§ Mr. G. W. Hope
then said, that he believed it was fully understood in the course of the discussion the other night, that the general question respecting New Zealand and the affairs of the Company, should be left untouched until after the recess. He therefore, proposed to himself on the present occasion, to abstain entirely from entering upon it; and he hoped other Gentlemen would follow his example, and reserve the discussion of the question, to a future opportunity, of the state and condition of the Colony, and the measures which had been adopted in reference to it. He would make no apology for trespassing on the present occasion upon the attention of the House, as he thought it his duty to give the explanations which he now proposed to give relative to the personal charges as regarded the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department, and under whom he had the honour to act. And in giving these explanations he was most anxious to begin the discussion, because he believed that on the occasion on which he had recently addressed the House upon the subject of New Zealand, he had certainly addressed the House with some feeling and warmth; nor was it at all extraordinary that he had done so, understanding at that time, as he did, that a charge of a personal character was made against the honour and conduct of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies. On the present occasion, feeling convinced, as he did, that the explanations which he was about to give would satisfy the House, not even excepting the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby), of the impossibility of any deception having been practised by the noble Lord, he was led to the determination to avoid every irritating topic, and to confine himself strictly to his explanations, trusting, as the noble Lord the Member for London said, that they would be able to approach the discussion 1095 of the general question unembarrassed with personal questions, and with the disagreeable misunderstanding which was almost certain to attend them. He would now come to the charge made against the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), and he thought he stated it fairly when he stated it thus. It was urged that the noble Lord, having come to an arrangement with the New Zealand Company, in May, 1843, and having undertaken to give instructions to the Governor of New Zealand in accordance with that arrangement, had, in fact, given instructions inconsistent with the arrangement, and had produced one set of instructions to the Company, and had given another, an inconsistent, a different, and a secret set of instructions to the Governor of the Colony. That, he believed, was the charge preferred against the noble Lord; and he was certain of being able to show to the House that the statement was founded in error. He really believed that it was in error the statement had been made. He must now, he was afraid, assume on the part of the House, a knowledge of many of the facts of the case. Were he to undertake to explain all the circumstances connected with the subject, he would be led, perhaps, into that very discussion which, for the present, he deprecated, and was anxious to avoid. At all events, he would be led into a lengthened statement of very numerous and very complicated facts. He felt that, as in the explanation to which he intended to confine himself, he would be compelled to have such frequent reference to the correspondence, and as there was so much confusion in the transactions therein recorded, he would labour under considerable difficulty, without going at length, and in detail, into the subject; and therefore it was that he must assume some knowledge respecting the matter on the part of the House. There were two questions which arose between the parties in this case, and which originated with the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell), then at the head of the Colonial Department. The first was with reference to the titles to land on the part of the Government within a certain district, claimed to be purchased from the natives, being the districts on the two sides of Cook's Straits, between the two principal islands of the group; the second regarded the discretion placed in the then Governor to go without these districts, and in exchange for lands in 1096 them to form settlements in other parts of the island. The House would be pleased to keep these two points in recollection. The principal personal communication on this subject, originated with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. C. Buller), and the noble Lord at the head of that Department to which he (Mr. G. W. Hope) belonged. He would therefore come at once to that which they had in writing upon the subject; and in doing so, he would first apply himself to the letter which was referred to the other night, the letter of the 8th of May. He readily admitted that that letter had been written, after consultation with, and after having been in anxious consultation with the noble Lord (Lord Stanley.) The letter referred to certain proposals for the purchase of land by the Company, at the capital of the island. The letter in which those proposals were embodied, after making the proposal to which he had just referred, then proceeded to request the appointment of a Judge with independent jurisdiction for the Colony, and the appointment of a resident agent, and then proceeded with the paragraph, the very important one, which related to the means to be adopted for effectually settling the question of the Company's titles to the lands within the districts within which they had claimed to have purchased. He would now draw the attention of the House to what were the terms of the instructions proposed to be sent to the Governor of the Colony. In reference to these points:—For the purpose of effectually settling the question of the Company's title, and of quieting the minds of the 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 districts 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 land 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 1097 arrangements with the navties, 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.The House would perceive that the arrangement proposed was, that a conditional title should be granted in case it was asked for, and spots to be selected; giving over in these spots whatever rights the Crown had to give. As regarded the natives in all other parts, compensation was to be given, the Crown giving its assistance in making bargains with them and in giving compensation. In reference to this he had not the slightest difficulty in saying, that the noble Lord assented at once to these proposals. The proposals were precisely similar to what the noble Lord himself was willing to make long before the hon. Member for Liskeard on a former occasion had commented upon the distinction which he was supposed to draw between an agreement and a promise—a distinction whereby he was supposed to hold that a promise need not be kept, but that an agreement should. Whether the reply might be construed into a promise or agreement, if any distinction really existed between them, the reply of the noble Lord, or rather the reply sent by him (Mr. G. W. Hope), under the directions of the noble Lord, was, that he had assented "to these proposals; and 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." The remainder of the letter assented to the other two points suggested—the appointment of a judge with independent jurisdiction, and the appointment of a resident agent at Auckland for the purposes of carrying out the terms of the agreement. Both these appointments were afterwards made. The next correspondence which took place was the letter of the 19th of May: in consequence of the decease of Governor Hobson, the government was then in the hands of a temporary administrator. By the letter of the date just mentioned, he was directed to take steps, with reference to the purchase by the Company of land at Auck- 1098 land; but he was directed to take no steps with reference to the subsequent heads of the arrangement, it being stated to him that the remaining questions were to be reserved for the newly-appointed Governor. He had no instructions on any subject but the first. The noble Lord was to grant a conditional title to land selected by the Company's agents, and directions were to be given to the officers in the Colony to do what they could to facilitate compensation to the natives. The terms of the compensation were, that there was to be a credit established of 50,000l., and that that credit of 50,000l. should be paid for by the exchange of so many acres of land. The land was to be taken from the Company by the Government, at 1l. per acre. He would have a further opportunity of explaining this matter more fully. The arrangement, therefore, referred to the three points already adverted to, and only to them. On the 15th of June, 1843, that was some time after these letters had been written, a letter was sent to Lord Stanley, from Captain Fitzroy, containing five questions. Three of these referred to the arrangements to which he had already directed the attention of the House; the remaining two referred to a separate and independent arrangement. The letter stated that "doubts were expressed with regard to your Lordship's arrangement." He might as well say that the doubts there referred to were not doubts in reference to the arrangements lately made, but with reference, and mainly so, to the anticipated and incomplete arrangement. The questions put to the noble Lord by Captain Fitzroy were to solve his own doubts. With reference to these matters he said in the letter referred to—My views of the existing arrangements are chiefly, that out of a certain extent of land in New Zealand, said to have been purchased by the New Zealand Company, the Government will confirm their title to as many acres as they have expended crowns in purchase and emigration, &c., provided that they prove the validity of their purchases.Now the question involved in the paragraph he had just read, which was the first of the letters, referred exclusively to the arrangement made; and in stating his own view of the effect of the arrangement, Captain Fitzroy undoubtedly committed an error in adding the words "provided they proved the validity of their 1099 purchase." In answering Captain Fitzroy, he was referred to the correspondence which had already taken place on the subject; and whatever doubt there might be was to be construed in the sense most favourable to the Company after a careful and thorough reference to the correspondence. He would now trouble the House with a short extract from the reply of Lord Stanley to the letter of Captain Fitzroy. It was dated the 26th of June, 1843; and, after recapitulating the various points on which Captain Fitzroy had stated his views, and what he (Lord Stanley) supposed those views were, the despatch goes on to say:—On the first point I have to refer you to the correspondence with the New Zealand Company, enclosed in my despatch to the acting Governor of New Zealand of the 19th ult., No. 35. You will there perceive that Her Majesty's Government have conceded to the Company, as regards the district included in the original agreement, that with a view to facilitate the adjustment of their titles the local Government of New Zealand should be directed to make to the Company's agents a conditional grant of the lands selected by them on the terms definitely stated in that correspondence; the principle of that concession being to allow to the Company a primâ facie title to such lands, under the condition that the validity of their purchases shall not be successfully impugned by other parties. Subject to this qualification, I concur in the view taken by you on this point.But let the House observe to what that applied. It applied to Captain Fitzroy's incorrect construction of the correspondence—by which he conceived that the validity of the Company's title to the lands was to be proved as a preliminary matter. He was told that he was wrong in that respect; and he was instructed to refer to the correspondence as his guide, and his only guide. He need not dwell further on this part of the subject. The Governor stated his doubts, upon which he was told to take his instructions and the correspondence as his guide. On the single point on which he had stated anything inconsistent with his instructions, he was expressly corrected, and referred back to the correspondence, as he had already stated, as his sole and only guide. The second question was, whether the Government was not bound to assist the Company in making good their claim. On that no discussion could arise. That was a question included in the correspondence which 1100 had been referred to, and in which the Governor had been referred to the correspondence as his guide. The despatch further proceeded to say:—On the second point, I have certainly no difficulty in authorising you to assist the Company in making good their claims so far as may be consistent with a regard to the interests of other parties and of the community at large, on which point also I must refer you to the correspondence already referred to.The third and fifth points in the letter of Captain Fitzroy were connected together, and he would pass from them for the moment, and take the fourth, which was,That the Company are to have 50,000l. of Government land, at and about Auckland, in exchange for 50,000 acres of land, to which it is assumed, they can prove a valid title, elsewhere.It was said, as he had before referred to, that an exchange was to be made between the Company and the Government. On that point they found that Captain Fitzroy was again referred to the correspondence. On the three points, therefore, concerning the correspondence, the correspondence, and that alone, was referred to as his guide. He had said that the instructions given to the Governor were given in accordance with the correspondence, and the noble Lord thought it impossible to give such more completely than by simply referring the Governor to the correspondence. He would now come to the third and fifth points, and he would explain to the House in what way they arose. In doing so, he must refer to unwritten and verbal communications in the first instance, which he would afterwards confirm by written documents. Captain Fitzroy, and the agent of the Company, and the Land and Emigration Commissioners, had been and were, at the time of this correspondence, in communication with reference to permission to be given to found a Colony elsewhere. The hon. Member for Liskeard admitted that to be the case. That proposition was not reduced to any definite shape, or submitted to the noble Lord for his approval. Captain Fitzroy was about to sail for New Zealand. The question turned upon the original instructions issued by the noble Lord the Member for London, giving power to take land in exchange out of the districts claimed by the Company. On this question, Captain Fitzroy requested to be put in 1101 possession of the views of the noble Lord. They would see in a moment how the third and fifth points were joined together. The question in the third point was as to