HC Deb 13 June 1872 vol 211 cc1682-3

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, If he is cognisant of any negotiations having for their object surrender of the proprietary or the other rights of the Crown over waste lands in Natal; and, if so, whether he will inform the House what is the extent of these lands, and whether their present and prospective value has been estimated, and what is the number of the British population to whom they would be transferred; what conditions, favourable to immigration, would be made as to the application of the revenue accruing from sales and leases of these lands; the same with regard to Western Australia; whether there is not a probability that responsible Government will be immediately established in Western Australia, and in this event what course Her Majesty's Government will take with respect to the control and disposal of the Crown lands there; and, what is the extent of the waste lands that after such transferences would remain under control of the Crown in any part of the Empire?


Sir, there are, in round numbers, about 3,000,000 acres of Crown lands in Natal. The negotiations relative to the projected railways in that colony comprise a proposal to transfer a large portion of these lands to the railway company. That has always been found one of the best ways of encouraging enterprize, of developing the resources of a colony, and promoting an increase of white settlers. The same has been done to a limited extent in Western Australia in the case of two companies within the last three years. The area of Crown lands is very extensive—upwards of 600,000,000 acres, of which about 1,500,000 acres have been alienated since the establishment of the colony in 1829. There is no probability of responsible Government being immediately established in Western Australia; and until there is such a probability, the hon. Member will hardly expect me to explain the course which Her Majesty's Government would take in such a contingency. The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's Question—namely, what is the extent of the waste lands that after such transference would remain under the control of the Crown in any part of the Empire, could only be answered by reference to the different colonies, involving a delay of many months before the information could be obtained with any approach to accuracy. The extent of these lands, however, is very large.