, and most of the fertile land is already occupied. In Van Diemen's Land, therefore, the yearly importation of convicts from this country is nearly sufficient for the labour market of that colony. In New South Wales this is not the case. If, however, that source of labour be cut off, without new channels of supply being opened, the want of labour would be most intensely felt in both colonies. Now I feel convinced, that no government can long permit the existence of the present system of transportation. The employment of convicts as slaves (that is, the assignment system), has been condemned by every authority, as a most unequal and improper punishment. It was allowed, even by those most interested in the economical prosperity of the penal colonies, to be the source of innumerable and incalculable moral evils; and to have produced communities, as depraved as they are wealthy; in both respects without parallel in the world. Its discontinuance has been recommended by the noble Lord, the Member for Stroud (Lord John Russell), and by the late Secretary of Slate for the Colonies (Lord Glenelg). Orders have been transmitted to the governors of these colonies to the effect that no more convicts shall be assigned to settlers. Whether or not convicts should continue to be sent to these colonies to be punished in gaols or penitentiaries, is (though in itself a question of great importance) one that I will not now discuss. I shall call the attention of the House to this subject on a future, and, I trust, early occasion, when I shall bring under the consideration of the House the report and resolutions of the Transportation Committee. It is the continuanee or discontinuance of convict slavery; that is, of the assignment system, which affects the pecuniary interests of the penal colonies. The colonists want convicts to rear their flocks, and till their fields, and for no other purposes. Their present prosperity will vanish if they be deprived of their present supply of convict labour, unless they obtain labour from some other source. They will cease to flourish, especially in New South Wales, even if they retain the present supply o convict labour, unless an additional quantity of labour be procured from other quarters. How, I ask, can such a supply of labour be obtained, as will compensate for the abolition of transportation, or at 880 least of the assignment system, and will furnish a regularly increasing amount of labour in proportion to the increase of the field of production? So severely was the want of labour felt in New South Wales, that it was proposed to import Hindoos, as indentured labourers, who were to be returned to their native country at the end of a certain period of time. With regard to this plan, I must observe, that experience has fully shown, that it is impossible to enforce bonds of indenture without a system of punishment, that would make the indentured labourer almost a slave. It has generally happened, when the indentured labourer was of the same race as his master, and equal to him in intelligence, that he has broken his indenture, and sold his labour to the highest bidder for it. On the other hand, when the labourer was of an inferior race, he was first entrapped, and subsequently reduced by his master to a state of bondage. Now, every one, who is aware of the ignorance and helplessness of the Hill coolies (the particular cast of Hindoos proposed to be imported as indentured labourers), must at once perceive, that this mode of supplying New South Wales with labour would, in reality, establish a species of slavery in that colony. The Colonial office has, therefore, very properly refused to assent to such a proceeding. Moreover if the indentured labourers were to be ultimately sent back to their own country, the importation of a few thousand Hindoos annually would be a mere temporary expedient, wholly inadequate to that extension of industry of which New South Wales is capable. On the other hand if they were permanently to settle in the colony, they would form a separate class, distinct in colour, language, and religion; and a state of society would ensue, such as, I think, no statesman would desire to produce in Australia, after the ample experience, which we have had, of the pernicious consequences of a similar state of society in our West Indian colonies and in the Southern States of America. Emigration from this country is, therefore, the only source from which labour can be advantageously supplied to New South Wales. But here several difficult questions arise. If transportation continue, the emigration of free labourers to the same place, where criminals are sent to be punished, is most objectionable; first, because it would destroy a great portion of 881 the terrors of transportation, inasmuch as the condition of a labourer in the penal colony is represented to be better than that of one in this country; and the mere banishment, which is generally considered to be the greater portion of the punishment, would in consequence be considered rather in the light of a benefit than of an evil. Secondly, because transportation has produced, and tends to perpetuate, in the penal colonies, a state of morality worse than that of any other community in the world. This has been amply proved by the report of the transportation committee. I entertain, therefore, the most serious doubts whether the Government is morally justified in encouraging the industrious classes of this country in emigrating to a community, where iti all but certain that their moral principles will be subverted by association with the criminals, who are compelled to accompany them. To send 5,000 criminals and as many free emigrants to labour together in the same place is an anomaly in legislation, in defence of which no arguments of any validity can be urged. If transportation continue, it would be far better to circumscribe the penal colonies, to allow none but offenders to dwell in them, and to make them nothing else than large gaols, such as was the condition of Van Diemen's Land under Sir George Arthur. New South Wales should then be limited to the territory which is now occupied. And the remainder of it, especially Port Philip, and the surrounding district of most fertile land, called Australia Felix, should be established into a new colony, untainted by convicts, and inhabited only by free, industrious, and intelligent emigrants. Such a colony would in a short time afford a market for the productions of this country, and a commerce, as extensive as those of the present penal colonies. It is true the penal colonies would still be the sinks of iniquity and vice they now are; they would not become worse, that is impossible. They would not, however, contaminate the whole of that vast and fertile district, which at present is included within the boundaries of New South Wales. Undoubtedly this proposition is one highly injurious to the interests of the free settlers of New South Wales. But it is the only alternative which, in my opinion, the continuance of transportation permits. Some of the inhabitants of New South Wales claim a vested interest in the 882 labour of the criminals of this country; if so, they must take it with all its consequences. They have selected a gaol as their abode, they must submit to its inconveniences and sufferings. They have chosen to dwell amongst offenders, they must not expect that the legislature will encourage, or even permit innocent men to become their companions. For I consider the legislature to be equally bound to guard over the moral, as well as the economical interests of its subjects. It ought to prevent those, over whom it exercises authority, from sacrificing their dearer and more important, though remoter, interests, for the sake of some minor, though immediate, advantage; especially when such persons are liable to act in ignorance, as in the case with the greater portion of the emigrant labourers. I myself cannot conceive how any virtuous any high-minded man, any person in whom the desire of pecuniary gain has not obliterated every other and better feeling, can consent to become an inmate of these colonies, if transportation continue, unless under the most erroneous impressions of the consequences of that system of punishment. Indeed, I feel firmly convinced that, with the continuance of transportation, all the better portion of the inhabitants of these colonies, and of the emigrants, will remove to the other Australian communities, that are now springing up, where similar descriptions of industry are carried on, where a better state of so-city exists, and where free institutions will soon be established, which can never be the case in the penal colonies, as long as convicts are transported. Sir, if transportation be abolished, I see no obvious difficulty in maintaining the present economical prosperity of these colonies, and in purifying them. The motion of my hon. Friend points out the means; all that is required is the inclination and the determination on the part of the Government vigorously to adopt those means. In order that New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land may continue in their career of wealth, the place of the thirty or forty thousand convicts, who are now labourers in the penal colonies, must be supplied by a similar number of free labourers. And here I must remark, that 40,000 free men will produce far more than 40,000 convicts; for there was no fact better established before the transportation committee than that, even at the present high rate of 883 wages, free labour, when it can be obtained, is more profitable to its employer than the compulsory labour of unpaid convicts. And, likewise, I should observe that the whole of this amount of labour would not be required at once; for a certain period of time must elapse before the whole of the convicts, who are now employed as labourers, can be withdrawn from private service, or could become free by the expiration of their terms of punishment This period should in my opinion, not exceed four or five years; after which no person should be permitted to be owners of convict labourers. In addition to these circumstances, it should be remarked that a considerable portion of the now convicts would, on becoming free, become labourers. It is therefore, evident that the emigration, during the next four or five years, of 40,000 labourers would fully compensate for the abolition of transportation. But, as I have already observed, the present supply of convict labour is insufficient for the demand for labour in New South Wales; therefore, some additional free emigration would be required for that colony, in order to prevent any check to the progress of its industry. It is all but impossible accurately to calculate what that additional emigration ought to be. I feel persuaded that if these colonies were provided during the next four or five years with 100,000 emigrants, of equal proportions of men and women, not only would the cessation of the assignment system, and of the supply of convicts from this country, not be felt on the industry of these communities; but they would be amply furnished with labour, and with a population which, unlike the present one, would rapidly increase. So far with regard to the effects of such an amount of emigration on the industry and protection of these colonies. Its moral effects would be still more striking. Whereas at present, with a small free emigration, a considerable transportation of convicts demoralises the free emigrants, and is a perennial source of vice; a large free emigration and no transportation would soon swamp the remainder of the convict population, and establish a new standard of morality. At the last census in 1836, the population of these colonies consisted of 120,000 persons half of whom were, or had been, convicts. Now, it is no exaggeration to suppose, that if 100,000 emigrants were 884 carried out free of expense during the next five years, what with those who would emigrate at their own expense, and with births, the population of these colonies would at the end of that period be not less than 300,000 souls, of whom not more than one-seventh, or between forty and fifty thousand would have been convicts. This result, the House must acknowledge, would be a most desirable one; the permanent prosperity of these colonies would be insured; an increasing trade with this country would be certain, and their population would be constituted of such materials, as would fit them for receiving those free institutions and that self-government, without which good colonial government is impossible. It will be asked, what would be the cost of such an amount of emigration, and how could the money be raised? Twenty pounds a-head would, under a proper system of management, more than cover the expenses of passage, of salaries to the agents of emigration, and of all incidental expenditure. For I find that the cost to the Government for the passage of convicts to the penal colonies was between thirteen and fourteen pounds a-head in 1836. Seventeen pounds a-head were allowed by the Government to the Committee for Female Emigration to Australia; and that committee contracted with their own secretary, Mr. John Marshal, to procure women and convey them to Australia for sixteen pounds a-head, out of which he is said to have made a very large profit. According to the Commissioners of Colonization for South Australia, the whole cost of emigration to that colony was about eighteen pounds for every adult. For these reasons it appears to me that twenty pounds a-head would be more than sufficient to defray all the expenses of the emigration, which I have proposed. At this rate, two millions would be required for the emigration of one hundred thousand persons; and this sum, spread over a period of four or five years, would amount to between four or five hundred thousand pounds a year for the next four or five years. How can this sum be raised? I think, if it were necessary, that a good case could be made out for calling upon this country to contribute a portion of the money, in consideration of the evils which it has inflicted upon these colonies, by making them an abode of criminals; and in consideration of the 885 enormous extension of commerce, which such an emigration would undoubtedly occasion. It is not, however, in my opinion, in any way necessary that there should be any call upon the public purse for this object. The resources of these colonies are amply sufficient for the purpose of carrying on that amount of emigration. The sum required might easily be raised on the security of the sales of waste lands. In proof thereof, I wish to call the attention of the House to the amount of the sales of waste land in the penal colonies. In 1832 the system commenced of selling waste land at the upset price of 5s. an acre; in that year, 27,000l. were raised from the sale of land; in 1833, 33,000l. were obtained; in 1834, 48,000l.; in 1835, 104,000l.; in 1836, 160,000l.
