HC Deb 29 July 1851 vol 118 cc1744-6

begged, pursuant to notice, to call the attention of the House to the petition from the native-born colonists of Van Diemen's Land, presented on Monday, the 16th of June last. It was admitted that the people of Van Diemen's Land were desirous that transportation to that colony should cease, and that its moral, social, and commercial condition had been entirely ruined by the continuance of transportation. The recent speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) on that subject, had removed the necessity for his going into the question at any length. That speech was unanswerable, and would be read with deep interest in all the Australian colonies. It was not denied that Sir William Denison had promised that transportation should cease in the space of two years, but that pledge had been broken. Since the last debate on this subject, upwards of 200 persons in Van Diemen's Land had requested him to take charge of their petition, and to call attention to its contents. At that period of the night and of the Session, and in the present temper of the House, he should, he thought, be betraying, instead of discharging, the trust reposed in him, if he entered into the causes of the complaints from Van Diemen's Land, or the colonies in general. He thought he should best redeem his pledge by calling attention to the allegation in this petition. Having done so, he would resume his seat, and take an opportunity in the ensuing Session to do more justice than he could then do to the complaints of those persons whose representative he felt himself to be. The petition was from colonists who were all natives of Van Diemen's Land. They referred to petitions on the table which had been reprinted by-order of the House, and they said that those petitions, and the correspondence to which they had given rise, established the fact, that the deplorable condition of Van Diemen's Land, in a moral, social, commercial, and political point of view, was solely attributable, and attributed by the officers of the Government themselves, to the present system of transportation. The petitioners said theirs was a peculiar case, and unlike the case of those who emigrated. They were born in the country, received their education there, and derived their opinions from local experience alone; and they argued that the evils they complained of were of a peculiar character, because they had no personal experience to appeal to on behalf of the Imperial Government, whose protection they never felt, and only knew as an oppressor. They said they had suffered in their worldly circumstances from the acts of perfidy of the Government in a manner that other colonists had not suffered, for other colonists had the option of leaving the island and getting employment elsewhere; but when the petitioners left it to seek in another colony what was denied them in the country of their birth, their hopes were extinguished—their applications for employment were rejected, and they had been obliged, in despite of themselves, to return to the country of their birth, because they found every other place barred against them. They said they claimed but justice from Parliament, and prayed that transportation to Australia and Van Diemen's Land might cease for ever.

Notice taken that Forty Members were not present; House counted; and Forty Members not being present,

The House was adjourned at a quarter before Eleven of the clock.