HC Deb 22 June 1852 vol 122 cc1180-7

said, he wished to put a question to the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies in reference to letters which he (Mr. Bernal) had just received from Jamaica, dated May 23, stating that the smallpox was raging in that island, and that the ravage among the labouring popluation was frightful. The question he wished to put was whether the Colonial Office had had time to turn their attention to the point of affording assistance to the Colony in the way of supplying labour, and whether there was any chance in a short time of applying means for the furtherance of that object?


, in reply, stated that the question was similar to that which had been put on a former occasion. It appeared that attention had been freshly drawn by the arrival of a new mail. He was aware of the arrival of the mail that morning, but had not yet seen the papers which it had brought. But it was quite impossible for any fresh papers to have arrived which could strengthen his conviction of the painful distress under which the Colony was labouring. And, when his hon. Friend asked him whether he could hold out any hopes of assistance being rendered to the Colony, he (Sir J. Pakington) must say that it was his duty to be cautious how he raised hopes which it might not be in his power to fulfil. He could not, therefore, add anything to the answer which he had already given, that he would lose no time in devoting his serious and anxious attention to the subject, to see whether there were any means in existence by which the supply of labour and the pressure of the labour laws could be relaxed in favour of the West Indies. Since the question was before the House, on a former occasion, he had been prevent- ed by the pressure of Parliamentary business, night and day, front paying that attention to the question which he desired.


said, he begged to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) to the petition which had been presented from the Legislative Council of New South Wales. It was a protest and a remonstrance on the part of the former Legislative Council against the conduct of the British Government towards that Colony. That protest was afterwards adopted by the new Legislative Council. As to the facts stated in it, he (Mr. Hume) could bear witness to their accuracy; and he would exhort the Government not to let the experience of former days pass by. Let them recollect the population of that Colony, and yield to their reasonable requests. They asked no more. If nothing should be done by the Government before the new Parliament, he should, if he had a seat in that House, feel it his duty to bring the matter forward early in the Session. The second subject which he wished to make some observations upon, was relative to the state of the Ionian Islands. All he had now to say upon that subject was, that every act of which we complained of Louis Napoleon towards the French, had been committed by the English Government in the Ionian Islands, and that the only difference between the two cases was, that the French people were satisfied, and the Ionian people were disgusted. What were the cruelties that bad been practised? As an instance he would mention the case of a member of the present Parliament of those islands. He was dragged from his home, and transported to a small, bare island, there to linger in captivity; and Madame Dominichini, the wife of that gentleman, was now undergoing the greatest sufferings. Every island under the Governor of the Ionian Islands was the abode of unfortunate captives, men without trial, without sentence, and without crime. The whole system was a discredit and disgrace to people owning the name of Englishmen. All regular government had been suspended, and violence and lawlessness had been established throughout the islands. He hoped when Parliament met again they would meet under different auspices. Early in March last he had moved for papers on this subject, but they had not yet been presented. He was sorry he was precluded by circumstances from doing more than entering his protest against the system now pursued in the Ionian Islands.


