§ MR. ARTHUR MILLS
said, that he rose for the purpose of calling the attention of the House to the Report of the Select Committee of last Session upon Colonial Military Expenditure. It would be recollected that that Committee was instructed to inquire and report whether any and what alterations might 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. That Committee had been very impartially selected, and comprised many hon. Members who had devoted much attention to the subject. The question being at once of a financial, colonial, and military nature, the heads of the Colonial Department, the Secretary for War, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Inspector General of Fortifications, and other experienced witnesses (among them Lord Grey and several gentlemen who had held office under Home and Colonial Governments), had been examined, and all the attainable evidence which appeared to have any bearing upon the question had been taken by the Committee. The result was, that a Report was presented to the House which, in all its main recommendations, he might say, had been unanimously adopted. There were, of course, some special recommendations which were not agreed to altogether unanimously. That report was now on the table of the House. Before alluding to the Motion which stood in his name, and which was founded on the recommendations of that Committee, he might be allowed to disclaim the imputations which had been too freely cast upon those hon. Members who had thought it their duty to take any active part in reducing our colonial military expenditure. It had been said that those who, whether in or out of Parliament, ventilated this question, in which the Dependencies and the 1033 parent State were alike interested, were, in fact, aiming at the dismemberment of our Colonial Empire. For his own part and that of the Committee, he entirely disavowed any such intention. Throughout the inquiry it was not only assumed that Great Britain desired to maintain her Colonial Empire, but that she aimed at developing the resources of her colonies and qualifying them for present self-government and eventual independence. It was also assumed by the Committee that Great Britain recognised the claim of all portions of the British Empire to Imperial protection from perils arising from the consequences of Imperial policy, and that the naval assistance of England was essential—indeed, was the only substantial protection which the Colonial Empire could expect to receive from the Imperial Government. But the Committee never entered into any question which would at all affect the dismemberment of our Colonial Empire, or invite a policy which would tend to the premature severance of a single province which now volunteered allegiance to the British Crown. Though the terms of the reference were very wide, embracing in the comprehensive term "Dependencies" all the outlying portions of the Empire, India, the Mediterranean garrisons, the West African Settlements for the suppression of the slave-trade, and all the military and naval stations where so ever situate, the Committee thought it best not to extend their investigation to those stations which were maintained for Imperial purposes, and which must necessarily be maintained, if at all, at Imperial cost, but to limit their inquiry to those which came strictly under the designation of "Colonies." The area of inquiry, therefore, comprised the North American colonies, the Australian colonies (with the exception of Western Australia,) the West Indies, the Cape of Good Hope, New Zealand, the Mauritius, and Ceylon. His hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had given notice of an amendment by way of addition to the Motion now before the House with reference to fortifications. He would merely remark, therefore, that the main evidence given before the Committee on that subject related to the Mauritius, and tended to show that while enormous expenditure had been incurred, it was extremely doubtful whether the works that had been carried out would ever prove of the least utility to the Imperial Govern- 1034 ment. Upon the question of fortifications, a resolution was passed which conveyed the opinion of the Committee; and if any hon. Member would take the trouble to read the evidence of Lord Herbert, Lord Grey, Admiral Erskine, and others, they would, he believed, agree with him in thinking that the paragraph taken from the report of the Committee was well founded. Rut to return to the Motion of which he had given notice:—Hon. Members might consider that his Resolution was a mere abstract proposition, and that the adoption of it by the House would be either superfluous or mischievous; but he begged to say that the opinions embodied in the Resolution were by no means original, but opinions which had been publicly expressed by Lord Grey in his official correspondence with Lord Elgin, and other statesmen of high eminence in this country, and were to be found in the despatches of Sir William Denison, one of the ablest of our colonial governors. They had been supported by the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), who stated, when the Committee on Colonial Military Expenditure was appointed, that this country ought to assist the colonies against external aggression and, in a lesser degree, against the attacks of formidable tribes; but that in no case, except where the colonies were mere garrisons, should the mother country assume the whole responsibility of their defence. That principle had been also fully supported by the evidence of that noble and patriotic statesman Lord Herbert, who stated that instead of keeping the troops scattered about the British dependencies he would concentrate them more at home; and that the maintenance of large garrisons in the colonies furnished them with an excellent excuse for not raising any militia of their own. He would also refer to the evidence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who gave it as his opinion that the fact of the parent State undertaking the defence of the colonies had an enervating and mischievous effect upon the latter; and likewise to that of Lord Grey, who maintained that the introduction of the system of self-government into the colonies made a material difference in respect to the policy to be pursued, and that, power and responsibility ought to go together. There were differences in the different groups of colonies both as regarded their internal resources of defence, and their exposure to 1035 external perils; but the principle set forth in his Resolution was the right principle on which the Government should act in dealing with the Colonial Empire. All the witnesses examined by the committee had agreed that where responsible government was given to a colony the primary responsibility of its military defence should also be cast upon it. That was the principle he had embodied in his Resolution. He admitted that to enunciate a sound principle and to carry it into practical operation were two different things; but he did not admit, as some were prepared to contend, that they must submit in despair to the condition of things now existing; and that, as in giving the colonies responsible government no contract was made that the colonies should undertake their self-defence, therefore the whole coat of the defence of the colonies must for ever be borne by the mother country. Was it for a moment to be contended that because no clause had been inserted in the Act or Order in Council which conferred representative government on a Colony, expressly stipulating for its self-defence, that burden was eternally to rest on the parent State, whatever power or wealth the Colony so circumstanced might attain? He protested against that argument as altogether unsound, and maintained that the acceptance by the colonies of the advantage of self-government implied at the same time a compact