HC Deb 25 February 1848 vol 96 cc1373-81

House in Committee of Supply.


moved— That a sum not exceeding 1,100,000l. be granted to Her Majesty towards defraying the expenses beyond the ordinary Grants for the year 1846–7, and 1847–8, for Army and Ordnance services occasioned by the Caffre war.

In the autumn of 1845 great alarm was felt in the Cape colony in consequence of the threatened incursions of the Caffres. Negotiations took place, which produced no result, and the last circumstance which provoked hostilities was an inroad made into the colony by a body of armed Caffres, who rescued one prisoner from the authorities, and murdered another. When remonstrated with, the Caffre chiefs replied that their young men were ready; and it was ascertained that they had made preparations for war by large purchases of arms and ammunition. Sir Peregrine Maitland proceeded to the scene of action, and took measures to check the Caffres, and to protect the colonists. His force, however, was inadequate, in consequence of two regiments having been detained at the River Plata. The expense of the operations had been considerably increased by the drought; the war was prolonged; and the Governor wrote home to say it was impossible the colony could bear the expense from its own resources. Previously to the last Session, the whole amount was very trifling, and not more than the colony could bear, particularly as the Governor had sent a despatch, stating that he had dismissed the burgher force, and the war was at an end. Unfortunately, Sir P. Maitland turned out to be very much mistaken, for immediately after the burgher force had been dismissed hostilities were renewed, and entailed more expense. Sir H. Pottinger was then sent out, and he checked the expenditure, which in many respects had become lavish and unjustifiable. But up to the present moment no final report had been received from him. The last despatch was dated December, and it contained the cash account only up to the January preceding. The best account which he could give of the expenditure was necessarily taken from the papers laid before the House. It was divided into two parts; the first, of which he had little reason to doubt the accuracy, was brought down to the 5th of April last, and it concluded the expenses of the Army, Ordnance, and Commissariat, amounting to 516,000l. The total expenses for the year he calculated at 520,000l. The expenses in the Session 1847–48 were 580,000l., making together the present estimate 1,100,000l. He hoped that the vote would not have to be repeated, for he was happy to say that under the able guidance of Sir H. Pottinger, the bravery of our troops had brought the war to a successful issue.


said, that if England chose madly to rush into war, she ought to pay the expenses of it. He should like, however, to know how the war commenced. It was not enough to say that Sir Peregrine Maitland had made a mistake; what he wanted, without saying that this money should not be paid, was a copy of all the despatches on the subject from the first to the last. He understood that this war had commenced in 1845. Why then were they now, in 1848, without information upon the subject? If ever there was a case that required to be sifted in a Committee, this was that case; and therefore it was that he should move, "That the Chairman report progress, and obtain leave to sit again." He should like to know the cause of this war, and whether Governors were allowed to make war at their own pleasure.


apprehended that every Governor had a right to repel aggression. However serious the consequences might be, he apprehended that Sir Peregrine Maitland would have been deeply responsible if he had not repelled the aggressions of the natives upon those whom it was the Governor's duty to protect. The cause of the war was pretty clearly explained by Sir Peregrine Maitland, at page 116 of the despatches. He said in his despatch, April 24, 1846— If the war were unnecessary to the preservation of this portion of the colony, and had been wantonly entered on for the acquisition of territory or cattle, and if I had not been unwillingly compelled to begin it by the obligation under which I hold my office, to provide for the safety and welfare of Her Majesty's subjects entrusted to my government, I should shrink from the task of laying before your Lordships the statements of this despatch. But I can conscientiously declare, and your Lordship will allow, that my series of despatches on frontier affairs bears out the assertion that I have done everything within my ability to avert hostilities and to preserve peace on both sides of the border, for the common welfare of the colonists and our uncivilised neighbours. I am now convinced that war with the colony has been for some time intended and diligently prepared for by them. The struggle was inevitable, and the time of commencement only a matter of policy with them, who as they grew prepared multiplied their daring outrages, and at the same time calculated on our long-tried forbearance still to afford them time to complete their preparations. Now, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said, deprecating war as much as any man, and fully persuaded that Governors could not wantonly enter into war, that there had been repeated outrages by the natives upon the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects at the Cape of Good Hope, and that it was the positive duty of the Governor to protect the lives and property of the colonists.


agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, that there could not be a fitter subject for investigation by a Committee than this; for in the present distressed state of the country he was convinced that the people did not care one sixpence about this Caffre squabble. He would venture to say that one-tenth of the money that had been expended would have sufficed to have kept off all the Caffre aggressions that had been ever made. The state of our colonies required the attention of the country.