finding the Company land for another settlement, out of the district in which the Company claimed. The fifth was, as to whether the Crown was indebted to the Company, and bound to make them compensation. If the Crown was indebted in so many acres of land, there could be no question as to who was to find them the land. If the Crown was indebted to the Company for its expenditure, it would behove the Crown to make compensation. Captain Fitzroy being about to sail, he had written his letters to the Colonial Office, and had received the answer to them of the 26th of June; but a day or two before the day on which he left London, for he finally sailed on the 29th. It would be seen, by reference to the answer, that the third question was not raised in the correspondence at all. The answer on the third point was—On the third point, I would refer you to Lord John Russell's instructions to Captain Hobson of the 22nd of April, 1841.And on the fifth—I quite concur with you, that there is no reason for saying that the Government is indebted to the Company for any given quantity of land, or that any specified quantity of land is due to them from the Government (unless under direct purchases from itself), or that the Government is bound to make compensation to the Company for its expenditure.The Government was not under any obligation to find the Company, out of their original jurisdiction, a specified amount of land. The letter of instructions, which, it was complained, had not been communicated to the Company, could not be so communicated, because it referred to an incomplete transaction. That transaction was not included in the correspondence before referred to. He was able, as he said before, to confirm all the circumstances connected with it by reference to a document which he had in his possession—he meant a letter written by the hon. Member for Guildford. The point to which he wished to draw the attention of the House was, that the transaction to which the letter of instruction referred was an incomplete transaction, in regard to which opinions had been given in anticipation and in confidence. He would state, before reading the letter of the hon. 1102 Member for Guildford, after the draft of the letter to Captain Fitzroy was prepared, that the noble Lord did receive a proposal on the very subject from Mr. Somes, dated the 23rd of June. The letter to Captain Fitzroy was prepared, not on any definite proposal. He mentioned so much about this letter, in order to show the House how impossible it was that the instructions given in that letter could have been then communicated to the Company. The letter of the hon. Member for Guildford was dated the 6th of July, and was received at a time which precluded any answer being returned to it before the departure of Captain Fitzroy. There were particular reasons why no answer was immediately returned to it; and before an answer was returned the letter was withdrawn. The letter stated that a proposal for a new settlement had been sent to the Colonial Office. It was drafted and prepared by the directors whilst in communication with the land and emigration commissioners and Captain Fitzroy. Owing, however, to the turn which the discussion had taken, it was not intended to send it, and it would oblige the Company if the Colonial Department would allow them to withdraw their letter of the 23rd of June. These are the words of the letter written by the hon. Member for Guildford,—I told you last evening, I think, when speaking of our new Colony, that I had just received a note from Mr. Elliot, urging us to submit our intended letter explaining our intentions respecting Auckland, as the answer to that already submitted with regard to the new Colony was waiting for the other communication, and could not be much longer delayed. I find, on coming here to-day, that it was through a misapprehension of our Secretary that a proposal for a now settlement was sent to your office at all. It was a draught prepared and approved conditionally by our Directors whilst we were in actual communication with the Land and Emigration Commissioners and Captain Fitzroy; but, owing to the turn which our discussion took, was not intended to be sent. We shall to-day send a letter to the Land and Emigration Commissioners, embracing both subjects, written at the suggestion of Mr. Duller, after seeing Lord Stanley; and we shall be much obliged if your Department will allow us to withdraw our letter of the 22nd of June.Captain Fitzroy had asked for instructions in confidence; and an answer had been given in confidence; and it was clear from the withdrawal of the proposal after it had been received, that the noble Lord 1103 was strictly correct in making it confidential, as it could not with propriety be communicated to the Company. It was asked why were not the other paragraphs communicated? They made but a simple reference to the correspondence — they were complete in themselves. To expect that such correspondence as that should be communicated was rather singular, as the communication of it was wholly unnecessary and uncalled for. As regarded those points in which the correspondence had been followed, communication was unnecessary; and as regarded the other points, it would have been improper. He trusted that he had shown that the instructions given to the Governor of the Colony had been in strict accordance with the arrangement made with the Company, as might be seen from a reference to the correspondence. He now came to a statement which was of a most important character—the statement that one set of instructions had been given to Captain Fitzroy, and that another set had been shown to the Company. The only instruction communicated contained the following passage:—Although I have thought it best to communicate to you this correspondence entire, it is not necessary that you should adopt measures with reference to any, except the first point to which I have adverted. The remaining questions will be reserved for the newly-appointed Governor, who will shortly proceed to the Colony; but I should wish you in the meantime to afford every facility to the agent of the Company for giving immediate effect to the arrangement which has been entered into for the acquisition of them by land in Auckland and its vicinity.The fact was, no other instructions ever were given — no instructions were ever shown to the Company at all. The charge was really a most important one. It was a simple contradiction on his part to deny the existence of any other instructions; but none other did exist. The instructions were never asked for till January by the Company, when they wrote and asked if his Lordship would communicate the instructions to them. Fault had been found that the correspondence, or copies of it, which had been sent to New Zealand had not been marked "confidential." The reason was, that it had ceased to be confidential, and it was forwarded for the purpose (as we understood) of publication in the newspapers. 1104 As to the letter to Captain Fitzroy, which it was stated had not been shown to the Company, he had already proved to the House that it referred to an incomplete transaction; and he submitted that the New Zealand Company was not justified in charging Lord Stanley with any breach of faith, He had endeavoured to avoid all irritating topics; and now, before he concluded, he must remind the members of the New Zealand Company, that when the correspondence was first commmunicated to them, that their impression, their first impression, was not, with regard to the noble Lord's conduct, what they afterwards adopted, when misunderstandings arose between them and his noble Friend, as would appear conclusively by the following extract of a letter from Mr. Somes:—We should have failed in our duty to the public, as well as to your Lordship, had we not laid the truth fully before you; and, having done so, we leave the matter entirely in your Lordship's hands, with entire reliance"—[I beg the attention of the House to these words]—"We leave the matter entirely in your Lordship's hands, with entire reliance in the benevolence and justice which will influence your decision on the fate of the Company and its settlements.Now, this letter, expressing such entire reliance on the good faith and justice of his noble Friend, is dated the 29th of February, one month after they had had the copies of the Correspondence already referred to from my noble Friend—the correspondence itself having taken place a year ago; and the question is now brought forward as one affecting the character and good faith of the noble Lord. He now trusted that he had avoided all topics likely to produce irritation, and he hoped that what he had said would induce Gentlemen opposite to withdraw the charges made against the noble Lord. Such charges were now made against the noble Lord for the first time in his life; for, let his noble Friend's faults or failings be what they may, until now, no man had ever charged him with duplicity. He concluded by moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that there might be laid on the Table of the House Copies of Correspondence between the Colonial Office and the New Zealand Company.
§ Upon the Question being put,
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, the House, in justice 1105 to him, would perhaps believe that it was with feelings of the greatest pain he rose to answer the defence of the noble Lord that had been made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. It had been far from his wish that any personal attack should have been made on the character of the noble Lord. The complaints of Members of Parliament respecting the conduct of public men could not be regarded in that light. He was, however, whatever pain the occasion might cause him, compelled to pursue the subject, injustice to the New Zealand Company, and from the regard which he had to his own character and standing in that House. Before he proceeded, he must observe that great pain had, unintentionally on his part, been caused to the friends of Captain Fitzroy by some remarks which had fallen from him, with reference to that gentleman, on a former evening. He said, unintentionally, for it was far from his design to inflict any pain upon that gentleman, or his friends and connexions, by any remarks on his part; and therefore he took that opportunity of saying, that he was extremely sorry such had been the case, and sincerely apologised for having done so. He was not standing there for the purpose of asking the opinion of the House, or to use any strong language, or to call for a vote of censure on the conduct of the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department; but he was there to defend certain statements that had been made by the New Zealand Company, who complained that substantial wrong had been done to them, with respect to those matters to which the hon. Gentleman had adverted. The statement of the New Zealand Company had now been before the public for a whole year. It was not to be supposed that they now came forward for the first time to prejudice public opinion, nor to endeavour to cast personal obloquy on the noble Lord. The charge had been made public by the New Zealand Company a year ago. It had been made when the noble Lord, the head of the Colonial Department, was a Member of that House, and when he might have brought it before that House. The noble Lord could have brought it before the Committee. The noble Lord had thought proper to send his answer—a formal answer to that statement. The Committee was never asked to give in a decision upon the point; and he thought the Committee had acted very wisely in avoiding to mix themselves up with what was a personal 1106 question. He only adverted to this to show that they had stated the charge publicly long since; and that charge they were ready to abide by. It had certainly been brought forward with some heat of language on a late occasion; but then it had been elicited by the tone of remark adopted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in commenting upon a letter from the New Zealand Company, which the right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to use in such a manner as to turn it against the statement put forward by the New Zealand Company. The whole matter had thus been brought forward. It was so on account of the use that had been attempted to be made of the New Zealand Company writing the letter that had been so commented upon. It was not the fault, then, of the Company this matter coming forward before that House. At the same time he must say, that he was exceedingly glad that the hon. Gentleman had brought it forward, because it would be most unpleasant that a personal question should be mixed up with a very important public question. He should be exceedingly glad if the decision of that evening would enable them to clear the public question of all bitter, acrimonious, and personal feelings. He felt, with the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, placed in a situation of very great difficulty, without the specific proofs of the minutiae of the charges that were made. Supposing him, then, to be the only person in the House who was conversant with the details of this subject, he determined, for the purpose of having the advantage of the whole of the original statement before them, to close with moving for copies of all the Correspondence that had taken place between Lord Stanley and the present Governor of New Zealand. The com-plaint which he had to make on the present occasion was this—that in the transactions to which the hon. Gentleman adverted, the New Zealand Company had suffered substantial wrong. He did not mean—he did not intend to take advantage of any slip in conduct to cast dirt upon any public functionary—that he did not come there to do; but he came to prefer a complaint that a substantial wrong had been done by the irregularity in the noble Lord's conduct, and he thought he could show the House that he had grounds so to complain. It would be necessary for him in doing this to call the attention of the House to the agreement of the 12th of May, 1843, 1107 and to point out the difference between that and the agreement for which it had been substituted—the agreement made with the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. He would not then enter into the question of the original disputes between the New Zealand Company and Lord Stanley. It was only necessary to state that the point in dispute between Lord John Russell's agreement with the New Zealand Company, and Lord Stanley's agreement with the New Zealand Company, was one of which the latter complained. The larger complaint was, as to the violation of Lord John Russell's agreement; upon that question the opinion of the House would be asked when bringing forward the main question. For the present, it was only necessary to state that the subject matter of the agreement between Lord John Russell and the New Zealand Company was placed on this footing: that the Company, having acquired a title to lands in New Zealand by purchase from the natives, prior to the assertion of Her Majesty's authority in New Zealand, that when the Government came to assert its authority, it