HC Deb 05 March 1861 vol 161 cc1400-21

said, that in rising to move for a Select Committee on Colonial Military Expenditure, he need hardly apologize for bringing under the notice of the House a question involving an expenditure of £4,000.,000 sterling, nine-tenths of which were raised from the taxation of the people of this country. The usual official objection would probably be raised to the Select Committee for which he was about to ask—namely, that it would involve an interference on the part of Parliament with the proper functions of Government, but he thought he should be able, in a few words, to prove that that objection could not fairly apply to the Motion to which he asked the House to assent. In 1834 a Committee for the same object was granted by the Government of that day. It was presided over by the present Lord Fortescue. On the Report of that Committee action was taken by the Government, to the great advantage of the public; but many changes had taken place since 1834—changes both in the home administration, and in the actual expenditure in the Colonies, which tended to make inquiry still more necessary than it was when granted at that date. From the beginning of the present century up to 1854 the administration of the Colonics and that of the War Department were under one head. In that year, owing to the pressure caused by the Russian war, the two departments were separated; and they had the testimony of men of experience that, under the present system, great inconvenience was caused in the public service from the want of an uniform rule in respect to colonial military expenditure. He did not intend to trouble the House with lengthy quotations, but he would refer to a passage in a letter, written in March, 1859, by Mr. Hawes, on behalf of the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), then Secretary of State for War, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In that letter the Colonial Secretary's attention was called to the extreme inconvenience felt in the War Department by reason of the absence of any fixed and recognized principle on which to decide questions relating to military expenditure in the Colonies; and the desirability of an understanding between the several Colonies and the Imperial Government was pointed out. It was suggested by the right hon. and gallant General that the matter should be submitted to the consideration of a Committee composed of one member from the War Office, one from the Colonial Office, and one from the Treasury. Sue'] a Committee was accordingly appointed. They were all men of ability, but they presented a Report in which they diametrically opposed each other. That seemed to have been made an excuse for doing nothing: but, at all events, no action bad been taken on the subject. His object in now proposing the appointment of a Committee was not to embarrass the Government, but to give them a basis for action. The aggregate of our military expenditure for the Colonies was nearly £4,000,000 annually. Of that amount the Colonies contributed about one-tenth. The Committee he proposed would not have to operate on our whole colonial empire. The political garrisons, convict depots, and the philanthropic settlements in Western Africa, with regard to which the question of apportionment of expenditure did not arise, would be excluded from the inquiry. What ever opinions might exist as to the value of these dependencies to Great Britain it was evident that they must be retained, if at all, at Imperial cost. They were ten in number, and the cost of our military expenditure in regard to them was about £1,500,000, while there were twenty-seven or twenty eight colonies and dependencies that absorbed the remaining amount of £2,500,000. The total amount of contributions from Colonial sources towards making up the sum of £4,000,000 was £370,000. The twenty-eight colonial dependencies on which he proposed the Committee should operate contributed £350,000 a year, and of that sum £240,000 was contributed by three colonies—namely, Ceylon, Victoria, and New South Wales. These facts showed the anomaly of the present system, both in regard to their imperial expenditure and the proportions paid by the Colonies. Again, the military defence of the North American Colonies and the West Indies were organized on no settled rule or principle. Vast sums were squandered on fortifications which were often worse than useless, while small garrisons were dotted about on our insular possessions which, in the event of war with any European or other Power, would be simply caught in traps. It was to him quite inconceivable that they should go on keeping fragments of troops in all the small dependencies that they possessed. The colonial power of England rested on her naval superiority alone. The Report of the departmental Committee called attention to the enormous military expenditure at the Cape of Good Hope, amounting to £830,000, side by side with which was an item in the Estimates of £68,000 for the civilization of the Kaffirs. Anything more monstrous than that expenditure of £830,000 he could not imagine, and he was at a loss to understand bow Parliament could sanction—if, indeed, it had ever sanctioned—such an enormous outlay. The tendency of such a system was to keep the colony in a state of perpetual minority. The Kaffir wars, again, had cost this country not less than £5,000,000. He brought forward this Motion in no spirit of hostility to the Government; and he, therefore, regretted to hear that it was their intention to oppose it. That opposition, however, rendered it necessary for him to anticipate some of the arguments likely to be used against it. He should probably be told that the matter ought to be left to the Executive Government; and that it was not a question for the House of Commons. That was an argument which had been used for the last twenty-five years, and might be used with equal force for twenty-five years to come. But how could the Government deal with the matter satisfactorily when the average duration of office of each Colonial Minister was little more than eighteen months? Under such circumstances, unless some sound rules were laid down for that department, any statesman who held the seals of the Colonial Office