§ MR. SCOTT
The subject which he ventured to bring under the consideration of the House, namely, the condition of the Colonies, had unfortunately not been deemed worthy of any place in the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the Session, which contained reference to foreign affairs and all other topics, but not one word upon colonial matters. When he considered the vast and growing importance of the colonial possessions of the British empire, spread as they were over the whole world; and when he reflected upon the critical and disastrous position of many of those colonies, he felt that the subject was one which well deserved the consideration and attention of Parliament. He wished 314 that topics so wide in scope, and so deep in interest, had fallen into abler and more experienced hands; still he would not shrink from the undertaking; and without venturing to suggest the amendment which the system required, and craving for a short time that indulgence from the House which he so greatly needed, he would briefly endeavour to establish a case why he should move for a Select Committee to inquire into the political and financial relations between Great Britain and her dependencies, with a view to reduce the charges on the British treasury, and to enlarge the functions of colonial legislatures. Remembering the opinions of the Secretary for the Colonies, he was not without hope that he should obtain the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The colonies of Great Britain were between forty and fifty in number, and between forty and fifty times as large as the British Islands. Our trade to the colonies took one third of our exports, and if the exports of raw materials and semi-manufactured articles were thrown out of consideration, our exports to the colonies would equal our exports to the rest of the world. In 1845, the tonnage employed in our foreign trade amounted to 2,250,000 tons, while the tonnage employed in the colonial reached to upwards of 2,000,000 tons. The expenditure in the colonies was 3,372,000l yearly; while the expenditure by Great Britain on account of the same colonies was 3,170,000l., making in all a sum of 6,600,000l. in round numbers. The population of the British colonies was reckoned at 5,000,000 souls, whereof 1,600,000 were of British extraction, and the rest were negro and coloured races. It would appear that in Great Britain itself the government of a population of 30,000,000 cost 24,000,000l. annually, while a population of 5,000,000 in the colonics cost 6,600,000l., being at the rate of 16s. a head at homo, and of 28s. per head at the colonies. Indeed, excluding the coloured population of the colonies, the charge for government for every colonial British subject would be 52s. per head annually. Now, it was a subject worth inquiry, whether some change could not be effected in these matters without parting with our colonies—whether this state of things was not owing to some small, irresponsible, geographical spot in Downing-street. When, therefore, people began to talk of giving up the colonies, it might be asked whether it was not necessary to 315 make some change nearer home. Adam Smith said, writing in 1770—The expenses of our civil establishments in North America, before the commencement of the late disturbances, were 64,700l.; an ever-memorable example at how small an expense 3,000,000 of people may not only be governed, but well governed.Now, the highest possible authority on the subject, Earl Grey said, in the House of Lords, on the 10th of August last, "Colonisation was never so perfect as at the present moment." If, then, colonisation was never so perfect as now, it followed that if 3,000,000 of people were well governed for 64,700l. in 1770, 5,000,000 of people might be well governed now for 105,107l But the government of these 5,000,000, in these days of perfection of colonisation, cost not 105,000l., but, taking into the account the imperial as well as the colonial expenditure, sixty times as much as before the art of colonisation was so perfectly understood. The government of a single colony, such as Newfoundland, with less than 100,000 inhabitants, cost as much now as 3,000,000 of people did in 1770; and the one small island of Mauritius, scarcely larger than the Isle of Wight, with a population less than almost any English county contained, cost for its government more than five times the amount required to pay for the government of 3,000,000 people in 1770. Each Mauritian subject was consequently taxed 140 times as heavily as the North American colonist was eighty years ago. The Governor of the Mauritius and of Ceylon each received for their salary alone nearly one-ninth of the whole cost which it took to govern 3,000,000 of souls in days when colonisation was not so well understood as at present; and the salaries of all the Governors of the British colonies came to almost double that amount. He believed Earl Grey was as high-minded and honourable a man as was to be found anywhere, and that his intentions towards the colonies were good; but in his evidence before the Committee on the Miscellaneous Estimates, last year, he found him saying that he thought "that many of the Governors of colonies are exceedingly underpaid, and that, generally, the scale of their salaries is insufficient." He did not blame the noble Earl for entertaining this opinion. He imagined that the duties which it fell to the lot of the Colonial Secretary to perform, were far too heavy for any one individual to discharge properly. The du- 316 ties which pressed upon the Secretary for the Colonies were of every description, and from every quarter of the world—moral, social, loyal, judicial, penal, political, civil, ecclesiastical, naval, military, ordnance, financial, fiscal, commercial; matters relating to the establishment of new, or the maintenance of old, colonies—to convicts, to pensions, and the rewards of old servants—to places and the salaries of present servants—to the patronage of the thousand and one places at his disposal, and the creation of new offices. Hong-Kong, for instance, which was settled in 1842, had since its establishment as a colony, cost this country above 300,000l. He would refer to the opinion of a statesman who delivered his opinion to the following effect in 1845:—The duties of government required in an infant settlement might be discharged by the cololonists themselves, who had a stake in its welfare, either gratuitously, for the honour such functions conferred, or at all events for a small remuneration. He hoped they would revert to the ancient and wise policy of their ancestors, and allow the colonists to govern themselves. No doubt they would commit some mistakes, perhaps serious ones; but all experience was in favour of self-government. When he looked at what their ancestors accomplished two centuries ago under this system, and contrasted it with the results of attempting to govern from Downing-street a settlement at the antipodes, he must say experience was decidedly in favour of allowing a colony to govern itself.This was Lord Howick, who was now Earl Grey. The statesman, who then entertained that opinion, was now the statesman who objected to the adoption of measures for carrying out this principle, because with change of place a complete change came over the noble Lord—Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. His praise formerly was bestowed on the policy of times past—his praise now was all for the present. He then said that 3,000,000 of people were well governed at the charge of 64,000l. a year; and he now said that the colonies were never so well governed when they were told that 121,000l. was too small a sum for the salaries of the governors alone. The salaries of these officials varied from 7,000l. to 800l., and they might be taken at an average of 3,000l. a year. The colonies to which Earl Grey referred on the former occasion had charters for their government, which had been given to them during the reign of the Stuarts—certainly not the most liberal period of our history. Some of these charters were drawn up by Lord 317 Somers, one of the greatest statesmen this country ever had. The charter of Massachusetts might be somewhat democratic, but that of Carolina was almost aristocratic; but they each had the power of managing their own affairs. They at present required that Ireland should depend upon self-reliance. Why not adopt the same principle towards the colonies? At the period when the colonies were well and cheaply governed, there was no Colonial Secretary. It was not until the madness of British statesmen forced this country into war with the colonies, that the appointment of Minister for War and the Colonies took place. That name was well chosen, and the title was most suitable. By war this country lost the most valuable colonies she ever possessed, and by war we took the colonies of others, which we kept less by affection than by threat of war. We kept them within the pale of dominion, but not within the pale of the constitution, for they were governed by arbitrary despatches and orders from the Colonial Office. The statesman who condemned this policy in 1845, continued to govern them under it in 1849. In 1632 the Lords of Charles the First's Privy Council were the first to make a committee of nine members of that board to take cognisance of colonial matters. Afterwards, in 1670—and not in 1672, as Earl Grey stated in his official despatch—King Charles the Second constituted a special and select council for foreign plantations, and for promoting the welfare and preserving the flourishing state and condition of the colonies. Under this council and their own charters the colonies prospered; and when at length we lost them, the two causes which tended chiefly to light the flame—the two causes which tended principally to light the flame in America—were samples of injustice and folly, which are now copied to the letter in some of our colonies by the present Minister of the Colonies. The one was the attempt to levy taxes without the consent of the colonists, which was done annually to the amount of 81,000l. in New South Wales, and many other colonies, by means of an enormous civil list. The other was the claim to alter their constitutions without their concurrence, and thus refusing to them the principle of self-government. In 1771, the colonies of North America complained that they were taxed without their consent, and as their complaints were not attended to, they asserted their independence. The same sys- 318 tem which was endeavoured to be enforced in our former colonies without their consent, was at the present time adopted towards New South Wales, the Mauritius, Jamaica, and other colonies; for they were taxed with a heavy civil list against their consent. He had presented, on the 26th of last month, several petitions from colonics against a similar attempted invasion of rights. What was this but acting in the way a former Government did towards America, which cost this country the United States in the last century, respecting which Mr. Pulteney, in 1778, said—That there could be no doubt that the two motives which led to the existing contest between England and North America, were, first, the attempt to levy taxes against the consent of the colonies; and, secondly, to alter their constitutions without their concurrence.And concerning which Mr. Burke wrote—The charters ought not to be altered at all, but at the desire of the greater part of the people who live under them.He found it stated in a letter from a leading member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, dated October last—It appears to be the fashion in Parliament, as well by those in office as by the Opposition, to talk about the expediency of allowing the distant dependencies of the empire to manage their own concerns. Almost every act of the Administration belies such an intention. Everything in the Colonial Office appears to be done in a spirit of supercilious despotism, not with a desire to conciliate, but to alienate, the best and most loyal feelings of the colonists.Now, he would appeal to the good sense of the House, whether it was wise to allow such an opinion to gain ground? He did not ask whether it was fair or just, but whether it was prudent, to propagate a feeling that there were no kindred or common principles of government, of commerce, of society at home, and in the colonies, on which we were to remain united? Was it discreet to encourage a belief that this country tampered not only with their commerce and constitutions, but trifled with their reason, and prevaricated with their condition, and uttered unconstitutional doctrines—to act as if British subjects were to be governed by different rules in different parts of the same dominions of the same Sovereign? These evils arose from the immense accumulation of duties upon the Colonial Minister, and the unconstitutional power which he exercised over the prosperity, the security, and the property of the colonists; and the existence of these evils was prominently apparent in the opposite 319 opinions held by Colonial Ministers. He knew he might be asked, "What rights have the colonists?" The colonists had the same rights as we ourselves have in this country. He did not mean to assert that all colonists, having different degrees of civilisation, could be governed by exactly the same rules as British subjects in this country. That would be as difficult to arrange as it would be to govern by the same laws a city and an uninhabited place; but, on the other hand, they had no right to refuse to British colonists the exercise of any rights which did not interfere with imperial interests, and which resembled those which they claimed for themselves. He was, of course, aware that it was exceedingly difficult for any man to govern a colonial empire so large as that of Great Britain; and he was likewise aware that very different opinions were entertained on this subject by successive Colonial Ministers. The noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department proposed an arrangement by which certain duties connected with the colonies should devolve upon the Committee of the Privy Council. This was effected by a letter of the noble Earl, dated the 12th of April, 1848. This plan, however, continued, rather than removed, the grievance. This Minute did not state that these duties must devolve on the Committee of the Privy Council, but that they might devolve on that body. When was this to be done, and at whose arbitration? Not at the arbitration of the oppressed colonists who appealed, but at the arbitrary will of the person who was appealed against as an oppressor, whenever he thought fit. And, then, how was this to be done? By the colonists complaining? No such thing; but by the Secretary of State stating only those points upon which he considered it expedient that the Committee should be consulted. Why was this to be done? For the advantage of the colonies? Not at all, but merely for the convenience of the Secretary of State, so as to enable him to take, whenever he thought fit, the responsibility of his acts off his own shoulders. If any doubt existed on the question, he would ask those hon. Members who felt an interest in the subject of the welfare of the colonies to turn their attention for a moment to a point well worthy of the attention of the House. He would ask Government to refer to the evidence of the Colonial Minister given before a Committee of that House last year. In answer to question 6,850 in the evidence 320 taken before the Committee to which the Miscellaneous Estimates were referred, Earl Grey said that the ostensible decision was by the Board of Trade, but actually and substantially it remained with the Secretary of State on his expressing his opinion. It appeared, then, that there was no change, as the decision rested with the Secretary. The noble Earl, in his letter, said—In this proposal I have not suggested a mere innovation, but rather a return, as nearly as possible, to the mode of action contemplated on the original appointment of the Board of Plantations.He (Mr. Scott) protested against its being supposed that this arrangement was any return to the original plan for the constitution of the board. They also learnt from this letter, and from Earl Grey's evidence in June last, that he proposed to add Sir J. Stephen to the board, to judge of colonial matters, which certainly could not be considered any great novelty or innovation, for it would be going in the same way that they had been for the last quarter of a century; and he doubted whether our colonies would consider the return of Sir J. Stephen to office would be attended with any great advantage. It might be said, then, as it was said by Mr. Pulteney in the last century, that the appeal to the Privy Council was a constant source of complaint. The delay, the expense, the secrecy, the enormous powers of the Colonial-office patronage, which brought cases under the head of prerogative, were calculated to create in the colonies that estrangement which the undue exercise of the powers of the Crown created at home under the Stuarts. He would abstain from expressing any further opinion on these subjects; but would refer to an extract from a despatch of the Earl of Aberdeen, when he was Colonial Minister, which did not, however, refer to the Privy Council, but to another judicial tribunal, where a practice bad been adopted of not giving reasons for its judgments. The remarks of the Earl of Aberdeen, with reference to a judge who refused to give reasons for the decisions which he gave, was—If it be really true that the withholding the grounds of his decisions is either the privilege or the duty of any judge in any part of Her Majesty's dominions, it is impossible that such a principle of law could be abolished too soon or too completely. The absolute dominion