§ Mr. G. W. Hope
said, that it would be in the recollection of the House that certain charges had been made against his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office. The charge related to the alleged conduct of his noble Friend to the New Zealand Company, and the charge was, that he had been guilty of a gross want of faith, and of deception. The Government had not had as yet any opportunity of vindicating the noble Lord; for on a previous occasion, when it was brought under their notice, it was done in such a manner, that, though the Government were indirectly accused, they could not enter into their defence. He perceived that the hon. Member for Liskeard had given notice of a Motion for Tuesday, which had reference to the affairs of that Colony; but that notice, as was the case with the last which had been brought before the House on the subject of New Zealand, would give no opportunity for the vindication of the conduct and character of the noble Lord. He submitted to the House that such a course was not fair. The noble Lord had been distinctly charged in that House with conduct not becoming a Public Officer or a gentleman; and he (Mr. Hope) found that a petition was in course of circulation, and solicitations were being trade to persons of high standing in the City to sign it, imputing to the noble Lord misconduct as regarded the New Zealand Company. He thought the House would agree with him that it was not fair that a charge should have been made, and not have been brought forward and substantiated. And as he (Mr. Hope) perceived it was not the intention of the New Zealand Company formally to substantiate that charge against the noble Lord before the Easter recess, he thought the House would further agree with him that it was due to the noble Lord's character, and to that fair play which every Englishman was entitled to, that such charge should be brought forward and gone into. He should, therefore, on Tuesday next, give a formal notice for the production of Papers for the purpose of raising the question, and enabling the New Zealand Company to substantiate 892 the charge which had been made, if it was in their power to do so. He should also state, with reference to the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard, that he would adopt the course which the hon. Member complained he had not adopted the other night, and present the Papers to which his (Mr. Hope's) Motion referred, so that the hon. Member might at once have them in his hands.
§ Mr. Aglionby
was prepared to repeat and substantiate the charge which had been made against the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies either then, on Tuesday night, or at any other time; and he was therefore quite in the hands of the hon. Member the Under Secretary for the Colonies. He was willing, if the hon. Member wished, now to repeat the charge, and give his opinion of the conduct of the noble Lord, in order that the hon. Gentleman might be perfectly aware of what he had to meet on Tuesday.
§ Viscount Howick
thought if the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies meant to raise the whole question, the Papers ought to be produced before he grounded any Motion upon them; as also the Papers which had been moved for the other night; and the hon. Gentleman had better not, therefore, fix so early a day as Tuesday for bringing the subject before that House.
§ Mr. Mangles
said, that having been the party who had, he believed, in the first instance, and in the strongest terms, given his opinion as to the conduct of the noble Lord, he might be allowed to say, in answer to what had fallen in the shape of accusation and taunt from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, that he should be quite ready to substantiate any charge which he had brought against the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. But at the same time, he must say, that he should not allow the hon. Gentleman to dictate to him at what time he might choose to do so.
§ Lord John Russell
said, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had made a statement which he did not clearly understand. What was it that the hon. Gentleman proposed to do? to lay certain Papers on the Table and take no further step? was that the course which he meant to adopt?
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
said he wished to take the same course which had been taken 893 the other night—to move for Papers for the purpose of raising the question, in order to put before the House and the public the personal character of the noble Lord, in whose department he (Mr. Hope) served, and afford an opportunity of substantiating the charges which had been made, independently of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, which was for the production of other Papers. As he had before said, he would do what the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard complained he had not done the other night, he would have the Papers presented, so that they might be in his hands, and he, begged to state to the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland that the Papers moved for the other night should be in the hands of hon. Members by Monday morning.
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
said, the charge which he understood to have been made was this—that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had entered into what was stated to be an agreement with the New Zealand Company, and having done so, he undertook to give certain instructions to the Governor of New Zealand—that he gave one set of instructions as those which he had proposed to the New Zealand Company, and another set of instructions to the Governor, inconsistent with those which had been proposed to the Company; and thereby the Governor and Agent in the Colony was not in a position, or rather his instructions were not such, as to enable him to carry out the arrangements which the noble Lord had made with the Company.
