HC Deb 18 July 1864 vol 176 cc1681-95

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he hoped they should receive from the Colonial Secretary a more satisfactory statement than had yet been given as to the nature of the security which was to be good enough for that House but was not good enough for the merchants of the City. Unless he could elicit some such statement from the right hon. Gentleman, he felt disposed to move that a Select Committee be now appointed to inquire into the relative financial position of Great Britain and New Zealand, with a view to a final adjustment of any outstanding balance of accounts between them, and to a fair understanding as to how the liabilities of either country were to be borne in future. When a former loan of £500,000 was asked, in 1857, a Committee of Inquiry was appointed; but now, at the end of the Session, when there was little opportunity for discussion, the Government came down with a highhanded proposal, without giving the House a proper account of the security on which that guarantee was to rest. As soon as the guaranteed part of the loan was put upon the market nobody would have anything to do with the unguaranteed part of it; so that this proposal would not really effect its professed object. He must tell the Government frankly that their colonial policy of late years had not been such as to entitle them to the blind confidence of the House of Commons for the next six months. He was prepared to incur the expense of defending New Zealand against any foreign attack; but when such extensive powers of self-government had been placed in the hands]of the colonists, he was not ready to consent to undertake the responsibility of internal wars like the present. The House was bound in duty not to leave such a question open for the future; and unless the Government gave some satisfactory explanation of the course they intended to pursue during the next six months he would, by way of precaution, move the appointment of a Select Committee.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire what is the relative financial position of Great Britain and New Zealand, with a view of a definite and final adjustment of any outstanding balance, and coming to an understanding as to the liabilities to be borne in future by the Government of either Country,"—(Sir John Trelawny, —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, before the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) answers the hon. Baronet, I wish to put this question to him:—What power has the Government of New Zealand in directing the movement of the British troops in that colony? I ask that question in consequence of having seen a private letter from New Zealand, and which, being private, I cannot read to the House. The first question raised by the writer is—Why were we in Taranga at all? and he says it was because it was so willed by three lawyers, members of the Colonial Government, contrary to the direct wishes of the Governor; because this triumvirate, under the fiction of responsible Government, overrules the representative of the Queen, overrules the commander of 10,000 troops, overrules the expenditure of £1,500,000 of other people's money, and overrules the wishes of the Native race which is not represented at all in the political system. And this is the Colonial self-government which the Duke of Newcastle upholds! The writer then goes on to inquire, how it is that the representatives of 100,000 colonists, consisting of Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, Germans, and Yankees, have the control over an unlimited expenditure of British money and British blood? He says the war has proceeded from these representatives themselves—that it arose in consequence of their calling upon Colonel Browne in the first instance to use British troops for the purpose of taking the land of the Native British subjects—a measure that roused that rebellion which you are now required to put down. He says in respect to the military operations—and I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can to answer this—he says that our going to Taranga was the greatest mistake that ever was made. He says this place is distant about 150 miles from Auckland; that it is accessible by sea; and we can easily transport our troops thither; but when they have got there they are separated by 50 miles of bad country, a wood of 12 miles, the Thames river and its swampy valley, and the Waikato river, from our posts at Maungatantari; whereas this 50 miles is a two days' march for a light-armed Native force, and the country between is in their hands, On the contrary our men have to come back 150 miles by sea, 35 to the Waikato, and to ascend 100 miles of the river to get back to Maungatantari; so that while our General with his 3,000 men is practically shut up by woods, hills, and swamps, it is in the power of the Maori General (if they have one) to resume the offensive on the Waikato with a concentrated force. The fact, he says, is that— If the Maoriea did not make it a point of honour to fight each man for his own land, they might have led the General from Taranga to Waikato and from Waikato to Taranga, as would have exhausted his patience in command, and Mr. Gladstone's in paying the bill. Instead of this they have dug their intrenched camps on the open ground, sometimes without provisions, once even without water, and then they have braved four or five times their own number, and all our Armstrong guns, mortars, howitzers, and hand grenades, when they might have gone into the bush, and from thence cut off our convoys and orderlies without much loss to themselves, but with vast injury to us. Their one feeling is, if the land dies let us die with it. I wish, therefore, to know what control the Colonial Government have over the movements of the troops in New Zealand, or whether the control rests with the Governor? When we look at the fearful calamity which has taken place—for I can call it by no other name—when we see the prestige of one of the finest regiments in the British service shaken—of that regiment with respect to which Sir William Napier in his History says he was congratulated by everybody on being placed in command of such a corps—that regiment which stormed the breech of Badajoz—that regiment, as we are now informed, has retired before the Natives of New Zealand. And what was the reason of that? Why, it was because every commanding officer in the regiment was killed upon the spot. Sir, an hon. Member of this House once told us, that if all our generals, our colonels, and other officers were swallowed up by an earthquake, their places could easily be replaced. I only hope that that hon. Gentleman's constituency will find it much easier to supply his place than it will be to supply the place of the lowest officer who fell on this occasion. I have to ask another question—How is the increased expenditure for the war to be met? The great increase in the Army Estimates was put down to the New Zealand war. We were told that, in consequence of that expense, it was necessary to reduce the expense of the Yeomanry force. The Vote against that reduction was carried by a majority of only one. Then came a demonstration from the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, who suddenly announced that, in consequence of the excellent news that had been received from New Zealand, the Government were enabled to forego their determination of not calling out the Yeomanry for exercise or permanent duty. But when the Estimates were brought forward, every one of the Votes was reduced. How, then, are these expenses to be paid? We have heard that no estimate can be given of the expenditure on the Ashantee war; and I have been trying to impress on the House the necessity of asking some more satisfactory answer than we have yet received. If we cannot have accounts of expenditure within two years, they can be of very little use after. I wish to know from the Colonial Secretary, has the Colonial Government the power of directing the movement of Her Majesty's forces in New Zealand, and how is it proposed to make up for the reduction in the Army Estimates in consequence of the excellent news from New Zealand?


