§ House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the Chair.738
§ 300,000l. Expenses of Kaffir War.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Resolution be now read a Second Time."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he rather anticipated, from what had just fallen from the hon. Gentleman, that it was probable the discussion which might follow the proposal he had now to make, would turn upon other matter than the expense of the war; but he should endeavour to confine his observations to the financial part of the question. He need hardly detain the Committee with details as to the present state of the colony at the Cape of Good Hope, as they were no doubt sufficiently aware that a war was at present raging there with the Kaffir tribes, and that a considerable expense must be incurred for the purpose of putting an end to these hostilities; and he need, hardly remind the Committee of the character of the hostilities which, in former times, as well as the present, had generally prevailed between a civilised people and their less civilised neighbours; nor that, unless there was an interference on the part of the Government, the hostilities between the border settlers and their neighbours were of a very sanguinary description. Such were the hostilities formerly carried on with the Indians in our North American colonics, and such he was afraid were the hostilities between the Dutch Boors and Kaffir tribes at the Cape of Good Hope. The more enlightened spirit of modern times had, however, put an end as far as possible to that description of warfare. The necessary consequence was, that the warfare which was carried on was of a much more expensive character; and he thought it worth the while of a civilised nation to carry it on that way rather than in the barbarous mode which had hitherto characterised that description of hostilities. In the late Kaffir war a very serious expense was incurred, mainly arising from the officers in the colony being then very much unprepared for hostilities; and from its being necessary to provide the means of supplying the troops in great haste, without a proper staff being on the spot. It was also necessary to convey the supplies to the troops from a very great distance, as at that time the supplies were landed at Port Elizabeth, and then forwarded by Graham Town to the seat of war, through a tract of country exposed to the hostilities of the Kaffir tribes. Fortunately, the expense on the present occa- 739 sion would be very much diminished by our now having possession of a landing-place at the mouth of the Buffalo River, which enabled us to land stores and munitions of war nearer to the scene of action. They wore now forwarded from East London to King William's Town, the centre of hostilities, at a less expense, and with less liability to attack by the Kaffirs, than in the former war. When he last addressed the Committee, he was apprehensive that a greater expense would be incurred than he thought would now probably be the case. The first estimate sent home by the Commissary-General at the Cape was, that the probable extra expenditure on account of the war for the six months would be about 400,000l.; and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) then proposed to take a vote for 300,000l.; hoping that the war might possibly be brought to a speedy termination. He was afraid that that hope was very much diminished; but at the same time he was happy to state that the probable expenditure for the time was very much diminished also. Profiting by the experience of the late war, very stringent instructions were sent out to the commissariat officers in 1849, and a very much more rigid system of accounts was enforced upon them. A number of persons conversant with the business had been trained during the late war, and the Commissary-General was now able to avail himself of their assistance in keeping down the expenditure more effectually than in the former war. Great part of the expenditure then of necessity passed through hands over whom the commissariat officers had no adequate control. He had often been asked whether the accounts of the late Kaffir war had been completely audited; and he had been obliged to answer that that was not the case, in consequence of the impossibility of obtaining accounts from those colonial officers who were intrusted with the expenditure of a considerable portion of the money. The whole accounts of the commissariat officers had been rendered long since; and, as far as they went, the accounts had been audited, so far at least as it was possible to audit three-fourths of an account when it had been, so far, impossible to got the remaining one-fourth. Recent accounts from the Commissary-General at the Cape of Good Hope were of a much more satisfactory character with respect to the probable amount of expenditure, while at the same time letters from Sir 740 Harry Smith to the Commissary-General stated, that he never knew troops more efficiently or more perfectly supplied with all necessaries. The actual expenditure for the month of January was 12,600l.; and while the original estimate for the expenditure up to the end of July was 400,000l.; it was now (from the experience of the first three months of the year up to the end of March) estimated at only 202,000l. in addition to the 12,600l. for the month of January, a sum not much more than half the original estimate. In the month of April last, 15,000 men in arms were in receipt of rations, and 15,000 more persons, consisting of the families of the levies, were in receipt either of rations or allowances during the absence of their husbands and parents. Altogether there were 30,000 persons receiving supplies from the commissariat. Notwithstanding this reduction in the estimate, he did not think it would be prudent to reduce the sum for which he originally proposed to take a vote, for no one could tell what would be the duration of these hostilities, and of course the money would not be spent unless it was wanted. It was only justice to the Commander-in-Chief to say, that while he had very properly required from the Commissary-General that all the necessary stores should be sent to the troops, he had joined heart and hand with that officer in keeping down the expenses on the frontier, and, according to the last accounts, he had succeeded in doing that to a very great extent. A great system of jobbing went on during the last war, and very large sums of money were put into the pockets of some parties; but this system had been put down by the exertions made upon the spot by the Governor-General. He should conclude by moving that a sum not exceeding 300,000l. should be granted to Her Majesty to defray the expenses of the Kaffir war, beyond the ordinary grants for the Army, Navy, and Commissariat services for the year 1851–2.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to recommend to the Committee the Vote which he had just moved, upon two grounds: first, that it was a small vote; and, next, that it was for a war of a more satisfactory character than might have been anticipated under a different course of policy. He (Mr. Adderley) thought, however, that the present vote was a mere exponent of the future expenses of wars which, under present cir- 741 cumstances, and if we adhered to our present course of policy, promised to be almost interminable. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it matter of satisfaction that the present war was not such as those which formerly existed on the frontier of our North American colonies, or such as the Dutch Boers formerly maintained with the savages of the Cape of Good Hope, against whom we were now contending. He did not think, however, that either of the precedents referred to would present us with a more atrocious or barbarous system of warfare than that we were now carrying on ourselves, on the frontier of the Cape of Good Hope, under the command of Sir Harry Smith, who was not only the commander-in-chief of the forces, but the representative of Her Majesty in the colony. That war was now being carried on by the destruction of the crops belonging to the Kaffirs, who retaliated by roasting the prisoners whom they captured. Though he hardly knew what line to take since his position had been changed with reference to the Motion of which he had given notice, yet he wished to state some considerations which might have some influence in inducing the Committee to arrive at the conclusion that the vote now proposed should be adjourned for a few days, till more satisfactory information should be obtained. What was this vote? It was a vote of 300,000l. towards the expenses of the Kaffir war; but he believed if a vote of half-a-crown, or of any other sum, were proposed, such a vote would be just as reasonable, as good for the purpose, as legitimate an exponent of the gigantic expenses now incurring at the Capo, as this merely arbitrary sum of 300,000l., for naming which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had assigned no reason or ground, had produced no estimate or data on which he could be justified in preferring it to a sum much larger or much smaller. