§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £85,442, to complete the sum for the British Museum.
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
said, that on the face of the Vote it did appear that there was a considerable diminution in the sum asked for this year, as compared with that granted last year; but that diminution was entirely owing to Supplementary Grants having been taken last year; first, for the exploration going on in Assyria; and secondly, for the purchase of that valuable collection known as the Castellani collection. The present Estimate, however, was substantially the same as those which had hitherto been voted from year to year. There was only one circumstance which he felt bound to mention in connection with the Estimate. It was, that it was possible that the Trustees might have to apply to Parliament for an additional grant, in order to make a purchase of some very valuable Roman and Greek 446 coins. As to the Vote itself, he did not imagine that there would be any serious question raised in regard to it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
wished to suggest to his right hon. Friend, whether some means might not be taken for making the great treasures contained within the British Museum more available to the public than was at present the case. He had long thought that if a system of lectures were instituted in connection with the organization of the British Museum, it would be of enormous value and interest to the nation at large. The gentlemen who presided over the British Museum had at their command such resources as no others in the world had. It was true that the British Museum was nominally open to the public; but that opening was, if he might use the phrase, an unintelligent opening, because people wandered in weariness and ignorance throughout the collections without having the remotest knowledge of the character and resources of that great establishment. The learning of the British Museum was written in hieroglyphics, and it was advisable that its mysteries should be translated into the vulgar tongue, so as to become intelligible to the nation at large. He understood that this might be done for an expenditure of £1,000 per annum. He ventured to throw out this suggestion for the consideration of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University and of the Prime Minister, who, amid the turmoil of politics, had never forgotten the claims of literature, of science, and of art.
drew attention to the discontent that prevailed among the officers of the British Museum on account of the lowness of their salaries. Last year the Trustees proposed that the salaries of these officials should be increased, but the late Government refused to entertain the proposal. In the early part of the present Session, the Prime Minister, in reply to a Question put by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), had stated that the Treasury were prepared to receive further communications from the Trustees on the subject. He understood that the Trustees had now suggested that only one—that immediately above the lowest—class of officers should receive an increase of salary, and he wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman the cause 447 for this change in the nature of their recommendations.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he was in favour of an organized system of lectures in the metropolis; but he thought there were difficulties in the way of carrying out the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt). There was, however, a very general opinion that something of the kind should be done. As his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had given Notice of a Motion on the general question of the management and administration of the British Museum, he would not now go into that matter, further than to express a hope that the Report and recommendations of the Commissioners on Science and Scientific Instruction might receive the attention of Her Majesty's Government. He was, however, anxious to say a few words in reference to the salaries of the keepers and assistants in the Museum. Last year the Trustees appointed a sub-committee, which went very carefully into the whole matter. They did not recommend an indiscriminate increase, giving their reasons in some cases for not urging an advance; but they did recommend certain alterations—for instance, that the maximum salary of senior keepers should be raised to £750, of junior keepers to £600, of senior assistants to £500. The subcommittee stated that, as a matter of fact, the Museum was losing, and would continue to lose, its best men. This report of the sub-committee was subsequently approved and adopted by the general body of Trustees, but not acceded to by the Treasury. He hoped, however, that those recommendations would be reconsidered. The suggestions of the subcommittee did not seem unreasonable, and every lover of science and art must feel that it was a most serious thing when they were told that the Museum was losing its best men. They should remember that in the keepers and assistants they required men of very special attainments, which could only be acquired by constant study, and by persons of very considerable intellectual powers. The keepers of the British Museum had, moreover, the charge of collections the value of which was almost inestimable, and which could never be replaced. The chief clerks in other departments were much more highly paid than the chief assistants, or even the 448 keepers of departments in the British Museum, though the qualifications required were certainly not less in the latter case. He saw, on looking at the report to which he had referred, that the sub-committee contained three Members of Her Majesty's Government—Lord Derby, the First Commissioner of Works, and last, not least, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister himself. Under all the circumstances, therefore, he trusted that this matter would be reconsidered. They were all proud of the Museum; it was an honour to the country, it reflected great credit on those in whose charge it was placed, and nothing should be allowed to interfere with its present high state of efficiency.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY
also hoped that the recommendation of the subcommittee of Trustees would be given effect to. That it was a most reasonable one was evident from the fact that the salaries now paid had been fixed so far back as the year 1812.