My right hon. Friend has put to me a Question which I understand to be this—In whom rests the control and command of the Queen's forces in New Zealand?—does it rest with the Colonial Minister or with the Colonial Governor? My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State read the other night an extract of the despatch of the Duke of Newcastle, in which the government of Native affairs was given over to the Colonial Minister, but in which the control, command, and management of the Queen's forces was exclusively placed in the Governor of the colony. The Correspondence has been laid on the table. I have stated the views of Her Majesty's Government with reference to the policy that ought to be pursued in reference to the land question, and the feeling of the House appeared to be favourable to those views. But they were already in writing, for it so happened that the post left that very day, and they went by that day's post to New Zealand; and they have been laid on the table of this House. They were intended to obviate the risk and possibility of war arising from a desire of making the forces of the Queen subservient to taking land from the Natives. So much for the general policy; but with regard to the control of the Governor over the troops, I will read an extract from a despatch which I addressed to the Governor, and which is also on the table. It is dated the 26th of May, and is in these words— I entirely anticipate that your Ministers will be animated by a just sense of the exertions and sacrifices which have already been made by the mother country for the colony, and that on colonial grounds they will be as anxious as you will be yourself to terminate the present hostilities. But it is my duty to say to you plainly that if, unfortunately, their opinion should be different from your own as to the terms of peace, Her Majesty's Government expect you to act on your own judgment, and to state to your Ministers explicitly that an army of 10,000 English troops has been placed at your disposal for objects of great Imperial concern, and not for the attainment of any merely local object—that your responsibility to the Crown is paramount, and that you will not continue the expenditure of blood and treasure longer than is absolutely necessary for the establishment of a just and enduring peace. I do not know how it would be possible for language to express more plainly with whom the control rests, and what is the expectation of the Government with regard to the exercise of that control. But further, by a subsequent mail information reached me of a difference between the Governor and his Ministers with regard to the treatment of 183 prisoners who had been taken in action—not that there was any charge of cruelty in their treatment if they were to be kept as prisoners, but that there was a difference of opinion between the Governor and his Ministers whether they should be treated as prisoners at all. I addressed a despatch to the Governor on the subject. I have not a copy of it with me, but I am quite sure I state it correctly when I say that I told the Governor that I looked to him for determining a question of that kind—that I wished him to obtain the concurrence of his Ministers if he could; but if not, he should decide without their concurrence, and that I should be perfectly prepared to support him if I found from subsequent despatches that he had taken that course. I think I have completely answered the question proposed to me by my right hon. Friend. Now, with regard to the origin of this war. My right hon. Friend read a letter with reference to the origin of the former war, which took place in the time of Governor Browne. I do not mean to say there is no connection between the present and the former war; but this I say—Governor Grey went in 1861 as a governor of peace, and he abstained from insistiag on the terms prescribed by Governor Browne. He was regarded by the Natives as their friend—he told them that the King movement would not be the cause of war, and he withdrew by proclamation that fatal blot which had been the cause of the