§ Lord Eliot
said, the petition to which he was about to call the attention of the House, agreeably to his notice, was from the merchants, bankers, and shipowners, of the city of London, respecting the colonization of New Zealand; and embodying, as it did, the opinion of so large, so respectable, and so enlightened a body of men on a subject of such great importance, it appeared to him to be deserving of the serious consideration of the House. He regretted that the subject had not been taken up by some hon. Member whose talents and whose position in the House might enable him to do more justice to the subject than he (Lord Eliot) was able to do; but, concurring as he did in the views of the petitioners, he thought it right to acquiesce in their wish that he should bring the matter under the consideration of the House. It was not necessary for him to expatiate on the general subject of emigration; it had been so often brought forward in this House, and the general principle had been so universally acknowledged, that he should only advert to it in passing. A right hon. Friend of his, no longer a Member of that 524 House, Sir R. W. Horlon—had devoted much of his time to the consideration of this subject, and had succeeded in producing a strong impression on the public mind. Meetings had been held in almost all the large towns in this country, expressing the opinions of the working classes that it was impossible for them, with the increasing state of the population, and the great improvements that were daily being made in machinery, to obtain sufficient employment for the support of themselves and their families: and not longer than two or three days ago a copy of a memorial from the working men of Paisley to the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies had come under his notice, in which they said —That it has been a subject of the deepest and most anxious consideration with the memorialists what mode to adopt, or course to pursue, whereby they might have an opportunity of turning their industry to better account, and improving their condition. That they are satisfied (whatever might be the effect of a repeal of the Corn-laws, or of an extension of political privileges), that amongst the weaving population, at least, in consequence of the daily increase of their numbers, and extension of mechanical power and ingenuity, the labour market is greatly over-sup, plied in proportion to the demand; and the memorialists can see no immediate, effectual, or practical remedy for the distress existing amongst them, except by transferring their industry to some one or other of our colonial possessions, where land is cheap and labour dear, and where the most urgent demand for labour exists, and where by industry and sobriety they will be sure of a comfortable subsistence for themselves and families, rather than by remaining at home, inevitably to sink into the condition of paupers and become dependent on the parish poor's funds for their daily bread.He rejoiced to find that those sentiments were becoming general amongst the operative classes of this community. With regard to the principle of colonization, which had been so ably developed by Mr. Wakefield, he would observe, that the experiment of a colony conducted on such a principle had been tried with perfect success in South Australia; and he could wish that the noble Lord would follow the same course in regard to the colony of New Zealand. The evidence which had been given before the Lords' Committee, made it quite unnecessary for him to state to the House the peculiar advantages which New Zealand offered, from the fer- 525 tility of its soil and the salubrity of its climate, as well as in other respects, to settlers from this country; and the publication of that evidence had had the effect of inducing a large number of persons to proceed to that colony. There were only two questions to which he should call the attention of the House; and they were, first, the right of this country to occupy or claim the sovereignty of those islands; and, secondly, as to the best mode of establishing; British colonies in them. He would not fatigue the House by entering into the historical details of the manner in which those islands first became known to Europeans, but he would just state that he believed there was no doubt that Tasman was the first person who touched upon those shores, but that it was reserved to Captain Cook to plant there for the first time the flag of a civilized state. That was in the year 1769 or 1770, and those islands were then taken possession of in the name of his Majesty King George 3rd, with the accustomed formalities. He, therefore, thought we had the same title to the possession of New Zealand as we had to a great part of our colonial empire, and more especially to our South Australian possessions; and, if the Government thought fit to disclaim what he thought was a just claim to the Government of New Zealand, then they had in his opinion no right to retain the sovereignty of the other parts of the South Australian Islands. He believed that, down to 1829, there had been no doubt whatever on the part of the Colonial Secretary of State as to that right. It was in 1814, that Governor Macquarrie, the Governor of New South Wales, issued a commission of dedimus potestatem to various inhabitants of New Zealand, some of whom were natives and others British settlers, and he believed that other commissions of a similar nature were issued by the Governor of New South Wales in 1819, without any objection, as far as he could learn, being made to that proceeding: so that he was bound to consider that it was assented to by the Government here. He would read a short extract from a letter of Lord Glenelg, who was then Secretary of State, which was dated in December, 1837:—The intelligence which his Majesty's Government has received from the most recent and authentic sources justifies the conclusion that it is an indispensable duty, in reference 526 both to the natives and to British interests, to interpose by some effective authority to put a stop to the evils and