of the law, as enforced by its judicial interpreter, would be 321 nothing less than a degrading oppression and tyranny, if they were not compelled to explain distinctly the grounds of every decision they adopt.If these remarks applied to the case of an individual judge, how much more strongly did they apply to a body like the Privy Council! As an illustration of this, he would take the case of a judge who had been removed, into the particular merits of which he would not however enter, but which showed the secret proceedings of the Privy Council. Mr. Justice Wallis set aside proceedings pronounced illegal; he gained his cause and paid his costs, while the party who lost was ordered to have his costs paid for him. He could obtain no record of the ground of this decision. Again, Mr. Justice Pedder's case also showed the uncertain conduct of the Colonial Office, for he was appointed, suspended, replaced, and displaced, and the colony of St. Lucia had to pay for these various vagaries caused by the vacillating whims and fancies of the supreme dictator. But with regard to public affairs, he did not say that there should not be a veto to the acts of Colonial Assemblies; but it was almost ludicrous to find how and where that negative rested. If it were not serious, it would be ridiculous that the gravest interest of colonies, having been by them debated and resolved and passed, should come to a closet in Downing-street, to be determined by the fiat or veto of an unknown gentleman. If they took the opinion of the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office, the mode of proceeding was most unfair to the colonies, for the veto on the acts of the Assemblies was decided in the most light and uncertain manner. The noble Earl, in his evidence before the Committee on the Miscellaneous Estimates last year, stated that the veto upon the deliberations of the Legislative Assemblies was decided, upon the advice of Mr. Wood or Mr. Rogers, by the Secretary of State. Who were these gentlemen?Annuit, et totum nutu tremefecit Olympum.Should the authority which extended from pole to pole be hid up three pair of stairs in a cul de sac in Westminster? Such proceedings destroyed confidence, irritated opposition, and created disgust and indignation. It was hardly decent or creditable to this country that matters of the greatest importance to the colonies should be decided at the suggestion of persons who were hardly known to the parties thus affected, and who, at the same time, were altogether irresponsible. He would now 322 proceed to call the attention of the House to the practical inconvenience and the hardship and personal injustice of the mode of keeping and auditing colonial accounts. Great Britain paid upwards of 52,000l. a year to 170 persons employed in the Audit Office. A considerable saving might be made by allowing the colonies to audit their own accounts, instead of sending them home to Somerset House, where they lay for years. The accounts of the American colonies, now the United States, were only settled about twenty years ago. Things were not quite so bad now; but still the error of a shilling often occasioned the correspondence of a year and a large outlay before it was disposed of. Another great subject of grievance to which he wished to call the attention of the House, and which was one great evil of our colonial system attendant on the present plan, was its constantly-changing policy. In ordinary times the action of Government was less required to control men, than with steady policy to direct business and to guide commerce into productive and permanent channels. Before and since the time of Earl Bathurst, the average tenure of office of a Colonial Minister had been eighteen months; and in the last four years they had had imposed upon them four new Secretaries and four fresh Under Secretaries in the Colonial Office. Latterly they had seen still greater changes in the office. The colonies not only changed their chief rulers every year or eighteen months, but that master changed his own mind every six weeks, and the orders sent to the colonies were revoked by himself before they could come into operation. For instance, the despatch affecting the social condition of Canada was sent out and revoked within a month. The constitution for Now Zealand was sent out and recalled within the year. The Governor, not knowing what to do, in the meantime acted upon it in one island, while he entertained doubts as to whether he should adopt it in the other. He would not further allude to the settlement established in North Australia, further than to observe, that this country was saddled with 15,000l for this vagary. Transportation to Van Diemen's Land was adopted, then it was abandoned, then resumed, to be again abandoned, and since to be resumed in an altered form. A constitution which proved a misfit was sent out to New South Wales, and was now reported to have been only a sample, a pattern not meant for wear, and only sent out as a 323 joke. He might add another of the same sort, which was sent out to the Cape, and which was equally as had a fit, and of as little comfort to the intended wearer. He remembered hearing of the noble Earl, in 1830, sending shoes to the negroes, and razors to men who had no beards; but this was worse; and this cup-and-ball practice, this battledore-and-shuttlecock play was poor fun for the unfortunate colonies. A signal instance of this perpetually shifting policy was to he found in the ruinous land system pursued in Australia, whereby the settlement had been injured, capital had been consigned to bankruptcy, and enterprise converted into depair. In a very few years the Colonial Office, not only without but contrary to the advice of every governor, as well as of every other person possessed of colonial information, had perpetrated nine principal, and committed in all seventy minor changes, each change altering or affecting the article of the greatest importance in the colony. He had heard in that House the question—what was a pound? But in New South Wales nobody could tell what was an acre. In a few years there was the disposition of land—first, by free grants; second, by sales at a fixed price; thirdly, by sales by auction; fourth, by auction with a minimum of 5s. per acre; fifth, by auction, with a minimum of 12s. 1d.; sixth, with a minimum of 20s. an acre; seventh, occupation was to be by tenancy at will under the Crown; eighth, occupation was to he by annual license under the Crown; and ninth, by occupation by leases for fourteen years. At last the Colonial Office came to a stand on this question. In vain every governor remonstrated that they had taken their stand on the wrong place—in vain every governor in every colony protested against the course that was being pursued, as being absolute destruction to the colonies—in vain did eight or nine Committees expostulate and demonstrate the error and the folly of persisting in such proceedings:—Sie volo, sic jubeo, stet pro ratione voluntas,was the conciliatory characteristic reply.
§ MR. SCOTT
That might be the case; but the evil was not the less. The fact was, they could not blame the Colonial Minister. It was impossible that he could be responsible for all that was going on. 324 The great evil was in the erroneous policy on this subject. The mere opening of the despatches, the occasional composition of didactic and moral essays, for the diffusion of sentences and the confusion of ideas, and misnamed despatches, was sufficient for any man, "be his talents and industry," as Lord Howick had said, "what they may;" to say nothing of the distribution of the patronage to the hordes who were quartered on the poverty of the colonists by the Colonial Minister, in the shape of treasurers, auditors, secretaries, surveyors, &c. The worst misfortune was, when the Minister had a crotchet or favourite theory which was to be worked out at the expense of the colony, as was the case in the land question and others. But this land crotchet had worked most cruelly in Australia, as he should have occasion to show. Notwithstanding this, the Emigration Commissioners in their fifth report, had the assurance to assert that—all the facility and certainty in the acquisition of land existed which might be expected from the provisions of the Land Act in the Australian colonies.This was asserted when land was ten times the price in these colonies that it was in the United States. It had been stated on a former occasion, that Great Britain had given free institutions to her colonies. No other country had such free institutions to give as England; but the power vested in the colonial representatives resembled that which existed under the constitution of Great Britain, about as much as the institutions of Russia or Turkey resemble those of England. He might be told that the charters of the colonies were counterparts to the constitution of Great Britain; but his reply was, that they were mere counterfeits. Canada, by rebellion, obtained a form of government not, perhaps, altogether to be admired; but by tumult it gained the power of self-government. Did the Colonial Office desire to produce the same effect through the same means? Some had representative chambers, with a greater or less power of choosing representatives. In many, the non-elected members were literal nominees of the Government, who vitiated or neautralised the independent opinion of the chamber by their undue preponderating influence. Here he would warn the House against the irritating system of attempted control, by reminding them that one of the earliest, if not the first, cause which led to the American war, was the refusal of Sir E. Bar- 325 nard, the Governor of Massachusetts, to admit into the representative chamber a member against whom he had an objection. In many of the colonies the chamber was useless. The executive power was totally independent and irrespective of majorities, and the Government sat as safe and absolute as if the same rule prevailed here. The noble Lord at the head of the Government could, under such a system, continue as firm in that House with only a score behind him, as if he had 400 to support him. The apparent indifference of that House to the interests of the colonies, had created the greatest dissatisfaction in them. How could they expect that all the North American colonies would be satisfied, when they found that responsible or independent government existed in Canada, while a neighbouring colony was governed by a bureaucracy who held the public offices there, not only independently of the Colonial Assembly, but also of the Governor himself? In this instance the Governor of the colony was subject to what was called a family compact. This was the case in the colony of Prince Edward's Island. He found that in that colony one gentleman, Mr. Haviland, held no fewer than ten offices of responsibility, emolument, and trust, which were these—1. Secretary; 2. Registrar; 3. Member of Executive Council; 4. Clerk of Executive Council; 5. Clerk of Legislative Council; 6. Accountant General in Chancery; 7. Master in Chancery; 8. Registrar of the Admiralty Court; 9. Puisne Judge; 10. Naval Officer, a sinecure of 150l. a year from the imperial treasury. Mr. Henry Haviland, son of the former, was provost marshal, with 100l. a year from the imperial treasury. Then, in the same colony, Mr. Pope, the son-in-law of Mr. Haviland, held no fewer than six offices, namely—1. Speaker of the House of Assembly; 2. Commissioner of Roads; 3. Commissioner for taking Acknowledgment of Deeds; 4. Deputy-Receiver of Land-tax; 5. Sub-Collector of Customs; 6. Collector of Import. The same gentleman was a magistrate; and it was almost needless to say that Mr. Haviland and Mr. Pope opposed responsible government. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in March last—Nothing contributed more to the stability of our social and constitutional system than did our habits of self-government. Self-government was an advantage for which we could hardly pay too 326 high a price. To attempt to undermine this would be to inflict a blow, not only on the prosperity but on the peace and happiness of this country, which they would rue to the end of their days.And the Earl of Ripon, in his circular despatch, dated the 5th of November, 1831, said—We should ever bear in mind the propriety of uniting together by a general law settlements which are parts of the same empire, and which are deriving their white population, their language, and their commercial capital from Great Britain.When such sentiments as these were avowed, he had a right to expect the support of Gentlemen on the other side to this Motion; and he did not see how those rights for which we ourselves contended could be withheld from communities which were civilised, and capable of governing themselves. But the bureaucratic or Crown colonies were governed by instructions from Downing-street. In all of them the enormous amount of reserved civil list placed the Government independent of any vote; and the question of supply—the keystone of political freedom—was denied to the colonists. The noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department recommended that a wide discretion should be given to the governors. That might, no doubt, be advisable if we were to govern the colonies on the Turkish principle of pachalics, for the more widely they deviated from their instructions, the more wisely and successfully did these proconsuls administer their provinces. But would it not be wiser to give a wider discretion to the governed, and instead of requiring British subjects to obey satraps, to teach them to administer their own affairs in the spirit of the British constitution? The assemblies could not be said to deliberate while they were controlled by the votes of nominees; nor could a chamber, though called representative, be said to represent, while composed as these were, the voice and intelligence of the people. Nor could colonial government be assimilated to the British constitution without an upper chamber. He did not despair of seeing an upper chamber in time, formed of more permanent materials, and which would guide the counsels and elevate the tone of society in our rising States. It had been the intention of Mr. Pitt to create such institutions, as was shown by his Quebec Bill. Why were there no inducements for rank, other than official rank, to settle in our colonies? Ancient Rome sent forth 327 her patricians to her colonies; Spain and Portugal sent out their nobles. Why should this country alone raise up communities of democrats and republicans, who would seek to throw off the thraldom of this country—for thraldom they regarded it? If England had regarded the colonies as rising States, of whose power she had cause to be jealous, the measures of the Colonial Office could not generally have been better calculated to limit their progress, republicanise their feelings, and estrange them from Great Britain. This was especially to be seen in the case of colonial expenditure. The amounts paid by the colonies and for the colonies were alike enormous. Three millions sterling wrung from struggling settlers, the first-fruits of their enterprise, or from languishing proprietors, the last fraction of bankruptcy; taxes imposed on industry, and exacted out of capital—these were not half the results of our system of colonial expenditure. If the financial condition and the commercial condition of our colonies were considered together, the picture was not much less gloomy. The noble Earl the Colonial Secretary had contrasted the progress of our present commercial intercourse with the colonies with that of a former century, but the comparison was anything but happy. Here, however, he must say, that he had no intention of alluding to the noble Earl personally, but only as the administrator of a pernicious system. Mr. Burke, in 1775, in his speech on conciliation with America, showed that the exports to the colonies had increased since 1704 from 569,930l. to 6,024,171l., being in the proportion of nearly eleven to one. At the time Mr. Burke spoke, the whole commerce of the country amounted to 16,000,000l., so that the trade to the colonies, which in the first period constituted only one-twelfth of the whole, had increased to considerably more than one-third. Now, in August last, Earl Grey had called attention to the wonderful fact, that the exports to Australia had increased twelve-fold in seventeen years, or at the rate of forty-eight fold in sixty-eight years. But even the most rapid progress of Australia, owing, as Earl Grey had justly stated, to the enterprising spirit of the people, aided by modern science and improvements in navigation, did not equal or exceed that of Pennsylvania, which increased from 11,800l. to 507,900l., or nearly fifty-fold, in sixty-eight years. If a steady and fostering hand had aided not only 328 the Australian but our other colonies, their wealth and production would have been far greater than they now were. But the principle of the rule of the Colonial Office was adverse to colonial interests, and as if the recent changes in commercial policy were not sufficiently injurious, the Colonial Office literally imposed extravagance upon indigence. This was especially so in the case of the sugar-growing, or, as they had better be termed, our bankrupt colonies. The case of one was nearly that of all. Jamaica, Barbadoes, St. Vincent, all were depressed; and in almost all the expenditure exceeded the income. They begged for economy and retrenchment, but England objected on the score of expense. Why, economy, next to liberty, was the shibboleth of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Minister for the Colonies was the patron of economy, and yet he refused to allow the colonies to retrench. The spendthrift asked permission to reduce, but the economist refused his consent. In British Guiana it had been agreed to reduce the salary of the Governor, but the Minister refused. The Secretary was only entitled to 700l. a year; but the noble Earl the Colonial Secretary, generous with the money of other people, awarded him 1,500l. Commerce and enterprise were literally weighed down by taxation. Lately it had been remarked that in Ceylon commerce of the value of 600,000l. was mulcted the could use no other term) to the amount of 408,000l., while the civil list sanctioned by the Home Government amounted to 236,000l. In the Mauritius, commerce amounting to 1,000,000l. was burdened to the extent of 360,000l., being at the rate of 2l. per head. In Guiana the taxes were 273,000l., or 2l. 6s. per head; while the civil list was 39,000l., in which a reduction was promised, but the promise was broken. In Jamaica the trade was decreasing, and the debt increasing. The colonists there desired retrenchment, and they had complained of the civil list and of a Governor for an attempt, first, to evade the retrenchment, and then to evade the complaint. The Assembly of Jamaica now objected to grant the supplies until retrenchment was effected, and passed a Bill granting them to February; but on engrossing the Bill the time was extended to December, and the Assembly were alarmed and irritated at the surreptitious alteration. The trade of the island had sunk one half: the adverse balance upon exports of only 894,621l. was 395,293l., and with a revenue 329 of 190,700l., the expenditure in October last amounted to 239,695l. The supplies were voted on condition of retrenchment; but the Governor prorogued the Assembly in order to obtain the supplies and get rid of the condition. Jamaica, oppressed and impoverished by the counsels of her rulers, and the country to which she belonged, desired a system suitable to her present condition; but economy was under the control of the Minister, and was denied. The commercial policy of this country pressed heavily upon the island, yet the Minister for the Colonies incapacitated her from bearing the pressure. The Governor received a salary larger than that of the Prime Minister, but a reduction was refused. The policy which reduced the finances refused to reduce the expenses, thus inducing the belief that the Government cared more for the patronage of the Governor than for the poverty of those he governed. The catalogue of complaints and distresses was long; the list of redresses short. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies would probably challenge opinion as to the liberality of the Colonial Office towards the colonies. Not a colony but would rejoice to accept the challenge, and enter the lists with him. He claimed the support of the hon. Gentleman, who the other evening exhibited so much jealousy respecting the local control of expenditure, and who applauded the constitutional sentiments that had been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wilts in March last, to the effect that "nothing was more unsound in principle than that expenses should be ordered and authorised by persons who had not themselves the management and control of the expenditure." But the whole colonial system was exactly one of centralisation. Berbice, Demerara, Tobago, had all drawn up petitions setting forth their deplorable condition, and complaining of their civil lists; they urged that governors were quartered upon them like Verres upon Sicily, to extort large exactions from their poverty, rather than to foster and protect them. So likewise the Mauritius, first ruined by our laws, and then oppressed by taxation, had had its loyalty sorely tested. Yet, not questioning the supremacy of the British flag, and being a part of the empire, it sought for constitutional liberty, and a reduction of its enormous expenditure, complaining, not of the Legislature, but of the Colonial Office. Ceylon, driven to insurrection by harsh 330 imposts, was chastised into submission by sanguinary executions. Mr. C. Buller, whose premature loss the colonies and England alike deplored, when connected with the Colonial Office, felt that the system paralysed all efforts for good, and, like one struggling with the storms of fate, lamented that he had incurred responsibility without the power of action. Why was it that, since the Colonial Office was established on its present footing in 1766, not one of the colonies acquired from foreign Powers since that period had obtained responsible government? Why do we always keep the chain about their necks, and, calling them Crown colonies, never let them forgot that they are ours by force, and not by affection? The hon. Under Secretary boasted of his liberal government. He assented to the proposition of responsible government in the colonies, but the acts of the Colonial Office did not square with these professions. "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." Insurrection and rebellion were the channels to the favour of the Colonial Office; and two millions of money was the stamp duty, or fee, which Downing-street exacted from the British public before it would consent to grant responsible government to a colony. If this were a correct picture of the effects of our present perfect colonisation on the material or mercantile interests of many of our colonies—its effects on the social condition of dependencies by nature suited to the settlement of British subjects and on the organisation of rising States were equally deplorable. When exercised by ministerial favour, and where office alone conferred rank or position in society, there could be no independence. Station by virtue of holding office, especially in remote and small communities, was apt to engender a haughty demeanour to those who were excluded—namely, to the colonists, and a servility to superiors. This was peculiarly apparent in the Australian colonies. The settlers being tabooed as unfit for any office above 300l, a year, the pursuit of wealth became their only business, and its possession their idolatry. They were not settlers; they were merely gold seekers. The Government would not allow them a permanent interest, by reason of the absurd price it placed on land—a price equal to four or five times the price of land in the United States. He should much like to know how much country land the Government had sold of late years in Australia. The 331 urban and the mining lots comprise almost the whole sales. There were comparatively no gentlemen permanently settled in Australia; the few who had temporary interests returned as soon as they could realise their capital. The noble Earl was in error when, in August, he created an impression that there existed a proper distribution of the grades of society. He quoted from a despatch of the late Government six or seven years ago. It was true that there then went out some of the best blood of the three kingdoms—the Cliffords, the Petres, the Wrottesleys, Trevelyans, Verners, and Mackenzies. But where were they? What were they now? Were they settlers? They had never been allowed to settle. They went out under the double delusion that they might have some place in society—that, perhaps, they might have some voice in the Government. They went out with hope; they returned in disgust. If they went out with money, they had returned in poverty. There was no such thing to be found as a happy settler. There might be fortunate speculators; and the Colonial Office, being the obstacle to colonisation, was the real cause of the low tone of society. No means to colonise were afforded to the poor; no inducements were extended to the rich to settle. There was absolutely no middle class, no yeomen, no middle men—there was no framework, no cement, no order of society. Government was everywhere to interfere, but nowhere to protect. The finger of Government interposed viciously and feebly from a distance. Hesitation referred back to ignorance, and in the meantime the colony fretted and suffered. The Colonial Office was weak as it was arbitrary, and arbitrary as it was blind. Feeble and vacillating as it was here, it was omnipotent in the colonies; and, itself being blind, all its work was done in the dark. Why was this so? From an attempt to reconcile that which it was impossible to harmonise—the profession of freedom with the practice of despotism; the arbitrary rule of foreign centralisation with the liberty of British subjects; permission given to communities to raise, while they were denied the power to apply, their own money; official rank giving position to a few, but money the sole pursuit of the many; real property retained in the hands of the Government, society necessarily composed of speculators; capitalists, too wise to make permanent investments, and gambling for the quickest return of money. Such was the 332 perfection of the model system of colonial government. The Colonial Office assumed much credit for emigration; but it was absolutely entitled to no credit whatever, and deserved censure rather than praise. The emigration circular stated that nearly 2,000,000 had gone out in twenty-four years. But where had they gone? Not to our colonies; for altogether they did not contain 2,000,000 of British people. The largest and an increasing proportion had gone to the United States. When those States became independent, they contained 2,000,000, and they now contained 18,000,000. All those who were able went not to our colonies, but to foreigners. Emigration to the United States in twenty-four years had risen from forty to sixty per cent, and last year to seventy-six per cent, of the whole number—namely, 188,000 out of 248,000; being, in one year, equal to the whole population of New South Wales. Earl Grey, in a despatch to Sir Charles Fitzroy, maintained that the system must be good which in ten years raised one million sterling, and added 50,000 souls to the population. If one million sterling abstracted, and 50,000 persons added, be a good system; that which retained eighteen millions sterling, and added 500,000 British subjects to the population, must be nineteen times as good as regarded money, and ten times as good as regarded population. Such was the system of emigration to the United States, carried on in despite of our Government. It would be well to remember the haphazard emigration to Canada, which cost a million, and in which 15,000 or 16,000 persons died in one year, on the passage or on landing. And the emigration to Australia, of which the Colonial Office boasted, and which was more than others under Government control, had been as faulty and extravagant. It was unjustly carried on at the sole cost of the colony, and the expenditure bad never been audited or examined. It involved almost a misappropriation of funds, sums having been thus unduly abstracted from the colony which might have been available for public works. Passing from this subject, he would refer, in the next place, to that of convict transportation. Convict transportation had, in various colonies, been joined with free emigration; and convict servitude being mixed with free institutions had tainted colonial society. He did not lay all the blame of this upon the Colonial Office; but he blamed the system. In one 333 colony three-fourths of the adult population were, or had been, convicts. It appeared to him that on this ground alone the present was a time for a serious inquiry. Complaints were made in England of the expense of our armies; and it was urged in reply, that the extent of our colonial empire, and the severe duty it involved, rendered the maintenance of a considerable military force absolutely necessary. Why, 50 out of the 112 battalions in the service were employed in the colonies. There was no doubt that colonial service killed our troops. The War Office required force to counteract the mischief of the Colonial Office; in other words, the Colonial Office killed the War Office. The system pursued obliged the War Office to send out troops which might be disbanded or sent home, if the colonies were governed well; in short, the best economy and the surest means of reducing our military expenditure would be to reduce the establishment of the Colonial Office. In some instances the number of troops sent out was absolutely useless for defence. Why send to New South Wales only a single regiment, which had to do duty over a country of 1,400 or 1,500 miles? Might it not be worth consideration whether some arrangement could not be made for the organisation of a local militia, by requiring those who obtained free or partially free passages to enrol themselves for militia service when called upon, or some plan adopted similar to that of Russia in her military colonies? He did not wish to depreciate the value of our garrison colonies. They were as requisite to our dominion as to our strength. They were the propugnacula imperii, which enabled us to obtain those garrisons: it was their possession which enabled us to retain the empire of the sea. But they were not colonies, strictly—they were, rather, military stations; and surely the Colonial Office had enough to do, without interfering in their management. They cost one million annually, He did not undertake to say whether this amount was excessive or insufficient; but he thought the warmest advocates of economy hardly desired to hand over Gibraltar or Malta to France or Russia, though one cost 226,000l., and the other 140,000l. per annum, in addition to their own revenues of 100,000l each. These places, being great military positions, ought to be under military command; but the appointment of the Lord Mayor of London to be commander-in-chief at the Horse Guards could 334 not be more inappropriate and preposterous than the appointment of Mr. More O'Ferrall as Governor of Malta, with a salary of 4,000l. or 5,000l. per annum. No doubt Mr. O'Ferrall could sleep well with the keys of Valetta under his pillow; but why not appoint a military man to be the governor of such an important military station? The hon. Gentleman opposite, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, had, at a public meeting, challenged the whole world to show a system of colonisation so successful, so effectual, and so beneficial in its results as that of the British empire. If by this was meant the system by which we had lost some of our best and most important possessions, the system had been most successful. We had acquired others from foreign Powers; but what bad the Colonial Office to do with the capture of Canada, Trinidad, Jamaica, St. Lucia, British Guiana, the Capo, Mauritius, Ceylon, Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands? Had the Colonial Office deserved any credit for retaining these places? Look at the "successful and effective" result of the latest attempt at colonisation. Within the last few months—indeed, the ink was hardly dry—there had been given up a large and rich island, the island of Vancouver, to a company not likely to make the least use of it. That island had harbours, coal, and other productions likely to be of incalculable advantage hereafter; but all had been surrendered to a company whose interest lay not in peopling but in depopulating it, and whose profit arose from keeping the land free from people. Another instance was New Zealand, upon which, since 1841, nearly 200,000l. had been spent. New Zealand, from the moans that had been taken, ought to have been the most successful colony of all. It was advocated most strongly by the noble Earl now at the head of the Colonial Office; and, for a long time, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonics was a director of the New Zealand Company. [Mr. HAWES: Not a director.] He had been very much misinformed if the hon. Gentleman had not been a director of the Company. He had been so told by the Secretary of the New Zealand Company, who said he was sorry the hon. Gentleman was no longer a director. [Mr. HAWES: He is quite mistaken.] He admitted that his informant was mistaken. They boasted, however, of the success of New Zealand, and repudiated military expenditure. Why, military expenditure had been the 335 very life-blood of New Zealand. It had subsisted on the Commissariat expenditure alone up or nearly to the present time. After this, he was sure New Zealand had a poor chance of being urged in defence of this country's system of colonisation. Crime might be transported, and poverty shovelled out, and this might be called colonisation; but was it the most successful system of colonisation the world had ever seen? When the hon. Gentleman boasted that the policy pursued had been not only successful but beneficial, he would ask him whether he alluded to the present state of the West Indies? Were they to look for its effects in the bankruptcy, the disgust, and the disaffection visible there—in the feeling that bad faith had been kept? None of those colonies had at present the benefits of the constitution of this country. Loyality, however, existed there. He believed the Queen had no more loyal subjects in her empire; and if disaffection, not amounting to disloyalty, did exist, it was in consequence of a feeling that the trust reposed in the Colonial Office was not exercised towards the colonists with that advantage and prudence which they had a right to expect from the mother country. It was said the colonies were expensive; the colonists threw back the complaint, and said we were unjust. The House might depend upon it, that if relief was long delayed, Her Majesty's sceptre, instead of being extended over a well-affected and truly-cemented empire, would sway only a disunited dominion, because the affections of the best portion of colonial subjects would be alienated. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the political and financial relations between Great Britain and her Dependencies, with a view to reduce the charges on the British Treasury, and to enlarge the functions of the Colonial Legislatures.