was necessary that a settlement should be made as to those lands. There never was any dispute as to the principle on which they were to be settled. It was agreed that the amount was to be in proportion to the expenditure in the Colony—that the terms were to be the same as regarded them as they were with other Colonists. The difference that first arose between them and Lord Stanley was this:—They imagined, that by their agreement with Lord John Russell, the only one thing they had to inquire into was before an accountant as to the money that had been expended by the Company. They imagined that when they had done that the Government would make them a grant of lands. The difference between Lord Stanley and the Company was this: that when they came with the award of Mr. Pennington, Lord Stanley contended that the agreement was not as they had supposed—that they had a prior thing to do—that was, to show the validity of the purchases of lands they had made from the inhabitants—that a court had been established to inquire into the validity of the purchases—and that there they would be required to prove their validity. That was denied by the New Zealand Company; and he said that if they looked to the documents they would find that Lord John Russell's 1108 Government engaged to give them lands on their proving what they had expended. He stated the grounds of dispute, but he did not ask them then to go into the inquiry. He pointed to those facts for the purpose of showing what had been going on. Whilst these things were occurring, great mischief was done to the Company and to others: their operations were suspended; their disputes with the Government involved them in great trouble; they brought discredit upon them, prevented the sale of lands; and far greater disasters than were entailed upon themselves, happened to the Colonists; and all this because it was not thought proper to settle the claims of the Company on the ground on which they had originally been based. They ought to recollect that 14,000 persons were then in New Zealand—that the Company had taken out 10,000 of them—that their sole title depended upon the faith placed in the Company — that on the recognizing of their title depended the whole security of these 10,000 persons. It was not then upon mere personal grounds they complained: the whole weight and responsibility rested on this—he repeated it, on the execution or non-execution of the agreement made by the New Zealand Company with Lord John Russell. The disputes went on, and matters were becoming worse in the Colony. He was bound, however, to say, that Lord Stanley made one or two offers, which the Company did not accept. It seemed to them that they had no other alternative but to bring the matter before Parliament, until the death of Mr. Hobson, the Governor of New Zealand, occurred. Then it was supposed that as a new Governor was about to be sent out, a new arrangement might be made. On these grounds, they then thought of proceeding. A negotiation was commenced. It began in private interviews. They wished something to be done, in order that a settlement might be made. The Government desired them to take land at Auckland. The Company objected to that; but as it appeared to be the only chance of getting better terms from the Government than they were willing otherwise to concede, they at length assented to it. The New Zealand Company then proposed—and the suggestion, he admitted, came from them—to accept the proposal of the Government, and to colonise in the neighbourhood of Auckland. They agreed to the proposal of the noble Lord, which they had before rejected; and, instead of a 1109 positive, they consented to take a conditional title, and doing so, they asked for the assistance of the noble Lord in the extinction of native claims as against them. The conversations that took place between the Company and Lord Stanley, and the notes that passed, at length ended in a formal manner. On the 8th of May, a letter was transmitted by Mr. Somes to Lord Stanley. That letter contained the proposal of the New Zealand Company. The House must not understand that the letter was one simply emanating from the Company; but it was, as the hon. Gentleman had candidly stated, a document emanating from both parties, the matter of which had been corrected, and was at last reduced to writing according to the understanding of both parties. Now, whatever difference might arise as to a mode of expression, he must still persist in calling that "an agreement;" and if hon. Gentlemen would look to page 97, they would find Mr. Hope, in his letter dated 7th August, 1843, and also in a second letter, referring to the letter, as the "agreement" of May last. He called it, therefore, an "agreement." He stated it to be so distinctly, and they would find it so treated in other documents. There were the two letters, the first of the 8th and the second of the 12th May, constituting that first as an agreement. On the 8th May, the New Zealand Company sent that letter, and on the 12th came the answer of the hon. Gentleman opposite. And he must say that when he looked at that note, and when he compared it with the large blue book before them, that if the rest of the correspondence had been dictated by the same spirit in which that letter had been written, there would have been no necessity for that blue book. The proposal had been accepted in a handsome spirit, and if the proposal had been carried out in that spirit, the Company would have had no matter for complaint. What he complained of was this—that from that hour to the present the spirit of that letter had been deviated from. It was hard to explain to a large assembly—it was hard to explain to any one, what was the deviation that had taken place, or how it was that it happened at different times. He thought it right to say, that the letter of the 12th May, and the letter of Captain Fitzroy, were actuated by a totally different spirit. Everything depended upon the spirit in which a Government acted. It was not bound by the same rules as others. Every- 1110 thing depended upon the spirit of a Government in a transaction like this. The Company believed—they confided in the spirit that animated the letter of the 12th of May; they relied upon that. It was a sufficient matter of complaint for them to find, that in subsequent letters that spirit was changed, and that the agreement, for the carrying out of which they trusted to the Government, was, when it came to be put in execution, carried out in a spirit wholly inconsistent with that, which first seemed to actuate them. He was not going to confine himself to the objection as to the spirit in which the letters were written. There was one fact, which the hon. Gentleman had not clearly stated, but with regard to which he did not think the hon. Gentleman would differ from him. In the agreement concluded on the 12th May, these words were used:—Lord Stanley directs me to state his assent to these proposals, and to intimate farther, 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,Now, he was anxious to know what these instructions were. He went to the hon. Gentleman, he thought early in June; the hon. Gentleman showed him the letter of the 19th May; it was to be found in page 92. He would not read a word of it; but the substance was, that the letter inclosed what he must call the agreement, and that was given as the instructions to the Governor of New Zealand. He did not complain on the present occasion of his not having been shown the letter that was sent as instructions to Captain Fitzroy. They were not told of them until subsequently. It was only on the 1st February in the year following, that the Colonial Office sent them the letter of June 26—the letter that was sent as instructions to the Governor of New Zealand as to this agreement. This was a very painful matter to intrude upon the attention of the House; but as the occasion was presented for doing so, he could not avoid it. The first objection that he made was as to the land of Auckland. The New Zealand Company regarded it as a distinct violation of the letter of the agreement. The New Zealand Company considered, by obtaining land in the neighbourhood of Auckland, they should have 50,000 acres, and that they should not be troubled as to the title; because they did not pretend 1111 to have purchased land there, but to have purchased it in the neighbourhood of Wellington. The language of the agreement was entirely in accordance with that view. They said, that they had purchased 50,000 acres of land in one place, and credit was to be given for 50,000 acres in another, in consideration of the New Zealand Company abandoning the whole claim to those other 50,000 acres. They were to "abandon," not to "establish" their claim. They were to abandon no specific 50,000 acres, but they were to abandon them out of their whole quantity. There never was any dispute as to the quantity of land to which they were entitled. There never was any dispute as to that, and, therefore, the terms of the agreement fully bore out their meaning. Let it be supposed that their claim was, by the award of Mr. Pennington, to be a million of acres, then they were to have 950,000 acres, and only 50,000 acres in the neighbourhood of Auckland. They were to give up their claim to 50,000 acres out of the million, and to get 50,000 acres in the neighbourhood of Auckland. The Company was bound by the proposal made to the Government; and then they had Lord Stanley saying that it would be for the general interest of the Colony, as well as of the Company, if they were allowed to select land in the nearest vicinity to Auckland. Instead of being allowed to select land in the southern district, where they only had a right to land, they were to be allowed to select it in the neighbourhood of Auckland, where there could be no question they had no right of themselves, but on which a claim was given them by Government. That claim had been effectually set aside by Lord Stanley and Captain Fitzroy. The agreement said they were to have a valid claim elsewhere. There could be no doubt as to what the question referred, and as little doubt as to the answer of Lord Stanley. The noble Lord said the claim was to be admitted "so far as it could be satisfactorily proved." He charged that as a distinct protection of the agreement. They were entitled to a quantity of land in the south: they abandoned that claim on condition that they were to get 50,000 acres in Auckland. They were entrapped into an agreement, and then it was sought to turn them into the Commissioners' Court, to prove their title to lands which they had never claimed. It was of great importance to the Company that the Government should interfere in this matter, and put an 1112 end to disputes with the natives. As long as the natives in New Zealand knew that the Company was in disfavour with the Government, it induced them to rise in their demands. The feeling of the Company was that the Government would undertake to make the arrangement with the natives, and to settle, as they could do, their claims for a reasonable sum; but when they asked the Government to do its best, to aid the Company to make the necessary arrangements with the natives—to have the Government act for them as for itself—it refused. He had read the answer of Lord Stanley—it was frank, cordial, and unreserved. But it seemed that on the 15th of June, the Governor began to have doubts as to Lord Stanley's arrangements. He (Mr. Buller) did not know who had expressed these doubts. Captain Fitzroy, who had constant communications with the Company, had never to them expressed any doubt on the subject. The consequence of these doubts however, was, that one said these claims were to be aided so far "as it could be done with propriety," and then it was also siad that it was to be done so far as was "consistent with the interests of parties and of the community at large." Did not, he asked, these qualifications nullify the promise that had been made? Would the Company have asked the Government to aid them, as far as it could be done with propriety? And was it to be supposed that they would be satisfied if the Government told them that they would do so so far as regarded the interests of the rest of the community? [Mr. Hope: The correspondence was referred to at the same time.] Yes; but it was with that qualification—a qualification such as was given when a person meant to say he did not intend to do what he was asked. Lord Stanley justified his refusal; but in point of good faith it could not be so justified. The spirit of the answer was in total violation of the agreement that had been made. He now came to the third point, and the most important one of the complaint he had to make against the conduct of the Colonial Office—that with regard to the conditional title to the land; and upon this point Captain Fitzroy writes in terms which showed that he had totally misconceived the intention of the noble Lord, and had not understood the point of difference between Lord Stanley's second agreement with the Company, and the original agreement of Lord J. Russell; and that he supposed he was going out to 1113 New Zealand to carry into effect the instructions of Lord J. Russell (as they were understood in the Colonial Office), and not those he had received from Lord Stanley. It appeared that he understood the Government was to confirm the title of the Company to as many acres as they had expended crowns, provided they proved the validity of their purchase from the natives. That was all that had ever been asked of the Company; and it was clear that the new Governor did not understand the second arrangement, but supposed he was, in respect to the title of the land, sent precisely on the old agreement. Now, it was extremely hard upon the New Zealand Company, that being obliged to trust to the honour of the Government officer, and of his views of the instructions under which he was to act in carrying out the agreement entered into between them and the Government, that they had not been in time informed of this most fatal misconception on the part of the Government officer; and if the Government concurred in his view, they should have stated that they had discovered some ambiguity in the original agreement of such a nature as to lead to a total misconception of the arrangement, and had done their best to correct it. That was the course which a Colonial Secretary, anxious for the good of the Colony, and actuated by a desire to fulfil in a spirit of fairness the arrangements which had been entered into between him and other parties who had trusted him. That was the course he might have been expected to take; and his language to the Governor should have been clear and explicit. He should have said to him, You have totally and altogether misunderstood the arrangement you were called upon to execute. He would, of course, have said so in the civil est manner possible; but he should have told him distinctly, You have totally mistaken the object and intention of the second agreement for what is our view of the old agreement, and I must set you right. He granted that the noble Lord had set Captain Fitzroy right substantially; but he had done so in so obscure and unsatisfactory