HC Deb 16 March 1865 vol 177 cc1742-8

asked the Secretary for the Colonies, Whether the proclamation made by the Governor of New Zealand in December, 1864, was to be carried out to the letter, and according to the words of the document, or whether it was to be interpreted by the arbitrary principle which had been established and acted upon by the Governor himself, as was the case in the Treaty of Waitangi, which was violated by Governor Browne, which act was described as the unfortunate cause of the war? We had about 10,000 men in New Zealand, and were about to vote £14.000.000 or £15,000,000 for the army; and as some very curious observations had been made in that House with regard to the obligations of treaties with the Natives of New Zealand, it was desirable that the Secretary for the Colonies should authentically state what was to be the sense in which the proclamation was to be understood, and whether the Government would act in this as in any other case where the Queen's sacred name was pledged to obligations. On a former occasion when an attempt was made to influence the Government not to regard the Treaty of Waitangi as a treaty, the intention to act in such a manner was indignantly repudiated, and he hoped to have an equally indignant statement on the present occasion from the Secretary for the Colonies, totally repudiating any intention not to carry out to the letter an understanding such as that he had alluded to.


said, that before going into the Army Estimates he wished to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the amount contributed by the colony of Mauritius for its military defence was in his opinion sufficient. It appeared that that island, according to the Estimates laid before the House this year, would cost £160,000 for its military expenditure, of which £45,000 would be paid by the colony and £115,000 by the Imperial Government. That was a small increase to what the island contributed in former years. Was it fair that this country should pay nearly three- fourths, and the colony scarcely more than one-fourth for its own defence, more especially seeing that we defrayed the entire naval expenditnre? The island of Mauritius had, as was well known, nearly all the advantages that this world could offer—a glorious climate, a prosperous people, and a fertile soil. Its area consists of about 708 square miles, or nearly the size of the county of Surrey. It has a population of 323,000, though it had scarcely more than 100,000 inhabitants thirty years ago. Its revenue for the year 1863 was £518,278, and its expenditure £482,524, leaving a surplus of £35,755. In fact, for many years past there had been a surplus, so that the accumulated balances had amounted to many hundred thousand pounds, which had recently been applied to the great railway works now in progress in the colony. This revenue seemed to have been raised without much pressure upon the people, the duties on imports, exports, and spirits alone producing nearly half of it. The exports for the year 1862 were £2,661,098, and the imports £2,238,846, in both cases a considerable increase on former years. He had mentioned these few statistics, as he wished to draw a slight comparison between the condition of the people in the colony and in this country with reference to them. The exports for the colony were £8 per head, while in the United Kingdom they are only £5 per head. Their revenue, raised without scarcely any direct taxation, was at the rate of 32s. per head only, while in this country, including local taxation, it was £2 16s. per head. As an indication of the ability of the colony to indulge in luxuries he would take wine, which was imported at the rate of 8s. per head, while in England it was only 3s. per head. Now, with reference to the payment on the part of the colony per head for its defence. How did it stand? Why, only at the rate of 2s. 10d. for each individual, while in the United Kingdom, including military and naval expenditure, it was at the rate of 16s. Should the colony pay an additional £50,000 to the British Exchequer they would only then pay 6s. perhead. In bringing this question forward, he had done it purely on financial grounds, and did not enter into the military consideration of the amount of forces requisite for the colony. He was impressed with the importance of the colony to this country as long as England maintained her maritime supremacy in the Eastern Ocean. He did not in any way grudge any fair expenditure for the maintenance of our Colonial Empire, being as proud of it and as anxious to maintain it as any one in this House; but still justice was due to the British taxpayer, whom Members of Parliament more especially represented, and when they saw any charge obviously unfair, it was their duty to bring it under the notice of the Government. He saw that the right hon. Gentleman had made arrangements to get rid of the unjust charges for the military expenditure of Ceylon, and he congratulated him on the result, and trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would place that of the Mauritius also on a more satisfactory footing, No doubt the position of the two colonies, with reference to this subject, was not precisely similar, as in the latter case it must be considered that some portion of the military force was retained for Imperial objects.


wished to ask the Secretary of State what powers the Governors of colonies, whether of New Zealand, the Gold Coast, or anywhere else, had of drawing money from the Treasury chest of this country, without the sanction of the executive Government or the House of Commons? He wished especially to ask this question, as it had been under the consideration of the Committee upon the Auditing of the Public Accounts, whether some of those Governors had not drawn upon the Treasury chest to a considerable extent, without the knowledge of the Home Government? and whether that practice was not going on in New Zealand now? It was through the medium of the Treasury chest that we might get into troublesome wars, and have heavy burdens improperly thrown on the British taxpayers. He wished also to ask the Under Secretary for War, whether it was his intention to lay upon the table any paper relating to the re-organization of the War Department? He wished to know whether there was any intention of establishing an audit in that Department? which he considered to be of great importance.


asked, if the Government had received any information as to the present position of affairs in New Zealand, where he understood there was great excitement, apprehensions being entertained that war might again break out?


