§ Mr. Somes
said, he had given notice of a Motion on the subject of New Zealand, which he would beg leave simply to move for the adoption of the House, without entering into any discussion upon it for the present. The Motion was as follows:— 645That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of all Correspondence between the Colonial Office and the Governor of New Zealand, respecting the issue of Debentures and the rendering them a legal tender: Of all Correspondence between the same respecting the Taxes proposed in the Legislative Council of that Colony: Of all Correspondence between the same respecting recent outrages by the natives in the Bay of Islands, and the abolition of the Custom-house of that district: Of all Correspondence respecting the measures taken by the Governor of New Zealand to fulfil Lord Stanley's agreement of 12th of May, 1843, respecting the grant of a conditional title to the lands of the New Zealand Company: Of all Correspondence respecting the disallowance by the Governor of New Zealand of any awards made by the Commissioner of Land Claims respecting the Company's lands: Of all Correspondence relating to a Proclamation issued by the Governor of New Zealand, allowing the sale of lands by the natives at a less price than that fixed by the Act of 5th and 6th Vice. 36.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, in seconding the Motion of his hon. Friend, it was not his intention to offer any remarks respecting the general question to which the Motion might give rise. In the observations with which he would presume to trespass on the House—and he should make them with considerable diffidence—his principal object would be to guard against any statements which might be made, either in that House or among the public out of doors, respecting the intention of the supporters of the Motion, to enter on that occasion into the whole question between the New Zealand Company and Her Majesty's Government. He believed that a notion of such an intention being entertained was generally prevalent, and he was stengthened in that belief by the inquiries which had been made of him by several hon. Members during the evening. But it was not at all the intention of the hon. Member for Dartmouth (Mr. Somes), and it certainly was not his intention, then to raise any discussion on a question which would probably come before the House on some future occasion. Hon. Gentlemen were well aware from the report of the Select Committee of last year, and the public at large were aware, through the usual organs of information to which they had access, of the allegations put forward on behalf of the Company and of the Colony. These allegations had been pub- 646 licly made, and had become matters of public notoriety. It was well known that complaints had been made before the Committee to the effect that the interests of the Colony, and the progress of the settlements of the Company, were thwarted by the hostility of the Colonial Government. The late Governor of that Colony had been in particular complained of, on the ground of his having some supposed feeling in favour of the Government settlement in the north of the island, which was the child of his own creation; but into that question it was not his intention to enter. He would not on the present occasion enter into any question arising out of the Company's claims or the Company's wrongs; but this he would say, that the Report of the Committee of last Session could not be allowed to sleep. The question of the claims, which he believed on his conscience the Company and the Colonists had upon the Government, was one which might probably come before the House on a future occasion — that is, assuming that Her Majesty's Government collectively, and the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury in particular, should, notwithstanding the strong sense of justice for which he was remarkable, persevere in refusing to grant them the redress they required. But should that subject be brought forward, the Company and the colonists would depend on putting forward a full statement of their case in a petition, which would embody, as far as possible, all the particular acts of which they complained. He made these preliminary remarks lest it should be supposed that he, and the hon. Gentleman who went with him in that Motion, had any intention of raising the discussion on the present Motion into what he heard termed, the New Zealand debate. But, without entering into that part of the case, they had other important duties to perform in reference to the conduct of the Colonial Department and of the Local Government of New Zealand. It might be asked why he, and the hon. Member for Dartmouth, who were both known to be connected with the New Zealand Company, should have been selected to bring forward the subject, if it did not immediately interfere with the interests of the Company; but his answer was, that they were put forward as knowing more of the condition of the Colony than other Members in the House. They had also means of arriving at the conviction that no single office, such 647 as the Colonial Department, could possibly, under any Colonial Secretary, pay that attention to the wants and the condition of each particular Colony which those dependencies required. He had had much of the condition of New Zealand brought under his notice; and he would venture to ask whether any other Members of the House, except those who were immediately connected with the New Zealand Company, had more than the slightest knowledge of the real position of affairs in that Colony? As to Her Majesty's Government, it was not to be expected that the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury could be aware of what was passing in that Colony, as he believed, according to the routine observed in Government, it was not the duty of the right hon. Baronet to look into the affairs of particular Colonies, unless his attention happened to be specially directed to them. But whether the officials in the Colonial Department knew as much as hon. Members connected with New Zealand or not, one thing was clear, that a portion of the information for which they now applied ought to have been made known long before the present time by the Colonial Office. He alluded to the first part of the Motion—namely, for "Copies of all Correspondence between the Colonial Office and the Government of New Zealand respecting the issue of Debentures, and the rendering them a legal tender." He did not suppose there were half a dozen Members in that House who had the least idea of the fact that the Local Government of New Zealand had issued paper money or debentures to the amount of 15,000l., and had made them a legal tender, though some of them were given for sums as low as 2s. It was not his intention to go into details on this matter; but from the allusion which he had made to it, he trusted the House would concur in thinking that he did no more than his duty, not merely to the New Zealand Company, but to the public at large, in requiring to know whether that issue of debentures had taken place with the knowledge and consent of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. As great anxiety was felt on this subject out of doors, he trusted that some information would be given to them respecting it, even before the Papers were produced. He wished to know whether he was correct in understanding that one of the regulations issued from the Colonial Office was to this effect:—The Governor is not empowered to pass 648 any law without power from Her Majesty's Government, whereby any paper bill or debenture would be circulated or used, or any alteration made in the circulating medium of the Colony.Now, if that rule were established and acted upon, he would wish to know whether any authority had been issued from the Colonial Office, authorizing the issue and circulation of these debentures. In one of the Colonial newspapers, which gave not merely the views and opinions of the Governor, and of the ex officio members, such as the Attorney General and the Colonial Secretary, who unfortunately had the majority of votes in the Legislative Council, but also of the independent members of the Council, he found that the measure had been in the strongest manner objected to in the Assembly. In the course of the debate the Colonial Secretary said that the Local Government had no other means of paying the expenses of the Colony, and that the parties holding the debentures must make the best use they could of them. He added that the Government had no other alternative but to issue them, and that the honour of the Home Government would be pledged to their payment. The Governor also defended the measure in his speech on similar grounds. He would also ask, whether that portion of the regulation of the Colonial Office which required the Governor of the Colony to send home Minutes of all proceedings in the Council, had been complied with, and, if so, whether these Minutes would be produced? The second part of the Motion was, for "Copies of all Correspondence between the same respecting the taxes proposed in the Legislative Council of that Colony." He thought the House had a right to know, when taxes were proposed to be levied in a Colony, what the policy of the Government was under which such proposition was made. He had seen many letters and despatches from New Zealand on this subject, and he thought the House ought to have full information laid before them respecting it. What, he asked, would they think of a tax which proposed to levy as much as 10s. on every sheep imported into the Colony, and thus imposing an effectual barrier to one of the principal means by which the prosperity of the Colony could be extended? Again, there was a tax placed on the dogs used in herding the sheep—also a most unjust and impolitic measure. But that was not all. Instead of seeking to promote cleanliness and health and morality in the 649 Colony, the Governor actually proposed a tax of one pound sterling on every room found in every house over and above three rooms; thus forcing the family and their labourers and servants to reside together. He did not know whether this allegation would be proved by the production of the Correspondence; but it was certainly stated in all the Colonial newspapers, and the measure was only withdrawn through the opposition of the Legislative Council. The third part of the Motion was for "Copies of all Correspondence between the same respecting recent Outrages by the Natives of the Bay of Islands, and the abolition of the Custom House of that district." A feeling had grown in the Colony, that the Government were inclined to show undue favour to the native inhabitants, and that, in fact, almost any crime might be committed with impunity by the aborigines towards the whites. Without giving any opinion as to the grounds on which this feeling rested, he would ask whether it were a likely mode to remove it, for the Governor, after having promised to grant some inquiry into the murder at Wairau, to have pronounced his decision after an examination only of the murderer and his tribe? Was that an inquiry conducted according to the laws of the country? The removal of the Custom House was another circumstance that required investigation. There was a general feeling among the natives in the Colony, that they might do anything with respect to the European population with perfect impunity. He would not allude to the Papers which had just been printed, entitled, "Copies of Letters from Mr. Short-land, late Acting Governor, and Mr. Busby, late resident at New Zealand, to Lord Stanley and Mr. G. Hope," which had been laid on the Table on the Motion of an hon. Member opposite, beyond saying that those gentlemen had had recourse to the Colonial Office to make their statements public. Mr. Dandison Coates had also published a statement, he did not say with the authority, but with the apparent authority of the Colonial Office; and which, as well as the former Papers, had been made the vehicle for attacks on the Company. He wished to know whether they were to learn from them the manner in which the honour of Her Majesty's Government had been maintained, and in which protection had been given to Her Majesty's subjects in that Colony? It appeared from their account, that the Go- 650 vernment flagstaff at the Bay of Islands had been pulled up by the natives, and the colonists, more especially the women, had been most grossly insulted. The Governor, on being informed of this, told the aborigines not to do so again, and as a punishment took ten muskets from them, which he afterwards gave them back. The next matter to which he should refer was connected with the Correspondence respecting the measures taken by the Governor of New Zealand to fulfil Lord Stanley's agreement of the 12th of May, 1843, respecting a grant of a conditional title to the lands of the New Zealand Company; and on this part of the Motion, as he found that the Under Secretary had given notice of an Amendment, and the hon. Gentleman, no doubt, would give some explanation, he should postpone what he had to say until he could reply to the hon. Secretary. On this point he, however, would at once state that there was a great deal more information on this subject which he intended to apply for, but not at present, as he wished to abstain from mixing up with the present Motion anything of a subsequent one connected with the claim of the Company; and then he should move fro a return of figures and official statements, showing how the Company's claim was made out. He presumed there would be no objection to the Correspondence respecting the disallowance, by the Governor of New Zealand, of any awards made by the Commissioners of Land Claims respecting the Company's lands. The last part of the Motion referred to the Correspondence relating to a Proclamation by the Governor of New Zealand, allowing the sale of lands by the natives at a less price than that fixed by the Act of 5 and 6 Victoria, c. 36. The hon. Under Secretary had given notice of an Amendment on this point: he trusted the hon. Member would state what his objections were to the wording. By the first regulation, all lands were directed to be disposed of by sales alone, and that these should be by public auction. By the 5th and 6th Victoria, c. 36, it was directed that these lands should be all put at the uniform price of one pound an acre. Since then extensive sales had taken place at much less than this price. If the hon. Member refused to give the correspondence which he had asked for in his Motion, he still trusted that the hon. Member would give an explanation as to the instructions of the Governor on the subject. It was 651 formerly declared that all lands not in the possession of the natives were vested in the Crown, and any sales of lands by the natives were, for the future, put a stop to. This, however, was not adhered to; and purchases of land from the natives were allowed by the Governor. He wished to know whether Her Majesty's Government had sent out fresh instructions on this subject. It appeared now that it was the intention of the Governor to give power to buy of the natives. He wished to ask whether the Government Proclamation had been issued with the authority of the Colonial Office; and if so, whether it was in conformity with the policy which it was intended to pursue for the future in that Colony. Several cases of this kind, in the Wellington district belonging to the Company had been productive of great injury and injustice. He had thus gone at length over the several points involved in the Motion; but smarting with the inattention which this matter had met with on the part of the Government, he might have been led away to make attacks of a personal nature, which he certainly did not intend. All that he wished was to call the attention of the House to the policy of the Government as manifested by the Colonial Office, both at home and in the Colonies. Was the House aware that there were 10,000 persons recently settled on the Company's lands, and that there were between 16,000 and 17,000 British inhabitants in the whole, all of whom were in a state of the greatest distress? He begged the House to remark that this distress was not confined to the Company's settlements, but was equally prevalent and severe in Auckland. He might be told that the distress had been occasioned as much by the drawing bills by the Company as by the Local Government. But here, in the seat of Government, at Auckland, and in the northern part of the island, the distress was much greater than it was in Wellington or any other part of Cook's Straits; he therefore called on the House, and more especially on the right hon. Baronet, not to listen to and be led away by ex-parte statements on this subject. He was sure that the Under Secretary would not deny that the Colony, under good regulations, might become a source of wealth to this country. New Zealand possessed the finest climate on the face of the globe; and, as was stated in the Report, it might hereafter become a source of defence for this country. The island 652 was in such a position that it commanded every advantage—it possessed the means and materials for ship-building more than any other spot—and on its coasts were several of the very finest harbours in the world. Its soil was capable of the highest cultivation; and in an eminent degree, it possessed the sources of prosperity and wealth. A great number of the labouring emigrants who had fallen into distress, had been, and still were, maintained by the Company, although it was well known that the affairs of that body were not in such a state as to enable them to do so without great sacrifices. In order to save them from destitution the Company had expended between 20,000l. and 30,000l., by affording employment in public works, such as roads, bridges, and similar undertakings, which must be advantageous to the Colony at large. He trusted that the Government would act in a way which would promote the welfare of the Colony, and be consistent with the claims of humanity; and while they saw that every protection was extended to the settlers, they would also take care that the interests of the native population were not sacrificed. The hon. Gentleman concluded with seconding the Motion.