a manner that to that circumstance only was it owing that the arrangement had not been acted on. Now, what was the course the noble Lord took in order to set Captain Fitzroy right? He first referred him to that original correspondence which he must have seen at least fifty times before, and had totally and altogether misunderstood, and said, "You will then perceive that the Government 1114 have conceded to the Company, as regards the districts included in the original grant, the fullest adjustment of the title—the principle of concession being to give the Company a primâ facie title to the land." He admitted this was perfectly clear—nothing could be more so; but the following words, as it appeared to him, made all the difference: "under the condition they were not liable to prove the validity of the claim in the first instance." Was not this, in effect, to raise again the whole question? There was a doubt on this part of the instructions. In giving these instructions, it should not have been forgotten that the Colonial Office was dealing with a man who had shown that he was capable of misunderstanding to a great extent. He had misunderstood in the first instance, and therefore those subsequent instructions of the noble Lord should have been perfectly clear and unambiguous; and what he here complained of, was, that without communicating with the Company, who were the other parties to the agreement, the noble Lord had replied to the communication of Captain Fitzroy in a manner that still left the point of difference in doubt. Could anything be more calculated than the words the noble Lord added to make this unhappy Governor, who was already officially confined, perfectly bewildered. He tells him that he is totally wrong in the interpretation he had put on the agreement, and then how does he proceed to set him right? By adding: "That, subject to this qualification, I confirm the view taken by by you on this point." Subject to this qualification, Lord Stanley stated, that he perfectly agreed with Captain Fitzroy. Why, the qualification was the whole matter. The noble Lord, acting as the Minister of the Crown, and being influenced by a desire to carry out, in its true spirit, the arrangement into which he had entered, and to avoid all further misconception in the matter, should have said to Captain Fitzroy: "You are wholly wrong in the view you take of the arrangement, and I will now tell you what is right," But what the noble Lord said was in effect this: "Subject to the qualification of the right view, I concur in your wrong view." If the noble Lord had consulted the New Zealand Company as to the answer he was about to send in explanation of the intentions of the agreement, they would have said: "If the Governor now misunderstands the arrangements entered into, your letter will but further confuse him. Make the matter clear to him at 1115 once, and prevent all further question and difficulty." But did the Company complain of this without practical consequences having resulted? or did they complain of it as a mere breach of form, on the part of the Colonial Office, in their dealings with the New Zealand Company—a breach of those ordinary observances of good faith, not of substance, but of those ordinary observances between the several parties to an agreement, by which no alteration is made, even in matters of form, without the previous consent and knowledge of the other? On the contrary, the practical effect of the course which the noble Lord had taken was, that the conditional title to the land which the Company were to have had immediately on Captain Fitzroy's arrival, had not yet been granted; and the second agreement of the noble Lord, the present Colonial Secretary, had been to this hour as perfect waste paper as the first agreement of Lord J. Russell. The hon. Gentleman the Under Colonial Secretary had said, that there was to be in the first place a selection of the land, and until that was made, the Government could not grant the conditional title. Now, what he had understood was, that under the arrangement entered into by the noble Lord, the Company were to be—and those Gentlemen in the House who were connected with the legal profession would at once understand and see the great importance of this point—that they were to be put in the position of defendants in a Court of Law in respect to the title, to be ousted only on proof shown, by those who might dispute it, that they had no right to the possession; and not that they should be placed in the position of plaintiffs to go into the Court of Commissioners to prove their case. He contended that, by the terms of the agreement, the Government were bound to give the New Zealand Company a conditional title in the first place, leaving those who objected to it to prove their case against the Company. That was the sense of the agreement. The Company were forthwith to have been put in possession of the conditional grant, and be at once placed in the condition of defendants in respect to the title, leaving those who claimed against them to prove their claims as plaintiffs. But instead of this, the Government have, by withholding the conditional title, left them to sue as plaintiffs in the Commissioners' Court. And this was not all. The Government were to aid the Company in effecting their purchases from the natives. He would not speak of the transactions 1116 at Wellington, where the Governor did attempt—and he gave him full credit for his intentions—to aid them in effecting some purchases from the natives, but which was of little avail, as he had never given them the conditional title, which was to be their safeguard, but had left them to prove their title before the Court of Commissioners. But in Wellington, it was true, Captain Fitzroy attempted to make purchases of land from the natives; and anything more weak than his proceedings in this respect he could not well conceive; and the results of his interference might be gathered from the fact that the Company had not got possession of the land at this very hour. Then Captain Fitzroy went on to Nelson, and there he leaves the agent of the Company no alternative but to pursue the negotiations for the land which they had already purchased. And this was the man who was to have given the Company the conditional title without delay! In another settlement they were still worse off. The Commission made the inquiry, and awarded the land; and then came the Governor, who set aside the award, and refused to give the title to the land. He contended, then, that Captain Fitzroy had not fulfilled the intentions of the Government to give the Company a conditional title forthwith; and the effect of this breach of agreement on his part had been, to keep the Company out of their property nine months. And this injustice, and the consequent injury to the colonists, had arisen from the noble Secretary for the Colonies not having sufficiently corrected the Governor's gross, complete, and entire error, and total misapprehension of the whole tenor and object of the most important part of the noble Lord's letter of instructions. The fourth point of his complaint was the last to which he would direct the attention of the House. As he had said, it had been always assumed in the disputes, that the difference in respect to the claims of the New Zealand Company was not as to the quantity of the land, but as to the locality. The Government had always said, You are no doubt entitled to a certain quantity of land to be determined by award, and we would give it to you if we had it; but as you cannot prove the extinction of the native title, we cannot give it to you in the district in which you claim it. Now, they were most anxious upon this point; and the noble Lord had admitted, as was shown in the Blue Book, their right to the grant to the extent awarded. And the feeling was, that as soon as the Govern- 1117 ment got the land they would respect the Company's title. Nothing else could be understood from the Government instructions until the private instructions were given. They considered that their claim would override every other, and that as soon as the Crown got the title, it would give it to the Company; and they felt if Captain Fitzroy went out with this understanding, it was as much to the interest of the Crown as it was to that of the Company that the matter should be settled—they felt that he would be in earnest to make the agreement with the natives, and that no difficulty would result. The Governor said—and he was confirmed by the noble Lord,—That the Company may take land without the districts now claimed by them in exchange for an equal quantity of land claimed by them within those districts, provided that their purchase be satisfactorily proved. That the Company are to have 50,000l. worth of Government land at and about Auckland, in exchange for 50,000 acres of land, to which it is assumed that they can prove a valid claim elsewhere. And," said the noble Lord, "I fully concur with you that there is no reason for saying that the Government is indebted to the Company so many acres of land, or that so many acres of land are due to the Company from the Government; or that the Government is bound to make compensation to the Company for its expenditure.Now what he said was, that the difficulty arose from the old arrangement for the first time having been departed from, after it had been claimed by the Company, and never denied by the Colonial Office. It had been admitted over and over again, and there was no doubt as to the extent of the land to which the Company were entitled; and it was not fair, without notice to the Company in their private instruction to the Governor, that the agreement should be encumbered with this new difficulty. And was this a mere barren breach of compact, or was it one that had been productive of serious evil and inconvenience? What the Company complained of was, that when the Governor made the agreement of the 10th May, the Company wished to feel confident that Captain Fitzroy would go out to fulfil its spirit; and that sailing in June, and arriving in New Zealand in December, his first act would be—that was, his first act in reference to the Company—to set at rest all these questions as to the title to the land, and that in June they would have had a conditional title from Government that would have secured to them not only a bonâ fide pos- 1118 session, but a title they could maintain in the courts of the Colony and of England. The Company looked to have this in June; but what was the fact? In consequence of the interpretation which had been put on the agreement, Captain Fitzroy had been nine months in the Colony, and had not yet executed this simplest stipulation to which the good faith of the Government was pledged. It was in this that, to repeat the word used the other night, the Company had been deceived. They had made an arrangement, expecting it would be executed in one sense, when it had been executed in another. And that they had been so deceived, whose fault was it? Was it their own fault, or that of Lord Stanley? Could it be said that the Company had not taken due precautions? The agreement was made so clear that no Gentleman who had pledged himself to one view or the other could have any doubt as to its meaning. The difficulty had arisen from a breach of faith on the part of the Government in one of the most common rules of ordinary dealing between man and man in all civilised countries; viz., that when an agreement was made between two parties, to be executed by a third, neither of the two parties should offer to that third person any gloss, or comment, or addition, as to the mode in which he should execute his instructions in carrying the agreement into effect; and the opinion of the Company that the agreement had been sent out without gloss or comment, was strengthened by the communication of the letter of the 19th of May. It was said that Captain Fitzroy was a Government officer, and they had a right to communicate with him. He said, the fact of his being a Government officer made the matter worse, because when the Company confided so much in the honour of the Government as to leave the agreement to be carried out by their officer, they should be doubly scrupulous not to use their influence with him to alter the terms of the agreement in its execution. He had now shown what he thought a substantial deviation from the letter and spirit of the first agreement, in the sense in which it was made. It would be said, perhaps, that the instructions given were not of such great importance; but, important or not, it would be admitted, he thought, that it was the duty of one party altering the terms of an agreement to communicate the terms of such alteration to the other. But it was evident that the Colonial Office did not think the alteration of no importance, or why was it put in writ- 1119 ing? why were not the instructions given orally to Captain Fitzroy? In not communicating that alteration, the noble Lord had rendered himself liable to the charge of having violated those observances which should be adhered to between contracting parties, and had most seriously impaired the spirit and the efficacy of the agreement. Nine months ago the question should have been settled and put at rest; but not only had the instructions for that purpose not been executed, but every act Captain Fitzroy had performed since the noble Lord's explanatory letter had been under the original misapprehension, and in contradiction to the spirit of the agreement. He trusted he had so far adapted himself to the temper of the House, and to that of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, as to have stated these matters without either exaggeration or anger. He had found it to be his duty, partly in his own defence, as having agreed to the Report of the Directors of the New Zealand Company, to attempt to make out that the charge which they had brought forward had not been made without ground; but he did feel, moreover, that they had been unhandsomely treated in the matter, and he thought that he had proved to the House that there was a sufficient degree of irregularity in the transaction, and that it had led to consequences sufficiently mischievous, to make it natural that there should have been grave suspicions entertained and loud complaints uttered on one part. He would not affect to disregard his own position on this occasion; he would not affect to say, that he was so devoid of unselfish feeling that he should not be mortified if it should be proved that they had been making charges without foundation. But he did say, that he would much rather have it believed, and proved, that they had been intemperate in their suspicions, than that a Secretary of State had acted in such a manner as would make it appear that he had forgotten his duty to them and to himself. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving,—That 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 the Correspondence relating to the Manakon New Zealand Company.Adding that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had expressed his willingness to give every information on the subject, and he therefore trusted that the full Correspondence would be produced.