on their part to undertake their own defence against all perils, except those to which they might be exposed by the results of Imperial policy, and, at all events, to provide for their own internal order and security. But it was said that, after all, the Colonies of Great Britain, though they might be expensive to the parent State, could only be regarded as prodigal sons, and must be treated accordingly. He dented that the parental analogy held good at all; but if it did, the only successful mode he knew of treating a prodigal son was to throw him upon his own resources. It was said, again, by some, that in certain colonies, such for instance as New Zealand and the Cape, the colonists must not be left to deal single-handed with the natives, as in that ease scenes would result which would arouse the indignation of the people of England; but he thought that after trusting the colonies with the entire management of their own affairs, it was an insult to them to insinuate that in collisions with the natives they would resort to barbarous 1036 and disgraceful practices. With respect to the argument as to the inhumanity of throwing our colonies on their own resources in the matter of their defence, he could only say it was criminal to give them the right of self-government if they were totally incapable of protecting themselves; and he believed that so long an we went on giving them unlimited power to draw on the Imperial army in the case of every quarrel of their own, there could be no certainty that we should not have a perpetual succession of Kaffir wars, which had already cost this country five millions sterling, and similar difficulties in other portions of our Empire. There was, moreover, an additional and cogent reason for compelling the colonists to take upon themselves the main responsibility of keeping themselves out of those quarrels. The commissariat expenditure in these wars was enormous, and the colonists had a direct interest in the increase of these expenses. Sir Harry Smith said, speaking of an unsuccessful attempt on the Cape frontier to capture Sandilli, "This bit of a brush with Sandilli cost us £ 56,000 in waggon hire alone." That outlay all went into the pockets of the colonists at Cape Town. He did not blame the colonists for endeavouring to put money into their pockets when they could get it out of the commissariat expenditure; but he did blame the Imperial Government for perpetuating the present system of keeping the colonies in a state of everlasting minority and childish dependence. The fact was, that our present system was not only far more extravagant but little less cruel than the old Commando system. Not many years ago the 12tb Lancers were almost massacred in an impenetrable thorn-bush on the Cape frontier, on a service on which it was inhuman to employ them; and, according to the evidence of Mr. Owen, whose experience in the command of frontier levies in that colony gave weight to his opinion, it seemed that there was little to choose between the old system and the modern one on the ground of philanthropy. In New Zealand the result of the present system was, that Sir George Grey was placed in a most anomalous position—that of having to serve two masters—the Imperial Government and the Legislative Assembly. He knew it might be alleged that the troubles in which the Colonists became involved, were in a great measure the result of Imperial policy, but there could be no 1037 doubt that the hostilities had for the most part a purely local origin; and he did not see why the Government and the people of this country should have for ever to undertake the defence of the colonies in wars in which they might engage from motives which we could not gauge and under a policy which we could not control. It appeared to him it was a case in which we must either go forward, and leave the colonies more to their own resources, or draw back, and deprive them of the privileges of self-government. But that latter course was now practically impossible. He confessed that he was not of those who were disposed to indulge in sarcastic observations on the mode in which our Colonists had made use of their free institutions, for he could make a large allowance for the many and great difficulties with which they had to contend in attempting to carry out a system of government for which they had undergone no previous preparation; and he entertained sanguine hopes that under a sounder policy they would prove themselves to be as well qualified to bear the burdens as to exercise the privileges of freedom. But perhaps he might be told that a correct theory was one thing and that its practical application was another; and he might he asked what course he would recommend the Imperial Government to pursue in the matter. The system he would suggest would be to leave off the undignified haggling with local Governments, hitherto of such frequent occurrence, and which had invariably ended in bitter recriminations, and often in Imperial humiliation, and pursue the course adopted by Lord Grey in the case of our Australian colonies some ten or twelve years ago—namely, that of simply announcing to them that certain aid would be allowed them by the Imperial Government in the shape of troops from England; and that if more than that was required, it must be at their own expense. If that principle were adhered to, the colonists would not be so ready to involve them selves in war, and would be rather more circumspect in their dealings with the native population, and the Imperial Government would be spared the everlasting drain which was made upon its treasury for the defence of the colonies. He might be told that the present was a very inopportune moment for saying anything that could possibly give offence to our colonists. So far as our North American 1038 colonies were concerned, he admired, in common with others, the spirit which they had recently displayed; nor should he have complained if even a larger number of troops had been sent out there during the winter for the reinforcement of the garrisons; but he begged to remind the House that in those colonies there were from 80,000 to 90,000 Volunteers either already trained or in course of training, and he regretted very much that these defensive operations had not been sooner commenced. He hoped Canada would never forget that the training of her militia was a matter of the greatest importance, and one which deeply affected her own security. All our colonies, indeed, should be made to feel that they were primarily responsible for their own defence against all dangers in which their own and not our Imperial policy had involved them. He might mention that about three years ago a member of the Legislature of New South Wales moved a resolution, which was carried by a majority of 39 to 11, in almost precisely the same terms as that which he had now the honour to submit to the House. If in a colonial Legislature such a proposition was moved and carried, it could not be regarded as discourteous to the colonies that the Imperial Parliament should adopt a similar Resolution. He hoped the House would believe that he had not intended to utter a single word which could be considered as discourteous or unfriendly towards the citizens of any portion of our Colonial Empire. So far from wishing to alienate the colonies or to prejudice their interests, his object was to draw closer the bonds of alliance which united them with the mother country, and to qualify them for all the rights, privileges, and duties of self-government. He concluded by moving, "That this House, while it fully recognises the claim of all portions of the British Empire on Imperial aid against perils arising from the consequences of Imperial policy, is of opinion that Colonies exercising the rights of self-government ought to undertake the main responsibility of providing for their own internal order and security."