must find great difficulty in giving satisfaction. A long space elapsed before the missives of the Colonial Office could reach the colony, and when the time came for the return of the mail the Colonial Office had a new functionary who might feel disposed to deal with the question at issue on a different principle. The settlement of important questions between the Imperial Government and the Colonies was thus indefinitely delayed, and the seeds were thus sown for future disputes. The severance of the War Department from the Colonial Office had only aggravated the difficulty of the case. He disclaimed any desire to invade the functions of the Executive, but the whole history of the matter showed that it was high time for Parliament to interfere. He might be told that one Committee had already sat, that his Committee would do nothing, and that the Colonies would be coming before it in formâ pauperis to get what they could for themselves. But persons who held this opinion of the Colonies must have forgotten their conduct during the Russian war, when the Australian colonies sent home between £70.000 and £80,000 to the Patriotic Fund for the widows and children of those who fell in the Crimea; and when Nova Scotia offered to maintain a militia of 25,000 men to protect her own shores in the event of England requiring the services of her army elsewhere. It could not be said that the expenditure proposed to be inquired into was unimportant, for if £1,000,000 of this £4,000,000 could be saved, it represented 1d. in the pound on the income tax, or it would enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take his long-deferred action on the paper duty. The student of history could not but notice the contrast between the Colonial policy of England and that of Spain and Holland. He did not mention the colonial policy of the latter countries for any purpose of laudation, but it was worthy of remark that they received from their colonies every year nearly the precise sum that England spent upon hers. But it was not only, or mainly, on economical or financial grounds that an inquiry into our present colonial policy was demanded. The retention of colonies in an inglorious and unlonely subjection was a hopeless enterprise, degrading alike to those who imposed and those who accepted the dominion. Sixty years ago Mr. Fox, in advocating the Quebec Bill, told the House of Commons that the only sure mode of retaining our Colonies was to enable them to govern themselves. This advice had been echoed by the late Sir William Molesworth, Mr. Charles Buller, and some distinguished statesmen who were still Members of that House. But self-government was necessarily followed by self-defence, and the Colonies that were left to govern themselves ought, as a necessary consequence, to defend themselves. It was not necessary to go back to ancient times to show the accuracy of that theory. Our North American colonies, before the declaration of independence, paid the whole cost of their military defence out of their own taxes, and yet provided in addition for the whole expense of their civil government. During the seven years' war they raised 25,000 men at a cost of several millions sterling. The policy of England towards her Colonies ought to be in accordance with this ancient precedent to cherish the feeling of self-reliance, and to revive, if possible, the sound principles of Colonial Government from which we had departed. He submitted his Motion to the consideration of the House, he repeated, in no hostile spirit towards the Government, but because he believed that man was doing a service to his country who was instrumental in diminishing the drain on the resources of the State, and lightening the burden which pressed on the population—a burden in this case involving an expenditure of £4,000,000 sterling—and the withdrawal of 100.000 soldiers from the service of the mother country to the outlying provinces of our empire. But there was a still more powerful argument for investigating and reforming our colonial policy—namely, that by cherishing those principles of self-reliance to which he had adverted, they would be qualifying the Colonies for a glorious future and for eventual independence. He would, therefore, move, That a Select Committee be appointed on Colonial Military Expenditure, to inquire and re port whether any, and what, alteration may be advantageously adopted in regard to the Defence of the British Dependencies, and the proportions of cost of such Defence as now defrayed from Imperial and Colonial funds respectively.


said, he had particular pleasure in seconding the Motion, because the colony of Queensland, with which he was principally connected, had no soldiers and no military defence. It struck him that the Colonies ought not, strictly speaking, to have a military defence. A fleet, with a sufficient number of marines, would, in his opinion, be a much more effectual defence than a garrison of soldiers. The advantage possessed by a fleet was that it could move very rapidly to any point on the coast where its presence might be required. It would be recollected that the Volunteers of New Zealand were, on a recent occasion, placed in great jeopardy, and would have been cut off by the natives but for the assistance of blue jackets. Even if they had no colonies their commerce would require them to keep up a navy; and, therefore, with that expense the Colonies could not be charged. He hoped that the Committee would be appointed, as the subject was full of details, and they were not to suppose that the Colonies could be dealt with by one single rule—one Procrustean plan. He was glad to hear his hon. Friend pay a tribute to the loyalty of Australia, although he had, he thought, made a mistake in saying that the Australian colonies contributed only £75,000 to the Patriotic Fund, as it was within his own knowledge that New South Wales, by no moans the largest of these colonics, had alone subscribed £53,000. The case of the Cape required peculiar attention. In former days the colonists fought the Kafirs in their own way, but of late the Government had prohibited them to engage in any kind of guerilla warfare. It was, therefore, the duty of the Government to provide them with adequate protection.