This large sum has been raised at the upset price of five shillings an acre; a price universally acknowledged to be far too low; in consequence, this year the Government has raised the price of land to 12s. an acre. I believe that 1l. an acre, the price recommended by the Transportation committee, would not be too high. For the fixed price of land in the neighbouring colony of South Australia is 1l. an acre, and it appears from a statement, with which the colonization commissioners of South Australia have favoured me, that that price has not been found to be exorbitant. Since the commencement of that colony in 1836, the commissioners have sold 133,195 acres; the first 58,995 acres at 12s. an acre, the remainder at 1 l. an acre; they have received for the sales of land 109,597l.; they have sent out 7,115 emigrants in 66 vessels, containing 36,294 tons; the whole amount of population is not known, but I believe, what from births and from the emigration from the other Australian colonies, it is not at present less than 10,000 souls. In October last the number of sheep and lambs were 22,500, and of horned cattle, 2,175. The future sales of land this year, taking as a guide the land which has been sold since the commencement of 1839, are estimated at not less than 5,000 acres a-month, and the number of emigrants this year will be more than 5,000 persons. These facts, I think, cannot fail to produce the conviction, that 1l. an acre is by no means too high a price for the wealthy communities of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. At this price the land 886 revenue of the penal colonies would greatly increase, if it be entirely employed in emigration. At the present moment the sale of land is limited by the deficiency of labour, arising partly from the small emigration; for only an inconsiderable portion of the existing land fund has been devoted to emigration; and partly from the low price of land, which has tempted many of the emigrants immediately to become small proprietors. Now, if there were the security of an Act of Parliament that the price of land would not be lowered, as might be the case, according to the whim and caprice of every hon. Gentleman who becomes Colonial Secretary; if the regulations of my hon. Friend were confirmed by the Legislature; and if a facility be given to the disposal in this country of colonial lands by the sale of land warrants; I am convinced that I do not exaggerate, when I suppose that, with an emigration of 20,000 persons annually, and with a price on waste lands from 12s. to 1l. an acre, the land revenue would soon increase from 160,000l., the amount in 1836, to above 200,000l. a-year. Therefore, I conceive that upon the security of those sales a sum of two millions could easily be raised, at less than the colonial rate of interest, namely, 10 per cent.; still more easily could the sum of four or five hundred thousand pounds be raised every year for the next four or five years, at the same rate of interest. But this amount of interest would be excessive, and would put the colony to an unnecessary expense. If the Government would guarantee a loan, it is evident that the sum of two millions could be raised at a very small premium on the rate of Government securities, say between three and a half and four per cent.: at this rate the interest upon the loan of two millions would be between seventy-five and eighty thousand pounds, or about one-half of the amount of the land revenue of these colonies in 1836; leaving, therefore, even if the land revenue did not increase (an extravagant supposition), a considerable sum for gradually paying off the debt. I think the House must perceive, that in every one of these statements I have put the cost of emigration, the number of emigrants required, and the expense of the loan at the highest amount. I am therefore warranted in concluding that there would be no difficulty in carrying into effect the plan I have proposed. This plan is the result of much and care- 887 ful consideration on my part. It has unexpectedly received the strongest confirmation of which it is susceptible. I have, within a few days, obtained from New South Wales the Report of the Committee of the Legislative Council on Emigration, which Committee sat towards the close of last year. From that report it appears that a plan precisely similar to my own, namely, of raising 200,000l. on the security of waste lands, to be expended on emigration, has been submitted to the Legislative Council; and that a letter had been addressed to the Council, giving the sanction and approbation of numerous persons of property and intelligence to the proposal in question. I understand the committee referred this proposal to eighty-four of the most intelligent and extensive proprietors in the colony; that fifty-eight expressed themselves in terms of the highest approbation of the measure; eight only declined to give an opinion, and eighteen objected to it, chiefly from the fear of its becoming a job, and that there was no security that the whole money would be applied to immigration, as the Colonial Government had already applied a considerable portion of the proceeds of the land sales to other purposes than those of immigration. If the motion of my hon. Friend were carried, the only objection to this plan would therefore be removed, and I am assured that the colony would be unanimous in its support. To conclude, I entreat the earnest consideration of the House and of the Government to this subject, as the only means of abolishing transportation without endangering the prosperity of the penal colonies; as the only means of continuing that prosperity, and improving the moral state of these communities. It is a means, likewise, of affording, without any expense to this country, the most extensive fields for the employment of our surplus population. It would create a commerce so vast that the imagination could hardly form a conception of what, in a brief period, it might not become. I am profoundly convinced that the southern regions of the globe, Australia, New Zealand, and the myriads of islands of the Polynesian sea, might ere long form the most important markets for the productions of the industry of Great Britain, and amply compensate for those markets which we are on the eve of losing in the Old World; provided those fair and fertile 888 portions of the earth's surface were peopled with men of the British race, with wants, feelings, and desires, similar to our own; and this, I firmly believe, might be accomplished by that plan of systematic emigration which was proposed by my hon. Friend, and to which I give my most cordial support.
said, that whatever difference of opinion might be entertained on this subject, or on the general principle involved in the resolutions proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, or in any of those various details by which his hon. Friend proposed to carry those resolutions into effect, he was quite sure that it was the unanimous opinion of the House, that no greater or more important subject, no question more truly deserving the serious attention of the Parliament, could possibly be brought under their consideration; he agreed with his hon. Friend, that as it was the duty at all times of the Government of this country, and of the colonies, to encourage emigration, by every fair and legitimate means, it was a duty still more incumbent upon them on many accounts at the present time. During the short period of time which he had had the honour to be connected with the Colonial Office, it was impossible for him not to have been forcibly struck with the circumstances that had been adverted to, that not only on the part of the labouring classes of this country, but also on the part of a class of persons who had hitherto shown a reluctance to leave their native country, many persons in the higher conditions of life, and possessed of small capital, had shown a most remarkable desire at the present moment to seek in other colonies, and in the distant possessions of the British empire, the means of acquiring an honest independence, which was not so readily afforded in the mother country. He agreed in the sentiment of his hon. Friend, and so far from this being a matter of reproach to those persons, and so far from those persons being discouraged, it reflected the highest honour upon them; and he rejoiced in thinking, that in leaving this country they did not estrange themselves from its real and permanent interests, but on the contrary, they proved their attachment to those interests by trusting themselves to those distant possessions to which* From a corrected Report889 they were proceeding. He would say, therefore, that assuredly he had anything rather than a prejudice against emigration; on the contrary, it always appeared to him among the many glories and blessings permitted to this country, as a means by which Providence had allowed the English race and language to spread over so vast a surface, the manners, laws, liberties, and institutions of this country; there could be no more solemn duty imposed upon them than that they should avail themselves to the utmost of the vast means which Providence had been pleased to put into their hands, in order that they might effect the greatest blessing given to the human race—namely, wherever there were unoccupied lands, affording the means of extending the influence of the British nation, that they should avail themselves of such opportunities. He must fairly confess to the House that he could have wished, consistently with his duty, not to have been called upon to deal with this question so soon after his connection with the Colonial Office, or to have addressed the House upon a subject of so much complication and difficulty, to which many Gentlemen present had had an opportunity of paying much more attention than he had been able to afford to give it. At the same time he felt bound to make some statement in reply to the motion of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend began his speech by attacking the system of disposing of the waste lands of the Crown, which before the last ten years had prevailed. He could assure his hon. Friend and the House that of this system they should hear no defence or apology from him. System he could hardly call that which would be more accurately described as a total want of all system. It was really quite melancholy to see the mischief that had been done by that pestilent system of jobbing that existed. It was impossible to read the Earl of Durham's account of the North American colonies, and to reflect upon what had been done there under the old system, and what they might have been under another system, and what they were now, without the strongest feelings of indignation and regret. He could, therefore, assure his hon. Friend that he would be disappointed if he expected that he (Mr. Labouchere) should in any degree defend that former system. But, like many other things, it was difficult to retrace their steps.
