HC Deb 31 May 1860 vol 158 cc1810-2

hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) would accede to the suggestion which had been made by the right hon. and gallant General (General Peel), and abstain from calling attention, on that occasion, to the military defence of the Colonies—a subject which he should like to see referred to a Committee. At the same time, he thought it desirable to bring under the notice of the House a preliminary matter which bore upon that question, and to point out that the mode in which the military Estimates were, and had for some years been framed, did not accurately exhibit the amount which was contributed by the Colonies for the pay and expenses of the troops which were employed in their defence. These Estimates ought to be based on one of two principles—either no reference at all should be made to money coming in from other sources than the Imperial Votes; or they should show, first, the entire amount of charge, and next the money coming from other sources, and then the House of Commons should be asked to vote the balance. The latter, he thought, would be the preferable mode. He had carefully pone through the Estimates of the last five or six years in reference to the colony of Victoria, in which he had for some years resided, and had compared them with the estimates of the local Legislature; but he found such extraordinary inconsistencies and disclosures, that he felt it necessary to call the attention of the House to thorn before going into the general subject. In the year 1855 the Legislature of that colony voted £200,000 for their military expenditure, of which £32,000 was for the Imperial and £33,000 for the colonial pay of the troops stationed in the colony, and £53,000 for the expenses included in Vote 8. The only sum, however, for which credit was given to the colony was one of £5,146, which was included in the Estimates submitted to that House for the year 1856–57, under the head of "Payments into the Exchequer." In the year 1856–57 the Colonial Legislature voted £12,000 for the staff, £33,000 for the regiment stationed in the colony, £12,000 for the extra cost of provisions, among other sums, exceeding in all £150,000 for military purposes; and yet no notice was taken of this in the Imperial accounts. All this time there appeared in the Home Estimates that an express deduction was taken for the pay of troops stationed in the Australian Colonies amounting to £1,427. In the following year the Legislature of Victoria voted for military purposes £147,000, of which £3,500 was for the staff at Melbourne, £30,000 for Imperial, and £31,000 for the colonial pay of the troops, and £45,000 for the ordinary contingencies under vote No. 8. In that year credit was given to the colony for only the insignificant sum of £3,600. In the year 1858–59 credit was given to the Colonies for a sum of £26,175, as paid into the Exchequer. How the sum came to be £26,000 that year, £3,000 in another, and £5,000 in another, when really £50,000 or £60,000 was contributed annually, he was at a loss to say. After that year the colony altered its arrangements, and in the following year the Legislature voted a sum of £38,075 "to be granted to Her Majesty for the head-quarters staff and Her Majesty's troops in Victoria, to be paid over to the officer commanding the troops, and to be distributed by him in such manner as to Her Majesty may seem fit." That, as he understood it, was a distinct contribution from the colonial revenues towards the ordinary and extraordinary Imperial expenditure for the troops stationed in the colony; and yet for that year only £5,136 appeared as having been paid into the Exchequer as a contribution from the colony. In the year 1859–60 the sum voted by the colonial Legislature was still more, I think above £40,000, for not a farthing of which credit was given in the Estimates presented to that House. His object in calling attention to this subject was that past irregularities might he cleared up, and that so far as Victoria was concerned, he might assist in establishing a basis for deciding the important question which had been referred to by the right hon. and gallant General.