said, he could assure his hon. Friend that his Motion for a Committee was not viewed as a party attack upon the Government. He concurred in the objects aimed at by the hon. Member's proposition, but he differed from him as to the means of attaining those objects. The desire felt for inquiry by a Select Committee into the matter arose very much, he believed, from what was supposed to be the comparative failure of the inquiry made some time ago by a Departmental Committee appointed by the late Government. The Report of that Committee was not a joint one. There were in effect two Reports, one of which was made by an able gentleman, a member of the War Department, from whom his Colonial Office Colleague was compelled to differ. The document containing that Report was drawn up with very great ability—was full of ideas and valuable observations; but, as far as its practical utility went in enabling the Government to settle the matter on a satisfactory basis, it was comparatively of little benefit. But the failure of the Committee could not be attributed to the Minister under whose auspices it was appointed. The Reports, in fact, did not furnish an answer to the questions submitted to the Committee. General Peel, in his instructions to the Committee, laid down very simple principles as to the colonial military system and the distribution of the charges—principles in which, in the main, his noble Friend now at the head of the Colonial Office concurred—and requested the Committee to consider a scheme for the application of those principles to each colony. In the able paper drawn up by Mr. Godley, the two main recommendations were these—That the defence of the Colonies should be maintained under a system of local control and management, and that there should be a uniform contribution on the part of the mother country. The essence of the Report was—that the defence of the Colonies ought to be carried on by local corps provided by each of those Colonies, and without the assistance of regiments sent from home. There was no doubt that local corps such as the Cape Rifles and the Ceylon Regiments were very useful under certain circumstances, and in peculiar methods of war fare, but he was convinced that there was no surer way of destroying in the Colonics the sense of connection with the mother country than by making up our minds to withdraw from them the presence of British regiments. His hon. Friend who seconded the Motion reminded him of a strong instance which bad recently come to the notice of the Government. The other day the colony of Queensland were asked whether they would prefer a regiment of their own or a small detachment of British soldiers. The answer was in the shape of a minute of council, which stated that the local government had the strongest objection to substitute for a small detachment of Her Majesty's troops a local corps raised in the colony. They pointed out that the system of local corps tended to isolation. They asked for a very trifling number of troops. They stated that the presence of a small number of British troops tended to keep up the imperial feeling of attachment to this country, and at the same time constituted a far more efficient force for ordinary purposes, local troops being necessarily inferior to imperial troops, and altogether wanting in that esprit de corps which existed among British soldiers, and that such had once proved to be the case in the colony of New South Wales. But the Report to which he had alluded, while maintaining that the defence of our Colonies should be left to local corps, asserted that we should contribute towards the expenses. He could not think that Parliament would ever agree to a proposal of that kind. It would be false economy. We should get an inferior article for our money; the local corps would not be available for the general defence of the empire; they could not be moved from point to point in case of danger, but would always be fixed to one spot. Then the Report recommended that our contribution should be at a uniform rate for every colony. That appeared to him to be the very exaggeration of theory on a practical question, and it was a recommendation which no Secretary of State could possibly carry out. The circumstances of the Colonies varied enormously. They varied in point of age, of wealth, of exposure to danger, of means of defence. The power of peace and war was not vested in the hands of the Colonies. They were liable to he involved in wars which the mother country might engage in for her own purposes; and the greater portion of them were so situated that if not dependent on the Crown of England they must take their allegiance elsewhere and ask for protection from some other Power. Next it had been said that they ought to encourage in the Colonies the principle of self-reliance and self-defence. In that statement he entirely concurred. But the Report in question had strangely underrated the spirit of the British Colonies. It seemed to assume that the spirit of self-reliance was extinct. The truth was, that whenever danger had threatened, a commendable spirit of self-reliance had always been shown by the British Colonies. It was well known how the Volunteers of Australia came forward last year. He could quote, if necessary, resolutions passed by the Legislatures of New South Wales and Victoria expressive of self-reliance. But the colonists had done more. They had shown their spirit by coming forward in large numbers to serve the Crown. There were at that moment in Victoria some 4,000 or 5,000 admirably trained Volunteers. And so in other colonies. The same spirit had been shown in Canada and in Nova Scotia. Not long ago it was proposed that Nova Scotia should contribute certain sums towards its defence. She declined to do so; not, however, for want of loyalty, but on account of the smallness of her revenue, which amounted only to £150,000, one-half of which was spent in paying the guaranteed interest of railways. But a few years ago, when New Brunswick seemed to be in danger from the United States, Nova Scotia voted no less a sum than £100,000 for defensive purposes. She had also enrolled an admirable body of Volunteers, He thought, therefore, that a spirit of self-reliance and self-defence was by no means wanting in our Colonies. It prevailed to a gratifying extent, aad he might add that it had received constant encouragement, both from the Colonial Minister and from the War Department. The hon. Member for Taunton had talked of the enormous sums expended by the mother country in the military defence of her Colonies; but, in taking his figures from the report of Mr. Godley, he had unintentionally deceived the House. The expenditure was nothing like £4,000,000 a year.