§ MR. HAWES
The House, I am sorry to see, does not appear to take that interest in this important question which I, for one, should desire—[At this time there were scarcely forty Members present]—but the hon. Gentleman, I think, must take the blame to himself for having proposed a Motion upon which I hardly think he can seriously intend to take the sense of the House, namely, a Motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the political and financial relations between 336 Great Britain and her forty-three dependencies—a duty, I apprehend, quite beyond the grasp of a Committee, and the termination of which no Member of the present House of Commons could certainly ever hope to see. On this ground I shall give a decided negative to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman; not that I undervalue the importance of the subject—not that I think that a Select Committee with reference to particular colonies might not occasionally be most usefully appointed; but because it is perfectly impossible for a Committee of this House to discharge functions so great and various as those which the hon. Gentleman would impose upon it. But this will not prevent my entering into a discussion upon this subject, and I enter willingly into it. It is not discussion upon colonial policy or colonial affairs that I dread, but it is the ignorance of the public, and the misrepresentations that are constantly being made of our colonial policy, and the state and condition of our colonies, that I wish to guard against, and apprehend most from. I will take this opportunity to glance briefly over what I will venture to call our colonial system. I do not pretend to say that it may not he susceptible of improvement and alteration. Far from it; but I desire to place before the House, as accurately as I can, in a short time, a knowledge of what our colonial system is. Certainly the hon. Gentleman's speech has thrown no light upon the subject. He has retailed a good deal of the ordinary misrepresentation respecting the Colonial Office and our colonial system; but he has pointed out no one single remedy—he has enunciated no single principle on which he would venture to act with the view of improving the existing system—he has suggested no one modification or reform. Now, there are various forms of government existing in the different colonies of this empire. There are those colonies that enjoy representative government, together with what is called, popularly, responsible government. By that phrase I understand—and I believe it is the only correct interpretation of it—that the executive council or administration of the Governor is dependent on the majority of the House of Assembly. Wherever that form of government exists, then, representative government is combined with responsible government; and that, I hold, is the most perfect system. Such is the form established in Canada, New Brunswick, and 337 Nova Scotia; and I may say, that in Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland it is gradually establishing itself unobstructed by interference from any quarter. What, then, retards its progress? The hon. Gentleman seems to think that it is in the power of the Colonial Office to confer at once a perfect system of government upon a colony. Why, the condition of a good constitution is the existence of a certain amount of population and of intelligence. Without that, you may prematurely and injuriously confer liberal institutions upon a colony. But this condition in some of the North American colonics is fulfilled; and in Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia especially, you have at present the most perfect system of colonial government. The Crown, undoubtedly, does sanction formally all colonial laws and acts; for it is the connecting link between the Crown and the colonies; but as regards these colonies a veto or disallowance is rare. The principal subjects which occasion any collision at all, if I may so speak, are connected with trade and commerce only; and I am sure the House will see that it is of the utmost importance that the Crown should retain the power of establishing something like a uniformity of principle between the mother country and the colonies, in respect to acts relating to the trade and commerce of the empire. If we are to carry out our views of commercial policy, I know nothing of more importance than that we should endeavour to bring colonial and imperial laws into harmony upon that subject. But there are other forms of government existing, which may be considered representative governments, and are such strictly, in which the element of responsibility very imperfectly exists, and perhaps for some time cannot be admitted. It is the case very generally in our West Indian colonies. There, what is called responsible government, does not exist; and there are many reasons why it is impossible at the present moment that it should be introduced. But again I say, to this form of government there can be, and there is, no objection in point of principle on the part of those who administer our colonial affairs. All the representative bodies in our West Indian colonies, however, possess considerable power. They have an entire control over their expenditure—they annually vote the supplies—itself a highly important privilege. Take the case of Jamaica at this moment. The Crown never interferes in the taxation or 338 the expenditure of that colony. The Assembly raises its own taxes, and expends them under its own authority and superintendence. I scarcely know an instance of any direct interference of late years in Jamaica, or in any of the chartered West Indian colonies, upon the subject of taxation and expenditure. In the case of Trinidad, a Crown colony, the revenue fell far below the expenditure. The Governor, a man of singular disinterestedness and ability, proposed at once to reduce the cost of the establishments. Was there any objection interposed on the part of the Colonial Office? None. The proposal was immediately assented to, because there was a clear and sufficient ground shown for a diminution of the expenditure. The hon. Member for Berwickshire also alluded to Guiana. I am prohibited in a great measure from considering the condition of that colony, because it is now under the consideration of a Committee; but I may say that Lord Grey has stated his perfect willingness to reduce all the salaries there as vacancies occur, and that he has not expressed any indisposition to reconsider the cost of establishments there, if the subject is legitimately brought under his consideration. I state these facts in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for the University of Oxford, who knows as much as I do upon this subject. But there is a material difference between Trinidad and Guiana; because in Trinidad there is no civil-list ordinance, whereas in Guiana a civil list was volunteered by the colony in 1844, and they guaranteed to certain public officers salaries for ten years by an Act of the local legislature sanctioned by the Crown. It must be remembered, moreover, that the franchise in the West Indies is not extensive; that the persons returned to the houses of Assembly do not represent the whole population; that they are, in point of fact, oligarchical bodies. [Mr. HUME: SO are we here.] Well, if the hon. Member for Montrose wishes to extend the franchise in the West Indies, he will find a very great indisposition towards such a measure on the part of the colonists themselves. Those bodies represent a few merchants, and in many cases absentees exclusively. In Guiana they vote by proxy, and the owners of property here vote for the election of representatives there; some persons holding as many as fifteen or twenty votes. These bodies, therefore, are not, properly speak- 339 ing, popular and representative bodies; they are bodies representing interests and concerns over which it is necessary that the Crown should exercise a certain control. Wherever you have a class long dominant, and a race long subject, and wherever the disproportion between the two is great, with the popular assembly, as it is called, representing only the dominant class, it is obviously necessary and just and useful that the Crown should be an arbitrator and moderator between these two parties. That is generally the case in all the West India islands, and therefore I contend that it is useful and just and sound policy for the Crown to retain that power in those colonies. But there is very little interference with colonial legislation. I remember, on a former occasion, referring to a return which I had had prepared upon that point, and which showed, if I recollect rightly, this result: that out of 912 local ordinances, only 55 were reserved for consideration; those 55 being chiefly acts relating to questions of purely practical administration, such as the registration of births, deaths, and marriages, doubtless of great importance to the colonies, but to the consideration of which the Home Government could bring a degree of experience and knowledge which might he most beneficially applied. Now, with regard to the interests of the emancipated classes in the West Indies, I say it is just and right that the Crown should retain a certain power over the legislation of those colonies, and that that must be the case until the masses advance faster than they are likely to do, I fear, in intelligence and information. There have been many collisions upon this subject between the planters and the Colonial Office. It is not for me to say that the Colonial Office has been always right, and the planters always wrong; but neither can I say that the planters have been always right, and the Colonial Office always wrong. But the Colonial Office had a high duty imposed upon it. It had to watch over the interests of the great majority of the population of the West Indies; and it was a duty which it could not shake of without abandoning the most defenceless and weakest class of Her Majesty's subjects in those colonies. I now pass on to what are called "Crown colonies." The government in these colonies varies. Some of them are governed by a governor and council, the council consisting in some cases solely of official 340 members, and in others of official and unofficial members enjoying certain powers and privileges under royal instructions. The Colonies, for instance, with a council composed of official and unofficial members, are the Australian, the Cape of Good Hope, New Zealand, Mauritius, and Ceylon. I should except New South Wales, because in that colony, 26 members out of the 36 who compose the council are elected by the people, and the governor has not a majority in the council. A popular election, in fact, of the representative body exists in New South Wales. I was certainly surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman speak of the interference of the Government in that colony. I believe he referred to questions relating to the regulations for the sale of land. That question had been settled by Act of Parliament. The Colonial Office had nothing to do with it; and I remind the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark of it, because he was one of the ablest and most constant supporters of a fixed minimum price. Perhaps my opinions upon that point are rather heretical. Still the measure was forced upon the Government by this House, and ultimately it was embodied into an Act of Parliament by the especial friends of colonisation. If, therefore, there has been a degree of interference in New South Wales, in reference to the sale and distribution of lands, the House, and parties in the House, are responsible for it, and not the Colonial Office. There are, however, other Crown colonies where the council is composed alone of official members. They include a class of minor colonies, our African settlements—Hong-Kong, Malta, and Gibraltar, which partake more of the character of military stations than of colonies. Now, I will here state the result of our colonial system, and it will appear striking. We have 43 colonies, and not 50, 60, or 70, as has been variously stated; 27 of these have representative institutions, some in a higher degree of perfection than others, no doubt, but the whole have representative institutions, including Canada, New Brunswick, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbadoes, and all the minor West Indian colonies. I should explain, however, that when I say twenty-seven have representative institutions, I place under that head those which will he included in a Bill which I hope to be able in a short time to lay before the House with reference to our Australian colonies. I also include the Cape of 341 Good Hope, where the principle has been conceded.
§ MR. HAWES
You exclude New Zealand. Well, twenty-two have representative institutions at this moment, more or less perfect. In this number I include British Guiana, and New South Wales, and the Ionian Islands, together with the West Indian colonies I have referred to. To the Capo, and to the remaining colonies in Australia, namely, South Australia, Van Die-men's Land, New Zealand, and Western Australia, conditionally as regards the latter, the principle is conceded—making twenty-seven colonies possessing, or about to possess, the privileges of representative government. In the case of New Zealand, provision is already made by Act of Parliament for the establishment of representative government. It has been suspended, I think, for good and sufficient reasons. New South Wales, as I have stated already, enjoys the full practical benefits of this form of government. An alteration was certainly at one time contemplated, and Earl Grey having candidly communicated to them what he considered a good constitution, and the Legislative Council preferring to retain their present constitution, Lord Grey immediately acceded to their wishes, and the new constitution of New South Wales forms the basis of the Bill which I shall soon submit to the House. Van Diemen's Land will also have the same form of government; and Western Australia, as soon as it can take upon itself to conduct its own government without aid from Parliament. British Guiana is, in point of fact, a colony having a representative government, very imperfect—very defective, I fully admit, and I should hope that out of its present troubles may come a better and a more liberal constitution. With regard to the Ionian Islands, there they have a representative government. It is, however, very complicated, founded upon the Treaty of Vienna. Still it is a representative constitution, and the present Governor has suggested improvements, to which no objection in principle has been made. Sixteen colonies, then, remain, not possessing representative constitutions. I take, first, Trinidad; and I think it would be difficult for any one satisfactorily to settle a form of constitution in 342 the present state of its population, in which the whites are a small minority, and the coloured population constitutes so large a majority. With regard to Heligoland, St. Helena, and our African colonies, few, I think, would advocate representative governments in them. Ceylon and the Mauritius have been mentioned. With regard to Ceylon, I ventured to say upon a former occasion that it would be quite impossible to establish a representative government there, with a population of a million and a half of Asiatics, and only 4,000 or 5,000 Europeans, if, indeed, the residents amount to that number. I apply the same remarks also to the Mauritius, where, undoubtedly, more favourable elements exist; and I hope that the institutions of that island may be improved by the introduction of municipal institutions as the basis for future representative institutions. And thus, looking over our colonial empire, we have forty-three colonies, of which twenty-seven either possess representative institutions, or have had them already formally conceded by the Secretary of State. Throughout the whole of them you have a free press, without exception. You have trial by jury; and in those possessing representative institutions, they have the entire control of the purse. As an Englishman, indeed, I must say that I look with pride upon our colonial empire, as one which, in my opinion, contrasted with any other colonial empire, ancient or modern, reflects honour and credit upon this country. I cannot help complaining that I have been much misrepresented by the hon. Member for Berwickshire, who has represented me as defending every act of colonial administration. The words I used were these:—Now it was not for me to presume to defend all the errors and defects which might in past times have characterised the colonial system; but this I do say, that the colonial policy, taken as a whole, is the most successful and beneficial ever witnessed.I adhere to that. I do not believe you will find another instance in which any nation has so freely bestowed liberal institutions and political franchises on their colonies as England. I am not defending the Colonial Office; but I am speaking of the colonial policy of England; and I say, that the colonial policy of England, taken as a whole, is honourable to this country. I have thus spoken of the system of our colonial government; I have said, that it is one which reflects credit and honour on 343 the country, and I think so; but there are, nevertheless, many causes of discontent; many causes which interfere with the harmonious working of the system; and I ask the attention of the House for a short period to what are the causes