§ THE EARL OF DERBY
, in rising to call the attention of the House to the Correspondence relative to the Debt due by the Island of Jamaica, said: My Lords, not very long ago your Lordships were amused, and almost as much scandalized as amused, by a Correspondence which was laid upon your table disclosing a very animated and very protracted controversy between two Departments of Her Majesty's Government, the result of which I think reflected no great credit on the way in which business was conducted by those Departments, and the result of which was, also, that a number of very gallant men had been for a very long time kept out of the receipt of what, according to at least one Member of the Cabinet, they are clearly entitled to. I am sure it will be in your Lordships' recollection that my noble and gallant Friend behind me (the Earl of Hardwicke) brought forward that question in the true spirit of a British seaman, and that he was supported by my noble and learned Friend (Lord Chelmsford), with that clearness of argument for which he is so invariably distinguished. And I am bound to add that the noble Duke at the head of the Admiralty, both in the correspondence and the debate, stood to his guns with an energy and determination 261 worthy of the profession of which he has the honour to be the head. I must also do my noble Friend the President of the Council the justice to say that in the difficult position in which he was placed he displayed in an eminent degree that quality for which he is so distinguished and which we are told is "the better part of valour" by shielding himself under the plea of total ignorance, in abstaining from the difficult task of controverting the opinions of one of his colleagues and defending those of another. I must now, my Lords, claim your indulgence while I call your attention to a controversy which has arisen between one of the same delinquents—I mean Her Majesty's Treasury—and the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Department, the result of which, although it has not, like the other correspondence, been the means of inflicting a great amount of private injury, has, for two or three years, been the cause of very great financial embarrassment to the Colony of Jamaica I think also, my Lords, that this correspondence discloses, to say the least, a very unusual mode of conducting business between two Departments; and I think your Lordships will agree with me, when you have heard some extracts which I shall feel it my duty to cite to you, that it is a correspondence which ought never to have taken place, and which, having taken place, never ought to have been submitted to Parliament. Why it has been so submitted I do not know. I do not know that it was ever moved for. I find that it has been presented to both Houses by command of Her Majesty, and I can only imagine one reason for its being presented, and that is that we might be amused by the spectacle of the noble Duke appealing to Parliament against the judgment of his colleagues. Before proceeding to speak of the correspondence itself, I will say a few words with respect to the circumstances out of which it arose. Long ago, in the year 1831, in consequence of the 'financial distress then existing in the Colony of Jamaica, a loan of £200,000 was granted to it from this country, which loan was to bear interest, and the whole amount, both principal and interest, was to be paid off in 1859. Up to 1847 the interest was punctually paid, and the debt itself had been reduced to £160,000. However, in consequence of the difficult position in which the colony was placed immediately after that year owing to the 262 step taken by the Imperial Legislature of equalizing the duty on slave-grown sugar and that raised by free labour, the Government acquiesced in the non-payment of interest, and from 1847 to 1854 the subject was allowed to drop. In 1854 Sir George Grey, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, proposed an arrangement by which the whole of the interest was to be capitalized and the debt commuted into an annuity of 3¼ per cent for forty years, in which way the debt was to be extinguished. In the first instance Sir Henry Barkly, the Governor of Jamaica, was in favour of the scheme: but in 1855 Sir Henry wrote to the Colonial Secretary that he had submitted it to the Legislative Assembly, which did not approve of it; and that upon reflection, and having considered the financial difficulties in which the colony was placed, he had himself changed his opinion, and now thought the whole debt, principal and interest should be remitted altogether. He also forwarded a memorial to that effect, and expressed a hope that in any event no step would be taken to enforce the payment until after the period fixed by law for the liquidation—namely, in 1859, should have expired. The Governor's commmnication was addressed to Sir William Molesworth; but was received by my noble Friend (Lord Taunton) then Mr. Labouchere, who had succeeded Sir William as Colonial Secretary. It was received on the 3rd of October, 1855. My noble Friend's motto is—Passibus citis, sed æquis; but on this occasion, his conduct did not correspond with his motto; for it was not till five months had elapsed after he had received the memorial that he forwarded to the Treasury his reasons for not concurring in the arrangement suggested by the colony. But, on that occasion, he made another proposition—namely, that instead of requiring the payment of the interest to the home Government, it should be applied to the payment of the Governor's salary, and some other charges, which were previously paid out of the funds of the Imperial Government. I have said that my noble Friend was deliberate enough; but the Treasury were more deliberate still, for they never answered it at all, or even referred to it for three years afterwards. I presume that no answer was sent to the memorial by the Colonial Office, and the result was that the colony continued not to pay interest; and so 263 matters remained as they were until 1859, which was the year fixed for ultimate payment of principal and interest. The Public Works Loan Office then made an application to the Treasury, and the Treasury, on the 13th July, 1859, wrote to the Colonial Office; and, just as if they were answering a letter received a week before, they commence, "With reference to your letter of the 7th March, 1856." They then state that they have taken into consideration recommendations made to them, and they were of opinion that some steps should be taken, and that it should be for the consideration of the Secretary of State whether the terms proposed in their Lordships' letter of the 4th October, 1854, should not be again