dangers to which all those interests are exposed in consequence of the manner in which the intercourse of foreigners with those islands is now carried on.Now, it was rather a remarkable fact, that notwithstanding the strong opinion which was there expressed by the noble Lord, then at the head of the Colonial Government, that no steps were taken until the winter of 1839, and that it was not until 1839, that Captain Hobson was despatched to New Zealand by her Majesty's Government. But it would be remembered, that in these papers and in the subsequent despatches the argument was not started, nor was any doubt expressed as to the right of the British Crown to the sovereignty of New Zealand. He might, he thought, also state the authority of the noble Lord, the present Secretary for the Colonies, who, in his instructions to the land commissioners, in January, last, said—Thus it appears that the Australian colonies must be the principal field for your operations. Even here, however, it will probably be found that in Van Diemen's Land the great amount of available land has already been granted. But New Holland, and probably New Zealand, contain districts which it is not possible to exhaust by any rational scheme of colonization for a long course of years.It therefore clearly appeared that up to January, 1840, the Government had no doubt of the kind. The result of the disclaimer on the part of the Colonial Department in this country had been to invite the attention of foreign states to this derelict colony, which was thus abandoned by the noble Lord. This was an important part of the subject, and he trusted that he should approach it with proper delicacy. No one could be less disposed than himself to undervalue the French alliance; he entertained feelings of respect, of good will, and of admiration for the French nation, and considered the alliance between France and England as the surest guarantee of the peace of the world. He should, therefore, be the last person to say anything likely to endanger the continuance of the friendly relations between, the two countries. It was because he was desirous that the alliance should continue that he was anxious to avoid the possibility of any collision arising. Although great harmony prevailed between the Go- 527 vernments, and, as he really believed, between the people of England and France, yet it could not be denied that there existed a great tendency to jealousy and suspicion as regarded the interests of the two countries in different parts of the world. This had proved to be the case with respect to India arid Canada. If it were true, then, as he believed, that the juxta-position of settlements from the two nations led to quarrels and collisions, it was clear that nothing would have a greater tendency to endanger the peaceful relations which existed between the two Governments at home. It was understood that settlers were about to proceed from France to the southern island of New Zealand. This was the island which Captain Hobson represented as being inhabited by persons in a savage state, and incapable, from ignorance, of entering into any treaty; and he recommended the assertion, on the ground of discovery, of Her Majesty's sovereign rights over the island—a recommendation of which Lord Normanby appeared to approve. Now, if it were true that French settlers were proceeding to this island, the noble Lord opposite would have caused all the consequences which would shortly arise from such a state of things. The noble Lord denied the right of the Crown to claim the sole and exclusive sovereignty of these islands. He would read a passage from a work of a distinguished American lawyer, which appeared very applicable to the subject now before the House. It was in Chancellor Kent's Commentaries, and the author was speaking, not so much of the practice of America at present, as of that pursued by all European nations:On the discovery of this continent by the nations of Europe, the discovery was considered to have given to the Government, by whose subjects or authority it was made, a title to the country, and the sole right of acquiring the soil from the natives as against all other European powers. Each nation claimed the right to regulate for itself, in exclusion of all others, the relations which were to subsist between the discoverer and the Indians. The natives were admitted to be the rightful occupants of the soil, with a legal as well as just claim to retain possession of it, and to use it according to their own direction, though not to dispose of the soil at their own will, except to the Government claiming the right of preemption. The practice of Spain, France, Holland, and England proved the general recognition of this principle of a claim and title to territories given by discovery,'' "To leave 528 the Indians in possession of the country was to leave the country a wilderness." "The Supreme Court of the United States declared in the case of 'Worcester' that the right given by European discovery was the exclusive right to purchase, but this right was not founded on a denial of the rights of the Indian possessor to sell. Though the right to the soil was claimed to be in the European Government as a necessary consequence of the right of discovery, yet that right was only deemed such in reference to the whites.Vattel did not place much value on the territorial rights of erratic races of people, who sparely inhabited immense regions and allowed them to remain a wilderness, because their occupation was war, and who drew their subsistence chiefly from the forest. He observed,That the cultivation of the soil was an obligation imposed by nature on mankind, and that the human race could not well subsist or greatly multiply if savage tribes were entitled to claim and retain all the boundless regions through which they might wander. If such a people would usurp more territory than they could subdue and cultivate, they had no right to complain if a nation of cultivators put in a claim for a part, and confined the natives in their narrower limits.The same author alluded to the establishment