of discontent, and which, I must say, are used not inactively at home for purposes very different from those for which the colonists complain of them. The imperial policy of this country has to be carried out in some of its great and leading features by the Colonial Office. The Colonial Office is the agent and organ of the policy decided on by this House and the country. I may bring under four distinct heads the great questions which have originated the sharpest and the most angry collisions between the Colonial Office and the various colonies; I may bring under four heads those causes of differences which have from time to time existed, for which the Colonial Office has been made responsible, but for which Gentlemen of the House of Commons and the country at large are responsible, and clearly have to share the reproach which is now heaped on the Colonial Office, which is merely the organ of the principles and policy enunciated by this country. I will take, in the first place, abolition of slavery. Anybody who will look into the history of our colonial possessions will admit that the complaints founded upon the alleged injustice and injury of that measure were, of course, made to the Colonial Minister of the day; they had to be met and answered by him; and all the collisions and differences which arose entirely out of the policy of this country, as to the abolition of slavery, were directed to and against the Colonial Department. This House decided that great question of national policy, and the Colonial Office bore the brunt of all the complaints, and had to sustain the policy of the House; and yet those friends of humanity who supported that great question are now amongst those who complain the loudest. That is not all. This House resolved, after many and able debates, that the policy of free trade should be the policy of this country. Did not that affect your colonies? It affected your colonies most sensibly, and yet the Colonial Office has to maintain those general views; to bring all local enactments into harmony with the imperial policy; to hoar all the complaints, bear all the reproaches; and those Gentlemen who advocate this large scheme of policy, which I consider beneficial to the empire, now shrink from their 344 share of its responsibility—they leave that to the Colonial Office. Take the cases of Jamaica and Guiana. Why have they complained? They distinctly and emphatically say, "You have withdrawn protection from us, and therefore we will insist on reducing the expenditure." That brings on a collision. Who bears the brunt? The Colonial Office. I am quite sure that any one who has read the resolutions passed at public meetings in Guiana must have seen that they attribute a great deal of their distress to our free-trade policy. If bankruptcy follow, in the transition from monopoly to free trade, do not visit it on the executive department; but take a fair share of the blame to yourselves, if blame there be. I concur in that policy, and many of those who are now assailing our colonial policy are not the friends of free trade—are by no means the men who have stood forward to identify themselves with its progress, but, taking advantage of the distress of the moment, are seeking to injure those who advocate principles which they know themselves are those to which Parliament and the country have bound the Colonial Office to adhere; and they know that my noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office is the last man to shrink from carrying out those views which he thinks right. I am bound to say that these questions are discussed unfairly when everything is attributed to the administration of colonial affairs, and nothing attributed to the policy which it is the duty of the Administration to carry out. There is another great question, which sometimes brings us into collision with the legislature of New South Wales—that which is called the waste land question. I again refer to the hon. Baronet the Member for South-wark, and others, who are the ablest advocates of what may be described as the assertion of the Crown's right over waste lands with a view to promote emigration and colonisation. It is the assertion of this right, now embodied in an Act of Parliament, which the Australian colonies complain of. Here is the hon. Mover of this Motion to-night, who has an official connexion, I believe, with New South Wales, and is supposed to speak the sentiments of the colony, and who complains most bitterly of the Waste Lands Act. The colonies claim the right of selling this land at any price at which they can sell it. The evidence before the Council of New South Wales strictly bears me out. They 345 say it ought to be 2s. 6d., 4s., or 5s., as the case may be, and that they ought to be the judges. I am not raising the quesion—I am stating the fact; it creates disputes, and originates complaints; and, therefore, I beg it may be understood, that to the Act of the Imperial Parliament the Colonial Office is bound to adhere, and that is not the policy of the Colonial Office, but of Parliament. Thus, whether I refer to the abolition of the slave trade or slavery; the introduction of free trade, or, as regards our West Indian colonies, the free competition between the produce of free labour and slave labour; the disposal of waste lands upon the terms and conditions determined by the Imperial Parliament; and, I might add, our penal system, including transportation; I find, under four or five great heads, the source and cause of the greatest colonial grievances for which Parliament is answerable, but for which the Colonial Office is made unfairly responsible; and friends and opponents of these measures join in reproaching the Colonial Minister for adhering to and upholding schemes of policy of which the country and Parliament are the authors. I complain of this injustice. With regard to conferring local self-government on the colonies, no one would go further than Lord Grey; and it does happen that no Colonial Minister has gone so far in conferring local self-government as he has done. There is really but one obstacle to extending the principle of local self-government, and that is the fitness of the colony to receive it. Show me an instance of a colony which is fitted to receive local self-government, and I will show that the local self-government is enjoyed or conceded. I have already hinted at one limitation to the application of self-government—namely, where there is a dominant class, and a subject or different race. In the West Indies, Mauritius, and Ceylon, the total native and coloured population amounts to 2,600,000 persons; the whites amount to about 80,500. Will any one venture to say that in colonies so situated you can confer local self-government? I object to those general maxims which are propounded now and then, that you are to confer representative government indiscriminately on the colonies. This was the great mistake of the French at the period of the first revolution; they carried out in St. Domingo general maxims, without discrimination and discretion; they extended franchises and 346 rights which led to a desolating civil war. If they had taken the English policy as a guide—had England possessed the colony, and had determined to extend the political rights and privileges of this colony, it would have been done with discrimination, care, and judgment, and that colony might have been preserved, and order and prosperity secured. There is another limitation of self-government, namely, where you have a great military establishment, and have imperial interests, paramount interests, which you cannot surrender—which you cannot allow to be weakened. In these cases you must limit the power of local self-government to purely municipal affairs at most; but the general control over such colonics must be vested in the Crown. Having thus ventured to describe what I may call our colonial system, apart from our colonial policy, I think I may justly deduce this result, that our colonial policy may be described correctly as one which, as a rule, confers political institutions and franchises on every colony that is in a condition to receive them with advantage. There can be no doubt, I think, looking over the list of colonies to which I have referred, that in all these cases the grant of free institutions has not preceded the time when the colony was in a state to receive them. Therefore I say that, in future, it will be the policy of this country to confer local self-government where the colony is in a state to enjoy it, and use it wisely and moderately; but the hon. Gentleman proposes to inquire as well into our financial as political relations. Now, I must say that that inquiry would be really hopeless and endless. Consider what are the financial relations of England with her colonies. Is it an early colony? There, undoubtedly, assistance is directly given by Parliament. In some of the colonies that have been ceded to us, very large assistance has been given. Up to 1831, 700,000l. or 800,000l. was voted from time to time for the Mauritius. In the Ceylon papers now before the House you will find that upwards of one million was voted in aid by England up to 1835. These things have come to an end; the colonies are placed on a better footing—they are bearing more and more the expenses of their establishments, and the object is to develop the resources of the colonies, and, ultimately, to enable them to bear entirely the expenses of their own government. The hon. Member for Berwickshire spoke of 347 the governors of the West Indian colonies being a great burden to those colonies. He forgets that, in the annual estimates, we vote a large sum for the salaries of West Indian governors. But it has been maintained by some hon. Members that, ruined as they are assumed to be by free trade, hampered as they are by competition, we ought no longer to extend any favour to them. I think the time is coming when this subject must be seriously reviewed; I am not disposed to think this is the time in which you ought to do so. At any rate the salaries of the governors so voted cannot be considered as a burden on the taxpayers of those colonies. Then, of course, there is large naval and military expenditure—it has been the subject of inquiry already to a very great extent. I think that in the course of time it will be subject to considerable reductions; but before you do that, you must replace the establishments by some efficient and adequate force, to maintain order and protect the colony. No man has done more than my noble Friend the head of the Colonial Department, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, to lay the foundation of a future considerable reduction in the expenditure of our colonies, by the establishment of a local force—by sending out pensioners with certain advantages, with respect to land; and by settlements where military service is connected with the tenure of land; thus laying the foundation for giving to the colonies a local force adequate to the maintenance of peace and order. I hold it to be perfectly impossible for a Committee to inquire into the political or financial relations of the colonies. I have glanced at our colonial system—I have ventured to state generally in what our colonial policy consists—I have alluded to some of the causes of expenditure, and have shown that it is not a matter which can be inquired into by a Committee of this House, for it would require a greater devotion of time and more information than it would be in the power of a Committee to give or to obtain in any reasonable time. It has been said that the patronage of the colonies is reserved entirely for the benefit of the aristocracy—that it is the object of the Government to retain this patronage, with a view to provide places for the aristocracy. In the first place, let me just divide the patronage of the colonies distinctly under two heads. Undoubtedly the Crown possesses the power to appoint governors and 348 the highest functionaries in the colonies; but, with regard to all the appointments below the officers of the highest rank, almost invariably the patronage of the Colonial Office is given upon the recommendation of the governor of the colony, and that is done deliberately, and with a view to confer on the colonists the full benefit of and knowledge of the administration of their own affairs. The minor patronage is practically vested in the hands of the colonial governor throughout the British colonies; and I believe that some portion of the unpopularity of the Colonial Office arises from this circumstance. As to the appointment of governors, some amongst the ablest of our governors undoubtedly belong to the aristocracy. I hope the time is not come when the aristocracy are not to be selected if they are men of merit and ability. Few would compete, under such difficulties, with the Earl of Elgin; few with Lord Harris; and I even go so far as to say that Lord Torrington has made a most able Governor of Ceylon. ["Hear!" and "Oh, oh!"] I do say that when Lord Torrington's despatches are fairly and impartially considered, and his measures understood, it will be said, and it will be admitted, that with regard to the administration of local affairs, they will show that he is a man of ability. I flinch from no temporary difficulty; and I am perfectly prepared to defend Lord Torrington's measures when the proper time arrives. If I had remained silent with regard to Ceylon, I know that it would be attributed to another cause, and I, therefore, thought it right to make these remarks; but when the proper time comes, I shall be prepared to enter more fully upon the subject. Then they had Sir George Grey in New Zealand—one of their very ablest governors; and Sir Henry Young, the Governor of South Australia. Did they belong to the aristocracy? Ever since my noble Friend's accession to office, he has had regard in all his appointments to the advantage of the colonies alone. His appointments had been made with perfect disinterestedness and perfect purity; and he had on all occasions gone on the avowed principle of promoting able governors wherever he found them. If promotion be the rule—if men acquire distinction, and that distinction be made the ground of advancement—of course the higher appointments are given to those who are already in office. To that principle, which my noble Friend has laid down, 349 I adhere; and in looking over the greater number of appointments, it will be found that this rule has been observed. The hon. Member for Berwickshire next alluded to the case of New South Wales, and had stated that the subject of emigration to that colony had been altogether overlooked or neglected. I was rather astonished to hear the hon. Gentleman make use of such an assertion.
§ MR. HAWES
I am still more surprised than before, after the hon. Gentleman's explanation, and I will state the grounds. In the year 1846, there was hardly any emigration going on to New South Wales. In 1846, there were not more than 200 persons sent as emigrants to New South Wales, 2,154 were sent to South Australia. In 1847, there were four ships sent to New South Wales, with 800 emigrants, and to South Australia twelve ships, with upwards of 2,000; in 1848, fifty ships to New South Wales, with 12,200 emigrants, and to South Australia twenty-three ships, with 5,900 emigrants. Now, I will say, that, trying it by any test, a more successful emigration never has been carried on than that to which I have just alluded, and which has been conducted under the Emigration Commissioners. The mortality has been next to nothing; the emigrants have gone out in health, and arrived in health. By the arrangements made on the spot, they have almost immediately found employment; and I have no reason to doubt that the whole of the emigration which commenced in 1847, and is increasing in 1848 and 1849, will be most beneficial to England, and most advantageous to the colonies. How stands the fact with regard to the land fund? Since, I think, the year 1837, the total amount received by the sale of land is 919,669l. How is that distributed? The hon. Member for Berwickshire talks about its being Crown revenue. That is likely to mislead; he ought to have been more accurate. The whole of the land fund so received is devoted entirely to the colonies. The Crown has not the remotest interest in it. One-half of it is devoted entirely to colonial improvement—such as roads and bridges; the other half is devoted to emigration. Therefore, the whole proceeds of what is called Crown revenues, in these great colonies, are devoted, exclusively and entirely, to 350 the benefit of those colonies which furnish this fund; and, undoubtedly, very great benefit has been thus secured to those colonies. Therefore, I am bound to say there is evidence to show that a large fund has been raised, and it has been wisely applied, and applied exclusively to the benefit of these colonies. But it is most remarkable when you come to consider, within a few years, the sums of money that have been received. I think that when Earl Grey came into office there were no available funds from the Crown lands of New South Wales, and it was in debt 100,000l. It might have justified the noble Earl in stopping emigration. But, so far from having done so, he felt that the resources—the increasing resources of the colony would be able to do more than meet the debt, and he accordingly authorised the further expenditure of 100,000l. upon emigration. That also had been expended, and a further sum of 100,000l. was now in course of being expended.