brought under the consideration of the Legislative Council of Jamaica. In consequence of that letter the noble Duke transmitted to the Governor of Jamaica the whole correspondence, including the proposition made by Mr. Labouchere in 1856, and called upon the Governor to report to him what, in his opinion, was the best method of bringing about an adjustment of the debt. I must fairly admit that in the steps which he took in consequence of this letter the Governor exceeded the instructions which he had received from the Colonial Office; because, instead of reporting to the noble Duke what would be the best means of adjustment, he proceeded to act upon the plan suggested by Mr. Secretary Labouchere and forwarded by the noble Duke, and laid that plan before the colonial Legislature, by whom it was at once accepted, and a Bill in conformity with it was passed. The Governor afterwards assigned reasons more or less satisfactory for the adoption of this course; but the result was that the Bill was transmitted to this country, and on the 9th of March, 1860, the noble Duke transmitted it for the consideration of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, stating that it was passed—In conformity with the instructions contained in His Grace's despatch of the 18th of August last, a copy of which was transmitted to you in my letter of the same date; and under the circumstances of the case he would recommend the confirmation of the Act.The Treasury were again somewhat deliberate, for in answer to the letter of the 9th of March they wrote on the 21st of July a letter dated from the Treasury Chamber to the Colonial Office, in which they say—As the terms which were submitted to this Board by Mr. Secretary Labouchere, in March 264 1856, upon which Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to consent to a remission of the debt due from Jamaica on account of the loan advanced under the Act 2 & 3 Will IV., c. 125, have now been offered by the Legislature of the colony, my Lords will not object to the adoption, at the present time, of the principle involved therein—namely, the appropriation from the local revenue of Jamaica of a perpetual annuity payable to the Crown, but to be applied under the authority of the Crown towards the public uses of the colony.They notice that the amount of the annuity is not that which they were prepared to expect, but they go on to say that—If the Secretary of State is of opinion that Her Majesty's Government should consent to this further remission,.. … their Lordships will not object to the maintenance of the assurance which has been given by the Governor to the Colonial Legislature, that the arrangement under which a portion of his salary is at present paid by this country should continue till July, 1863.The noble Duke accompanied the Bill with a report of the legal adviser of the Colonial Office, in which he states that the subjects to be considered by the Treasury were—whether the arrangement of 1856 should be sanctioned; whether the proposed remission of interest should include all up to the date of that letter, or only that due in 1856; and whether the understanding that the Governor's salary should remain chargeable on the British Treasury until July, 1863, should be recognised. On these three questions the Treasury submitted—"whether the permanent charge of £6,400 per annum is imperilled by the provision which enables the Governor, by the advice of his Council, to fix the amount," and "whether it is correct that the Colonial Legislature should declare itself discharged on certain conditions from a debt to the British Treasury." With regard to the first of these last two questions their Lordships desired that the opinion of the legal adviser of the Colonial Office should be taken, and his opinion was that the money would be in no degree imperilled by the provision referred to. With regard to the discharge of the colonial Legislature, their Lordships apprehended "that the Act of Parliament which it will be necessary to obtain will contain sufficient authority to effect that object." Although this is not a very gracious acceptance, yet I think your Lordships will all be of opinion that it is substantially an acceptance by the Treasury, subject to the reconsideration of the Secretary of State; and that it was clearly intended to bring into Parliament a Bill to enable the colonial Legislature to 265 relieve itself from the payment of the debt. So it was understood at the Colonial Office; and while Sir George Lewis was acting for the noble Duke, an application was made to know whether the salary of an Adjutant General of Militia might be charged upon the funds to be raised under the Bill so sanctioned. Sir George Lewis replied that no permanent salary could be charged upon those funds. But when the noble Duke returned, he stated that if the Government was only to grant a sum from year to year there was no objection to such an application of the funds. There was then another important question for the consideration of the Government. At that time a census was about to be taken in the island of Jamaica, and on the 22nd of September the Governor inquired whether he might charge the expense of that very important undertaking to the funds which would arise under the Act. The noble Duke gave his consent to that application of the funds, and the expenses of the census were so charged, and the Act charging them received the Queen's assent, and became law. This being the state of the case, on the 21st of December, 1860, the Governor calls the attention of the noble Duke to the fact that "the annuity being about to be applied to the charges of the census, which is to be taken this year, it becomes important that Her Majesty's gracious decision upon the Act should now be communicated at as early a date as may be found convenient." Accordingly, on the 30th of January, the noble Duke writes to the Treasury, enclosing this despatch, and representing the necessity of immediate steps being taken for the passing of the Act sanctioning that of the local legislature, the Royal Assent to which was waiting for the passing of such a confirmatory Act by the Imperial Legislature. But, instead of immediate steps being taken for passing an Act confirming an Act of the local Legislature, under which a heavy expense had been incurred under the presumed authority of an Act of Parliament, will your Lordships believe that no notice was taken of that letter by the Treasury? Consequently, the Under Secretary of the Colonial Office wrote to the Treasury on the 19th July, 1861—I am directed by the Duke of Newcastle to request that you will have the goodness to bring again under the consideration