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
was afraid he must trust to the indulgence of the House while he was entering his protest against the course which had been followed by the hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth. He must protest most strongly against the course which he had pursued, even whilst he admitted that it was most important to have the information which was sought for produced. The hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth must have known very well that this information was ready to be given when it was asked for. The hon. Member must have known that he had only to move for the production of these Papers, when they would be laid before him. His astonishment and surprise were great to hear the hon. and learned Member utter such a speech in seconding the Motion for this information, while the hon. Member at the same time postponed another Motion the hon. Member had to make upon the same subject, to some future time. It had suited the hon. and learned Member's purpose to pursue this course, and to state that he would bring forward his Motion on this subject by bits. The hon. Member said that he would not raise the general question at present. Now, whether the 653 hon. and learned Member had done so or not in the speech which he had made, he would leave the House to determine. The hon. Member said that they had been guilty of a great breach of faith. What right, he would ask, had the hon. and learned Member to state that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies; and the Government, were guilty of a breach of faith, without offering proof of the fact? Why did not the hon. and learned Gentleman produce his evidence to substantiate his charge? He would appeal to the House to say whether such a course was fair or justifiable? Did the hon. and learned Member now mean to deny his words?
§ Mr. Aglionby
No, I did not say any such thing. What I stated, was only that it had been alleged over and over again that such conduct had been pursued by the Government. I have merely stated what had been alleged against the Government, and what I believe could be proved before a Committee.
§ Mr. Hope
The hon. and learned Member now took the more convenient course of stating merely that what he had said had been alleged against the Government; but the hon. Member had given his own belief in such allegations, and had left it to the House to draw their own inferences. He complained of such a course as this, because be thought the charge should not be brought forward unless the hon. Member was prepared to substantiate it. A full inquiry was made last Session into this question, and the whole evidence respecting it had now been before the country for months. Moreover, these charges had been most industriously published throughout the country. He believed it was well known that they had been circulated by the authority of the New Zealand Company. The Spectator and other journals gave insertions to these charges. He only referred to these facts now to show the extensive inquiry which had been made upon the subject, although most material facts were altogether omitted, or disguised in every possible shape, in the publications to which he had alluded. He presumed that the hon. Member for Liskeard would not object to the facts he was stating. All this information was before the public long before the Parliament met. It was stated over and over again that much indignation was felt at the conduct of the noble Lord the Secretary of the Colonies, and it was even said that they would pro- 654 ceed by impeachment against him. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard smiled at this statement; he, however, had no doubt but that the hon. and learned Member would agree with him in the fact he had stated. It had even been asserted that the noble Lord was afraid to meet the charge in this House, and had, therefore, retired from it. He thought that he had every reason to complain of those charges having been made outside of this House, and some of them repeated inside of it, without any attempt being made to substantiate them. He trusted that, after this discussion was over, the question would not be any longer left in this position. The hon. Member for Cockermouth, not satisfied with the present Motion, stated it to be his intention to follow it up with a Motion for the production of other Papers, and that he would ultimately bring the whole case before the House. He appealed to the House to say whether or not the volume which they had before them did not contain everything relating to this Colony, and necessary to enable them to judge of the conduct of the noble Lord in connexion with it? When hon. Members arraigned his opinions, and talked of calling the noble Lord up for the purpose of judging him upon repeated charges of breaches of faith and a want of honour, he thought that he had a right to demand from those who made such charges that they should come forward and substantiate them, or to confess the total groundlessness of them. He would now proceed to those points to which the hon. Member had adverted. They had now before them the whole conduct of the noble Lord in the Colonial Office. The information had been some time before them, but it had never been made use of. The hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth evaded this fact; he attacked the noble Lord, and then said that the information required was a sealed book. Why, the book was there for the inspection of him, as well as every other hon. Member! But although Lord Stanley, who was present, was not attacked, a violent attack had been made upon the Governor of the Colony, who was absent; although the hon. and learned Member knew not, at the time, what that Gentleman could say in his defence. The hon. and learned Gentleman should have first sought for this information, and then have made his charges, if he could. No; he first attacked the Governor, then turned round and asked for information! He protested against this course. He 655 would tell the House what information he could give on these points. It was well known that, from circumstances over which they had no control, for a very long time they had been without any advices from the Colony. In respect to the first subject that was alluded to in the Motion before the House, as regarded the question of legal tender, they had a statement of the issue of the debentures alluded to, but not that they were ever declared to be a legal tender. Even this course, however, was not approved of by the Government at home, and the withdrawal of them immediately was ordered. So far, then, as the information went, such a proceeding was not sanctioned by the warrant of the Government. As to the second question respecting taxes in the Colony, they had not received any of the minutes which alluded to this subject. He could not account for having been left for such a length of time without any advices from the Colony. With respect to the third question, as to the recent outrages which had been committed, the only account he had was that which he proposed to move for the production of—that would state the circumstances of troops having been sent for from New South Wales. He had only lately received this information from New South Wales. As to the fourth question, when the proper period arrived he would move his Amendment, and, if necessary, would go into the case involved in this paragraph. He could furnish no information in answer to the fifth question beyond that which he would lay before the House. He would now proceed to the other points to which the hon. and learned Member had alluded. The hon. Member had taken a most extraordinary course; he had attacked Captain Fitzroy in reference to the unfortunate occurrence at Wairau, as having given his opinion on the single statement of the murderer himself. ["No."] That was his understanding of what the hon. Member said, if he had misunderstood the hon. Member, he withdrew his assertion. So far from the opinion having been formed on the ex-parte statement of the murderer himself, the Governor's opinion was formed on the ex-parte statement of those who were opposed to the natives—on the depositions taken by the magistrates at Wellington, and on the statement of the accuser. He would not go into the case at large; the hon. Member had not done so, though he had thrown out insinuations; but this he must observe, that the questions involved 656 were questions of the rights of the natives, followed by a conflict between them and Europeans; that on the whole review of the circumstances, taking into account the savage character of some of these tribes—taking into account their habits, and the customs which had been followed amongst them, it did not appear to the noble Lord that it would be a right course to take relative to this most unfortunate and lamentable occurrence, to subject it to the proceedings of an inquiry before a regular judicial tribunal. The hon. Member further alluded to the state of feeling which, he said, was produced by this occurrence in the island, on the part of the British population—a feeling that they could obtain no justice. He need, however, scarcely refer the House to the impossibility of at once enforcing upon a people such as the New Zealanders habits of obedience to the law. He believed that whatever feeling existed had arisen from dissatisfaction on that account. He did not admit that the feeling was so extensive as was stated by the hon. Member for Cockermouth. He did not admit that it was universal, nay, even that it was general. He admitted that occurrences had taken place to which it had been impossible to apply the regular and systematic law of this country; but that was the inevitable consequence of parties settling themselves amongst a numerous savage race; and it was too much to turn round and say, that, having obtruded themselves into that country, and taken possession of lands, because the natives did not conform to their customs, therefore the white man was unprotected and sacrificed to the man of colour. The hon. Member then referred to letters which he stated were moved for by the Under Secretary of the Colonial Office. It so happened that the letters were not moved for by him, although he would willingly have moved for them. As to the hon. Member's complaint on this point, he must refer to what passed respecting Mr. Short-land. He was acting Governor at the time—the witnesses remarked most severely on his conduct—he was without the means of defending himself—when he returned he requested permission to put in his defence. Would the hon. Member, having made the attack, refuse to produce his defence? Mr. Bushby's letter related to the outrages at the Bay of Islands; but it gave no information but that which was derived from the public press. He now came to the letter of Mr. Coates; and for 657 the hon. Member's satisfaction he might be permitted to state, that although it was alleged that the instructions issued by Lord Stanley on the 13th August were taken from Mr. Coates' letter, Lord Stanley's instructions were on board a vessel bound to New Zealand before Mr. Coates' letter was received. They went out in a ship belonging to a gentleman well known in New Zealand, named Earp. Mr. Coates' letter was received the day after the despatch had been sent off. He should have thought that a candid examination of the question would have rather led to this inference, that, when two persons writing with no sort of concert, with the same facts and circumstances before them, came to the same conclusion, and expressed themselves to the same effect, the presumption was that their conclusion was a correct one. He should not have been ashamed to have communicated with Mr. Coates, had there been any reason for so doing; but it so happened that he had held no communication with that Gentleman; he had no occasion to do so; and the coincidence between the letters was a coincidence arising from two persons commenting on the same state of facts, and coming to the same conclusion. The hon. Member then asked what steps had been taken to vindicate the honour of the country at the Bay of Islands? From the official accounts it appeared that troops had been sent from Sydney. The hon. Member stated that he meant to make a further Motion for the production of Papers; it was one of that series of Motions, which the hon. Member intended to make until he succeeded in exciting public feeling. When the hon. Member made this Motion he should be able to judge as to the production of the Papers asked for. The hon. Member further inquired into the remission of the owners' right of pre-emption of land sold by the natives. The course which had been taken had been this—the Governor's object was to ensure a certain fund for the revenue concurrently with the sale of land. The course pointed out by the noble Lord the Member for London was, that waste lands should be bought by the Government and resold. The natives, not unnaturally, discovered the prices at which lands were sold by Europeans, and therefore the noble Lord's instructions, which were originally the instructions of Lord Normanby, did not apply. The natives said if 20s. are to be got for land, why are we not to have it? They consequently refused to sell, 658 except at such prices that the Government had not the means of raising the money to pay for it; therefore the noble Lord's plan failed altogether. The Government was without funds, and without the means of buying the land. The natives would not do that which Lord Normanby and Lord John Russell proposed—sell at a small price, that Government might sell at a large price. Captain Fitzroy adopted this course. He said you may sell to individuals, but those individuals shall pay 10s. an acre to Government, being half what would be the estimated price of Government land. Lord Stanley, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, sanctioned that course. Although the hon. Member had put a number of questions, an answer to which he might have obtained from the Papers, he did not know that there was any which he had omitted to answer, and he called on the hon. Member who had threatened an attack on the noble Lord, at once to make it, or to abandon the endeavour.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said that the hon. Member had misunderstood and misquoted two of his expressions. What he said was, that the hon. Member and others took an extraordinary mode of making a matter known to the public through the medium of the Colonial Office. It was also said that he had threatened repeated Motions for Papers in order to hang discussions upon them. What he stated was, that he had prepared Notices of Motion, but withheld them because they applied to the Company's affairs exclusively, and therefore he did not wish to mix them up with other matters. He had said that as soon as he could, after the public business allowed him, he would put the Notice on the Paper.