890Revocare gradum superasque evadere ad aurasHic labor, hoc opus est.Immediately to return to sounder principles might be attended with very considerable difficulties, and a just and reasonable Government must proceed with caution in a question surrounded by so many difficulties, and in which the rights and feelings of the people of the colonies and the Legislatures were so much involved. He could only assure the House, on the part of the Government, that he should extremely rejoice if he found a disposition, as he had reason to believe existed, among the local Legislatures of the North American provinces to take the most effectual means of getting rid of the existing abuses, and so far from throwing any impediment in their way, the Government would be glad to assist them in getting rid of them. As to the resolutions of his hon. Friend, in the first place he was not prepared to deny what the hon. Member called the fundamental principle of the disposition of colonial lands. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend, that free grants were altogether an abuse; and he altogether agreed with him, that the only just means for the disposition of the lands of the Crown in the colonies was by impartial sale at a just and sufficient price. But while he entirely assented to that principle, he found several details in his hon. Friend's speech from which he would not say that he entirely dissented, but upon which he confessed he had not sufficient means to give any decided opinion; but he did say this, that there was enough of difference of opinion among persons whose authority was great in that House — persons of official station and personal experience in the colonies—persons who had the best means of understanding the subject, and who had considered it impartially and closely—to induce him to think that it would be extremely unadvisable that that House should pledge itself not only to the general principles of these resolutions, but to the details by which he sought to carry them into execution. The first important principle in these resolutions was that contained in the second resolution, in which it was stated "that amidst the great variety of methods of disposing of waste lands which have been pursued by the British Parliament, the most effectual beyond all comparison is the plan of gale 891 at a fixed, uniform, and sufficient price." This plan obtained at the present moment in the colonies, where the mode of sale was by auction to the highest bidder, with a minimum price. He found many of the most intelligent persons with whom he had had communication—some of them governors of colonies, who had the amplest means of forming an opinion—who all believed that it would be unwise to act on the principle recommended by his hon. Friend, namely, that all lands, however different in situation and soil, however circumstanced as to the convenience of rivers and towns, should be sold precisely at the same price. He found a different scheme more generally recommended— namely, setting on a sufficient minimum price, and then throwing the land into the market, leaving it to competition to determine by auction whether a greater price ought not to be given. His own impression was certainly in favour of selling by auction, which was the system which had been adopted in the United States of America. He thought that under the new system proposed, there would be extreme difficulty in guarding against jobbing and unfair preferences where there happened to be valuable land. He would on this subject refer the House to the opinion of an intelligent and distinguished public officer, Sir G. Gipps, Governor of New South Wales, who said, in one of his despatches, that nothing, in his opinion, was so essential to the prosperity of a colony as to maintain inviolate the principle of selling all lands by public auction to the highest bidder. He warned the House against committing themselves to a principle like that proposed, until they had had further time for investigation. He would come to the next part of the resolution, which went on to recommend "the employment of the whole or a large fixed portion of the purchase money in affording a passage to the colony, cost free, to young persons of the labouring classes, in an equal proportion of the sexes." He agreed, as a genera principle, that it was most desirable that a large proportion of the money received from the sale of land, should be devoted to the purpose of promoting emigration; but he objected to the House pledging itself to any strict and definite proposal on this subject. The colony of South Australia was held out as a model for all future colonies, and in the fourth resolution 892 it was stated that, "this method of colonising had been applied to the new colony of South Australia with very remarkable and gratifying results." Now he begged to call the attention of the House to what had actually taken place in that colony. The fundamental principle on which that colony was founded was, that the net proceeds of the land should be devoted to the purposes of emigration. It was quite true that in their first bill this principle was strictly and rigidly laid down. The commissioners were forbidden from devoting a shilling to any other purpose whatever, and he was quite sure what he was going to say would be a warning to the House against precipitately laying down abstract rules. For what was the fact. Not a year passed over when the promoters of the first bill came and asked for an important qualification. They had been borrowing money at 10l. per cent, to carry on the general government of the colony, and finding this a very extravagant mode of proceeding, whilst they were getting money through the sale of their land, they brought in a bill to enable the land fund to be loaned to the fund for the general government; or, in other words, to apply the proceeds of the land fund to the general government. Was he not, then, justified in calling upon the House to pause before they committed themselves to any plan of a similar description? But there was a claim of a more sacred and important nature to be provided for than even emigration, most important as that was—he meant the protection of the interests of the aboriginal inhabitants. One of their first objects should be to see that those persons were duly protected and taken care of out of the proceeds of the land funds. There were also other expenses, such as road-making and surveying, which might very properly be charged upon the land funds. These were grounds against laying down a strict and invariable rule, which, however well they looked on paper, would, he was sure, fail in practice. The next point adverted to in the resolutions to which he would call the attention of the House, was the recommendation "that in order to derive the greatest possible advantage from this method of colonising, it is essential that the permanence of the system should be secured by the legislature, and that its administration should be intrusted to a distinct subordinate branch of the colonial department, authorised to sell colonial 893 lands in this country, to anticipate the sales of land by raising loans for emigration on the security of future land sales." He was very far from saying that it might not be right and proper, under circumstances, to anticipate the land revenues of a country for purposes of this kind; but he felt that this was a principle which ought not to be brought into action without the greatest caution, and under very strict limitations, and he for one would object to Parliament holding out vague promises which it might not be expedient to act up to afterwards. He had already ventured to read a passage from a dispatch of Sir G. Gipps, on one part of this subject, and he would beg leave to read another, as he was sure it would have much more weight than any thing he could say. Sir G. Gipps said, that with regard to the project of pledging the land revenue to purposes of emigration, it should be recollected that this was the only fund which the executive government had to defray any charges which the legislative council might be disposed to reject; that it was impossible to maintain in a distant colony a sufficient check over imprudent expenditure. He begged pardon, he was reading a wrong extract. He was not by any means sorry that he had read it, but the passage he had meant to read was, that the carrying on of emigration on a large scale by means of a loan, would be to create a perpetual debt against the colony, which experience had taught them would not easily be got rid of, and moreover, it would be extremely difficult to administer the government of the colony with a proper economy in the midst of the factitious wealth produced by the loan. His hon. Friend the member for Sheffield had only done justice to his noble Friend near him (Lord Howick), when he stated that he had been instrumental in placing the system with regard to the disposal of the land revenues on a much better footing than it was previous to the year 1831. At this period the regulations of Lord Goderich were adopted and the effect produced by them on the land revenues of Australia, and the emigration to that country was very remarkable. In 1830, the land revenue of New South Wales amounted to 1,896l. This was under the old system. In 1831 they amounted to 3,018l., in 1832, to 13,683l., in 1833, to 26,272l., in 1834, to 43,489l., in 1835, to 89,875l., in 1836, to 108,558l., and in 1837, to 127,866l. This afforded 894 a most encouraging proof of the extent to which these resources had been called into operation under a fair and proper system. He would state how the money had been applied to emigration during that time. In the year 1832, 5,177l. had been devoted to emigration, in 1833, 9,025l.; in 1834, 7,979l.; in 1835, 10,764l.; in 1836, 11,794l.; and in 1837, 44,729l. The House would observe, that the year 1837 was the first year in which the Government system of emigration had been really carried into operation. In 1838, when the system came fully into operation, no less a sum than 110,000l. was devoted to the purposes of emigration to New South Wales alone. No less than twenty-four emigrant ships went out, containing 6,500 persons; and during that year the total number of emigrants to New South Wales amounted to 10,000. He thought that this statement would satisfy the House, that there was every disposition on the part of the Government to give encouragement to well-regulated emigrations, but he must warn the House against supposing that it was impossible to send emigrants to a colony in too great numbers, in the absence of previous inquiry and regulations. Great temporary evil might occur from taking to a particular colony at a certain time a very large number of emigrants; and at that moment, by the last account from Sir G. Gipps, it appeared that even in New South Wales, owing to the accidental circumstance of a long drought, there was no demand for labour, and persons might be seen with their hands crossed, unable to find employment. If they took from the colonies all control, and gave it to an office in London, he did feel that the results might be very disastrous and unfortunate. He did not wish to trouble the House with any further observations. He was truly sensible of the deep importance of this subject, and he might say for the noble Marquess who held the seals of the Colonial Office, that there was no subject on which he was more anxious. He could assure his hon. Friend and the House, that his noble Friend approached this subject with a mind wholly unprejudiced, and that he was most anxious at the first season of leisure to examine the question in all its details, with a sincere anxiety to do what was best for the interest of the colonies and of the mother country. He hoped 895 that his hon. Friend would rest satisfied with this assurance, and that he would be of opinion that this was a question which might more properly be left to the executive. He did not say this with any wish to evade the question, as he was animated solely by a desire cautiously and carefully to come to a conclusion that would most conduce to the interest and the welfare of the colonies, and of the mother country.