§ MR. BUXTON
said, he rose to second the Motion. He was glad that the hon. Member for Taunton had repudiated so distinctly, on the part of the Select Committee of last Session, any feeling in favour of the dismemberment of our Colonial Empire. In endeavouring to weigh 1039 both sides of the important question before the House, the point in which he felt the greatest interest was its bearing on the treatment of the aborogines in the colonies. It had always been felt to be a difficulty in the way of leaving colonists to manage their own military affairs, that they might, perhaps, act with violence and cruelty towards the native tribes. It was highly honourable both to the Government and people of this country that the apprehension of injury resulting to the aborigines of their colonies from a discontinuance of the present system had been hitherto regarded as a powerful argument in favour of its continuance, notwithstanding the enormous expense thereby entailed. But, although that policy was noble, it became necessary to inquire whether it was also sound. Now, as a plain matter of fact, the merit of success could not be attributed to it. At that moment the nation was engaged in a bloody war with the aborigines of New Zealand. At the Cape this country had again and again been forced into campaigns against the Kaffirs, while the Indians in Canada were reduced to a miserable remnant. The general failure of our policy might well lead us to ask whether it had not been attended by results directly opposite to those which had been intended. Nor was it hard to understand that the real consequence of our having undertaken to protect the colonists from the attacks of the original inhabitants, had been this—that the colonists had been by no means desirous of averting war, knowing as they did that the cost would not fall upon them. So far, indeed, from war being considered an evil, it had been hailed as a positive advantage, causing, as it did, a vast outlay of money in the colony; and the colonists consequently had been much more ready to trespass on the rights of the natives than cautious of avoiding offence. It was not probable, that if the colonists in New Zealand had been left wholly to their own resources in dealing with the aborigines, they would have dreamt of endeavouring to exterminate them from their native fastnesses; but they would have done their best to conciliate them, and to make such political arrangements with them by treaty as would have tended to preserve peace. That was not a matter of mere theory. The House knew practically that when the North American colonies were young, and the colonists left to deal as they would with the natives, although in those days 1040 the idea of acting with humanity to them had scarcely entered the mind of any one, yet treaties had been at once made, and mere considerations of prudence compelled them to respect their rights. Who could doubt that it would have been the same at the Cape of Good Hope? Unless the colonists there had known that upon this nation would fall the burden, and to them would accrue the profits of war, they would in some way or other have contrived to avoid difficulties with the Kaffirs. He thought that experience and the obvious reason of the case made it sufficiently evident that it would be to the interest of the natives, if the colonists, and not the mother country, had to find the sinews of war. But he also hoped that common humanity, no less than prudential motives, would restrain colonists from ill-treating the aborigines. Were the responsibility of preserving or exterminating the native races thrown upon them, he believed they might trust to the increasing thoughtfulness and love of justice of their countrymen to restrain them from any gross violation of its principles. Events in New Zealand had shown what a very strong feeling of sympathy there was with the natives among an important section of the colonists. The missionaries were sure to take that side, and public opinion at home would be so strongly expressed against any acts of cruelty, that for their own credit's sake the colonial authorities would scarcely venture to be guilty of them. The next consideration to which in a great degree the maintenance of the present system was to be ascribed was now becoming obsolete. The Duke of Wellington, he believed, always resisted any proposal to reduce the armed force in our colonies, because in his time, the feeling at home being strong against the maintenance of a large standing army, he thought it prudent to keep as large a force as possible away from the country. Whether for good or for evil, that feeling no longer existed. The Government now could come down, as had been the case only on the previous day, and in a time of profound peace ask for £ 27,000,000 for the defences of the country. That objection, therefore, fell to the ground, and he might pass on to what had been called the sentimental argument—namely, that it was emblematical of the tie between England and her colonies to see not only the British flag flying, but the red coats of our soldiers guarding it from dishonour. But it surely would bind England more 1041 closely to her colonies if she were to place absolute trust in the loyalty of her colonists, and were to intrust the honour of the flag of the empire altogether to their keeping. There remained a fourth consideration, which demanded the most candid examination—namely, that since the colonies might at any time he involved in war by reason of the foreign policy pursued by the mother country, it was only fair that they should be protected from the consequences of that policy. It seemed to him an essential point to bear in mind, that it was not owing to any decision of the representatives of the people that this country engaged in war. No doubt public opinion might be consulted with regard to it, but war was decided upon by the Queen—in other words, by the Executive Government, not by the representative Legislature of the country; and therefore it was not only those portions of the empire which were represented in that House that were responsible for the war, but the whole of the empire over which the Queen's Government extends. And since it might be hoped that in future this country would engage in war, not for the sake of ambition or conquest, but simply to guard her rights from trespass and her honour from stain, every part of the empire would be deeply interested in its prosecution. While, then, the outlying portions of the empire were not asked to share the cost of such war, it might at any rate he demanded that the strength of the mother country should not be impaired by the colonies constantly requiring the presence of her troops. Let it not be forgotten that the real and true defence of colonies lay in the naval supremacy of the mother country; and that so long as that was maintained, so long we were actually shielding our colonies from attack, and affording them an infinitely better protection than could be afforded by any troops on land. There was an exception to that rule in the case of Canada, so far as regarded the contingency of an invasion from the United States. But, on the other hand, although Canada and although our other colonies might be involved in war by our imperial policy, still they were saved from all wars except those to which our imperial policy might lead. But for their connection with this country, any quarrel between them and a powerful neighbour might lead to an invasion, and possibly to their subjugation; and Canada would have been 1042 singularly liable to such a danger from her ambitious and somewhat grasping neighbours, and possibly even from Russia or France. There was no reason why the whole advantage should be on the side of the colonies. Their connection with us brought some risks. It relieved them from still greater risks. They might well take their share of the former when they remembered, that so long as they were English colonies, there was no shadow of danger of their being permanently deprived of their liberty and in dependence. But let them weigh the two; and if they thought that the risks incurred by their connection with us exceeded the importance of