§ Mr. C. Buller
observed, that the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies was exceedingly indignant about matters which were not before the House; and at the same time very indifferent with respect to the matter which actually was under the consideration of the House. He certainly considered it perfectly fair for any hon. Gentleman who had complaints to make on matters connected with the Colonies to bring forward his complaints in whatever manner he thought most suitable. The noble Secretary for the Colonies, it was said, had been annoyed by the comments upon his proceedings made by the press. It was by no means astonishing that the noble Lord should be annoyed at them. As some consolation, he might rest assured that full opportunity would be given to 659 his hon. Deputy in that House to defend him, as best he might, on some future occasion. Gentlemen on his own side of the House would certainly not allow the Report of the Committee, and the evidence that had been given before it, to be passed over in silence. As to the question before the House, it seemed to him that it would be very odd if they were not to be allowed to bring it forward when the House and the country so much needed further information on the subject than was to be got out of the Papers before Parliament. These Papers presented no information upon several important occurrences which had taken place in the United States and elsewhere, of essential importance to the consideration of the subject. The hon. Secretary affected to be very indignant at what he characterised as the want of candour on the part of those who brought forward the Motion; but the want of candour rather appeared to exist on the Government side of the House. As to no fewer than five out of the six points upon which he had been interrogated, the hon. Gentleman professed entire ignorance; and as to the sixth he would not give the information which he admitted he possessed. Now was this a decent answer on the part of the Representative of a great Public Department, upon whose conduct the interests of so important a portion of the State depended? Was it decent, he would repeat, that when six clear and most important questions, affecting great interests, the welfare, the safety, of many thousands of our fellow subjects, were put to that Department, its Representative in that House should get up and coolly state that he was entirely ignorant of the subject; and, observe, these were no new matters — no subject that had never yet been touched upon—no topic which had never yet suggested inquiry or comment—very far from it. The information which the Government were called upon officially to speak to was printed in our country papers so far back as December last; yet here was the extraordinary spectacle presented to the House and to the public of a Public Officer, immediately concerned in the subject, coming forward, and coolly telling the House, that he had no information upon matters the details of which went the round of the newspapers here three months and a half ago. Did the hon. Member mean to say, that the information so given in the newspapers was wrong? If such were the case, it was his duty to state in what that information was wrong; otherwise, it was 660 perfectly reasonable on the part of the public to take that information which had been before it uncontradicted for three months and a half, as the correct statement of the case. However, it was not his purpose to get into a controversy on this occasion with the hon. Member on this particular point, on which, in his opinion, the Colonial Office had exceedingly compromised itself. It was his object to call the attention of the House to more important questions, connected not merely with New Zealand, but with the government of our Colonies generally. The question of New Zealand was that of our Colonial Government at large; its history only a striking illustration of the entire ignorance of the whole subject of Colonial government, which pervaded the whole Colonial Administration abroad and at home. There were Gentlemen in the House who had been kind enough to lend him their attention when, two years ago, he brought before Parliament the question of systematic colonization; he had then, as he would now, expressed most emphatically his conviction that our Colonies might be rendered most valuable to the mother country; but no colonization could be beneficial while the affairs of our Colonies were administered in the manner in which they now were managed. In former days, when the people of England knew how to colonise—when they sent out those Colonies which were the origin of the greatness of the United States, the colonists whom they sent out carried with them their safeguard—their birthright—their right to representative government—their right to administer their own affairs—their right to tax themselves. This was the case with all our American Colonies—this the secret of their success. Look at Rhode Island, for instance; why, when that Colony did not count its population by hundreds, it enjoyed its representative Government. Since that time, we had introduced the system of governing our Colonies by despotic rule—we had deprived them of self-government — and a precious blunder we had made of it. What a Government was this of New Zealand! All its laws were made—all its taxes imposed—by a Governor nominated by the Crown, and a Council nominated by the Governor. How was that Council composed? Of the Attorney General for the Colony, the Solicitor General for the Colony, and the Colonial Secretary—three clearly dependent members, and three nominally independent members, the Governor 661 having the casting vote; and the effect of this had been, that all the obnoxious measures had been regularly carried by the three Government nominees, with the Governor's casting vote. By way of extreme liberality, Governor Hobson tried the experiment of having a gentleman from Wellington, and placing him upon the Legislative Council; but as it turned out that this gentleman had an inconvenient knack of voting against the Governor's propositions, he one day received a communication from Governor Hobson informing him that he had issued a new commission, and that on looking over the names he found he had not placed him on the list—a very clear hint that his services were no longer required at the Council Board. Colonel Fitzroy, the new Governor, was less roundabout in his proceedings; for he wrote to a gentleman, telling him most distinctly that he held his situation at the Board merely at the will of the Governor; and that the Governor allowed no opposition to his will. There was no disguise about the matter; none at all; it was to all intents and purposes a perfect despotism; the Governor and his immediate nominees made their laws, issued their regulations, and if any of the nominally independent Members of the Council ventured to express a contrary opinion to that of the Governor, they were at once dismissed, and other more compliant tools put in their places. No question of the matter, our Crown Colonies were governed in the most arbitrary manner. He had no desire to run into any vulgar attack upon arbitrary governments, as such; it was no part of his present business; it was perfectly well known to all that, so far, there had been, and there were, despotic governments which administered well and wisely for the people; Prussia was a striking example of this; and some of our own most important dependencies were governed under a despotic system. There was the East Indies, for instance, where the system of government had been for years and years eminently despotic; but then the despotism was carried out upon a sound, and a just, and a well-based system, calculated to the circumstances of the case; there the despots set over the population, in various grades, were trained to their duties from the lowest to the highest ranks. They were all thoroughly educated to the task they had to perform. But what was our free despotic Government in New Zealand? Why, it had been carried on of late years by two cap- 662 tains and one lieutenant in the Navy. Now, he by no means intended to speak disrespectfully of the Navy; naval officers were exceedingly good men in their way; but men might be exceedingly efficient on board ship, and yet not be the best men in the world for the government of a Colony. He very much doubted whether the quarter deck was the best possible school of diplomacy; and, therefore, when he found an officer of the navy placed in such a position, and conducting himself with the greatest incompetency, he thought he had a full right to complain of the selection of such a man for such a post. He would put it to the House whether these charges had been brought against Captain Fitzroy on light grounds? He certainly thought, that when three clear cases had been brought forward of the grossest mismanagement on the part of that officer in a period of six months, this was sufficient to convince every candid and unprejudiced person that the officer so conducting himself was utterly incompetent to the responsible position which he had so improperly been placed in. Let him take a glaring instance. He was about to speak of a question of finance, in the presence of a great master of the currency question—of course he alluded to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government—and not to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department, who, though he had written about currency, was no authority on the subject; but he was speaking in the presence of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, a great practical authority. He had differed of late from the right hon. Gentleman, thinking he was carrying his hatred of paper money somewhat too far; but he would appeal to the right hon. Baronet, whether it were not astounding, that under the administration of a man supporting all kinds of the soundest views generally with reference to the currency, there should be a Governor of a Colony of Great Britain scattering assignats in every direction around him, for such they were, most completely; an absolutely inconvertible paper currency, which at this time of day was a perfect monstrosity. Here, in England, we had gone to the most inconvenient lengths for the purpose of returning to a gold currency; and even when paper money was more general, care had always been taken to limit the amount for which it should be issued. At one time that limit was 1l.; now it was 5l.; yet, in the teeth of all 663 which the present Government had done, we found the Governor of New Zealand issuing a paper currency unheard of in the world's history, except in the memorable case of the shin plasters of the United States. They, indeed, went so low as 1s. 6d. Captain Fitzroy's currency was not quite so humble as that; but it was very little better, for his notes were for 5s. and 2s.—an inconvertible currency, which, inconvertible as it was, was forced upon the poorest of our fellow-subjects in the Colony, in payment of their wages. Imagine the effect of intelligence arriving in the Colony that the Government at home had declared that these notes should not pass current; for, be it remembered, that the whole of these debentures, to the extent of 15,000l., had been issued by the Governor in the face of 2,000l. worth of bills already dishonoured by the Government at home. Imagine the utter depreciation which, upon such intelligence, would involve the whole of these 5s. and 2s. notes. There would be some small speculating capitalist buying up the whole at 1d. or 1d. a-piece; and when the Government at home came at last to sanction its Governor's proceedings, as doubtless it would, we should have to pay 2s. and 5s. for that which had been bought up at 1d. and 2d. It was most scandalous, most monstrous, that a Governor of one of our Colonies should be thus permitted to trifle with the commonest principles which sound reason and common sense dictated and enforced at home. It was perfectly clear to him, that a man who did not understand that he ought not to issue 2s. notes or 5s. notes under any circumstances, was unfit for any place of the slightest responsibility—was not only an ignorant and incompetent man, but, moreover, a mischievous and dangerous man. One such proceeding as this was alone sufficient to condemn a public functionary, whatever other good qualities he might possess. Had Captain Fitzroy those other good qualities? Look at his system of taxation. There was nothing which required greater discretion and common sense than the taxation upon imports into a young Colony, where everything depends upon what is brought into it, and where, before you can raise commodities, you must for a time import the stock to raise them. What had Captain Fitzroy sagely done? Why, he put a tax of 10s. upon every sheep, and 1l. upon every head of cattle imported into the Colony. He could hardly have done worse 664 than this had it been his full intention to ruin the Colony; yet, doubtless, his patrons at home would vindicate his conduct; and, at all events, smooth the affair off with saying, forsooth, that Captain Fitzroy had been actuated by the best possible intentions. Then, again, as to his precious Customs' regulations; never, certainly, since the time of the simpleton in Hierseles, who imagined you could draw water from the bottom of a tub without lessening the quantity of water at the top of the tub, had such a simpleton proceeding been heard of as that which Captain Fitzroy had been guilty of, under the extraordinary supposition that, by abolishing the Customs' duties at one of the ports of New Zealand, he should in no way lessen the Customs' duties at those ports where they were retained. In the Returns dated 7th March, 1845, the House would find, in the letter of Mr. W. O. Hector, an account of the outrages, under the influence of which the Governor adopted this most preposterous step; and he would read an extract from this Return, by way of illustrating