§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, before I move that you should leave the Chair, in order that the House might resolve itself into a Committee of Supply, I wish to state the intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers with respect to the government of the island of Jamaica. I am not going to enter into a history of those dissensions between the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council of Jamaica, which have led to the suspension of the whole legislative functions in that colony. I will only state, upon that subject, that the House of Assembly passed Bills in reference to the revenue and to the finances of the island, and for carrying on the public service, which appeared to the Legislative Council to be of so objectionable a character, that they refused to them their concurrence. The consequence was, that the Governor in Council then felt obliged himself to suspend the meetings of the Assembly; and the whole machinery of legislation in the island has thus been arrested. Now, in looking at any question relating to the condition of the West India Colonies, we must, no doubt, always bear in mind that during the last twenty years two very great changes have taken place in those colonies; changes which were enforced by Acts of 1275 the Imperial Parliament, and which were generally repugnant to the feelings of the proprietors in the West Indies. One of those changes was the total abolition of slavery, without, as the colonists thought, any compensation having been made to them adequate to the loss they had sustained from that measure; and the other was the adoption of that commercial policy under which foreign sugar has been allowed to compete with colonial sugar in the markets of this country. These two great changes led to much objection and complaint on the part of the colonists. They led, likewise, I must say, to some loss to them at the time the changes were effected, although I think that they were founded on sound principles, and that the Legislature did well to adopt them. But, in any case in which discontent has arisen in any of the Assemblies of the West Indies, I do not think it is advisable to push to an extreme the rights of the Imperial authority. With respect, however, to the last of the two changes to which I have adverted, I beg leave to point out the difference which exists between the three most important West India Colonies, British Guiana, Trinidad, and Jamaica. The colonies of British Guiana and of Trinidad have listened to the advice and the opinions of the Government at home, and many of the evils which they suffered at first have been redressed, as far as the export of their sugar and the state f their industry are concerned. This result is shown by the official statements of the exports of sugar from Guiana and Trinidad in the year 1852, as compared with their exports of sugar in the year 1840. There were exported in the year 1840, from Guiana, 579,000 cwt. of sugar; and in the year 1852, there were exported from that island, 838,000 cwt. of sugar. There were exported in the year 1840, from Trinidad, 245,000 cwt. of sugar; and in the year 1852, the exports of sugar from that island, amounted to 483,000 cwt. Taking these two colonies together, it appears that their exports of sugar, which had amounted in the year 1840 to 824,000 cwt., had amounted in the year 1852 to 1,321,000 cwt.—being an increase of 497,000 cwt.; or considerably more than 50 per cent in the exports of 1852, as compared with those of the year 1840. But a very different result is apparent in Jamaica. The exports of sugar from that island amounted to 517,000 cwt. in 1840, and amounted to only 511,000 cwt. in 1852. There is a similar difference observable in 1276 the number of immigrants into the three islands. It has been the policy of this country, in compliance with the desire of the colonists, to encourage the importation of immigrants into our West Indian possessions, in order to supply the want of labour occasioned by the abolition of slavery. I find that the number of immigrants imported into Guiana from 1840 to 1852, was 49,000; and that the number of immigrants imported into Trinidad during the same period was 24,000, making in the whole 73,000; while the total number of immigrants imported into Jamaica during the same period of twelve years, was only 14,000. There is, therefore, a very obvious difference between the state of those colonies, although there has been no difference whatever in the Imperial legislation by which they are affected. If slavery was abolished in Jamaica, it was likewise abolished in Guiana and Trinidad; and if foreign sugar was admitted into competition with the sugar of Jamaica, it was likewise admitted into competition with the sugar of Guiana and Trinidad. But there are some circumstances connected with the constitution of Jamaica which have at all times been a source of difficulty, and have in these latter years been a source of very great embarrassment, and which have finally ended in that total stoppage of legislation to which I have already called the attention of the House. I have said that I do not mean to enter into a history of those disputes, or to say that at a particular time the Council was right, and the Assembly was wrong, or to question the particular acts of the Governor, on the one side, or of the Assembly on the other. But I must observe that there are certain—I will not call them laws or provisions of the constitution of Jamaica, so much as established practices of that constitution, which have operated very injuriously in that colony. We have from time to time to take into consideration the want in our various colonies of any representative institutions such as we think, and very justly think, tend to the benefit of the colonies, as well as to the benefit of the mother country. But in Jamaica, what we have to complain of is, not the absence of representative institutions, so much as the perversion of representative institutions to purposes which are not consistent with the welfare of the colony at large. We all know that in this country, according to the practice of this House, no vote of money is made except on