of European colonies in North America as being, in his opinion, entirely lawful; and he extolled the moderation of William Penn and the first settlers in New England, who were understood to have fairly purchased of the natives from time to time the lands they wished to colonize. The Government of the United States had never insisted on any other claim to the Indian lands than the right of pre-emption. Now New Zealand was 800 miles long and 100 miles broad, and the whole population of the two islands was 150,000 or 160,000, consequently the opinions to which he had referred, of Chancellor Kent and Vattel, were entirely applicable. Various statements had been published to show the lamentable state of New Zealand in point of morality. For some years past it had been the rendezvous of the South Sea whale ships, and had been the resort of runaway convicts from the penal colonies and of sailors who had deserted their ships, so that bad men were without restraint and good men without protection. This was a state of things which called for the interposition of the noble Lord, not only for the sake of the emigrant population, which now amounted to from 529 4,000 to 5,000, but for the sake of the unfortunate aborigines, who were exposed to all the evils which a population so composed would inflict upon them, and the treatment which they experienced must necessarily produce a general distrust of the whole white race. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, had in one part of the correspondence disclaimed altogether on the part of this country the sovereignty of New Zealand, and said that the law did not recognize as valid even the title to lands already acquired by the subjects of her Majesty. Now he was at a loss to guess, if the islands of New Zealand were independent states, what authority the noble Lord could have, to say, that the acquisitions of individuals resident there were not legal and binding in that country. The noble Lord had requested him not to press this motion, because news was expected from New Zealand relating to the proceedings of Captain Hobson there; but he had declined complying with the noble Lord's request, because, as his complaint was, that the noble Lord was proceeding on vicious and erroneous principles, no news which might arrive respecting Captain Hobson's proceedings could supersede the necessity of the inquiry which he sought now to institute. One element of the arrangement proposed by the noble Lord was to make New Zealand a dependency of the colony of New South Wales. Now, one consideration which rendered this project very inexpedient was the distance of the two colonies, they being 1,200 miles apart, and the state of the winds frequently rendering the passage of two months duration. Another consideration was, the jealousy and dislike which the two colonies entertained towards each other. The rapid strides which New Zealand had made had excited no small apprehensions in the minds of, the colonists of New South Wales. The noble Lord [proposed, also, to saddle these colonists with the expense of the colony of New Zealand; to this, of course, they were exceedingly adverse. Nor was the discontent only on the side of New South Wales, for the colonists of New Zealand felt a disinclination to be connected in any way with a penal colony and to be governed by a colony placed at so great a distance from them. By private letters it appeared that Captain Hobson had upon landing issued a proclamation 530 stating, that her Majesty had directed a commission to be appointed to inquire into the validity of the titles of the colonists to the lands which they held. That commission was to be composed of members of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, who were amongst the largest holders of land in New Zealand, and were, consequently, constituted judges to decide upon their own claims. Besides, it was a very doubtful point whether these commissioners would have any right to make an award, and whether appeals might not be made to the Privy Council, so as to try this question. He thought, that under these circumstances, it was the duty of the noble Lord, before he took this step, to come to Parliament for the powers which were requisite for the purpose. Not only was the board of commissioners to be constituted in the manner which he had described, but no principle was laid down for their guidance, nor were any instructions given as to the proof which was to be required. Another part of the noble Lord's plan, if plan it could be called, was that by which the price of land was fixed at 5s. an acre. Now, he apprehended that such a price would be found altogether inapplicable to the colony of New Zealand. The price in South Australia was 1l., and in no respect was New Zealand less favourably situated as a colony than South Australia, where 1l. was considered as the lowest price which could be adopted consistently with the objects proposed by Mr. Wakefield's principle, of preventing persons from purchasing more land than they could cultivate, and of providing a land fund for the purpose of promoting emigration. Whether this price was proper to be imposed as a condition of sale would be a proper subject of inquiry before the committee which he proposed to appoint. He had brought forward this motion without communication with any party in the House, and he did not at that moment know whether the right hon. Member for Tamworth would think himself justified in supporting the motion. He left the subject in the hands of the House, feeling satisfied that some good must arise from the discussion which he expected to take place. He thought some legislative measure absolutely necessary, and under this impression, he sought for this inquiry, which would enable Parliament to legislate soundly, wisely, and well, upon a subject of very great interest and importance. 531 The noble Lord concluded by moving for a Select Committee to inquire into the statements contained in the petition of the merchants, bankers, and others, of London, presented May 22nd, respecting the colonization of New Zealand.