of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury the letter from this Department of the 30th of January last, enclosing copy of a despatch from the Governor of Jamaica, pressing for the confirmation of the Jamaica Act, 266 No. 4,312, which contained terms for the adjustment of the debt of the island to the British Government. Mr. Hamilton's letter of the 21st of July, 1860, was understood in this Department to convey substantially their Lordships' assent to those terms, and their intention to apply to Parliament for an Act which would discharge the Colonial Legislature, in pursuance of that arrangement, from the debt due to the British Treasury, and so enable the Secretary of State to advise the confirmation by the Crown of the Colonial Act.The letter then suggests various reasons why the reply to the previous letter may have been delayed, and goes on to express a hope that—Their Lordships will not hesitate to carry into effect the very liberal, but, in his view, the thoroughly defensible and judicious, arrangement which was suggested to the Governor by the despatch of August, 1859, accepted by the colony as embodied in the Jamaica Act, and substantially assented to by their Lordships in July, 1860, and that they may be able to carry a short Bill through Parliament before the close of the present Session for this purpose.In the mean time, or shortly afterwards, the Governor, in a difficulty as to how he should deal with the debts which were coming upon him, asked for the sanction of the Treasury to advance a sum out of the military chest upon the faith of the sums which were in hand and ready to be made over when the Act should receive the Royal assent. On the 9th of September, 1861, the Secretary of the Treasury writes to say that—"My Lords cannot consent to allow the expenses referred to to be advanced from the Treasury chest." Then follows a letter the like of which I venture to say was never before received by a Secretary of State from a subordinate official. I speak in the presence of several noble Lords who have held that office themselves, and I am sure there is not one of them who would not have felt as I should have felt myself if I had received, as Secretary of State, such a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury. Your Lordships must bear in mind that the Bill had been substantially assented to for a period of nearly two years, and that, under that substantial and implied assent, heavy charges had been incurred. On the 9th of September, 1861—the Treasury having abstained from paying any attention to the noble Duke's repeated request that they would not object to the adoption of Mr. Labouchere's proposal for the settlement of the debt—Mr. Frederick Peel thought it fit and necessary to write to the Secretary of State that— 267My Lords, by their letter of July, 1860, informed the Secretary of State that they would not, under the circumstances, object to the adoption of the principle of Mr. Labouchere's proposal for the settlement of the debt. … My Lords, however, have now to state that the subject generally of the foregoing recapitulation has appeared to them to require further consideration.Considering how long an interval had elapsed since the Treasury had given their assent to the proposition, it was really trifling with the public business to say that further consideration was necessary. Mr. Frederick Peel adds—The plan on which the Act is founded is essentially different from that to which my Lords gave their assent in 1854, and the adoption of which they again recommended in 1859. … That Act is open to the objection of assuming to dispose of the money of the Imperial Government, and it is clear to my Lords that, except with the express previous sanction of Parliament, such legislation should not proceed.Why had not such sanction been obtained? They allowed the whole of the Session to pass, and yet they took no step to remedy a public inconvenience. And then comes a passage such as is not often addressed by a subordinate to a Secretary of State. It is quite right that the Treasury should exercise due and fitting control over the other Departments of the State; but the decision of the Treasury on any question ought surely to be conveyed to another branch of the service in a tone of courtesy, or, at least, in terms of ordinary civility. This letter, however, from which I am quoting is not the letter of a statesman, and hardly the letter of a gentleman. It is certainly not couched in the language I should have expected that any officer of the Government would have deemed it proper to address to one occupying the high position of the noble Duke. The passage is as follows:—The arrangement is not in itself, in the opinion of my Lords, of so good and defensible a character as the Duke of Newcastle considers it to be.My Lords, is that language which ought to be addressed to a Secretary of State with respect to his public acts by a Secretary of the Treasury?Looking, however, to the letter of this Board, of the 21st of July, 1860, my Lords do not desire to re-open this part of the question, but they are strongly of opinion than an Act of the Imperial Parliament should precede, and not follow, the legislation of the colony. They would suggest, therefore, that the present Act should remain inoperative, and that the assent of the Crown be withheld from it; and that next Session a Bill should be introduced into Parliament empowering the Legislature of Jamaica to pass an Act in Conformity with the plan of settlement 268 suggested by Mr. Labouchere in 1856, and enacting that it shall be lawful for the Treasury to accept such an Act as an arrangement by way of satisfaction for the debt.Was there ever such gratuitous pedantry? After the assent of the Treasury had practically been given for a year and a half, they suggest that the Bill, founded on that assent should be nullified, and that the transaction should be recommenced by a Bill to be now introduced in the Imperial Parliament. The noble Duke, smarting, I suppose, under the unusual infliction of such a letter of such a letter as this, certainly did not conceal his mortification and annoyance. On the 1st of October he wrote to Governor Darling a despatch of a rather unusual character—On the receipt of your despatch No. 159, of the 21st of December, 1860, urging the confirmation of the Jamaica Act No. 4,312, I caused a copy of it to be forwarded to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in the letter of which a copy is enclosed. No answer having been received to that letter in the course of the following six months, the letter of the 19th of July, of which a copy is annexed, was addressed to their Lordships, recalling the subject to their attention, and