the proposal of 1277 some Minister of the Crown, and that the Crown, has, in fact, the initiative in all money grants. Those grants are here made to the Crown, and officers appointed by the Crown have the collection and the management of the expenditure of the grants, subject to the control and, if necessary, to the censure of this House. But in Jamaica, these wholesome rules have been departed from. Not only have the House of Assembly in that colony the general raising and the appropriation of the supplies, but they have for a very long period of time taken into their own hands the management of those sums, and the general disbursement of the expenditure. Now, this practice has led to very great abuses. It has led to what I think very lavish expenditure at particular times, and to grants of money far in excess of the means of the colony; and it has led, at other times, to attempts at economy not consistent with justice after the expectations which the Assembly itself had held out. That leads me to the notice of another error which has been committed, and that is, that while there have been laws in Jamaica providing for the permanence of certain offices, the holders of those offices have only been paid by votes from year to year. The consequence has been that after persons had accepted high judicial and other offices on the faith of what were supposed to be permanent acts of the Legislature of Jamaica, their just expectations were disappointed by the votes of money falling far short of those expectations, and not allowing them to obtain the salaries which had been promised to them in accordance with the permanent Acts which had been passed. I do not, as I have already said, wish to enter into the merits of those votes. It is perhaps natural for an Assembly having the entire control of these matters from year to year, to act as the House of Assembly in Jamaica has acted. But it is obvious that no servants of the Crown can be expected to accept those situations on the faith of their permanence, and afterwards submit to have their salaries taken away or reduced very considerably. Latterly the great subject of dispute in that colony has been the proposal to take away 25 per cent from the salaries of these officers. Amidst the difficulties which arose, it, of course, became a question what was the course which should be taken by Her Majesty's Government with respect to the state of the island of Jamaica; and in referring to that subject, I must beg to 1278 call the attention of the House to an extract from a message of the late Governor of Jamaica, Sir Charles Grey, to the Assembly in May last, in which he points out the evils of the existing system, and suggests a remedy for their removal. His Excellency says—With the prospects which are before us, it is perhaps of little present use to say what might be done by a single-minded effort for the peace and welfare of the island; but as all this ruinous distraction, by the frequent recurrence of which Jamaica has been throughout its annals so unhappily distinguished, appears to me to be the direct and unavoidable result of some perversions of the model institutions of England, so I believe that the main and immediate mischief would be remedied at once by reverting in those few particulars to English rules, and by the honourable House of Assembly being contented with a power as perfectly analogous to that of the British House of Commons as it might be possible to make it, which, after all perhaps, would be found to be as great a power for every good purpose as that which it possesses at present, or even supposes itself to possess. Therefore, whensoever and in whatsoever manner, opportunity and leisure may be found or created, I recommend that your attention should be given, first, to a regulation of the civil and ecclesiastical establishments, by reductions which shall either be prospective or shall be made upon the basis of a fair and moderate compensation for existing interests; secondly, to the provision of a permanent fund for the payment of the reduced establishments; thirdly, to the enabling of the governor for the time being to employ Ministerial officers holding seats in the Assembly to bring forward Government measures in that House.These are the recommendations of the late Governor of Jamaica—recommendations founded, as I think, on sound principles, but which, owing to the excitement produced by the contest then existing between the House of Assembly and the Executive, were not listened to or adopted by the House of Assembly. Some years ago there was a proposal made in Jamaica, and I believe it was brought before the Assembly, to the effect that they should endeavour to have their institutions assimilated to those of Upper Canada. Lord Grey, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, declared his readiness to adopt that proposal, and at the same time pointed out the difference which existed between the institutions of Canada and those of Jamaica; for in Canada there is a permanent provision by means of a civil list, passed by an Act of the Provincial Parliament, by which certain offices are permanently provided for; and there is also there that rule to which I have previously alluded, that all grants to the Crown should be proposed by officers of the Crown. That proposal like- 1279 wise fell to the ground—it was not adopted by the Legislature of Jamaica. Her Majesty's Government now propose to act generally on the basis of that proposal. They do not propose what was in contemplation by some persons connected with the island of Jamaica; they do not propose to suspend the representative constitution of Jamaica. It is urged, I am aware, that the present Assembly being elected by only 3,000 electors out of a population of about 400,000 inhabitants of the island, affords but a very incomplete representative body. But setting aside that consideration, at least for the present, what the Government wish to do is, if possible, to induce the Assembly and the Council to agree to terms which may form the basis for their harmonious action in future. They propose, in the first place, that there should be permanent Acts continuing the grants for those offices