former war. I stated that Governor Grey held the origin of the war to be a conspiracy of chiefs of a particular district, who had been preparing for an attack on Auckland. But it was no part of Governor Grey's policy, and certainly it was no part of the policy of the Government, to maintain an army and continue a war for any purpose of oppression to the Natives of New Zealand. But I was a little surprised to learn from the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir John Trelawny) that I had given no evidence with regard to the security on which this loan was to be raised. I should have been afraid, sitting in judgment on myself, that I had occupied the time of the House too long on the subject of the security for this loan. I certainly stated what was to be the security pledged—that it was to be all the revenue of which the New Zealand Assembly has the command. I stated the ordinary revenue for the year ending June 30, 1863, as it appears in the papers before the House; I also stated the estimated revenue for the following year. I showed, I thought, to the satisfaction of the House, that there was an adequate, ample security in the ordinary revenue of the colony; but in addition to that there was another considerable revenue arising from land sales. The way in which this loan comes to be proposed is this:—Last year an offer was made by my noble Friend the Duke of Newcastle to ask the House to guarantee a loan of £500,000 for New Zealand—£200,000 for the expenses of the former war, £200,000 for compensation to settlers for losses incurred in that war, and £100,000 for the purposes of the colony. That proposal only passed the first stage last Session, and it fell to me to redeem the pledge in the course of the present Session. But in the meantime a further liability of £300,000 had arisen from the circumstances of the present war, and if the guarantee were limited to £500,000, almost the whole of it would come to the Treasury. There is a great expense incurred by the mother country, but there is also a great expense on the part of the colony. They have to pay the expense of a local force of 10,000 men in arms against the Natives. The payment which the colony makes to this country for the Imperial troops in New Zealand is under an arrangement which terminates at the close of the present year. It is, I must admit, an unsatisfactory arrangement. There is a nominal payment of £5 per head per man, but the larger portion of that sum finds its way back to the Treasury of the colony. It is a part of the present proposal that this arrangement shall terminate, and that the payment by New Zealand should be the same as by the Australian colonies—namely, £40 per man per annum, from the beginning of 1865. All this is given in detail in the papers before the House. It will be seen that, in consideration of the arrangements recited in the letters of Sir Frederick Rogers and the repayment of all the debts due from the colony to the Treasury, it is proposed to guarantee this loan of £1,000,000. I have already stated my belief that the security is quite ample. Of this I am sure, that it is desirable that all running accounts between the Treasury and the colony should be closed, and that a substantial arrangement should be made for the payment of Imperial troops, so that it may be no longer a matter of indifference to the colony whether they provoke a war or not. Considering, however, that the colonists are now engaged in a formidable struggle—that all those of age to bear arms in the province of Auckland are under arms for the defence of their hearths and homes—that they are removed from the productive pursuits of industry—that they are incurring vast expenses, and that this beneficial arrangement has been made between the colony and the mother country, I trust that the hon. Gentleman having fully discharged his public duty, will permit the House to go into Committee on this Bill, on the distinct understanding that the Lords of the Treasury will riot advance any money until the Assembly of New Zealand have formally adopted the terms of the arrangement.


