HC Deb 18 July 1831 vol 4 cc1442-4

The next vote was, that a sum of 120,000l. be granted for the expenses of Convicts sent to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land.

Mr. Hume

objected, that no account of this expenditure was laid before the House. They went on year after year pursuing the same course, voting money without knowing how it was to be applied; they had been promised a Colonial Budget, and nothing could be more simple than giving an account of receipts and payments, which would enable the House to comprehend the cost of each colony: such an account ought to be furnished.

Mr. Spring Rice

said, this was a usual vote, but he admitted that, so far as it was paid out of the Army Extra ordinaries, nothing could be more unsatisfactory; for, by the manner of making up their accounts, charges of various sorts were mixed up together. The Government were in communication with the home and local authorities, and they hoped next year to present an intelligible account.

Lord Howick

stated, that this service would be remodelled, and regular accounts laid before the House; he assured the hon. member for Middlesex, that there was much business to do in the Colonial Department.

Mr. George Robinson

said, that within the last four years they had had several Colonial Secretaries and Under Secretaries, which was the cause why the most important business was deferred, neglected, or not understood. It would be utterly impossible to carry on our colonial affairs, if the persons at the head of them were continually changed, and had the business of the office continually to learn. There was, no doubt, much to do in the Colonial Office, but he protested against the manner in which it was at present attempted to be performed. They never could have the Colonial Budget, which had been promised, until an alteration was made.

Mr. Maberly

said, that a Colonial Budget had been recommended by the Finance Committee, and he hoped it would be produced as soon as possible, as it would much facilitate their proceedings.

Mr. Warburton

said, it was the proper business of the Colonial Secretary to make out a budget. He hoped, in future, that this vote would not be connected with the Army Extraordinaries in the colonies, which in New South Wales alone cost 400,000l. There must necessarily be great mismanagement somewhere. The value of convict labour was great, and might be advantageously applied to tillage; there were many settlers willing to employ them, but Government monopolised their labour, and the country had to pay for it. Another evil was, granting tracts of land to Government officers, who were thereby objects of suspicion and envy, on account of their being supposed able to procure Government labourers.

Lord Howick

assured the hon. Gentleman, that the most positive orders had been given, that convicts, immediately on their arrival in the settlements, should be assigned by the civil power to settlers. The report of the Commissioners on the subject of New South Wales, recommended an assessment of 10s. per head on each convict. Lord Goderich thought a larger sum might be raised, but felt it impossible to transmit precise orders. The setters certainly should have the benefit of the convicts' labour. No grants whatever of land had been made for some time, but the whole had been put up for sale.

Mr. Dixon

believed there must be a large expenditure to maintain the colony. The fairest method, however, was, to allow the convicts to be sold to the highest bidder among the settlers. A large revenue might thus, he believed, be obtained by the sale of convict labour.

Mr. Goulburn

understood, from the statement of the noble Lord, that a tax was to be imposed on the labour of convicts: he doubted the propriety of taxing the agricultural produce of such a colony as New South Wales.

Colonel Torrens

contended, that it was owing to the grossest mismanagement if these colonies were of the smallest expense to the mother country. He would undertake, by the sale of colonial lands, under proper regulations, not only to furnish sufficient funds for the maintenance of the colonies, but to yield a consider- able surplus. All the colonies ought, also, gradually to be removed from under our control.

Mr. Hunt

said, the great objection to such a plan was, it would take away the patronage of Government. He, for one, however, was perfectly satisfied, that the nation could do without that patronage.

Colonel Evans

thought the expanses enormous, and to him it was wonderful how they had increased to such a frightful and ruinous extent.

Vote agreed to.

14,2.00l. was granted, for defraying fees on Turnpike Road Acts.