those from which it saved them, and the prestige gained by them as portion of the British empire, why what statesman was there who would refuse them permission to withdraw from what they regarded as a disadvantageous bond? He supposed there was no statesman who would not allow that the prudent as well as the right way to deal with the colonies was to let them feel that they were free to cancel the bond if they chose, and that the evils resulting to us from that severance would be infinitely less than the disadvantages which would accrue to them. It was further to be considered, that although we occasionally involved them in war, they were quite as likely to involve us in war. We were quite as likely to be set at issue with the United States owing to some Canadian misunderstanding, as the Canadians were to be attacked by the United States owing to some quarrel with England. Lastly, he would ask whether in reality we rendered our colonies more secure from attack by undertaking their defence on land? After all, a very few troops, comparatively speaking, could be spared from home; and he thought the experience of our great wars with France had shown plainly enough that a small force being stationed in a colony, so far from being any defence to that colony, acted as a direct temptation to the enemy to attack it for the sake of making the garrison prisoners. And more than that, if the garrison attempted to defend itself, violent measures would be instantly resorted to by the enemy, who otherwise, if he thought it worth while to come at all, would take peaceable possession, from which, however, he would probably be dislodged if our naval supremacy had not been impaired. And more than that, although the military force sent out might 1043 be very small, still it was always sufficient to give the most direct and effectual discouragement to the endeavours of the colonists to defend themselves. It stood to reason that, so long as the colonies could look to the mother country for defence, they would not be so short-sighted as to establish defences of their own, which not only would cost them large sums, but would prevent the British Government from expending a large amount of money in the country. The result was, that while a very costly force was being maintained by us, still in the event of war the colonists themselves would have no military organization, and would do little or nothing in conjunction with our forces. Whereas, if we had left them alone, they would, in all probability, have prepared themselves for such emergencies, and nearly every man in the colony would have had some training as a soldier. Those were the four main objections to the change proposed by his hon. Friend, and when looked into they did not seem valid. On the other hand, the motives for making the change were strong, but he would touch on them briefly. In the first place, the system was an innovation. In former times the colonists resented every proposition to keep troops among them as a slur on their independence. Again, the mortality among the soldiers in some of the colonies was awful. Then the cost to us, not including that of the military colonies, was £1,700,000 a year. Above all, the system tended to lower the self-respect of the colonists. It damped their energies, it chilled their loyalty. So far from being a bond of union with us, it gave them the notion that they were held in subjection; that they were our property, not our brethren. It naturally led them to regard their connection with England, as insisted upon by her for her own purposes, not, as it really was, a boon to themselves. Nor did it fail to engender that greed and grumbling which was so apt to arise where favours were so lavishly bestowed. Let it be imagined for a moment what the effect would be if Englishmen were thus looked after, and saved from the necessity of self-defence by some distant country. Surely we should feel degraded, and, instead of gratitude, should be filled with jealousy and discontent. In a word, the system ran directly counter to the true principle of colonization. England ought not to dream of sway over those who have gone forth from her. Her aim should be to surround 1044 herself with a noble band of sister States, bound to her only by the tie of loyal love, standing shoulder to shoulder with her against all attack, but not released by her from the invigorating necessity for self-reliance. And who could doubt that our Queen's empire, from the rising to the setting sun, would be all the more firmly rooted when her colonies were neither dandled nor overawed, but were treated by her with perfect trust as her children—with perfect reverence as her equals.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House (while fully recognising the claims of all portions of the British Empire to Imperial aid in their protection against perils arising from the consequences of Imperial policy) is of opinion that Colonies exercising the rights of self-government ought to undertake the main responsibility of providing for their own internal order and security.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, that after the clear and able speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Taunton, he would not say a single word on that branch of the question which had been so well brought under the notice of the House. He entirely concurred in the Resolution proposed, and quite agreed that the colonies should have the entire responsibility of their internal defence; but he thought the Resolution of his hon. Friend scarcely went far enough; nor did it grapple with what appeared to him the main grievance brought prominently into view by the report of the Committee. No more important subject could possibly be brought before the public, and, whatever interest might attach to his hon. Friend's Motion now, the subject would by-and-by force itself on the notice of the people. In moving the addition of the Resolution which stood in his name, he wished to refer to the main principle really involved in the discussion, and brought out in the report of the Select Committee. They had reached the turning point in the colonial history of Great Britain, at which they must cautiously and gradually, but steadily, reverse that policy on which they had been acting for a number of years past—the policy which had thrown the primary responsibility of defending the colonies not on themselves but on us. That was a policy in which the people of this country had been induced to acquiesce rather than to approve; and in proportion as our possessions increased in number, in population, and resources, 1045 it would be found utterly impossible to continue to supply the colonists with the means of defence. Not only were we supplying them with ships and munitions of war, but with troops and fortifications. So long as we governed the colonies, there was an obligation on tins country to provide for their defence; but that was now changed: the colonies governed themselves; they framed their own laws; to all intents and purposes they were independent communities—so free and independent that some of them, Canada for instance, had a high protective duty upon the manufactures of this country. If hostilities should break out, the present system of colonial policy would be found most embarrassing by the Government. At present some of the largest and wealthiest colonies of Great Britain trusted to her entirely for defence—raising no soldiers and contributing nothing towards the Imperial military expenditure. Our ancient colonial policy was altogether the reverse of this, and to that we must return if it were desired to prevent an outbreak of feeling in this country at the heavy amount of taxation in the event of war, which would endanger the connection between the colonies and the mother country. This was really the great point involved in this discussion. There had been a great deal of evidence adduced before the Select Committee, and nothing could be more clear and distinct than that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who used these words—I think that to arrive at a system under which the primary responsibility of self defence by land should be