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
thought that the House would not expect the production of those Despatches which had passed between the Colonial Office and the Governor of New Zealand, at and from the beginning of February. He could not consent to the production of Papers of such recent date. It would not be fair to Captain Fitzroy were they to be made public; and he trusted that the Motion would be modified in compliance with these views. He apprehended that the object of the hon. Member in proposing his Motion, he having gone at length into the entire case, was to enable him to make what further statements he might think necessary. Now, in the first place, he regretted that the hon. Member had not followed the course which he had himself adopted, and confined himself strictly to the subject before the House. The hon. Member had thought it necessary to refer to the original arrangement and consequent proceedings of Government, and to cast reflections upon the course pursued by the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office, as having evinced a disregard for the interests of a large body of Her Majesty's subjects inhabiting New Zealand. Now, the hon. Member ought to have stated that which he had not stated—namely, the difficulties which stood in Lord Stanley's way, and why it was that he had refused to grant what would avail as a title to the lands claimed by the New Zealand Company. He regretted that the hon. Member had only stated the question by halves. After mentioning what he had mentioned, on one hand, he ought to have stated, on the other, that the difficulties which stood in Lord Stanley's way were the claims of third parties—the natives and aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand. The House should recollect what the circumstances I were of the settlement of New Zealand, I and should bear in mind what the condition of these parties was at the time when Lord Stanley undertook his administration. New Zealand was settled contrary to the wishes and intentions of Government. The Company in 1839 sent out an agent to purchase lands, and, concurrently with this, sent out a large body of settlers to take possession of them. In consequence of that expedition, Lord Normanby sent a Consul out to treat for the sovereignty of the island, giving him at the same time instructions that when he obtained it he should recognise no title acquired by Europeans, and that he should guarantee to the natives the possession of their lands. 1121 The Consul in due time obtained a cession of the island, and concluded a treaty with the natives, in which it was stipulated that Her Majesty should and did guarantee to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand full and exclusive possession of their lands, estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties they possessed, so long as they wished to keep them. The Treaty then proceeded to reserve to Her Majesty the right of pre-emption of lands belonging to the natives in case of parties being disposed to sell. Now the difficulty experienced by Lord Stanley was this—he could not grant to the New Zealand Company a complete title to the lands, without consideration of the claims of the native inhabitants, whose rights were guaranteed by Treaty, and upon that difficulty turned the delay in granting the title to the lands. It was not his intention to argue this part of the question further; and he only alluded to it because the hon. Member for Liskeard had only taken up the case from the time when the difficulty commenced to be felt, but omitted any mention of its origin. He now came to other points. The hon. Gentleman had dwelt at great length upon what he (Mr. Hope) had not previously known had been made a ground of complaint against the Government—namely, that the land which was to be taken in exchange for the 50,000 acres, was expected to be land to which the Company had a title. Now he thought that it had been understood—in giving a credit of money to the extent of 50,000l.—he thought that it had been understood that a value was to be given in return; that it was not to be a mere waste paper claim but that the Government were to receive something in return. The hon. Member, in reference to this matter, adopted a different interpretation to that put on it by Government, which, he contended, was the fair and natural one. He never, indeed, thought of the point being raised, until it had actually been urged by the Company. There was another point on which the hon. Member had also dwelt at some length. He said that he had gone to see the instructions issued by the Colonial Office; that they had been shown to him, but that some portions had been suppressed. The fact was, that there were certain questions to be reserved for the consideration of the new Governor who was shortly to proceed to the Colony. The acting Governor could not entertain them at all; nothing could be done on the sub- 1122 ject until his successor had arrived. As to any instructions which had been kept back, the reason for adopting that course of proceeding was that they alluded to circumstances then in the course of occurrence; that the communications were of the nature of private communications, and, therefore, could not properly be made public. Now, the hon. Gentleman complained of the reservation of the rights of third parties. He wished to know whether or not they were not bound, in carrying out their policy, to do so with that fairness which only a due regard for the rights of all parties could constitute? But, then, the hon. Member mentioned an important part of the instructions, in which the officer for whose benefit they were issued, was referred to the correspondence. He was told to do all he could, and referred with respect to difficult points to the correspondence which had already taken place. He now came to a point more satisfactory to himself than any he had yet glanced at. He had heard with pleasure that the hon. Member did not now charge them with trying to deceive the Company, but contented himself with alleging that the instructions were issued in such a manner as to be liable to be mistaken; that they had been so mistaken by Captain Fitzroy, but that every effort had been made to correct the misapprehension. Now at first it had been stated that after Captain Fitzroy had fallen into this misapprehension, not only had no efforts been made to remove it, but that means had been taken to strengthen in his mind the erroneous impression. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman had not meant, when he spoke the other night upon the subject, to imply this; but such was the way in which his observations had been taken up by the House and the country. Now, it was admitted that although the instructions had not perhaps been stated very clearly, yet they were in substance in accordance with the original arrangement. But the hon. Gentleman stated that there were subsequently certain modifications made in them, which threw doubt upon certain particulars; but he did not pretend to say that in these modifications Lord Stanley had not referred to the construction of the arrangement as originally intended. The hon. Member had not maintained that these modifications were not issued with an honest desire to correct the erroneous impressions into which the officers of the Government might have fallen. But, said 1123 the hon. Gentleman, why had the original grant not been made? He could only state that, so far as his information went, he did not find that any demand had been made by the agent of the Company of Captain Fitzroy, which had been refused by him. As to the manner in which the instructions issued had been carried out, they had only the report of their own officer, it was true; but whatever observation had been made or might be made upon Captain Fitzroy, his honour and truth were perfectly undoubted, and implicitly to be relied on. He wrote, then, that on the 29th of January a conference had been held with Colonel Wakefield, and that it was his pleasing duty to inform them that the result was quite satisfactory, and the prospect of the adjustment of the Company's claims was fairly opened by the agent agreeing to make a reasonable payment for the land. The hon. Member charged the Colonial Office, in having directed its officer to assist the agent in making compensation to the natives, with not having instructed him to make it fairly and honestly. But here they had the officer writing that he had assisted the agent, and had done so satisfactorily to both parties. That was the very point in dispute. It was said that our officer, in consequence of instructions from us, would not lend the necessary assistance; yet here they had it in evidence that no demand had been made upon him which he had refused, and that no difference in the Colony had arisen in consequence of the instructions committed to him to carry out. It did seem to him that a more complete answer to the charges of the hon. Member could not be given. He contended that there was no intention, or the least manifestation of an intention, upon the part of the Government to deceive. To errors of judgment and differences in the construction of articles they were all liable; but the question was, had the Government wished or attempted to mislead the Company. Now, in what way had their instructions been given? They had been given with reference to the correspondence itself. Then a doubt arose. Had that doubt been solved in a manner unfavourable to the Company? On the contrary, it had been corrected in a sense favourable to the Company. The real question was the alleged intention to deceive. Now, according to the admission of the hon. Member, there had not only existed no such intention, but on the contrary the existence had been proved of a 1124 desire to correct as far as possible Captain Fitzroy's misapprehension, and in showing that such had been the case, he thought he had made it clear that there was no ground for stating that his noble Friend had been guilty of any dereliction of duty, much less anything like breach of faith. The hon. Member concluded by moving as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "of" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "or extracts from all the Correspondence between Lord Stanley and the Governor of New Zealand."
§ Mr. Rice Trevor
rose merely to acknowledge that the hon. Member for Liskeard had frankly stated his regret for having applied to Captain Fitzroy the expression which he had used with respect to that gentleman, during the discussion upon the subject which took place the other night. A communication to that effect had been made to a mutual friend immediately after the debate. He was happy, on the part of his friend Captain Fitzroy, to have this opportunity of acknowledging the hon. Gentleman's courtesy; and he thought that he might congratulate both the hon. Gentleman and the House upon the improved tone in which this discussion was now carried on.