conveying my request that a Bill should be carried through Parliament for the purpose of giving validity to the arrangement under which Jamaica was to be relieved from her debt to this country. Previously to the receipt of an answer to the above letter your further despatches, No. 106, of the 6th of July, and separate of the 8th of July, were received, and were transmitted to the Treasury in the letter of the 21st of August, of which a copy is also enclosed. The letters of the 9th of September, copies of which I now forward to you, contain their Lordships decision, both upon the Act No. 4,312, and upon the subject of the funds to be provided for payment of the expenses of the census and other charges in the colony referred to in your despatches of the 6th and 8th of July. In communicating to you this decision, I have to express to you my deep regret, in the first place, at the delay which has occurred, and which I wish it had been in my power to obviate; and in the second, at my inability to help you through your present embarrassment.I perfectly sympathize with the feelings of the noble Duke under the circumstances; but still I must say that, even under the intense provocation he had received, such a despatch to the Governor of a colony, and intended to be subsequently laid before Parliament, was a deviation from the usual course of communication between different Departments. The Governor of Jamaica, finding it absolutely necessary to meet the expenditure which had been sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government, called on the local Legislature to pass an Act making an advance of £11,200 out of the island funds. The preamble of the Bill recites— 269Whereas the sum of £11,200 stands accrued as of the 30th day of September last, to be applied in liquidation of the debt due to the Imperial Government of £243,541, or thereabouts, as provided by the Act of the 23 Victoria, chap. 26, as soon as an Act of the Imperial Parliament shall be passed, authorizing the arrangements made under the said Act of the 23 Victoria, chap. 26, with Her Majesty's Government; And whereas Her Majesty's Government have signified their intention to apply to Parliament for the necessary powers to carry out the said arrangements; And whereas under the Act of the 24 Victoria, chap. 1, which Act has obtained the Royal assent, liabilities have been incurred for taking a census of the inhabitants of this island, which are provided to be paid out of the said monies so accrued as aforesaid, but for which payment no sufficient authority as yet exists.And then it goes on to authorize the Governor by his warrant to appropriate the £11,200 before mentioned as an advance on account of the debt due to the Imperial Government. A more reasonable proposition I cannot imagine. This Act is sent over to the Colonial Office, and the noble Duke, in transmitting the Governor's letter to the Treasury on the 30th of January, 1862—as it happens, on the anniversary of his previous application—directs the Secretary to say—I am to add that the Duke of Newcastle will be glad to receive at your early convenience a draught of the Bill which their Lordships propose to introduce. With reference to the concluding paragraph of your letter of the 9th of September, I am to observe that it would hasten the conclusion of this long-pending affair, if, instead of requiring fresh legislation in the colony, it were possible for Her Majesty's Government to avail themselves of the Act already passed by the Legislature of Jamaica, and waiting Her Majesty's assent, in aid of the proposed Act of Parliament; and I am to point out that the Act as it stands does not place any other restriction on the expenditure of the money than by requiring that the details of the expenditure be communicated to the Jamaica Assembly.The noble Duke's previous communications had not hitherto met with much favour from the Treasury, and there is in this instance no exception to the rule. On February 6th, Mr. Frederick Peel writes—I am directed by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to acquaint you, for the information of the Duke of Newcastle, that my Lords feel so strongly the necessity of submitting the whole scheme connected with the Jamaica debt for the consideration and sanction of Parliament, previously to consenting to any anticipation of funds contingent on such sanction, that they are not prepared to recommend his Grace to submit the Bill enclosed in the Governor's despatch above referred to (if it shall subsequently be received as an Act) for confirmation by Her Majesty; neither are my Lords prepared to adopt the suggestion made by his Grace for dispensing with fresh legislation in the colony in 270 regard to the debt, and adopting instead the Act passed by the Jamaica Legislature on 28th December, 1859, but from which the assent of the Crown has been withheld. My Lords will shortly furnish the Duke of Newcastle with the draught of a Bill to be introduced into the ensuing Session of Parliament, for giving effect to the plan of settlement submitted to this Board by Mr. Labouchere in 1856. This Bill will provide the necessary powers for enabling the Colonial Legislature to perform their part in the suggested arrangement.I think that the tone of this communication, considering whence it proceeds and for whom it is intended, is, to say the least, rather odd. In the mean time, the unfortunate Governor of Jamaica transmits a statement of the warrants which he had issued against the sum of £11,200, amounting to £8,821 19s. 4d., and opposite to each item appends the number and date of the despatch from the Secretary of State which constitutes the authority for the issue, but which the Treasury has intimated is not worth one halfpenny. The correspondence is closed by a couple of formal letters from the noble Duke forwarding to the Treasury copies of the despatches of the Governor and the Act of the local Legislature of Jamaica. I think it is necessary to call the attention of your Lordships to the system or want of system in carrying on the public business which this correspondence discloses, and which must inflict much injury on the public service. Of course differences of opinion will occasionally arise between Departments; but, as far as my experience goes, it is usual to try and arrange such differences by a personal interview and explanation before a public despatch is written. In the event of an objection being found insuperable, the practice is then to appeal to the head of the Government. It is because I believe the very different course which has been followed in this instance to be of a novel and unusual character that I feel it right to call attention to this second instance