the sort of outrages to which our fellow-subjects in the Colony were exposed, under the inefficient administration which now prevailed in New Zealand. After a detail of some gross violences, Mr. Hector stated:—Messrs. Spicer, M'Carthy, and myself, accordingly called on Mr. Beckham (the magistrate), and after being detained a quarter of an hour outside his door, he made his appearance. When I informed him of the desire of the inhabitants to place themselves under his command, and requested him to appoint a place of meeting, he replied, we need not alarm ourselves as he had arranged everything, and that the police would do their duty. I then asked him how it was the police had permitted the depredations already committed? We received for answer, that we must submit to them until he had force sufficient to protect us. In reply, we stated that, if he would yield to the request of the inhabitants, he would find that there would be force sufficient to repel any further aggressions on the part of the natives; that it was not our ambition to commence an affray, but to show the natives that, although we had permitted them to proceed thus far, we were determined to put a stop to any further acts of violence; and that, if he (Mr. Beckham) did not choose to assemble the inhabitants, they would meet and appoint some person to act in his place. He told us that he would put us down by force. We informed him we had no wish to infringe the laws of our country, but that self-preservation was the first law of nature, and we would no longer quietly submit to the in- 665 vasion of our homes, have our wives insulted by the natives wilfully exposing their persons to them, our daughters' clothes pulled over their heads, and our property stolen; and that, if such were his intentions, we would oppose force to force, and he would then see who would gain the day.The letter proceeded:—At the conclusion a portion was sent towards the flagstaff, to cut it down; the remaining, as a covering party, proceeding by another road to Waihihi, both roads meeting in one after passing the flagstaff. Parties of natives were stationed on the tops of the different hills as outposts. Mr. Beckham was, during this time, standing within 100 yards of the Custom-house. Mr. Potter and I followed the natives to the flagstaff, and asked them why they wished to cut it down; some said, there had been no payment given for the land; others, that it prevented the ships from coming in. On our arrival, the natives proceeded to work, and I saw the honour of my country laid low, without any attempt to prevent it. The ropes the natives took, and the staff and yard were cut into pieces. A demand was made for fire, and Mr. Tapper went to his house and got some. When the whole was over and the natives gone, Mr. Beckham and a few of the inhabitants arrived. The natives met on an opposite hill, commenced a war-dance, discharged their muskets, retired to their canoes, and left for the other shore.Upon intelligence of these outrages being conveyed to the Governor, he sent to Sydney for forces, thereby throwing that part of the Colony also into excitement and dismay. Having obtained thence a force of 150 men, he marched with them to the spot where the aggressions took place, and then marched them away again, upon the natives telling him he had better do so. Next, in order to conciliate the natives of that particular quarter, the Governor abolished the Customs' duties at Auckland, leaving the Customs' duties at the other ports just as they were. What would the people of this country say if Government, by reason of some outrage committed at Bristol, were to seek to conciliate the men of Bristol by abolishing the Custom-house there, leaving those of Liverpool, of London, and all the other ports, just as they were; and thus effectually sending every article of commerce from them all to the favoured port? Would the people of this country tolerate so preposterous an outrage upon common sense and justice? Would the Government for a moment hear of it? Then why do that in New Zealand, the mere suggestion of which would be utterly 666 scouted here? The Duke of Buckingham, or some other great agricultural light, somewhere or other, the other day, made use of an odd phrase, but, unlike most of what fell from the leading agricultural Dukes, pregnant with meaning. He was complaining of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and of the Queen's Speech, and making a great lamentation that neither the one nor the other had made any mention of agricultural distress; "they treated us so badly," said the noble Duke, "they treat us no better than if we were a Colony." This was how the Lords and Gentlemen of Parliament spoke of our Colonies: as the most forcible illustration of the lowest depth of indifference, it was said, you neglect us as though we were a Colony. The hon. Gentleman had touched very lightly indeed on the subject of the proclamation about land. From the mode in which he treated the point, it really seemed as though there were no grievance about it at all; yet a grievance there was of a most serious character. By the 5th and 6th Victoria, it was enacted that no waste lands in the Australian Colonies should be sold for a less price than 1l. per acre. The question was asked, can lands held by natives, and sold by them, be considered as waste lands? He thought there could be no doubt of this upon the mind of any person who had read the 23rd section of the Act. Yet the very protection which the Act extended to the natives the Governor had chosen to take away, by setting aside the right of pre-emption in the Crown, a right which the Crown had always asserted in these Colonies, and most justly and humanely; for, by reserving to itself the right of making the purchase in the first instance from the natives, it prevented their ignorance and simplicity from being imposed upon by unprincipled speculators. This was the rule acted upon in the United States, as derived from this country; and acting upon this rule, and under the Act of Parliament, the Government were called upon to take care that no land was purchased for less than 1l. That was the upset price; yet here came the Government's Governor, Captain Fitzroy, and by a single stroke of his pen altered the price at which land should be sold, and throws all the common lands into the hands of land jobbers, at not 20s., but 10s. With the most ordinary attention on the part of a Home Government desirous of acting justly this could not have been done; yet the hon. Gentleman, after the facts had been pub- 667 lished throughout the country by the newspapers for the last three months and a half, came forward and said he knew nothing about the matter. Reference had been made to the Wairau massacre. He could hardly restain his feelings when his thoughts recurred to that horrible scene. He knew and most deeply valued one of the victims — Captain Wakefield — than whom no British officer of our times gave greater promise of doing honour to his country. That such a man should have perished in such a way, under such circumstances, the result of such gross mismanagement and inefficiency on the part of those who were most preposterously set over him, was perfectly unendurable; and almost equally unendurable was it that such a man as Captain Fitzroy should be seen taking advantage of his death to attach discredit to his memory. He would not go into a history of that deplorable event now. It originated in a dispute about land, the sale of which, on the part of the natives, the Home Secretary might, perhaps, need to be told the Commissioner for Crown lands had decided to have been irregular. The colonists, however, at the time thought they had a right to the property, and they went to the spot to survey it. The natives came down and drove them off, and burnt some huts, whereupon the magistrate at Nelson issued warrants for the apprehension of the two chiefs Rauperaha and Rangahaeta on a charge of arson, in reference to which matter the Colonial authorities had laid down some law which would hardly be countenanced by the Attorney General or Solicitor General at home. Mr. Thompson, who was sent with others to execute these warrants, was altogether misled as to the character of those with whom he had to deal; for the manners of the natives about Nelson, who were few and not warlike, were by no means a test of those whom Mr. Thompson was proceeding amongst, a fierce and savage tribe. A conflict took place, and the massacre of Wairau followed. The Governor might have said, You may now retire to your homes; but the first act which was done was to declare the meetings held in self-defence illegal, and to threaten to cut down those who held them. When Captain Fitzroy went to Wellington, after the proceedings which he had alluded to, he took part with the natives against the white people, and from thence he went to Nelson, where a warrant was issued for the apprehension of the murderer 668 Rauperaha. Nelson was a town with six magistrates, and here he would remark, that it was rare, in so small a community as that, containing only 2,000 inhabitants, to find no less than six gentlemen of character and property fit to hold the Commission of the Peace. He could not understand why it was that a gentleman like Captain Fitzroy felt himself, when he went to a distant Colony like that, as Governor, relieved from the responsibilities and decencies which usually characterize the intercourse between one gentleman and another; an example of which was afforded by his conduct towards a gentleman in New Zealand named Dillon—a gentleman of high character and honour. Captain Fitzroy taxed Mr. Dillon with writing in a newspaper; and Mr. Dillon stated, upon being so taxed, that he had never done so in his life. What was the answer of Captain Fitzroy to Mr. Dillon, when he denied having so written? He said that the statement of Mr. Dillon was not true. It might be said that these were paltry matters. They were not, however, paltry matters; and it was not because Captain Fitzroy was Governor of New Zealand, that he was to insult every gentleman who came under his authority. It was not a paltry matter to show those who employed Captain Fitzroy how completely he mismanaged the proceedings arising from the Wairau affair, and to prove that, without any necessity, and in the most delicate point, he had wounded the feelings and susceptibilities of the Europeans who were residing there. They found the large expenditure in the Colony of 36,000l. per annum among a population of 14,000 persons—that was, two and a half times the expenditure of Great Britain; so that they had 14,000 persons in New Zealand governed at an expense of 36,000l. annually; whilst in Prince Edward's Island, with a population of 47,000 persons, the expenditure was only 12,000l.; but then Prince Edward's Island had a representative Government. Captain Fitzroy found a great expenditure in New Zealand; and he stated when he arrived that the greatest calamity which a good Governor ought to avoid, was subjecting the officers of the Government to a decrease of their salaries; and, accordingly, he laid a tax upon stock—upon the importation of cattle — upon three-roomed houses—upon sheep dogs, and issued three and five shillings assignats, for the purpose of paying the workmen their wages; but in addition to that he gave the 669 finances of the island the advantage of abolishing the Custom-house in one port out of three or four, in order that he might equitably and efficiently collect the revenue. Why did he mention this? It was not to hold up Captain Fitzroy as a monster, for the execration of that House; it was not for the purpose of impeaching him; but it was in order that the House of Commons might be able to estimate him at what he was worth, merely as a very foolish and incompetent man. Why, he would ask, did the Government entrust a population of 14,000 persons in New Zealand to the incompetence of such a man? He did not wish to dwell on the folly of his conduct—he was not disposed to be hard on human infirmities, or to blame him for any deficiency of intellect; but he could not avoid saying, that a man who evinced such infirmities, and who displayed such a deficiency of intellect, ought not to be sent to a distant Colony as a Governor; and if employed at all it should be at home, where the proper steps might be taken immediately after the first act which indicated such an infirmity or deficiency of intellect. He wished to show the importance of not sending such a Governor to a Colony where his instant recall was not possible. He did not mention those circumstances with a view to any punishment, even though it might be merited, or with a design of warning other Governors, even though that might be required; but he did it solely for the safety of the Colony, which could not be safe for an hour under the influence of such utter incompetence as that of its present Governor. The course which he (Mr. Buller) took was necessary, as they would admit, when they recollected that the information with respect to the debentures was before the country for three months and a half without any step having been taken on the subject. Really the Government, after hearing of the conduct of the Governor, ought to send out a keeper for Captain Fitzroy and his successor in the same ship, for he was not fit to hold the important trust which had been confided to him a moment after the issue of the debentures, and he ought to have been recalled at the very instant when intelligence of the issue of those debentures reached this country. He trusted that he had not detained the House too long on this subject, and he hoped that, if they did not think the grievances of New Zealand beneath their notice, they would come forward with an expression of opinion that 670 would act on the Government in such a way as effectually to prevent the Colony from being any longer subject to the recurrence of such mischiefs as those which had been described.