§ Mr. Warburton
hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, would not rest satisfied with the mere assurance of the Government that this matter would receive from them due consideration. The question stood ripe for the decision of the Government upon it. What was asked for by the present motion was this: that certain fixed principles should be laid down, on which the Government, in all future sales of colonial land, and in the application of the produce of those sales, should be bound to act: that the Colonial Office should be deprived of that discretion which it now did, or might in future, exercise according to its will and pleasure, of acting or declining to act upon those principles. The Government understood those principles; for they had already acted upon them, to a limited extent, in New South Wales, and in the new colony of South Australia; and by these two experiments which had been eminently successful, the practical importance to this country of an adherence to these principles had been fully ascertained. Why then delay passing an act which should be a rule for the guidance in time to come of the Colonial Office. In the place of such a rule what had they now to depend upon but the capricious exercise of the prerogative; and with what utter disregard to the interests of the colonies that prerogative was exercised, an example was afforded in the case of Nova Scotia. What could be thought of the attention paid by the mother country to the interests of that colony, when, in order to pay a gambling debt of the Duke of York, all the mines and minerals of Nova Scotia were at one fell swoop granted away to that royal Duke? The grant was sold to a London silversmith, to whom these important rights were thus transferred in perpetuity. The important coal-mines of that colony, situated like those of our own country, near the sea coast, on the proper working 896 of which in future time might depend the navigation by steam of those seas, and the maintenance in that quarter of our naval superiority, the Crown by one lavish grant, had assigned away. If a man wished for a libel upon our system of colonial government, where could he find a stronger one than in the fact he had adduced? Acts, pregnant with mischief, such as these, done in utter disregard to the interests of the colony, would almost justify rebellion. The under Secretary for the Colonies had stated that other demands than demands for emigration, might be made upon the land revenues; demands which ought to be defrayed from that source: for the sake of argument, grant that to be the case. He would then say let one-fourth or one-fifth be applied for those demands, and let three-fourths or four-fifths be applied for the purposes of emigration. Let them only lay down a fixed principle, not to be set aside or over-ruled by the mere dictum of a Colonial Secretary, but a permanent basis to which the country could look with certainty. After the luminous exposition of that principle given by the hon. Member for Sheffield and the hon. Baronet, the Member for Leeds, he did not consider that he need expatiate on that part of the subject. He only wished to express his conviction that the present and future prosperity of our colonies mainly depended on the carrying into complete effect these principles, first expounded by the clear intelligence of Mr. Wakefield. He sincerely trusted that some distinct statement would go forth from the Government that they intended steadily to apply the proceeds of the colonial land revenues in aid of emigration. There was one part of the plan of his hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, from which he dissented, and that was the reservation to the Commissioners of power to raise loans by way of mortgage, in anticipation of the annual revenue, to accrue from the sale of lands. This would occasion an unsteady and fluctuating demand for emigrant labour in the mother country, a great demand in those years when the capital thus received by loan was to be expended, a slack demand in those years when they had only the surplus annual revenue to apply. Now it was of importance to the mother country, that the yearly demand for the labourers who were to emigrate, and for the shipping to be employed in 897 conveying the labourers, should be, as nearly as might he, constant, or steadily progressive. Desirous as he was of promoting; this plan of emigration, as a means of relieving the pressure of our population on the means of subsistence, he begged to guard himself against his being supposed to maintain the doctrine, I hat the Legislature, by affording this manner of relief, was in any degree exempted from the obligation of taking those other measures which would give life to industry at home, and advance the prosperity of the operatives; from the obligation of allowing our artisans freely to exchange the work of their hands with the produce of other countries of whatever description. Free trade in articles of subsistence, and a well devised system of emigration, were the means best calculated to promote the permanent prosperity of the working classes in this country.
§ Mr. Lucas
hoped that an effect would be produced in the country respecting this subject commensurate with its magnitude and importance, for he did not think that the hon. Member who had brought forward the motion had in any degree exaggerated the importance of the subject. The hon. Member had spoken of the distress that prevailed, and though he (Mr. Lucas) did not agree with him either as to the causes or the extent of that distress, yet it fully justified him in bringing forward his motion in the manner in which he had done. If distress prevailed to a great extent in Liverpool and Manchester, they would recollect that it had been stated that in Liverpool there were 70,000, and in Manchester and Salford 90,000 of the poorer classes of his countrymen partakers of that distress, and no doubt active competitors for the reduced and inadequate wages which the English labourer received. He thought that, with respect to Ireland, the subject of emigration was of considerable importance. With respect to the full scope of the entire of the hon. Member's resolutions he was not prepared to go along with him, but in the first resolution he entirely concurred. He thought that a great deal of what the hon. Member urged was entitled to great attention, in contending that a portion of the land revenue ought to be applied to the purposes of emigration. With respect to the general question of emigration this was not the time to discuss it; but he thought it 898 would be highly desirable at the present moment, with respect to Ireland, that it should be known that the system of emigration would be conducted on a fixed and unalterable principle. The Poor Law Act for that country, which passed last year gave to parishes a power of taxing themselves for the purposes of emigration, and he thought it would be a great encouragement to parishes to tax themselves for this purpose, if, having some fixed principle to refer to, they would be enabled to calculate the result. The advantages of applying a portion of the land revenue to the purposes of emigration would be this—that in proportion as the revenue arose, in the same proportion would the demand for labour arise, so that these two circumstances would eventually act upon each other, and the supply would always be proportionate to the demand. He thought that great advantage would arise from devising means to lessen the expenses of emigration. Instead of free passages, which, owing to the expense, could not be given to any great extent, he thought it would be well that Government should pay a portion of the expense, in cases where public bodies or parishes were willing to pay the remaining portion of the expense. This he thought would greatly tend to encourage emigration; besides which there were many other ways in which facilities might be given. Agreeing in principle with the hon. Member, he hoped that either now or next Session something would be done to remedy the evils complained of.