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the expenditure on account of the present war would be conducted in a much more satisfactory manner than that on account of the late war. But let the Committee recollect that this was the seventh Kaffir war for which the country had had to pay during the short period in which we had been in possession of the colony; and if it was the case that we were taken by surprise in the late war, that the Governor General did not know how to conduct his commissariat department, and that he was 742 embarrassed by the long distance which the supplies for the troops had to be carried, this only proved that the sixth war was expensive because the five former ones had not taught us how to manage our commissariat. The right hon. Gentleman knew that the accounts of the late war had not been audited; that they wore still lying unexamined, in a heap, in the office at Cape Town, to which they were first sent; and as for sending them to England, he believed there was no one here who wished to see them, and no one at the Cape who wished to send them. They never had been and never would be audited; nor did any one know the extent of the imposition and peculation (which the Governor General himself said was unbounded) during the late war. Because an estimate of 202,000l. had been sent home to the right hon. Gentleman instead of the 400,000l. which he expected, he (without knowing how much of the expenses already incurred this 202,000l. represented) was ready to anticipate a much more satisfactory limitation to the expenditure upon the war, than any one who had been accustomed to consider the subject would be inclined to do. The Committee, before agreeing to this vote, must consider its causes and the chances of its recurrence. It had been laid down by many Colonial Ministers, and by none more clearly than by Earl Grey, in the late correspondence with the Governor of New Zealand, that every colony which had a representative government given to it must bear the expenses of its own internal defence. In considering this vote it would therefore be much more to the purpose to inquire why the colony of the Cape of Good Hope had not a representative government, than to consider the precise amount of the expenses of the war. Every one knew perfectly well that we must pay the whole expense of the present Kaffir war, and the only question was whether we had a hope of its coming to a speedy conclusion, or of such a constitution being granted to the Cape of Good Hope as would relieve this country from the burden of such expenses in future. No doubt, if the colony had to bear the expense, it would be a great check upon these wars; for the colony would then be much more careful of running into them; but so long as there were the Army and the purse of England to fall back upon, there would always be a large body of men in the colony whose interest (though not that of the colonists generally) it would be 743 to have these wars. At all events, however, we should then cease to bear the expense. He believed, therefore, that the result would be that they would cease. What the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer called the barbarous system of dealing with the natives would again recur; the settlers would take strong measures for repressing aggressions upon their property; they would again pursue the system which they once took successfully, and which he thought was in reality more merciful than the one now pursued. The question then was, why had not the Cape of Good Hope a representative government? In the early part of 1850 Her Majesty sent out letters patent to the Governor of the Colony, authorising him, with his Legislative Council, to form a representative constitution for the Colony. The first task of the Governor, on the receipt of these letters patent, was to form a Legislative Council, to enable him to exercise the powers thus granted to him in conjunction with that body. No Legislative Council had existed in the Colony for two years, as no one would consent to what was considered the degradation of sitting in it; so that for three years previous to the present time there had been no Government at the Cape of Good Hope except the Governor himself. Acting on a suggestion of Earl Grey, Sir Harry Smith proceeded, then, to fill up the Council by what was virtually popular election; that was, he announced that he would appoint as members of the Council those who were recommended to him by the colonists. The task of forming a constitution was a most material point to which he (Mr. Adderley) wished to refer; that and another were the only two points to which he should call the attention of the Committee, for they were the two most essential points of the whole history. Those who were not aware of the facts erroneously supposed that it was in consequence of some minor differences respecting the formation of the constitution, that the elected members resigned. That was not so. The members elected by the people were ready to take any constitution that was offered to them; and would have been perfectly thankful if they had received the constitution as it bad been sketched out and contained in the letters patent sent out by Earl Grey. It was not on account of the nature of the constitution they resigned, but because the Government presented to them a series of measures on other subjects, which led 744 them to suppose that they had been tricked into being elected into a Council, to be used as an ordinary legislature, instead of being used as a constituent assembly. They said they had been sent there by the municipalities to constitute a constituent assembly, and bad not been sent there as an ordinary legislature, and were not authorised to act as such. Thirteen Bills had been presented to them as if they were an ordinary legislature previous to considering the new constitution, and they refused to go into those subjects. It might be said that the first Bill presented to them was not a Bill of any great moment—a Bill relating to the Dutch Church; but any person who had leisure to read the blue book could not doubt for a moment this fact, that the point at issue between the Government and the elected members was, that the elected members refused to pass the estimates for the expenses that had been incurred during the two previous years; whereas the Governor was afraid to meet a new Parliament without having that expenditure sanctioned by the Legislative Council. The Council wished the question of expense to be postponed until they bad framed a new constitution. On that point solely they resigned, and having so resigned, the proposed constitution could not be proceeded with. The elected members who resigned, having met together, drew up a draft constitution according to the expressed views of the larger part of the colony. Two gentlemen had come from the colony with that proposition, and they were authorised to speak the sentiments of nine-tenths of the future proposed electoral body of the colony. Of that there could be no doubt in the mind of any man who looked at the papers they had circulated for the purpose of making the facts known throughout this country. That constitution consisted of sixteen articles, and the colonists who approved of it were represented in this country by Sir Andreas Stockenstroem and Mr. Fairbairn. Upon the arrival of the first delegate (the second had only just arrived) he proceeded to Earl Grey; but both he and the House of Commons had to wait for an answer until the arrival of certain despatches from the Cape of Good Hope. Those despatches had arrived at length, and had been printed and laid upon the table of the House; and what they showed was this, that as soon as Earl Grey had heard of the statement upon the point, his first act was to reprimand Sir Harry Smith on two grounds: 745 first, that he had appealed to popular election in filling up his Council; and, nest, because when the four gentlemen so elected had resigned he did not go on with his Government with the remainder of the Council. Sir Harry Smith defended himself on the double ground that he had no other mode of filling up his Council, having tried to do so for two years, and had failed, and his only mode therefore was to appeal to popular election, or rather to popular recommendation; and, secondly, that his having so appealed to popular recommendation had been done at the suggestion of Earl Grey himself; and any person who looked to the despatches would see that Sir Harry Smith was fully justified on that point. With regard to the other part of the reprimand, be defended himself by stating that he had consulted his law officers as to whether he could go on with his Government after the four members bad resigned, and that the law officers gave it as their opinion that he could not go on with the remnant of the Council. They said that the remnant having been reduced below the legal number, it would be illegal for him to proceed with them. On receiving this answer from Sir Harry Smith, Earl Grey wrote back to say—I cannot myself personally agree in the opinion of your legal officers, and I think if I were to ask the legal officers of the Crown here their opinion on the subject, they would give a different opinion. However, it is too late to make it worth while to dispute this point, and therefore I have advised Her Majesty to send out fresh instructions, by which you will be enabled to carry on the ordinary powers of the Government with the remnant of the Council.Whether Her Majesty had the power to issue those fresh instructions, after the letters patent of 1850, was a matter more for the consideration of the law officers of the Crown than for him. He should suppose there was considerable doubt on the point; at all events Earl Grey seemed himself to have some diffidence about it, and cautioned Sir Harry Smith that it was desirable that he should do no more than the mere ordinary routine business of the Government with that remnant, and that he should not attempt to exercise the powers given to him in the first letters patent with that Council, but should wait for a better season to fill up the Council to its first amount, in which case he might be able to proceed under the original letters patent in forming a new constitution. That brought the whole history of the constitution to a close; that was the 746 end of all the despatches on the subject that had been laid upon the table of the House; and he would now call the attention