advocated a rearrangement of the art collections of the Museum with a view to their more effective exhibition. The Elgin room was the only department of the Exhibition in which anything had been done in that way, and it was much to be desired that the work should be carried on in other directions. With reference to the suggestion that the salaries of the officers should be increased, he hoped it would be favourably received by the Government. It was not reasonable or just that, with increased and increasing duties, the emoluments of the gentlemen in question should be allowed to remain at the level that was fixed 40 years ago.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
was also in favour of a liberal re-consideration of the salaries of the officers of the British Museum. Their duties were not the ordinary duties of mere administrators in other offices, but of men who were pledged to keep up the literary and scientific reputation of the country by using the emoluments of which they were guardians in the prosecution of independent study. Every year the Museum became more and more—not merely a depository of valuable articles in art and science also, but a focus of instruction and discovery, and a means of propagating scientific knowledge throughout the world. If the British Museum was to hold its own in comparison with Continental 449 Museums, the Government and the country must be prepared to pay the price necessary to secure the best literary and scientific labour that could be obtained, not merely to retain intelligent keepers, but men whose time and thoughts had an acknowledged value in the market of international authorship. The present Trustees were, he trusted, prepared to carry on the good work, and they would do this all the more efficiently if they knew that they were backed up by a strong public opinion.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
said, he thought the House was unanimous in believing that the salaries of the officials in the Museum ought to be increased. Their duties were onerous and important, and had been constantly increasing, but since 1836 there had been no increase of salaries. As compared with officers of other Government institutions they were very inadequately remunerated. Their claims were well deserving of consideration.
§ MR. SAMUELSON
said, he had heard on what he believed was good authority that the proposals made to the Royal Commission on scientific instruction, by men of the highest authority on such subjects, with a view to rendering the Natural History collection more readily available for purposes of study and instruction on its removal to South Kensington, were to be disregarded by the Trustees, who proposed arrangements which would render it impossible to use the collections in the way suggested. He hoped this would not prove to be the case, or that if no positive assurance could be given on the subject, they should, at any rate, be informed that the Government were prepared to consider the question. The mistake, if made now, would, inasmuch as it involved structural arrangements, be most difficult to remedy.
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
said, that with regard to the subject of salaries, the Trustees had made recommendations to the Treasury, and that the Treasury had declined to raise the scale in the British Museum unless there was some general rule made applicable to 450 every department. It was then pointed out that it was desirable to increase the salaries of the junior clerks, as at present they were not sufficient to induce them to remain in the Museum. The Trustees recommended an increase in the minimum salaries at which that class entered, and also in their maximum salary, and the Treasury sanctioned that recommendation. The salaries of the keepers had not been raised since 1833 or 1834; but it was not correct to say that all the other salaries had not been raised, for there had been a general rise, given in his recollection, with the concurrence of the Treasury. The Trustees had recommended that three, at all events, of the keepers of collections on whom additional duties and responsibilities had been cast—namely, the keepers of the Geological, the Coinage, and the British and Mediaeval collections—should have their salaries raised to an equality with all the other keepers, and the Treasury had acceded to the recommendation. The cases of one or two other classes of officers in the Museum were about to undergo a further examination, and it was not the desire either of the Trustees or, he was sure, of the Government, to deal hardly with those most trustworthy and deserving persons. With regard to the accommodation for exhibiting the collections, he should mislead the Committee if he did not say that until additional space was provided they could not have as complete arrangements for that purpose as could be desired. With regard to the remarks made by the the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson), authorities as great, or even greater than those quoted by the hon. Gentleman had, after full consideration, reported that the method he had referred to was not the best one for exhibiting those collections. For some years past a practice had grown up that was found very useful, by which different parts of the Natural History and the Antiquarian collections were explained on Saturdays to parties of some 40 or 50 persons. There was no accommodation in the Museum for giving lectures; but the arrangements to be made at South Kensington for the Natural History collections included two good lecture-rooms, in which the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir W. Harcourt) would be carried out as far as regarded those collections.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
asked whether there was any objection to make known what system of arrangement was proposed to be adopted in the new museum at the Natural History collection for South Kensington?
