HC Deb 23 July 1834 vol 25 cc428-32

Mr. Wolryche Whitmore moved the second reading of the South Australia Colonization Bill.

Mr. Young

objected to proceeding with this Bill at so late an hour (2 o'clock). He should move, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. Wolryche Whitmore

explained that the object of the Bill was, to introduce a better principle of colonization into our system, which, if successful, as he hoped it would prove, must be of great benefit to our colonial possessions, as well as to England and Ireland. The present Bill would greatly serve Australia, as it would encourage the emigration there of able-bodied labourers.

Mr. F. O'Connor

should oppose the Bill on the hon. Member's own showing, for there was a want of able-bodied labourers in Ireland and in other parts of the empire.

Mr. Sheil

said, that he very seldom differed from his hon. friend (Mr. O'Connor), but it really appeared to him very much like a paradox when he heard him objecting to any means of getting rid of a superabundant population. In his own parish there were upwards of 200 persons every week who said, "Give us food, or give us work," while it was not always possible to give them food, and impossible to give them work. As the plan had received the disinterested sanction of his Majesty's Government, he thought it deserved consideration as a question of philanthropy and of national usefulness.

Mr. Secretary Rice

felt himself called on to state, on the behalf of the Government, that in the sanction which Ministers had afforded to the introduction of the Bill, they had not given it any undue encouragement. Not only had the authors of the measure made out a strong primâ facie case for the introduction of the Bill, but they had also given such an explanation of the principles on which the colonization was to be conducted as induced him to hope that the plan would have a successful issue. A very heavy responsibility had rested on him personally in steering the middle course, between refusing encouragement and giving too decided a sanction to the measure, and he had suggested some alterations in the Bill which he thought necessary to secure its efficiency. There was one to which he particularly wished to call the attention of the House and that of the framers of the Bill, as some alteration in it would be required; namely, that some engagements should be entered into, and some sums be deposited, for the purpose of securing the State against any charges for Government appearing in the miscellaneous estimates. In order to effect this object, he had suggested, that there should be covenants, and a certain sum put down as a guarantee; and in accordance with this suggestion, it had been arranged that 20,000l. should be placed by the authors of the project in the hands of the Treasury. A slight alteration was, however, required to make this sum available for the purposes of Government, as under the Bill, as it stood at present, the sum could not be touched. He hoped that the House would allow the second reading, and that an early day might be appointed for the Committee, that the Bill might pass into a law this Session.

Mr. Hughes Hughes

said, that it was absurd to expect that the House should jump to a conclusion in an hour on a subject which had occupied the framers of the measure nine or ten months, before it was brought to any thing like maturity. Now, what did the preamble of the Bill contain? It declared it was intended to occupy waste and unoccupied lands. The hon. and gallant Colonel (Colonel Torrens) might laugh; but if report said true, instead of laughing, he ought to explain, for no one was more interested in the explanation. He repeated, waste and unoccupied land, which were supposed to be fit for colonization. Which were supposed! And was the House to desire the labouring population to expatriate themselves on such grounds as these? That House ought to be a conservative body, and not to sanction any such plan, without being fully convinced of its succeeding. On these grounds, although he was not disposed to move, that the Bill be read a second time this day six months, yet, in order to give time for the due consideration of the Bill, he should move that it be read a second time this day week.

Colonel Torrens

declared himself at a loss to understand how the hon. member for Oxford could object to the colonization of unoccupied lands. Would he have occupied lands colonized?

Sir Henry Willoughby

was anxious to state briefly his reasons for supporting the Amendment of his hon. friend, the member for Oxford. At the hour in the morning at which the House had arrived, it was impossible that a proper degree of discussion could be given to a scheme of colonization which differed from all former schemes. He understood the principle of this method to be, that large capitalists should purchase land, and that those emigrating as labourers were not to hold land. ["No, no."] Well, then, if that were not so, he so understood the Bill, and he furnished in his own person a proof how necessary it was, to give more time for the consideration of the subject; he had the Bill put into his hands for the first time only a few hours ago, and this appeared to him to be its distinguishing principle. He wanted to know how, if this scheme should fail, these poor labourers were to be reconveyed home. Seeing, as he did, that there was a great disposition to divide and none to discuss the principle of the measure, he should certainly support the Motion of the hon. member for Oxford.

The House divided on the Amendment: Ayes 17; Noes 33—Majority 16.

Mr. G. F. Young

expressed a hope, that if the opponents of the measure withdrew any further opposition to the second reading, time would be allowed for the discussion of the principle in the Committee.

Mr. Grote

said, that there was every wish on the part of the supporters of the measure to afford time not only to discuss the principle, but every point of detail in the Committee.

Mr. Sheil

wished to put a question respecting the mode in which the children of those who were to be deportated to Australia were to be provided for. He wanted to know whether they were to be sent out with their parents; and he put this question, that it might not go abroad, that so monstrous a proposition as leaving them to shift for themselves in this country had ever been entertained by the promoters of the Bill.

Mr. Wolryche Whitmore

was surprised at the hon. and learned Member's using the word "transportation." [Mr. Sheil: I said deportated.] It was proposed to send able-bodied labourers of both sexes to the colony, at the expense of the shareholders, but it was not intended to send out those who had children, unless they would themselves, or through their friends, undertake to pay for the passage of their children.

The Bill was read a second time.