HC Deb 29 July 1842 vol 65 cc851-5

On the question— That a sum not exceeding 59,936l. be voted to her Majesty to enable her Majesty to liquidate certain bills drawn by the Government of South Australia since the year 1840.

Mr. Hume

must have further explanation before he agreed to the vote. At present the House knew nothing of this expenditure. There was plenty of land in South Australia, which might be sold by degrees in order to pay this money, and why, therefore, should the people of England be taxed to pay it.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, poor individuals had gone out to the colony on the faith of their proceedings in Parliament, and were unable to support themselves when they arrived there, and the bills had been drawn for maintaining such of the population as were absolutely destitute of any means of support. The Governor had not thought it right to refuse to sanction those bills, when the lives of so many persons depended on it as a means of subsistence.

Mr. B. Wood

should like to ask the noble Lord the Secretary fur the Colonies whether this was to be a gift or a loan. [Lord Stanley: A grant.] This sum, together with the sum voted last year, amounted to 355,000l. Were they to have any more grants or loans of this kind this year? [Lord Stanley: No more will be required.] He was very glad to hear that. Why were not all these sums charged upon the colony, to be paid hereafter when the colony was able? The present mode of proceeding appeared to him to be merely squandering money. Governor Gawler had drawn the bills because he saw this country would pay them. The grant was one which the House ought not to be required to make.

Lord Stanley

said, he would not enter into the question of the grant made to the colony last year, which there was no prospect of its repaying. A part of that sum, 85,0001., lent on bonds in the colony, and for which this country paid interest, would be repaid whenever the colony was able to repay it. With regard to this vote of 59,0001., it was part of the debt under which the colony was labouring. 155,0001. had been advanced to the colony by Parliament; there was 85,0001. bond debt advanced from the colony, and 56,0001. due to the land fund. The committee appointed to inquire into this question had reported that the ordinary revenue of the colony was 30,0001. a-year, and that the ordinary expenditure, which had been increasing, was about 70,0001, a-year, and though the committee hoped that some reduction might be made in this item, they could not speak with any confidence on the subject. They hoped that in due time the colony would yield an ample revenue, but some time must elapse before the revenue would be sufficient to make up the deficit without an appeal to the mother country. At the time of Captain Grey's arrival out in the colony its expenditure was at the rate of about 90,0001. over and above the interest of the debt. But Captain Grey had reduced it from 90,000l. to between 30,0001. and 40,0001., and it was hoped that next year it would be necessary to call upon Parliament for little or nothing to assist them. It had been for the immediate purposes of the colony, and to cover the distress occasioned partly by the debt, that Captain Grey had been obliged to incur a heavy expenditure for the maintenance of persons absolutely in a state of pauperism. He (Lord Stanley) repeated that he had every expectation that next year a very trifling sum, if any, would be required in aid of this colony. He had given directions to reduce the expenditure, but those reductions must be the work of time, and if Parliament refused assistance at present, the colony would be seriously injured. He had even gone so far as to send out instructions to the Governor of Australia, that if the additional labouring emigrants could not find employment there, it would be his duty to have them removed to New South Wales, where there was employment, (and those instructions had been communicated also to the Governor of New South Wales), and that they should not be kept upon the resources of South Australia or of this country. Time must be allowed to carry out these instructions; and he trusted the committee would not, by refusing to sanction this vote, leave the colony in the meantime in a state of embarrassment. He did not mean to justify the former expenditure, but this vote was necessary to the prosperity of the colony.

Mr. W. Williams

attributed the increase of the debt to the mismanagement of the commissioners. If the colony had been kept under the control of the Colonial Department the debt would never have been incurred, and the colony would have been now in a prosperous state. Still, the fault was not so much attributable to the commissioners as to the Colonial-office, for they had represented to the Colonial Department that the powers with which they were invested, were insufficient to enable them to conduct the affairs of the colony with success. He was glad, however, now to hear that a change was to take place.

Mr. Hume

expressed a hope that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies would take the land in the colonies as a security for the repayment of the debt.

Mr. Ward

said, this debate became exceedingly irksome, inasmuch as the subject had been already discussed totidem verbis three times already. He could not agree with his hon. Friend behind him, (Mr. Hume), for if the land was taken as a security, it would upset the principle on which the colony was founded. He should vote with the noble Lord, on the principle of making the best of a bad bargain. He believed there had been gross mismanagement, but for it the House of Commons was in part responsible in having passed a bad bill in the first instance. He concurred with the hon. Member for Southwark, in thinking the noble Lord ought to furnish the House with a return of the names of those hon. Members on both sides of the House who were interested in these loans. For himself, he never had an acre of land in the colony, neither was he interested in the colony beyond a desire to see it prosper. He desired to see such a return, and if it was made the subject of a substantive motion he should second it; but at present he should vote with the noble Lord, as for the most just plan that could be adopted to extricate the colony from the difficulties in which it was placed.

Mr. Hume

said, he had opposed the first bill, and therefore did not paritcipate in the blame cast upon the House for having passed it. The mismanagement had arisen from the authority being divided between the Colonial Department and the commissioners. If the noble Lord meant to apply this vote as a gift, he would take the sense of the committee against such an application.

Mr. P. Howard

thought that nothing was more impolitic than to depreciate this colony in the public estimation. The course which had been taken by his hon. Friends around him was one which would prevent the colony emerging from its difficulties. He felt convinced that Government had taken a manly and patriotic course in sanctioning this grant. He trusted they would not be deterred by the Opposition, from granting that moderate support which would aid the efforts of their predecessors. There was no doubt that a great part of the money was employed in taking labourers to South Australia who, if they had remained here, would have been thrown on the poor-rates and become the victims of penury.

The committee divided: — Ayes 75; Noes 13: Majority 62.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Capt. Hope, hon. C.
Arkwright, G. Howard, P. H.
Baring, hon. W. B. Hussey, T.
Barrington, Visct. Jermyn, Earl
Bernal, R. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Boldero, H. G. Lincoln, Earl of
Borthwick, P. Litton, E.
Botfield, B. M'Geachy, F. A.
Browne, hon. W. Mitchell, T. A.
Bruce, Lord E. Mundy, E. M.
Clayton, R. R. Napier, Sir C.
Clerk, Sir G. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Cockburn, rt.hn.Sir G. O'Connell, M. J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E Pakington, J. S.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Palmerston, Visct.
Cripps, W. Parker, J.
Dick, Q. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
D'Israeli, B. Peel, J.
Douglas, Sir H. Polhill, F.
Duncombe, hon. A. Pollock, Sir F.
Eliot, Lord Seymour, Lord
Flower, Sir J. Sheppard, T.
Follett, Sir W. W. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Ffolliott, J. Somerset, Lord G.
Forbes, W. Stanley, Lord
Forster, M. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Fuller, A. E. Tancred, H. W.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Taylor, T. E.
Gladstone,rt.hn.W.E. Trench, Sir F. W.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Vane, Lord H.
Gore, M. Vivian, J. E.
Goulburn, rt. un. H. Wall, C. B.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Hamilton, W. J. Ward, H. G.
Hampden, R. Wood, Col. T.
Hardinge, rt. hn.SirH. Young, J.
Hardy, J. TELLERS.
Henley, J. W. Fremantle, Sir T.
Herbert, hon. S. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Aldam, W. Philips, M.
Brotherton, J. Pulsford,
Curteis, H. B. Thornely, T.
Duncan, G. Wawn, J. T.
Ewart, W. Williams, W.
Heathcoat, J TELLERS.
Morris, D. Hume, J.
O'Connell, D. Wood, B.

Vote agreed to.