said, he did not think it necessary to follow the hon. Gentleman into all the points he had touched upon, but he certainly must complain of the manner in which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) had brought subjects of such immense importance before the House. He (Sir J. Pakington) was placed in a somewhat extraordinary position, for the hon. Member had on such an occasion as the present embraced subjects of no less importance than the recent petition sent home from the Legislature of New South Wales, and the present state of the Government of the Ionian Islands. He would, however, briefly reply to the hon. Member on both those subjects. With regard to the first point to which the hon. Member had adverted, namely, the petition from the Legislature of New South Wales, he thought that petition embraced a subject of too much importance and magnitude to be lightly and incidentally dealt with. Upon that subject he would only say, that although he believed the Legislature of New South Wales were not borne out in all the allegations which the petition contained, he was ready to admit that the petition was entitled to the deepest and most respectful consideration of Her Majesty's Government. He at once acknowledged that it was their duty, and he assured the House, that individually it was his inclination, to concede to the Colonies every fair right they could claim, and which could tend to promote their prosperity and liberty, consistently with the maintenance of the connexion between them and the mother country. Acting on that principle, he could assure the House and the hon. Gentleman that between the present time and the next Session he would make it his duty carefully to analyse every part of the prayer of that petition. But he should also beg the House to remember that two of the most important prayers in the petition related to the management of waste lands, and the management of the casual revenues derived from mineral sources. He hoped the House would do him the justice to recollect that, in the Bill which they had lately passed for the better government of New Zealand, he had conceded to that Colony that very prayer relating to the management of waste lands; and he trusted the House would also recollect that Her Majesty's Government had conceded to the Australian Colonies, and also to New Zealand, if it should be necessary, the management, distribution, and expenditure of any revenue they might derive from minerals found in their respective Governments. He had, therefore, the satisfaction of feeling that in these two important points, in the one case as regarded New Zealand, and, in the other, as regarded all the Colonies in the same quarter of the world, Her Majesty's Government had already anticipated the prayer of that petition. He would next advert for a moment to what the hon. Gentleman had said on the subject of the Ionian Islands. He made no objection to the hon. Gentleman's having thus a second time brought that subject before the House; but he thought he had a right to make some objection to the manner in which the hon. Member had discharged that duty. The hon. Member had that day introduced that delicate and difficult question, as he had done on a former occasion, without having given notice of any particular Motion with respect to it. The hon. Gentleman had previously brought the subject under their notice on a Motion for a Committee of Supply; and although the Government had at that time been only recently formed, he (Sir J. Pakington) had felt it his duty to state at some length what were their views and feelings with respect to the conduct of Sir Henry Ward, and more especially as an event of some importance had, a short time previously occurred, namely, the prorogation of the new Parliament in the Ionian Islands within a few days after its having first met. But he thought he had a right to complain that a high public officer, placed in the extremely difficult and arduous position in which Sir Henry Ward stood, should be thus exposed to an incidental attack of that description, without any warning whatever as to what the nature of that attack was to be. When the hon. Member had brought that subject before the House at the beginning of the Session, he had stated that after the Easter recess he would make a Motion with respect to it. And why had not the hon. Member redeemed that pledge, and made that Motion? [Mr. HUME: Because you have not given the papers I asked for.] If the conduct of Sir Henry Ward, in the discharge of an important public duty, was to be made the subject of grave complaint, he was entitled, as a public officer, to have that complaint brought forward after due notice; and he himself (Sir J. Pakington), as the Colonial Minister, ought to have been made acquainted with the case with which he was to have to deal. He thought it was not fair to Sir Henry Ward to introduce grave attacks against him in that casual and incidental manner. Why had not the hon. Gentleman made a Motion on that subject? The hon. Gentleman said it was because he (Sir J. Pakington) had not produced the papers relating to the case. Now, it was true that those papers had not yet been laid before the House; he was sorry for it, and he would tell the hon. Gentleman how that had happened. When the hon. Gentleman had moved for the papers, he (Sir J. Pakington) had told him that they would be very voluminous, and that he could not give them without a reference to the Ionian Islands. He had referred to those islands; but the papers which had then been sent to him had been incomplete, and he had found it necessary to make a second reference to the Ionian Islands on the subject. He was happy to be able to add that the papers were at present complete, and were nearly ready, and that they would be laid before the House in a very few days. But he should like to ask whether the hon. Gentleman had been induced to refrain from bringing forward a Motion on that subject by a recollection of the fact, that, when he had a few years ago introduced a similar Motion, he had found thirteen Members only to support him. He (Sir J. Pakington) was disposed to think that that circumstance had something to do with the determination of the hon. Member not to bring at present any substantive proposal under the consideration of the House. [Mr. HUME: Not at all.] All he could say was, that whenever the hon. Member brought forward the question in the shape of a Motion, he (Sir J. Pakington) should be prepared to vindicate the conduct of Sir Henry Ward, who had no political connexion with the present Government, if he should think it could be vindicated; and if he should not think so, he should be prepared frankly to make an admission to that effect. But he should express a hope that, under any circumstances, the question would be fairly brought forward. He thought he had reason to complain of the hon. Gentleman's having introduced the case of Madame Dominichini's petition in order to excite the sympathy of the House. It was not the Government that was answerable for the melancholy position of the wives of men who had drawn down on themselves the vengeance of the law by their own misconduct. He was sorry for the position of Madame Dominichini; but he believed the conduct of her husband had been such as fully to deserve the punishment he was suffering. The conduct of Sir Henry Ward in dealing with the press had been much censured by some parties; and he (Sir J. Pakington hoped the House would allow him to read a few words from one of the Ionian papers, which had partly led to those acts of Sir Henry Ward of which complaints had been made. The following was a translation of a passage in the Rigas, a Zante paper, and was an article or a specimen of articles for which Pizzara was banished:— The ferocious and insane Ward, the type and image of Turkish brutality and silliness, after shamefully treading the heroic soil of Cephalonia, stained in all its Hellenic parts with his inauspicious name, returned to Corfu, torn with remorse of conscience, inflamed with a fever of vengeance, and showing in his dark and hangman face that savage and Attilian brutality which his Colleagues have displayed in India and other places, where, through Divine permission, the British sword has appeared. And then further on the writer proceeded as follows:— But how is this, while we are at liberty to express our wishes as to our fate, while through our representatives we possess a sovereign will, may we not freely utter our firm opinion that we do not desire you for our protectors—that we do not wish to be governed by you—for we have another national mission, and we seek another political destiny, incontestable, and suggested by the inalienable rights of nations? How, are we not masters, to send you whence you came, miserable being, who for our misfortunes have trodden this land of Paradise, and made it a hell, and a source of death and of tears. He would only read that one specimen from the press of the Ionian Islands. He hoped that while a Governor had to contend with a people willing to support such a press, some allowance would be made for the acts of rigour to which he might feel compelled to resort. He would only repeat that if Sir Henry Ward were to be attacked at all, he ought to be attacked in a fair and open manner, and upon a Motion of which previous notice had been given.