of want of agreement between two Departments of the State. To put myself in order, I shall move the following Resolution:—That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient to put an end by immediate legislation to the financial embarrassment caused in the island of Jamaica by conflicting decisions of the Commissioners of the Treasury and the Secretary of State.I believe I shall be told that a Bill has just been introduced into the other House on the subject. I will not say propter hoc quia post hoc, but it is a little remarkable 271 that my notice to call attention to the subject was given on the 3rd of July, and leave was given to introduce the Bill on the 4th of July. I hope that the noble Duke who has been so long and unsuccessfully trying to persuade his colleagues not to take a retrograde step, and not to thwart him in the matter—if he does not feel any gratitude to me—will at least excuse me for having obtained that which was refused to his remonstrances so long. It will be for the Government to explain why it is that the Bill now introduced was not introduced a year and a half ago. The colony has been put to needless confusion and embarrassment in consequence of the unseemly wrangling between two Departments. I have thought it my duty to bring the subject before your Lordships, and I hope that the future correspondence will be of a different character. It is hardly necessary for me to say, that inasmuch as a Bill has at last been introduced, I do not desire to do more than to record my opinion of the inconvenience which has been produced in this matter. The noble Earl concluded by moving—To resolve, That it is expedient to put an End by immediate Legislation to the financial Embarrassment which has been caused to the Island of Jamaica, by the conflicting Decisions of the Treasury and the Secretary of State.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I have no wish to complain of the noble Earl having brought this subject before your Lordships, even if he had known that a Bill had been introduced into the other House, and was likely to come before your Lordships. The course he has taken is, of course, perfectly Parliamentary. The noble Earl complains of these papers being published. I certainly agree with the noble Earl, that in the exercise of that particular quality for which he was kind enough to give me credit—discretion—it might have been better if all correspondence of this sort were suppressed. Correspondence of this sort between two different Departments, starting from different points, and presenting naturally a diversity of views and sentiments, is very likely to afford matter for those who wish to attack the Government in a lively speech, and those who have to defend the Government might very naturally wish that it had never been published. Still, perhaps, there is no reason why a Member of either House of parliament should complain of the Government for affording full information with regard to a Bill they are about to intro- 272 duce. The noble Earl also went on to point out that great delay had occurred from these differences between the Departments. I admit that considerable delay has occurred; but this delay has been occasioned in a great degree by changes in the heads of the Departments. I believe, however, that there is a great advantage in these changes—they are a check upon that system of bureaucracy which prevails in other countries. But, at the same time, it is clear that when a correspondence is spread over a great many years, and a great many different persons have had the superintendence of it during those years, some inconsistencies will not improbably occur in it which would have been prevented had the whole correspondence been conducted under the direction of a single mind. During the time this correspondence has been going on, there have been three Chancellors of the Exchequer, four or five Secretaries of State for the Colonies, and four Secretaries of the Treasury. I know that there has been great delay, but I am not sure that the greatest possible expedition is desirable when money is owing to the Imperial Government, and the colony, either reasonably or unreasonably, desires to repudiate or to make a compromise. Some amount of delay and difficulty in such matters is not altogether an unmixed evil. It is remarkable that the noble Earl himself was in office during part of the time over which this correspondence spread, and that his Government appear not have taken a single step in the matter.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, that between 1856 and 1859, when he was in office, the matter, by previous arrangement, had been allowed to drop until 1859, when the last payment became due.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Of course, if a Government remains in for a year and a half, and neglects to do anything whatever in the matter, it is very easy to avoid the reproach of there being no conflict of opinion between the Departments of that Government. Still, the fact remains. It so happens that Mr. Gladstone, who has been so pointedly attacked by the noble Earl in the first month that he took office, immediately recommenced a correspondence for the settlement of the question.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
When your Lordships read the accurate report, which, no doubt, will appear in the journals to-mor- 273 row morning, I shall be very much surprised if you do not find that the noble Lord did make an attack on my right hon. Friend; but, of course, if the noble Earl disclaims any intention of the sort, I entirely waive any argument on the subject. No doubt, on several points there have been errors. There was a great error, I believe, committed some years ago by the Treasury in not taking any notice of the despatch which was written by my noble Friend behind me (Lord Taunton). That was a mistake which governed much which followed. Other mistakes also have been made on several points. I think it the duty of the head of one Department to afford the Governor of a dependency all the information in his power, although he has not the consent of the Treasury to it, and I think nothing can be more unfair than to complain of a person in a distant dependency acting on his own judgment. But my noble Friend the noble Duke has not thought it right to act on the recommendation of the Governor; and considering the reasons he has given, I think he ought not to be blamed for the course he has taken. No doubt, the communications between Departments ought to be carried on with great courtesy; but there is great advantage to the public service in having free and open discussion between them. In Swift's advice to servants, each one is told to look on the whole income of the household as belonging to his own particular department; and no doubt the officers of the Departments of the State feel something of the same kind of interest in a political point of view in their particular Departments, but it is the especial duty of the Treasury to check the expenditure of the other Departments. As a matter of fact, the Treasury and the Colonial Office are agreed that in the present state of the colony it is impossible to exact the whole of the debt, and my noble Friend is in error in supposing that notice of the introduction of a Bill upon the subject has been given in consequence of his notice. Both Departments are agreed to some compromise, and the Bill has been prepared for some time. The Treasury have been more punctilious as to the terms than the Colonial Office; but the colony has gained by the delay, and I trust that when the Bill comes up to this House, your Lordships will give your assent to it.