I referred to the aggregate amount, including the colonial expenditure.


contended that the tables in the Report from which the hon. Gentleman had derived his information were constructed upon an erroneous principle. For example, they included all the dependencies of the British Crown, mere military ports like Malta and Gibraltar, as well as Canada and Australia. Nevertheless, the authors of the Report, though by no means inclined to underrate the military expenditure in the Colonies, had not ventured to put it at more than, £2,000,000 a year, stating the number of troops at 27,000. But those figures did not represent the present state of things. The tables in the Report were drawn up in a very extravagant year, in a year most favourable for those who wished to complain of the existing colonial system, in a year when the number of troops at the Cape was certainly enormous. At that time a new Kaffir war was considered imminent, but, happily, the evil was averted by the presence of an unusually large military force and by the ability and energy of the governor. The tables also included the cost of the German Legion, and, in fact, every possible item which could be dragged in to swell the grand total. They embraced, among other things, a proportion of the expense of transport, of the departmental expenses at home, and of the cost of the non-effective service. In short, the authors of the Report seemed to have drawn up their statement as if they thought that the troops in the Colonies were of no value whatever to the Empire at large and were never to he seen at home again. He would tell the House what had been done since. The number of troops at the Cape in the year in which the Report was prepared was 10,700, whereas, according to the last Returns, the number of troops at the Cape and in Natal did not exceed 4,300. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the Cape ought to contribute more than it did to its military defence. It should, however, be remembered that at the Cape of Good Hope and in New Zealand the colonists were constantly in danger from the aborigines, and that the Home Government and the opinion of this country would not tolerate self-defence by means of internecine war such as that which was carried on between the early settlers and the natives in North America. As to Australia, it was well known that those important colonies did contribute large sums to their defences, and the charge to this country on their account was very small. Sir William Denison had proposed a plan of a joint and equal contribution, but he had never intended to apply the scheme as a uniform system to all the dependencies of the Crown. As to New Zealand the war had interrupted all the arrangements; but before it broke out measures had been taken to throw on New Zealand the whole cost of works, barracks, and fortifications, and to levy a contribution for the troops stationed there at a fixed sum per head. With regard to Canada the intention of Earl Grey had not been to throw the whole charge on the colonial Government, but to reduce it to a very moderate amount, confining it to the garrisoning of the principal cities and ports of the colony; and that was exactly what had been done. With the exception of a few posts there were only the garrisons of Quebec and Kingston, and besides the regiment of Canadian Rifles there was only a single regiment from this country. That was not too much for the great province of Canada. In the colonies, properly speaking, the number of troops at this moment could not be put above 19,000 men. He could not exactly say what deduction that would give from the £2,000,000 stated in the Report two years ago, but certainly it must represent a very large sum. He hoped that statement would lead the House to believe that things were not so bad as they had been represented by his hon. Friend. The colonies were making vigorous efforts, and every opportunity was taken by the present head of the Colonial Office, in conjunction with his colleagues, to reduce the charge of the colonial military system on the mother country. His hon. Friend proposed to deal with the subject by a Committee of the House of Commons. He thought what he had said would show that such a remedy was not needed; that the case was not so bad ns had been represented; but whether that were so or not be must say that the remedy proposed was entirely unsuited to the case. It seemed to him that the subject was not a fit one for inquiry by the House of Commons. It was not a question of facts, but of opinions and principles. It was well known there was a difference of opinion between the authors of the Report; that difference was not in respect to the facts of the case. On the facts they were agreed; the difference related to the principles to be applied in dealing with the question. He feared that an inquiry before a Committee, so far from settling the question, would rather tend the other way and interpose obstacles to its settlement. Gentlemen might no doubt come forward and give strong opinions in favour of relieving the British taxpayer on the one hand; and on the other gentlemen from the colonies would express colonial views; but that would not facilitate the settlement of the question. He was glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion an assurance that the colonies were ready to assume a greater share of the responsibility of their own protection; and colonial witnesses might be found to give similar evidence; but, after all, these were merely the opinions of private parties; they did not bind the colonies. The question must be treated through the colonial Governments. The only way in which retrenchment in this matter could be carried out was by negotiation carried on by the Imperial Government with each of the colonies in their turn. If the House of Commons took these negotiations out of the hands of the Government they would, he was convinced, cause dissatisfaction in the colonics as well as fail in the end they had in view. They might as well attempt to take negotiations with France out of the hands of the Government and place them in the hands of a Committee as to do so with these negotiations with Canada. There was not, after all, much difference as to the principles on which any improvement in the system should be based. His noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office was quite ready, for instance, to accept the principle as laid down by the right hon. and gallant Member (General Peel) that all the military charge for internal police should fall on the colonies, at all events as regards communities of English origin, for it could hardly be strictly applied to those heterogeneous mixtures of various races to be found in Trinidad and the Mauritius. But the object General Peel had in view was not carried out by the Departmental Committee. Nor could the task be fulfilled by a Committee of the House of Commons. It must be left to the Government itself, and the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Office, who was willing and anxious to carry it out. He could answer for his noble Friend that he would lose no opportunity of doing so in each colony as the case arose, consulting not only colonial but Imperial interests, and keeping fully in mind the claims of the British taxpayer.


