HC Deb 14 July 1840 vol 55 cc730-2
Mr. Mackinnon

said, that the motion of which he had given notice, had for its object the appointment of a select committee to investigate the propriety of allowing immigration of free labourers from the East Indies, not only into the Mauritius and British Guiana, but into every part of the British dominions. This was a measure of great importance, and he brought it forward without any party feeling whatever, or with any desire to give annoyance to her Majesty's Government. His wish was, that it should undergo a calm and clear consideration, in order to come to a satisfactory result. The Colonial Office, however good their intentions, did not possess sufficient information to enable them or the country to form a judicious and just opinion upon the subject. He would therefore move for the appointment "of a Select Committee, to investigate if it be in accordance with humanity, justice and good policy, to sanction, by Legislative enactments, the immigration of labourers from the East Indies and other parts of the world into the colonies and possessions of Great Britain."

Mr. Vernon Smith

regretted that the motion had been brought forward at so late a period of the Session; but as the hon. Member had not stated the scope of his inquiries, or to what colonies he would confine the inquiries of the committee, he thought that this motion could not be agreed to by the House. Whether he would consent to the appointment of a committee next session he would reserve to that session to determine. Now, he must oppose the hon. Member's motion, promising that the Colonial-office would in the meantime duly and fairly attend to the interests of the colonists, as well as the welfare of the persons who might emigrate.

Viscount Sandon

was aware of the inutility of appointing a committee at this late period, but he was pleased to hear that the attention of the Government was so strenuously directed to this question. He hoped that a plan might be fixed upon which would benefit all parties.

Mr. C. Buller

thought that the newborn zeal of Gentlemen on the other side of the House for the supply of free labour to the West Indies was but an ill recompense for their late vote against the Government plan. If they were so deeply convinced of the necessity for a provision, they ought, at least, to have stated the grounds why they opposed the introduction of the Hill Coolies into the Mauritius. No more important subject could occupy the attention of the House, and it was necessary both for the interests of the colonies and of humanity that something should be done without delay, and he hoped that they would come prepared next session to legislate upon the subject, the public being first satisfied of its propriety by the inquiries of the Government.

Mr. Warburton

by no means regretted the vote that had been lately come to by the House, because the Government has not, and never had, a control over the authorities of the Mauritius; and if there was to be an emigration that would succeed, it must be under the superintendence of Government, and it must be directed to those countries over which the Government had some control. But, before the House was called upon to give its consent to any measure, all the details ought to be laid before them.—House counted out.