HC Deb 07 June 1832 vol 13 cc509-12
Mr. Dixon

rose, pursuant to notice, to move "for the appointment of a Select Committee to take into consideration the Alienation of Crown Lands in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land." The regulations under which the settlers, some years ago, had been induced to take lands, had, by subsequent regulations, been altered, in a manner extremely detrimental to those settlers. The colonists, especially the old colonists, com- plained of the new regulations, the principal of which were drawn up in August, 1831, by which they were compelled to pay a higher price for their land than they had formerly agreed to. They complained, too, of the advantages that had been given to the Australian Company. He did not want to enter into the general questions of settling the country, or of emigration, but the circumstances stated by the colonists were matters of fact, not of principle, and it would require something more than the denial of the noble Lord to upset their assertions. The interest of the settlers, particularly of the old settlers, was materially injured by these new regulations, and by the promises which had been made to them not having been kept.

Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer seconded the Motion.

Lord Howick

said, he could not acquiesce in this Motion; because it would, in fact, lead to an inquiry into the whole question of the mode in which land was allocated in the colonies, and as to the manner in which emigration should be encouraged. The hon. Mover had said that this was a mere question of fact, and ought to be inquired into. He denied the assertion, for the whole of the facts were already before the house, and had been decided on. The point was, whether certain individuals—those who were now complaining—should fulfil the agreement which they had originally entered into, or should give up their possessions. He did not think that any very great sympathy would be felt for those who, having the alternative, chose to select the latter course. He must say, that it would be an act of gross injustice to those settlers who had recently gone out, and who were obliged to conform to the new regulations, if others, who had previously procured land at a more favourable rate, were not obliged to fulfil their original engagements. The motion of the hon. Gentleman went to an inquiry on this point—namely, whether the system adopted by Government, with respect to the alienation of lands, was a wise or an unwise one. Now, he objected to the formation of a Committee for this purpose. Committees were useful where information was to be collected, or where facts were to be inquired into which were doubtful. But this was not the case here. The object of the hon. Member would be better developed, if he brought a motion before the House, recommending some other system than that which was now adopted for the alienation of Crown lands in those colonies. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the new regulations had checked emigration. This was not the fact. The number of emigrants was, in 1828, 1,056; in 1829, (those to Swan River included), 1,965; in 1830, 1,242; at the commencement of 1831, he admitted, that there was a considerable decrease. That, however, was owing to the public not properly understanding the new regulations. But in the latter part of that year, when the nature of those regulations was known, the number of emigrants had increased in a very large ratio. He was most ready to admit that the grant to the Australian Company was a most profuse one, the land having been granted to them at 1s. 8d. per acre, for which other persons had to pay 5s. It was a bargain that should not have been made; but, having been once made, it was irrevocable, and it now only remained for the Government and Parliament to alter such a system.

Mr. Cresset Pelham

hoped the Committee would be appointed.

Mr. Cripps

said, that the grant made to the Australian Company was one of the best things that could possibly have been done for promoting the interests of a rising colony.

Mr. Hume

complained of the mode of distributing land that had hitherto prevailed in New South Wales, and expressed his approbation of the plan now adopted by his Majesty's Government. The establishment of the Australian Company had advanced the colony fifty years in the career of improvement. It had introduced there the best breeds of sheep, and other species of cattle, that Europe could supply. It was owing to that Company that coals had been obtained at 7s. per ton, and therefore, so far from agreeing with the noble Lord in considering the grant made to that Company a profuse one, he thought that it was a most useful and economical one. The best way to promote emigration to those colonies was, to extend to them English institutions—such as the power of self-taxation, Trial by Jury, &c., in their best shape. If his hon. friend brought forward measures of that kind, and succeeded in carrying them, he would find that tens of thousands of emigrants would proceed to those colonies.

Mr. Dixon

expressed a hope, that the noble Lord would again turn his sttention to the subject. He was sure that 5s. was too high a minimum price for land in those colonies, and the demand for that sum must prevent emigration. Seeing, however, no hope of carrying his Motion, he begged leave to withdraw it.

Motion withdrawn.