begged to explain that he had spoken to the right hon. Gentleman more than once, in order to ascertain when the papers would be produced on which he intended to found a Motion. Dominichini was a Member of the House of Representatives, who was torn from his family and imprisoned in a rock.


said, he must beg to express his satisfaction at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to its being his intention carefully to consider the condition of New South Wales. He hoped the wise policy which the right hon. Gentleman had pursued towards New Zealand, would be pursued towards all the other Colonies. He considered the giving up the revenue of the mineral discoveries to the Colonies, did the right hon. Gentleman the greatest credit; and by pursuing the same course in other respects, the right hon. Gentleman would at once prove himself to be the wisest Colonial Minister the country had ever possessed, and the adoption of this measure would strengthen, more than any other means, the union between the Colonies and the mother country.


said, he thought that if the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) took credit to himself for defending the conduct of the Governor of the Ionian Islands, though Sir Henry Ward was not a member of his political party, that his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) was still more entitled to credit for consistency and fairness, for Sir Henry Ward was a political connexion. The right hon. Baronet had read a violent invective published in the Ionian Islands against the Governor; and he (Sir J. Pakington) had stated that when a Governor was attacked in that way, some excuse ought to be made for the means of repression which he might adopt. That might be true, but he could not help remembering that he had heard that when there was a disturbance in the Ionian Islands on a former occasion, Sir Henry Ward had resorted to means of repression which brought disgrace upon the British name, by publishing and proclaiming a reward for all offenders who should be brought up dead or alive. Such a proceeding was unknown to civilised Governments, and was only practised by the despots of Austria.


said, he believed the conduct of the noble Lord who had just addressed the House, and of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), on that subject, could not be sufficiently deprecated. He had been several times in the Ionian Islands, and he could tell the noble Lord and the hon. Member that the course which they had pursued had contributed to create or to aggravate those unhappy feelings which had been productive of so much misery in those islands. He could find no justification for the charges they had brought against such a high-minded and honourable gentleman as Sir Henry Ward. Subject dropped.