§ Mr. Sheil
Nothing has been said in relation to Captain Fitzroy in this debate tending to affect his reputation. He appears to me, after perusing the Papers laid on the Table of the House, to be a most appropriate representative of the Colonial Office. It has been justly observed, that my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, has said nothing of Lord Stanley's intentions—of his intentions the noble Lord has the best, and almost the only cognizance; but it must be remembered that with good intentions a consummate unfitness for Government may be combined. This case lies within a very narrow compass. The first document to which I shall call the attention of the House is an extract from a letter of Lord John Russell, dated May 20, 1841. He says,—The Company are entitled to receive 531,929 acres of land at present, and they are hereafter entitled to receive 400,000 or 500,000 acres more.The House will observe that, in this letter, it is distinctly stated that the Company had a title to a certain quantity of land. That title to a certain quantity of land being admitted, the Chairman of the New Zealand Company, addressed a letter 1125 to Lord Stanley, of the 8th of May, 1843, making certain proposals to Lord Stanley, and among the rest, proposingThat credit be given to the Company for 50,000 acres of land, in consideration of their abandoning their claims to 50,000 acres out of the quantity to which they were already entitled.Lord Stanley, in reply, agreed to the proposal by a letter of May the 12th. This was a complete and perfect agreement; not an assumpsit as it was called a few evenings since, when practice exceedingly sharp was defended by pleading excessively special. On the 15th of June, 1843, Captain Fitzroy, the Governor of New Zealand, who was to carry the agreement of both parties into effect, writes to Lord Stanley, and says that doubts had been raised regarding the meaning of the contract. Was it not Lord Stanley's obvious duty to communicate those doubts to the Company, and to construe the contract in their presence, and with their cognizance? There were two parties to the agreement, which Captain Fitzroy was to carry into effect on behalf of both. Why should one of the parties not inform the other of the interpretation to be put on the contract, and on which the agent of both was to act? But Lord Stanley, not contented with not consulting the Company, gives an interpretation of his own, and then attaches the word "confidential" to his instructions. Confidential! That is a word of great significance and potency. It comes to this—that a clandestine, a surreptitious interpretation was put on a public contract entered into by the Government and the New Zealand Company, of which the New Zealand Company were not apprised. Is this fair, and open, and upright dealing? Had not the Company a right to know what Lord Stanley was about, and the construction he had put upon the compact? For several months the Company were kept in the dark regarding these secret instructions, and when at length they were conjectured to have existence, and called for by the Company, what course does Lord Stanley take? He sends a copy of the instructions, and erases the word "confidential." This erasure is most remarkable. The word was originally written on the copy sent to the Company, as I am informed by the hon. Member for Cockermouth; but it was erased with a studious, but most unhappy care, a deliberate, but most infelicitous solicitude. The fact of secrecy was a most important incident in the case. 1126 The backstairs character of the business was most characteristic and most essential; yet Lord Stanley kept back that portion of the leading circumstances of the case, and erased—erasures are always suspicious—a word, of all other the most illustrative of his proceedings. Even supposing that Lord Stanley's interpretation was the right one, still this mode of proceeding was most censurable; but in point of fact Lord Stanley's instructions were a clear departure from the agreement. The agreement took the burden of proof of title off the shoulders of the Company; the instructions put that burden upon them. The instructions inverted the order of proof in the Court of Claims, making the Company claimants and not defendants. Thus the position of the Company was wholly changed with regard to the 50,000 acres, to which they were to "relinquish their claims." But Lord Stanley, instead of being satisfied with a relinquishment, of claim, required a proof of title, a clear deviation from the contract. But the Under Secretary for the Colonies tells us, that the Company relieved Lord Stanley from all imputation by their letter of the 29th of February, 1844. I was astonished at his saying this, for if he had read a little further he would have found that they complain bitterly that Lord Stanley had given a different construction to the agreement, and from that on which they insisted. [Mr. Hope: Read on.] I will. Why did not you read on? Did you read it before you came down to the House? Why is there this hiatus valde deflendus? What comes next?We hope that no practical evil will result from this misunderstanding." [Hear, hear. I will read on:] "But it is not the less fatal to our utility that there should be any possibility of their occurring. It is alike destructive of our energy and prejudicial to the policy of the Government, that in the infancy of a Colony we should carry on the all-important work of providing it with inhabitants, without concerting beforehand everything that relates not only to the carrying out of the emigrants, but to the policy to be adopted towards them after the establishment in their new homes.Sir, the rest of the passage relates to the state of the Colony—a question into which I will not enter; but I cannot refrain from observing, that in one particular the New Zealanders have made great progress in civilization, for I find among the papers published by the Government an account of a most interesting meeting of chiefs, 1127 one of whom, Napera, says to the representative of Lord Stanley, "Speak your words openly; speak as you mean to act: do not say one thing and mean another." These are words in which so admirable an injunction is contained, that it ought to be written in characters of gold in the Colonial Office.
The Solicitor General
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had talked with great fervour, but had not added much to the enlightenment of the House on the subject under its consideration. He would admit that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. C. Buller) had temperately and fairly brought this question before the House, and he was quite sure that the House felt the propriety of entering on a debate of this nature, which was likely to involve so much personality, in the spirit in which the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard had opened it. He wished to call the attention of the House to the real question before them, and he trusted he should be able to show that there was no foundation whatever for the charge which had been made against the noble Lord—a want of good faith in sending out instructions not in the spirit of an agreement he had previously entered into with the New Zealand Company. He trusted he was able to show that the noble Lord had strictly pursued the terms of the agreement entered into between him and the Company, and that his Lordship had openly and candidly communicated everything that it was necessary the Company should know in connexion with this transaction. It was necessary to go back a little to the origin of the dispute, which arose upon the construction of an agreement entered into by the noble Lord then at the head of the Colonial Department (Lord J. Russell) and the New Zealand Company. Prior to the cession of the sovereignty, the Company, although not recognized by the Government, had become the purchasers of land from the natives to a very considerable extent. A question arose whether under their agreement with the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, then the Secretary for the Colonies, the Company was bound to make out their title to this land before they could receive a grant of it from the Crown. That continued an open question; and it was important that the House should bear this in mind, because it would afford a clue and an interpretation to many of the expressions in the correspondence upon 1128 which observations had been made; the question between the Colonial Office and the New Zealand Company, after the sovereignty had been ceded to the Crown, being in what manner the original agreement was to be carried out. Lord Stanley, at a very early period of the correspondence with the New Zealand Company, proposed to give them a primâ facie title, which would have afforded them a very great advantage over other purchasers of land. In answer to a letter, dated the 21st of December, 1842, from the Company, Lord Stanley made an order for granting a primâ facie title; and in a letter dated the 8th of June, 1843, wherein the probability that much of the land might be waste was admitted, it was announced that his Lordship was ready to place it at the disposal of the Company, but that he would not undertake to over-ride all prior titles, or define what constituted a native claim. The offer of primâ facie title was again made in that letter; and it was stated that should the Company assent to the views taken by Lord Stanley, he would not object to instruct the Government to make it subject to prior titles, to be established as by law provided. The terms then offered were not adopted; but it appeared that subsequently the Company thought better of the matter, and they themselves proposed to Lord Stanley the very offer which he had twice before proposed to them, and they had twice before rejected. Their letter of the 8th of May, 1843, would bring the House to the very point in dispute. In that letter a distinct proposal was made by the Company to Lord Stanley upon the very terms they had previously rejected. In that letter the Company proposed,—
They went on further to say,—
- "1. To purchase 50,000l. worth of land in Auckland and its vicinity, 10,000l. worth at least to be in the town, and 25,000l. worth at least to be in the country; the Company taking the remaining 15,000l. worth of land in town, suburban, or country lots, provided they do not take more altogether in suburban than in town lots.
- "2. That the town lots be purchased by auction, and that they be offered at the upset price of 100l. per acre. As far as practicable, however, such lots to be put up together in parcels often acres each, and the whole lands applied for in the town by the Company, at any one time, to be sold on the same day, unless otherwise settled at the request of their agent, and with the assent of the Governor.
- "3. The suburban lots to be sold by auction. If the Company apply at one and the
1129 same time for 100 acres or upwards, the whole to be put up together at one general upset price of 5l. per acre.
- "4. The country lots to follow the rule established by the Land Sales Act.