§ Lord John Russell
had stated upon a former occasion to the noble Lord, that he Could not see any practical use in appointing a committee upon this subject. It was upon that ground that he should object to the proposed committee, having no other objection than that he could not see how any practical benefit could be derived from the inquiry. As to what the Colonial-office had done, he certainly entertained no apprehension on account of any inquiry upon that subject; on the contrary, he felt it would have the effect of doing away with a great number of gross misrepresentations in point of fact, made at various public meetings upon this subject, and which a very slight inquiry would prove to be unfounded. But he did not see how the House could appoints committee unless some ground were previously laid, upon which inquiry might proceed, and from which some benefit might be derived. He could not throughout the whole of the speech of the noble Lord, perceive any subject of inquiry. All that the noble Lord stated was, that if a committee were appointed, it might probably find some grounds upon which legislation hereafter might proceed. Now, he must say, that for the House to appoint a committee without some definite object in view, but merely for the sake of looking speculatively for some ground of future legislation would be rather a wild species of inquiry. There was one point on which the committee of the House of Lords on the subject of colonization had made a very short report. They stated that:—It appeared to the committee that the extension of the colonial possessions of the Crown was a question, the policy of which belonged exclusively for decision to her Majesty's Government.The committee of the House of Lords, after a great deal of inquiry came to the opinion that this was a subject which properly belonged to the Crown, and he did not believe, that a committee of the House of Commons could come to any other conclusion. It would be impossible that a committee could point to those parts of the world where colonization might be established, where governors might be sent, 532 or where the English Crown alone could claim a right of possession. The noble Lord had entered into some arguments as to the right of the claim of sovereignty in places discovered by civilized nations, where wild tribes only were, the inhabitants, into which, however, he would not follow him. He did not dispute the principle of the passage quoted by the noble Lord from Vattel. On the contrary, he thought the conduct of the British Government had been in entire accordance with the principle so laid down. But, although a right might accrue to the first discoverer, and although of that right one could have little doubt, yet it might be disputed whether the right of sovereignty remained, if the party making the discovery did not avail himself of it for a long series of years. If, then, it appeared that the right which accrued in 1769 was not for a long period after that time asserted and enforced, and if, still more, it, on the contrary, appeared that solemn declarations had been since made, apparently relinquishing, at all events, not confirming, that right, it certainly was necessary that there should be some new title to the possession of any such sovereignty. In 1769, Captain Cook asserted the right of the British Crown to the sovereignty of the Southern Island of New Zealand. In the year l817 it was recited in an Act of Parliament that there had been murders and other crimes committed in New Zealand, Otaheite, and other Islands, which were not within his Majesty's dominions; and there was a recital in an Act passed in 1824 to the same effect. It had, then, been recited in two solemn Acts of Parliament—by the three separate branches of the Legislature—that New Zealand was a place wherein offences were committed, and which were considered offences committed not in her Majesty's dominions, but in places out of her Majesty's dominions, and a provision was made for trying those offences in places within her Majesty's dominions. Such being the solemn declaration of Parliament, without adverting to what took place in the year 1835, under the directions of the Earl of Ripon, with regard to the recognition of the national flag, could it, he would ask, be considered imperative on the Government, because a number of gentlemen chose to meet in London, and form themselves into a company to carry on operations in New Zealand, to agree at once to assert the British sovereignty over 533 that country? If they did this, it might ' extend to the asserting of our right of sovereignty over every place that ever had been discovered by British navigators, however long the time that right might have remained unexercised, or whatever navigators of other countries might have done. However, there had existed of late years strong reasons why it was desirable that New Zealand, a great part of it at least, should not be left the pray of a number of persons who were settled there, many of them being convicts escaped from New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, and producing a state of society, the evils of which were fully stated by Lord Glenelg in his despatch. Then the question was, in what manner, if colonization was to be attempted, and the authority of the British Crown established, that should be effected? While Lord Glenelg held the office of Secretary of State for the colonies, that question was brought under the consideration of the Government in the shape of an application from the company which had been formed in London for colonising New Zealand. That question was a good deal considered by the Government, with a view, if possible, to give its sanction to such a plan, which the Government finally refused. It was afterwards debated in the House of Commons upon a bill brought in upon the subject, but the House likewise refused its sanction. It was a plan to which the strongest and gravest objections might be made. His notion of it was this: colonies might take place in various ways. One way was for persons being themselves emigrants proceeding to a distant country, furnished with a royal charter, and purchasing land from the natives; such as they might conceive (as Vattel said) William Penn so laudably did. Another mode was, to have the colony founded by the sovereign power of the state. The Crown of this country might send out a colony, with a person at their head armed with a commission, as was the case with certain colonies established in North America, and having certain laws prescribed to them by which they were to be bound, and a regular form of government established to which they could submit. Now, in neither of these ways, nor by any modification of these ways (all of which had taken place in the formation of the colonies which had hitherto proceeded from European countries), was it that this colony was proposed 534 to be established. But it was proposed to form a company, which company were not themselves to be armed with the authority of the state, nor were they themselves to emigrate and found a colony by negotiating with the inhabitants and making purchases of the land; but it was to be a company having nominally a very great capital in shares, but which capital was not to be wholly paid up. Upon the