HC Deb 12 April 1869 vol 195 cc579-80

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, The present number of Her Majesty's Commissioners for Emigration, and their names, and also the number of clerks and assistants employed by the Commission; the amount of the salaries of such Commissioners and their clerks or assistants; the total annual expenses of the Commission, and to what purposes the expenses are devoted; out of what fund such expenses are paid, and whether there is a fund consisting of monies retained from deposits of intending emigrants who have afterwards altered their intentions, and, if any, the amount of it; what duties are at present performed by the Commissioners; whether Colonial Emigration is not now almost entirely managed by agents of the Colonies, acting independently of the Commissioners; and, whether the Government proposes to continue the Commission in its present form?

MR. MONSELL, in reply, said, he had to inform the hon. Gentleman that there were at present two Commissioners of Emigration, Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Walcott, an assistant-secretary, seven clerks, and twenty-three emigration officers in various ports of the United Kingdom. The salaries of the Commissioners and clerks amounted to somewhere about £8,000, of which £1,300 was paid out of the colonial funds. The salaries of the emigration officers and assistants amounted to £3,912, so that the total annual expenses were £11,595. £9,829 came out of the Parliamentary Vote for Emigration, and £1,766 out of funds supplied by the colonies to which emigrants were despatched. There was a fund arising from deposits of intending emigrants who had afterwards altered their intention. Its amount was £9,652 in Consols, besides £1,000 in Exchequer Bills. The duties at present discharged by the Commissioners were to carry out the provisions of the Passengers Act with regard to emigration from this country, to select and despatch certain bodies of emigrants to Victoria and Western Australia; to superintend the emigration from India and China, and also the return of emigrants to Asia from the different colonies, and to decide all questions regarding colonial Crown lands, leases, or grants. In 1868 the Commissioners received 20,000 letters, and the number received during the present year up to this time was 6,306. The emigration to the Australian colonies, excepting Victoria and Western Australia, was at present inconsiderable. The colonies of Queensland and New Zealand had independent emigration agents of their own, as also the colony of South Australia, but the superintendence of emigration to South Australia was in the hands of the Commissioners. They were at present engaged in sending out the discharged artizans from the dockyards. It was under the consideration of Government whether the Commission should be continued. There was no doubt, from what he had already stated, that the duties had very much decreased, but the difficulty with respect to the abolition of the office was that, on account of the large pensions that would have to be paid, there would be very little saving to the public, who would likewise lose the advantage of the services of two excellent officers.