§ Sir R. Inglis
stated, that if the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. C. Buller) were present he would consent to postpone his Motion, fixed for Tuesday next, until such time as the House was put in possession of the documents. It was most desirable that hon. Members should have an opportunity of inspecting the documents that were intended to be laid upon the Table before going into any fresh discussion on the question.
§ Mr. Mangles
["Order"]. He did not see how he could be out of order in prolonging 894 the discussion, considering that the hon. Member the Under Secretary for the Colonies had been allowed to speak a second time on the subject. He rose merely for the purpose of observing that if the hon. Gentleman thought there was any disposition on the part of the New Zealand Company to shrink from any charge made against the Colonial Government in general, and Lord Stanley in particular, he was exceedingly mistaken. With respect to what had been said about the procuring of signatures to petitions in the City, he could tell the hon. Gentleman that leading mercantile parties in the City were not to be influenced to sign a petition against the Colonial Department of the Government, without being thoroughly convinced of the truth of the matter to which they pledged themselves. It' the hon. Gentleman supposed that the Colonial Office stood well with the country, he was not a little mistaken; for he could tell the hon. Gentleman that it was reprobated by the whole country—it was considered to be the plague and nuisance of the Empire, and he believed that the hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord at the head of that Department were the only two individuals in the land who regarded it any other light.
§ Sir R. Inglis
said, he would wish to test the propositions of the hon. Member who had just sat down by a vote of that House; and if the hon. Gentleman, instead of bringing forward a Motion for the production of Papers on which there would be no division, would move a substantive Resolution respecting the conduct of the noble Lord, or for the production of some Papers to which the New Zealand Company were not entitled, they would then have an opportunity of ascertaining how far the hon. Gentleman's proposition was correct. He thought they should have some proposition submitted to them on this subject, on which no discussion had as yet taken place; and an opportunity for discussion would not be afforded to them, either by the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard, or that of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of the Colonies. If they had such a Motion brought before them, they could then have an opportunity of testing the truth of the allegation of the hon. Member who had last addressed them, as to whether the conduct of the Colonial Government was reprobated by every individual in the 895 country except the noble Lord and his representative in that House.
§ Viscount Howick
was very much inclined to concur in the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, as after all that had passed it was absolutely necessary that the policy pursued by the Colonial Office, and by the Government of New Zealand, should be brought under discussion in some manner by which the sense of the House could be taken respecting it. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of the Colonies would, of course, use his own discretion on the matter, and if he fixed on Tuesday next for that discussion, he would, for one, not make the slightest objection; but he would repeat that the matter ought to be brought forward in some shape or other, and that hon. Members ought, in the first place, to be afforded time for reading the Papers about to be presented to the House on the subject. They ought to have an opportunity, before coming to any decision upon it, of considering the whole of the policy of the Colonial Office with regard to New Zealand, and be thus enabled to arrive at some decisive result. After the recent discussion, and the proceedings of last year on the question, he considered the House bound to come to some decision, and not to leave the subject in its present most unsatisfactory state.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, after the discussion which had taken place on Tuesday last, it was natural that there should be, on the part of his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, and of his Colleagues, an earnest desire that the sense of the House should be taken in some form or other on the policy pursued by the Colonial Office with regard to the New Zealand Company; and if any doubts were entertained by the hon. Gentleman on the subject before that evening, he thought they mast be effectually removed by the expressions which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mangles). He believed that hon. Gentleman was a Member of the New Zealand Company, and upon the authority of the knowledge which he thus acquired he had declared it as his opinion that the Colonial Office, over which his noble Friend presided, was viewed by the commercial interests of the country as being at best but a nuisance. He thought the hon. Gentleman, after making such a 896 declaration, was under an obligation to bring forward some proposition of the kind, speaking, as he did, on