said, he thought the House was deeply indebted to the hon. Gentleman for having brought this subject before the consideration of the House. He had done so in a very moderate speech, without passing censure on the present or any preceding Government. It seemed to him desirable that they should obtain more full and explicit information on the subject. He had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, and he could not but express his regret and surprise that Her Majesty's Government should oppose the Motion. The position taken by the hon. Under Secretary that the Committee would interfere with the province of Her Majesty's Government was not defensible. On Friday last the Government had acceded to a proposition for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider what alterations should be made in the Board of Admiralty and the duties of that department. A Committee had also been appointed to consider a number of matters which were peculiarly within the province of the Poor Law Board and the Exchequer. When, therefore, the hon. Gentleman raised that preliminary objection to the appointment of a Committee, he (Mr. Baxter) thought he had unduly prejudiced the prerogatives of the House of Commons, and he hoped the House would never agree to the doctrine that matters of the kind were to be left entirely to the Government. He really believed that Ministers ought to have accepted with thankfulness the proposal of the hon. Member for Taunton, for they had heard that the departments were not agreed among themselves—that the War Office differed from the Colonial Office; and, in the remarkably able Minute of General Peel, it was stated that Government were labouring under great difficulties and embarrassments; while the document to which their attention had been invited set forth that not a year passes without discussions on the relative liabilities of the Imperial and colonial Governments. The speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies, indeed, would make it appear as if everything was couleur de rose, and no doubt his speech would be read with great pleasure by the colonists; but the House must recollect that they were the representatives of the people of this country, and that they found a Report placed in their hands which stated the military expenditure on account of the colonies for the year 1858 at £3,968,000 while the colonies only contributed the sum of £378,253. His hon. Friend said that the cost had since been greatly reduced; but he wished the hon. Gentleman had condescended a little to particulars. Let them contrast the state of things here with the case of the Dutch colonies, which, after paying all military and naval expenses, contributed a surplus revenue of £2,600,000; and the Spanish colonies the estimated surplus revenue was £1,150,000, or a sum very nearly as great on the right side of the ledger as ours was on the wrong. It had been said by the hon. Gentleman that 1858 was an exceptional year, and that the expenditure had been considerably reduced, but even according to his computation we should still be upwards of £3,000,000 out of pocket for the defence of our colonies. The hon. Gentleman had not noticed the fact that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick did not contribute a farthing towards this expenditure, while the Cape of Good Hope only gave the miserable pittance of £34,000. He held that a primâ facie case for investigation had been made out; and so far from embarrassing the noble Duke at the head of the colonial Office, if the inquiry were carried out in an impartial manner, it would enable him to enforce his views with those Colonies which did not adequately support their military expenditure. He agreed in the praise which had been bestowed on the people of Australia for their noble efforts, and it was precisely because he was anxious for the extension of the principle which they were acting upon, and because he believed this would only be effected by the voice of the people supporting the Colonial Office, that he was anxious for the appointment of the Committee, the proposal for which had been made in so temperate and conciliatory a manner.


