HC Deb 16 August 1853 vol 129 cc1757-8

said, he would now beg to ask the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to propose any alteration in the Order of Council under which the tenants of pastoral runs in the Colony of Victoria were entitled to claim leases, or to send any new instructions to the Governor on the subject of those leases; and whether he would lay on the table of the House all correspondence which had taken place between the Colonial Office and the Governor of Victoria with respect to the rights and claims of the holders of licences for the occupation of such lands? It was only necessary to explain, that when the late Government conceded to the Legislature of the Australian Colonies the management of their waste lands, they had no intention thereby to interfere with or to prejudice any existing rights or claims.


said, that the question of his right hon. Friend was not only one of very great interest, but was perhaps the most important and the most difficult of any at present under the consideration of the Colonial Office. There was a great and serious difficulty felt by the Government of Victoria, and also, although to a lesser degree, by the Government of New South Wales, in putting up to sale by auction land in sufficient quantity, and in localities to which the preference was given so as to meet the wants of those persons who, having acquired wealth in consequence of the gold discoveries, were desirous of investing their gains in the purchase of land. Those difficulties arose out of an Order in Council issued in the year 1847, which had been based on an Act of Parliament of the preceding year. That Act and that Order in Council gave to the holders of pastoral runs certain rights to leases, rights to the renewal of leases, and rights of pre-emption, which, if the Government were to concede to the full extent contemplated at the time the Order in Council had been issued, would give rise to very serious embarrassments. He was not then able to say what course the Government might ultimately take upon the subject. He was not able to say whether they would feel it necessary to amend the Order in Council, or whether they would feel that they had sufficient powers reserved to them under that Order in Council to meet the difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman was, perhaps, aware that under that Order in Council they could make public reserves for the settlement and improvement of the Colony, and that they could also, by extending the settled districts, extinguish the right of pre-emption over certain portions of the soil. But the question was still under the consideration of the Colonial Office. It was their intention, however, to dispose of the subject before the control over the waste lands should have been handed over to the local Legislature; and as soon as their decision should have been come to, they would be prepared to present to Parliament all the papers relating to the question.

Forward to