§ LORD TAUNTON
said, he had read this correspondence with very great concern, and it was with equal surprise and regret 274 that he found that a question which came under his notice seven years ago, when he was at the Colonial Office, and which, for the sake of the colony, ought to have been speedily and satisfactorily settled, had not yet been disposed of by the Government. He did not say that the question was one upon which there might not fairly be a difference of opinion; but it was a simple question, and in justice to the colony some decision ought to have been arrived at some months ago and communicated to the Colonial Government. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) said that he (Lord Taunton) was five months in office before he took notice of the subject. In that the noble Earl was mistaken—he had only been three months in office before he wrote the despatch, and at the very beginning of the Session he wrote to the Treasury on the subject. The noble Earl was in office a year and a half, and he took no action of any sort or kind, but let the whole matter go to sleep. The reason assigned was, that the Governor impressed upon the Colonial Office the necessity of not moving until 1859; but all that the Governor said was, that if the Colonial Office were determined to exact the debt, it would be very embarrassing to do so before 1859. He could not, therefore, acquit the noble Earl and his Government of having gone to sleep without any justification. The noble Earl had referred to his motto; but really the noble Earl's conduct was in perfect harmony with the noble Earl's ancient cognizance—Sans changer. Although, no doubt, there was great force in the statements of the noble Earl as to the evils of procrastination, he did not think the censure for the delay came with a good grace from his noble Friend. He believed that a great deal of the misfortunes of Jamaica arose from its vicious constitution. The Legislative Assembly was affected by almost every possible vice which could be developed in such a body. One capital defect was, that any member could move money votes without the authority of the executive Government, could appropriate and expend them without any efficient control or audit. The consequence was, that the members voted money, spent money, audited their own accounts, and did everything, either by themselves or by standing committees appointed to act during the recess. The natural consequence was, that the finances of the colony were thrown into utter and irreparable confusion. If negro emancipation had been comparatively 275 successful in many colonies, and had signally failed in Jamaica, it was owing partly, no doubt, to natural causes, but much more to their own vicious system of legislation. At last, instigated by bad advice from this side, they thought they could change the commercial policy of this country in regard to the equalization of the sugar duties by stopping the supplies. Of course, this was a mere delusion; but they made the evil so great that a remedy was required, and the forms of the Constitution were altered so as to take away that mischievous power of members to propose money votes. It was just afterwards that Sir Henry Barkly made the proposition upon which he (Lord Taunton) had to decide. The Governor asked for an unconditional remission of the loan; but he thought some conditions should be made to secure the independence of the Governor. He recommended a scheme for adoption, and it was lamentable to think that the matter had been so long pending between the Treasury and the Colonial Office. He very much doubted the expediency, however, of laying before Parliament this correspondence between different Departments. It was quite right that everything should be on record; but it could not be expected that officers of the Government would express their opinions freely if they found it was likely their correspondence with their colleagues would be published and laid before Parliament. Some discretion should be exercised in laying before Parliament such correspondence. He had always held that the Treasury should exercise a strong hand over the expenditure of the other Departments, and, having the control of the public purse, should retain the chief supervision in these matters. If the Treasury had decided here that the debt should not be remitted, though he should bare deemed it impolitic, it would have been for the Secretary of State to have forwarded that decision to the colony; and it would have been unseemly had any conflict of opinion between the Departments appeared upon the face of his despatch. But the Government should be careful how it lent money to the colonies. Money relations between the two were not at all likely to tend to amicable relations, and Shakspeare's advice was quite applicable here—Neither a lender nor a borrower be,For loan oft loses both itself and friend.He could not help thinking that seven years of delay were a most unconscionable 276 period to wait for a decision of this question. The Treasury should recollect, that though, on the one hand, they had a right to insist on controlling other Departments of the Government upon questions of expenditure, yet those Departments had a right to expect that there should be no such procrastination as had taken place here. Our system of Government could only be worked smoothly upon two conditions—first, that the Treasury should exercise an effective control over the public purse as against the other Departments; but, secondly, that the Treasury should not consider themselves only a mere money Department, but that where important questions of executive administration were concerned there should be no delay in the decisions at which they arrived.
