HC Deb 15 February 1850 vol 108 cc822-3

said, he had a question to ask relating to a statement contained in the report from the Select Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales on Crown lands, dated the 2nd of October, 1849. That report stated that a gang of desperate and hardened ruffians had been sent out to New South Wales in an emigrant ship in the course of last year, and that they had not only been sent out by the Government, but that the land fund of the colony had been expended in paying the cost of their passage; that they had been received and escorted on board by police; and that their conduct both on board ship and on shore had been most ruffianly and disgraceful. They complained that 350l. of the Colonial Land Fund had been expended for the advantage of those ruffians, and they requested that that amount might he given back to them. He wished to know if the representation contained in that report was founded in fact?


had not seen the report of the Committee to which the hon. Gentleman referred. He was, however, happy to assure the hon. Member that the statement was altogether without foundation. No persons of the character described in that report had been sent out as colonists either at the expense of the colony or of the Home Government. He had no doubt, however, that the circumstances which had given rise to the statement were these:—About twelve months ago the magistrates in the neighbourhood of Ashton addressed a communication to him, representing that certain married men with families, who had given evidence in the previous year against persons who had been tried for riots and disturbances in that part of the country, had been subjected to so much annoyance in consequence that they were anxious to emigrate, and the magistrates inquired whether a free passage would be granted to those persons. He (Sir G. Grey) communicated with the Emigration Commissioners on the subject, and it was found on inquiry that, with the exception of two of the persons mentioned, all these men came within the class to which the commissioners, applying the ordinary rules upon which they acted in the distribution of the funds at their disposal, could afford assistance to enable them to emigrate. These persons were, therefore, sent out by the commissioners, with some aid from the colonial funds, at an expense of 205l., and not 350l as had been asserted. He might add, that he had been applied to by magistrates to afford assistance for the emigration of persons who had been convicted of criminal offences, on their release from prison, with a view to remove them from the contaminating influence of their former associates in this country; but he had felt obliged to reply to such requests that the colonial funds could not be applied to aid the emigration of persons convicted of crime.