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
, in reply, said, that no arrangements such as that to which the hon. Baronet referred could be made without an Act of Parliament, and that the proper time to state what the arrangements would be was when such a Bill was introduced.
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £35,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1875, in aid of Colonial Local Revenue, and for the Salaries and Allowances of Governors, &c., and for other Expenses in certain Colonies.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, the Government, in proposing the Vote, had been actuated by motives which he would briefly explain to the Committee. It was manifest that there were only two alternatives which were available to the Government with respect to the Colony in question. The one was the policy of total abandonment, and the other was that of remaining in the Colony on what he must suppose was meant to be a satisfactory footing; both of which views had recently been advocated in that House. Now, it was undoubtedly true that for many years past what he might term a half-way system had been in vogue with regard to the Gold Coast. They had adopted, in its case something like a starving policy, and had cut down the public service to the lowest possible dimensions. The result had been that that which was an apparent economy had landed the country in a vast outlay. Now, that was a policy which it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to follow in future. It was, on the contrary, their intention, with the assistance of Parliament, to pursue a policy which would efficiently meet the requirements of the public service, and enable the officers who represented Her Majesty on the Gold Coast to discharge their duties in a satisfactory manner. Among other things which the Government were resolved at once to terminate was the anomaly that the rates of pension which 452 prevailed in other tropical climates should not apply also to our West African Settlements. It was, he might add, the intention of the Government, in proposing the additional Vote under consideration, to initiate a system by means of which constant assistance from the Imperial Exchequer would not hereafter be required by the colony. He did not, at the same time, feel himself in a position to say that it might not be found necessary at some future date to come to Parliament to ask for another grant in aid of the revenues of our West African Settlements, although he hoped that such a vote would not be needed for many years. He must not be understood, however, as giving any sort of guarantee that the revenues of those Settlements would be such as to preclude the possibility or even the probability of future appeals to the generosity of Parliament. He would now tell the Committee that the main feature of the scheme about to be adopted by the Government was the union of all the Gold Coast Settlements with Lagos. The affairs of Lagos and the Gambia were, under the present system, administered by an Administrator, who, in his turn, was subject to the Governor of Sierra Leone. That system was proved to have many defects. The distance between the various points was so great that anything like a comprehensive supervision of the details or even the outlines of administration by any one person was found to be utterly impossible. It was now therefore proposed that the Gold Coast Settlements and Lagos should henceforward be separated from Sierra Leone, to be administered by one Governor, with a Lieutenant-Governor at Lagos. After what had occurred in "another place," he need not recapitulate all the details of the scheme; but he wished to observe that, according to the Returns to which the hon. Member for Tamworth had on a former occasion referred, the revenues of the Gold Coast amounted in 1872 to £40,165 a year. Since then those Settlements had been very much disturbed, and the revenue had shown a tendency to decline. He was able, however, to state that, according to Sir Garnet Wolseley, it was anticipated there would be an increase in the revenue for the current year, which was estimated at £52,000. Now, to that sum he proposed to add £35,000, three-fifths of which might fairly be put down 453 to capital account, inasmuch as it was intended to dispose of the money in the following manner:—Additional salaries—the figures to be taken approximately—£6,000; £4,000 for miscellaneous items, which sums went into the annual expenditure account. There was then a sum of £10,000 for telegraphs, and a further sum of £15,000 for buildings and roads. He now came to the consideration of a most important point—where the seat of Government should he established. At present the capital of the Coast was Cape Coast Castle, which was perhaps one of the places least fitted to be the habitation, not of Europeans only, but of any race of human beings. Sir Garnet Wolseley had eloquently described Coomassie as a perfect charnel house; but he ventured to think that persons who perused the statistics showing the mortality at Cape Coast Castle and the number of persons who were obliged by ill health to leave the place would come to the conclusion that Coomassie was not the only charnel house on the West Coast of Africa. Indeed, considering the mortality among Her Majesty's servants at the present capital, it might be permissible to doubt whether human sacrifice was confined within the limits of the Ashantee Kingdom. It was proposed that that spot should no longer