§ MR. HAWES
said that 100,000l. of debt had been paid off; another 100,000l. had been expended; and a third 100,000l. was now in progress of being expended in emigration—all for the benefit of the colony. If the current income should fall short, the amount would be raised on the security of the Crown revenues; and no doubt was entertained but that these revenues would be amply sufficient to pay both the principal and the interest. But in alluding to this subject, he merely wished to show, as the Crown revenue had been spoken of, that that revenue was exclusively raised and expended in the colony, and for the colony, not for the benefit of the Crown, or the exclusive interest of this country. I will not enter into the vexed question of the convict system; that has been under discussion in this House, and may come under discussion again, but I ask the House to do me the honour to recall to mind the grounds on which I have opposed this Mo- 351 tion. I believe it to be thoroughly and entirely impracticable. If the hon. Gentleman's object was discussion, I have endeavoured fairly to meet him on that subject; I have endeavoured at least to show him that his Motion has attracted consideration and attention on my part. Indeed, I attach the highest importance to the subjects involved in this discussion, and when the question is thoroughly understood, we shall have less vague generalities about colonial reform, and a more candid and just consideration of our colonial policy. Remember that the colonies have rights which they hold dear as well as we do our own. They have, as I have shown in a majority of cases, large powers of local self-government. I think I see signs of a greater disposition to interfere with them on the part of this House, than on the part of the Colonial Office. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the university of Oxford thought it necessary to call the attention of the House to the proceedings of the Canadian Parliament. I hold that the Canadian Parliament had a perfect right to discuss the measure to which he referred in all its details, and submit it to the Governor General's decision, and without the slightest interference by this House; and the Governor General was bound to send the Act, when it so reached his hands, to this country; and if the right hon. Gentleman respected the principle of local self-government, he would not have said a word about it, until the Crown had to give its assent. In conclusion, I say that the Colonial Office having had to carry out great objects forced upon it by this House and the country, ought not to be made responsible for those differences and collisions which are daily sought to be attributed to the acts of the Colonial Minister. Lot hon. Gentlemen deal fairly with this question. They complain in another direction of the colonial expenditure. Did they mean to surrender any portion of their colonial empire? If they did not, they must pay the price "of maintaining that empire. If they had colonies scattered over the globe, with their merchants and great mercantile interests in them, it was absolutely necessary to protect them. It was necessary that they should maintain the police of the seas; and he believed that if they attempted materially to reduce their naval force, they would find their trade exposed to danger, and instead of being, as at present, carried on with perfect security, 352 and at a minimum risk, to all parts of the globe, the risk would be materially increased. In a word, if they would have a great colonial empire, they must protect it. If they were prepared to say that the colonies should have no protection—that, without discrimination, all were to have local self-government—for that was the doctrine broached—and if they were at the same time to tell the colonies that they were to have no military protection—and that they must henceforth defend themselves, then he would ask, what remained to attach these colonies to the mother country? He believed that the colonial empire had conferred great benefits upon the mother country, and he never wished to see that empire impaired. He could not talk so lightly of the importance of our colonies, scattered over the face of the globe, as many hon. Gentlemen allowed themselves to do. The colonists were our fellow-subjects, united to us by the ties of blood and affection—they shared with ourselves a noble inheritance, of which they and we were alike proud, and he hoped the day would never come when, from mere mercenary considerations, the Legislature of the country would consent to weaken and diminish that empire which their forefathers had won, and had bequeathed to them to be maintained with honour, justice, and liberality—for the benefit equally of the mother country and the colony.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said: I have great pleasure in agreeing with the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, as to the course which he proposes the Government should take with respect to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire. I agree with him that no good would arise from granting a Committee to inquire into a subject so extensive and so complicated; on the contrary, I believe that granting the Motion of the hon. Gentleman would tend to serve any corrupt interest which the Government might have in evading the discussion of colonial questions, because such a Committee would find its hands so overloaded with the extent and number of perplexing subjects which would come before it, that it would be difficult to arrive at a satisfactory result in the case of any one of them. I will not say that the aid of a Parliamentary Committee may not be usefully invoked in the case of a particular question relating to a particular colony; if, for instance, my hon. Friend 353 would move for a Committee to examine the question on which he feels a great interest, the difficult question as to the right disposal of waste lands in New South Wales, or on many other questions which might he raised, much might he said on behalf of such a Motion. But as I desire to see the attention of this country brought to hear with an increasing degree of interest on colonial subjects, I am unwilling that we should assent to this description of inquiry, which I do not think would lead to any searching investigation or to any practical result. And I may almost assume that it is the intention of my hon. Friend rather to raise a discussion in this House, which I have no doubt will lead to an advantageous result, than to obtain the appointment of a Committee, which purports to he contemplated by his Motion. I have the further satisfaction of agreeing with a great deal of what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies with regard to the charges which are made against the Colonial Department. I confess I agree with him that much of the unpopularity which has come upon that department, attaches to it, not on account of any views, or principles, or notions of its own which it has carried into execution, but on account of its being the organ of Parliament, and of the general views of this country. I think that the hon. Gentleman was justified in referring to the questions of the slave trade and of slavery; to the question of waste lands, and to the question of free trade, as affording remarkable instances of the Colonial Office being placed in collision with the feelings of the colonies, because it was through the Colonial Office that the colonies became aware of the views of Parliament, and the feelings of this country. But at the same time while I am bound to say I think the faults of the existing colonial policy have not been, as they are generally represented, the faults of the Colonial Minister of the day, but in a much greater degree the faults of Parliament, and of the public mind insufficiently exercised and partially enlightened as to our colonial policy, yet I must say I cannot accompany the hon. Gentleman so far as he is disposed to take me, when he says that he feels the greatest pride in contemplating the general character of our colonial policy, and as to which he does not scruple to say that it is the most successful and the most beneficial that 354 the world has ever witnessed. If he means only to compare our colonial policy with that of any other European State, I am not much disposed, so far as my recollection serves mo, to dissent from his statement. [Mr. HAWES: That is all I mean.] But the distinction which we wish to draw is not between the colonial policy of England and that of any other State, but it is a distinction between the modern and the ancient policy of England. I hold that there is a broad line of distinction to be drawn between the policy by which the American colonies, that afterwards became the United States, were founded and fostered, and the policy which has generally prevailed during the last sixty or seventy years; and, in my view, this latter policy has been of a far less successful, of a far loss beneficial, and of a much more expensive character. I agree with the hon. Gentleman, that no consideration of money ought to induce this House, or the Legislature, to sever the connexion subsisting between any one of the colonies and the mother country; but I will say, that the consideration of money—important as it is—because a large, an unnecessary expenditure is involved in our present colonial system, which I do not say, however, can be all at once retrenched—yet there is a still more important consideration than that of money, and that is how to give the greatest and most effective development to our colonial institutions. I thoroughly believe that a sound colonial policy has no tendency to separate the colonies from this country. Yet I do not think that the expenditure of large sums from the imperial treasury tends to strengthen or perpetuate the connexion; and this, at least, I do not hesitate to say, that I think it is a mistake to propose the maintenance of that connexion as the one and the sole end which we ought to keep in view. What we ought to keep in view is the work and the function which Providence has assigned to this country in laying the foundation of mighty States in different quarters of the world. What we ought to keep in view is to cherish and foster those infant communities on principles that are sound and pure—on the principle of self-government; and if we do that, I am convinced that the political connexion between these States and the mother country will subsist as long as it is good for either that it should subsist; and when it ceases, I hope that instead of the connexion being 355 severed in the midst of bloodshed, as was the ease with the United States, it may arise from the natural and acknowleged growth of these communities into States perfectly fitted for self-government and independence, and that after the termination of the political connexion a community of feeling will still subsist in a similarity of laws and institutions, and in a close union of affection. I do not hesitate to say that this would be infinitely more valuable than any political connexion with England. My next ground of exception to what has been stated by the hon. Gentleman may, perhaps, appear to bear in a different direction. I regret that the hon. Gentleman should have referred to what is taking place in Canada, because I think that, if it was premature on my part to ask for information with regard to a matter of great imperial concern—confining myself to a question for information only, for that was my object—it is still more to be deplored that the hon. Gentleman, by laying down dogmas with respect to such questions, should have involved discussion upon a matter upon which, important as it is, we have still only imperfect information. I say nothing to prejudge that important question now under discussion in Canada: but this I do—I enter my resolute protest against the doctrine laid down by the hon. Gentleman, who has not hesitated to maintain that a Member of this House ought not to interfere with any question which is discussed in a colony enjoying free institutions, until the matter to which reference is made has taken the form of law, and received the assent of the Crown, and when, of course, it is beyond the reach of interference. That is the doctrine of the hon. Gentleman, that wherever there is a free colony, Parliament has no right to act upon any question which the legislature of that colony is discussing. [Mr. HAWES: Pending discussion.] I have no objection to add the qualification of the hon. Gentleman as a rider to the statement; but the hon. Gentleman must see that it adds nothing to my words, and that it takes nothing from them, because of course we cannot act after discussion. It is no doubt true that we have the power to repeal those laws; but, even so, it is surely wiser and better that this House should interfere in a matter before it has taken the form of law, than that it should take the more violent course of repealing it afterwards. I protest against that doctrine. I hold that 356 freedom is the principle on which our colonial policy ought to be founded; but, at the same time, that freedom must necessarily confine itself to local concerns, and imperial questions it cannot and ought not to touch. With respect to local questions, I will yield to no man in the breadth with which I would assert that in the working of a representative constitution—working-it freely and fairly—local questions must be left to its sole and entire disposal. But, in questions of imperial concern, I claim for myself, and for every Member of this House, the right to raise his voice either in the way of objection, inquiry, or discussion of whatever kind, with regard to any colonial proceeding, in which he may conceive the interests of the empire or the honour of the Crown to be involved. But, wishing to adhere to the principle I formerly stated, and to avoid premature discussion upon that or any other question, I pass from it without offering any opinion upon the subject. I not only reserve my opinion from the House, but I feel that even the formation of a judgment is premature till we are in possession of further information, and therefore I shall pass from it to make one or two remarks upon another portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech. In illustration of his principle, that the Colonial Office was but the organ of the views of Parliament, the hon. Gentleman referred to one or two instances which I thought were rather unfortunate. He referred to the cases of British Guiana and Jamaica. The case of Jamaica I shall not touch, because I wait for further information respecting it. But the reference to British Guiana, I think, was unfortunate on two grounds: first, because the state of that colony is now under discussion elsewhere, and that we shall afterwards approach to its consideration in a much more prepared state; and, secondly (though I do not blame him for referring to it, because that was rendered necessary by the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who preceded him), because I cannot give my assent to the statements made by the hon. Gentleman. He contended that the cry for economy in the West Indies had arisen from the application of the principles of free trade to the colonies; and he argues justly that the Colonial Office is not responsible for the application of the principles of free trade, but that this House is responsible. That is, no doubt, perfectly true; but does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that, because the House has ap- 357 plied the principles of free trade to the colonies, and because the West Indian colonies, finding their means diminished by the application of those principles, now cry out for economy—does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that economy is on that account to he discountenanced and disparaged? [Mr. HAWES intimated his dissent.] I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, I think that was his bearing. The spirit in which he discussed the matter had that tendency. I do not mean to say that he uttered the dogma that the West Indies ought to he compelled to support expensive establishments; but we have a right to expect from the Colonial Office not only negative assistance to the establishment of economy in the West Indies, but we have a right to expect that the Colonial Office should urge, recommend, promote, and aid, by every means in its power, the cause of economy. [MR HAWES: I instanced the case of Trinidad.] I bog the hon. Gentleman's pardon, I remember his words distinctly—they were, that the Colonial Office would offer no obstacle to the reduction of expenditure. I think they had a right to expect something more than this; but I will not argue the matter further. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman with regard to British Guiana. I shall not go into the discussion now; but when the hon. Gentleman said that Earl Grey had declared that he would be ready to make reductions as vacancies occurred in the civil list, but that he was precluded from interfering where vacancies had not occurred, I must say that I cannot accept the statement. I do not dispute that Earl Grey gave the pledge, but I must emphatically dispute that he has redeemed it. I pass on to other subjects. The hon. Gentleman says that we have forty-three colonies; that in nineteen of them we have representative institutions, eight to which the principle of representative constitutions has been conceded; that there are sixteen in regard to which it is held that representative institutions are not yet applicable to their case. The hon. Gentleman shows certainly—in a way that must disappoint the sanguine hopes of some, but yet with great truth—he shows that there are many causes or features attaching to the social state of these colonies which renders it either impossible to apply to them the principle of representative institutions, or which makes it expedient to limit or fetter that principle when so applied. He says, 358 and justly, that if there is a dominant race which has long held in subjection persons larger, perhaps, in numbers, but weaker in the elements of social power, there the working of representative institutions must be deferred. In the case of the West Indies, and some other colonies, I agree with the hon. Gentleman, that it is necessary the central Government should interfere, should control, should exercise a zealous vigilance, as in all cases where the inhabitants are not of the same race, and where there are hostile recollections between the one and the other. The hon. Gentleman also says, that military colonies—colonies that don't support themselves, or colonies that do—but whose population is not sufficiently numerous or intelligent to enable them to work representative institutions—in these cases also representative institutions must be withheld. I agree with the hon. Gentleman, that in the case of military posts, there the military interest, or rather the imperial interest, as represented by the military interest, must be held to be something paramount to every other consideration. I agree with him, also, that those colonies which do not support themselves, like the colonics of West Australia, for instance, can hardly expect to be set free from imperial control; and that, on the contrary, it would be most dangerous and inconvenient if we were to create representative bodies, with all the functions of legislation, which should be called together, not to tax their own constituents, but to make demands on the imperial treasury. I think, also, that to connect the granting of free institutions with the principle of self-support would have this advantage, that we might hope the expectation of enjoying free institutions would induce them thesooner to forego the very agreeable practice of dipping their hand into the purse of the country. But I come to the last class of colonies—to those which are self-supporting, which are not military governments, which have no dominant race separated from the rest of the population by hostile recollections; and I am slow to understand why in their case there should be a reluctance to confer the benefit of free institutions. With respect, for instance, to the colony of Newfoundland or of Prince Edward's Island, I am doubtful of the principle which the hon. Gentleman has laid down. I do not see what there is in a large population, or anything like a large population, which is necessary to the due working of free institutions. I mean that 359 the institutions should be free in the fullest sense of the term, and fully carrying out the principle of a responsible government. The hon. Gentleman says we have forty-three colonies—he says that responsible government is the true and normal principle with regard to them all; but that there are only three with responsible government, and the other forty are without it. He admits that it is a matter of great difficulty to introduce responsible government; and that where the system has been to carry on the government from this country, it is difficult to change it, and therefore that it has only been done in the case of three out of forty. I admit that there is a great difficulty in changing the system; but that makes me raise the question, whether it is a true or a fallacious principle that it is necessary to raise the colonies to a certain height before they can be fit for free institutions? I think that it is the doctrine of our colonial policy—I will not say of the Colonial Office, because if there is error, it is an error which is shared by Parliament and by the people of this country—but I understand the hon. Gentleman to lay down this doctrine, that he will give to the colonies free institutions as soon as they are fit for them; and I understand him to say that most of our colonies are not fit for self-government. [Mr. HAWES: Where the population is small.] Be it recollected that I set aside the military posts; I set aside the colonies where there is a dominant race; and I set aside the colonies which are dependent upon our annual votes. But I do not understand why our other colonics, and especially our Anglo-Saxon colonies, should not be ready for the possession, in their own way, of the principle of self-government—why they should not be ready for the possession of free institutions whether their numbers be large or small. The question may appear to be a small one, but I hold it to be of the utmost extent, because I believe it to possess an elastic force, which, though small at present, will expand with our future necessities. I believe that if this principle had been acted upon some time ago, we should have escaped from many of the difficulties which now environ us, as the consequence of former errors. I confess—though I am unwilling to refer to matters which cannot now be discussed in a satisfactory manner—I do not hesitate to say, that it is this which leads me to deplore the course taken by Earl Grey with respect to Vancouver's 360 Island. There there was no dominant race, no military post, no inconvenient proximity to other colonies; it presented the fairest field which any Minister has had for generations, perhaps for a century, to found a truly free colony, and that opportunity has been wantonly and most miserably sacrificed. But I trust we shall go into this question in large detail at an early opportunity, because it is impossible that a question of such large importance as this should fail to attract the deliberate notice of Parliament. But I hold that we must disembarrass ourselves of the fallacious notion that a colony is to be reared and fostered by a Government in Downing-street—a Government which I do not respect one whit less, but rather more than any other department of Government which has its seat in this country; but we must get rid of the fallacious notion—for if it is a fallacy at all, it must be a dangerous one—that we must raise a colony to the extent of a population of 40,000 or 50,000, like Newfoundland, before it is fit for free institutions. That is the point on which the old colonial policy differed from the new. It is true, that in founding the New England colonies you had not the benefit of experience; but before twenty or thirty years had passed, most of these colonies had local self-government. They had it entire when they were only a few thousands—when in some instances they were only a few hundreds, struggling on a bleak and wintry coast, with all the difficulties of nature, and with a small hope of attaining that eminence which they have since attained. I say, that these colonies possessed local self-government in their infancy. Does the hon. Gentleman question that statement in point of fact? [Mr. HAWES: Yes.] Does the hon. Gentleman doubt that there were some of these colonies in which every office was elective without exception? [Mr. HAWES: I do.] I don't say that the principle went to the same extent in all; but there were more than one in which even the office of governor was elective—there were more than one in which colonial laws took effect with-out being submitted to this country at all. I don't say that it is necessary to adopt every one of those rules in the present state of things; but I do say, that there was not one of those colonies in which, though founded by the influence of a governing power which had its seat in this country, yet, before the then existing generation had passed away, the situation of 361 the governing power was moved to North America. It is a minor question whether a colony shall he governed by a single secretary, or by a board representing all shades of opinion, or by a chartered body—depend upon it the main question is, whether they shall be governed by and among themselves, or whether they shall be governed by a Power separated from them by mighty oceans, not identified with them in feeling or in interest—not possessed of that minute knowledge which will enable it to stimulate their powers into action, and develop the growth of their social and civil institutions. Confining myself to these few general remarks, and having risen mainly because it was necessary to limit and guard myself against its being supposed that I approved of what the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies said respecting British Guiana and other cases—I shall refrain from occupying longer the attention of the House. I thought, also, it was but just that I should rise and say, that my belief is, that the general errors of our colonial policy—errors which are by no means inconsiderable—are errors which belong to Parliament and to the state of public mind, more than to the Colonial Office in general, and still less to the particular Minister who may hold the seals of that department. With regard to measures of practical improvement for the colonies, I conceive that the votes of this House, when given on particular questions as they come before us, in regard to colonial policy—by those votes given on such questions we shall probably do most to lay the foundations of permanent improvement; for I attach little value to abstract notions of colonial reform, because there are a number of qualifying circumstances to the most ingenious theories, which would doom to bitter disappointment those who most strenuously support them, and who hug themselves in self-complacency for having propounded them; but I do say, that by legislating for each particular colony, as the cases may arise with respect to each of them, on principles that are sound and of permanent duration, we shall do the most to place the colonial policy of this country on a footing worthy of this great country, and the character of this enlightened people.