of the Committee to the epitome of the last despatch he had alluded to, winch was simply this—"Sir Harry Smith, if you cannot find four men in the whole of the colony to fill up your Legislative Council, then you must govern the country without one single colonist." If this were acted upon, Sir Harry Smith would be the first Governor that ever was invested with such authority; he had received a sort of Emperor-of-Russia authority over the colony; but that was not the whole of the grievance. The Governor himself was not at Cape Town. He was beyond the frontier acting in two other capacities: he was at King William's Town in Kaffiraria, acting as Her Majesty's commissioner and general in command of the forces, carrying on the war. The Cape of Good Hope at this moment was under the government of Mr. Montague, the Government secretary, and no other person; it was a Montague government, and nothing else, and that was a secret government, for he was not a responsible man. The colony of the Cape of Good Hope (one of the most important of their colonies) was under the nameless and irresponsible government of Mr. Montague. He alone wrote despatches, conducted the government, had no council, no responsibility, and was the secret government at the Cape of Good Hope at that moment. While such an anomalous state of things had existed in the colony, how had the expenses of the government been carried on? For three years there had not been a single vote legalising the appropriation of the revenue; it was mainly raised from permanent taxes, but it had been appropriated upon the responsibility of the Governor. The revenue had not mot the expenditure during that time, and the excess had been taken from the Orphan Guardians' Fund arising from the estates of minors. In the midst of such a state of things the Kaffir war had occurred; but he had no intention to allude to it. The Committee was acquainted with the circumstances, and he had no intention to trace that to Sir Harry Smith's conduct; but he wished to call the attention of the Committee to a new fact, and that was, whether the policy of the Government was in process of being brought to a conclusion, or was in process of being further carried out and exaggerated. He believed there was on the part of the Committee 747 and of the country an indefinite notion, that if they were content to bear the 2,000,000l. they had to pay, this would be the last war, and that the policy which had occasioned it was in process of being changed; but instead of the policy being in process of being changed or checked, it was in process of being exaggerated to such a gigantic extent, that all that had heretofore occurred appeared as nothing when compared to what might be expected hereafter from the future policy of Earl Grey. On the 12th of July, 1850, Sir Harry Smith wrote to Earl Grey, as a piece of good news, that there had been a new lake discovered 700 miles north of the northern frontier of their colony. It appeared that the Boers, discontented with their rule, were rejoiced to find a fertile spot in the interior, and were resolved to give up their possessions to escape to this lake, and Sir Harry Smith congratulated Earl Grey that he had been beforehand with them, that he had already sent his agent there, that he was glad to find he had arrived at this lake before the Boers, and he asked Earl Grey to extend the 6th and 7th William IV. c. 57, which was an Act passed for extending their jurisdiction beyond the frontier of the colony; he asked him to extend that Act immediately to the Equator. He said it was his impression that it would be advisable to accredit a British agent to reside with the chiefs in the neighbourhood of the lake, and that they should select a missionary. He held out to the natives as his opinion that the Boers were their enemies, that it was at their risk and imminent danger they would allow the Dutch Boors to come amongst them, and he held up the Dutch Boers to the hatred of the natives. Sir Harry Smith said—In giving your Lordship this advice, I am following the same principle which guided me in inducing Her Majesty to proclaim British sovereignty between the Orange and Veal rivers.Earl Grey's reply to this communication of Sir Harry Smith was dated in November last. He began by telling Sir Harry Smith that his determination to declare that whole country under British rule was right, and then he adds—At the same time I would advise you to enter into friendly relations with those chiefs; advise those chiefs to combine against the Boers under a general authority; tell them the British Government will help them. If they choose, the Governor of the Cape will send them an officer to reside amongst them, and aid them by his advice and direction. His first stop is to induce 748 the chiefs to establish a confederacy against the Boers, and induce them to invite the residence of a British officer amongst them, who may act as the commandant of the Kaffirs has acted, and would conduct the government, and establish a force like the Kaffir police, and impose taxes. I hope to introduce a Bill next Session to extend the Act 6 and 7 William IV., c. 57, to the Equator.He thought the extract he had read from that despatch would show that the policy which had created the war was continued; and if they had to vote millions for the expense of Kaffir wars, they would have to vote tens of millions for a war between the Orange River and the Equator. The frontier policy which had created these wars—wars which the colonists themselves deprecated, which were ruinous to the colony, and most burdensome to this country—instead of being checked and diminished, was about to be exaggerated. The frontier policy had been referred to a Select Committee, and he would say no more on that point; but they should bear in mind that the effect of referring the subject to a Select Committee was to fix upon the country the responsibility of that war. At that moment the whole mass of the Kaffir tribes was combined against us in an internecine war, and the last man who had been gained over was the greatest of all the chiefs, Kreili, and there was not at that moment a single district where the natives were not at war against us. So far he had drawn a gloomy picture, and such as would not much encourage them to sanction a policy which led to such a result. He now begged to call the attention of the Committee to more encouraging symptoms, and he did so with great satisfaction. The two deputies from the Cape of Good Hope had made a solemn appeal to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, pointing out to the noble Lord the means he had in his hands to put an end to the present disastrous state of things, and they implore him humbly to interfere and render aid to those men who felt that the lives and properties of themselves and their countrymen depended upon his answer. He (Mr. Adderley) believed that the noble Lord's answer was such as gave them the greatest encouragement; and it certainly was no less than he (Mr. Adderley) had anticipated, not alone from the character of the noble Lord, but in consequence of his antecedents in connection with the colonial department of the country, for he believed that every one would 749 allow the noble Lord to have been one of the best Colonial Secretaries this country ever possessed. The noble Lord requested they should state to him what alterations they wished to have in the constitution that had been offered to them, and the reasons they had for proposing those alterations. Their reply was, that they wished for no alteration whatever, and were content to take the constitution offered to them, with this material difference, that no previous legislation should be necessary on the part of the old Legislative Council. The noble Lord's second answer, though as kind and considerate as the first, was perhaps, not quite as encouraging; for though they understood it to mean that the noble Lord felt and sympathised with them on account of the momentous crisis at which the colony had arrived, yet at the same time he thought it right to wait for further despatches, to see if there was any chance of the war being concluded before he gave a definite answer as to the time they might expect this representative constitution would be given to them. At the same time he alluded to certain technical or legal difficulties that should be removed before he could say that the new constitution would be sent out from this country without the intervention of the Legislative Council. He (Mr. Adderley) thought the noble Lord might have taken a bolder step, and stated his views more decisively and resolutely, and he could not see what impediment there was in the way of the noble Lord doing so, Since the noble Lord had given that answer, despatches had arrived which proved that there was not the slightest chance of the war being concluded for many months. What, then, should prevent the noble Lord from proceeding at once to the completion of that constitution which he thought was so necessary for the colony? He had the means of completing it if he chose. While Sir Harry Smith was engaged in the war beyond the frontier, he might, acting on the precedent of Canada, scud out a nobleman of rank and position, as Commissioner, to carry the constitution into effect. If a constitution was granted to the colonists at the Cape, they would do that which they offered to do twenty-three years ago if a constitution was given them; namely, to take on themselves, from their own energies and their own resources, the whole of the expenses incident to the maintenance of war in the colony. He (Mr. Adderley) would therefore press on the noble Lord a considera- 750 tion of the statement he (Mr. Adderley) had ventured to make, at much greater length than he had intended. He would put it to the Committee whether the discussion of this vote ought not, at least for a day or two, to be adjourned until the noble Lord gave a decided answer, which the noble Lord said he should be able to do in a few days.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