for which it is fit that permanent salaries should be provided. I mean, of course, judicial offices and others of a permanent character. In the next place, they propose that in the Assembly of Jamaica, as in the House of Commons, no grant of money should be made except on the proposal of some person representing the Crown. It is further intended that the Crown should have some persons—I will not now attempt to point out any particular mode in which the object may be accomplished—it is intended that the Crown should have some persons who would represent it and speak its sentiments in the House of Assembly. That is effected, as the House is well aware, in Canada, by a system of what is called representative government—namely, by confiding certain offices under the Crown to persons having the confidence of the majority of the Assembly. It might not be possible, or it might not be wise, to adopt a similar provision in the island of Jamaica. But we are of opinion that there should be some person representing the Crown to propose grants of money to the House of Assembly in Jamaica, and that officers of the Crown should be the parties responsible for the expenditure of the money. It is a source of the greatest abuses that Members of the Assembly should themselves expend the money they may have voted, and the practice leads, as might be expected, to the screening of those abuses. These are the three points which we propose for the future government of the Colony: First, that there should be a permanent revenue for those officers for whom permanent salaries are required; secondly, that the initiative of 1280 money grants should always be left to the representatives of the Crown; and, thirdly, that certain Members of the House of Assembly, or persons entitled to appear before the House of Assembly, should, according to an arrangement lately adopted in another Colony, be responsible, under the Crown, for the expenditure of the public money. On the other hand, we propose to endeavour to place the finances of the island on a more sound footing than that on which they stand at present. There is a public debt in Jamaica, besides the debt which is due to this country, amounting to not less than 500,000l., and upon which an interest of about 6 per cent, I think, on the average, is paid. We propose that the Imperial Parliament shall, on the recommendation of Government, give a guarantee for the payment of the interest due upon that debt, while at the same time a sinking fund shall be provided for its reduction. These two provisions, one of a guarantee, and the other of a sinking fund, would enable the Assembly of Jamaica very greatly to reduce the interest of that debt—would probably enable them to reduce it to 3½ per cent—
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
We propose to deal with the sum of only 500,000l. But there is another sum which we propose should be raised, and the payment of the interest on which we mean to guarantee. The difficulties which have occurred of late years in Jamaica have arisen very much on the subject of the salaries of certain official persons. Now, it is contended by the House of Assembly, standing on their fair right, that they are entitled, as Tax Bills cease every year, in proposing and carrying Tax Bills, to make any arrangement they may think fit for the reduction of salaries. It is contended, however, on the other hand, by the Legislative Council, that it would be a very violent breach of faith, that after persons accepted certain permanent offices, very large reductions, or complete abolitions, should take place in the salaries attached to those offices. Now, it appears to us that that quarrel may be settled by a proposition to the effect that to the holders of those offices, the salaries of which it is proposed to reduce, that compensation should be granted, amounting to a few years' salary; so that they might be induced to give up the prospect which had been held out to them, while the offices might be filled at once by per- 1281 sons who should receive such reduced salaries which the Assembly might think a sufficient reward for their services. In order to carry out that arrangement, however, it would be necessary that the Assembly should grant a certain sum for the purpose; and we do not think that that sum could be calculated at less than 50,000l. It is proposed, therefore, by the Government, that a loan of a further amount of 50,000l. in addition to the present debt of 500,000l.—making altogether 550,000l.—should be guaranteed by this House. There is another measure which we propose in connexion with this whole subject, and that is a measure which is absolutely necessary in order to give a fair chance of success to the policy which we recommend. This House is well aware that Sir Charles Grey had already discharged the office of Governor of Jamaica during the full time for which offices of the kind are held. He has fulfilled the duties of that office with very signal ability, and he was able up to the present year to prevent those faults and errors which I say exist in the constitution of Jamaica from being productive of the lamentable consequences which we see that they have at length decidedly created. My noble Friend the Duke of Newcastle, the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, in considering, among the persons holding official situations in the Colonies, who it was that might with the greatest success be able from his knowledge, his experience, and his talents to bring the different parts of the Legislature in Jamaica into harmony, and restore the constitution of that Colony to a sound state, came to the conclusion that Sir Henry Barkly, who had for several years been Governor of the Colony of Guiana, and who certainly had had as great difficulties to deal with when he first went there as one can well conceive, would be the best person to be appointed to the office of Governor of Jamaica. My noble Friend accordingly recommended Her Majesty to appoint Sir Henry Barkly to that important office; and Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that no person could be better qualified for the post. A question naturally arises with respect to the