§ MR. MANGLES
said, his was well known, but it had never been personally directed against those who administered the affairs of its government. He knew that the highest 362 talent and industry had been employed in that department, for it was impossible not to believe that such men as the present Prime Minister, Lord Stanley, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, and Earl Grey, should not have given to the office the best attention which their great talents could give; and his persuasion was, that there must be something essentially bad in the system itself which prevented men of their eminence from accomplishing useful results. He did not say that the noble Lord who was at present at the head of that department was better than his predecessors; but in one respect his conduct contrasted advantageously with that of those who had gone before him—he meant in the way in which the noble Lord had recently selected governors for the different colonies. In proof of this he referred to the appointment of the Earl of Elgin as Governor General of Canada, Mr. Bonham, as Governor of Hong-Kong, Mr. Barkly, as Governor of British Guiana, and, more recently, Sir George Anderson, of whom, he believed, Lord Grey had never heard, except from the report of his late lamented friend, Lord Auckland, as to the ability with which Sir George Anderson had administered the government of Bombay. He believed that where his Lordship had selected members of the aristocracy, he had selected them simply with reference to their abilities, notwithstanding all that the hon. Member for the West Riding had said of these situations being kept up for the benefit of members of the aristocracy. And here he would say that he was sorry when derisive cheers greeted his hon. Friend when speaking of Lord Torrington's ability in administering the affairs of Ceylon, because, though they had not before them any proof as yet of the noble Lord's ability, yet, from all he (Mr. Mangles) had heard of the noble Lord's management of his own property in Kent, as well as the part he had taken in public and semi-public affairs, he believed that the noble Lord was a man of energy and talent, and that he was not justly hable to the obloquy that had been cast upon him. Having said so much, he must say that he demurred as much as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University could do to the statement, made in so bold and confident a manner by the hon. Gentleman the Colonial Under Secretary, that our colonial administration reflected credit and honour upon this country. He did not think so. He did 363 not blame any one. If there had been a failure, it was neither in the ability nor industry of individuals, but in the inherent viciousness of the system. He did not believe that it was morally or physically possible for any man, gifted as he might be with powers of application, with ability and industry, to do justice to the task that was heaped upon the shoulders of a Secretary of State by the Colonial Office. Considering the demand that was made upon Ms time by Parliament, and the great variety of correspondence that came before him from the several colonies of this country, if he were the Admirable Crichton himself it was impossible for him to do justice to the task. And when to those considerations was added the further one, of the numerous changes that took place amongst the officers appointed to govern the colonies, and the secretaries themselves, how was it possible to imagine that the colonies could be well or wisely governed? This country possessed an enormous empire in India, an empire larger and more important in the number of its inhabitants than all the colonies together. That Indian empire was governed upon a system quite different from that applied to the colonies, and it was clear that both systems could not possibly be the best. India was governed by a board sitting in London which was controlled by a department of the State. [Mr. GLADSTONE suggested across the table that the Government of India was military and despotic] The right hon. Gentleman was right: it was a despotic Government. But he contended that, mutatis mutandis, a similar system of management, so far as regarded the board, might be adopted most beneficially for the colonies. Something in the nature of a fixed council for the colonies could be arranged to aid the Colonial Office. The persons fit to constitute such a council would be found amongst the retired governors of the colonies, whose experience would qualify them for it. From them might be formed a body for the purpose of assisting the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department. He knew that the noble Lord at the head of the Government objected to such a plan. He was aware the noble Lord thought that the best mode of governing the colonies was to give them the government of themselves. But he (Mr. Mangles) still did not see why they should not give the Colonial Secretary the benefit of the aid of a fixed council; as Spain had a council of the Indies, why not have a council of the colonies? The 364 right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford gave the preference, and he (Mr. Mangles) believed justly, to the ancient system of managing the colonies over the present. But surely there was another and a fairer standard of comparison to which they should refer—that of what they might have done with the colonies compared with what they had done. Was it not a disgrace, even supposing that the colonies were as well managed now as they were two centuries ago, that we had availed ourselves so little of the experience which we had had? Was it not disgraceful to the English nation that they had made no advance—no progress—in the art of colonisation and of government? For his own part, he should say that he felt shame and confusion at it. But as the noble Lord would not listen to the suggestion of a colonial council, and would insist solely upon the giving to the colonies the management of their own affairs why should so much time be lost in carrying out the system advocated by the noble Lord? That postponement and loss of time was in itself a serious evil. What had happened in New Zealand was an example of the bad consequences of such delays. The Governor of that colony (Sir G. Grey) had collected into his council the best informed of the colonists; and amongst others, he had selected Mr. Fox, who was formerly in the employment of the New Zealand Company, for the high and important office of Attorney General, one of the highest and most important offices in the colony. Yet Mr. Fox had resigned the office, and retired into private life, because the Governor would not give any pledge that it was his intention to carry out liberal institutions forthwith. Why such delay? Why was not some effort made to carry out the intended system at once? Upon the subject of Ceylon he had intended to offer some remarks; but the debate having taken such a general turn, and it seeming to be the wish of the House that particular cases should not be gone into, he should refrain, and trespass no further upon their time.
§ MR. HUME
thought the House was placed in a singular position when they were told by the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, and the right hon. the late Secretary for the Colonies, that no good could come of inquiry. He would rest his advocacy of the Motion on what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. That hon. Gentleman had praised those to whose lot it had fallen to administer 365 our colonial affairs—be had eulogised generally the choice of governors and colonial officers; but he had gone further, and asked how was it that with such able, talented men—men not selected for their relationship to, or political connexion with, the Minister—the system was not a credit to the country? He was sorry the debate had not turned more on what the Motion purported to be, namely, the appointment of a "Select Committee to inquire into the political and financial relations between Great Britain and her dependencies;" and this was the important part of it, "with a view to reduce the charges on the British treasury, and to enlarge the functions of the colonial legislatures." They had gone off entirely from this question. The hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies had put a bold front on the matter, and had declared that the colonial system, as at present administered, was an honour to England. If so, he knew of nothing that could be a disgrace. He knew nothing more disgraceful, more fraught with just and well-grounded complaint on the part of those who were subject to it, or attended with more unnecessary expense, than that system so eulogised by the hon. Gentleman. For his part, he thanked the hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire for bringing the question forward, and be hoped he would persevere in taking the sense of the House upon it. If, as had been said, the subject was too extensive—if the questions were too numerous—for a Committee, appoint a commission; but if they were to stand still from day to day, and from year to year, they would, in ten years' time, be in the same state as they were now, in the fourth year after the noble Earl the Colonial Secretary declared that it was the right of Englishmen to carry with them, wheresoever they went, the benefits of British institutions. The proposition now brought forward would come most appropriately to extend the inquiry, as he had proposed when the Committee on the two colonies, Ceylon and British Guiana, was moved by the hon. Member for Inverness, to the colonial system generally, and to the policy by which our colonies were governed. It being admitted that self-government was the true principle, it would be easy, by means of such a Committee or commission, to ascertain why it was not adopted generally, and how to remove the difficulties which in certain colonies presented themselves against its application. They had been told by 366 the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth on a former occasion, that two-thirds of our whole military expenditure was required for our colonies. Why was it so? This was a question he desired to see solved. Let there be self-government in all our colonies, and let each be called upon to maintain its own establishment, and to defray its own expenditure, without calling upon the mother country, and there would no longer be any quarrelling with the Colonial Office. If there was no patronage to be exercised, and no money to be disposed of, by the Colonial Office, the chief source of difference would be removed. No doubt, some of the appointments made by the Colonial Secretary were good; and he felt bound to join in the praise which had been bestowed on Sir G. Anderson, whose fitness for the office he had been selected for all must acknowledge; but that did not cover the multitude of sins which had been going on for he knew not how many years. The colonies ought to be commercially or politically a benefit to the mother country. If they were neither, of what use were they? And if the system pursued were such as to prevent them being commercially beneficial, or politically advantageous, why should the people of England he burdened with the heavy charge for maintaining them? What occasion was there for a large military force in our colonies in time of peace? Why should 30,000 or 40,000 men be kept up here for the purpose of relieving the troops maintained in the various colonies for no purpose whatever? Such a force could only be justified by the fear that the colonics were about to be invaded by an enemy—but what chance was there of anything of that kind now? For all purposes of police the colonies would provide themselves if they were left alone, and allowed to do so; and, as to the maintenance of the connexion with the mother country, the influx of capital, which would always flow into a poor country by its connexion with a rich one, and the consequent prosperity, would always be the best security for that, unless the colonists were oppressed and rendered discontented. At present, our colonies were not made as advantageous to the mother country as they might be—they were not made use of to the extent necessary for carrying off our surplus population. There bad been constant strife and endless disputes as to bow far the Colonial Office should govern, or the people should govern. This had pre- 367 vented, thousands, perhaps millions, of our redundant population from finding their way to them. He should be sorry to suppose that one result of the proposed inquiry would not be to remove many of those difficulties, and to point out some plan by which we might still possess our colonies free from the enormous expenditure which they now occasioned us. For his part, he believed the colonies would be better protected without that expenditure, if they were permitted to govern themselves, and that the connexion with the mother country would be strengthened. His hon. Friend the Member for Guildford had proposed a board of council, similar to the India Board, composed of retired governors; but did it not strike him that there would be some difficulty in leaving it to an ex-governor of Ceylon to deal with the affairs of some other colony, as British Guiana or New Zealand. Did he forget that this hoard would have to deal with Anglo-Saxons, who would not be so easily governed as the Hindoos? He agreed that care would be necessary in introducing the system of self-government in colonies where there was a great disproportion of races; but, as a rule, that principle might be generally applied. If it were left to the colonies themselves to fix the salaries of their own officers, and to pay them themselves—to elect their chambers, and to govern themselves, free from the control of the Colonial Office—more prosperity and less discontent would follow, while we should be relieved from the heavy burden we were now subject to on their account. He hoped, therefore, that the House would press for the appointment of a Committee, because the bare fact that there were forty-three different colonies whose affairs required administration, rendered an inquiry essentially necessary. He would wish to have the military forces withdrawn from all except the important fortresses of Malta and Gibraltar; and in every other instance he would compel the colonists to pay those expenses to which they were fairly and naturally liable. He thought that if an inquiry were instituted it would promote peace and contentment in our several dependencies, and that the noble Lord at the head of the Government ought to support the Motion then before the House.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
