§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he had received a copy of the circular despatch from Governor 803 General Sir William Denison to governors of other Australian colonies, submitting heads of plan for the establishment of a monthly line of steam-packets to England, estimating the amount to be paid to a company or companies for that accommodation at 100,000l. per annum, and proposing that three-fifths of the required amount should be borne by the Home Government and two-fifths by the colonies? Whether he had received a copy of an Address presented by the Legislative Council of Victoria to the Governor of that colony, expressing surprise and regret that the Home Government had suffered frequent and quick communication with England by steam to cease, and expressing their readiness to bear their fair share of the cost of renewing it, to an amount not exceeding 50,000l. per annum? Whether Her Majesty's Government had given their attention to this subject, and how far they could hold out a prospect of the early re-establishment of steam communication with Australia?
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he had received a despatch on the 2nd of the present month with respect to steam communication with Australia to the effect mentioned by the right hon. Baronet; but the Governor, Sir William Denison, said that the project brought forward had not received the assent of the other colonies, and no company was willing to engage in so large an undertaking without being assured by something more than a simple Resolution, and that it would be necessary to have a law on the subject. With respect to the colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, and New Zealand, no answer had been received; but with respect to Victoria there was a despatch expressing deep regret that, owing to the great pressure for steam transports for conveying troops and stores to the Crimea, the steam communication with the Australian colonies had been interrupted. The colonists of Victoria stated that they were ready to propose an expenditure of 50,000l. on the subject. During the short period since the despatch had been received he had been much occupied with other business, but he had been in communication with other departments of the Government, in the hope of establishing a steam communication with the Australian colonies. The subject was one of great importance, and the Government would pay due attention to it.