must say he thought the hon. Gentleman, though no doubt fully persuaded of the views he expressed, was very much mistaken with respect to the causes of our present difficulties at the Cape, and as to that which he believed to be their immediate remedy. The whole statement of the hon. Gentleman resolved itself into this—that this country was making war on the native tribes, and that the wars in which they had engaged had been entirely wanton and unnecessary, and he thought, if the colonists had representative institutions, and were told they would have to vote taxes for the war, they would decline to hear any such burden, and that the war would cease from the want of aliment. Now, all that theory of the hon. Gentleman's was based on the supposition that Her Majesty's subjects at the Cape of Good Hope made war on those savage tribes merely for the purpose of making war, and with no other purpose than the destruction of the people, without any aggression having been made upon themselves. But any man who had looked to the history of the Cape colony before and since it had been in their possession, must see the real state of things had been totally different, and that the Dutch and English settlers, having extended their settlements beyond the immediate frontier of Cape Town, had maintained their positions, and that the Kaffirs and other tribes had from time to time rushed down to destroy their dwellings, and to carry off their cattle. Thus in 1845 the account they had received was, that 10,000 Kaffirs had entered within the frontier, had destroyed the farmhouses of the inhabitants, and had carried of all the cattle belonging to the farms. To defend themselves against such attacks and incursions, was surely no wanton act on the part of the colonists. He (Lord J. Russell) thought it was an extravagant proposition to say to the colonists so circumstanced, that they were to defray the expense of protecting their property and their lives, and that if they did not defend their settlement, they would be exposed to the chance of murder 751 at the hands of the savage tribes by whom they were continually liable to be assailed. He thought it much more reasonable for the colonists to call for protection on those in whom the sovereign power resided. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose the constitution would be of such value that, contrary to his former supposition, it would immediately mate the inhabitants defray the expenses of the war. He had no doubt received assurances of that kind; but he (Lord J. Russell) did not find there was any party ready to make public assurances of the same description, and they had no intimation that the colonists were prepared to say if we gave them a representative constitution they would vote taxes, and give what would be sufficient for the purposes of the war without the assistance of the United Kingdom; on the contrary, Mr. Fairbairn, he understood, held very different language before the Select Committee, and very prudently and properly declined to commit himself to any pledge that the colony would sustain that expense. It being impossible, considering the revenue of the colony, that the expenses could be defrayed otherwise than by this country, large questions arose connected with the subject, some to be considered by the Select Committee, and others which were matters for debate in that House; but he really did not think they could lay down any system which would give them perfect security on the subject. He was aware that the war was of a very distressing character, that many savage acts had been committed, and that the plan adopted had not been so entirely successful as to enable them to say they were free from the danger of Kaffir wars in future; but, at the same time, the policy the hon. Gentleman derided as mere folly, and as utterly unworthy of this country, was the policy that had been adopted partly in consequence of the advice of such able men as Sir Benjamin D'Urban and Sir Henry Pottinger, and their successors, and partly in consequence of a very strong feeling in that House and in the country that they ought not for the sake of the character of the nation to support the former system of the Dutch settlers, or the old commando system, which consisted in persons going out with their rifles and shooting any native they saw, whether engaged in any predatory proceeding or not. It certainly deserved examination hereafter to see if they should go on with the present system, and, if any alteration was to take place, what it 752 ought to be. At the present moment the question was, whether this country should bear the expense, which it was clear the colony could not bear; but when the hon. Gentleman asked him whether he was prepared on other grounds to issue an immediate grant of the constitution, he must recall what were the real circumstances which had happened, and which would be found, perhaps, not to be in entire conformity with the hon. Gentleman's statement. It must be in the recollection of the Committee when the proposal of a representative constitution came over to this country, Lord Stanley, who was then Secretary for the Colonies, discouraged the project, entertaining doubts whether it was practicable to introduce a representative constitution at that time; and from 1842 to 1849 very little had been heard of it. On considering the whole matter, and examining it in the most solemn way by the Committee of Privy Council, it was resolved by Government to attempt to establish a representative constitution at the Cape; but the persons whom Sir Harry Smith called to the Executive Council, with the view that they should assist him in carrying into effect the details of the representative constitution, so that the whole instrument might receive the approbation of Government, instead of aiding him, set themselves to thwart him and his counsels by every kind of obstructive annoyance; and Sir Harry Smith said, he believed that from the very first their intention was to do so. They began by disputing the right of two Members of Council nominated by the Governor to sit there; and after that they refused to carry out the details of the representative constitution, and retired from the Council altogether. Whether the representative constitution would have worked for good or for evil, it was quite obvious that if these gentlemen had accepted the instrument sent from London, and had taken the representative constitution and filled up the details, and had bowed to the decision of the Executive Council, the constitution would have been in operation in the colony at this moment. Therefore, it was entirely the fault of the colonists themselves that they had not now a representative constitution. When the hon. Member said, with some truth, that there was a despotic Government and authority at the Cape, the reason was, that these gentlemen were the real authors of it by their refusal. He had only two things more to say. The first was, that Her 753 Majesty's Ministers were fully determined to carry into effect that proposal of representative government for the Cape of Good Hope. Whatever questions might arise as to its particular form, and as to one very important consideration, namely, the wishes of the inhabitants of the eastern part of the colony as compared with those of the western part, the Government were fully determined that there should be a representative constitution for the Cape. The other point was, that however anxious they might be to introduce it at the present moment, there appeared to them—and certainly, after the last despatches, rather more than before—an insuperable difficulty to the immediate putting of the constitution in force in that colony. A war was raging there which occupied the whole mind and energies of the Governor-in-Chief, so as to prevent his being present; and with the whole Council divided from him, and being unable to act, it would be impossible for him to carry it into effect. There was another difficulty with respect to sending out any separate Commissioner or Governor to carry it into effect, which was, that a great portion of those who took an active part in the discussion and election of a free constitution were themselves engaged in carrying on the war and in fighting in the field, and while that was the case it seemed exceedingly difficult to have any elections. He did not know he needed to say anything of the nature of the proposed constitution—the disputes about the several points of it did not seem to present much matter for present discussion; but it would be necessary to get some law passed to enable them to fix within certain limits the operation of the judicial and executive functions in the colony. But the immediate question before them was, whether or not they would vote the sum proposed for the expenses of the Kaffir war, and that depended on the very general question, namely, that in 1819 and subsequently, they had encouraged emigrants to go out and form settlements on the frontiers of the Cape, and he believed the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had approved of it at the time; that these emigrants had been from time to time exposed to the incursions of savage tribes, and that the occurrences of 1846 had not prevented a fresh outbreak; and then the question was, whether they would leave the colonists to be overpowered without any assistance whatever. He believed that as to sending assistance to prevent the 754 murder of colonists, who had been encouraged by the House to go out to the Cape of Good Hope, there could be no doubt whatever.