protested against the system of the free-trade school, as enunciated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, and thought the colonies 368 ought to be legislated for as an integral portion of the British empire. The hon. Gentleman seemed now to lament the discontent of the colonies, and to set a high value on their connexion, forgetting that it was the darling theory of the free-trade school that the colonies were useless, and that the sooner they were shaken off the better. The reason why so much discontent existed in the colonies was, because the Government forced their free-trade measures upon the colonists contrary to their wishes and their interests; and the Colonial Office was as ardent in enforcing the adoption of those doctrines as the colonists were zealous to resist them. He looked upon the Colonial Office as a great public nuisance—as the common enemy of the colonies—as a decided mischief, which admitted of no other reform than utter abolition. The Colonial Office was, in fact, as regarded the wishes, and interests, and feelings of the colonists, eminently entitled to the designation of the "anti-colonial office." He looked back with regret to the ancient colonial system, by which the colonial expenditure was confined to 50,000l. a year—a sum now expended upon the salaries of the Government connected with the Colonial Office. It was physically impossible that the affairs of the colonies could be well administered as at present conducted. There were forty-three colonies, the correspondence and affairs of which were nominally managed by one chief and two subordinates. What ought to be the consequence of such a state of things? Precisely what was the consequence—namely, that the colonies were managed by a secret, illicit, unconstitutional board of control, consisting of clerks. Those were the real administrators of the colonial affairs of England. [Mr. HAWES: No, no!] It was all very well for the hon. Under Secretary to say "No, no;" but there were the affairs of forty-three colonies to be managed, and there were only twenty-four hours in the day and night, and the task was impossible to three persons. And yet, notwithstanding their manifest incapacity, Parliament went on, year after year, increasing its responsibilities, and enlarging its functions. He would mention one instance as an illustration of the mode in which the affairs of the Colonial Office were conducted. A gentleman of high station in one of our colonies had been unjustly removed from his office; and strong representations on the subject were 369 made to the Colonial Secretary. A deputation waited upon him for the purpose of obtaining for that gentleman compensation and redress; and that deputation included the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, and the late Mr. O'Connell; but their request was refused. Then came a general election, and a noble Lord of great influence in the north refused the Government this support on account of their conduct in this matter. There was afterwards a change of Government; and, at last, upon the application of the Secretary of State, during whose administration the removal had taken place, it was agreed that the displaced officer should obtain compensation and be restored, upon the express condition that, until the office was actually conferred, the matter should be kept secret from the clerks of the Colonial Office. That was an indication of the state of affairs at that office; and, in truth, no colonist, who had a grievance to complain of, felt himself sure of redress until he had obtained a letter to the clerk who, if rumour spoke truly, had the administration of our colonial affairs. The only complaint that he made against the noble Earl the Secretary of State, and the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Under Secretary, was, that they had not the courage boldly to denounce the system, and to ask for the assistance of Parliament in destroying it. The hon. Gentleman had said, that, notwithstanding the anomaly of the system, the colonies were well administered. He (Mr. Anstey) denied it, and he would read to the House a letter which he had received from Van Diemen's Land—one of the Crown colonies—and one which had been selected by the hon. Gentleman as a specimen of sound legislation, for the purpose of showing that the affairs of that colony, at all events, had not been well administered; for, if their system had succeeded at all, it would have established protection to life and property, and it appeared that in that respect it had signally failed. [The hon. Member then read a letter, dated from Van Diemen's Land on the 25th November last, in which the writer spoke of the intense disgust felt by the colonists at the arrival of convicts, under the name of exiles, and stated that so great was the dread of them, that pistols were becoming an ordinary part of walking dress.] Why, he would ask, did they not follow the example set by Lord Stanley in respect to Canada? Lord Metcalfe's success in 370 Canada was owing to the non-interference of the Colonial Office; and much of the mischief which had been done to our other colonies might have been avoided if confidence had been placed in governors judiciously selected. lie admitted that Parliament had given its sanction to many very pernicious measures—not only the whole of the free-trade code, but many other measures as injurious to the colonies, had been passed; but, still, much was owing to the injudicious interference of the Colonial Office. Under the old system there was no Colonial Office, no Colonial Secretary; but the Board of Trade and Plantations was, with the assistance of Parliament, thought sufficient to administer our colonial affairs; and he maintained that the only occasions when interference with the affairs of the colonies was necessary were, when some chief governor was to be called to account, or when the trade and commerce of the colony and this country required regulation: in the former case, Parliament was the proper tribunal to be appealed to; in the latter, the Board of Trade. What more comprehensive measure of economy could be devised than that which would sweep away all the expensive machinery of the Colonial Office? He would leave the Board of Trade to exercise its proper functions in regulating the commerce of the colonies; and Parliament to discharge its duties in redressing the injustice or oppression of colonial governors; for the existence of the Colonial Office was indirectly, as well as directly, prejudicial to the colonies, inasmuch as it afforded to Members of that House an excuse for the neglect of their duties in inquiring into, and bringing forward, the grievances of the colonists. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State said that the affairs of the colonies were well administered, because the Government always attended to the statements of the governors, who represented the colonies; but the hon. Gentleman forgot that they were not elected by the colonists, but nominated by the Colonial Office. All the complaints of the colonists were obliged to be sent through the governor, who was the nominee of the Colonial Office. Nothing could account for the long continuance of such a system but the general indifference in this country to the interests of the colonists and to the dignity of the empire, It was not so when Lord Bacon wrote that it was a dreadful thing to lose a plantation, not only on account of the 371 dishonour, but on account of the loss of the multitude of human beings. Time was when it was not thought to require proof that our colonies could not be parted with without destroying our markets; but now they constantly heard proposals made which would then have been thought, what in law and reason they were, treasonable proposals, for the emancipation—so the phrase ran—for the separation of a portion of the empire, and the impairing of its strength and dignity. There was the great source of the evil; and, because he wished to take the administration of our colonial affairs out of the hands of those who were so indifferent or so hostile to the interests of the colonies, he should vote in favour of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, entreating him to divide the House upon the question.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
would not trespass at any length on the indulgence of the House by discussing the general principles of colonial administration, because he quite agreed in the view taken with respect to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. He would confine himself to the questions actually involved in the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire. These questions were—first, whether there should be an inquiry into the colonial policy of Great Britain; and, secondly, if there ought to be such an inquiry, by whom it ought to be conducted. Now, was there a case for inquiry? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies said there was no case for inquiry. He maintained that the colonial policy of the British empire was perfect; that nothing could be bettor than the conduct of the Colonial Office; and nothing more admirable than the appointments made by it. Such might be the opinions of hon. Gentlemen connected with the Colonial Office; but there was a growing conviction, in the House and the country, that there were grave errors and defects in the colonial policy of the British empire—there was a growing distrust of the Colonial Office, and a growing feeling that not over much reliance was to be placed in its statements. Now, which of these two sets of opinions was correct? Rightly to answer the question it appeared to him to be sufficient to count over the most important events which had happened in our most important colonics within the last ten or fifteen years. It was fair to judge of a system by its fruits—and what had 372 been the fruits of our recent colonial management? In our North American colonies there had been, within the period to which he referred, a war of races, two rebellions—one in Upper, the other in Lower Canada, both of them suppressed at great cost; there had been, he knew not how many, constitutions suspended, and at the present moment, the war of races seemed to be on the eve of renewal. In the West India colonies, there had been universal ruin of the planters. The constitution of Jamaica had been proposed to be abolished. In two colonies, British Guiana and Jamaica, the supplies were stopped. In St. Lucia there had been insurrectionary riots, and all over the Antilles there brooded a discontent bordering on despair. In South Africa there had been an interminable series of border feuds between the settlers and the savages, and two wars attended with lavish expenditure and discreditable results. Three times, too, the Boors had revolted, intent on escaping from the hated dominion of Britain; and, lastly, we had made the acquisition of a vast desert and useless empire, inhabited by wild beasts or wilder savages. In Ceylon there had been abuse of patronage, official inaptitude, lavish expenditure, financial embarrassments, riots and martial law, military executions and punishments, which were a disgrace to England. In Australasia we had planted communities more thoroughly vicious than any of which mention was made in ancient or modern history, while in New Zealand they had suffered from imbecile governors and discreditable wars with the natives. Some of these events had occurred since this time last year. Such were the apparent renewal of the war of races in Canada—the stoppage of supplies in Guiana and Jamaica—the rebellion at the Cape of Good Hope, and the melancholy events in Ceylon. During the more extended period to which he had alluded, we could not have laid out less than 60,000,000l. on our colonies. For that sum three millions of emigrants could have been conveyed to Australia, and nearly double the number to the Canadas. But what was the state of facts? There were not above 1,600,000 labourers of British extraction in all our colonies, and our export trade with our dependencies did not much exceed that of the United States with those same possessions. Therefore, it was evident that the most striking consequences and results of the present colonial policy had been war, 373 rebellion, recurrent distress, dissatisfaction, and extravagant expenditure. If, then, it were fair to judge of a tree by its fruits, there must be some grave errors in the colonial system of the British empire. What, then, were the causes of those errors? He assumed that the House was most anxious for the good government and well-being of the colonies, and most anxious to do all in its power to promote the happiness, contentment, and prosperity of our colonial fellow-subjects. Therefore, if grave errors should be found to exist in our policy, they must arise, not from any ill-will to the colonies—not from any disregard of their interests, but from a want of knowledge of the sound and true principle of colonial policy, and a consequent ignorance of the measures necessary to enforce it. Believing that a case had been made out for an inquiry into the precise nature of the errors in the colonial system, with a view to the application of a fitting remedy, he should vote for an investigation. The hon. Member for Berwickshire proposed that this inquiry should be conducted by a Select Committee of that House; but he (Sir W. Molesworth) doubted whether a Select Committee could well perform the duty. Without an intimate knowledge of the affairs of our colonies, He doubted whether a Committee upstairs could conduct such an investigation with much advantage. To ensure the proper conduct of such an inquiry, he was of opinion that a commission, consisting of not more than five persons, but who had carefully considered colonial questions, should be appointed. The recommendations of such a commission might be made the basis of sound reforms in our colonial system. But, should the House agree to the Motion of the hon. Member for Berwickshire, he (Sir W. Molesworth) felt persuaded that the Committee would discover that the best course which could be taken would be the appointment of a commission such as he had proposed; and if such a recommendation came before the House he should give it his support.
§ MAJOR BLACKALL
thought it had been agreed in the course of the debate, that the best thing which could be done for the colonies was to give them representative government, or, in the words of the hon. Member for Montrose, to leave them to themselves; but the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, had told the House, that last year, in what might be called the model province of Canada, a new conten- 374 tion of races had been commenced. The Motion of the hon. Member for Berwickshire, so far as it went to inquire into the political and financial relations between this country and her dependencies, might be a necessary one; but he (Major Blackall) thought the House should rather ask itself whether the general policy of this country towards our colonies had been such as to secure their affection to the mother country, and contentment to themselves. He remembered to have heard the noble Viscount the Secretary for Foreign Affairs say in that House that treaties must be made binding on parties either through fear or interest. Now he thought that rule might be applied to this country and her colonies; to keep the colonies attached to us, we must appeal either to their fears or to their interests. But were we attaching our colonies to us through their interest? The colonies complained of ill treatment; amongst other grievances, as the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had stated, the one upon which they most dwelt was the injury they had suffered through the operation of free trade. Now he (Major Blackall) did not think the colonists were suffering from free trade. In his opinion they were suffering because this country was forcing them to contend with a monopoly. We did not allow the produce of our colonies to come freely into this country, and they, therefore, had not the advantage of free trade. We would not allow slave labour in our colonies, but we forced those colonies to compete with the slave labour of other countries. Without wishing for a moment to be understood as desiring a recurrence to a system of slavery, he must be permitted to say, that in endeavouring to put it down we were only increasing its horrors, whilst at the same time we were admitting the produce of slave labour of other countries. The question was not one of differential duties—the colonists were unable to contend with the monopoly with which they had been placed in competition. With respect to our colonies generally, he thought it unfair to heap upon the Colonial Office all the faults which occurred in their administration. He had seen and heard enough with respect to a pending investigation into the affairs of a particular colony, to be assured that it was not owing to any improper interference on the part of the Colonial Office, but to local circumstances, that dissatisfaction prevailed, and that that dissatisfaction would continue, whether the 375 control of the colony were invested in a board composed of retired governors, or of a commission composed of persons in this country. Reference had been made to the expense which our colonies were to us. Now, he would ask, were there any colonies, except our garrisoned colonies, in which a large force was kept up? Were there any colonies in which a large reduction of force could be attempted? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had stated that, in the course of time, a reduction in our defensive establishments might be looked for in our West India colonies. But could we at this moment make reductions in New South Wales or Ceylon? [Mr. HUME: What do you want them there for?] Was not Ceylon worth the holding? Look at the harbour of Trincom-alee. Were hon. Gentlemen prepared to give up the colony? If they were not, what case would the country be in if we had not forces out there? With respect to the second branch of the inquiry proposed to be submitted to the Committee—the enlarging of the functions of the colonial legislatures—he did not think that the necessity of that extension had been proved in every case. With respect to the colonial government generally, he was of opinion that we should attach our colonies to us by the ties of interest. Let not those colonies be treated as step-children, but as the children of this country. By adopting such a course our colonies would not only be encouraged to send us their produce, but to take our manufactures in return.
§ MR. SCOTT
then rose to reply. He observed, that no one who had heard the debate just about to close could entertain the least doubt that there was much difficulty in the government of our colonies, and he wished to have the causes of that difficulty investigated. It had been stated by an hon. Member opposite, that in the colonies which possessed legislative assemblies, those bodies possessed full control over the public purse. Now, that was part of the matter at issue, for one of the most important grounds of complaint was, that those assemblies did not possess the degree of control which ought to belong to them, and, in some cases, no control whatever. The mode of inquiry he had suggested had been objected to; but if a Parliamentary inquiry were not the proper medium in such a case, he was at a loss to conceive what was. He was fully sensible of the difficulty and complexity which surrounded the subject; but it was because he recog- 376 nised those features in it that he proposed to refer it to a Select Committee.
§ The House divided—Ayes 34; Noes 81: Majority 47.