thrown upon the colonists themselves—speaking, of course, of those colonies which are, so to say, normally constituted—would be not only an immense advantage to the British Exchequer, but would have, I think, many still more important and higher recommendations, independently of the question of cost.He was asked—You think that any such arrangement, by which the primary responsibility should be thrown upon the colonies, would be advantageous to communities circumstanced as the British colonies are?His answer was—I would almost venture to say, without speaking of cases in which the circumstances are altogether peculiar, that no community which is not primarily charged with the ordinary business of its own defence is really, or can be, in the full sense of the word, a free community. The privileges of freedom and the burdens of freedom are absolutely associated together; to bear the burdens is as necessary as to enjoy the privilege, in 1046 order to form that character which is the great ornament of all freedom itself.He was asked by the Chairman—I understand your view to be that the fact of the defence of the colonies being undertaken by the parent State has rather an enervating effect upon those colonies, and therefore a mischievous one?—That is my strong opinion. I think that the principle of conjoining burden and benefit is a sound principle, and is equally advantageous to those upon whom the burden is imposed within just limits, and to those from whose shoulders the burden is removed.Mr. Godley gave precisely similar evidence. He was asked—Your main object is to diminish the Imperial expenditure in respect to the military defences of the colonies?His answer was—No; my main object is to throw upon the colonists the habit and responsibility of self-defence; it is a secondary but very important object to diminish the Imperial expenditure.That was precisely the view taken by the Committee. There was no division when the resolutions were passed. He held in his hand a statement of the sums contributed by the colonies towards military expenditure. In the pay of troops, and for general purposes of defence the following sums had been expended. In New South Wales, £ 33,000; Victoria, £ 72,000; South Australia, £ 7,000; Ceylon, £ 97,000; Mauritius, £ 25,000; Malta, £ 6,000; Jamaica, £ 1,000; Windward and Leeward Islands, with Guiana, £ 29,000; Ionian Islands, £ 21,000. Out of the total of £ 369,000 thus made up only £ 73,000 were repaid during the financial year into the Imperial Exchequer, He did not wish to say a word in disparagement of the late manifestations of patriotism and loyalty which redounded so highly to the credit of Canada; on the contrary, he endorsed in the fullest manner everything that had been already said on that subject, nor should he dream of contending that the colonies ought to bear all the charges of military expenditure incurred in their defence. But he found that until the year 1858 Canada had only 5,000 embodied militia, though the British Government did not receive a shilling on account of the defence of that colony. Nay, at the present moment the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment was paid out of the Imperial Treasury, While he entirely approved of the step taken by the Government in sending out troops recently, he maintained that at all times, whether the expenditure were great or small, 1047 Canada ought to bear its proportion. England could hardly be expected to bear for many years to come the sole charge of the military force in that colony, now that its numbers had risen to 18,000 men. In the Lower Provinces matters were even worse, for up to 1858 there was not a single colonial soldier, militiaman, or volunteer in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia, and the entire military expenditure amounted to £198. These colonies had not only increased' in population, but in wealth and resources, and he believed there was now not only an ability but a willingness to assist the Home Government in maintaining suitable defences, if they were only pressed to do so. Of all the great colonies of England there were only two—Victoria and New South Wales—which pursued in this respect a just course towards the mother country. Those were the only two colonies which could be called self-dependent, and they were the only two which contributed towards the expenses of Imperial wars, so that the policy of throwing on the colonies the primary responsibility for their own defence, which it was continually said would lead to their separation from the mother country, had in fact attached them to it, and tended to preserve the connection between them. These reasons induced him to go a little further than the hon. Member for Taunton, and to propose an addition to his Resolution; but as it had been suggested to him that the wording of the Amendment which stood on the paper might not be altogether acceptable to the House or to the colonies, he was desirous of altering its terms, and would not press that part of it having reference to colonial fortifications. At the same time, he would have been justified in doing so by the recommendations of the Select Committee, who recorded their opinion—That the multiplication of fortified places and the erection of fortifications in distant colonial possessions, such as Mauritius, on a scale requiring for their defence a far greater number of men than could be spared for them in the event of war, involve a useless expenditure and fail to provide an efficient protection for places the defence of which mainly depends on superiority at sea.The Committee further submitted—That the tendency of modern warfare is to strike blows at the heart of a hostile Power, and that it is therefore desirable to concentrate the troops required for the defence of the United Kingdom as much as possible, and to trust mainly to naval supremacy for securing against 1048 foreign aggression the distant dependencies of the empire.But that was not the system actually pursued. That House was annually voting small sums for building paltry fortifications in various colonies, and he held in his hand a paper submitted by General Sir John Burgoyne to the Committee, containing a rough estimate of the cost of completing works already in progress, and of new works necessary to place our foreign possessions in a reasonable state of defence, in addition to the sums in the Estimates for 1861–2, exclusive of armaments and ordinary barracks, and of such occasional improvements as art and science may from time to time render necessary. The items were Gibraltar £25,000; Malta, £75,000; Corfu, £75,000; Mauritius, £250,000; Bermuda, £150,000; Halifax, £75,000; St. Helena, £25,000; Cape of Good Hope, £25,000; Trincomalee, £36,000; Hong Kong, Bahamas, Falkland Isles, Jamaica, Antigua, Kingston, and Quebec, &c, £264,000; making a total of £1,000,000 sterling. It gave him pleasure to add, that not a single witness subsequently examined concurred in the proposals of Sir John Burgoyne. The Duke of Newcastle and the late Lord Herbert totally dissented from his views; and Earl Grey expressed himself in the following terms:—I totally disapprove of the whole policy of large expenditure upon fortifications in the colonies. The experience we have had of the past seems to me to lead to the conclusion that almost the whole of the money we have spent upon colonial fortifications has been so much absolutely wasted, and that with respect to some of those fortifications, erected at great expense, the wisest thing we could now do would be to blow them up again.He was content with calling attention to the subject, and he had no wish to embarrass Her Majesty's Government. On the contrary, he believed the Resolution of his hon. Friend, amended as be proposed, would strengthen the hands of the Government in their negotiations with the colonies. The adoption of the policy suggested would prove of permanent advantage to the mother country, and would be the means not of weakening and dividing, but of strengthening and preserving that Empire on which the sun never sets.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words "and ought to assist in their own external defence."