be the head-quarters of the Government. Coming to the question as to the place to which the seat of Government should be transferred, he would refer to two places which had frequently been suggested—namely, Elmina and Accra. Both of them presented many features which would render them suitable for the purpose. Elmina possessed a harbour which, while not particularly good, was still for those regions a very fair one. Accra was more central, and in many respects preferable, but unfortunately was not so well situated as regarded marine accommodation. Indeed, it could hardly be said there was a harbour at all; but there was a roadstead, which was used for want of anything better. Probably the Committee would agree with him that before a place was fixed upon there ought to be a careful local inquiry. Indeed, his noble Friend the Secretary of State could not be expected to come to a decision in the matter without the assistance of local knowledge and investigation. It was proposed, therefore, 454 to leave the point for further consideration, and meanwhile a most diligent local inquiry was being made. Before long, a decision would, no doubt, be arrived at. Connected with this question was that of the establishment, on a more healthy spot than could be found on the coast, of a sanitarium, to which the seat of Government might be transferred in the less healthy seasons of the year. There were times when existence at the Coast was almost a matter of impossibility, or, at all events, was attended with very great danger; and it was absolutely necessary that the public servants should be able, during a considerable part of the year, to betake themselves to a more favourable locality. Among the places which had been suggested was Accrapong, about 35 miles from Accra, and where for many years past there had been a number of German missionaries residing, whose experience of the spot had been favourable. He could not hold out the hope that even a sanitarium would be found an enjoyable abode; still, he believed that many of the evils inseparable from residence at the Coast would be obviated at Accrapong. There was another place presenting the same features and equally high up, and with the advantage of being only 15 miles from Accra. It would be necessary in this matter, as in that of the capital, to have inquiries made on the spot before coming to a decision. Wherever the sanitarium was established, buildings would have to be erected, and roads leading to it would have to be made. There was a road of some kind already existing from. Accra to these hills, and no very great outlay would be required to make it serviceable. The character of the buildings it would be impossible at present to decide; but there would be no occasion in such a climate to make them of a very substantial character. The Vote for which he now asked might reasonably be expected to cover the entire expense. It must be understood that the Governor would not reside on the hills at any period of danger, when there would be a possibility of his being surrounded by hostile tribes. At such a time he would, of course, be at the place where the troops at his disposal would be located. It must be admitted that the climate was utterly unsuitable for British troops; and much as he, speaking for himself as an 455 individual, was an advocate of the policy of sending troops drawn from one dependency to discharge garrison duty in other dependencies of the Crown, he was obliged to acknowledge that in this case the West Indian Regiments—Africans by extraction as they were—were almost as unfit to bear the deadly climate of the Gold Coast as the European soldiers. Her Majesty's Government were therefore obliged, not without regret, to depend entirely on local resources for the maintenance of an armed force. Fortunately they were not without some knowledge in the matter, for the Houssa contingent had already done good service, and it was hoped that a force of some 1,000 or 1,100 Houssas—he could only mention an approximate number—recruited from various tribes, would be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Settlement. There had been a report that it was the intention of the Government to send out an administrator to the Gold Coast for one year only, and to reserve till a future time the final settlement of the question as to the government. This report had no foundation in fact. Her Majesty's Government had made up their mind that the Consolidated Settlement of the Gold Coast and Lagos should be under one Governor, with a Lieutenant Governor, and the appointment to the office of Governor had already been made. For the Consolidated Settlement there would, besides the Governor, be a Colonial Secretary and a Treasurer, while for Lagos separately there would be a Lieutenant Governor and a Sub-treasurer. The reason for the appointment of a Sub-treasurer was that it had been found necessary to keep the accounts of the two Settlements distinct. The Governor would be assisted by a small legislative and executive Council, on the principle which had been found to work well in other Crown colonies. Any idea of calling Natives of the Coast into the Council, to assist in the government of the dependencies, must be dismissed as chimerical. It would be perfectly futile to attempt, even to that extent, a system of representative government. Besides the officers already named, there would be, for the Consolidated Settlement, an Auditor, a Chief Justice, a Queen's Advocate, who would also discharge the duties of public