said, that the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir John Trelawny) had asked him whether a proclamation, dated the 17th of December, had been received from New Zealand, and whether those parts of that proclamation which were favourable to the Natives were intended to be carried into effect in good faith? That hon. Gentleman, referring also to the unfortunate dispute about the Waitara plot, spoke of it, though not with perfect accuracy, as though it had been admitted to have originated in a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. The hon. Gentleman was aware that the controversy about the Waitara plot originated many years ago, and that the course taken by Governor Browne was, upon further knowledge, reversed by Governor Grey, But it would not be true to say that Governor Browne and the Government of the colony were guilty of any deliberate infraction of the Treaty of Waitangi. On the contrary Governor Browne, than whom no more honourable man existed, fully believed that he was entitled under that treaty to do what he did; otherwise he (Mr. Cardwell) was convinced he would never have been a party to anything of the kind. For himself, he had been from first to last a firm supporter of the Treaty of Waitangi in its true meaning and real conception. He had not the smallest suspicion or belief that the Governor of New Zealand and his Ministers intended any breach of faith on this occasion, and he could assure the hon. Member that no instructions should proceed from him having any such tendency. As to the question put to him respecting the general state of the colony, the papers arrived yesterday, he was about to consider and answer them, and he thought it would be more expedient that he should now pursue the course he had uniformly adopted on former occasions—namely, to lay the whole of the papers on the table at the earliest moment, when hon. Gentlemen would be able to form their own opinions upon them. With respect to the question about the military contribution from the colony of Mauritius, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyall) would be glad to know that there was in the present year a considerable increase to that contribution. In 1862 the late Duke of Newcastle wrote to the then Governor of Mauritius, stating that he thought, in justice, an increased contribution towards the military expenditure should be made by the colony, and proposing that it should thenceforward pay £45,000 a year for a period of five years. The then Governor remonstrated with the noble Duke on account of the temporary financial position of the colony, and his noble friend consented to postpone the new arrangement for two years. That arrangement stood to commence this year, when in the course of last autumn Sir Henry Barkly, the new Governor, renewed the remonstrance, and asked for further time; but not deeming the request reasonable he had expressed his inability to comply with it. Therefore the arrangement made by the Duke of Newcastle had begun to be acted upon this year, and it would terminate at the end of three years. After the lapse of that period it could again be considered whether the colony contributed the proportion of its military charges which could fairly be expected from it, and whether it fulfilled the requirements of the Com- mittee on Colonial Military Expenditure of 1861. With respect to the question asked by the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Willoughby) as to drawing on the military chest, that was not so much a matter of principle as of fact. The hon. Baronet spoke with special reference to New Zealand. No principle was clearer than that there was to be no expenditure or drawing of money from the Imperial resources, except with the sanction of the Home Government and of that House. But towards the close of 1863, large advances were drawn by the Government of New Zealand from the military chest in that colony. The hon. Baronet asked whether those advances still continued? In the course of last Session he had stated what he believed to be the fact, that those advances ceased in 1863; that there were no advances made from the military chest in 1864; and that the system had now been put an end to in that colony.


asked if the advances which he believed amounted to £150,000 had been repaid?


explained that the matter referred to by the hon. Gentleman was part of the arrangement made last year in respect to the Guarantee Loan; but he (Mr. Cardwell) had received a letter stating that the colony did not accept the Guarantee, and therefore the arrangement referred to was not to be considered binding.


said, he saw no good reason why the colony of Mauritius should be called on to make the additional contribution which the Government was requiring from it. If the inhabitants were left to manage their own police and preserve order in the island they could do so. But the purposes for which the money was applied were Imperial, not colonial; and, moreover, the produce of the island was loaded with heavy duties on entering this country. In the last war, the Mauritius was the theatre of the greatest naval exploits in the eastern seas, of which it was the key; and since it came into our possession it had been of the greatest possible importance to us for retaining the command of a great stream of commerce, and as being in the immediate vicinity of the Isle of Bourbon—a strongly fortified French post. Her Majesty's Government being near the end of this Parliament, and anxious to go to the country on the principle of economy, were throwing as much of their military expenditure as they could on that colony. At the present time the revenue of the island was loaded with heavy debts. Moreover, they were burdening the people of the Mauritius unduly for a second reason—namely, because the Home Government had laid out a large sum of money on imprudent works. There were various points in the colony where troops might land, and those posts might be protected with a small number of guns. But he understood that large fortifications had been undertaken which would require a large number of troops, and the colony would have to pay for those troops. It was absurd to attempt to defend a place like the Mauritius with an enormous garrison. The preservation of the sovereignty of the seas was the only means by which the Mauritius or any other of our colonies could be protected. He had moved for some papers regarding Ceylon, and when they were produced, he should have some further observations and a Motion to make on the subject.


said, it was always painful to destroy a beautiful theory, but he begged to observe that the arrangement for the moderate increase of the military contribution of £32,000 to £45,000 was conceived and announced to the colony two years ago by his noble Friend the late Duke of Newcastle, and was not originated by the present Secretary to the Colonies at the close of an expiring Parliament. The execution of it, however, was delayed till lately on account of the great expenditure then going on in the colony upon railway works.