said, he had been much surprised when the hon. Gentleman, the Under Secretary, concluded his speech by stating that he should oppose the Motion, for he had never heard a speech which more conclusively established the necessity for a Committee than that which had been made by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman had devoted the greatest part of his remarks to the refutation of a Report made by two officials of the War Office. Committees of that House were intended to settle questions which were in controversy, and where differences arose between Members of the Government—however injudicious it might be to publish them—when they had once been brought to light that House was the place in which they ought to be determined. The hon. Gentleman had told them that there was a great controversy as to the course which should be pursued in Australia. There was the Denison system and the Grey system; and the hon. Gentleman told the House that his own mind—and he presumed the mind of the noble Duke under whom he served—was not quite settled as to which of these was the best. In such a position that House, as it seemed to him, was the only place where the question could be fairly tried. A great mistake had been made in allowing the Report of officials, differing so widely, to be presented; but as that step had been taken, and as great doubts had been consequently awakened, he saw no adequate means of settling them, except by referring the matter to a Select Committee. The hon. Gentleman, he thought, had mistaken the pedigree of the present Motion, which really arose from the wise and judicious State paper issued by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, during the absence of the noble Duke in reply to an application for aid from New Zealand, in which he stated with great force the difficulties attending the supply of military force to the colonies and the necessity existing for an authoritative settlement of the doubts which had arisen. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had fallen into the error, common to many speakers, of confusing the various colonies subject to the British Crown. Had he looked more closely into the Report he would have seen that many changes were incurred in the defence, not of colonies, but of detached military posts, a distinction which it was necessary to bear in mind very carefully. Of the £3,500,000 of Imperial expenditure for military purposes more than £1,000,000 was absorbed by the Mediterranean settlements, Gibraltar, Malta and the Ionian Islands. Differences of opinion might exist as to the wisdom of maintaining those military posts, but it was quite clear that the large sum expended upon them ought not to be set down to colonial charges. Bermuda, Heligoland, and St. Helena, with numerous others, belonged to the same class, and materially reduced the sums which the hon. Gentleman had spoken of as colonial expenditure. There were likewise colonies which had nothing to fear from attacks externally, unless they proceeded from an European Power, with whom they would not become involved unless we ourselves quarrelled with them in the first instance. For example, if we went to war with France, our possessions in the Pacific would be in danger; and if with America, those in the Caribbean Sea would be imperilled. But as long as we were at peace, they would not be in any danger at all; and it was, therefore, conformable to the first principles of justice that if we made a quarrel we should bear the expense of defending those whose security depended entirely on our foreign policy. The exhaustive division to which be had referred only left two colonies unmentioned- those of New Zealand and the Cape of Good Hope—both of which had powerful native tribes on the frontier, with which they might come into collision, and so require the assistance of English troops. It might be fairly questioned whether it had been wise originally to colonize these territories, and whether, looking back on all the results, we had been repaid for the great cost and anxiety which they had entailed. But, having entered into a pledge with the emigrants whom we had sent out to those colonies, it was impossible with honour to refuse to guarantee their security. Take the Cape as an example. Complaints had been made of the enormous sums lavished on that colony; but it should be remembered that the policy of this country had curtailed its frontiers, promoted the formation of a hostile republic on its borders, and forbidden the Dutchmen to pursue the kind of warfare by which they formerly kept the Kaffirs at bay. Having done that, they were absolutely bound to aid the colony in meeting the dangers to which they had taken so large a share in exposing it. Then there was the case of New Zealand, which required the most careful consideration of a Committee of that House adequately to solve it. It was not merely a military question, but a question whether they ought not to take the affairs of New Zealand more under their own control, if they were to be responsible for all that might happen in the colony. The present war in New Zealand was apparently caused by the pressure put upon the Governor to furnish land for the colonists. That raised the question as to the rights of the natives, and the powers and duties of the authorities in the colony. It was impossible for these delicate questions and minute details to be settled in that House; and, on the other hand, it was not consistent with their usual policy to leave them entirely to the Executive Government. It was, therefore, to be regretted that the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies opposed the Committee, whose investigations might lead to valuable results in the saving of vast expense, and the prevention of future difficulties.