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that Her Majesty's Government en- 1049 tirely concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), that the resolutions just proposed to the House, so far from embarrassing the Government in dealing with the colonies, would rather assist them in obtaining the object which they, as well as the House, had in view. He also concurred in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. Mills) that the most objectionable way in which Imperial troops could be employed in a colony—whether at the expense of the mother country or its own—was in the maintenance of public order, or, to use other words, in performing duties which properly pertained to a domestic police. Such an occurrence, however, did not often occur in colonies which could be described as British communities; though even in those it had sometimes happened that our troops were so employed, He entirely agreed with his hon. Friend in the general condemnation which his Resolution implied of such an employment of Her Majesty's forces; but, in giving his assent to that proposition, he must point out to the House that among our various dependencies there were some in which British troops might be required to act for the maintenance of order without their employment for that purpose coming justly within the scope of the Resolution. Let them take the case of our West Indian colonies. Those communities were very peculiar. So far from being purely British, they were, perhaps, the most strange and heterogeneous of any that had ever been brought together in any part of the world. Nevertheless, they had been brought together under the sanction and protection of this country. Let them take for instance Trinidad, in which the bulk of the population consisted of French, Spanish, Hindoos, and Chinese, and of Africans imported in former days. Those colonies had over and over again been made the subjects of British experiments for British interests. They had been first favoured and fostered for the purposes of British policy in the days of the slave trade. Then they had been sacrificed to the con science of this country, in the matter of slavery and, afterwards, to her financial policy in the matter of sugar. He thought it was impossible not to regard them as exceptional communities to which the generally sound principle of his hon. Friend could not at once be applied. He made that observation to guard himself while on the part of the Government he assented to the Resolution. There was also the 1050 case of colonies such as the Cape of Good Hope, British Caffraria, Natal, and New Zealand, in which the relations between the colonists and the native tribes were partly domestic and partly foreign. Foreign they were to a great degree, but not wholly so, because local feelings and interests were liable to influence the conduct of a governor, and the policy pursued towards them could not be purely Imperial. With respect to New Zealand, when a responsible or popular Government was conferred on the colony, the authority given to the colonists was in effect unlimited. An attempt had, indeed, been made to restrict that power within bounds, and to separate the government of the natives from the action of the popular constitution; but he must confess that in a great degree that had been a failure. At the time of the first great change no substantial guarantees were obtained, no fund was appropriated to enable the governor to carry out the administration, and an admixture of the popular element had spread into all the departments. He spoke with some reserve, as the Government were waiting for advices from that able man who, he was happy to say, had gone to New Zealand within the last few months, before they could announce his matured policy; but, he must express his own conviction that the Government of this country had lost the duty, because it had lost the power to administer the affairs of the native tribes of New Zealand by officers responsible to itself, and that it would be necessary to hand them over to Ministers possessing the confidence of the New Zealand Legislature. There could be no doubt that this change would increase the obligations of the colonists to provide for their own protection. He must at the same time observe, that the system which in modern times had been pursued by this country towards these colonies was not one that had been without result. Would it have been possible of late years to have pursued towards the colonies the policy which this country carried out, or rather tolerated, two centuries ago? Would it have been possible in these days to have permitted the colonists and the natives to deal with one another as they had done in those? It was difficult for persons living in the present day to realize the situation of colonists of former times, when they were left unassisted and uncontrolled to deal with the native tribes. Mr. Herman Merivale, formerly Under 1051 Secretary of State for the Colonies, who, in his recent work, traced a comparison between modern colonists and those of former times, stated that a good deal was to be said for the old system, which left the colonists to deal as they pleased with the native tribes; while, on the other hand, great advantages, gained it must be admitted at great cost, were obtained by the modern system, Mr. Merivale quoted a passage written by a New England Governor, Mr. Pownall, in which he described the condition of constant insecurity and alarm in which the early American settlers lived, and the injuries inflicted on the Indian tribes under the influence of that terror. Mr. Merivale said—It is hard in our days to realize the life of terror and watchfulness led by the pioneers of our American enterprise for some generations, while the slowly-receding forest around them was the abode of watchful and implacable foes—'With dreadful faces through, and fiery arms.'That feeling of insecurity existed for many generations in the early American colonies, and exercised a most unfavourable effect on their progress. Mr. Merivale showed the influence it exercised on the development of the colonies, and the effect of an opposite state of things, and for this purpose he contrasted the progress of the early American colonies with that of the colony of New Zealand. Mr. Merivale showed that while the New England colonies in the first twenty-three years grew in population 23,000, the population of New Zealand in a less space of time grew to 85,000, with a corresponding increase of commerce and revenue. The altered system had saved this country from great disgrace and materially increased the rate of progress at which our colonies were growing as self-sustained communities. He said that, notwithstanding the conflict which had taken place in New Zealand between the Government and a portion of the native tribes; a conflict which had however been attended with so little calamity and conducted with so much humanity on both sides that it could scarcely be equalled in the history of warfare. Thus, while the Government accepted the Resolution, it was right to caution that House that there were some of the dependencies of the Crown where the Resolution could not be so readily or so rapidly applied as to purely British communities, to which alone he understood it properly to relate. With regard to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Baxter) as it originally stood, 1052 he thought the latter part needless, and that the former part went too far. The uselessness of multiplying colonial fortifications was abundantly shown before the Committee on Colonial Military Expenditure, and that part of the Amendment was therefore unnecessary, as there was no fear either of the present or any Government multiplying such colonial fortifications, as those which he understood his hon. Friend to condemn. With respect to the former part of his hon. Friend's Amendment, he thought it laid down too rigidly the mode of inducing the colonies to contribute to their own defence. A money contribution towards the Imperial forces had been adopted with some success in the Australian colonies, but it was open to objections, and was hardly applicable to all the colonies. There was another simple mode, which consisted in the Government informing any colony that a certain number of troops was the quota which their sense of duty to the taxpayers at home and to the empire at large led them to allot to that colony, and that for any further assistance the colonists must trust to their own men and their own resources. That plan was much more likely to be applicable to our North American colonies than a money contribution. Since his objection, however, had been now removed, he was happy to be able to agree on the part of the Government to an Amendment which enlarged the scope of the original Resolution. He now begged to call the attention of the House to the amount of expenditure incurred on the military defences of the colonies to which his hon. Friend had referred. His hon. Friend had only referred to those colonies which were in the enjoyment of self-government. The colonies that came within that definition were as follows:—In North America—Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward's Island, Newfoundland, and Vancouver's Island; in Australia—New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania; in South Africa—the Cape and Natal; making in all fourteen colonies exercising the right of self-government. All the rest were either military garrisons, such as those in the Mediterranean, or stations not maintaining a British population, but occupied for Imperial interests, such as the Mauritius and Bermudas, or stations for the suppression of the slave trade, like the factories on the West Coast of Africa. He would acknowledge that 1053 he had omitted from the list the West India Islands. Jamaica, for example, did not enjoy the full rights of self-government in the sense in which they were enjoyed by a British community. The same might be said with regard to other West Indian Colonies. He had therefore excluded them from his calculation; but be had included the great British harbour and station of Halifax, the French fisheries at Newfoundland, the convict establishment and convict population of Tasmania, and the special case of the formidable native tribes at the colonies of New Zealand, the Cape, and Natal. Now what did hon. Members suppose was the total Imperial military cost of those colonies, including the Cape, upon which the outlay had been once so extravagant, for the year ending March, 1860. The entire amount, in spite of the exceptional cases which were included, was a fraction over the sum of £1,000,000.