salary which he is to receive; and it would be most unfortunate if the amount of that salary should be the occasion of a dispute immediately on his appointment. But, on time other hand, it would be a very great misfortune if the office of Governor of Jamaica were, by a reduction of the 1282 salary, made of less importance than it ought to be. The salary for that office has hitherto been 6,000l. a year; and we are of opinion that it ought not to be reduced below 5,000l. a year. We do not propose that any permanent settlement should be made with regard to that salary; but there being 1,500l. a year now attached by a permanent enactment to the office of Governor of Jamaica, we propose to ask in Committee of Supply for 3,500l. a year, to make up the salary to the amount I have stated. We propose that those grants should be made for three years. At the end of those three years, it would be a question whether that salary should be permanently fixed by the Assembly and Council of Jamaica, or whether, in conformity with the opinion of persons of considerable experience and authority in these matters, the salaries of the Governors of these Colonies should all be provided by Votes of Parliament. I am not now prepared to give any opinion upon that subject. In the present state of affairs, we certainly do not wish to ask Parliament for any law in the nature of a compulsory Act to change or to suspend the constitution of Jamaica. We only ask for a vote of 3,500l. a year, for three years, to enable the Governor of Jamaica to submit our proposals to the Assembly and Council of Jamaica. If those proposals should be accepted, it is fair to say that the Government would then be prepared to give the guarantee I have mentioned, with the view of extricating the island of Jamaica from its present difficulties, and enabling it to proceed for the future with such retrenchments as might be thought advisable, and to establish such taxes as might be found least burdensome to the people, and enable it in future to adopt measures which I trust may lead to its permanent prosperity. The Colony of Jamaica is, as the House is well aware, a very magnificent Colony in point of soil and productiveness. I cannot myself but believe that if these unfortunate dissensions should be healed, and if we could have no such source of dispute in future—that is to say, no source of dispute which should create, as this quarrel has created, such embarrassment that the whole machinery of the Government was stopped, I believe we should see the Colony of Jamaica succeed at least as well as Guiana and Trinidad have succeeded in recovering from the depression which events that occurred some years ago have occasioned. Having thus laid before the House 1283 of Commons a statement which it was, perhaps, necessary that I should make before the close of the Session, I have only to conclude by expressing a hope that the House will agree to our proposals.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had listened with great attention to the interesting statement of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) who, he thought, had done very right in giving this explanation before the conclusion of the present Session. He (Sir J. Pakington) wished to say that it was on no personal ground, and for no private reasons, that he had addressed questions on this subject to the noble Lord, but because, considering the great and dangerous crisis which had lately arisen in the affairs of Jamaica, he thought it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to state to the House the view they took of that crisis, and the nature of the measures it was their intention to recommend. The noble Lord had commenced his observations by drawing a comparison between the three great West Indian Colonies of Guiana, Trinidad, and Jamaica, and stated the difference between the quantity of sugar exported from those colonies in 1840 and 1852. The noble Lord had also adverted to another most important element in the question—the supplies of labour which those colonies had respectively obtained. The noble Lord had not, however, alluded to another equally important consideration—the comparative price at which these sugars had been sold, and the comparative profit which had been derived by the exporters. It was not his (Sir J. Pakington's) intention to follow the noble Lord at any length in his observations on this part of the subject, for it would be impossible to do so without entering, to an extent which he thought unnecessary and unbecoming on this occasion, into the whole of what was called the West India question; neither would he avail himself of this opportunity to enter into that long-agitated question to which the noble Lord had alluded—namely, the policy of the noble Lord's Government in 1846. He (Sir J. Pakington) had repeatedly declared his opinion upon that subject, and it was well known to the noble Lord, who had to-night expressed his belief that the policy adopted in 1846 was a wise policy. He (Sir J. Pakington) thought it therefore his duty to say that he had in no degree changed the opinion he had before avowed, that the policy of 1846 was most unwise, and had proved 1284 most disastrous. If this were the fitting time to do so, he would argue the imprudence of that policy from the admissions of the noble Lord that his Government were now obliged to come to Parliament and state the remedies they proposed for wrongs and evils which, in his opinion, the noble Lord's policy had mainly caused. He (Sir J. Pakington) thought he might refer to the present ruined and depressed state of Jamaica as a fulfilment of those anticipations which he had again and again expressed with regard to what he belived would be the inevitable result of the policy pursued by the noble Lord's Government in 1846. He would not, however, go further on that subject, for it was far more agreeable to him to be enabled to say that, great and perilous crisis having arisen in the affairs of Jamaica, and the Government of the day—of whatever party that. Government might be constituted—being compelled to deal with that crisis, and to devise remedies for the state of things existing in the colony, he