§ Viscount Howick
* I have observed, with very great satisfaction, the apparently general concurrence of the House in the important principle, with respect to the disposal and occupation of land in the British Colonies, which has been so well stated in his speech by the hon. Member for Sheffield. Nothing certainly can be farther from my intention than to express any difference of opinion from the hon. Member respecting this principle; on the contrary, I entirely agree with him as to its soundness and extreme importance, and I think also with him, that its discovery reflects great honour upon the gentleman by whom it was brought to light, and who first pointed out its influence upon the success of all schemes of colonization. As far as I am aware,* From a corrected Report.899 the benefits to be derived from the prevention of an undue dispersion of settlers in a new territory, with the means by which this object can best be accomplished, and the necessity of combined labour, which in a new country, can only he secured by artificially maintaining a proper proportion between the numbers of the population and the extent of land which they occupy, had entirely escaped the notice of all writers upon political economy, until they were stated in those works of Mr. Wakefield to which the hon. Member for Sheffield has referred in terms of well-deserved commendation. I consider these principles to be not less important than they were novel at the time they were brought into notice by Mr. Wakefield, and they will also, I am convinced, be found to be of very general application. They apply not only to the Australian and North American Colonies, but, as the hon. Member has justly observed, it is in them that we must seek for the real cause of the introduction of slavery into our West-Indian Colonies, and it is only, therefore, I believe, by measures founded upon them that the difficulties which have followed its abolition can be effectually removed, nor will the great measure of emancipation be rendered productive of all the good which ought to flow from it, unless the legislatures of these colonies, by a wise application of the principles I have now referred to, endeavour to procure a regular supply of free labour. But however fully I agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield as to the importance of the leading principle of the resolutions he has moved, I mast at the same time express my strong doubts whether it would be expedient that they should be adopted by the House. The first resolution states only an abstract truth, which it is, I believe, impossible to deny; I have, therefore, no other objection to offer to it, except that it is unnecessary, and that taken by itself, and if not followed up by others tending to practical measures, it could lead to no useful result. But the second and third resolutions, which do paint to practical measures, are expressed in terms much too absolute and too general to be safely adopted by the House, at least in their present form. These resolutions would imply that the adoption of that policy with respect to the occupation of land from which the hon. 900 Member contends, should at once be enforced in all the British colonies by the authority of Parliament. Now, at least so far as regards the North American colonies, which have attained considerable wealth, civilization, and importance, and which have legislatures of their own, this would, in my opinion, be a most inexpedient course; it would be an interference with the local legislatures, which would be in the highest degree impolitic and improper. It is perfectly true, as the hon. Member has stated, that there have been in these colonies very great abuses and much mismanagement in the way in which land has been granted; but I cannot concur with him in attributing this mismanagement entirely, or even principally, to any thing like corruption, or a desire to promote improperly their own individual interests on the part either of the Government or of the colonial authorities. I had no connexion with the Government in the days in which these things took place, and I have, therefore, no interest in undertaking its defence; but, in justice to it, I must say, that although I am not prepared to deny the existence of jobbing in some cases, the mismanagement in respect to grants of lands was mainly attributable to the ignorance which then generally prevailed of the principles upon which this most important part of the administration of a colony should be conducted; the evil arose principally from mistakes honestly committed, and mistakes, I must add, for which the colonial legislatures were certainly not less to blame than the Government. The popular feeling in these colonies was altogether in favour of facilitating the acquisition of land by the bonâ fide settler, and this was the object which the Government had in view; but neither the Government nor the colonial legislatures perceived that it was one which could not practically be accomplished in the manner it was attempted. It was in vain to declare, that no individual should obtain a grant of more than a certain size. Large tracts of land, which they could not improve, were still monopolised by individuals, who evaded the regulation by purchasing, at a nominal price, the grants which poor settlers had a right to claim, and this evasion could not be prevented by forbidding for a certain time, the alienation of land which had been granted, without greatly impeding the application of capital and the improvement 901 of the land. In the same manner, the most stringent regulations which could be devised to enforce the settlement and improvement of the land which was granted have always failed, from the impossibility which has been experienced of enforcing the rules which have been laid down, and compelling parties to perform the conditions attached to their grants. The whole system upon which these measures were adopted was, in my opinion, unsound; and it was the far wiser and better principle, which Mr. Wakefield was the first to recommend, that every man should be allowed to obtain, not by grant but by purchase, as much land as he chose, free from all conditions and all restrictions as to the use he might make of it, trusting that by requiring a sufficient price to be paid, a regard for their own interest would prevent individuals from seeking to obtain more land than they could occupy with advantage to themselves and to the community. In answer to a complaint of the Assembly of Lower Canada upon this subject, the reasons for the adoption of this principle in the disposal of the Crown lands were stated by Lord Ripon, in a despatch with which I am sure the hon. Member for Sheffield is acquainted, and of which I am equally sure that he must entirely approve. But, Sir, the hon. Member must be aware that the views stated in this despatch, however consistent with his opinion and with sound policy, failed to command the assent of the colonial legislature. The Assembly, and I believe I may add the colonists generally, still continued to prefer the policy of granting land, and of endeavouring to facilitate as much as possible its occupation by the poor settler. Nor is this the popular opinion only in our own colonies; it extends equally to the United States, and the hon. Member, when he so highly commends the system which has there been adopted, cannot be ignorant that there is, at this moment, a strong and general feeling amongst a large part of the population in favour of what is termed the "easy occupation of land," and that a proposition has been made (nor am I sure that it has not been adopted) for a reduction of the price of land, already far too low, according to the principle for which the hon. Member contends. Indeed, I so far differ from the praise which the hon. Member for Sheffield has bestowed upon the management of their 902 public lands, by the United States, that I think, these States at this moment afford a very striking proof of the bad effects which result from neglecting that most important principle of restraining the natural tendency to disperse in the settlers of a new country, which it was the main object of Mr. Wakefield's writings to enforce. Formerly, from being surrounded by hostile tribes of warlike savages, the settlers in what are now the United States were compelled to keep closely together, for the purposes of mutual succour and defence, but now that they are no longer under the influence of the same motives, they have scattered themselves to immense distances, over extensive tracts of land; and it is this dispersion of the population which has not been checked by the too low price demanded for land, which has, in my opinion, been the principal cause of that almost barbarous state of some of the Western States, in which we hear of Lynch, law, and of so many other moral and social evils. I have mentioned these things in order to show how exceedingly strong a prejudice pervades the whole North American continent, in favour of giving every facility to the settlement and occupation of land; if, therefore, by Act of Parliament, we were to attempt to run counter to this strong popular feeling, and to enforce the adoption of a wiser policy, I fear it would be at the risk of entirely failing in the measures we might adopt. By persuasion and influence, we may do much towards introducing that system, which I agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield in approving; but, if we carry our interference too far, and endeavour to act with authority, we may produce an effect the very opposite of that which we desire, and at the same time the most disastrous political consequences. It must not be forgotten, that since the Crown revenues in the North American colonies have been given up to the Assemblies, the Imperial Government has no power to act in these matters, except with their concurrence. With their concurrence, much, no doubt, may be done; and I trust that all proper means will be adopted to obtain it, but I must most seriously caution the House against encouraging any attempt to proceed by coercive measures. For these reasons, I think the resolutions which have been proposed are inapplicable to our North American colonies, nor are they less so to those in the West Indies; the hon. 903 Member said, that the principle which should be followed in the disposal of land had been very recently stated in a despatch addressed to the Governors of the West Indian colonies by Lord Glenelg, but he complained that this despatch had been allowed to become a dead letter. I admit that this despatch has not led to any important results, but the hon. Member has not adverted to the fact, that the reason of its having been so nearly inoperative is, that most of the land in these colonies had already previously been granted to individuals. Even in the large island of Jamaica, of which so small a portion is yet occupied, I am informed that the right of property in only about 5,000 acres remains to the Crown; it is not, therefore, by merely restricting the grant of land that the principle of the hon. Member can be practically carried into effect; it is in vain for the Crown to put a high price on the land, of which it still retains possession, while so much belonging to individuals can be brought into the market, and, by competition, will necessarily keep down its value. Under these circumstances, the only manner in which the principle of restricting the occupation of land can be carried into effect is, by the measure to which the hon. Member himself adverted, namely, the imposition of a tax upon land. Undoubtedly this would, in my opinion, be a most advisable measure, nor do I believe that, in a majority of the West Indian colonies, a regular supply of labour will ever be obtained, until the greater part of the revenue necessary for carrying on the public service shall be raised by a direct impost upon the land, instead of by indirect taxation. But here, again, it is only by the intervention of the colonial Legislatures that this policy can be adopted; the resolutions, therefore, which the hon. Member has proposed in terms so general and extensive, are as inapplicable to the West Indian, as to the North American colonies.