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that if the hon. Gentleman thought that in a great emergency like that which had lately occurred it was wrong to incur the expense of sending troops to Canada, he was at liberty to urge that view. He (Mr. Fortescue), however, knew that such was not his (Mr. Baxter's) opinion. He repeated, then, that the expenditure on account of British colonies properly so called, including the exceptional cases of the Cape and New Zealand, was no more than £ 1,000,000. He did not state those facts for the purpose of showing that the colonies ought not to be called upon to contribute their fair share to the cost of their defence, but only to show that the present Imperial charges on their account were far smaller than they were often supposed to be. He believed that our colonies evinced no lack of spirit when occasion arose to provide against enemies, whether external or internal. It had been said lately by a few able men that those colonies ought to be left, like our early American settlements, to fight their own battles against foreign foes, and that no assistance ought to be rendered to them by the mother country. There had, in his opinion, been considerable misconception on that subject. He believed that if the circumstances of our modern colonies were the same as those of the early American settlements, the conduct of the colonists 1054 would be the same. But the North American colonies for several generations had carried on a series of petty wars against their French and Spanish neighbours; they engaged in those wars with great spirit and great passion, and with a degree of animosity even greater than that which they had imported from the mother country. At last, by the assistance of England, they were enabled to subdue their dangerous neighbours. When that was accomplished, the feelings of the colonists towards the mother country altered, and those men who had been more anxious than the statesmen at home, for the conquest of Canada became anxious to get rid of the British troops. And why? They were ripe for revolt; they found the British troops quartered upon them by the operation of an Act of Parliament, when they had no longer a foreign enemy to fear. They resented that state of things, and they made the presence of British troops one of their grievances against the mother country. Now, was there any resemblance between that state of things and the position of our colonies at the present day? In conclusion, however, while contending that it was not the policy or the duty of this country to abandon the colonies entirely to their own means of defence—a policy which, he was happy to say, was not forced upon the House, either by the Resolution or the Amendment—he did admit that it was quite possible to go too far in considering the wishes of the colonists, to forget the interests of the British taxpayer, and even the true interests of the colonists themselves. He was not going to enter into the profit and loss account which had been lately struck by some persons against our colonies. He admitted there were Borne of them which, in that point of view, the mother country would never have sought to wrest from any other Power. But it was desirable for this country to possess friends and sure allies, and stations for her commerce, all over the world. It was really, however, a question of duty, and nut merely of profit. It was the duty of this country to provide for the defence of those colonies, as they desired to be attached to her; and the only question was as to the amount of expenditure which such protection might require. It was our duty, on the one hand, to protect the colonies, and, on the other, to economize the men and money that might be necessary for that purpose. He thought that the 1055 Resolution and the Amendment would aid the Government in doing so, and he trusted the House also would give them its best assistance in performing that double duty.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
remarked, that the moderate language of his hon. Friend's Resolution was sufficient in itself to recommend it to the House, emanating as it did from the recommendations contained in the Report of the Committee which sat on the subject last Session—a Report which was intended to enforce a policy recommended by no less a personage than Earl Grey. He thought that the Report of the Committee and the Resolution of his hon. Friend might be read in two very different senses, according to the views of persons who entertained different opinions on the matter. They might be accepted by those who held with his hon. Friend that the policy of this country ought to be one in the direction of the principle laid down by Earl Grey. The Resolution might be also accepted by the colonists without giving up any portion of what they considered their rights. But taking the Resolution of his hon. Friend as it had been amended by the hon. Member for Montrose, he was afraid that it would be received in a very different sense, and would bear a very different interpretation. The hon. Member for Montrose went much further than either the Report of the Committee or the Resolution of his hon. Friend. The hon. Gentleman had said that the colonists should be left gradually to depend exclusively on themselves, both as regarded the contingencies of internal war and foreign aggression.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he thought the terms of the hon. Gentleman's Amendment indicated that opinion. At all events, the hon. Gentleman contemplated a vastly more extended scheme than that comprehended by the Resolution of the hon. Member for Taunton. The remarks of the hon. Member for Montrose showed still more clearly what was his meaning. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the possible future independence of the colonies.
§ MR. BAXTER
I beg pardon; I never said anything of the kind. I merely said that in every case the colonies should assist in the defence of the mother country.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he must apologize to the hon. Member for misapprehending his observations; but he 1056 certainly thought that words to that effect had fallen from him during his speech. He did not, however, wish to fasten the words on him as he had repudiated them. The Resolution, however, might be read in two different senses. The colonists might view it as a declaration on the part of the mother country that in future they would not only be left to protect themselves against all hostile attacks, but that they would be expected to contribute a share towards the expenses incurred in the defence of the mother country in any war in which she might be engaged. Now, no such view as that had been taken either by the Committee or by his hon. Friend, who moved the Resolution. Nor had Earl Grey ever contemplated such a result. As a Member of the Committee, he regretted to hear that the Government intended to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose. It certainly could not have had its origin from the Report adopted by the Committee. He thought that the hon. Member for Taunton had, to a certain extent, lost sight of the important evidence given by Earl Grey before the Committee, in which he explained the policy he had inaugurated. With regard to the Cape of Good Hope, Earl Grey expressed his conviction that were it not for the presence of Imperial troops the colonists and the natives would carry on a war of extermination, and that the contest would probably end in the destruction of the native races. That noble Lord also pointed out that the Cape of Good Hope as a military station was not so useless as some might suppose, but that it was valuable as forming a reserve for India. The Select Committee, while indicating the policy of gradually leaving the colonies to themselves, wisely confided the selection of the mode and time of effecting that object to the responsibility of the Government of the day. He regretted very much to hear the hon. Member for Montrose repeat the taunt of what was called the protection tariff of Canada—that the hon. Gentleman should have put that fact forward as a reason why England should not be any longer taxed with the cost of maintaining the security of that country. Now, the indirect taxation of Canada was the only means that country had of meeting its engagements. There the income tax was impossible, and any sort of direct taxation most difficult. Although perhaps she had been formerly guilty of some extravagance and waste of money, hon. Members should re- 1057 collect that the development of her railway system and other useful public works was in far greater proportion than her own material wealth. He trusted that should the amended Resolution be carried, the Government would take no step which was calculated to alienate the affections of the Canadian people, by giving them reason to believe that this country was endeavouring to throw upon them all the responsibility of protecting their own interests, however formidable might be the attacks made upon them.