the part of the Company, and as a Member of the House. He was well aware that no hon. Gentleman could be compelled to bring forward any Motion with regard to the general policy of any branch of the Executive Government. That was a matter which was left entirely to their own discretion. The House had been left in doubt, on the former evening, as to the existence of any intention on the part of hon. Gentlemen connected with the Company to bring forward any distinct charge against the policy of the Colonial Office. He thought the hon. Gentleman who had seconded the Motion on that occasion (Mr. Aglionby) had told him that such a Motion might be made, but he gave no distinct pledge upon the subject. Whenever that question did come forward—if it were to be brought before them at all—then he concurred with his hon. Friend (Sir R. Inglis), it would be a proper time to call upon the House to express their opinion distinctly regarding it. But, quite apart from the question of the general policy of the Colonial Office, there was also another matter to be considered. A distinct charge had been brought against his noble Friend, implying want of good faith on his part in his dealings with the New Zealand Company. That charge had been brought forward towards the close of the recent debate, and, he believed, after both he and his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies had addressed this House. His noble Friend was most anxious that the House should not separate for the recess without giving him a distinct opportunity of explaining his conduct, and, by reference to documents, showing, as distinctly as it was possible to be shown, that there was no ground for that accusation against him. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, as the representative in that House of his noble Friend, was most anxious to enter as soon as possible, not into the discussion of the general policy of the Colonial Office, but into the charge against his noble Friend of want of good faith; and both he and his noble Friend were unwilling that the House should separate without hearing the explanation which he had to offer.
§ Mr. Aglionby
expressed his gratification at what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet 897 ronet the First Lord of the Treasury. The right hon. Baronet had treated the subject, as was to be expected from him, in a fair spirit; for when any hon. Gentleman had a charge made against him, either in his private character, or in his public or official capacity, it was but just that the earliest opportunity should be afforded to him of explaining those charges away. But he thought he had some right to complain of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies for bringing forward such a question on that evening, without giving any intimation to him or to any of the hon. Gentlemen connected with the New Zealand Company of his intention of doing so. [Mr. G. W. Hope: I have given such an intimation]. [Mr. Mangles: The hon. Member mentioned the matter to me five minutes ago, behind the Speaker's chair]. An intimation given only five minutes before the hon. Member brought the matter forward was scarcely sufficient notice to him or his hon. Friends. Was that intimation consistent with Parliamentary usage, or with the general courtesy which hon. Gentlemen were in the habit of extending towards each other on such occasions? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies intimated that he would immediately bring forward the whole question of the New Zealand Company against the Colonial Office; but the right hon. Baronet had taken a much narrower ground, and had expressed his intention of merely seeking an inquiry into the charges affecting the character of the noble Lord. The right hon. Baronet had distinctly recollected the expressions which he (Mr. Aglionby) had used on a former evening. He had not, at the time, expected that the debate would have taken the somewhat angry form of discussion which it afterwards assumed, and he accordingly spoke merely of the probability of the question being brought before the House as a dernier ressort, in case the Company failed to get justice done to them by the Government. For many weeks past a petition had been in preparation by the Company; but in consequence of hon. Members being obliged to attend daily to business in that House from twelve o'clock at noon to twelve o'clock at night, he and other hon. Gentleman connected with the Company had been unable to bear their proper share of the burden of preparing it. It was a matter requiring much consideration to frame the petition in a proper way, 898 so as to bring their case fully and clearly before the House, and accordingly it had been modelled and re-modelled, but at the same time with an anxious desire of having it ready to present to the House at as early a period as possible. He had made inquiries on the preceding day on the subject, and he was informed that the petition was not yet in a state for presentation, and doubts were even entertained whether it could be brought forward before Easter. But until that petition was presented, and the substance of the voluminous blue book on the Table of the House on the subject was arranged in a somewhat intelligible and condensed form, it was impossible that the Company could be dragged into