The question was not whether the vote should be granted or not, but whether it should be granted at the present moment. He was decidedly of opinion that, under all circumstances, it ought not to be granted at the present time. There was a Committee spoken of, and which would be, probably, nominated before the rising of the House that night, for inquiring into the expenditure of the Navy, Army, and Ordnance Estimates; and he apprehended that under some or all of these heads the subject now under discussion might be inquired into. He hoped that it would come under some one or other of these heads, for he agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose, that although Committees of the House were exceedingly valuable in their functions on proper occasions, that to multiply them unnecessarily was by no means advisable. He believed he was not in error in supposing that when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose adhered to his expectation that some Member would propose a Committee on the subject, that the observation had reference to him, for he had had some preliminary conversation with the hon. Gentleman, which might have led him to that conclusion. He was glad, however, that he had not given any notice of the appointment of a Committee, as he did not wish to be accused of interposing between the hon. Gentleman and the discharge of that which might be considered his appropriate duty. He considered that the present question was one which well deserved their most anxious attention; and, holding this opinion, he was prepared to support the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, that the vote be postponed. If, however, the House was of opinion that the question did not come within the province of the Committee to be appointed on the Army, Navy, and Ordnance Estimates, he would be prepared to move for a separate Committee. In his opinion, there were few subjects which could more properly occupy the public attention than this unfortunate war, which had cost the country so much money, and had brought pain to the families of some of those with whom he was most nearly acquainted. He had, therefore, the deepest interest in pressing for an inquiry into this war; and he could not see how they could conscientiously vote so large a sum of money in the absence of the official papers which had just been printed, but which nobody had as yet time to read. There must be some information of a valuable character in these despatches, or else the expense of printing them could not be justified. The hon. Member for Northampton had justly observed, that of all our colonial possessions there were none which called for more anxious attention than that of the Cape of Good Hope. The possession of this colony had cost the country a vast expense in the maintenance of forces by sea and land; and what had been the equivalent gained? It brought us no profit, nor any reasonable prospect of it; on the contrary, its value as a colony had greatly diminished. It was exceedingly doubtful whether it was worth retaining at all, but certainly not at the present cost; and upon this account alone the appointment of a Committee would be desirable to determine its value. Before he concluded, he might be allowed to refer to another subject of a somewhat kindred character. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had made a Motion that evening on which he had not the opportunity of recording his vote, as he was absent from the House. But if he had been in the House he should not have voted for the Motion, though he would have adopted its sentiment. He doubted the expediency of that Committee, and he regretted very much to find it appointed without the recommendation of the Crown. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose was about to enter the Committee, fettered by the resolutions which he had himself proposed; but he (Mr. Bankes) assured that hon. Gentleman that, although he was to the full as anxious to relieve the subject from taxation as he was, he believed, in case he should concur in reductions, his opinion would receive as much credit for sincerity as if he had gone into the Committee fettered by declarations and bound by resolutions.


thought that the question was, whether or not we were to pay our debts, and if we were, he saw no reason for a postponement, especially when they were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was necessary for the public service that the vote should be granted without delay.


had the honour to hold the Seals of the Colonial Department when Sir Peregrine Maitland was Governor of the Cape, and he wished to bear a brief but emphatic testimony to the character of that gallant officer. He ventured to say, without the smallest fear of contradiction from any quarter, that they never had, in charge of any colony of this country, at any period, either a more gallant soldier, or a more humane and conscientious man, than Sir Peregrine Maitland. Of that there could be no question amongst those acquainted with the gallant officer, whether in person or reputation. In point of fact it ought to be known that the charges made against Sir Peregrine Maitland were not charges of having wantonly and prematurely entered into a war with the Caffres; they were charges of a directly opposite character, viz., that he was too anxious to keep the peace—that he would not anticipate the movement which some parties saw was likely to occur. He enjoyed the universal respect of the community he governed, but was the object of censure with individuals from his unwillingness to involve the country in a war with savages. Understanding from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, on the ground of public convenience, there was a necessity for this vote, he (Mr. Gladstone) should not hesitate to support it, although it might have been more satisfactory that the House should have been in possession of all the information on the subject of the war; but he trusted that the recollection of this subject would not pass away with voting the money. Whether there was any fault in the Colonial Office as to the policy pursued, he would not undertake to say. A great change had been adopted within the last twelve or fourteen years; and the effect of that change had been to bring heavy charges on this country. On the other hand, it was due to those who then held office to say, that the change which had been adopted proceeded from the purest motives, and from a feeling that the former system had been one in which the reckless will of individuals had been given too great a scope. He hoped that the lesson they were receiving to-night would be retained in the recollection of many, as applicable to the entire subject of colonial expenditure—one of the most formidable that could by possibility be brought before the House; and we should not have paid this money in vain if it were the means of leading to a profitable result as to moderation of views in the colonial empire, and to a determination to spare an immense charge on the people of this country for objects of small importance.