§ MR. HUME
said, there was one sentiment in the speech of the noble Lord, and only one, of which he approved, and that was, the noble Lord's intimation that the Government were determined to extend a representative responsible government to the colony of the Cape. He had, however, seldom heard a speech which more misrepresented the case under consideration than that of the noble Lord. The present war had no connexion whatever with former wars. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) seemed to forget that in 1828 petitions were forwarded from the Capo of Good Hope to this country to the effect that they needed a responsible government, and that, if they had such a government, they would undertake the whole expenses of the colony, and thus relieve the mother country. Since that time the colonists had repeated that statement several times; but they said at the same time that they would not defray the expenses of wars of injustice. They were willing to manage such wars of their own as might be forced on them by the conduct of the natives; but they refused to defray the cost of a war of injustice and aggression waged against the aborigines. It was true, as stated by the noble Lord, that he encouraged emigration to the Cape; but then he always said that the people should get representative institutions, and that they should not be left under the despotic sway of one man. It was the want of such institutions that had caused the ruin of the colony and such a drain upon the people of this country. He recommended that the surplus population of this country should go to the Cape of Good Hope; but he never recommended them to go amongst savages, or to drive people from the property which they had possessed. The territory of Kaffraria formed no part of the original Cape colony. So far as he could judge from the map which was laid before the House, it was about one-third of the extent of the old possessions at the Cape, and in seizing the land there, which the people wanted for feeding their cattle, they went out of their way to attack them. The noble Lord spoke as if the native inhabitants had attacked us; but the truth was that we had gone out of our own territory to attack them. We had settled military colonies 755 beyond the frontier of the Capo of Good Hope, and the war which was going on was not upon land formerly belonging to the Cape, but on the territories of which we had robbed the natives. The consequence was that the people of England were not only obliged to defray the cost of the last war, but were now called upon to pay for that which was being carried on. He had before him the proclamation of Sir Harry Smith of the 14th March, 1849, in which he took possession of the territory to the north of the Great Orange River; and it was this act of aggression and spoliation that the people of England were now called on to support by their money. Sir Harry Smith, feeling the necessity of some plea by this act, applied to Mr. Porter, the Attorney General, for his opinion; hut Mr. Porter said that it was not a colony by conquest, by cession, or by settlement, and therefore there could be no pretence for taking possession of the territory. He (Mr. Hume) submitted that the Government were supporting a policy of aggression against the native inhabitants, and that that aggression had naturally led to a system of retaliation on their parts. The Committee was called upon to vote 300,000l. to carry on a war of aggression. When the Attorney General for the Cape two years afterwards was asked on what grounds the war was justifiable, he was compliant enough to alter his previous opinion and say, that it was a war for territory belonging to us by cession; because, forsooth, some chief who could never command fifty followers, had ceded that to which he had no right. But the real truth was, that they were engaged in a war for land that did not belong to them. The tribes were now said to be barbarous and cruel; but the missionaries who had been amongst them, and Sir Harry Smith himself on former occasions, gave a very different account of them. He (Mr. Hume) believed that if Sir Benjamin D'Urban bad not been removed, these disturbances would never have taken place. He did not think that any man out of a lunatic asylum would have used the language, or adopted the proceedings, which Sir Harry Smith had recourse to in reference to the Boers. Those people actually fled to the wilderness rather than have anything to do with our Government. The farmers left the homes where they were born, and preferred to trust themselves to savages, than to remain under the British Government. They fled to Natal, but we follow- 756 ed them there; and when they fled to the Salt Lake—700 miles still farther from the British Government—Sir Harry Smith said he would take possession of the Lake, and would make provision to extend the British power there; and Earl Grey also approved of such conduct. There were two letters from him, in one of which he says that they were not to take possession of this place, but in another he stated that he approved of the conduct of the Governor. Now he objected to giving any money to support this war, because it would be giving encouragement to robbery and oppression. That being his view, he would not give a single shilling unless he had a promise from the Government that a representative form of government would be given to the colonists, which he was sure would be the speediest mode of establishing peace at the Cape. If representative institutions had been given in 1838, or even last year, they would have been saved the expense and disgrace of the present proceedings. They were now asked to send out a Commission, or to carry out the Orders in Council with respect to representative government. That seemed to him to be a reasonable proposition, and he should give it his support. But the noble Lord said that it was not the fault of the Government that the colonists had not free institutions, and that they refused them themselves. Never was there any statement made which deserved less attention than that. He gave the noble Lord every credit for the Orders in Council or letters patent which were obtained; and he was willing to admit that Sir Harry Smith was actuated by the best intentions when he received these instructions. He ordered every municipality to meet, in order to select delegates to be sent to Capo Town, with the view of forming a representative constitution. Sir Andries Stockenstroem, Mr. Fairbairn, Mr. Brandt, and another gentleman, wore selected, and they wished to proceed immediately to the business for which they were appointed. But a proposition was made that they should vote the expenses of the colony. But the delegates said that they could proceed to no other business till they had first agreed to the form of constitution. The Government, on the other hand, insisted on having the estimates voted, and ten or twelve measures besides were introduced. One of these was a Bill for renewing the ordinances of 1843 respecting the Church. On this Bill Sir A. Stockenstroem moved an 757 Amendment, that they should first take into consideration the arrangements for framing the representative assembly. After a long debate, the Governor and all the officials voted for the Bill, and the four delegates voted for the Amendment, which was lost. A second Amendment was proposed by the Attorney General for the colony, that it was indispensably necessary to take the annual estimates into consideration before any other business was proceeded with. The four delegates voted against this, but they were again in a minority in the Council: they retired, and referred their conduct to the colony. Eight-tenths of the constituency declared that they approved of their conduct; and yet this was the cause of the whole dispute. Under the circumstances, the Government ought to have hastened the promulgation of the constitution. The inhabitants were prepared to accept it; and it was with deep regret that he had heard the noble Lord attempt to justify a delay which the colonists must consider to amount to a refusal. When the Government had announced their assent to the constitution, the colonists would no doubt do their best to put an end to the war. It was not a war of the colonists, but a war of the Commissioners of the Orange district; the Cape colonists had nothing to do with it; and it appeared to him that by granting any money at that moment, without a previous satisfactory explanation, the Committee would be sanctioning the injustice of the Government in taking possession of Kaffraria. He did not say that the money must not ultimately be voted; but the Government should be compelled to put matters in a new train. At present they were only widening the breach. He had no hesitation in saying, that if peace were once established, and a constitution granted, there would be a termination of the war expenses thrown on the British public. It would be very unwise in the Committee to give encouragement to the wild schemes of Earl Grey. Anyone who read the despatches would see that that noble Lord was teaching the inhabitants near the Salt Lake that their condition would be improved by the payment of taxes; but he would not find that the best way to cultivate the affections of a people was to call upon them to pay taxes, and at the same time to refuse them a constitutional form of government.
