HC Deb 03 March 1862 vol 165 cc951-4

said, it would be recollected that in the early part of the disturbance in America a question arose how far it would be our duty to protect our possessions in Canada. Upon that point different views were expressed. At length the Government sent out a reinforcement of troops by the Great Eastern and other vessels. On the 24th of June, however, a question was put to the Government, and it was supported by high authority from this side of the House, strongly condemning their proceedings in this particular. He was startled at the time to hear some of the expressions which were used, echoing the opinions expressed by a portion of the press. Condemnation of the Government was profuse for having sent out troops in such numbers at such a time, and in such a manner, which was said to be such as would be highly offensive to the American people. Since that time, however, he had understood that the Governor General and the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces had applied for large reinforcements, 10,000 or 12,000, for Canada. The probable expediency of that demand was elucidated by the Trent affair; and no doubt it would have been a great relief to the country had it been known that so large reinforcements had been sent out at a time when they would in a great measure have escaped the dangers incurred at a later period, and that such a body of troops were already in that country, prepared to resist any attack made upon the independence of Canada. He wished to know whether such applications as he had stated had been made to the Government by those responsible for the safety of Canada, and what effect the sentiments expressed in that House, and by some portion of the press, had made on the proceedings of the Government in that particular? The bun. Member then put the Question of which he had given notice, Whether the Governor General of Canada, as well as the Commander-in Chief of the forces there, did not apply to the Government last summer to send out a body of troops to Canada considerably larger than that which was actually sent at that time; and, if so, why they did not more fully comply with that requisition?


said, he had a few words to address to the House in reference to the Army and Navy Estimates. He believed that the House of Commons possessed ample power of controlling those Estimates, if they would only exercise it. The late Mr. Hume, without one-half of the information which was at present laid before Parliament, was able to control the public expenditure; and if he (Sir Francis Baring) wanted to show that it was the fault of the House itself that that control was not at present exercised, he need only refer to the state of the benches around him. He wished also to take that opportunity of suggesting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the propriety of reappointing at an early period the Public Monies Committee of last Session, so that its Members might be enabled to go fully into the numerous details which would come under their examination. He would further recommend that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who complained that the House had not sufficient control over the public expenditure should be nominated a Member of that Committee.


In reply to the question put by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Darby Griffith) I have to confirm what he stated—namely, that the reinforcements which Her Majesty's Government thought it right to send to our North American provinces in the course of last summer were represented by Gentlemen on that side of the House as useless, injurious, and impolitic. It was said they ought not to have been sent. I believe that opinion is not now very much entertained. It had been the wish of the Government to send out at that time a larger number; hut, so far from that larger number having been asked for by the colonial authorities, it was in consequence of the representations made by the Colonial authorities that the sending of that larger number was for the time suspended; therefore it was not at all owing to any want of foresight on the part of the Government that a larger number was not sent at the time; but, as it happened, I believe it was rather fortunate that we did not send that number then, because I think those who have watched the progress of late events must have seen that the energy and rapidity with which a very large force was despatched to Canada in the middle of winter, in spite of all the difficulties that naturally opposed themselves to such a proceeding—that display of promptitude, of vigour and power, on the part of this country, I am convinced tended very greatly to the peaceful and satisfactory solution of the recent difficulties between this country and the United States.


said, that last year, in Committee on the Army Estimates, he had called attention to the difficulty of ascertaining the sum total required for any particular colony. He begged to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War for the change he had made in that matter in the present Estimates, in which the military charges for each colony were separately set forth. But he would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he might make a further improvement in that case if he would give, under each head, the component items of each sum total, so that hon. Members could see what was the outlay incurred in a colony for men, or for fortifications, or for any other source of expenditure.


said, that it had been in his consideration whether under each colony the amount should be given, distributed through the various particulars which made up the Army Estimates. But the items in many cases were so small that the House would be rather perplexed than informed; and the real question of importance was to give the sum total for each colony. Of course the noble Lord could have the information he desired, if the House wished it, in a Supplemental Estimate.

Main Question put, and agreed to.