said, he thought it could be hardly satisfactory that so many heads of departments should be without seats in that House. Not only were the Secretary for the Colonies, the head of the War Office, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, all Members of the other House; but there was another department scarcely less important which seemed almost to have been put in commission in the Lords—he meant the Chancellorship of the Exchequer. [A laugh.] It could hardly be denied that those who attempted to alter the scheme of the Budget took on themselves the responsibility for the financial affairs of the country; and, therefore, he repeated, that the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in commission in "another place." The present Motion was, strictly speaking, scarcely a proper one, because it would throw on a Committee the responsibility connected with colonial matters, which ought to belong to the Government. On the subject of New Zealand it should not be forgotten that they had duties to discharge in the interest of the natives as well as of the settlers. By the Treaty of Waitangi Her Majesty solemnly promised that the New Zealanders should enjoy all the tribal and other rights which they possessed at the time. The present war in the colony had, however, arisen from the disregard of that stipulation. At that moment there were almost troops enough in the colony to settle a Chinese war, or to put down another Sepoy insurrection. There were already above 3,000 European soldiers there, and he heard that another regiment was under orders to reinforce them. And whence did this war arise? Three or four years ago, when the House was asked to guarantee a New Zealand loan of half a million, he warned them that there might be difficulties respecting questions of dealings with land; and everything had happened as he feared, though in a different island. In the north Island, not far from Taranaki, there was a plot of land which had been obtained from the natives of New Zealand by practices which he would not describe. The land bad formerly been held by a tribe which, for purposes of whale fishing, had emigrated thirty-three years ago to Queen Charlotte's Sound; but they had always intended to come back. In fact, the owner of the land made his son Wirimi Kingi, or William King, promise that he would go back. In the meantime, Governor Hodson and the New Zealand Company had severally made purchases, had bought the rights of a few members of the tribe who had stayed behind, and also of another tribe who had seized it and pretended to the right of conquest. The present Governor evidently thought he had got a capital title to the land; but he had really no title at all. ["Question!"] He (Sir John Trelawny) maintained that it was the "question"—involving the rights of the taxpayer and the honour of the British Crown, and that the New Zealanders had a right to be heard; and he hoped that the Imperial Government would not without due inquiry keep up the war when they had no case whatever as against Wirimi Kingi.


said, he hoped the Government would withdraw its opposition to the Motion of his hon. Friend. He had been waiting for an opportunity to follow some hon. Member who was opposed to the Motion; but that opportunity he could not find, for the only Gentleman who had yet opposed the Motion was his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State. He hoped the Government would, therefore, see that the general wish of the House was that the inquiry should take place. The hon. Under Secretary had himself, as the noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) had said, given the best reason for the inquiry, for he had admitted that the slight pressure already put upon the Government had induced them to move in the direction proposed, and so far no mischief had arisen. The reason why the pressure had been slight was the unwillingness of the House to discuss any colonial questions, and he would ask whether the opinion of the House had not materially ripened even while its attention had been for a short time arrested by the question within the last hour. Hon. Gentlemen were, no doubt, impatient for the coming debate on the hop duties; but he thought they were beginning to see that, to say nothing of larger considerations, as much might be saved to the revenue by this Committee as the Chancellor of the Exchequer now raised by the hop duties and the paper duties together. Both might be spared to the taxpayer, and a great national advantage gained besides if this inquiry were permitted. He confessed he should be more ready to vote for the repeal of the hop duties if he felt that the Government would look into the enormous sources of waste which inquiry into colonial defence paid for by the British Treasury would open up. The hon. Under Secretary had stated that the amount in question did not exceed two millions and a half a year, but that was an amount not to be disregarded, even by this country. The hon. Gentleman had based his opposition to the Motion upon a departmental Report which came before the House last year as if that had concluded inquiry. If the House had looked into that Report it would be still more eager for an inquiry for some reasons why nine-tenths of the empire should not be called upon to find money or men for their own defence, but that one metropolitan island should have to supply both for all the empire. What were the reasons for such an unprecedented undertaking? The colonies did not ask for it, and did not thank us for it. At this moment the New Zealand colonists accused the Home Government of causing the war in that colony. In the depart mental Report which had been referred to it was said that Mr. Godley of the War Office had recommended one plan and Mr. Elliott of the Colonial Office another, but that merely proved there was a difference of opinion, which was a reason for further inquiry. But the Reports of those gentlemen, although differing in detail, agreed in the main principle that it was absurd for England to continue to supply men and money for the defence of the whole of our colonies. Mr. Godley argued for the establishment of one fixed principle in the contribution of aid to the defence of all colonics, as distinguished from military posts, while Mr. Elliott recommended a more elastic system for the different dependencies. In the essence of their Report, however, they were in perfect accord. The Under Secretary of State had said that he thought the withdrawal of Imperial troops would tend to bring about a separation of the colonies from the mother country; but surely it could not be that the connection with any of them was based upon so slight a ground as the presence of a few hundred soldiers sent from England. And would not colonial red coats be British troops just as much, and carry our flag as well? If it were necessary to hold them by troops from England the spirit which formerly bound England to her colonies must have greatly changed. Such was not the relation which formerly existed between the North American colonies and Great Britain when it took ten years of folly on the part of George III. and Lord North to sever the connection. The colonies before that raised their own armies and equipped their own fleets; and they stood not against militias only, but against the armies and navies of France and Spain, and they even added to the dimensions of the empire. That which led to the emancipation of the colonies was not their being left to their own defence. What had broken the link was the commencement of that new system of interference which had now been put forward as one of the safeguards of the connection. What would be our position if inquiry were refused? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary asked (hat the Government might be left alone as they were doing something in the direction proposed, But what had Government done in the last hundred years; and what were they at liberty to do? He also admitted that a handful of troops was a bad defence for a colony, and that it was desirable the colonies should be allowed to make some provision for their own defence, and thus learn the lesson of self-reliance. He acknowledged that we must expect the result of extraneous aid to be generally to weaken the recipient. Thus he believed the subsidizing of colonial churches had paralyzed the action of the Church in the colonies, as any body taught to depend upon another for support was necessarily weakened. Then why should the colonies not provide for their own defence? What reason was there that England was to provide it for them, and Ireland not be also dealt with as the colonies were? It was true that Ireland was represented in that House, but the colonies also had Parliaments of their own by means of which they controlled the Executive Government, and could refuse supplies to the Crown. Again, it was asserted that it was Imperial policy which was primarily the cause of differences between the mother country and foreign nations; but he contended that colonial relations and policy as often lead to wars. During the last ten years they had spent a great deal more in colonial wars—which would not have occurred, he believed, if the colonies had been left to themselves—than had been expended on account of the Crimean war. Did the House know that at this moment five regiments were sent to New Zealand to finish a war for which that House was responsible, inasmuch as by the New Zealand Constitution Bill it had implicated itself in the native policy? With respect to the Cape, the hon. Gentleman admitted that there had been much unnecessary expenditure in that colony, but he (Mr. Adderley) had moved for a Return which when produced would astonish the House. The German Legion had been sent out to the Cape upon the understanding that they were to receive half-pay until they were settled as colonists, and were not, except in cases of emergency, to be placed upon full pay. The Return would show that, from the moment of its landing, the Legion had been kept upon full pay, and that the amount of that pay had never been brought under the notice of the House. This sort of expenditure practically got rid of the control of Parliament and was capable of unlimited abuse. He implored the Government to reconsider their determination, as even this short discussion had enabled the House to mature its judgment upon the point.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down certainly thinks the opinion of this House capable of very rapid formation, if he imagines that it has been matured and brought to perfection in the short period during which this discussion has been carried on. I perfectly agree with my hon. Friend the Under Secretary in the objections he has urged to the Motion. It seems to me that the objects to which the Committee might direct its attention may be classed under two heads. First of all it would have to determine what number of troops should be maintained in each of our foreign colonies and dependencies, and next it would have to determine by whom those troops should be paid. Now, I think, it is not too much to say that the question of what would be a proper garrison from time to time, and from year to year, under the varying and fluctuating circumstances of the empire, and its relations with Foreign Powers—what should be the actual number of troops in each of our dependencies, varying infinitely in their conditions and relations—is one which cannot properly he determined by a Committee of this House, but must be resolved at the discretion of the Executive Government, conversant with all the considerations by which such a decision might be governed. Then, Sir, as to the question of who is to pay these troops. It is not within the competence of a Committee of this House, of the House itself, or of the British Government, to determine what contribution the colonies should make; because we all know that many have independent Legislatures, and that any arrangement for dividing the expense of garrisons could only be effected by negotiations between the British Government and colonial Governments and Legislatures. Such a negotiation could not be carried on by a Committee of the House of Commons, and, therefore, I am bound to say that the tendency of the Motion is rather to transfer to a Committee of this House duties and functions which properly belong to the responsible advisers of the Crown. This is my opinion, and I can anticipate no great political result from a Committee, if the House affirms that one should be appointed. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, in his zeal to induce the Government to consent to the Motion, made use of an argument not very likely to carry conviction to our minds. He said that if the Government would agree to the Committee, he should be greatly tempted to vote for the abolition of the hop duties. If the Government, in its negotiations with these colonial Legislatures, should be provided with no better arguments to produce an impression on them than those which the right hon. Gentleman has urged in his negotiations with the Government, I am afraid that neither the Committee nor the Government would make much progress in that distribution of expense which the right hon. Gentleman is so anxious to effect. But although, undoubtedly, I do not think any good ground has been laid for the Committee, and I cannot anticipate any good results from it, yet, if it appears to be the general wish of the House, as I have collected it to be from the course of this debate, there is no such strong objection to the Motion as to induce the Government to trouble the House to divide upon it. At the same time I repeat that I do not anticipate those advantages from the Committee which the mover expects, because we think that the information necessary for the guidance of the Government is already in our possession; but, nevertheless, as it seems to be the wish of the House that the Motion should be agreed to, I shall not oppose it.

Motion agreed to.

Select Committee appointed, On Colonial Military Expenditure, to inquire and report whether any, and what, alterations may be advantageously adopted in regard to the Defence of the British Dependencies, and the proportions of cost of such Defence as now defrayed from Imperial and Colonial funds respectively.