HC Deb 24 August 1848 vol 101 cc496-8

said, he wished to put the following questions to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies:—"1. The expenditure of the island of Mauritius for each of the years 1846 and 1847, and the disbursement made in each of those for emigration? 2. The amount of reduction of taxes in the island, distinguishing the taxes levied for general purposes from those levied for special purposes, such as immigration taxes, quay and tonnage dues? 3. In what consist the reduction of 65,000l. a-year, stated by Her Majesty's Government to have been effected in 1847, and whether those reductions do not partake of the nature of commutations of taxation rather than of reductions? 4. The balance in the Island Treasury on the 31st day of December, 1846 and 1847, respectively? 5. The amount of funds now in the hands of the colonial agents in London belonging to the island, separating the amount invested in the public funds from those which are not? 6. Whether any instructions have been sent out to the Governor with a view to the reduction of expenditure, as suggested at various times by the Mauritius Association? 7. Whether the Government bank has been established, of which it was intended Mr. Macaulay should be the manager; and whether any salaries have been paid, or are appointed to be paid to Mr. Macaulay, or to any other directors, and the amount of those salaries, if any? 8. The grounds upon which the late Auditor General of Accounts has been permitted to retire upon a pension, the amount of that pension, the name of his successor, and, if that successor be Mr. Ker, whether he be or be not Sir W. Gomm's brother-in-law?"

MR. HAWES said

, he would endeavour to give a distinct answer to each question of the noble Lord, in the same order in which they were put. As to the first, he found from a despatch of the Governor of Mauritius, which had been recently laid on the table of the other House of Parliament, that the revenue of 1846 was 278,070l., and of 1847, 289,193l., and that the disbursement for emigration was, in 1846, 41,098l., and in 1847, 50,207l. With respect to the questions Nos. 2 and 3, the noble Lord would find in the papers laid before the House on the 9th of March, 1848, a very minute and elaborate account of the taxes which had been retained, and of the new ones which had been imposed. From those papers it appeared that the total decrease of taxation was 35,700l.; and in a despatch from the Governor, dated the 4th of February, 1848, he stated that an ordinance would be issued for the total suspension of the stamp duties, by which there would be a further reduction of taxation to the amount of 30,000l., making in all 65,000l. In answer to No. 4, he believed that on the 31st of December, 1846, there was an available balance of assets of 131,439l.; and on the 1st of January, 1847, of 139,491l.; though he doubted whether that was an available balance, because considerable sums of money were sometimes placed in the colonial chest as trust moneys on bond, and they had amounted to as much as 50,000l. The amount of those moneys, therefore, whatever it might be, mnst be deducted from the sum he had mentioned. As to No. 5, he believed the funds in the hands of the colonial agent consisted of 1,671l. cash, and 42,000l. in Exchequer bills. With reference to No. 6, he could say that his noble Friend had, on more than one occasion, made very strong recommendations to the Governor to reduce the expenditure of the island. As to question No. 7, the only person receiving a salary was Mr. Macaulay, whose salary was fixed at 1,000l. a year. The only other directors were the Colonial Treasurer and the Auditor General, and they would not receive any salary. No issue of Government paper had taken place, because the conditions proposed by the Government had not been accepted, and the bank was consequently not in practical operation. With regard to the last question put to him by the noble Lord, the late Auditor General had served since 1815, and had been superannuated on the ground of ill health; and taking into consideration his long services and high character, the Treasury had awarded him the full amount of his salary as a pension. The noble Lord was aware that the question of what amount a pension should be was entirely decided by the Treasury. His successor was Mr. Ker, and he (Mr. Hawes) had every reason to believe that Mr. Ker was the brother-in-law of Sir W. Gomm. The pension awarded to the late Auditor General was 800l. a year.