said, that as the House had been told that a portion of this loan would be employed in compensating the colonists who lost their all in the last war, he trusted that compensation would also be given to those who had lost their property in the present war. There was, for example, the case of Mr. Calvert, who was sitting by his own fireside when his child was murdered by the Natives. He rushed out, was wounded while gallantly fighting, and his property was destroyed. He hoped that a part of the money would be employed in making good these losses.


must repeat his objections to this Bill, and to the entire policy of guaranteeing colonial loans. The war was part of a system of continued aggression on the Natives for the ultimate purpose of extermination. Then as to the guarantee, what was it? The revenue of the colony was stated to be £700,000 per annum, but the expense of 10,000 troops at £40 per man would be £400,000. Then there were the items of the payment of local troops, the interest of the debt, compensation to sufferers, and the local government expenses. After these charges had been met, what would become of the security? The revenues of the colony, too, were not in the hands of the Treasury but under the control of local Ministries, which were ephemeral; and although they might have an honest Government now, you might have a democratic one to-morrow and then they would never get their money. [A laugh!] Although he was a Liberal himself, he believed that under such democratic Governments as existed there they could never be certain of the Government, and that their guarantee was good for nothing. If any one would divide with him, he would oppose the Bill.


protested against it being said that this was a war of aggression against the Natives; the war had nothing to do with land, but originated entirely in the massacre of some of our troops. He wished also to say that Sir George Grey had stated in New Zealand that he had traced the origin of this war to the Roman Catholic Missionaries. He put the question on a former occasion three times in one night, and he received for answer that it was too late to discuss the matter. Too late to put such a question! He spent nearly a whole day at the Colonial Office on the subject, and he was told there were floating recollections in the minds of the officials there that some such communication had been received. He then put the question in the House, and cited the Canadian rebellion and other recent cases; but only got for answer that the loyalty of the Canadians was unimpeachable, and that it was absurd to cite them in reference to New Zealand. He wished for a distinct answer, and if he did not receive it he would ask the House to grant him a return of all the communications which had been received from Sir George Grey relative to the origin and progress of the war.


said, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Peel) had called attention to the immense mischief likely to arise if the practice prevailing in New Zealand were persisted in, of allowing the responsible Ministers of the Governor to dictate to the Commander of the forces with reference to the movement of the troops in that province. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Card-well), that he had written a despatch which, if attended to, would have the effect of preventing the recurrence of such a bad practice in future. But he (Mr. Arthur Mills) wished to call the attention of the House to the very difficult position in which they were placed with regard to the consequences, or rather probable want of consequences, resulting from that despatch. It was the fact, however, as appeared from the papers before the House, that the prac- tice had prevailed, and as long as the present system continued it was likely to prevail—the practice of dictation in these matters by the responsible Ministers of the Governor; and it was questionable how far any despatch from the Colonial Office could put an end to it. As an illustration, he might mention that the Deputy Commissary General remonstrated against an attempt made not very long ago—and which, indeed, was carried out—of advancing lump sums from the Treasury chest, as £100,000 at a time, for the payment of the militia of New Zealand, for which ostensibly it was the duty of the Colonial Government to provide. The Governor referred the matter to these Ministers, who said that it was absolutely necessary the sum should be advanced, considering the exigencies of the colony, and that it should be repaid in three months. That sum had never been repaid. The simple fact was that the Ministers dictated to the Governor, who acted under compulsion. He wanted to know what despatch written from the Colonial Office would prevent the continuance of the practice? The despatch might be sent out, but the responsible Ministers of the Governor would say, "We cannot hold office on these terms—we will resign." Their successors would do the same, a succession of crises would occur, and in the end the Governor would be forced to yield. If such practices were allowed to go on, and the responsible Ministers of the Governor were allowed to spend money voted by Parliament, the result would be indefinitely to prolong the war. Then again, in the time, he believed, of Governor Browne, the Commander of the forces said that in his judgment the troops ought to be sent to a certain part of the province. The Minister of New Zealand said, "Oh, I trust you will do nothing of the kind. I have property there, and I shall have to begin life again if you send them there." The Minister was all powerful, and prevented the arrangement which the Commander of the forces wanted to carry out. Now, as to the origin of the war, the right hon. Gentleman said the Natives were the cause of it, and the colonists had nothing to do with it. He had that morning received a letter from Mr. Gorst—a gentleman who had written a very able and intelligent book on these transactions in New Zealand—in which letter Mr. Gorst, speaking of the allegation that the war was the result of a conspiracy of the Maories, expressed his absolute disbelief of it from the personal knowledge derived from a residence on the spot some time before the war broke out. Tales of such plots, he added, were common during the whole time of his residence in New Zealand, many of them, to his certain knowledge, utterly false. He stated further that he could undertake to disprove the existence of half-a-dozen former plots stated upon evidence as credible as that upon the faith of which Waikato was invaded. This confirmed the opinion which he had formed upon information received from both civil and military authorities; and when distinguished military authorities expressed their opinion that the Queen's troops were being employed in carrying on an unrighteous war, not to protect the lives and property of the people of Auckland, but to enable the colonists to get as much fertile land as they could, and a small knot of persons in Auckland to coin fortunes out of the commissariat, he did think that it behoved the House of Commons to interfere,