credit of this supposed capital the land of New Zealand was to be sold by the company to other parties—the company guaranteeing the final purchase of the land from the natives, and thus large profits were to be acquired by the shareholders. There were many persons connected with that company for whom he had great respect, and who perhaps had the best intentions for wishing to form such a colony. But he would call upon the House to consider what a precedent the Government would have established, if in the first instance they had sanctioned such a plan; or what a precedent the House of Commons would have established if they had agreed to the bill that was submitted to them. It would have been a precedent by which any person in future might have said with respect to any country, the natives of which were deficient in strength to compete with Europeans, that they would send out persons there and establish a colony, and make large profits by selling the land, to which they had no right —and who were not to be themselves at the expense of originally founding the colony, nor to be settled as residents in the colony. It would have been a precedent that would have led the way to a species of land piracy all over the globe. The House of Commons rejected a bill upon that subject. At a subsequent period the Government, in taking the subject into consideration, resolved to send a consul to New Zealand; New Zealand having, by the Acts of Parliament he had mentioned, been reckoned a foreign dominion; but the consul was to proceed afterwards in the manner that Vattel declared to be so laudable, and in perfect conformity with the law of nations —namely, if he could, to make an agreement with the natives to purchase their land and territory, and then establish the authority of this country there. Now he had not heard anything to induce him to suppose that the noble Lord (Lord Eliot), objected to that course. The noble Lord 535 read the authority of Vattel to that effect, but he had not found fault with Captain Hobson being sent out with those instructions; therefore he really did not see in this part of the case what it was the noble Lord would complain of. True it was, the noble Lord complained of the instructions given to Captain Hobson as to the right of possession to the land by the settlers there. The noble Lord said that Captain Hobson was to enquire whether the lands were fairly purchased, and he observed that there would be very great difficulty in doing this. He did not consider there would be any difficulty in carrying out this part of the instructions. The noble Lord had also said, that the Crown might resume all these lands on payment of the price originally given for them. Undoubtedly the Crown had, with respect to all its colonies, the general and original right in the land. But when the noble Lord complained of the difficulty and complexity of the plan ordered by the Secretary of State, he (Lord J. Russell) thought that this proposal for taking away the land from the present occupiers on repaying the price of the hatchet, or blanket, or some such trifling thing which they gave for it, would certainly be found much more difficult of accomplishment. Now, the original price was in most instances of very small value, the payment of which would not, he thought, be satisfactory to the settlers. But, in fact, it would have been impracticable to have done any such thing. Captain Hobson's authority would at once have been resisted. What Captain Hobson, therefore, was instructed to do was, to ascertain, if possible, what was the description of title the parties had to the lands they occupied. Another objection made by the noble Lord was, supposing a new colony should be established in New Zealand, the connecting of that colony with New South Wales. He admitted that, if New Zealand should be formed into a colony, it would be right hereafter to separate it from New South Wales, and that it ought not permanently to be a dependent of that colony. The act of Parliament enabled the government to give Captain Hobson authority to inquire as to what institutions were necessary in the first formation of the colony, and it appeared to him better, instead of taking out a person as a new governor for the colony, that they should avail themselves of the authority 536 already existing in that part of the world. It was, however, merely a temporary provision, that the commission was given to Captain Hobson, who was ordered to act under the direction of the governor of New South Wales. The governor of New South Wales had been ordered to give Captain Hobson every aid and assistance, and soon after Captain Hobson's departure a despatch was sent to the governor, directing him to supply a force from New South Wales for the purpose of supporting Captain Hobson's authority. With respect to the persons who had gone to New Zealand under the authority of the New Zealand Company, and had settled themselves there, he conceived there would be very little difficulty after the Company had retracted their first instructions, which were declared to be contrary to law, which the counsel whom they advised with told them that all acts done under those instructions would be void and of no effect, and that any person proceeding under them might be guilty of a grave offence. After this he conceived there would be no difficulty in Captain Hobson and the emigrants, who had settled in New Zealand under the authority of the company, acting in perfect harmony together, they acknowledging (which he thought it would be to their benefit to do, and as they were advised to do) the authority of Captain Hobson as the representative of the Crown, and giving him every assistance and support; while he, on the other hand, was endeavouring to maintain peace and tranquillity, and in the exercise of his authority doing everything he could to promote the progress and interest of the colony. Such being the case, and the expedition, in fact, having gone there under one of her Majesty's officers, in one of her Majesty's ships, and being supported, if necessary, by a military force, and having the powers which he (Lord John Russell) had described, if he should make an agreement with the native chiefs and obtain possession of a part of their territory, he (Lord J. Russell) did not see what further could be done until the Government and the House had received intelligence from him and knew something of his proceedings. The noble Lord might, perhaps, wish to send out instructions to Captain Hobson to resume all the lands now occupied by the settlers. That he thought would create great confusion. He thought where no very unfair or fraudulent 537 bargain had been made, the title to those lands ought to be maintained. The noble Lord complained, and this was a point he, (Lord J. Russell), had almost overlooked, that he had instructed Captain Hobson that the upshot price of land should be 5s. per acre; but upon that point, as well as many others, the noble Lord was entirely in want of information. The noble Lord had gone entirely upon misinformation. The fact was, that land was originally sold in New South Wales and in Western Australia for 5s. an acre. Orders were sent out that the price should be 12s. an acre. Accounts were received from the governors of those two