a discussion. It was to be supposed that there would be a feeling abroad against the Company, and in favour of the Government, in such a case, which could only be met on the part of the Company, by strongly putting forward their grievances in a petition. Though he had used the word "might," in speaking of the question being brought before the House, he did not mean by it to imply the strong wish of the Company to bring forward their case if the justice of their demands were not longer opposed. He did believe that the intervention of the House might be dispensed with, and that the Government, and the right hon. Baronet opposite in particular, would yield them the justice which they required. With regard to the other part of the question, he might observe, that he was extremely glad that Tuesday had been fixed for bringing it on, and he had not the slightest objection to state at present what the charges were which he would then urge against the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. He would, if it were thought better, write to the noble Lord on the subject, and thus inform him of these charges in private; but he thought it only just to many hon. Members, who would wish to take a part in the debate, to bring them forward publicly. In the debate the other evening much difference of opinion was expressed with regard to the use of the words "agreement" and "instructions"—the hon. Member for Liskeard being opposed to the latter term, and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies having an equal objection to the former. There was also on that occasion a debate about the word "promises." But what were the facts? After many long 899 negotiations on the part of the New Zealand Company with the Colonial Office, the hostile letter that had been sent by the Company was agreed to be withdrawn. It was then agreed, after many discussions on the matter, and at the suggestion of Lord Stanley, that the New Zealand Company should make out a proposal setting forth the whole of their terms and demands: but instead of their sending it in officially, Lord Stanley required that the draft only of the document should, in the first place, be transmitted to him, when he would express his assent or dissent on each item. The document was thus examined; and the several heads of it decided upon, either by Lord Stanley or by others in his Office; and after the Iterations thus suggested were finally disposed of and agreed to by the Company, was not the document one, he would ask, to which he had a right to apply the term "agreement?" The next step taken was to give instructions to Captain Fitzroy, and the letter of the 12th of May, 1844, from Mr. Hope to that gallant officer was accordingly written. He had been often in company with Captain Fitzroy, both in the presence of Mr. Hope, at the Colonial Office, and on other occasions, and he never had the slightest intimation given to him that any letter had been written to Captain Fitzroy from the Colonial Office, except that letter of the 12th of May. During the entire of the negotiations between the Colonial Office and the Company, and while every paragraph in that letter had been discussed and commented upon, there had not been the slightest intimation given to the Company that any other letter was in existence. If he had known of other instructions having been given to Captain Fitzroy, which were kept secret from the Company, he for one would have thrown up the entire negotiation at once.
§ Sir Robert Peel
observed, that the hon. Gentleman ought, perhaps, merely to state his facts for the present, without reasoning upon them at the same time.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, he would act upon the suggestion thrown out by the right hon. Baronet, and confine himself strictly to a statement of the facts. He was about to observe, that during all his interviews with Captain Fitzroy, that gallant Officer had another letter in his pocket from the Colonial Office, besides the letter of the 12th of May, though he and the Company 900 never heard a word about it. Lord Stanley received a letter from Captain Fitzroy, after the issue of the letter of May, stating the doubts that had been raised, and that had occurred to himself, about the instructions which he received in May; and to that letter a second letter, containing further instructions, had been sent from the Colonial Office. His complaint of Lord Stanley was, that this second letter should have been kept a secret from the Company. In the month of December — six months after Captain Fitzroy had sailed for New Zealand—the Company, on application to the Colonial Office, received copies of Captain Fitzroy's letter and of Lord Stanley's answer. His attention was not called to these letters until the subsequent June, or twelve months after Captain Fitzroy had sailed, and then it was remarked that Lord Stanley's letter had been marked confidential. But, said the Under Secretary for the Colonies, there was nothing in Lord Stanley's second letter that was inconsistent with his first letter. He would enter into that part of the case on Tuesday; but for the present he would only observe, that even if there were no inconsistency between the two letters, that was no reason whatever why the second letter should have been kept a secret from the Company.
