§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
presented a petition from the Council and Assembly of Barbadoes, complaining that, according to the proposed distribution of the Compensation Fund, they would not receive the full amount of their loss under the Slave Emancipation Act. The hon. Baronet recommended a revision of the Act of last Session, relative to the distribution of the Compensation Fund.
Mr. Secretary Rice
was ready to acknowledge, that all petitions emanating from the Representative Assemblies of the Colonies, were entitled to the serious attention of the Government and the House, but he regretted to say, that he entirely dissented from the prayer of the present petition. The principle it involved was, that the amount of compensation should be according to the value of the slaves. There was no Member of that House, he was convinced, who would not admit that compensation should bear an equal proportion to the value of the thing taken away, and this was the principle that had been proceeded upon. It was not what a thing cost, but what it would fetch, that should be the standard of compensation. But to show the injustice and bad policy of giving compensation per capita, he would only remark, that in one island a slave was worth 120l., while in another his value would be not more than 35l. or 40l. He was of opinion that nothing could be more impolitic than a re-opening of the question at the present period, and more particularly at so late a period of the session. One part of the petition he viewed with great pain—he alluded to the declaration made of the inadequacy of the amount of compensation, and thought, after the very large and liberal amount granted by the Legislature, they might rather have expected to have seen the subject approached by the Colonial Assemblies with feelings of gratitude than complaint.
§ Mr. Patrick Stewart
regretted such a petition should have come from the Colonies at such a most important crisis, at the very time, when, in all probability, the momentous question of the emancipation of the slaves would be put to the test. He concurred in the opinion, that the question could not now be re-opened.
§ The Petition laid on the Table.