§ MR. HAWES
said, he was glad, though not surprised, to hear his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) declare in the latter part of his 758 speech, notwithstanding all that he had previously said, that this vote must pass. He was quite sure that if circumstances were stated plainly it would be seen that there never was a case in which it was more necessary that the Committee should come to a decision, in order to assure their fellow-subjects at the Cape that their interests were not overlooked in the hour of extreme peril. The hon. Member (Mr. Adderley) who introduced the subject, had stated, that if a constitution were granted to the colonists, there would be no more wars; and his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose had described the present war as one of aggression. He must dispute both those propositions, and he would first address himself to the latter one. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) had spoken as if the sole purpose of the war was the extension of territory, and he said Sir Benjamin D'Urban would not have been the man to pursue such an object. Why, the policy now pursued was identically that recommended by Sir Benjamin D'Urban, and afterwards by Sir Henry Pottinger, but which was for a time, he thought through an error of judgment, reversed. Let not hon. Members, however, be led away with the idea that there was any attempt unnecessarily to extend the frontier. In the first place, with regard to the extension of the territory northward, he must observe that the idea that there was such an intention had no other foundation than this, that it had been thought right to extend, not British territory, but jurisdiction over British subjects. If the hon. Member who introduced the Motion had referred to the Act 6 and 7 William IV. c. 57, or had read the papers now on the table, he would have seen that his notion of an intention to extend British influence or British power to the Equator had no foundation in fact. The extension eastward was in accordance with the policy recommended by Sir Benjamin D'Urban. It should be remembered that the frontier of the Cape had never been a peaceful frontier. In 1835, shortly after the prevalence of a state of tranquillity similar to that which was said to have existed recently, there was an inroad of 10,000 Kaffirs, who committed the greatest atrocities; and after having quelled that outbreak, Sir Benjamin D'Urban thought it necessary to the defence of the frontier that British authority should be extended beyond it. That was precisely the view taken by Sir Harry Smith; and what was 759 the result of acting upon it? Why, that even at this moment, during the present war, there had been no incursions into the colony, none of those murderous and desolating inroads which took place formerly. Having British military authorities in their rear, the Kaffirs had been afraid to enter the colony, and no serious injury had been sustained at any point except at the Kat River settlement. The extension of territory northward, and the appointment of a resident there, was made at the request of natives, with the view of protecting them against the aggressions of the Boers. With regard to the constitution, he could only repeat the statement of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), that there was no intention whatever to withhold representative institutions from the Cape, and that if the colonists had not at that moment a popular constitution, it was entirely their own fault. If the colonists were delighted with this constitution, why, he asked, did they not accept it at once?—why was there any delay or discussion? The truth was that these gentlemen were indisposed to become legislative councillors except for one special and single purpose, though they were elected to exercise all the functions of a member of a legislative council. Sir Andries Stockenstroem himself accepted petitions from different parts of the colony relative to various legislative measures, and there was no ground for saying that he was elected for any particular purpose. In the letters patent it was stated that the Council were to "make, enact, ordain, and establish laws for the good government of the settlement;" and when these gentlemen interposed vexatious proceedings, it was to benefit a party to which they belonged, and to which a large, and by far the most important, party in the colony was diametrically opposed. There wore no grounds for saying that representative institutions were delayed by the Government. Earl Grey had simply said, that whilst the Governor was devoting his whole time and attention to the suppression of an insurrection, and whilst every functionary in the colony was distracted and disturbed, it was impossible that the details of a representative constitution could be considered calmly and dispassionately. The moment peace was restored, it would be quite in the power of the Legislative Council to obtain a constitution. With regard to the statement that Kaffraria had been seized unnecessarily, he must observe that the colonists to a 760 man supported Sir Benjamin D'Urban in that quasi extension of territory, while the Government at homo disallowed it. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Adderley) proposed to revert to the old policy, which he characterised as "the strong arm of self-defence." He (Mr. Hawes) would tell the Committee what that meant—it meant that the colonists should revert to the old commando system, which was marked by deeds so atrocious that it was found impossible to maintain it. He had asked Mr. Fairbairn whether he would wish to see that system reverted to, and he replied that he would not. What Mr. Fairbairn desired was that there should be a military force on the frontier, which was the system at present. In saying that the colonists would undertake to hear the expense of defending the frontier, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) opposed himself to the opinion of Mr. Fairbairn, who distinctly stated that they would not undertake to pay the expenses of any war. [Mr. ADDERLEY: Of this war?] No, of any war, beyond a certain proportion. To say that the present war was one of aggression, was to say what was absolutely unjustifiable. The war of 1835 was without justification on the part of the Kaffirs; and Sir Peregrine Maitland declared the Kaffirs to be without excuse. It had always been our policy to defend the Cape frontier by outposts; and, as far as he could learn, that had been found to be the best system to protect the colony from devastation. With regard to the vote itself, he could not believe that the Committee would refuse to the Government the moans of protecting the colonists, and of bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
MR. VERNON SMITH
was unwilling to aggravate the difficulties and embarrass the authority of Government with respect to the calamitous circumstances of the Cape of Good Hope. He agreed with his noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury that when war was raging, and when the energies of every person were required to bring it to a conclusion, it was not the time to discuss the question as to whether they would give the colony representative institutions or not. But there was one thing which might fairly be urged in his own defence by the hon. Member (Mr. Adderley) who bad brought forward the subject on this occasion, and it was this—that hon. Members had no other opportunity of discussing it; that it was only when sums of money were voted for ex- 761 pensive wars like the present that they could give attention to the subject of the institutions of the colony. He agreed with the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) that the only question regularly before them at present was whether they should vote the sum of money which was asked for or not. But there was another question which might not unfairly he put on this occasion, and that was how often were they to be called on to vote such sums of money; and what the interest was that the people of England took in these colonies and in these wars to justify the expense? His noble Friend always referred to the emigration of 1819; but had the emigrants of that time any notion of the subsequent extension of the colony, or the present state of affairs, whether called a war of aggression or extension? He agreed in the observation that this was an imperial war, and was not a war of the colonists. He did not believe that they would willingly have engaged in it, or conducted it in the manner in which it had been conducted. If attention had been paid to the cautions of the colonists, the war might possibly have been prevented; and, under these circumstances, of course the colonists