colonies, and also from the governor of Van Diemen's Land, that there was a great quantity of land set up at 5s. an acre; in New South Wales there were no less than 300,000 acres, and the governors stated that they did not think it right (the faith of the Government having been pledged) to raise the price to 12s. an acre until that portion of the land set up had been sold. It appeared to him, therefore, that if in New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, and Western Australia, land could be procured at 5s. an acre, and he should have ordered that no land in New Zealand should be sold for less than 1l. an acre, it would, in all probability, create discontent and remonstrance; and that Captain Hobson would have experienced great difficulty in establishing such a regulation. Captain Hobson was therefore instructed to sell the land at 5s. an acre, until the price in the other colonies should rise to 12s.; then he bad authority to sell at that price. Since then it had been determined that the price in the other colonies (except New South Wales) should be 1l. an acre. When that took place, instructions would be given to Captain Hobson to sell the land at 1l. an acre in New Zealand. If, then, a committee should be appointed, and should meet in order to give an opinion that land should not be sold at 5s. an acre, it would be giving an opinion as to a matter which had already ceased to exist. Upon the whole, he confessed he did not see what advantage was to be gained by a committee of the House upon the subject; for whatever they might devise, might be completely overthrown by the arrival of a despatch the day after the committee made their report. It might be necessary, probably, to legislate upon the subject in the course of next Session, 538 when the House would have the whole subject before them; but with respect to all that was required to be done in detail by Captain Hobson, it seemed to him quite impossible that a committee of the House of Commons could in any way give from time to time proper or practical directions. With regard to the general principle, he did not think there was much difference of opinion, and even with regard to the company, as the noble Lord did not make it any grievance as to the manner in which the Colonial-office had communicated with them, immediately the authority of the government in New Zealand was established, there would at once be an end to all disputes. What he objected to was, that a company in London should send persons into a country, and do those things which it belonged to the Crown to do, which had at all times been considered as the undoubted prerogative of the Crown, and which he was of opinion ought always to be maintained as one of its prerogatives.
§ Mr. Mackinnon
did not think the noble Lord had answered the speech of his noble Friend. The colony of South Australia had been established in consequence of a committee of the House of Commons. It would be necessary, even by the noble Lord's admission, to legislate for the formation of the colony in New Zealand, but it was impossible to do so with any prospect of success, without previous inquiry. With respect to the South Australian commission, the noble Lord's letter in September, 1839, to the Lords of the Treasury, stating that there were nine commissioners who expected a salary, was a complete fallacy, for he had himself written to the noble Lord, declining a salary, and three other of the nine commissioners had followed his example.
§ Mr. Ward
would support the motion of the noble Lord, because it was the duty of an independent Member to force upon the public a knowledge of the absurdities and difficulties in which we have been placed with respect to colonization, in consequence of the course taken by the colonial officers during the last few years; difficulties from which nothing but an act of Parliament could extricate the country. He had attended the public meetings alluded to by the noble Lord, and he repeated in the House what he had said at these meetings, that looking at the papers now before them, the Government 539 of this country was placed in a discreditable light with reference to foreign powers, and particularly with reference to France, at this very moment, when she was fitting out an expedition. It was not till others had taken up these subjects that the Government made any movement. Then, with respect to the ill-used company which had been referred to, and which had received such harsh treatment, the first step which it took was to apply to the Government—they attended the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, and the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, and had met with much encouragement. Their bill was revised by Lord Howick, and yet it was opposed. Subsequently other negotiations took place between the Government and the company. The Colonial-office objected to the company because the capital was not paid up; and now that the capital was paid up, even that did not satisfy the Government. He had always understood that from the first moment when the company was started it was intended that the title to the land under the company was to be a bonâfide title. That a large sum was to be paid to the New Zealand chiefs for the purchase of land, which was to be guaranteed to the purchasers. So firm was that belief, that the company had actually sold 120,000 acres of land "at £1 an acre. If they required any instance of a necessity for inquiry, this fact would be sufficient; because that number of acres had been actually sold by the company at that price, whilst the Government had sent out directions to the consul to sell land at 5s. an acre. How could the two systems act well together? The noble Lord had objected to certain instructions given in the first instance by the land company to their agents. They gave those instructions because the Government had refused to perform its duty, and would give no instructions whatever. Here were 800 individuals, about to emigrate to a distant country, kept in suspense by the Government for two years —they were obliged to embark, and, in the absence of all instructions from the Government, they had formed a kind of social compact to bind themselves. As far as a committee went, he did not think that there ought to be any difficulty on the part of the Government, to allow the principles on which they intended to act to be well known. The company 540 was willing to give to Captain Hobson every possible assistance, and he was sure that the greatest benefit and consolation would be derived by the individuals who had embarked their fortunes and had emigrated to New Zealand, if, after the inquiry recommended by the noble Lord, they should find, that certain and definite principles were to be laid down, on which land was to be held. Upon these grounds he would vote for the motion of the noble Lord; and, unless some more satisfactory explanation should be given on the part of the Government, he hoped that the noble Lord would press his motion to a division. The noble Lord (the Secretary for the Colonies) admitted that next year there must be some legislation, and therefore he thought that the noble Lord must wish to have an inquiry with the view of establishing the title to the land on some intelligible basis.