wished to press on the House the serious importance of not allowing these colonial affairs to be treated lightly any longer. If it were necessary to protect the subjects of this country settling in distant and wild countries, let it be done with the power, character, and efficiency that became this nation; but whilst he said that, he entreated the House to consider with what little precaution they had given encouragement to every enterprise of this description which had been projected on reasonable or on the wildest grounds. After the example of New Zealand, and after being called on to vote this one and a half million, with another vote in prospect, he felt it his duty to endeavour, with other Gentlemen acquainted with the subject, to impress on the House the importance of attending with more exactness than hitherto to the demands for expenses. There was another suggestion he would offer. He wished the right hon. Gentleman had explained to the House why, with a knowledge of the war pending before him, he did not come down to the House with an estimate and vote for the purposes of the war. It was too hard that they should be called on at this moment to vote for the expenses of three years' war, when they were scarcely aware that war was going on; and he thought there should be some regulation requiring a Secretary of State, when he saw the absolute necessity of war, to lay before the House the best estimate in his power of the expenses requisite to carry into effect at least the first operations. If the right hon. Gentleman had done this, he would not have given ground for the complaints of the hon. Member for Montrose. As, however, he understood that any delay in granting the money to Government might occasion inconvenience, and as he did not wish to place the least difficulty in the way of Government, he gave his concurrence to the vote.


thought the House had good ground of complaint against Government, for calling on them to vote this money without giving any information respecting the origin, progress, policy, or character of this war. Both former and later wars might have been prevented had just regard been paid to the rights of the aborigines.

The Committee divided on the question that the Chairman do report progress:—Ayes 61; Noes 252: Majority 191.