§ Colonel Rice Trevor
said, that the hon. Member for Cockermouth had stated certain complaints against the Colonial Office—with those he had nothing to do, the hon. Gentleman had also complained that the welfare of the Colony of New Zealand was affected by the conduct of the officer who now administered the government of that island, and added that the Governor had managed to make himself disliked by every portion of the colonists. He had no objection to any Gentleman in that House making any observations which he thought proper, for the public advantage, on the conduct of any public servant of the Crown; but when the hon. Gentleman opposite stated that he would not go into the whole question, yet went far enough into it to convey an imputation, without making any direct accusation, he thought it rather hard. As the matter was to be brought forward at a future time, when the whole subject would be before the House, it would have been better if the discussion of it had been postponed until that occasion, when they should have all the details before them, than that it should have been brought forward in the unsatisfactory manner which it had been to-night. With respect to the lamentable affair at Wairau, an event it was impossible to read or hear of without pain, it had been stated by the hon. Member opposite that Captain Fitzroy had been satisfied with hearing the statements of those natives who had been engaged in the attack, and that, without further inquiry, he formed his conclusion on that evidence. This was not so; he first heard the Europeans, and then the natives, and then he formed and declared his judgment. It was not a little singular, however, with respect to that circumstance, that Captain Fitzroy, who had an opportunity of examining the case upon the spot, had come to the same decision as Lord Stanley upon that subject, after a perusal of the despatches from New Zealand. That appeared to him to be a very striking illustration of the correctness of the conclusion to which Captain Fitzroy had come, namely, that two parties, separated by so great a distance, one having an opportunity of inquiring on the spot, and the other forming his opinion from the despatches, should so perfectly coincide in their conclusion 671 with respect to the affair at Wairau. But the opinion of Captain Fitzroy was more fully borne out by the statement of the hon. Member for Liskeard, who said that the issuing of the warrant was illegal. [Mr. Buller: I said imprudent and injudicious.] He would not put his opinion on a question of law in competition with that of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard; but a legal authority in the Colonies had stated as his opinion that the whole transaction was illegal. Perhaps, however, it would be better to leave that part of the subject to those who understood legal matters better, and he should not, therefore, dwell further upon it. He should not have risen to take any part in this discussion, if it had not been for the extraordinary, the unfit, and unbecoming language which had been used by the hon. Member for Liskeard, in alluding to the actions, dealings, and intercourse of Captain Fitzroy with the colonists in New Zealand; and that language appeared still more extraordinary when they recollected that Captain Fitzroy was engaged, at the time that those circumstances occurred, in endeavouring to serve the Government and his country, and in devoting every energy of his mind to the benefit of the colonists. It was a little hard that, at this distance from New Zealand, so far removed that a period of five months would elapse before intelligence of the charges which had been made against him could arrive in the Colony, and it would be five or six months more before his defence could reach this country—it was, he repeated, a little hard, under these circumstances, that the hon. Member for Liskeard should have spoken of Captain Fitzroy as he had, which was certainly in no measured terms, and when he was in such a position that no voice could be raised in his behalf until the House met again in the ensuing year. The hon. Member who made these charges against Captain Fitzroy must have been perfectly aware that a portion of the information to which the hon. Member referred was information which the Government had not as yet received; and therefore it was impossible fully to answer that portion of the charges. With respect to the debentures, the Government had as yet obtained only partial information, and so far he had stated how the case stood as related to the public conduct of Captain Fitzroy; and he was not aware of the arrival of any private accounts of a recent date from him which could add much to that information, which 672 was caused, perhaps, by his constant occupation in New Zealand. It was therefore impossible to go fully into the defence of Captain Fitzroy without further information, as it had not been afforded either to the Government or to any Member of his family; and he deeply regretted that he had been unable to do full justice to the conduct and character of Captain Fitzroy. He gave the hon. Member for Liskeard credit for the natural feeling which he had evinced in noticing the unfortunate end of a gallant Officer; and he hoped he would recollect how hard a task was imposed upon the friend of an absent man in endeavouring to defend him without the possession of that full information which was required, in order that such a defence might be complete. He, as an Englishman, must always regret that the lives of men who might have been so usefully employed in the Colony, had been sacrificed in the manner and under the lamentable circumstances which had been referred to.
rose to protest against two epithets which the hon. Member for Liskeard had applied to Captain Fitzroy, who was a distant connexion of his (Colonel Wood's), and he was sure that, on reflection, the hon. Member would not apply to a brave and gallant officer the words "foolish and incompetent." He (Colonel Wood) could make allowances for the excitement of a debate; but be was sure that on reflection the hon. Member for Liskeard would not persist in applying the words "foolish and incompetent" to a brave officer, at least without hearing all the circumstances. He trusted that the House would give him leave to say that Captain Fitzroy had been engaged in the service of his country for a considerable portion of his life, and that he had been five years absent on a dangerous survey of the coast of South America, and that he had brought his little vessel, at great pecuniary cost to himself, round the world, and had conducted the survey with great skill and professional ability. During that voyage, he touched at the Colony of which he is at present the Governor, and he relinquished valuable situations in order to fill the office to which he was appointed, he (Colonel Wood) believed, at the solicitation of the New Zealand Company. ["No, no."] At all events, he was solicited to accept the appointment by the Colonial Secretary. He went out to New Zealand to perform 673 a most arduous duty; and in his absence, he (Colonel Wood) protested against those epithets which had been applied to him by the hon. Member for Liskeard, at least until the House had all the circumstances fairly before them. Those epithets ought not to have been applied on no other authority than newspaper paragraphs, which might be right, or which might be wrong; but his belief was, that when the whole transactions were investigated, Captain Fitzroy would be able completely to establish his defence.
Sir W. James
had no intention of taking a part in the discussion, but he felt it his duty to make an observation upon the indecorous language which had been applied to Captain Fitzroy, a near relation of his. The hon. Member for Liskeard ought to recollect that Captain Fitzroy was absent; and all the House would recollect that the charges which were made against him were made upon imperfect information. The hon. Gentleman opposite began his speech by an important admission, namely, that nine-tenths of all the information which had been brought forward in support of those charges had been obtained from newspapers. He (Sir W. James) therefore hoped, that when the speech of the hon. Member for Liskeard went forth to the public, it would go forth with this additional fact — that it was made upon newspaper information, and was a newspaper speech. Some of the expressions which had been used in reference to Captain Fitzroy were of a most extraordinary character. What did the hon. Member for Liskeard mean, by saying that Captain Fitzroy got rid of all the decencies and courtesies of life? Would the hon. Member aver that if Captain Fitzroy were present? Would the hon. Member bring forward any one fact to bear out that statement? The only thing which had been brought forward as a support of that charge was, a statement that he told a gentleman that a certain statement he made was not true. He admitted, certainly, if the gentleman to whom this was said was a respectable person, that it might be considered somewhat harsh language; but then, perhaps, Captain Fitzroy had good grounds for his observation. But he hardly thought the hon. Member meant seriously to bring forward such a circumstance, in order to vindicate his assertion that Cap- 674 tain Fitzroy had done what was unworthy an officer and a gentleman; nor would the hon. Member for Liskeard increase his own character or reputation unless he was prepared to prove what he had stated relative to his gallant relative's conduct to be correct in every particular. Then, what could be more offensive than the language in which the hon. Member had expressed himself—saying, that the Government ought to send out a keeper for Captain Fitzroy, and a successor to his governorship? The hon. Member had shown a very good feeling when dwelling on one part of his case, and he sincerely sympathized in the sentiments which he had expressed towards his gallant friend, Captain Wakefield; and if he had not used language indefensibly strong and unguarded in speaking of Captain Fitzroy, he should not have felt called upon to address the House on the subject. The hon. Member must see the necessity for retracting the language he had used; for to say that his gallant relative had acted in a manner unbecoming a gentleman and an officer, was to speak in terms much too strong, except upon very different grounds to those upon which he had charged Captain Fitzroy. He therefore hoped the hon. Member was prepared to justify his strong expressions by facts equally strong, or else that he would withdraw his language. With respect to the unhappy massacre at Wairau, there was an expression which fell from the hon. Member which demanded an observation. The hon. Member had referred to Captain Fitzroy's having taken part with the natives in the sequel of the unhappy affray which had taken place. He could well conceive that a person of Captain Fitzroy's chivalric temperament, on arriving at his Government, and finding there existed a hostile feeling both on the part of the natives and of the English settlers, would take part with the weakest, and would look with charity on their unprotected and defenceless state. He had styled his gallant relative chivalrous, and he could well justify what he had called him. He knew that gallant officer; and if ever there was a man of chivalrous generosity and high-toned feeling—if ever there was a man characterized by his regard for truth, for integrity, and the best qualities of social life—he would not there speak of his judgment, for every individual was liable to errors in judg- 675 ment—but if ever there was any one on whom he could lay his fingers as remarkable for public worth and private virtue, it was Captain Fitzroy.
§ Sir C. Napier
said, that nothing could be more amiable in a Member who was the relative of a gallant officer serving abroad, than to get up and defend that officer when any charge was made against him. The gallant Colonel who had preceded the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, had proved Captain Fitzroy to have been engaged on an important survey, and had shown that he was a good surveyor; but a man might be a good nautical surveyor, and yet make a precious bad Governor. He thought the Government had committed a great mistake in sending out Captain Fitzroy as Governor to New Zealand, for he was better calculated to fill the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. His plan to pay the National Debt with debentures entitled him, at least, to be kept at home, to assist the Chancellor, if he were not appointed to that office. He could bear his testimony to the merits of the unfortunate Captain Wakefield, than whom there was not a better or more gallant officer in the service. He regretted his untimely end; and he also regretted that, instead of shaking hands with his murderer, they had not executed him.