said, he rose at the request of several of his Friends to read an extract from a letter which he had received since the right hon. Gentleman had begun his speech. The writer, who was known to many Members of the House, and for whose shrewdness and ability he could answer, and who, though now within a few miles of the seat of war in New Zealand, till about fifteen months ago knew as little about that country as most hon. Members did now, after describing an engagement in which of 400 Natives 200 had been killed or wounded continued— They are a brave race, and it seems a great shame to take their land from them. We all out here consider the war an unjust one. But the cry of the colonists is still for land. Moreover, the troops are the making of Auckland, as contractors and that kind of people are making large fortunes. So long, therefore, as you are fools enough to supply the needful, so long will they keep on the war. General Cameron has captured millions of acres which a few months ago belonged to the Natives. He then went on, after expressing an opinion that this winter might starve out the Natives, to give a deplorable account of the repulse which our troops had sustained, and stated that the people of England had no idea how many of the valuable lives of our soldiers were lost in every petty skirmish, and declared his belief that if the colonists and the Maories were left to fight it out, so well had the colonists supplied the latter with arms, that probably the Natives would have the best of it. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to be distinguished as the wisest Minister who ever presided at the Colonial Office, he would by the next mail send out orders to make peace as soon as possible, to wash our hands of an unrighteous and iniquitous war, and leave the colonists to reap the fruit of their own misdeeds.


said, that if when the Estimates were passed the Government had foreseen the unfortunate turn which events in New Zealand had subsequently taken, they would not have proposed reduction in any of the votes. At the same time he saw no reason for introducing a supplemental Estimate at the present moment. If the Estimate was exceeded there would be ample time before the close of the financial year to adopt that measure. It, unfortunately, seemed probable that hostilities might continue for some time longer; but, looking at the war from a financial point of view, hon. Members must recollect that the chief source of expense was the cost of transporting commissariat supplies and stores for a large army in the field in the interior of the country. General Cameron had, however, now removed the greater part of his forces from the interior, leaving only a sufficient number of troops to hold the posts from which he had driven the Natives, and had transported them by sea to the eastern shore of the Island, where the operations were likely to be less expensive than those carried on in the interior. Besides this, the Commissariat had, according to the last advices, made arrangements for supplying the troops left in the interior by means of water carriage, which would be much cheaper than the laud transport which they had hitherto had to employ. The House would gain no information from any supplemental Estimate which could now be laid upon the table, founded, as it must be, upon no certain data, and he still hoped that the Estimate already presented would not be materially exceeded.


said, that he had received a letter from that distinguished naval officer Sir William Wiseman, commanding on the New Zealand station, in which he described the excellent service rendered by the naval brigade at Tauranga, where he himself directed the operations, and detailed the particulars of the gallant and noble deaths of Captain Hamilton of the Esk and Commander Hay of the Harrier, and other officers. From the conclusion of his letter he gathered that he was of opinion that the war might be indefinitely prolonged, and that it was totally unjustifiable.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 32: Majority 47.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Sums borrowed under recited Act of General Assembly of New Zealand, not exceeding £1,000,000 and Interest, guaranteed under this Act).

