HC Deb 29 June 1863 vol 171 cc1618-9

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to certain negotiations said to be pending between the Hudson's Bay Company and an Association called the International Credit Company for the sale of a largo portion of British North America; and whether the Government have recognised or sanctioned the bargain; and, if so, with what reservations or restrictions; also whether any Correspondence has taken place with the Government of Canada on the subject, and whether any steps have ever been taken to ascertain the legality of the powers claimed and exercised by the Hudson's Bay Company, in respect to territory, taxation, trade, and government, by a reference of the same to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as advised by the Law Officers of the Crown in 1849, in compliance with an Address voted by the House of Commons in that Session of Parliament?


said, that with respect to the proposed sale, not of a large portion of British North America, but of the stock of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Government had no official information which went beyond that which had appeared in the public prints. That information consisted only of a letter from the Chairman of the Hudson's Bay Company; but his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies had had intimation that in the course of the present week he would be put in possession of further and complete information, which he would 'have before him when he made his intended statement on British North America. If his hon. Friend would repeat his Question in the course of a few days, he would be able to give him an answer. With respect to the last Question, if the hon. Gentleman referred to the Parliamentary Paper of 1850, he would find what took place in pursuance of an Address of the House of Commons. Earl Grey, then Colonial Minister, called on the Hudson's Bay Company to furnish the Colonial Office with a statement of their claims with respect to territory and other matters. That statement was furnished, and submitted by Earl Grey to the Law Officers of the Crown—Sir John Jervis and Sir John Romilly. They reported that in their opinion the Hudson's Bay Company was in legal possession of the powers and rights they claimed, and that the proper mode of testing the validity of their Charter would be by petition addressed by private persons to the Crown. The parties interested in the matter did not think right to take that course, and Earl Grey did not think it was the duty of the Government to institute such proceedings on their behalf.