An hon. Member
could bear testimony to the high integrity and amiable qualities of Captain Fitzroy; but he said that, from the information derived from private letters, he was afraid the conduct of the gallant officer had not been all that his friends could wish. He was nearly related to Mr. Dillon, whose name had been mentioned by the hon. Member for Liskeard; and he was enabled to say, from the information which he had received, that the conduct of Captain Fitzroy to Mr. Dillon had been, he would not say ungentle-manlike, but it was not of that character which is generally adopted between gentlemen. It was quite true that Captain Fitzroy said he would not believe the statement of Mr. Dillon, to the effect that he did not write letters in a newspaper.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, it was much to be regretted that the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion had not followed the example set him by his predecessor, and contented himself with some observations on the subject-matter of that Motion. No opposition would have been offered to it, with the exception of a slight alteration in 676 its terms, for his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies was perfectly ready to afford all the information in his power. But if hon. Members were prepared to call Captain Fitzroy's acts as Governor of New Zealand into question, then he thought it would have been but fair to have postponed that discussion until all the Papers and the necessary information were in the hands of the Government. But he thought it an injustice to his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) as well as to Captain Fitzroy, for hon. Members to indulge in such comments as had been made on the present occasion. The hon. Member for Liskeard had said that the heads of the Colonial Department had shown great ignorance of what was passing in New Zealand; for that he had known three months ago facts which it was admitted had not yet reached the knowledge of Government, and that Captain Fitzroy had used language and committed actions which rendered it the duty of Government to send out a keeper to take charge of him, and a successor to replace him as Governor of the Colony. Now, with respect to sending out a successor to Captain Fitzroy, the hon. Member had certainly a perfect right to express his sentiments on that subject; but nothing could justify him in his observation that a keeper ought to be sent out to take charge of Captain Fitzroy. Now, what were the facts? True it was, that his noble Friend had not yet received official information of the circumstances and occurrences to which the hon. Member had referred. With respect to one class of occurrences at New Zealand, the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had stated to him that Captain Fitzroy certainly had omitted to send home a particular acocunt of them for the information of Government; but it was suggested, and thought probable, that this omission only arose out of the numerous and pressing calls upon the Governor's time and attention; and that might turn out to be a sufficient excuse. It might happen that both the omission and the occurrences themselves were unjustifiable; but did hon. Members mean to say that it was right to proceed at once to extremity, as called for against Captain Fitzroy by the hon. Member for Liskeard, upon mere newspaper information alone? Such information on the subject as Government possessed, or as had reached the Colonial Office, would be cheerfully granted; but his noble Friend 677 was quite right in postponing all judgment on the circumstances until Captain Fitzroy had had an opportunity of explaining them. The hon. Member for Liskeard had asked him what he (Sir R. Peel) thought of the issue of inconvertible paper. All he could say was, that he could not give any opinion upon the subject until he knew all the facts; but at the same time he was ready to admit the circumstance was one which required very serious inquiry and consideration. But that was a very different thing from giving an entire credence to newspaper statements, and from proceeding to recall an officer, such as Captain Fitzroy, upon such grounds, [Mr. C. Buller: Have you not the ordinance respecting the paper?] The ordinance had not been sent home, although some extracts from it had reached the Colonial Office, and therefore the observations of the hon. Member as to his noble Friend's ignorance of what was passing in his Department were unwarranted by the facts. Then again, with respect to the debentures, he was ready to admit that there was no act of Captain Fitzroy's which he was less prepared to approve of. His noble Friend, however, had no official information on that subject; he had official cognizance of Captain Fitzroy having formerly issued certain debentures which were called convertible; and his noble Friend had disapproved of the issue even of these convertible debentures. But then again, the hon. Member disapproved of his noble Friend for having looked to the quarter-deck for a person to fill the situation of Governor of a Colony; and he had stated his opinion that a person selected from such a place was likely to prove incompetent to fill a civil governorship. He was not prepared to acquiesce in such an opinion. He was not ready by any assent on his part to establish such a distinction as the hon. Member wished to make with respect to naval officers filling civil posts. He was not addressing himself to Captain Fitzroy's particular case; but he was speaking generally of such appointments, and he was referring especially to the hon. Member's expression, "That the quarter-deck was a bad school for Governors of Colonies." [Mr. C. Buller did not mean to imply that the naval service disqualified a man from filling a Colonial governorship.] No; the hon. Member did not say that the naval service was a formal disquali- 678 fication for such a post, but he intimated his opinion that such generally was the fact; his own experience authorised him to say that he had seen more than one instance in which a naval officer had discharged the functions of civil governor with signal success and advantage to his country. The hon. Member also said that the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office ought to recall Captain Fitzroy. Now, that was not the opinion of the New Zealand Company. ["No."] Whatever was the opinion at present, the noble Lord had appointed Captain Fitzroy; and the New Zealand Company had then said he was a person well calculated to promote the prosperity of an infant Colony. Why, what was the noble Lord's object in appointing Captain Fitzroy but to promote the welfare of the Colony? It was not a very easy matter to get a good governor for a distant settlement; nor was it so very easy to find distinguished men who were willing and qualified to fill such responsible posts. One offered himself in the person of Captain Fitzroy, who was a distinguished officer, and who was ready to sacrifice his personal interests, as the gallant officer who had spoken had admitted. Captain Fitzroy was known for his humanity, his intelligence, his integrity; he was willing to serve his country in a distant Colony; and the New Zealand Company on his appointment did not entertain a different opinion of him from that of the noble Lord the Colonial Secretary. What were the sentiments expressed in the letter addressed by Mr. Ward, the Secretary of the New Zealand Company, to Colonel Wakefield, dated the 13th of May, 1843? The Company by their Secretary therein staled,—The spirit which Lord Stanley has manifested, showing that he is prepared to afford cordial countenance and assistance to the endeavours of the Company to execute to the greatest possible extent the public functions intrusted to them by their charter, is quite as gratifying to the Court as the letter of the actual arrangement.[Considerable dissent on the Opposition benches.] What! was not that the letter of the New Zealand Company? Well; but with respect to Captain Fitzroy's appointment, the New Zealand Company abstained from all comments on the noble Lord's conduct towards the Colony, except in so far as the choice of a Governor was concerned; and, although for months he had 679 been threatened with an attack, they had contented themselves on that night with attacking Captain Fitzroy, and therefore it was that he was proving from their own recorded sentiments that they approved of the appointment of Captain Fitzroy quite as strongly as the noble Lord. The only question which he was dealing with at present was, whether his noble Friend were not justified in having appointed Captain Fitzroy, and whether, also, he were not applauded and thanked for having done so by those who now blamed him, and demanded the recall of that officer. He would proceed with the letter to which he had referred:—"Nor are they less pleased with the appointment of Captain R. Fitzroy, R.N., to be Governor of the Colony." Why, with what pretence could the writers of such a letter as that now turn round and speak of the appointment as they had done? But the discreet and prudent men who thus wrote were not disposed to go merely upon the general report of Captain Fitzroy's personal character and qualifications. They sought a personal interview with him, and they then, after having heard him explain his views, wrote in the following terms to Colonel Wakefield:—Their communications with that distinguished officer have assured them that his views of colonization are sound and enlarged, and that he will enter upon the discharge of his duties altogether free from any partial preference for any particular locality, or for any particular section of the general body of Her Majesty's subjects whom he has been appointed to govern. The high position in this country which he has voluntarily abandoned, in order to undertake the administration of the rising Colony of New Zealand, places it beyond question that he could have been actuated in such a step only by a sense of public duty, and by a benevolent desire of becoming an instrument of good, both to the British colonists and the natives of New Zealand. All these circumstances combine to give the Directors the most entire confidence, that they shall henceforward be able to carry out the great purposes of the Company's incorporation with a vigour and success commensurate with their importance.That was the opinion then formally registered by the New Zealand Company with respect to the propriety of Captain Fitzroy's appointment; and therefore, whatever the hon. Member for Liskeard might say with respect to the disqualification of quarter-deck officers, he must affirm that he thought the letter which he 680 had just read from a public body like the New Zealand Company was the best answer that could be given to his remarks of that evening, and formed a full acquittal of his noble Friend the Colonial Secretary. Now, he believed the New Zealand Company only did justice to Captain Fitzroy; and he must express his belief, moreover, that in relinquishing a good civil appointment and a seat in that House, and in going out to New Zealand, upon an inadequate salary, to take upon himself the charge of that Colony, that officer was only actuated by a sincere desire to do good to his country and his fellow-creatures. Well, then, if such were the case, before such a man were condemned—and condemned, too, whilst absent in a distant Colony, was he (Sir R. Peel) not justified in asking them to wait and hear what he had to allege in his defence? He did think that such an act of fairness was absolutely called for. He could make allowances for the hon. Member's feelings. He knew how sincerely he deplored, how much he had reason to regret, the loss of his gallant and lamented Friend. But at the same time the hon. Member must not feel surprised at the warmth with which Captain Fitzroy's friends had stood forward to defend and uphold his character. They certainly had not to deplore his loss, as the hon. Member had too much reason to deplore the loss of Captain Wakefield; but they had quite as much respect for his character as the hon. Member had for that of the friend he had lost; and the honour and reputation of their absent friend and connexion were as dear to them as the memory of Captain Wakefield was to the hon. Member. The hon. Member must not therefore be surprised at the warmth with which Captain Fitzroy had been vindicated in all that regarded his personal honour and character. His friends did not seek to vindicate the acts done by him in his official capacity, nor did they deny the right of the hon. Member to question the propriety of continuing him in his government—all they required was, that a fair delay should be granted, in order that full information on all the points questioned might be obtained; and he (Sir R. Peel) must say that it was only consistent with justice to await Captain Fitzroy's explanation. If it should turn out to be the fact that the non-transmission of the documents required for this purpose resulted from 681 accident, then he was sure the hon. Member would regret having spoken so severely of the noble Lord's being ignorant of matters which had appeared in the public journals. If the omission arose from pressure of other more important business, then the same regret would no doubt be felt on behalf of Captain Fitzroy. But, however the facts of that part of the case might ultimately prove to be, there could be no doubt whatever that any judgment at the present time would be premature, imperfect, and consequently unjust. He must say, that his duty to a Colleague who had been unjustly condemned, had induced him to read the correspondence, and to make himself master of the subject as far as he could from the Papers; and he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not delay in bringing under the consideration of the House what every one had expected would be the first subject of discussion—the relation between the affairs of New Zealand and the Colonial Office. When that discussion should take place, he should be prepared to take his part in it, and to vindicate his noble Friend; and he thought that in common justice the hon. Gentleman would feel it his duty to bring forward that Motion, should he determine to persevere in it, at the earliest possible period. The conduct of Captain Fitzroy was quite distinct from the consideration of the Report of the Committee of last year; and the hon. Gentleman would be as competent now to consider the propriety of the course taken by his noble Friend subsequent to the Report of that Committee, and to say whether he had taken a just and prudent course, as he would be six weeks hence. The conduct of Captain Fitzroy might show that his noble Friend had made an unwise choice; but this was a very different question from that raised by the Report of the Committee of last year. His noble Friend had laid upon the Table all the despatches, and did not shrink from any inquiry. He would not say anything to anticipate that discussion; but the period had arrived when if the hon. Gentleman still contemplated his Motion, he ought to bring it forward and enable those who represented his noble Friend in that House to vindicate his noble Friend from the accusation that might be brought against him.