could not be asked to pay for it. This war was not only our war, but he believed it would be one of considerable length, and should be carried on in a way to settle the question whether these tribes should be reduced to submission, or we driven back within the precincts of Cape Town, which, in his opinion, we ought never to have exceeded. Without entering at length on the difficult questions now perplexing the colony, he wished to impress on the Government the necessity of caution in their conduct respecting it; and here he must express his surprise at the course pursued during the present Session by his noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, who, after opposing the issue of a Commission of Inquiry, and proposing a Committee of that House instead, nevertheless, at a subsequent period, issued, in addition to the Committee, a Commission to inquire into the relations with the Kaffir tribes. Thus the present position of affairs was this—Sir Harry Smith was Governor of the colony, without any representative assembly to assist him; the constitution of the colony might be said to be in abeyance; and two gentlemen—excellent appointments be admitted—were going out to act with Sir Harry Smith in investigating the relations with the native tribes. In the 762 mean time a Committee would sit here during the operations, and the evidence, perhaps hostile to their policy, would inevitably be sent to the colony mail by mail, and tend very much to embarrass their proceedings. He understood that the Committee had now been sitting for some days, and that the witnesses examined before them hitherto had been Mr. Fairbairn, the editor of a journal which was hostile to Sir Harry Smith, and Sir Andreas Stock-enstroem, who was represented by Sir Harry Smith himself as the most able and active agitator against his Government. Now, their evidence would go out to the Cape; and, therefore, he thought a more indiscreet thing than the appointment of the Committee could hardly be imagined. A more indiscreet course as regarded the security and prosperity of the colony could scarcely be adopted. With regard to the vote before the Committee, undoubtedly they must come to it now; but he complained that they were pinned down to the necessity of giving that vote without having had an opportunity of considering whether the war was just or not, or whether the frontier should or should not be extended.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, after what his right hon. Friend (Mr. V. Smith) had stated, he must be allowed to explain the conduct which had been pursued. He thought his right hon. Friend was somewhat inconsistent in his views. He had certainly stated that the question immediately before the Committee—the only question put into the Chairman's hands—was the vote of money. But so far from his having attempted to conceal from the Committee the larger question, as his right hon. Friend had stated, he (Lord John Russell) brought forward a Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the subject, stating at the same time the whole history, so far as he understood it, of the frontier disputes, and proposing that they should be referred to the Select Committee. His right hon. Friend objected to that course; and now, according to him, the only course which the Government were taking was to obtain the money. He could not undertand, after the appointment of a Select Committee, what other question could be before them than the question of money; because his right hon. Friend knew very well that it was not usual for a Government to come down to that House and move a Resolution that their policy should be such and 763 such upon the frontiers, and that such and such should he their relations with the Kaffirs. Such a course would be neither usual nor wise. But his right hon. Friend said it was strange that, after having objected to the appointment of a Commission, he (Lord John Russell) should immediately afterwards have sent two assistant commissioners out to the Cape. Now, what he objected to was that commissioners should be sent out virtually to supersede Sir Harry Smith; and what he wished done—at the time he was in consultation with Earl Grey respecting it—was that certain persons should be sent out as assistant commissioners who would assist Sir Harry Smith while he was wholly engaged in the war, and who, being well acquainted with the Kaffirs, might communicate with them and lead to the peaceable settlement of affairs. He thought his right hon. Friend had mistaken the object of their policy at the Capo. The object of that policy was not to extend their territories, but to protect the colonists; and the whole question amounted to this—how the colonists could be best protected. Now, one way of protecting them was to have perpetual skirmishes upon the frontier, and to shoot the Kaffirs whenever they came into the colony for plunder. But others said—and among them Sir Benjamin d'Urban, Sir Peregrine Maitland, and Sir Henry Pottinger—"There is a much better way—let us have posts within the territories of these people—let us govern them by means of their chiefs—and in that way let us reconcile them to a civilised mode of life, and prevent the present aggression and ravages." That was the system—whether wisely or not—which had been adopted to protect the colony, and it was no question of extending the empire.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that from all he had collected during the debate, it appeared they were all dissatisfied. They were all agreed upon that; but they all seemed to disagree as to what should be done. Now he thought the proposition of the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) was the most reasonable one that had yet been submitted, for it had reference to one great difficulty with which the Government had to contend in dealing with the question, viz., the present unfortunate temper of the inhabitants of the colony, who appeared to have almost no sympathy with the Governor in his efforts to bring the war to a successful conclusion. So long as the war was not brought 764 to their own doors, they appeared to look upon it as they would do on a war going on in some other part of the world with which they had no concern. This feeling had arisen no doubt from the unfortunate circumstances that took place in the course of last year, when by a passive resistance—almost a passive rebellion—they opposed successfully the attempt of the Government to send convicts to the Cape. The proposition of the hon. Member (Mr. Adderley) was that the constitution for which the colonists were anxious should at once be conceded to them. The noble Lord at the head of the Government objected to this, because at the present moment the Governor was so much engaged in conducting the war on the frontier that he had no time to attend to the matter; and the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) had added that the colonial functionaries were so distracted by the state of affairs, that they could not undertake the duty of introducing the constitution. No doubt Sir Harry Smith felt far more at home in carrying on the war against the natives than in performing the duties of Governor of the colony; and it was one of the most unfortunate features in our system of colonial government, that we either sent out a military man as Governor, or, if a civilian, some one who had a had banking account, and found it inconvenient to remain at home. Sir Harry Smith, in conducting the war, was of course following his legitimate occupation; but he had not shown any very great ability, he thought, as Governor, and he did not consider the colony would suffer if some other person were appointed to give to the colonists the constitution, leaving Sir Harry Smith to carry the war to a conclusion. If this was not done, and the war should last a year or two, the people would have to wait that time ere they could obtain that constitution which the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) considered so essential to their prosperity. The noble Lord had misrepresented the hon. Member for North Staffordshire when he said that he proposed to send out a Commission to supersede Sir Harry Smith; that was not the proposition, but that Sir Harry Smith should carry on those duties for which he was best fitted, and that some other person should be sent out to give to the people that constitution which should restore confidence, and make them well affected to the mother country. He understood the mail would go out the day after to-morrow 765 which would carry out to the colonists the discussion of that night; and whether the speech of the noble Lord, or that of the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, would assuage