HC Deb 11 March 1859 vol 153 cc34-5

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether in cases of emigration by females due care is or will be taken, that the female emigants are placed under the charge of a matron duly appointed or selected by the Government? The usual course at present was, he believed, for the surgeon to choose out of the intending emigrants the one who seemed most fitted for the office; but it was needless to point out that such a system afforded no guarantee for the possession of the necessary qualifications. The character of these matrons ought to be of the best description; their position ought to be a permanent one, and lastly, they ought to be properly remunerated for their services.


believed that the subject had excited a good deal of interest, and he was very thankful to the hon. Member for calling attention to this or any other matter con- nected with emigration. In all emigrant ships which were chartered by the Emigration Commissioners, matrons were appointed to take charge of the single women, and it had been recently decided to organize a class of matrons who should be allowed home passages from the Colonies, and should be employed as occasion required. This regulation would affect all ships chartered by the Emigration Commissioners; but no matrons would be appointed to the ordinary emigrant ships. There was no power by which these appointments could he made, and even if such a power existed, no authority could be given to the matrons thus appointed. Nor did he think it possible to procure that power, except to a very limited extent, even by an Act of Parliament, because a large number of emigrants went to America in American ships, and if even matrons were received on board, the moment those vessels left British waters away went British authority over them, and away, too, would go the authority of the matrons. As far as the Government was concerned, every attention in their power was given to the subject.


said, his impression had been that back passages were only allowed to matrons from Sydney, and not from the other Australian colonies. Great evils had arisen in emigrant ships from the want of properly qualified matrons. Sometimes 300 or 400 single women were on board, and under proper control they might be taught needlework, and the voyage might be made very instructive. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would communicate with the Colonial Government on the subject, in order that proper salaries might be appropriated for the pay of these matrons, and that they might be provided with a passage home from all the Australian colonies.