§ EARL GREY
I agree generally in the opinions just expressed by my noble Friend (Lord Taunton), I think it a great mistake to speak of the different Members of different Departments of the Government as having any independent authority whatever. Hitherto, we have been accustomed to speak of the Queen's Government. The Secretaries of State, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and the Lords of the Admiralty, are but the servants of Her Majesty; and hitherto it has been considered the correct practice in this country that the Queen's Government as a whole should decide upon important questions; and when differences of opinion between the Departments existed, they have never been allowed to appear, as has recently been the case. No doubt my noble Friend the President of the Council is right in saying that there ought to be free discussion between the Departments, and that there must often be a difference of opinion between them. But there is a mode of settling these differences. If the matter is one of importance, the Secretary of State may refer it to the First Lord of the Treasury; and if his decision is not satisfactory, he may refer the matter to the Cabinet. When the Cabinet has decided, if the Secretary of State thinks that his colleagues are wrong, but not so overwhelmingly wrong as to warrant his standing upon his own opinion—in which case he will resign—it is his duty to signify to the Governor of the colony the final decision of the Queen's Government, and not to weaken the decision by implying in his despatch any doubt as to the grounds and the propriety of the decision. That is the principle which has always hitherto been 277 adopted in this country, and our whole system of government must be involved in inextricable confusion if we are to have each head of the Departments throw off responsibility from himself, and not considering what is the right course for the Government to pursue as a whole. That is the objection which I take to the course pursued in this instance, and in the case of the Kertch prize money. The Queen's Government must be considered as a whole, and should be responsible as a whole; it should not be divided against itself in this way, or show such a want of firmness and consistency.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
said, that the late Government had been taunted with having allowed these papers to remain undealt with and the question unsettled during their term of office. But the answer to this was to be found in the first despatch of Sir Henry Barkly, who said—In conclusion, I venture respectfully to express a hope that in the event of compliance with the prayer of the memorial now sent being deemed impolitic, no steps for the recovery of the money calculated to revive past animosities or create fresh hostility will be taken until at least the furthest period allowed by law (1859) for the repayment of the principal and interest has expired, and the best chance been thus afforded of the restoration of Jamaica to a state of comparative quietude and prosperity.The question was therefore allowed to sleep, on the understanding of all parties that the term when this money should be repaid had not arrived. He read every paper of importance that came to the Colonial Office while he was Under Secretary of State, and he was certain that no despatch or letter on this subject had been received during that time. Then, two months after his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) had resigned office, there was a letter from the Colonial Office to the Treasury, in which it was suggested that their Lordships would refrain from pressing the matter at present. He thought, therefore, that the late Government were absolved from all responsibility in the matter, as they left office before this term had expired.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, it is impossible to listen to what falls from the noble Earl (Earl Grey) upon any matter connected with the Government of this country, and more especially relating to the government of the colonies, without great respect and deference. I cannot help thinking, however, that his very beautiful theory may be carried to 278 a very impracticable result. He says that the various Departments are branches of one Government, and that everything goes out to the Colonies in the name of the Queen's Government. That is true to a certain extent and in point of form; but if the noble Earl's dogma were carried to its legitimate result, and if every matter under the consideration of the various Departments came before the Cabinet, the whole business of the country would come to a dead-lock. What is practically the case is that every Department, unless some difficulty arises, transacts its ordinary and current business without reference to any other Department, and that the Treasury exercises, by the constitution of this country, an entire control over the expenditure of the public money. Does the noble Earl mean to say that the Treasury does not, both theoretically and really, exercise that control? Why, the noble Earl cannot take up a single volume of the statutes—he can scarcely turn over a single page—without finding the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and not the Queen's Government, as the Department specially responsible for the control of the public money. The noble Earl's theory never has been carried out, and never will. It is no doubt true, as he says, that if a dispute arises between two Departments, and they cannot agree, the matter is referred to the Prime Minister in the first instance, and, if necessary, then to the Cabinet. But when the noble Earl charges me with a desire to evade the responsibility that belonged to my office, I may remind him that no such charge was made by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), and that no such charge can be substantiated by the papers. I took the full responsibility of the measure that had been prepared four years before I took office by my noble Friend (Lord Taunton) and I adopted that measure. But when the noble Earl (Earl Grey) says the differences that arose ought to have been referred, first to the Prime Minister, and then to the Cabinet, I must remind him that there was no difference of opinion as to the practical measures to be adopted. The Treasury agreed with the Colonial Office as to what ought to be done, and what had I therefore to refer to the