thought the proposals which had been made by the noble Lord on behalf of Her Majesty's Government were of a nature to which no possible exception could be taken on that (the Opposition) side of the House. He considered it the more desirable that in fairness and candour he should make this statement, because one most important, and as he thought a most indispensable, part of the Government plan, was that which related to the alterations in those financial powers which had, for a long period, been exercised by the House of Assembly in Jamaica. He had on former occasions indicated the opinions he entertained on this subject; but as the plan of the Government proposed a change in the practice of the Assembly of Jamaica with regard to matters of finance, which undoubtedly involved an invasion of those rights which a popular assembly had hitherto exercised, he thought it desirable that the noble Lord opposite and Her Majesty's Government should be fortified—as far as his declaration could have any effect—by the statement that, had the late Government remained in office, and had it fallen to his (Sir J. Pakington's) lot to deal with the crisis which happened in Jamaica—whatever concessions the late Government might have thought it their duty to make to the colony, and whatever means they might have recommended for correcting the serious evils which had arisen in the colony—they would have 1285 required, as an indispensable preliminary to those concessions and measures—not with any vindictive feeling, but for the sake of Jamaica itself, and of the future good government of the colony—a reform of this portion of the colonial constitution. He had before him two most important despatches, written by Sir Charles Grey, the one addressed to Lord Grey at the close of 1851, and the other sent to himself (Sir J. Pakington) about this time last year, when he had the honour to hold the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies. The House, perhaps, would allow him to read the clear and emphatic language in which Sir Charles Grey expressed his view of the working of this part of the constitution of Jamaica. In the former despatch Sir Charles Grey said—Your Lordship is aware that the whole course of fixing, raising, and managing the public revenue in Jamaica is exceedingly faulty and perverted. The Government is in no way represented in the House of Assembly, nor has it any organ there by which any tax can be proposed, or any estimates of expenditure, or of ways and means, can be laid before the Legislature. All advice by way of message from the Governor as to particular measures is regarded as dictation, and resented as breach of privilege. No Member has more right or authority than any other to recommend the sort of taxes that are to be imposed, or the rate of duration of them; and so jealously careful is the Assembly of its privileges, that the revenues for the most part are voted only from year to year. Every Member has the right also to propose a grant or appropriation of public money, and in the course of each Session a number of miscellaneous grants, though of much less amount now than formerly, are successively authorised, without much reference to estimates, or to the ability of the revenue to bear them, and towards the end of the Session are included in one enactment, each individual Member who has a grant to propose being naturally inclined to reconcile other Members to his own measure by consenting to support theirs. Upon the whole, it may be truly said that there is no system or consistency whatever in the conduct of the financial affairs of the colony, nor any recognised organ of government or legislation which has the power to bring about effectual and comprehensive improvements.That passage, in his (Sir J. Pakington's) opinion, gave an accurate representation of the most inconvenient and objectionable state of things which the Government of the noble Lord wisely sought to correct. He was sorry to see, however, that the House of Assembly of Jamaica seemed to cling to the present system, for, in a despatch of Sir Charles Grey, written last year, and alluding to the proceedings of the Colonial Assembly during the sittings 1286 of its last Session but one, Sir Charles Grey said—The Sesssion of the local Legislature was brought to a close on the 26th of February, as reported in my despatch No. 16, March 1, 1852. It had been chiefly remarkable for the renewed pertinacity with which the Government here is entirely excluded, not only from those functions in the body of the Legislature which the Crown exercises through its Ministers in both Houses of the English Parliament, but from all guidance, even by advice, of the proceedings of the Assembly.Under these circumstances, he (Sir J. Pakington) was afraid the House of Assembly would not willingly abandon their financial functions, even under the able administration of Sir Henry Barkly. He hoped, however, that it would strengthen the hands of the Government, and of Sir Henry Barkly, when it was known that the opinion on this subject was not confined to one side of the House alone, but that the late Government would have felt it their imperative duty, as the present Government had done, to require that the abandonment of these objectionable and anomalous functions should be the condition upon which any concessions would be made. He must also add, that, under the present state of the law with regard to the sugar duties, he doubted much, looking to the distress under which the colony of Jamaica suffered, and considering that the difficulties of the island had been and were now, to a very great degree, of a financial character, whether Her Majesty's Government could have decided upon any more effectual mode of giving relief to the colony than that which they proposed. At all events, he thought they had adopted one, of the most effectual modes of relieving the colony, and he considered that, although the relief proposed to be given might appear large in amount, no danger whatever would result from it to the finances of this country. If Her Majesty's Government guaranteed the public debt of Jamaica, he believed the consequence would be to reduce the interest paid by the colony from 6 per cent to 3½ per cent, thus materially reducing the charge upon the colonial revenue. He had expected that the noble Lord would have gone more at length into the state of the finances of Jamaica, which was most disastrous. In 1847, the public debt of Jamaica, including the debt due to this country, did not amount to more than 5080,000l., but he believed the whole liabilities of the island were now at least 750,000l. In both those items, however, was included 1287 the debt due to this country, which, with arrears of interest, could not be less than 200,000l., and he imagined from what the noble Lord had said, that the guarantee of the Government would not extend to that debt. Now, he did not understand why this distinction was drawn. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: Because the interest is low.] The reason of the distinction was then at once apparent and satisfactory. He understood the noble Lord to say that the amount proposed to be guaranteed was 550,000l. The whole revenue of the island was now only 180,000l. In 1817, it was about 240,000l., but since that time it had been gradually failing, and year after year it had been considerably below the expenditure. The plan of the Government, by greatly reducing the interest paid upon the debt, would materially relieve the finances of the colony, and, he had no doubt, would be accepted as a valuable boon, which would reconcile the colonists to the proposal of the noble Lord. He might observe, that it was the intention of Her Majesty's late Government to send out a Commission to Jamaica to inquire on the spot into the working of the colonial constitution, and to report their opinion as to the best mode of remedying the grievances of which the colonists complained. He was still disposed to think that that might have been the more prudent mode of proceeding. He certainly felt some doubt whether, by the action of al Governor with full instructions, the noble Lord would be able to carry out his views, and to provide that remedy for the colonial grievances which was so imperatively required, without having recourse to Imperial legislation. Perhaps, however, the noble Lord might be and a Governor, with full and ample instructions, might be able to effect as much as a Commission would have done. Although he (Sir J. Pakington) might feel a doubt on this subject, he felt no doubt whatever—Her Majesty's Government having decided upon sending out a Governor instead of a Commission—as to the wisdom of their choice in selecting for the office so able and energetic a man as Sir Henry Barkly. He thought the Government had only done justice to that gentleman, after the services he had rendered to the country, and the abilities he had displayed in the government of Guiana, in recommending him to the Crown for the honours he had lately received. When he (Sir J. Pakington) had the honour of holding the seals of the Colonial Office, Sir 1288 Henvy Barkly was Governor of Guiana, and he could confirm—so far as his experience went—all that had been said of that gentleman by the noble Lord. Sir Henry Barkly went out to Guiana at a time when serious difficulties had occurred in that Colony, and be left it in a condition of comparative prosperity. That gentleman had, indeed, the rare fortune of having not only gained the confidence and esteem of the Crown, and of the confidential servants of the Crown, but on leaving Guiana he received proofs of regard of the most gratifying nature from the inhabitants of the Colony. He thought, therefore, the Government could not have taken a wiser course than they had done, in intrusting to Sir Henry Barkly the difficult duty which had been assigned to him. He (Sir J. Pakington) could not, however, agree with the Government in the decision they had arrived at with regard to the future salary of the Governor, except in their determination to charge the portion of the salary which was not fixed, under peculiar circumstances in Jamaica, upon the funds of this country, at all events for three years. This was, he thought, a wise regulation; but he would exercise the same caution which the noble Lord had shown with regard to expressing a definite opinion as to the mode in which this and other Government salaries should be paid. He certainly considered that there were strong reasons in favour of the opinion entertained by many competent judges that it would be better if the salaries of Colonial Governors were altogether paid from the funds of the mother country. He feared that, upon this particular point, he had the misfortune to differ from those with whom he generally acted. He must say that he thought the Government were not acting wisely in permanently lowering the salary of the Governor of Jamaica. He doubted generally the policy and wisdom of lowering the salaries of public officers. He considered that there were no cases in which the maxim that "the labourer is worthy of his hire" ought to be more rigidly adhered to than in the cases of persons holding important public offices. He had regretted the appointment of the Committee which had inquired into public salaries in this country, because he thought it was most impolitic and unwise on the part of a great country to underpay its public servants; and nothing was more strongly impressed upon his mind by the experience he had had in the Colonial Office than the importance of having able 1289 and competent men as Governors of Colonies, and, consequently, of holding out such an adequate compensation as would induce men of ability to undertake those offices. It could not be denied that the interests of this country required that the Governors of our Colonies should be, in all respects, men of statesmanlike abilities and high qualities. If they wished men possessing such qualifications to abandon the advantages open to them in this country, to expatriate themselves, and to serve the Crown in trying climates and under difficult circumstances, he thought they were bound to give such salaries as would induce men of high qualities to accept these appointments. He must be allowed to express his opinion that the whole system under which Colonial Governors were appointed might