HC Deb 01 July 1834 vol 24 cc1061-3
Mr. Fowell Buxton

in rising to move for an inquiry into the state and condition of the aboriginal tribes of countries in, and adjacent to, colonies under the dominion of Great Britain, said, that he would not at that late hour trouble the House by going into any details on the subject of his Motion. He would content himself by stating, that in every place where we had established a colony, the native inhabitants, instead of being benefited, were injured by our presence among them. In every British Colony, without exception, the aboriginal inhabitants had greatly decreased, and still continued rapidly to dwindle away. This was the case in Australia and Africa and in North America, and as had been remarked by a Mr. Hamilton, British brandy and gunpowder had done their work in thinning the natives. The hon. Member quoted se- veral passages in illustration of his views from well known writers. In South Africa, it was considered the most meritorious action a European could perform, to shoot the natives. The introduction of civilization, therefore, instead of proving a blessing, had proved a curse to the Aborigines of the different countries, into which we had carried what we called the blessings of civilization. It was high time that some measures were adopted, with the view of arresting the rapid decrease which was taking place among the native inhabitants of the colonies. Justice and humanity alike required it. He (Mr. Buxton) would not, at this late period of the Session, move for a Select Committee to inquire into the matter, because he was satisfied that his right hon. friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, would he willing and ready to give every information in his power on the subject. He would content himself with moving, "that an address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he would be graciously pleased to cause an inquiry to be made into the state and condition of the native inhabitants in and adjacent to colonies under the dominion of Great Britain."

Mr. Secretary Rice

did not know of any mode in which he could more strongly express his assent to the propositions and principles laid down by his hon. friend, than by seconding the Motion which he had made. He was prepared to furnish the hon. Gentleman with all the information which he possessed on the subject. He held in his hand a number of valuable documents, which he would have great pleasure in laying before the House; and if his hon. friend should think proper next Session to bring forward a Motion for a Committee of inquiry, he would most willingly support it. But while he thus expressed his cordial approval of the principles which the hon. Gentleman had advanced on the subject, he must differ from him as to the amount of the evils to which he had referred. There must be evils to a certain extent, consequent on the introduction of civilization into a savage country, and these evils, though he could not hope that they could be done away with altogether, he would use every exertion to reduce.

Mr. Pease

was happy to hear the speeches of both the hon. Gentlemen. It afforded him particular pleasure, and he was sure it would do the same to the country, to see the promptitude and cordiality with which the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies concurred in the opinions expressed by the bon. member for Weymouth.

The Motion agreed to.