Prime Minister or the Cabinet? I thought it my duty to press the Treasury to carry out what had been agreed on. If there had been anything to refer to the Prime Minister or the Cabinet, that 279 reference I should undoubtedly have made. The charges made by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) are twofold; first, that the correspondence shows a difference of opinion in the Departments concerned; and next, that there was delay in carrying the necessary measures into effect. The first charge has been completely answered by my noble Friend the President of the Council. With regard to the delay, it is unfair to charge the whole of this delay upon the present Board of Treasury because the blame, if any, must be shared by every Treasury for the last seven years. I defy the noble Earl to read two pages of the despatches without seeing that it was the anxious desire of Sir Henry Barkly to obtain as early and as decisive a settlement of this question as possible. He only added—what it was natural for him to say—that if the Government differed from him, he trusted they would postpone that decision — which would otherwise put a stop to various reforms which were going on in the colony under the Act of 1854—until the year 1859, when it was necessary the decision of the Government should be signified. My noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) says he read every paper of importance that came to the Colonial Office, and that none reached the office on this subject while he was there. No doubt that was true; but the despatch in question was written by Mr. Merivale, under the direction of my noble Friend (Lord Taunton) in 1856. My noble Friend sent the despatch of Sir Henry Barkly to the Treasury, which never answered it. Is my noble Friend prepared to tell me that the Treasury of the Government of which he (the Earl of Carnarvon) was a Member was not responsible in part for the abeyance in which this matter was allowed to remain for three years? Exactly half the delay that arose is attributable to another Treasury than the present. It is therefore impossible for my noble Friend opposite to exonerate himself and the Government of which he was a Member from all share in this blame. I will not enter into a discussion on the merits of the measure now before the House of Commons, but I can assure the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) that the introduction of that Bill in the other House had no reference to the notice that he gave. I suppose the noble Earl has made himself acquainted with the dates, but I should have said the Bill was introduced the day before, and not the day after he gave his notice. [The 280 Earl of DERBY: No.] But, however that may he, the Bill had been a long time prepared, and its introduction was only delayed until the papers could be presented to the other House. There was, I can assure him, no connection whatever between the two events. The Bill will come up to your Lordships' House in due course, and it will then be my duty to give a history of these transactions. One observation made by my noble Friend (Lord Taunton) it may be desirable now to notice. My noble Friend advised the Government to be as sparing as possible in granting loans to the colonies. I think that the Government will do well to be sparing both in loans and guarantees to the colonies; but my noble Friend is not quite accurate if he charges the colonies with any tendency to repudiate their loans. There are a variety of loans to the colonies; but this is the only colonial loan, with one trifling exception, the interest upon which is not paid half-yearly with as much punctuality as the interest upon the English funds themselves. As to the loan of 1854 to the island of Jamaica, it was part of the arrangement that a loan of £500,000 should be made, in order that a new representative system should be introduced into that colony. I shall, with your Lordships' permission, reserve any further observations on this subject until it is my duty to move the second reading of the Bill now before the other House of Parliament.
§ EARL GREY
wished to explain that he had never denied that the Treasury ought to exercise a control over the public expenditure. What he said was, that when the Secretary communicated its decisions to a Colonial Governor it acted for the whole Government. A communication to the Governor of a colony signified the Queen's pleasure; and it was not right for a colonial Minister to say, as the noble Duke had in effect done, that he was sorry for the colony, but that he could not obtain from the Treasury what he thought the colony had a right to have.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
in reply said, he should be sorry if he had committed any injustice to the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle), in regard to the period that had elapsed between the first message of the Governor and the communication with the Treasury. He would admit that the noble Duke did not succeed to the office of Secretary of State until a considerable portion of the five months in question had 281 elapsed. With regard to the charge, or rather the counter-charge, against his (the Earl of Derby's) Government of being parties to the delay, the noble Duke was strangely in error if he thought that it was the duty of a Government to look back and see whether there was any letter on any subject whatever which might have remained for years unanswered, and that the responsibility of any delay rested with the Treasury if they did not take that step. The Correspondence dropped over a period from 1856 to 1858, and the subject had never been brought before Parliament during that period. His complaint as to delay did not refer to the delay in adopting the plan suggested by his noble Friend (Lord Taunton) in 1856. What he complained of was, that after that plan had been adopted, and after the colony had been led to believe that the question was settled, the period from 1860 to 1862 was allowed to elapse without the necessary steps being taken to give effect to what had already been relied on by the Government. He did not wish to protract the discussion, and as—whether in consequence of his notice or otherwise—there was now laid on the table of the House a Bill relating to this subject, his Motion had become unnecessary, and he therefore asked leave to withdraw it.
§ Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.