There remain, then, only the Australian colonies, as to which the resolutions of the hon. Member can with propriety be applied. And I would ask him, what are the grounds upon which, even as regards them, he conceives it to be necessary for the House to adopt such a step? The intervention of Parliament is surely not required for the purpose of inducing the Executive Government to adopt that policy, in the disposal of land in Australia, which 904 he has advocated, since he has himself' stated that this policy was at first suggested in some writings of Mr Wakefield, about ten years ago, and in the beginning of 1831, that is, within two years, or little more, of the time when the suggestion was made, it was adopted by Lord Ripon, so far as regards the Australian colonies. But then, the hon. Member said, it is not sufficient that the system should be adopted by the Government; what one Secretary of State has done, another may undo; and, with the rapid succession of different persons at the head of the Colonial Office, there can be no security for that permanence in one line of policy upon this subject, which is so essential to its success. No doubt this is a plausible objection, but have we practically experienced those constant changes in the system of disposing of land in Australia, which the hon. Member apprehends must be the consequence of frequent changes in the Colonial Office? On the contrary, though Lord Normanby is the fifth Secretary of State who has held that office since Lord Ripon's resignation, the rule which was laid down in 1831, that Crown land should be alienated by public sale, has ever since been strictly adhered to. It is true, some grants have been made; but these have only been grants to which parties were entitled under engagements entered into by the Government previously to 1831, and I am sure the hon. Member is the last man who would contend that the change of system then adopted would have justified a breach of engagements with private individuals, which had already been contracted. For the purpose, then, of ensuring a permanent adherence to the system adopted by Lord Ripon, so far as regards the alienation of the Crown lands in Australia, exclusively by public sale, I think the hon. Member cannot possibly contend, that it is necessary for the House to come to the resolution he has proposed, or to legislate upon this subject. But I think I hear the hon. Member say, that there has not been equal steadiness in adhering to the policy adopted by Lord Ripon, with regard to the appropriation of the revenue derived from the sale of land, that the money so produced ought to be exclusively devoted to the promotion of emigration, and that, in 1834, a large proportion of it was improperly diverted to other objects. I agree with the hon. 905 Member, in thinking, not only that land ought to be alienated exclusively by sale, but also, that in the present condition of the Australian colonies, the encouragement of emigration is the most useful object to which the proceeds of the land sales could be applied. But, though I concur so far in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, I cannot admit that it is proper to lay down any strict and inflexible rule, that the whole, or even any given and large proportion of the revenue derived from the sale of land, shall be laid out in carrying on a system of emigration. It must, in the first place, be admitted by all, that the expense of collecting the revenue must, at all events, be defrayed out of it, and in this, must be reckoned not only the expense of survey, but other very large items of expense, in the formation of roads, and the building of bridges, schools, and churches, which are necessary for the advantageous settlement of the country. The sums so laid out may justly be regarded as employed in preparing more land for sale, and increasing its value, and augmenting the future revenue and as such means of communication public buildings, are absolutely essential for the existence of civilized society, if the funds necessary for effecting these improvements are not provided from the proceeds of the sales of land, they must, in the settlement of a colony, be defrayed by taxes, which every Government, including that of the United States, has found it very difficult and very disadvantageous to impose upon such infant communities. I perceive that my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, cheers in a manner which implies a contradiction of what I have now asserted. I understand what he means, I know that he would imply, that the great superiority of the system of settlement adopted by the United States, over that pursued in the adjoining British Colonies, is, that in the former there exist municipal institutions, which by the power they possess of imposing rates, provide for those important local objects to which I have just adverted. I do not deny this advantage on the part of the United States, I am aware that the improvements of civilized life, make their appearance in an early stage of their settlements, as compared with those of Canada, I am far from undervaluing the achievements of their extraordinary energy and enterprise; but still, unless we are to disbelieve the accounts of every traveller 906 who has described the condition of the Western States, it is impossible to doubt that the manner in which the wilderness is 6rst occupied by the backwoodsmen, who have been termed the pioneers of civilization, is rude and barbarous in the extreme; each family settles upon the land cleared by its own labour, separated often from its nearest neighbours by impenetrable forests, without roads, without schools, without churches, without all those advantages which constitute the whole difference between civilization and barbarism. The hon. Member says, that the only revenue which by law they can raise for such objects as these, is that derived from local sales; but, Sir, it is because such is the case, it is because a higher price is not put upon land, and the purchase money applied to these most necessary purposes, that they are altogether neglected in the early stages of settlement, when the population is thinly scattered) and money cannot be raised by local contributions. My hon. Friend may have a different account to give of all these things, he may tell us, that even in the back settlements of the United States, good roads, public buildings, and all the evidences of a highly civilized society are to be found, but he must excuse me for saying that the three or four months which he has had the advantage of passing on the other side of the Atlantic, do not quit4 entitle him to knock down at once, with his authority, what those who have not travelled like himself may advance, on what they consider sufficient evidence. Traveller's tales should proverbially be received with caution, and though I am well aware that nothing can be farther from my hon. friend's intention than to mislead us by erroneous information, I cannot help thinking that he saw so much and heard so much, during his short visit to America, that his recollection is not upon all points quite so clear as might be wished; nor can I help reminding him, that this is not the first time that he has used his authority as a traveller, to give me a point blank contradiction upon a matter on which he has since turned out to be completely in the wrong. I am aware that I am going a little out of the subject immediately under discussion, but I trust I may be excused for mentioning to the House one circumstance, as a proof of the necessity of our placing some limit to that credence, which we are always dis- 907 posed to yield to the bold and positive statements of these travelled gentlemen. The House may perhaps remember that some time ago, during a discussion upon the alleged insufficiency of the force in New Brunswick when threatened with hostilities from the State of Maine, the hon. Gentleman made himself very merry at my expense, for having asserted that Sir John Harvey might, in case of necessity receive assistance from the Governor of Lower Canada; he treated with supreme contempt the ignorance which such a supposition implied, and told me that the succour upon which I calculated, could not possibly at such a time, reach New Brunswick from Lower Canada, unless indeed, the troops who were to afford it, could be carried in a balloon. Now, it so happens, that at the very time it was said to be so entirely impossible, a regiment was marched without the slightest difficulty from Lower Canada to New Brunswick, that it arrived there in ample time to have afforded the aid, which it was apprehended that Sir John Harvey might have required, and when this was found not to be the case, it marched back with the same case that it had come. I have mentioned this fact only to show to the House the propriety of receiving with a little caution the somewhat hasty statements of the hon. Gentleman;—to return to the argument I was pursuing, I must repeat, upon the concurrent testimony of every traveller, except my hon. Friend, that in their infancy, the new settlements of the Western States of America do not enjoy the advantage of tolerable roads, of schools, and of similar marks of civilization. I contend that if in the colonization of Australia we would realize the views of Mr. Wakefield, and occupy the country not with a population falling back into a rude and semi-barbarous condition, but with one enjoying all the advantages of civilization and of a regularly organized society, we must not only take care to prevent the undue dispersion of the inhabitants by requiring a sufficient price for the land, but we must also apply a part of the revenue thus obtained in effecting those necessary local improvements which cannot by any other means be so well provided for. I have always thought that the money derived from the sale of land in the colonies should be regarded as a part of their capital, which as such should be invested in their permanent improve- 908 ment, not applied in common with the rest of the ordinary revenue to the purpose of current expenditure. Upon this principle it seems to me that in the present condition of the Australian colonies, there is no permanent object to which these sums can be devoted of equal importance with the encouragement of emigration, and I therefore entirely concur with the hon. Member for Sheffield in thinking that the largest part of these funds ought to be so applied for the present; but when the hon. Member for Bridport hence argues, that we ought to fix by positive law the proportion of the land revenue which shall be strictly reserved for this exclusive purpose, I would point out to him the objection to this course which arises from the fact that the proportion which he would invariably fix is liable to constant alteration. It is obvious, that although at the present moment it may be expedient to apply much the larger proportion of the funds in question to emigration, and reserve only a smaller sum for those local objects which I have mentioned, as the colony increases in population and in extent, this will cease to be the case, as the necessity of emigration will diminish, and the amount of expenditure required in preparing new tracts of land for the occupation of the native inhabitants will increase. But the hon. Member no doubt will say that even the principle I have now endeavoured to lay down was widely departed from by the diversion, in 1834, of a large part of the revenue derived from the sale of land in New South Wales to the maintenance of the police. I admit this to have been the case, and I regret with the hon. Member the necessity which existed of so applying this money; but at the same time I must observe that this necessity arose from the reluctance of the colonists to provide by other taxes for an expense which, in justice, they were bound to defray. The expense of the police in New South Wales is a charge which upon no principles of fairness can be imposed upon the people of this country; for though it may be true that the necessity for keeping up so large and expensive a police force in that colony may arise from the character of the convicts sent from hence it is no less true as was well observed by the Baronet the hon. Member for Leeds, that the astonishing wealth of our penal colonies is almost entirely derived from 909 the labour of these same convicts. Sorely, then, the colonists cannot expect at once to enjoy this advantage, and to be relieved from the burthen by which it is accompanied? I conceive, therefore, that the charge for the police was properly thrown upon the colony, and that as its inhabitants were unwilling to provide for the charge by other taxes, it was only just that it should be met by a diversion of the land revenue from an object in which they are chiefly interested, instead of throwing the burthen upon the people of this country. These considerations justify the conduct in this particular, of the Government in 1834, which was objected to by the hon. Member for Sheffield, and I can conceive many cases in which it would be better to divert a portion of the revenue arising from the sale of land to meet the necessary expences of the colony, than to press too severely upon the revenue of a young and growing society by premature taxation; nor is it a little remarkable, that this is the course which has been actually followed both in the United States and in South Australia—the examples which the hon. Member for Sheffield particularly pointed out to us for imitation. As to the United States, indeed, I think, that when the hon. Member for Sheffield said, that we ought to follow their footsteps, and that if we meant to pursue the same wise policy as to the disposal of land, we must take the system as a whole, and not attempt to adopt it only in part, he must surely have forgotten, that although the sale of land may be conducted in that republic in a manner