be greatly improved; and he thought that in this respect Lord Grey had set a very good example, which he (Sir J. Pakington) when in office had very humbly endeavoured to follow. He considered that there should be a more distinct understanding than now existed that the system of promotion should be regularly carried out with regard to Colonial Governors. Nothing could be more uncertain than the present mode of proceeding. A gentleman, for instance, was appointed the Governor of a Colony, his tenure of office being only for six years; but he had no security whatever that at the end of that period he would remain in the service of the Crown. He might have been long enough away from this country to destroy any chance of success in his profession—if he was a member of a profession—and, at the termination of his period of office, he found himself without any public employment, without any income upon which he could fall back, and without any pursuit to which he could betake himself. He (Sir J. Pakington) would therefore suggest whether the regular adoption of the system of promotion with regard to the governorships of Colonies might not be worthy the consideration of the Government, and whether men who had rendered long service to their country in trying climates and tinder difficult circumstances should not, on their return, be rewarded by such pensions as might enable them to maintain their position after they had retired from public employment. He must confess he should not be sorry to see the system commenced in the person of his right hon. friend Sir Charles Grey, who was now about to retire into private life, after so many years devoted 1290 to the public service. Having so far expressed his concurrence with the course pursued by the Government, he was sorry to add that there was one point in which he dissented from that course, and in which he thought them open to considerable censure. He adverted to the fact that, notwithstanding the well-known state of Jamaica for a very long period past, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had not explained to the House the course be proposed to take until this 4th of August, 1653, and that the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Department did not state the views of the Government on this vital subject to the House of Peers until July. Now, it appeared to him that at the time the present Government acceded to office, there was no feature of our colonial administration so pressing for immediate and energetic attention as the critical state of Jamaica. The crisis which had now arisen in that island had been anticipated a long time ago. The dissensions between the Governor and the House of Assembly had put a stop to all revenue; and, agreeing fully with the noble Lord as to the general merits of Sir Charles Grey, and of whom he did not wish to speak with the slightest disrespect, he must clearly express the opinion that in the proceedings of the Governor towards the House of Assembly there had been a good deal that was indiscreet. At all events, it must be admitted that when the threat was made, and partly acted upon, that the prisons should be thrown open, and the convicts let loose upon society, such a threat and such a course must of necessity involve the island in social disorganisation of the most alarming and the most detrimental character; and in his humble opinion, this disorganisation and this danger might have been averted had the Government done in January or February that which they had only now announced their intention of doing in July and August. When the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. J. Wilson) made, last September, his speech on the Act of 1846, the perilous state of Jamaica was fully manifested to the House in the debate which ensued, and the cited despatches of Sir Charles Grey, in 1851 and 1852, gave ample warning of the state of things that was impending in the island. The dissensions between the Governor and the House of Assembly had been going on, more or less, for a number of years past. The Government, moreover, was bound to recollect that in July, 1854, the nominal equalisation of the sugar duties would take 1291 place—a circumstance adverted to most emphatically by Sir Charles Grey in his despatches, and which should have presented to the Government another strong reason why no time should be lost in dealing with the case of Jamaica. The noble Lord had alluded to the fact that Sir Charles Grey's period of office expired in February last. In anticipation of that event, and of the necessity of dealing with the affairs of Jamaica, he (Sir J. Pakington) had, in September last, intimated to Sir Charles Grey that he would be relieved at the close of his period of office. At about the time the new Ministry came into office the period of Sir Charles Grey's service expired, and the Government should have felt that the long dissensions between that Governor and the House of Assembly rendered it altogether improbable that his continuance in office would be advantageous to the State, and should have provided that no such continuance, even for the shortest period, should have taken place. He was of opinion that, from not having seen to this point—from not having at once dealt with the affairs of Jamaica—the Government was responsible for much of the unhappy results which had since occurred. The noble Lord was, of course, aware that a deputation from Jamaica came to this country at the close of last year to urge most strongly the very dangerous state of things in Jamaica, and to enforce the absolute necessity of providing a supply of labour. This was a point worthy of the most serious consideration of the Government. The West India question had, in fact, become, in a great degree, a labour question, and, as much as had been done for Guiana and Trinidad in that respect, every care should be taken to increase the supply of labour to Jamaica, so long as this could be done with prudence in a financial point of view. There could be no better preliminary to this most expedient course than the step now announced by the Government, of guaranteeing the island debt. There was one other point to which he would briefly advert. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his financial statement, had included the question of the refinement of colonial sugars in bond, and it had been with great regret that he had heard the subsequent announcement of the right hon. Gentleman on this point, which had so disappointed the rising hopes of the West India colonists. He (Sir J. Pakington had urged this question on the House at the close of the Session before 1292 last, or in the preceding year, and when he came into office last year he announced the intention of the new Government to confer this desired boon on our West India Colonies. It was with great regret, therefore, that he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer announce that this boon was not to be conferred, and his regret was increased when he heard no reason assigned for this alteration of views. He did not overrate the value that this concession would represent to the colonists, when he said that it would be equivalent to a differential duty of 1s. 6d. or 2s. per cwt.—a concession which, in the arduous and almost hopeless struggle in which the colonists were engaged with slave-grown sugar, would be of the greatest importance. On the other hand, when 1854 should arrive, with its nominal equalisation of duties, the refusal of this concession would give a positive advantage to the slave-grown sugar in the market to the same extent of 1s. 6d. or 2s. per cwt.—a disadvantage to our colonial sugars of a most disastrous character. There would be then no real equalisation, but the competition against our planters would continue under most unfavourable circumstances—circumstances certainly not contemplated by the Legislature or by the people of England. He was quite aware that the sugar refiners of London, and other persons interested in the present system, had raised the bugbear cry of danger to the revenue from any change; but he would contend that, as a matter alike of justice and of policy, it was essential to grant this boon to our West India growers, the dangers to whom, and especially to those of Jamaica, from its refusal, was far more manifest than the alleged danger from concession to the revenue. He earnestly trusted that, before the period of nominal equalisation arrived, the Government would concede this power of refining in bond to the West India colonists. He had made these observations in a most friendly spirit towards the proposition of the Government, which he considered upon the whole a wise measure, well adapted to the circumstances of the Colony.
said, he did not wish to enter into any of the details of the question, but having on a former occasion found fault with the appointment of Sir Henry Barkly to the governorship of British Guiana, he was bound now to admit that he had left the colony in a most satisfactory state, and in possession of an excellent Government. Looking at the present 1293 position of Jamaica, Sir Henry Barkly must indeed be a bold man to undertake the difficult situation of Governor, and if it was on no other account than that, they ought to give him every possible support. The discretion which be displayed while in his former situation was highly creditable to himself, and the Government had certainly acted most wisely in making the proposed experiment for a term of three years, thus giving him ample time and opportunity to perfect those changes which he was authorised to undertake. The root of the whole evil in Jamaica, however, was its system of finance; for no nation or colony could stand for any length of time where the principle prevailed that the parties who voted the money should also have charge of its expenditure; and he hoped the common sense of the colonists would induce them to abandon a system so ruinous and pernicious in its character. The time, however, was not far distant when Ministers would have to bring before the House the whole question of colonial government, with the view to deciding the link which should be kept up between the Crown and the Colonies. He would not say positively what that link should be; but for his own part he thought, that if the Governor, as the representative of the Sovereign, could be left without unnecessary control, and allowed to make arrangements for his government according to the circumstances of the Colony, the colonists themselves would become more prosperous and contented. He had every hope, however, that before long, under the wise and discreet course that might be expected on the part of the new Governor, the same unanimity and good feeling would be effected among the various ruling and other classes in Jamaica that had been so happily created in Guiana.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, that as the representative of a class of the community who were largely interested in Jamaica, he was anxious to express his full concurrence in the proposals of the Government. Never had a Colony been so much abused and neglected as Jamaica; but he hoped her evil days had passed away, though before she could be made thoroughly prosperous and contented, her constitution must be assimilated to that of the Canadas. With respect to the guarantee, he was in general opposed to the system; but in the present instance, considering the injurious legislation which was applied to the Colony previous to 1846, he 1294 thought they would be only doing an act of justice in acceding to the proposal of the noble Lord. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) who had recently addressed them, that it would be found necessary next year to alter the law, so as to enable East India as well as West India sugar to be refined in bond. He had been unwilling to come to that conclusion; but having closely examined the matter, he was now convinced, that if they did not make this change in the law, the Dutch sugar refiners would have a considerable advantage over the refiners of sugars imported into this country. He hoped, therefore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take the question into his serious consideration during the recess, and see if some plan could not be devised, by which both East and West India sugars might be allowed to be refined in bond.