- "5. That credit be given to the Company by the Land and Emigration Commissioners, for the sum of 50,000l., in consideration of their abandoning their claim to 50,000 acres of land out of the whole quantity to which they are already entitled,"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 pre-emption enjoyed by the Crown.In that letter, then, was a very clear and distinct statement by the Company of the terms upon which they were to have a conditional title conferred upon them; and he would ask any hon. Member to look at that letter and say whether it was not perfectly apparent that the Company assumed at that time that they would have to clear the title themselves, in order that they might be in possession of lands to which he admitted they were to have a primâ facie title. They claimed to have acquired a title to 20,000,000 of acres extending over five degrees of latitude; and their agreement with the Crown was that they were to be entitled out of that particular district to a certain number of acres, corresponding to the extent of their outlay in the proportion of four acres to 1l. sterling. They were to select their land, and to make good their claim before an accountant, Mr. Pennington. Now, it must be borne in mind, that Auckland was not within their district at all. That was very important, because the whole of the argument with respect to the arrangement turned materially upon that point. They were, however, desirous of establishing a settlement at Auckland, and in the letter of the 8th of May, 1843, they made 1130 a proposal to the Colonial Office to purchase 50,000 acres of land in Auckland and its vicinity, for which they were willing to give up 50,000 acres of their land, to which they would be bound to establish a complete title having by reason of their outlay that primâ facie title in their favour to which the right hon. and learned Member for Dungarvon had alluded; but still being compellable in case there was any adverse title against them to clear their title. When, therefore, they used the term, "abandoning their claim," they did not mean to say abandoning their claim to that to which they had a settled right, but a claim which they would have, to select out of their particular district any number of acres, and give in exchange for other land in Auckland. In the letter of the 12th of May, 1843, Lord Stanley assented to the proposal of the Company, and intimated that he was prepared to issue to Governor Fitzroy instructions to the effect proposed in the Company's letter. And then began the first dispute between the Colonial Office and the Company. The Company were to have 90,000l. of land about Auckland, in exchange for 50,000 acres of the land to which they could establish their claim elsewhere. It was important that the House should understand that the question of clearing the title was from the commencement to the end an open question between the Colonial Office and the Company. What did the Company contend for in this case? They said,—We are to have 50,000l. worth of land at Auckland, and in exchange for that we are to give—what?—some imperfect unascertained right, which we may have to 50,000 acres of land, which according to the original produce must be taken at 5s. an acre, and we are to have credit at 1l. an acre, and, not to say anything whatever as to right or complete title, that is to remain for the Crown to satisfy itself upon.He said that the instructions pursued the very spirit and letter of the agreement. In the letter of the 8th of May, 1843, the Company showed that they were to clear the title to the lands, and were not to be entitled to any, except by that conditional title which was to be conferred upon them, and which might be opposed by a stronger title which they themselves were to get rid of: and that was the understanding between them and the Colonial Office. There was not the slightest ground for imputing to the noble Lord any want of faith respecting that part of the subject. 1131 But then the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard objected so certain terms used by Lord Stanley in his answer to Governor Fitzroy. Now, it was quite clear that Governor Fitzroy had mistaken the position of the Company and the Colonial Office with respect to the arrangement between them. Lord Stanley, in his letter to Governor Fitzroy of the 26th of June, 1843, said,—You will there perceive, that Her Majesty's Government have conceded to the Company, as regards the district included in the original agreement, that with a view to facilitate the adjustment of their titles, the Local Government of New Zealand should be directed to make to the Company's agents a conditional grant of the lands selected by them on the terms definitely stated in that correspondence, the principle of that concession being to allow to the Company a primâ facie title to such lands, under the condition that the validity of their purchases shall not be successfully impugned by other parties. Subject to this qualification, I concur in the view taken by you on this point.Why did he not say, "I differ from you entirely; you have taken an erroneous view of the whole matter?" Why? Because he had not; he had only taken an erroneous view of this: they were to be put in the position of persons who had a primâ facie title. But it was said, that in the last part of the instructions Lord Stanley adopted Governor Fitzroy's view—That there was no reason for saying Government was indebted to the Company for any given quantity of land, or that any specified quantity of land was due to them from the Government (unless under direct purchases from itself), or that the Government was bound to make a compensation to the Company for its expenditure.That was the whole question. Lord Stanley denied from the beginning that the Crown was bound to make good any title to the Company by clearing the way for them; there was merely conceded to the Company a right to select out of the district in which they asserted a claim; and therefore, of course, Lord Stanley adopted the view of Captain Fitzroy, who was right in saying that "the Crown was not indebted to the Company," and so on. There were, then, five points submitted for the consideration of Lord Stanley by Captain Fitzroy; and upon three of those points the correspondence of the 8th and 12th of May gave a distinct and definite answer. Was there any objection to Lord Stanley having referred Captain Fitzroy 1132 to that correspondence upon those points? What, then, was alleged against Lord Stanley? What was this "breach of faith," asserted so strongly on former occasions, but so moderately that night? Why, the two other points—the third and the fifth—turned upon questions still under negotiation between the Colonial Office and the Company. "On the third point his Lordship referred the Governor to Lord J. Russell's instructions to Captain Hobson of 22nd of April, 1841;" that was the modified agreement upon which the whole question arose. The fifth point also left an open question,—"whether the Government was indebted to the Company for any given quantity of land, or bound to make compensation for the Company's expenditure?" But Lord Stanley was charged with having written "confidential" on his letter to his own Agent, the Governor of the Colony, expressing his opinion as to open questions still under discussion. Then there was the grave charge, that the letter having been originally written with that word upon it, it was somehow or other imperfectly erased, and in that way the letter was presented to the Company. Now, how came that letter to Captain Fitzroy to be communicated to the Company at all? On the 18th of January, 1844, the Company wrote to Lord Stanley,—We rely on the satisfactory arrangement of every subject connected with our own land claims, as soon as Captain Fitzroy's arrival in New Zealand shall enable him to carry into effect your Lordship's instructions; but, at the same time, it appears essential that the public should be apprised of the nature of those instructions; and we should feel most thankful if your Lordship would communicate those instructions to us, and thus enable us to inform the public of the grounds on which we feel assured of the prompt and satisfactory arrangement of these land claims.If the instructions were communicated with the word "confidential" on them, the Company might feel precluded from showing them to the public; and, therefore, the word was erased. He trusted that phantom was laid. But Lord Stanley was charged with "a breach of faith" by the hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) while the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. C. Buller) in more measured terms imputed a misapprehension or misconstruction and violation of the agreement, inducing very serious consequences to the Company. When were these instructions communi- 1133 cated to the Company? On the 1st of February, 1844. There was no want of ingenuity among the members of the Company—they were acute and subtle enough to perceive distinctions, and to put proper or improper constructions upon agreements. He did not mean to say wilfully improper—he imputed no wilful misinterpretation—he only meant to contend that their construction was, in fact, an improper construction. Clearly, however, they were persons who perfectly understood their rights, and were capable of comprehending the instructions. Now, what was the mode in which they spoke of the noble Lord whom they charged with all this guilt? Why, on the 29th of February 1844 they wrote,—We offer these suggestions in full reliance on their being entertained by your Lordship in the spirit of candour, confidence, and anxiety for the well-being of the Colony. In whatever course may seem best to you for attaining the object we must equally have at heart, your Lordship may depend upon our cordial co-operation. Having laid the truth before you, we leave the matter in your Lordship's hands, with entire reliance in the benevolence and justice which will influence your decision.Now, if they really believed Lord Stanley guilty of what they were at present pretending, would they have written in these terms? Would they have negotiated with Lord Stanley? Would they have laid open to him the state of their affairs? The noble Lord sat in that House for a whole Session afterwards; according to the statement on the other side he had been guilty of this want of faith, and they must have discovered it in February, 1844; why did they let the matter remain for a whole Session, and bring forward the charge for the first time when the noble Lord was gone to another House—when his back was turned? The Committee was not moved for till June, 1844; the House sat in February, 1844; March, April, and May passed away, and this charge was not brought forward. Was that fair? But Lord Stanley acted according to the view he had invariably taken of the agreement between him and the Company, and gave those instructions which alone, according to his understanding of the spirit and letter of the agreement, he could give.
§ Mr. Hutt
wished to correct one misstatement, which had just procured for the hon. and learned Gentleman the cheers of his party. At an early period of the 1134 year, the New Zealand Company laid the facts before their proprietors; and on the 26th of April, and not in June, the noble Lord consented to a Committee to inquire, specially stipulating that when the Committee was moved for, not one word should be said upon the subject of the dispute between the Company and the Government. He, if the hour were not so late, could correct at least half a dozen mis-statements of this kind.
§ Captain Rous
would pledge himself that, when the facts were investigated, Lord Stanley should be acquitted in the opinion of every impartial man in the House. If the advice of the New Zealand Company had been taken, at this moment a war of extermination would have been going on between the red man and the white man. All these evils had been prevented by the moral courage shown by the noble Lord. He had been at New Zealand himself, and knew the character of the New Zealanders; and the Company had formed a most erroneous estimate of it. They had estimated the character of the New Zealanders as similar to that of the people of New Holland; but they were as different to the people of New Holland as the high-bred Hindoo was to the Negro. Lord Goderich had allowed the independence of the country, and had given the people a flag. In 1839, the independence of the country had been acknowledged by England; but because certain gentlemen chose to speculate in land, in open defiance of what had been done, it became necessary to send out a Captain of the Navy there, to protect the people and keep order; and because one party had done an illegal act, the Company at once took possession of the land of New Zealand, of its forests and its minerals, and held the land of the Crown. He looked on the whole transaction as most unprincipled. The New Zealanders had just as much right to their property as any one in England. They spoke of the dispute between the Company and the Colonial Secretary, but entirely forgot the lords of the soil. They went on the good old principle, thatHe should take who has the power,And he should keep who can.They wanted Captain Fitzroy to act as a spoliator. When the subject was fully entered into, he would prove that every step which had been taken with regard to 1135 New Zealand was wrong in principle and in equity.
§ Viscount Ingestre
totally differed with his hon. and gallant Friend. Having been for some years connected with the New Zealand Company, he rose for the purpose of saying that he had given his perfect acquiescence to all the acts of that Company; and he would further state, that their acts had been guided solely with the view of promoting the general good of the Colony; and the more that question was gone into the more that would be apparent. He could not, however, agree in the words of the hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth, that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had been guilty of fraud and deception. No one who knew the noble Lord would ever attribute such motives to him.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that having been frequently alluded to in the course of the debate, he felt called upon to offer a few observations to the House. It was true that he had said that there was a breach of faith and want of candour on the part of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies; and how far he was justified in making that charge would appear by the facts he would state to the House. He had no fault to find with the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. G. W. Hope); but he could not say so much for the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General, who appeared to him to have assumed the character of an advocate. When the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Ingestre) declared himself to be connected with the New Zealand Company, there was a laugh. ["No, no."] There was a cheer, at any rate; but he (Mr. Aglionby) begged to say, that there were persons belonging to that Company as honourable in station, as high-minded, and as well known, as any of those who sat on the Ministerial Bench. The Solicitor General had totally and entirely misrepresented the wishes and intentions of the New Zealand Company. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Company were anxious to go to Auckland and colonize it; but that was entirely a mistake. On the contrary, it was only when it was represented to the Company that Auckland was in a state of distress, that they were induced to go and deal with the circumstances in the best way 1136 they could. It was not a proposition emanating from the Company. It was a compromise and an agreement by which the Company acceded to the request of the Government. The Solicitor General was mistaken in supposing that the terms entered into by the Company were offered by them; they were dictated by the Colonial Office; the terms of which were discussed over and over again. The Solicitor General was not only wrong in his dates, but he was wrong in his facts. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, that if Lord Stanley were present in the House, he (Mr. Aglionby) and those who entertained the same opinions with him, would not dare to make this charge against the noble Lord. But did he or his hon. Friends make the noble Lord go to the Upper House? On the contrary, he (Mr. Aglionby) felt himself to labour under the greatest possible disadvantage from the absence of the noble Lord. If the noble Lord had been present, he (Mr. Aglionby) would have had nothing to contend against except the noble Lord's powers of mind and powers of debate. But in his absence, he had to contend against minds prejudiced and uninformed. He, therefore, sustained a great disadvantage from the absence of the noble Lord. It was stated that on the 29th of February, 1844, a knowledge of the letter of Lord Stanley to Captain Fitzroy came to the Company, who, for the first time, made some remarks upon it. The fact was, that the knowledge of such a letter having been written came to the Company on the 1st of February, but it did not come till after the Committee of Inquiry. On the 1st of February, the Company received a letter from Mr. Hope (the Under Secretary for the Colonies), with inclosures; and one of those incisures was Lord Stanley's letter of the 26th of June, 1843, being an answer to Captain Fitzroy's letter, which was dated the 15th of June; but the latter was not inclosed. It was only fair to say that the noble Lord had made the same assertion as that which his Under Secretary had made to-night. He believed Captain Fitzroy to be an honourable man; he was, however, obliged to act in accordance with his instructions. Lord Stanley said there was no difference at all between the agreements; but they (the New Zealand Company) felt that there was such a difference, that they made known their com- 1137 plaint as publicly as they could, at a meeting of the shareholders on the 26th of April. He went down in June to take leave of Captain Fitzroy at Gravesend, and until that day he never heard that any doubt had been expressed, and the Company had entirely and explicitly confided in the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. He could not understand the explanation which had been given by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies. The word "confidential" first appeared upon the Paper when it was laid before the Committee. When he looked at the copy sent to the New Zealand Company, he could not at first see the word, but at last he found that it had been minutely erased. It appeared to him at the time, as it did now, that there had been a premeditated intention to keep the communication from the Company. He would not detain the House further, but would leave the question with hon. Members and the public to determine. He hoped he had endeavoured to keep clear of raising the main question with regard to New Zealand, which it had been his anxious desire to do.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that the impression which had been left on his mind as the result of the discussion was one which he thought must be shared generally by the House—namely, that his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies was entirely acquitted, either of any intention to deceive, or of any actual deception. He inferred that to be the impression of the House, because all those hon. Members who were present when the debate commenced, and who heard the explanation of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, had, with very few exceptions, left the House; and he thought they would have remained and taken an opportunity of stating their opinions, if they had entertained sentiments adverse to the statements made by the hon. Gentleman. He now saw on the first Bench opposite, out of the four hon. Gentlemen who were occupying it, three members of the New Zealand Company. There were four Gentlemen on the second bench, and they were all members of that Company. There were eight Gentlemen, therefore, on the opposite benches, and seven out of the eight were members of the New Zealand Company. [Mr. Mangles: Your bench opposite is chiefly occupied by Members of the Govern- 1138 ment.] The hon. and learned Member said that the Company were in possession of the letter marked "confidential," which had been written to Captain Fitzroy; but they had not seen the letter from that gentleman to which the letter marked "confidential" was an answer. The letter which the Company were in possession of, after stating "I have had the honour of receiving your communication of the 15th instant," proceeded to enter into a recapitulation of the whole of the circumstances set forth in the letter from Captain Fitzroy [the right hon. Baronet here read the portion of the letter to which he referred]. Now, how the hon. Gentleman could labour under any disadvantage in consequence of not being in possession of the letter of his noble Friend, after that statement, he could not possibly conceive. But the hon. Gentleman said he laboured under a great disadvantage in consequence of the absence of the noble Lord, as he would have spoken with much more freedom if his noble Friend were present.