§ MR. HALIBURTON
said, he did not rise to take any part in the discussion, but rather to express his deep regret that such a subject had been submitted to the consideration of the House at that time. In the first place, he thought the time selected for the discussion was most inopportune. In the second place, he looked upon the Resolution of the hon. Member for Taunton as delusive in its object, The hon. Gentleman might have read his Resolution without any observations, St spoke for itself, and was in effect a mere corroboration of the present practice. No colonist asked to be relieved from an obligation founded in the nature of things and common sense, and therefore he was at a loss to conceive why the subject was introduced at all, except as a peg for the hon. Mover of the Resolution on which to hang an interesting speech. But, in addition to the Resolution, they had the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose. Now, it appeared to him (Mr. Haliburton) that that was a singularly inopportune time for such a declaration. He begged to remind the House that this country had only just escaped a war with the United States on a subject entirely of Imperial interest. An insult had been offered to the flag of England. One of her ships had been boarded and temporarily seized, and four persons who were sailing under the protection of our Bag had been captured and held as prisoners. That was clearly an Imperial question. Further than that no other parties had any interest in the matter. How did the people of Canada behave under the circumstances? The conduct of the colonists of Canada on that occasion, in then relations to this country, was beyond all praise. Even sectarians had combined, and had risen as one man for the defence of their country. At such a time, with such exertions, it was rather inopportune to turn round and begin now to discuss 1058 the expense of sending out troops as reinforcements. No particular credit was due to the Government for sending out those troops; for it was done with the unanimous consent of England. There had been none of what the Americans called blustering, but a firm and resolute determination that redress should be obtained, and no Government would have stood for a month that had not demanded it. He believed that the first twenty men they might have met at any railway station would have done the same thing. In the words of the first Resolution there was, he would admit, a great deal of good sense with regard to the colonies bearing a larger share of the burdens in cases relating more especially to their own internal order; but then came the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose, who had talked about the tariff the Government of Canada had imposed on English goods. There was an erroneous impression in this country on that subject. The tariff was a high one, no doubt; but then the colonists paid it themselves. It was originally the intention of the Canadian Government to have had discriminating duties, and to have imposed lower duties on English goods, but they were informed that that would be incompatible with the existing treaties If this country gave the colonies responsible government and free institutions, then Government ought surely to be allowed to be the best judges of the means of increasing its revenue. Direct taxation, he might add, could not be levied to any extent in any part of America except the great cities, and therefore when the Americans passed a law for the purpose of raising so many hundred millions of dollars, they could not succeed in their object unless they imposed the weight of the taxation on the merchants of the large towns. Money was not to be found ill the country districts. The farmers of Canada and the remote parts of the United States were, it was true, men who had plenty of meat, and butter and cheese. They had fleeces from which they wove their cloth, and their groceries they obtained by exchange; but they had no money. Therefore, if the tax-gatherer went to the fanner in the back country of the Western States and asked him for taxes, the answer would be, "I have horses and cows, and so many sheep, and so many pigs, but no money; and if you touch any of my property, I will 1059 shoot you." That would be the response of the Canadians under similar circumstances, and they therefore levied taxes on the importation of goods, which was the first means of raising a revenue resorted to in all new countries. He might further observe, that if £10 were levied on a man in the shape of direct taxation, he must part with £10 of hard cash, while the case of indirect taxation was totally different. If 6s. a gallon were imposed on spirit, a man might go without spirit and save the 6s.; or if 20s. a yard were imposed on broad cloth, he might go without the broad cloth if he pleased. If the existing aid were refused to the colonies, it would render them less able to defend themselves; and to take away their revenue also, would be cutting at both ends. It did not appear to him to be necessary under ordinary circumstances to keep any soldiers in Canada. If the railway were extended from Toronto to the lower part of New Brunswick, troops could be sent from England to any part of Canada in twelve days, as the harbour of Halifax was always open. It was said that the military expenditure for regiments in the colonies in a time of peace was quite astounding. But there was not a colonist who desired the presence of a single regiment. England had command of the sea, end Canada could be invaded only from the United States. There might be some danger of invasion from that quarter, but from no other. The colonists would, however, be quite willing to effect one saving. The governors sent out by this country were as useless there as they were here. Indeed, the two or three last appointments had astonished every man, woman, and child in the country. The colonists, however, did not complain of having to support their governors; and £20,000 a year was contributed annually for the support of gentlemen who had previously been whippers-in or had filled some similar position in that House. Why, if the Government had sent out five large stamps, with Y. R. upon them, and had placed them in the custody of proper officers to affix to public documents when required, some £20,000 a year, which might have gone towards the military defences, would have been saved. He would undertake to say that the colonists would at any time be ready to enter into that agreement. The proposed Resolution raised, no issue, and consequently was useless. No general 1060 rule applicable alike to all the colonies could be laid down. The circumstances of every colony differed. Canada wanted no assistance except against the United States. They had no fighting savages there. [An HON. MEMBER: Agreed, agreed!] If hon. Members are agreed, it showed that he had made some impression upon them. The Cape of Good Hope was different to Canada. All the colonies required different treatment. No general rule for them could be laid down except the one now adopted. The best course would be to maintain in each of them as few troops as possible consistently with its safety. [Cries of Agreed, agreed!] If hon. Members were all agreed, it was quite unnecessary for him to say any more on the subject.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he wished to express his satisfaction with the Resolution, and to thank the hon. Member for having brought before the House a proposition so moderate and one so likely to conduce to the advantage both of the colonies and the mother country. He begged to give his cordial assent to the Resolution.
§ Motion agreed to.
That this House (while fully recognising the claims of all portions of the British Empire to Imperial aid in their protection against perils arising from the consequences of Imperial policy) is of opinion that Colonies exercising the rights of self-government ought to undertake the main responsibility of providing for their own internal order and security, and ought to assist in their own external defence.