MR. MORRISON moved by way of Amendment the substitution of the words "five hundred thousand pounds" for "one million pounds," observing that the proposed guarantee was an Imperial guarantee and ought to be rendered applicable only to Imperial purposes. He did not at all, he said, mean to doubt that the colony would make good the £1,000,000 which it was sought by the Bill to guarantee; he objected to the proposal on principle, and thought it ought not to go beyond the £500,000 in which the colony was indebted to this country. He was also, he might add, opposed to our soldiers being sacrificed in wresting their land from the Native population of New Zealand, his belief being that the colonists were in all likelihood led to persevere in that policy by the fact that their imaginations were fired by the idea that large quantities of gold were to be found in the northern part of the Native territory. We were thus led to throw away many valuable lives in the pursuit of an object not in the least of Imperial importance, and he for one objected to our guaranteeing money for that purpose.


said, that in the despatch he had sent to Sir George Grey he had distinctly stated that no portion of the guaranteed loan was to be applied to the purposes of a military settlement.


regarded the war as being most unjust, and he hoped that as soon as it was ended an entirely new policy with reference to New Zealand would be initiated, but it was another question what should be done in the present crisis. Our policy had been quite sufficient to provoke the inhabitants of the colony to the acts which they had committed, but we could not conduct ourselves towards a colony when in a crisis in the same manner as we would deal with that colony at the conclusion of the war.


said, that having engaged in an unjust quarrel, the only course left for us to pursue was to end it as soon as possible. The proper course would be to allow the colony to obtain their loan without the guarantee at an interest of 6 or 7 per cent. Such a course would practically put an end to the war at once; but if they entered on the course of guaranteeing loans the war would never come to an end.


thought it had been shown that the security would not be sufficient for the loan of a million, and he should support the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Morrison), as he thought it might be good enough for the loan of half that amount.


wished to know, whether the colonists intended raising a further sum of £2,000,000 upon the security of colonial debentures, and whether they purposed applying it to their grand scheme of colonization?


said, that the £2,000,000 had nothing to do with the present loan, which would have a prior claim upon the revenue.


would not vote for the Amendment, for he objected altogether to the principle of a guarantee.


could not sit still and hear the war stigmatized as being unjust. Had the Government concurred in that view, orders would have been issued long since to put an end to it upon any terms. He maintained that any one who would carefully examine the subject could not fail to come to the conclusion that the war was a just and necessary one. The Governor (Sir George Grey) had used every effort to prevent a most warlike, turbulent, and misguided portion of the Natives from renewing hostilities with their neighbours, but had unfortunately failed; and he had been forced by the perversity and unjust and extravagant suspicions of the Natives into a war which was strictly a war of self-defence.


wished to know, if the war had not originated in the objection which some chiefs entertained against the sale of some land by another chief, which they said he had no right to sell without their consent?


said, that the hon. and gallant Member referred to the former and not to the present war. The Governor in that instance not unjustly refused to submit to the dictation of a Native chief who had usurped the prerogative of the Crown.


thought the Under Secretary of the Colonies was mistaken as to the origin of the war. Governor Browne had stated that the colonists were determined to get possession of the land of the Natives, rightly if they could, if not by any other mode.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 2 (Treasury not to approve of the borrowing of £1,000,000 until certain provision is made).


asked, whether the arrangement that this country was to pay half the expenses of the war was to be permanent?


said, that in the Correspondence it was stated distinctly that the arrangement was subject to revision hereafter.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.