§ Viscount Howick
said, in consequence of what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, it was clear that at no distant period 682 the whole subject of the conduct pursued with respect to New Zealand, both by the Government at home and by Captain Fitzroy, would be brought before the House, and that in a form which would enable the House to pronounce a judgment for themselves. He should, therefore, wait till that period had arrived, and not enter now into the subject. He would not, therefore, have risen if it were not that the right hon. Gentleman had complained, without any adequate cause, of some expressions which had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend who had lately spoken in this debate. He had complained that the expression used in reference to Captain Fitzroy was that a keeper and a successor ought to have been sent out for him. The right hon. Gentleman was rather hard on his hon. and learned Friend. His hon. and learned Friend had used strong language certainly, but not stronger than the occasion deserved. The speech of his hon. and learned Friend was not less distinguished by moderation and temper than by ability; and in the whole course of it he had not said one word, as far as he (Lord Howick) had heard, imputing any blame to the motives of Captain Fitzroy. What he had condemned was, the judgment of that officer as shown by him in the exercise of the government of the Colony; and in his opinion, his hon. Friend could not have condemned that judgment too strongly—he could not have used expressions too strongly condemnatory of the utter want of judgment and discretion shown by Captain Fitzroy in the conduct of the affairs of New Zealand. To the expressions of his hon. and learned Friend, taken in that sense, he could see no real ground of objection. He entirely concurred in the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend relative to the conduct of Captain Fitzroy, as far as that conduct was known. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, had told them that they ought not to condemn Captain Fitzroy unheard, and that they had had those things from newspaper reports. He admitted that in many cases a newspaper report was not an adequate ground for proceeding; but he thought the case was somewhat altered when what they had in the newspaper was not the effect of rumour—hot even a statement by the editors of what, they believed to be the fact, but a report of the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of the Colony, containing Captain 683 Fitzroy's own speeches, and referring to Captain Fitzroy's own proclamation and legislative measures. When they had such grounds for forming a judgment, he did not think any serious error could be fallen into on the matter. Further, he would say, with a government so distant, with the lives and fortunes of so many of our fellow-subjects at stake, he did think, in a case of that kind, the mere fact of not having taken care that the Government should be adequately informed of what was going on, constituted a very serious fault on the part of Colonel Fitzroy. Why could he not have taken care that the despatches, or duplicates of them, should have come home with the same vessel that brought the newspapers? He could see no possible justification for Captain Fitzroy having neglected to send them home. What his hon. and learned Friend suggested to the House was, that they ought to pronounce a positive condemnation of Captain Fitzroy's conduct so far as was necessary for the protection of the colonists. It was not the character and feelings of that officer that were alone to be considered. It was to be considered that the welfare and lives of 14,000 or 15,000 of our fellow-subjects were now in the utmost peril from the utter disorganization of the government there. Looking to the nature of the accounts which for three or four months had been brought home from the Colony, he had learned with great astonishment that evening that the Government had not already some time ago sent out some gentlemen on whose judgment they could rely to relieve Captain Fitzroy from his duties as Governor. He did not hesitate to say that his opinion was, that that course ought to have been taken. But he had already gone farther than he had intended. He had wished carefully to have abstained from entering into the question of the policy pursued towards the Colony of New Zealand. That was a question of the utmost importance, and he hoped that it would not be long after the Easter recess when it would be brought before the House.
§ Mr. Mangles
said, it would be great presumption in him to attempt to answer any statement or speech made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite; but he had a strong reliance on the justice of the case and on the justice of the House, and with their kind indulgence, therefore, he would address them on the subject now under 684 discussion. They had heard from various quarters, and no doubt arising from the most amiable motives, three defences of the conduct of Captain Fitzroy; and they had heard also his conduct defended by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel). ["No, no."] Well, he could understand and respect the motives which actuated the relatives of that officer in their defence of him. He had had the honour of a slight acquaintance with Captain Fitzroy, and a more amiable and excellent person he had never met with; and he believed that for the purpose of undertaking the government of the Colony he had given up lucrative situations in this country. He admitted with the hon. Member for Hull (Sir W. James) that it was unjust to attack a man who was at a great distance; and he should not, therefore, do so. But the right hon. Baronet had dwelt in rather a triumphant tone on the letter of the New Zealand Company approving of the appointment of Captain Fitzroy. The fact was that New Zealand had been so infamously governed, that any change was hailed as certain to be for the better; and moreover, when that letter was written, the Company were in a state of gross deception as to the conduct of the Colonial Office, believing, as they did at the time, that Captain Fitzroy was going to New Zealand to carry out the agreement they had entered into with Lord Stanley as a substitute for the more favourable agreement they had made with the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), which they had accepted under the iron foot of the Colonial Office, because they could not help themselves—because they knew that 10,000 gallant men who had gone out to New Zealand under their auspices were not able to get one single acre of land from the Crown. Having accepted the agreement of Lord Stanley, they did not know that Captain Fitzroy had at the time a letter of instructions in his pocket explaining away that agreement. That letter had not been seen by the Company till many months after Captain Fitzroy had left this country. A deputation of the Directors of the Company had had a personal interview with Captain Fitzroy, in utter ignorance that such a letter was in existence. Had they known of its existence they would have thrown up the whole concern—have sacrificed all the money they had spent, and have said, "Do your worst; we'll trust the Colonial Office no more." He wished particularly 685 to draw the attention of the House to the nature of contracts entered into between the Crown and an individual or public company. According to the laws of this country neither an individual or company, in the case of such a contract, could sue the Crown to compel the fulfilment of the engagement so entered into. In India Lord Cornwallis, in the year 1793, had placed the Government and the subject upon a perfect equality in the courts of justice. Unfortunately that was not the case in this country. If it were so, the New Zealand Company would have long since appealed to the laws of their country to receive redress for the monstrous injuries they had received from the Colonial Office. But that not being the case, they appealed to the only tribunal open to them—to a Select Committee of the House of Commons. He could appeal to hon. Gentlemen if that Committee had not been most fairly selected; and that Committee had given a verdict on every point in favour of the New Zealand Company. That verdict had been contumeliously set aside by Lord Stanley, in a letter to the Governor, in which the noble Lord had spoken of the Report of the Committee in the most slighting terms. Their only resource, then, was to appeal to the justice of that House; and he begged the House to remember that the question was not a political or party one; but simply an appeal from men who had been greatly wronged, not merely on their own behalf, but on behalf of thousands of their fellow-countrymen whom they had unfortunately sent out to New Zealand. It could not be said that it was the conduct of the Company that had brought the Colony into that perilous state of bankruptcy in which it now was. Out of 12,442l. raised by means of taxation in the settlement of the Company, 7,921l. only had been spent on the spot where the amount had been raised; the rest was taken to Auckland to be expended in the northern part of the island—the great blunder originally being that the seat of government was formed in a place different from that which was the seat of population. The New Zealanders were like a nation of children; they were cockered-up to disobedience by the policy of Captain Fitzroy; the result of which policy was, that our countrymen and countrywomen were insulted and outraged—the national flag cut down, and the Custom-house removed. Where Captain Fitzroy's policy had had uninterrupted fair play, he himself 686 in a public speech admitted that settlers could not go to the bush in safety. He could not, therefore, doubt that when the whole case was laid before the House and the country, due justice would be awarded to all parties.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
said, that some expressions which had been used by his hon. Friend were not such as should have been introduced into that discussion. His hon. Friend had talked of the New Zealanders as a nation of children, and talked of them as having been roused to disobedience by the conduct of his hon. and gallant Friend Captain Fitzroy. He would take the liberty of saying, in the absence of the gallant Captain, that he felt it an honour to call himself his friend. So much, in the progress of that discussion, had been said against him—and not only against him, but also against the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government—in reference to the subject, that he could not help taking a stand in the matter, and saying that there appeared to him to be a fundamental error—a fundamental sin, he might almost call it—on the part of those who advocated the cause of the New Zealand Company; for he had heard in that House—and the hon. Member who had permitted himself to use the expression was then opposite him—that all the sympathies of their humanity were in favour of the savage and the slave, instead of in favour of the civilized man. He himself was not ashamed to say, that in the contest between the poor and the weak, on the one hand, and the rich and the powerful, on the other, his sympathies would always be with the poor and the weak. Could any one say that the inhabitants of New Zealand were a race for whom his sympathies should not be enlisted? He would not admit that the people of New Zealand were to be regarded as children. All the evidence which we had regarding them would justify us in placing them on a level with the English as they existed about eight centuries ago. They can trace their descent and the possession of their lands for twenty and twenty-five generations, that was to say for a period which extended back to about the time of the Norman Conquest. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard, with whom he had the pleasure of agreeing last night, although he could not have that pleasure on the present occasion, alleged, by the intimation given by him by a shake of his head, that that historical conclusion was unsupported by facts. All he could 687 say was, that the statement was made by one who had had the longest experience in the case of New Zealand—he referred to the friend and protector of the native—Mr. George Clarke, who stated that the circumstances connected with the transmission of their lands, the identification of their property, and with their succession in inheritance in these islands, were not to be paralleled except in that state of comparative civilization which obtained about eight centuries ago in England. The New Zealanders were, therefore, entitled to respect, inasmuch as they possessed those requisites of civilization which were considered essential to the proper adjustment of property. But more, they could not talk of them as children, as they had already recognised their national character. From the moment that we thus recognised them, all our proceedings in reference to them should have proceeded on the footing of equal rights, not of equal power, for that was not possible. But, on the contrary, the case as it actually stood was the case of a mercantile company on the one hand, and that of a free nation on the other. He did not deny that among the individuals composing that Company were men of character as high and principles as just as any who are to be found in any part of the Empire; but their binding principle, it could not be denied, was a principle of pecuniary interest. Would any man say that they entered that Company on any other principle? Were not New Zealand lands as much marketable as any scrip in any railway company, or as the subject-matter of any pecuniary transaction whatever? Was it contended by any of them that high principles alone had brought them into connexion with this Company? Was it through pure zeal for the natives of New Zealand that they became thus connected? It was, in point of fact, a commercial speculation. When he saw these gentlemen, in a question of this kind, ranged on one side, and such a man as Captain Fitzroy on the other—firm, benevolent, and just, with no conceivable private interest or object, he had no hesitation whatever in giving his support to him, who unquestionably had no personal motives for taking a pan against the Company; in other words, he could have no hesitation in giving his support to Her Majesty's Government on this question. In respect to the recommendation of the New Zealand Committee and to their Report, there was not one Resolution which emanated from that body of any par- 688 ticular importance, which was carried by more than a majority of one. The real value of reports of Committees would never be ascertained until they bore the names of the individuals who concurred in them. Let that Report bear the names of the seven gentlemen who concurred in it, and it would appear with much less force and effect than when it appeared as the report of an undivided Committee. He was apprised that there was to be no division on the Motion before the House; but had there been a division, he certainly should have given his support to that side of the House which supports the cause of his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ On the Motion being put,
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice. He would not trouble the House with any observations whatever, but for the observations which fell from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Guildford. It was not his intention to go into the question at large. It was but fair to state what the question was. What was the case as to which it was stated that the Company were under a deception? The fact was, that what was alleged by the Company to be an agreement, was wholly denied by the Colonial Office to have any such character attached to it. The Company, it should be recollected, had bought lands from the natives in the island of New Zealand, and had sent upwards of 2,000 settlers into it before they ever applied to the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) then at the head of the Colonial Department on the subject in the year 1840. The question now was, whether that noble Lord had undertaken to find the Company land, or to make them compensation only, or then to confirm their previous purchases. The hon. Gentleman read an extract from a communication sent by the Company to the Colonial Office, dated Dec. 21, 1842, as follows:—The Company asks Her Majesty's Government to interpose in the manner promised in Mr. Vernon Smith's letter of 28th May, 1841, and whatever may be the present state of the Commissioner's proceedings, or his ultimate decision, to do that which, without impugning his authority, or contravening any existing ordinance, would at once take the Company's claims out of his jurisdiction; and that is, forthwith to instruct the Governor of New Zealand to make to the Company a legal grant of the amount of land awarded by Mr. Pennington, in whatever spot within the district claimed by the Company in 1840, we 689 may choose to exercise an absolute and unrestricted right of selection. If other parties can substantiate rights to such spots, it would be the business of Her Majesty's Government to compensate those who maybe aggrieved by the complete fulfilment of the agreement with us, or to compensate the Company, if it be not able, or do not think fit, so to fulfil it.It appeared that the demand now made of Lord Stanley was, that he should make to them an absolute grant of land, that he should find them lands, or make compensation to the Company if he could not do so. What had been done by the noble Lord was to offer to give them whatever the owner had to give—but no more—and that had been complained of as a breach of the agreement, as it was called. The Company felt the difficulty arising from the conditions under which the possession of the sovereignty had been obtained, and proposed to the noble Lord to disregard the Treaty. By a letter dated 24th January, 1843, they state:—We did not believe that even the Royal power of making Treaties could establish, in the eye of our Courts, such a fiction as a native law of real property in New Zealand. We always have had very serious doubts whether the Treaty of Waitangi, made with naked savages by a consul invested with no plenipotentiary powers, without ratification by the Crown, could be treated by lawyers as anything but a praiseworthy device for amusing and pacifying savages for the moment. But we thought it most probable that, whenever possession of New Zealand should be actually obtained by Her Majesty, the view hastily adopted by Lord Normanby would be found impracticable, and abandoned.The letter in which they made their demand upon the noble Lord was dated the 21st of December, and the letter in which they thus explained their views of the Treaty was dated in January, so that but little time elapsed between their making the demand and their intimation that the Treaty should be set aside. The noble Lord, in reply to the representations made to him, stated, that he took a different view of the obligation imposed on the Crown by the Treaty. He stated, that his final answer to the demands of the Company should be, that as long as he had the honour of serving the Crown he would not submit to becoming a party to the setting aside the Treaty. The noble Lord could not admit that the noble Lord who preceded him (as was seen from an extract which the hon. Gentleman here read from the correspondence above referred to) had come under any obligation to provide the Company in land; and he 690 could not, therefore, suppose that the noble Lord who preceded him had undertaken to guarantee them the finding of lands which they did not already possess, or to give them a pecuniary compensation. He had however offered to instruct the Governor of the Colony to make them a conditional grant. The noble Lord said he would thus deal with all the Crown had to give, but that he could give them no more. That proposal the Company rejected. The noble Lord had come under no agreement. What was proposed to be done was for no consideration. The Company had at last accepted the offer which was made at first, and instructions were given how it should be executed. It was alleged that there had been a breach of faith. Captain Fitzroy had asked for explanations on several points. He had asked for explanation as to what was to be done with regard to the grant to the Company. This was the case of an agent of the Government applying to the Government, from which he was to receive instructions, to know how these orders were to be executed. The instructions were given in the very words in which Mr. Somes himself requested they should be given. The Company demanded particular spots of land. It was urged by them that the noble Lord the Member for London, when presiding in the Colonial Department, had undertaken to give them particular spots, and now that the Government was not able to do so, the Government was bound to make the Company compensation. The hon. Gentlemen then contended that the Colonial Department had come under no agreement in a technical sense with the Company. Whatever directions were given in the matter were by the favour of the Crown, and not under any agreement.
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, that he was not anxious to get into any discussion on what he really must call such a wretched verbal distinction as had been brought forward on that occasion. The hon. Gentleman who had just taken his seat, said that there had been no agreement between the two parties. Now, he did not care very much what he chose to call it, but this was what he wanted to ascertain. On the 8th of May, 1843, Mr. Somes wrote to Lord Stanley, and made certain proposals. In May, 1843, the Company, after much discussion with Lord Stanley, sent a formal proposal of the terms on which they would make their contract. In the letter convey- 691 ing that proposal, he found the following paragraph:—For the purpose of effectually settling the question of the Company's title, and of quieting the minds of their purchasers, they suggest that your Lordship should forthwith direct his Excellency to make to the Company a conditional grant of the lands selected by their agents; the Company obtaining within the district so selected the whole title which the Crown may have the power to grant; and having the option, in the event of prior claims being set up, of either excluding from the selected lands such portions as may appear to be subject to such prior claims, and in that case receiving a corresponding number of acres in lieu; or of including such portions, subject to the prior title, but obtaining from the Crown, in respect of them, the exclusive right of preemption enjoyed by the Crown, the Governor and Council being instructed, as soon as practicable, to establish some general rule for defining native titles, and settling the claims to land, and to do their best to aid the agents of the Company in effecting the necessary arrangements with the natives, either for the purchase of lands belonging to them, but unimproved, or for making on the part of the Company equitable compensation for the original value of land which may have been occupied by themselves or their settlers, without sufficient title, but on which they may have effected improvements.On the 12th of May, 1843, Mr. Hope wrote back in these words:—Lord Stanley directs me to state his assent to these proposals, and to intimate further, that he will be prepared to issue to the Governor of New Zealand instructions to the effect proposed in your letter for effectually settling the question of the Company's title to land in that Colony.Whether the hon. Gentleman called that an agreement or not, was for himself to decide; but he (Mr. C. Buller) must say, that the assertion that it was no agreement belonged to a peculiar style of reasoning—what one might call the Colonial Office style; and if any Gentleman could refuse for a moment to call what he had just read an agreement, he must quarrel with the English language in its ordinary terms. He did not want to dwell at the present moment upon the charge which the hon. Gentleman had so indignantly repudiated. The hon. Gentleman said that the instructions which Lord Stanley had issued on the 26th of June, 1843, were in perfect accordance with the agreement. [Mr. G. W. Hope: With the promise—] Promise! He must take the hon. Gentleman's own words, and when he said that Lord Stanley 692 directed him to state his assent to the Company's proposals, and to intimate further, that he would be prepared to issue instructions for the purpose of settling the Company's title to land in the Colony, he did not know what signification such terms might have at the Colonial Office, but he regarded them as the distinct terms of an agreement, and he had a right to come forward and ask the Government how that agreement, or promise, if the hon. Gentleman liked that better, had been kept? The first complaint was this, and he merely put it, as to the indelicacy of the proceedings on the part of the Government. An engagement was made between two parties. The New Zealand Company left that engagement to be executed by the officer of the Government. They were told that a letter had been sent out with instructions to the Governor of New Zealand; but they were not told that any other instructions had been sent out, or rather it was six months afterwards that they learned that other instructions had been sent out. He would not at present enter into the discussion of the question with regard to the consistency of these instructions with the promise of the Colonial Secretary. They were instructions not dictated by the spirit which was supposed to preside at the making of the agreement. Two parties had been engaged in making the agreement; and the instructions, which were a departure from it, were dictated by one party, without consulting the other. Such a course was a violation of every honourable principle. Between men of honour and proper feeling, in private life, such a thing would never have been done. Suppose, for a moment, he himself made an agreement with the hon. Secretary. [Mr. G. W. Hope: It was no agreement.] No agreement! Suppose, then, he made a promise with the hon. Secretary, and suppose a part of the promise was, that his servant should carry it into execution, and suppose the servant to come and say that he did not know exactly what the promise meant, would the hon. Secretary, in that case, if he (Mr. C. Buller) had entrusted his interest to him and his servant, give that servant instructions deviating from the promise, without consulting him? All faith between gentlemen would cease if such a course of proceeding were once permitted to nullify the contracts of private life. He would not enter into the discussion of the question as to whether the instructions referred to were inconsistent or not. The 693 Government had not observed the common delicacy which private parties generally observed in such cases. He did not care a rush for what they called the understanding between the parties, so long as they managed to get at the substance of the case. He had a much more serious accusation to prefer. They had formerly gone on disputing the title of the Company to land. The Government had called upon the Company to prove the validity of their purchases, and the dispute between them was, that it was not competent for the Government to call, in the first place, upon the Company to prove the validity of their title. The inquiry was to be subsequent, and not preliminary, to the giving of the titles. They would see the difference between the two cases—between making out the validity of their purchases in the Commissioners' Court before they got their title confirmed, and a conditional title on which they got the land into their possession at the moment. What he complained of was this, that Captain Fitzroy had not recognised this conditional title immediately on his arrival in New Zealand. The House was in possession of nine months' proceedings of his in the Colony, and they found that not one step had been taken by that functionary to carry out the terms of the promise. What he now wanted was, to know what instructions had been given to the Governor of New Zealand in pursuance of Mr. Hope's letter of the 12th of May?
§ Mr. C. Buller
The letter of the 12th of May contained a promise, and what he wanted to know was, what instructions had been given to fulfil the promise so contained in the letter of the 12th of May? What had been done to fulfil the promise therein made to the Company?
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
The hon. Gentleman asked what had been done? The course was, that the Company's agents were to select the portions of ground of which they were to obtain a grant. It was not for the Governor to make a conditional grant, without application to him for that purpose. After a great deal of discussion, the compensation proposed had been accepted.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that although he seconded the Motion, he would not oppose the Amendment, especially as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartmouth, who moved the Resolution, had assented to it. He should have another opportu- 694 nity of calling the attention of the House to the letter of Lord Stanley.
The Motion, as amended by Mr. Hope, was as follows:—
Address for 'Copies of all Correspondence between the Colonial Office and the Governor of New Zealand respecting the issue of Debentures, and the rendering them a legal lender:
Of all Correspondence between the same respecting the Taxes proposed in the Legislative Council of that Colony:
Of all Correspondence between the same respecting recent outrages by the natives in the Bay of Islands, and the abolition of the Custom-house of that district:
Of all Correspondence respecting the measures taken by the Governor of New Zealand, in pursuance of Mr. Hope's Letter of 12th May 1843, respecting the grant of a conditional title to the lands of the New Zealand Company:
Of all Correspondence respecting the disallowance by the Governor of New Zealand of any awards made by the Commissioner of Land Claims respecting the Company's lands:
Of all Correspondence relating to a Proclamation of the 26th of March 1844, issued by the Governor of New Zealand allowing the sale of lands by the natives.