conformable to his views, this certainly is not the case with respect to the application of the revenue thus obtained; on the contrary, not one shilling of the money so obtained is applied in assisting emigration from the eastern States; it is not even applied to those purposes of local improvement, which I regard as one of the most legitimate modes of employing it, but it is, on the contrary, almost entirely expended as a part of the ordinary revenue in carrying on the public service. This is the mode of appropriating the sums received from the sale of land which appears even to me an unwise one, though I am not prepared to push to the same extent with him the principle for which the hon. Member contends. But the example of South Australia is still more remarkable. This colony was founded for the very purpose of 910 practically trying that system of colonization which it is the object of the hon. Member to recommend to us. Its administration is principally intrusted to commissioners, who are almost all gentlemen particularly distinguished for their advocacy of this system. The Secretary of State has left them to pursue their own? course, almost free from any interference on his part; and yet even in this colony, so founded and so governed, it has not been found practically possible to adhere rigidly to that mode of appropriating the funds derived from this sale of land, which the hon. Member now calls upon the House to declare by his proposed resolution that the Legislature ought to enforce generally in all our colonies by a strict enactment. I confess I was greatly surprised that the hon. Member in his speech totally omitted all reference to that very remarkable circumstance to which I now allude, and which was stated by my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State, namely, that the Commissioners of South Australia had been compelled to obtain the authority of Parliament for diverting to other objects a part of those funds arising from the sale of land, which by the original act were made exclusively applicable to emigration. It is true some explanation of this has been attempted, but to what does it amount? Why simply to this, that to meet the necessary expences of the first settlement of the colony it was better to take a part of the funds derived from the sale of land, than to borrow money at so high an interest as ten per cent, on the credit of its future revenue. No doubt it is so, and it is on that account I say Parliament ought not to lay down a strict and unvarying rule which experience has shown that it is impossible in all cases to adhere to without great inconvenience, since even in South Australia it has been found, that an application of a part of the funds derived from the sale of land, which the resolutions of the hon. Member would, under no circumstances, permit, afforded the only method of avoiding the necessity of saddling the colony with the burden of a loan on very high interest. I perceive the hon. Member for Hull is listening to what I have now stated; if I am wrong, I shall be glad to hear from him an account of the revenue hitherto raised in the colony from any source but the sale of land, and therefore applicable, according to the original scheme, to its ordinary 911 expences. Something, no doubt, may have been raised by duties on importation, but I am much mistaken if as yet funds have been levied by these or any other taxes nearly sufficient to meet the necessary expences of the Government, leaving these, therefore, necessarily to be defrayed either by loan, or by a partial diversion from their intended object to the funds obtained from the sale of land. These considerations seem to me clearly to establish the inexpediency of laying down so strictly, as the hon. Member would recommend, the principle, that money obtained by the sale of land is to be reserved for the encouragement of emigration, but I think there is a still stronger objection to that part of the resolutions, in which it is proposed, that for this purpose the revenue derived from that source should be anticipated. I might leave this part of the case upon the admission of the hon. Member for Bridport, who, though he supports the resolutions, has yet shown the inexpediency of adopting without much more inquiry than has yet been bestowed upon the subject, the principle of anticipating the revenue in the manner which has been suggested. But I must add, that I think the course proposed would be in the highest degree imprudent, because if the number of emigrants were to be at once so much increased there would be considerable danger, that more might arrive at one time than it would be possible adequately to provide for. Should this occur great distress and difficulty would be occasioned to the emigrants of which the most exaggerated accounts would be circulated, and thus the disposition to emigrate, which is now so strong in this country, would receive a check from which it might not for many years recover. Those who remember the effect produced in discouraging emigration to Canada by the distress and suffering to which the emigrants were exposed in 1832, by the unfortunate breaking out of Cholera at Quebec and Montreal, and the panic which the disease created, will perceive how important it is, that no similar interruption should occur in the progress of emigration to Australia. Bearing this in mind I must believe, that upon further consideration, the hon. Member himself will agree with me in thinking, that it would be unwise to increase in the manner be has proposed the number of emigrants who are sent to Australia; and when he 912 reflects, that the present population of New South Wales being only about 100,000 my right hon. Friend has stated, that it has received in the last year an addition by emigration of about 10,000 persons, or an increase of ten per cent, he must concur with me in thinking, that this is as fast as it is yet prudent to go. If we allow things to take their natural course the labour of the emigrants already sent out will increase the resources of the colony, and thus each year the funds for emigration and the means of receiving and providing for the emigrants on their arrival will increase; while if we do not produce confusion and distress by attempting unduly to hasten, the flow of the current, we may calculate that the emigrants will in general succeed and prosper, and that their letters to their friends and relations in this country will be the most effective stimulants to further emigration. I must add, as another reason for abstaining from the attempt to increase emigration by means of a loan, instead of leaving the stream to become stronger and more rapid by degrees, that I believe, even now, the agent for emigration does, not find the number of eligible candidates for emigration to New South Wales much to exceed that for which with the funds at his disposal he is enabled to provide the means of conveyance. For these reasons, I trust the hon. Member will not press the House to adopt the resolutions he has moved; and if he should be inclined, to do so, I hope at least he will make some change in the words as they at present stand. These words, I perceive, contain a declaration that land in the colonies should be sold at a "fixed, uniform, and sufficient price;" but the hon. Member in his speech has not given us a single reason for establishing a rule, which, at first sight at least, appears so contrary to every principle of justice and of common sense, as that of affixing the same price to all land, however it may vary in fertility and in natural advantages. Why, I would ask, is this to be? One piece of land may possess the advantage of water frontage, which renders it far more valuable to the occupier than another; one allotment may have a much more productive soil than that which is next to it. Surely, therefore, it is reasonable that there should be some difference in the, price of land, of which the comparative value is subject to such extreme varia- 913 tions. If one uniform and arbitrary price should be affixed to all land, whatever may be its quality, we should once more give rise to all those complaints and difficulties which arose under the system of grants. I well remember how impossible it was, under that system, to give satisfaction to the parties to whom grants were made; each man thought that his neighbour's allotment was better than his own, and there was no end to the dissatisfaction that was created, and to the complaints and applications to change one piece of land for another, which were continually pressed upon the attention both of the Governors of the Colonies and of the Secretary of State. All these difficulties have now been effectually got rid of by the simple expedient of public sale and free competition, but they would all again recur, if we were to adopt the principle recommended in the resolutions, of affixing one uniform and fixed price to all land, whatever might be its natural advantages. In conclusion, I have only to repeat, that the resolutions which the hon. Member has moved are not called for by any practical necessity, and that, in their present shape, they are liable to serious objections. I trust, therefore, that he will agree with me, that it is better for the success of that policy which he has advocated, and for which I am not less sincerely anxious than himself, that he should be satisfied with the discussion which has taken place, without pressing his motion to a division, which, I fear, would not look very well in our votes to-morrow.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
observed, that the right hon. the Under-Secretary for the Colonies had talked of clothing distant parts of the world with the laws, habits, and institutions of England, and had forcibly pointed out many of the ties which bound together England and her dependencies; but the right hon. Gentleman had omitted two, which, in his estimation, were most worthy the consideration of the Legislature of this country, because they were the only permanent bonds which could unite the colonies with the mother country. Those two bonds were the language and the religion of Great Britain, wanting which, all efforts to preserve the union would be unsuccessful. This principle was applicable not only to Australia and the West Indies, but to every dependency of the British empire. It was applicable not only to those parts 914 where the language of the mother country was the language of the first colonists, but to those regions where it was not, but where the duty of inculcating the common language and common religion had been neglected. He had listened with great attention to the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down, and he could not but regret that the noble Lord had wholly left unnoticed the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton) with respect to the grant made by his late Majesty George the 4th to the Duke of York —observations which he (Sir R. Inglis) had heard with pain, and which ought not to be allowed to pass without comment by those who were officially the protectors of the rights and prerogatives of the Crown. The great part of the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield was directed to prove, that the prerogative of the Crown was to be superseded, and the hon. Member for Bridport had objected, not merely to the legitimate influence, but the lawful right of the Crown to make that grant. Did those hon. Members forget that by law the Crown was entitled to make the grant which it made to the late Duke of York? That question had been decided, and he believed not a doubt existed in the mind of any person, in or out of the legal profession, that the Crown had a perfect right to alienate the seignorial rights of the mines in North America. If that were the case, no Member of that House ought to be permitted to say, unchecked, that such an act on the part of the Crown would justify a rebellion in the colony. These were the words of the hon. Member for Bridport. He had only to observe, with respect to general colonization, that it had been brought eloquently and ably before the House and before the public in the speeches and writings of his right hon. friend, Sir R. Wilmot Horton. No question with respect to emigration or: to colonization could be discussed without bringing to his recollection the labours of that right hon. Gentleman, than whom no one had bestowed on it more anxious and unwearied attention. The activity of his mind was only equalled by the warmth of his heart. His principle was, that all colonization ought to be in the hands of the Government, and in that proposition he agreed. As the Duke of Wellington had said on a different subject, that "this country could engage in no 915 small war," he thought that the colonization of such a country as this ought to be in proportion to its resources, and that they ought not to leave it to New Zealand commissioners here, or Australian commissioners there, or to some bubble company elsewhere, to send off the industrious, and, in many cases, too credulous population of this country. The Government of the country ought to form their plans cautiously, and with a full sense not only of what they owed to the people here, but also to the people elsewhere; and if they sent out a constitution at all to the colonies, they ought to send out a miniature constitution of England. And, above all, they ought to send out the other blessings of England, great as they were; they ought to send out an adequate provision for religious instruction, which had been greatly neglected in almost every enter-prize which had ever been sent forth from England. He was not prepared to consent to the resolutions of the hon. Member; because the first was a mere truism, and the other resolutions, if entered on the minutes, might expose them hereafter to the charge of consenting to that which they were not prepared to sustain.