the feelings of the colonists, he much doubted. His opinion was, that when they saw how their wishes were disregarded, seeing the temper they exhibited, it was only their want of power that would prevent the passive resistance of last year being followed by a resistance of another kind in a future year. Perhaps it might be objected to sending out another person to confer the constitution on the colony as a matter of official etiquette, that it would be a sort of slur on the capacity of Sir Harry Smith to govern. He (Mr. Bright) did not believe it could be so considered; but, if it were, he still contended that the liberties of a whole people should not depend on a mere question of official etiquette. Ho, however, could not consider the sending out a Commission, as suggested, would be more a slur on the Governor than the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry by that House. He thought the recommendation of the hon. Member for North Staffordshire was in accordance with the policy of the noble Lord himself, and would go far to conciliate the colony. He had known the noble Lord at the head of the Government on former occasions take recommendations from the other side of the House more readily than he and the noble Lord's other friends approved of; but on this occasion the recommendation was based upon the true interests of the Cape and of this country, and therefore lie entreated the Government to accept it. With regard to the vote itself, there was but little to be said upon that beyond what had been said with regard to the vote for the previous Kaffir war, that the money being spent it must be paid. The noble Lord had done an injustice to the hon. Member for North Staffordshire when he charged him with saying that the people of the Cape, if they had the constitution, would pay the expenses of the war themselves. The hon. Member had said nothing of the kind; and it would have been madness to say so, for the war had not been undertaken by them. If he were a colonist at the Cape, he would say, "Give us a Government of our own, let us carry on our own affairs, and we shall go on without entering into these barbarous and horrible wars." There had been instances in the world of men who, by the exercise of mercy and justice, had lived in peace 766 with savage tribes of aborigines; and if our policy towards the aborigines of South Africa was a policy of justice and mercy, he believed the same result would ensue, and that we should not be involved in these cruel and sanguinary struggles.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that the sentiments of his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) had been so much misrepresented, that he wished to say a few words on the present occasion, for he was unwilling that the account of the views of Her Majesty's Government should go forth to the colony as represented by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright). He believed it was contrary to the fact that Her Majesty's Government had shown any disposition not to give as speedily as possible constitutional government to the Capo of Good Hope. He (Mr. Labouchere) had the honour of labouring in the Committee of Privy Council to frame such institutions as would he suitable for that colony; and the desire of the Government had been to frame them in the most liberal manner. He rejoiced to hear it admitted by almost all the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken on the subject, that the recommendations of that Committee were well adapted to the wants of the inhabitants of that colony. He regretted that circumstances had unfortunately occurred which had as yet prevented the establishment of those institutions, for he thought they would not only be advantageous in carrying on the internal affairs of the colony, but in enabling the colonists to defend their frontier. All that his noble Friend had stated was, that the establishment of these institutions had not been delayed by any fault of the Government, but, unfortunately, in consequence of a misconception of duty on the part of some Members of the Legislative Council at the Cape. His noble Friend had stated that he did not think it would be a proper time to establish these institutions when the Governor was at the frontier, and a war was raging in the colony. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) said that it would be easy to send out some person to represent the Governor at Capo Town, who might introduce these institutions. He said that it was a mere matter of etiquette which prevented the Government from doing so. He (Mr. Labouchere) must say that it was a serious thing to interfere with the Governor of a British colony, at a time when a fierce war was raging on its frontier. The functions of the Commissioners sent out were strictly 767 limited, and they were only to advise the Governor with respect to the arduous duties which he had to perform on the frontier. He sincerely hoped to see these institutions come into operation at the Cape, and he hoped also that the inhabitants would not oppose any unnecessary delay in the way of their establishment. He could only say that the Government had an earnest desire that the Cape should enjoy the advantage of having those free institutions. He was a Member of the Committee which had been appointed on this subject; and the Committee would no doubt consider the whole question of border policy at the Cape, and the relations of the colonists with this country. The time would therefore come when that House would be able to decide this question with better means of information. They were now engaged in a struggle which must be brought to a prompt conclusion, and it was with that object, and that alone, that they asked for this grant of money.
§ MR. HUME
said, the right hon. Gentleman had mistaken the object of himself and his friends upon the present occasion. They wanted to strengthen the hands of the Government, by creating unanimity in the colonies. He thought the voting of this money should be postponed for a week, in order that Government might have an opportunity of reconsidering the matter.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, it appeared that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) did not propose to grant a constitution to the Cape till the war was over.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
had said nothing of the sort. He had claimed for the Government the right to a discretion as to the period when a free constitution could be most expediently given to the colony, but certainly he had not said that he saw any necessity for waiting until the conclusion of the war before the constitution was given. The time at which it could be given was quite a question of circumstances.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
thought that the debate was of so much consequence that it should be adjourned, and he should therefore move that the Chairman report progress.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he viewed this question with quite as strong feeling as the hon. Member (Mr. Adderley); but he thought the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was not disposed to carry out his intentions so far as he had explained in his opening speech. He might find, probably, by the time the 768 next mail went out, that he could grant the Cape a constitution then. It therefore seemed a pity to divide the Committee; but if the hon. Member felt so strongly upon the matter as to do so, he (Mr. Bright) should support him.
§ MR. WAKLEY
said, if the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) were Colonial Secretary, very probably the colony would not have to wait long for a constitution, but the noble Lord was not Colonial Secretary, and the hon. Gentleman who represented the Colonial Secretary in that House had distinctly told them that the colony should not have a constitution until the war was concluded.
§ MR. HAWES
had not said any such tiling; he had merely said that while Sir Harry Smith was actually engaged in war on the frontier, and while the authorities at Cape Town were anxiously watching the progress of that war, there was no opportunity for the calm deliberation which so important a subject demanded.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that although he was obliged to deny that he had said that the Cape could not have a constitution till the war was over, still there was no particular period when he felt bound to grant a decision upon it. He wished the Government to have the free liberty of coming to such a decision upon this important subject as the public interest might require.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed; Resolution to be reported on Monday next.