§ Mr. Hutt
reminded the Under Secretary for the Colonies, that the noble Lord the Member for Bath (Lord Duncan) had given notice of an important Motion on the subject of the window-tax for Tuesday evening, and there were also some other Notices fixed for the same evening. Was it intended to bring on the debate about New Zealand on that evening or not?
§ Mr. Hume
said, it appeared to him that they ought to separate distinctly the personal charge against Lord Stanley from the general charge against the Colonial Department. As it was clearly most desirable that the first of these matters should be disposed of with as little delay as possible, he would beg to suggest to the right hon. Baronet the propriety of taking one of the Government days fr bringing it forward, and of having it fixed for Monday next.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, he trusted the Government would not be pressed to adopt such a course, at a time when there was so great a necessity for bringing on the 901 Sugar Duties and the alterations in the Tariff with as little delay as possible.
§ Lord John Russell
said, he entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that whenever these subjects were brought before the House, an effort should be made to keep the charge against the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, and the question of the policy of the Colonial Government, entirely distinct. He for one should wish that the charge made against the noble Lord of breach of faith should be at once entered into, and that every explanation which could be given upon it should be heard; and the result he had no doubt would be—as had been anticipated by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford—a large majority in favour of the noble Lord. Of that he could have no doubt: but there was another question remaining of a most important kind, which the House should not overlook—a question which was not merely confined to the character, or to the folly, or to the immediate interest of the Administration. It was the question of the government of that important Colony. For his part, he believed if the islands of New Zealand were properly colonized and cultivated, and rightly governed, they were destined to have great weight in the future condition of that part of the world. He believed that the 18,000 or 20,000 Englishmen who inhabited that Colony were destined to exercise a powerful influence in the future government of the greater part of that hemisphere. He thought, therefore, that they ought as much as possible to separate the consideration of that great question from all mere personal matters. For his part, he could not at present form an opinion as to whether the New Zealand Company were right in making any charge against the noble Lord, or whether the noble Lord were right in the course which he had taken in opposing their views; but of this he felt quite convinced, that the tone adopted by the noble Lord in writing to the Company, and the tone used by the Company in their replies, were of far too angry a character to be taken in negotiations between the Government of the country and a public Company. If the differences between the noble Lord and the New Zealand Company were to be 902 discussed in that House in the same spirit in which the letters between them had been written, then he would say that it was most important to keep the debate on that matter quite distinct from the general Motion on the condition and government of the Colony. The first subject could be made a separate discussion, and at some other day and time the House could consider in a calmer mood the instructions which had been given by the noble Lord for the guidance of Captain Fitzroy as Governor of New Zealand and secondly, whether the conduct of that Governor had tended to promote harmony, and had conduced to the welfare of the Colony. Without offering any opinion as to the propriety of bringing forward the subject before the House, he hoped he would be permitted to put in a word on the part of the public, and to express a hope in their name that the House would take immediate steps for rescuing that important Colony from the distress and misfortune in which it was at present plunged. If, in any discussion on that latter subject, it should appear that he was himself liable to blame for acts done under a former Administration, he was quite willing to bear his part of the reprobation of the House, provided they adopted measures for ensuring a better system in future.
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
wished to explain that he did not observe the Notice of the hon. Member for Liskeard on the Book until late in the day, and he had afterwards no opportunity of stating his intentions to any of the hon. Gentlemen who had taken a part in the recent debate until coming down to the House, when he mentioned the matter to the hon. Member for Guildford. Having perceived that the Motions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Sheil), and of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward), which had been fixed for Tuesday, were postponed until after Easter, he had come to the conclusion, that he could more readily bring the subject forward on that evening than on any other day before the recess, and he trusted that he would be enabled to do so when the time arrived.
§ Subject at an end.