§ Mr. C. Buller
would occupy but a few moments of the time of the House in answering one or two matters which, among the Duke of York's debt, and other subjects, had been introduced into that debate. The noble Lord had prolonged the debate by thinking that he had convicted him (Mr. C. Buller) of an inaccuracy in a debate which occurred three months ago. He had then told the noble Lord that the road from Quebec to New Brunswick was occasionally impassable. He had used the word "now," and he should have said "in the spring;" for in the spring, at the breaking up of the winter, it was utterly impassable. He had mistaken the time of the year. And now, having corrected his knowledge of the seasons, he asserted that no mail could pass from Quebec to New Brunswick at the season when the roads were impassable, and if the noble Lord disputed that, he would join issue with him. The noble Lord had also said, that he had given himself the airs of a traveller. He had given himself no such airs; he had simply referred to an article in the constitution of the United States; and the noble Lord argued, that if this were correct, it was impossible to have local taxation in Australia, for it was found im- 916 possible to have local taxation in the new states of North America. Now, travelling had taught him that the sole resources of those new states arose from local taxation. The noble Lord said, that the result was, that many things were ill provided for; but he would ask the noble Lord, or any other person intimate with the colonies, whether, when compared with the new states, whatever might be the defects in those states, they were not better than any colony of this country, though it might be double the age of those states? It was his intention to have made some observations on this important question, but at that late hour he would content himself with saying, that he was glad to hear the language held by Ministers, and that they did not venture to deny the gross abuses which existed in the land grants and emigration into the colonies; indeed, the House generally had, by its silence, virtually admitted the truth of the charges, and had thus shown in the best manner its intention to take into its serious consideration these gross abuses. He hoped the House would take the matter into its consideration; and he had wished that the Ministers would have given some assurance that they would establish the system of land grants on that permanent basis which legislation by the Imperial Parliament could alone give; for he believed, till that was done, no sound system would ever be fixed upon; and that we should continue to waste those mighty resources of this country and the colonies which the waste lands, if properly employed, would afford. This was most important to this country, as leading to what this country required—a vent for the surplus population; and to the colonies, as affording a remedy for their great want— a permanent supply of working population. Therefore it was, that he thought it desirable that the House should pledge itself, that his hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of the Colonies, could not entertain any feeling to which the House was not a party. It was essential, also, that Ministers should not confine themselves to the mere expression of good intentions, but that they should apply to this subject that attention which the interests as well of the labouring population as of the colonies, so loudly demanded.
§ Mr. Shaw
suggested, that an inquiry should take place on the coast of Australia, with the view of applying steam commu- 917 nication to the connection of those parts on which it was most important to found settlements. He suggested this to the Government, in the same spirit as the discussion had been carried on, without any party feeling.
Mr. S. O'Brien
said, the noble Lord had said that there was great difficulty in obtaining 10,000 emigrants to send to Australia. He could only say, that in the district of Ireland with which he was connected, he believed that there would be no difficulty in annually obtaining that number of emigrants. In the West of Ireland, the people were nearly all in a state of starvation for want of employment, and they had no means of emigrating.
§ Mr. Darby
said, that as much emigration was going on from Sussex, he wished to state his objections to these resolutions, In the speech of the noble Lord he fully agreed; and he objected to the resolution, because the first was a mere truth, and the second declared that the land should be fixed at an uniform price; and how was it possible that this could be a fair price? Either the good land would be sold for too little money, or the price of the inferior land would be too high. Again, how could they determine that a fixed proportion should go for passage money? But if the expense were fluctuating expense for the survey of the land, how could they put by a fixed proportion of the money produced by the sale of the land for passage money? Then, again, as to the next resolution, it was declared that, "in order to derive the greatest possible advantage from this method of colonization, it was essential that the permanence of the system should be secured by the Legislature, and that its administration should be intrusted to a distinct subordinate branch of the colonial department." What he understood the hon. Gentleman to wish was, that the colonial branch of the administration for this purpose should be fixed, and not fluctuating; but he (Mr. Darby) could see nothing in this resolution that would make this part of the Colonial-office fixed, and that it should not fluctuate as well as any other. The hon. Member also said, that this principle "should extend to all the colonies which were suited to its operation," but who were to judge of the colonies to which its operations should be suitable?
§ Mr. Ward
said in reply, I was aware, Sir, that, in bringing forward the motion, 918 which has occupied so much of your time, one of the difficulties, with which I should have to contend, would be its novelty, and the startling nature of some of the propositions contained in it, to which few men become reconciled without a deeper examination of the subject than Members of this House in general have time to enter upon. With the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, who perfectly understands the principle, upon which the new system of colonization rests, I differ principally as to the possibility of carrying it out without the aid of an Act of Parliament, which I hold to be indispensable. The noble Lord, indeed, disputes the necessity of loans; but, I must beg to remind him that loans in anticipation of the land-sales, are just as much a part of the theory developed in the works, upon which he has bestowed so high and just an eulogium, as any of those other parts, which he himself adopts. My right hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary, for the Colonies, has gratified me much by not attempting any defence of the old system, which I denounced. He admits its enormities, but says, that they never can return. I wish I could think so, but the passage, which, by an unfortunate lapsus linguœ, my right hon. Friend read from the despatch of Sir George Gipps, proves that Colonial Governors are just as much inclined as ever to keep a control over-the land revenue, "as the only disposable fund upon which the colonial executive can draw in an emergency." Now it was this very feeling in Canada, that destroyed the sinews of our strength there, and led to the very abuses, which my right hon. Friend has condemned; and unless the Colonial Governors are limited to a small, fixed, proportion of the land revenue in their casual demands, and compelled to employ the remainder in emigration, those abuses will be repeated, with the best intentions no doubt, under the present Government, as under all those that have preceded it. This is the principal difference between us. With regard to auction, if he wish to produce the greatest possible amount of money from land, there is a great deal in what he has alleged. If he wish to produce the proper proportion between land and people in the colony, he will find auction decidedly inferior, as a system, to the fixed and uniform price. In what he has said, respecting South Australia, he 919j must allow me to set him right. There has been no change of principle, or system, there, since the Act of 1834 was passed, but the commissioners, (for the security of the emigrants), find it expedient to pay only one half of the passage money in advance, and have consequently one moiety of the emigration fund always idle upon their hands, for twelve months at a time, they took power last session, to make advances from the emigration fund to the revenue fund, from time to time, in order to avoid the necessity of borrowing money at 10 per cent. These advances, however, are repaid within the year, the commissioners regarding it as their most sacred duty to maintain inviolate the principles of applying to emigration the whole proceeds of the land sales, without deduction of any kind. Sir, I have already trespassed too largely upon the indulgence of the House to weary it with any farther details, and shall only now add, that if I had brought forward this question at an earlier period of the session, I should not have shrunk from testing by a division the soundness of my principles; but, as I have admitted the impossibility of legislating this year, I shall leave the matter now in the hands of the Government, hoping that it will be so dealt with during the recess as to make it unnecessary for me, or any other independent Member, again to take it up. I shall, therefore, beg leave to withdraw my resolutions, and content myself, for the present, with the hope that they have been the means of bringing, for the first time, a most important subject fairly under the consideration of the House.