List of the AYES.
Alcock, T. Brotherton, J.
Barkly, H. Brown, W.
Blake, M. J. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Bouverie, E. P. Cobbold, J. C.
Bowring, Dr. Cobden, R.
Bright, J. Cowan, C.
Crawford, W. S. Pattison, J.
Deering, J. Pearson, C.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. Pechell, Capt.
Duke, Sir J. Pilkington, J.
Duncan, Visct. Raphael, A.
Duncan, G. Salwey, Col.
Ewart, W. Scholefield, W.
Fagan, W. Seeley, C.
Gardner, R. Sibthorp, Col.
Greene, J. Sidney, T.
Hall, Sir B. Smith, J. B.
Hardcastle, J. A. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hastie, A. Stuart, Lord D.
Henry, A. Sullivan, M.
Hindley, C. Thompson, Col.
Humphery, Ald. Thornely, T.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Thornhill, G.
Kershaw, J. Urquhart, D.
King, hon. P. J. L. Walmsley, Sir J.
Lushington, C. Wawn, J. T.
M'Gregor, J. Williams, J.
Mowatt, F. Willoughby, Sir H.
Mure, Col. Yorke, hon. E. T.
O'Brien, W. S. TELLERS.
O'Connor, F. Hume, J.
Osborne, R. Bankes, G.
List of the NOES.
Abdy, T. N. Christy, S.
Adair, H. E. Clay, J.
Adair, R. A. S. Clements, hon. C. S.
Aglionby, H. A. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Anderson, A. Clifford, H. M.
Anson, hon. Col. Cockburn, A. J. E.
Anson, Visct. Colvile, C. R.
Arkwright, G. Compton, H. C.
Armstrong, Sir A. Conolly, Col.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Cowper, hon. W. F.
Bagshaw, J. Craig, W. G.
Bailey, J. Cripps, W.
Baring, H. B. Cubitt, W.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Currie, R.
Baring, T. Davies, D. A. S.
Baring, hon. W. B. Denison, J. E.
Barnard, E. G. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Beckett, W. Duff, G. S.
Bellew, R. M. Duncuft, J.
Bennet, P. Dundas, Adm.
Beresford, W. Dundas, Sir D.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Dundas, G.
Bernard, Visct. Dunne, F. P.
Birch, Sir T. B. Du Pre, C. G.
Bourke, R. S. Ebrington, Visct.
Bowles, Adm. Edwards, H.
Boyd, J. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Boyle, hon. Col. Ellice, E.
Bramston, T. W. Elliott, hon. J. E.
Brand, T. Evans, W.
Broadley, H. Farrer, J.
Brockman, E. D. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bruce, C. L. C. Fitzpatrick, rt. hn. J. W.
Bunbury, E. H. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Burke, Sir T. J. Foley, J. H. H.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Forbes, W.
Cardwell, E. Fordyce, A. D.
Carew, W. H. P. Forester, hon. G. W.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Forster, M.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Freestun, Col.
Cayley, E. S. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Charteris, hon. F. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Glyn, G. C.
Childers, J. W. Gordon, Adm.
Gower, hon. F. L. Morpeth, Visct.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Morris, D.
Greene, T. Mulgrave, Earl of
Gregson, S. Mundy, E. M.
Grenfell, C. P. Newry & Morne, Visct.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Nugent, Sir P.
Grey, R. W. O'Brien, Sir L.
Grosvenor, Lord R. O'Brien, T.
Gwyn, H. O'Flaherty, A.
Hall, Col. Paget, Lord A.
Hastie, A. Paget, Lord C.
Hay, Lord J. Palmer, R.
Hayter, W. G. Palmerston, Visct.
Headlam, T. E. Parker, J.
Heathcote, J. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Heneage, E. Peel, Col.
Henley, J. W. Perfect, R.
Hervey, Lord A. Peto, S. M.
Heywood, J. Pinney, W.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Plumptre, J. P.
Hodges, T. L. Plowden, W. H. C.
Hodges, T. T. Power, Dr.
Hollond, R. Power, N.
Hood, Sir A. Powlett, Lord W.
Hope, Sir J. Price, Sir R.
Hope, A. Renton, J. C.
Hotham, Lord Ricardo, J. L.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Ricardo, O.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Rich, H.
Hudson, G. Richards, R.
Ingestre, Visct. Robartes, T. J. A.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Romilly, J.
Ireland, T. J. Russell, Lord J.
Jackson, W. Russell, hon. E. S.
Jervis, Sir J. Rutherford, A.
Jervis, J. Sadlier, J.
Jones, Sir W. Sandars, G.
Jones, Capt. Scully, F.
Keogh, W. Seymer, H. K.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Seymour, Lord
Ker, R. Shelburne, Earl of
Kildare, Marq. of Sheridan, R. B.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Slaney, R. A.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Law, hon. C. E. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Lemon, Sir C. Spearman, H. J.
Lennard, T. B. Spooner, R.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Stafford, A.
Lewis, G. C. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Stanton, W. H.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Loch, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Locke, J. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Lockhart, A. E. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Mackinnon, W. A. Talbot, C. R. M.
Macnamara, Maj. Talbot, J. H.
M'Naghten, Sir E. Talfourd, Serj.
Mahon, The O'Gorman Tancred, H. W.
Marshall, J. G. Tenison, E. K.
Marshall, W. Thesiger, Sir F.
Martin, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Martin, S. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Masterman, J. Towneley, J.
Matheson, A. Townley, R. G.
Matheson, J. Townshend, Capt.
Matheson, Col. Trelawny, J. S.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Melgund, Visct. Turner, E.
Miles, W. Turner, G. J.
Mitchell, T. A. Tynte, Col. C. J. K.
Moffatt, G. Vane, Lord H.
Monsell, W. Verney, Sir H.
Morgan, O. Waddington, H. S.
Wall, C. B. Wood, W. P.
Walpole, S. H. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Walsh, Sir J. B. Wrightson, W. B.
Ward, H. G. Wyld, J.
Watkins, Col. L. Wyvill, M.
West, F. R. Yorke, H. G. R.
Westhead, J. P.
Willcox, B. M. TELLERS.
Williamson, Sir H. Tufnell, H.
Wood, rt. hon. Sir C. Hill, Lord M.

Vote agreed to.

Vote of 245, 410l. 19s. 7d., for Navy excess in 1846–7, also agreed to.

House resumed, and adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock.