HC Deb 08 May 1857 vol 145 cc97-8

MR. LABOUCHERE moved for a Select Committee to consider the state of those British possessions in North America which are under the administration of the Hudson's Bay Company, or over which they possess a licence to trade. The right hon. Gentleman observed that he had in the last Session of Parliament stated at some length the reasons which had induced Her Majesty's Government to come to the conclusion that it was their duty to call the attention of the House of Commons to the position of that vast region, extending from the shores of Baffin's Bay to the Pacific Ocean. The House had upon that occasion deemed the statements which he had made sufficient to warrant the appointment of a Committee to investigate that very important subject. That Committee had sat for some time, had examined several witnesses, and had elicited information of great importance when the dissolution took place. He now proposed to the House to renew the inquiry thus abruptly closed, and in doing so he was happy to be able to state that out of nineteen members who had served on the original Committee seventeen had been returned to the new Parliament, so that he trusted the House would again have the advantage of the experience which those hon. Gentlemen had already acquired. He should also take that opportunity to inform the House that the colony of Canada had sent over to this country the Chief Justice of Upper Canada—a gentleman of the highest character—who would be ready to give the Committee that invaluable assistance which the testimony of such a man could not fail to afford. From the progress which had been already made in the inquiry he ventured to hope that the Committee would be enabled to bring their labours to a conclusion before the end of the Session, and that the Government would be in a position to deal very shortly with the important and complicated subject of their deliberations,


said that two Members on the former Committee were not in the present Parliament, and if it were not premature to put the question he should like to know what Members it was intended to propose in their place? He and some other Members of the Committee were axious that Mr. Christy, the present Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne, should fill one of the two vacancies.


reminded the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies that the Committee had to inquire into our relations with North America. They had not only to receive evidence with respect to the Hudson's Bay Company, but also to some extent as to the frontier line between the United States and Great Britain, which had not yet been decided, and which extended for 3,600 miles, almost equal to the distance between London and Cabul. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would place on the Committee such Members as would, from their information and pursuits, be enabled to advise and assist it.


said, he would not ask the House to discuss the names of the Members who were to form the Committee at present, but they would recollect that there were but two vacancies, and that it would be very undesirable to extend the number beyond nineteen. He knew that many Gentlemen had expressed an anxiety to be upon it; and he could only assure the House that he would endeavour to select two names that would be really advantageous to the Committee. The House would hereafter have an opportunity of considering the names of the Members who would be proposed.

Motion agreed to; Select Committee appointed.