§ M. Aglionby
was sure the right hon. Baronet did not wish to misrepresent him; but he certainly had never stated that he would speak with more freedom if the noble Lord were present. What he had said was, that he spoke with the feeling which noble minds always express when referring to the absent.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that was all he meant to convey in the construction which he put upon the hon. Gentleman's words. But he begged to ask whether the hon. Gentleman had not the whole of last Session to make any charge he liked in the presence of the noble Lord? From the 1st of February, when the New Zealand Company were put in possession of the letter which his noble Friend had written to Captain Fitzroy, until the close of the Session, he had a full opportunity of challenging Lord Stanley in his presence; and yet he did not avail himself of it. Another hon. Gentleman said that the contents of that letter were not known to the Company until June; but the Committee did not examine any evidence until that month. The first witness was examined on the 23rd of May, and the second day of examination was in the month of June, so that there was, after all, no ground for that objection of the hon. Member. But why, he would beg to ask, in moving for the appointment of the Committee, was not the conduct of 1139 the noble Lord referred to? [Mr. Hutt; The Company were not at the time aware of the charge which they now brought against Lord Stanley.] The Company had Lord Stanley's letter to Captain Fitzroy in the month of February; and if, after perusing that letter, they thought his noble Friend chargeable with want of good faith, and considered that he had prejudiced the interests of the Company by his misconduct, why did they allow, if they wished to have the advantage of his presence in that House, the entire Session to elapse without bringing forward any accusation against him? Surely the duty of hon. Gentlemen opposite to the Company should have led them, in the face of the House of Commons, and in the presence of his noble Friend, to demand some explanation of his conduct from him. But the hon. Gentleman said that the Company wished to use civil expressions towards Captain Fitzroy; that the doctrine which they adopted was to let bygones be bygones; and that they wished to put as favourable a construction as possible on his conduct. He was quite willing to give the hon. Gentleman the full advantage of that explanation, but he would maintain that no explanation could clear the Company in this respect. They say now, that so gross a breach of faith was committed by his noble Friend, that if they had been aware of it, they would have refused to hold personal communication with the noble Lord on the subject of New Zealand. But he certainly could not reconcile that declaration, and their present unfavourable impressions with regard to Lord Stanley, with the declarations made by them to him, after they were cognizant of the facts of which they now complained. He found that on the 29th of February—the letter to Captain Fitzroy being then in their possession—they used these words in addressing Lord Stanley,—We should have failed in our duty to the public as well as your Lordship, had we not laid the truth fully before you; and having done so, we leave the matter in your Lordship's hands, with entire reliance in the benevolence and justice which will influence your decision on the fate of the Company and its settlements.Was that, he would ask, language to use towards a man with whom they would not now enter into any communication? But 1140 they might depend upon it that the House and the country would not forget the peculiar position in which his noble Friend was placed. His noble Friend was the natural protector of those who had rights which he thought it was incumbent upon him to protect. His noble Friend acted from the first under the impression that those natives of New Zealand—illiterate as they might be, and inferior to Europeans in civilization—were yet not to be altogether overlooked by the Government. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that the members of the New Zealand Company in that House were entitled to great respect — that they were Gentlemen holding high stations and were of high characters in that House and in the country, and that they were therefore entitled to great respect. His noble Friend, therefore, risked much in offending them in the execution of his public duty, but still he did not shrink from his task; and in proof that the noble Lord was right in what he had done, he might refer to the principles laid down by the Company themselves in speaking of the Treaty of Waitangi. They say,—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.That was the language used by that powerful Company. They thought the law of property was a fiction, and they had serious doubts whether a treaty "made with naked savages by a Consul invested with no plenipotentary 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." If his noble Friend put a different construction from that adopted by the Company, on treaties entered into even with naked savages, he believed the sense of justice in that House and in the country would put a favourable construction upon expres- 1141 sions in letters of his noble Friend, who had no other object in view than to see justice done between a powerful and influential Company, and savages, whom his noble Friend thought ought not to be deceived by treaties, even when made for the purpose of pacifying and amusing them. He would confidently leave it to the country to decide whether his noble Friend could be justly charged with a breach of faith in his transactions with the New Zealand Company.
§ Mr. Aglionby
begged to explain. He denied having spoken in the name of the Company when he accused Lord Stanley of a breach of faith. The Company never said that the noble Lord had been guilty of such a gross breach of faith that they would hold no further communication with him; and he did not think the right hon. Baronet was justified in putting such a construction upon what had fallen from him. What he stated was, that he would, individually, hold no communication, or would not discuss with Lord Stanley matters which required plain dealing or good faith.
§ Mr. Mangles
expressed his regret that so much acid had been thrown into the debate by the Solicitor General. He was quite satisfied to let the matter go before the country on the debate of that night.
§ Mr. Rice Trevor
wished merely to state the impression on his mind, from what had been said on this and on the former occasion. It had been complained that Captain Fitzroy had not communicated the contents of certain letters he had received from Lord Stanley. The letter of Captain Fitzroy, expressing his doubts, was written on the 15th of June, and the reply of Lord Stanley was on the 26th of June; but Captain Fitzroy could not mention the private letter he had received from Lord Stanley conveying his Lordship's advice. Whether he was right or wrong in withholding it, it was quite clear that he could only have communicated it on the 26th, 27th, or 28th of June. He noticed this fact merely to show that there could have been no clandestine correspondence purposely concealed.
§ Mr. C. Buller
put it to the right hon. Baronet whether he thought it quite fair to quote the passage he had read to the House? In order to raise a feeling in the House against the New Zealand Company, he had gone into matter which he apprehended would show that the New Zealand 1142 Company were inclined to act unjustly towards the natives. This course was hardly consistent with the understanding entered into regarding the debate, especially when the right hon. Baronet must be aware that there would be no opportunity to answer it. The right hon. Baronet had quoted one passage out of the correspondence of the New Zealand Company; but the House would not fail to recollect that the whole matter must be brought forward again on the larger question after Easter. He would undertake to prove on that occasion that that passage, which he admitted had been written and sent, did not afford a full and fair view of the feeling of the New Zealand Company towards the natives, and that, coupling it with the context, the object was to do more for the natives than even the Treaty of Waitangi secured to them. The complaint was that on the 1st of February, the Company became cognizant of the violation of the agreement by Lord Stanley, and that on the 29th of February, the Company had nevertheless expressed its confidence in the benevolence and justice of Lord Stanley. He admitted that at the moment they had not formed so unfavourable an opinion of his Lordship; he would take it for granted that they were at that moment still in treaty with Lord Stanley; but they were anxious that Government should step forward to arrest the great calamity with which New Zealand was then threatened. The 26th of April was the first opportunity the New Zealand Company had to come forward and state their views. The Report was before the noble Lord, and from the 26th of April to the end of the Session, their lips were closed by this fact—that in moving for a Committee it was a stipulation that nothing should be said. The Committee was then appointed; and it would not have been decent nor tolerable, when the whole matter was referred to a Committee, that any part of it should be brought before the House. The Committee did not conclude its labours until near the end of the last Session, and early in the present the subject had been introduced.
§ Mr. Milnes
had only a sentence to utter, and that sentence was not his own. It was a passage from the lectures of Professor Merivale, who declared,—That never had there been a commercial undertaking in which the love of gain was 1143 more completely subordinated to every higher impulse; and that never had there been a commercial undertaking more continually guided by the highest laws of justice and humanity, than the New Zealand Company.
§ Sir R. Peel
said: I consider that I was perfectly justified in referring to the document alluded to by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard. The hon. Gentleman tried to justify his charge of want of faith against my noble Friend by saying that my noble Friend, in his letter to Governor Fitzroy, had used the expression that he (the Governor) should aid the objects and claims of the Company "as far as was consistent with the interests of other parties and with those of the community at large." The hon. Member stated that this construction was a breach of the original agreement with the Company. I conceive, therefore, that I was justified in showing that there existed good reason for an instruction, which, after all, is only in conformity with the terms of a letter of the 8th of May, from Mr. Somes, on the part of the Company, and which asked Government to do its best to help the Company in their purchases of lands. My noble Friend directed the Government to do so; but to do so in the manner that should be most consistent with the rights of other parties—of the natives and the community at large. How far, after the previous expression of the Company's views, these words can be construed into a breach of faith I will cheerfully leave the good sense of the country to judge.
§ Original Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned.