HC Deb 20 May 1858 vol 150 cc923-4

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is true that the Governor of New Zealand had repealed the Arms, Ordnance, and Importation Acts, as framed by Sir George Grey, to prevent the Natives procuring arms and ammunition, and whether such repeal meets with the approval of Her Majesty's Government?


Sir, in answer to the question of the noble Lord, I have to state that it is not the case that the Governor of New Zealand has repealed the Act in question. In point of fact, it would not be in his power to do so. An Act passed by the Colonial Legislature can only be repealed by the action of the Colonial Legislature itself. What has really occurred is this:—The Act is an empowering Act, giving power to the Government to proclaim certain regulations for the sale of warlike stores to the Natives. On the passing of the Act, the then Governor of New Zealand issued a Proclamation imposing some severe conditions and restrictions upon trading in those matters. It was, however, subsequently found that the Government had no adequate means for enforcing them, and the restrictions were evaded. A contraband trade had sprung up, thereby increasing the very evil they intended to guard against. In consequence of that being found to be the case, the present Governor of New Zealand thought it necessary to modify and to relax those restrictions. The draft of the new regulations was sent over here, and was received by the right hon. Gentleman, my predecessor in office (Mr. Labouchere). Lord Panmure, the then Minister of War, expressed his opinion that there was nothing objectionable in the terms of the Proclamation. That being the case, the feeling of the Government was pronounced upon its merits, and I do not, however, under the circumstances, consider myself called upon to express an opinion upon the matter.