Mr. Vernon Smith
must say, that the noble Lord, in the speech which he had addressed to the House, temperate though it was, did not appear to lay down sufficient grounds to induce the House to appoint a committee. The noble Lord had dwelt much on the great advantages of emigration conducted upon some known principle. He was quite as much convinced as the noble Lord of the importance of emigration generally, and also of conducting it on good principles. Because, however the Colonial-office promoted caution, it was most improperly described as against all emigration. There was, however, so much false information given to the public, connected with emigration on which the public, and particularly the working men, were liable to imposition, that it was the duty of the Colonial office to watch narrowly all proceedings in relation to this subject. Again, the method of our colonization, as it respected the natives, was, generally speaking, disgraceful to us as a nation. When it was found that our superior civilization only led to a refinement of cruelty, and not to any improvement in the condition of the natives, he thought that the Colonial-office ought to look upon all steps taken to establish new colonies with much suspicion. The noble Lord had referred to a petition from the manufacturers of Paisley; but, to any one who had read that petition it would be obvious that it must have been prepared by some other person, and 541 was not the production of any one of the manufacturing operatives themselves. What did the petitioners ask? That there should be granted by the Government a free passage to New Zealand; that they should immediately embark in the Clyde, and on landing in New Zealand should have a grant of land for a location. Was it the intention of the noble Lord in proposing a committee to consent to any such scheme? Certainly not. The noble Lord then proceeded to quote the case of South Australia, and he supposed that the state of things in that colony was nearer to what the noble Lord would propose. The noble Lord talked of the self-supporting principle, as if it had completely succeeded. He thought that the principle propounded by Mr. Wakefield was correct; but South Australia could not come under the designation of a self-supporting colony. No country could be properly called self-supporting that raised money on security and added to the future embarrassment of the colony. South Australia ought, and he hoped would, overcome those embarrassments; but it was, in his opinion, too soon for the noble Lord to call upon them to follow, as perfectly successful, the example of South Australia. He would only enter into the question of the sovereignty of New Zealand, to refer to the statement by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that the documents and correspondence relating to it appeared at an unfortunate time. But when the New Zealand Land Company said that our sovereignty was established, it became necessary, then, for the Foreign-office to take some steps. It had no option—and was obliged to show that our sovereignty was not established. He blamed those who rendered the publication necessary. The petition from London complained that there was a publication of a part of Captain Hobson's instructions; but it was the Land Company that was responsible for the publication. The petitioner said,That shortly after the departure of the said consul, in her Majesty's ship Druid, and the publication of a portion of his instructions, together with the said Treasury minute, the public mind in France became suddenly excited on the subject of the acts of the British Government and the departure of the said colonists from Great Britain, and that the result of this excitement has been the formation of a company, with a capital of one 542 million francs, for forming a settlement in New Zealand, and the despatch of an expedition from Rochfort, charged (in violation, as your petitioners consider, of the law of nations) to effect a settlement at Banks' Peninsular, in the South Island; which expedition is reported to have had an armament of forty sailors from the French navy, and aid of money from the French government, by whom the leaders of the expedition are said to have been instructed to report on the fitness of Banks' Peninsula as a place of transportation for convicts, and at all events to reserve for the use of the French government one-fifth of the territory which they might acquire in this part of the British dominions.It was probable that an expedition had sailed, although that it had sailed, still less that it had the authority of the government of France, was not known to him officially. If they appointed a committee, he thought that fresh expeditions would start forth from other countries, seeing that the Government of this country had not as yet acknowledged the sovereignty, but for this the Government was not responsible; the responsibility rested with those who agitated this question, as he thought, most improperly. No information from Captain Hobson had been yet received at the Colonial-office. What question then, did the noble Lord intend to submit to the committee? Did he propose to submit to its examination, the question, whether this country should assume the sovereignty of New Zealand? Did the noble Lord think that this was a question to be removed from the Government, and submitted to a committee of that House? Did the noble Lord propose to submit to the consideration of the committee a bill to be proposed in the next session? Was not the noble Lord as capable of framing such a bill as he would wish to see introduced, as the committee? or could he not leave it to be brought forward by his noble Friend, who had admitted that legislation would be necessary next year? In his judgment no reason for the committee had been stated by the noble Lord; and seeing no good from its appointment, he would oppose it. With regard to the conduct of the Colonial-office, which was not intended to be impugned, it had acted throughout with great caution, but with no intentional harshness. Every information would always be given by the Colonial-office; but he thought that it was not the business of 543 the office to urge persons to emigrate to this part of the world, or to another.
§ Mr. Hume
admitted, that the Colonial-office was called upon to exercise great caution; yet he could not say, that in this instance it had done what it ought to do. The great object should be to provide for the security of property. Was it possible, however, for any one to go to New Zealand under the present state of the disputed titles? Could any one who did go tell in what situation he would be? And if this were impossible, was it not necessary that the Government should settle the difficult points? Then Captain Hobson went out as Consul and also as Lieutenant-governor. Why was he sent out as Lieutenant-governor? He went out as the authorised representative of her Majesty, and yet the Government disclaimed having any power in New Zealand. Money had been raised by the sale of the land to carry out labourers; and it could not be raised for a more charitable object. Whenever the people were unable to maintain themselves, and there was a waste and wild country to which they wished to emigrate, let them go. They ought not to meet with difficulties, because there was one officer at the head of the Colonial Department in January, and another in April, and a third in June, to be replaced by a fourth in October—so that the officers were changed before the instructions and rules sent out by each arrived at their destination. Who would settle upon waste land unless it was secured to himself and his family, that all improvements he made were to be for his benefit, and that all the advantage to be derived from the application of labour and capital should be his and his children's? That was the ground why the emigrants in America had settled so freely. But was that the case in our own colonies? There the arrangements were for ever varying with the change of persons holding office. He thought that the noble Lord, by moving for a committee was only doing an act of justice to our starving population, and that company which had come forward with large means to assist those who were in want of assistance. By the committee the noble Lord would be able to ascertain the real nature of the title, the claims to the sovereignty of the island, what an individual who had a free passage given to him could gain when he settled in New Zea 544 land, and the chance he had of obtaining a livelihood. Such an inquiry would enable the Government to make proper rules and regulations for the future, and he would, therefore, vote for the motion of the noble Lord.
Mr. F. Baring
begged to assure the House that the New Zealand Land Company were much more independent than the noble Lord, and the hon. Member the Under-Secretary for the Colonies seemed to suppose of any decision to which the Government or the House should arrive upon the subject. There had been a time when the Government had appeared hostile to them, but even then the company would have gone on without its assistance, although, at the same time, they would have felt better pleased if they could have proceeded with the sanction of the Government.
§ Mr. W. S. O'Brien
after having perused the papers upon this subject, was bound to give his support to the motion of the noble Lord. He thought that there were several questions, which were of the utmost importance, upon which neither the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, nor the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for that department, had given any answer, and he thought that it would be highly advantageous that these matters should form the subject of mature deliberation before a committee of the House. Delay upon this question would produce the greatest injury to a large portion of the community, and the sooner the views of the Government were finally declared the better.
§ Sir H. Verney
hoped that the noble Lord opposite would abstain from pressing his motion to a division at that late period of the Session.
§ Viscount Sandon
desired, first, to know the precise extent to which the sovereignty of the Crown of England over New Zealand was to extend? Some differences appear to have existed upon this subject, and he should like clearly to learn what was the understanding upon which Captain Hobson was to proceed: whether he was to negotiate for the sovereignty of the whole of New Zealand, or whether his negotiations were to be restricted to those parts of the islands where he found Englishmen located? He also desired to be informed, whether, in the event of a colony being formed, any objection would exist to the establishment of a church with a bishop?
§ Lord J. Russell
said, that the duties of Captain Hobson were, in the first place, to endeavour to acquire the sovereignty of those lands in which any of her Majesty's subjects were located. If he should find, in the course of his negotiations with the chiefs, that they were desirous of placing the whole sovereignty of their country in the hands of the Crown of England, he would be authorised to accept such a proposition. It was, however, a subject very much left to the discretion of Captain Hobson, and it was impossible to give any definite answer upon the subject, until some report had been received from him. With regard to the second question of the noble Viscount, he should say, that directly a settlement was made in New Zealand, it would be most desirable that an episcopal establishment, under the authority of the Church of England, should be formed.
Lord Eliot replied
. The contradictory statements which had been made upon this question to the House, distinctly proved to him the necessity for that inquiry for which he had moved. In consequence of the support he had received from both sides of the House, he should not be authorised to withdraw his motion.
§ Motion agreed to.