prosecutor, a commanding officer of the armed police, 456 a Colonial Engineer, and a Chief Surgeon. These would be the principal officers. There would be certain subordinate officers to be appointed hereafter. The selection of a Governor had caused his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office no little anxious thought. He had stated that the Colony was to be administered as a Crown Colony, which meant that it was to be subject to the personal rule of the Governor, and it was therefore all the more important to obtain the most competent man who could be found. It was essential that the person selected should have bodily strength and experience; and, after anxious consideration, the choice of the Secretary of State had fallen upon Captain G. C. Strachan, R.A., who was now acting Administrator of Lagos. This selection was not made without taking many circumstances into consideration. It was almost essential that the person selected should be in the full vigour and prime of life. It was not to be expected that one who did not possess youth and vigour would face the anxious responsibilities of governing such a Colony. Captain Strachan officiated as aide-de-camp to the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) during his short administration of the Ionian Islands, and subsequently he acted in a similar capacity to Sir Henry Storks. Captain Strachan had been Colonial Secretary in the Bahamas, and since then Administrator of Lagos. It would be seen that he had experience, and the Government had every confidence in his ability and full hope that a valuable appointment had been made. He hoped the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms), as a Scotchman, even if he at the present moment felt disposed to question the policy of extending the sway of the existing ruler of Lagos over the larger territory of the Gold Coast, would be able to contemplate it hereafter with as much satisfaction as they now did the union of England and Scotland. It was proposed that the salary of the Governor should be £3,000 a year, with an additional £500 a year for travelling and other expenses. It would be among the first duties of the new officials to institute inquiry into the whole system of law and judicial procedure, which now were by no moans satisfactory. Considerable alterations, he thought, would be required in the law and in the mode 457 of carrying it out. Then there was the question of domestic slavery. Unhappily upon the Coast of Africa domestic slavery had always prevailed as an institution. Some hon. Members would say it was the easiest thing in the world to put down that or any other institution. He regretted that many who, on other subjects were rational and reasonable, apparently lost all self-possession and practical sagacity on the subject of slavery, and diminished the value of their counsels by laying down crude theories which would not stand the test of experience. If we were to insist on the total and immediate abolition of slavery on the Gold Coast, the Government must ask, not for £35,000, but for a sum not inferior to, if not in excess of, the cost of the war against the King of Ashantee—they must ask for something like £1,000,000 either to compensate the owners of the slaves or to maintain troops for carrying on another war. It would be perfectly impossible to put down an institution like this, which had taken so firm a hold upon the minds and habits of the people, without a large occupying force and comprehensive measures of repression. In reply to those who said we should not consider any of these questions in dealing with a matter of principle, he would say he would not advocate any attempt to repeat in West Africa an experiment which had been tried not many thousand miles from the House, in governing one country according to the ideas of that country when they ran counter, not only to the ideas of the majority of the people of the United Kingdom, but also to the first and elementary principles of right and justice. He would not advocate the government of the Gold Coast according to Ashantee ideas; but it must be manifest no statesman would be justified in attempting to carry out preconceived ideas and theories, however just and sound, when they ran counter to every conceivable idea which had entered into the minds of the Natives they were called upon to rule. Therefore, the Government proposed to seek the gradual—he hoped he should not be understood to mean the tardy—abolition of domestic slavery. It must be understood that this was a question in reference to which, time and the officers proposed to be sent out must have the opportunity of making an impression upon the feelings, prejudices, 458 and ideas of the Natives, and the House must not expect that it could be settled in a day. It was right to say that in the present condition of affairs on the Gold Coast there were certain reasons for hoping that many of the evils which characterized our previous occupation might be, in the course of time, removed. The Treaty with the King had been newly signed, and 200 ounces more gold, in the shape of ornaments, had been handed over to our officers. He mentioned this, not so much on account of its value, but as an earnest of the good faith of the King of Ashantee. King Coffee had requested that his son might be allowed to come to England, at his own expense, to be educated under the care of the British Government, and that might be taken to mean more than at first sight appeared. We knew the extreme jealousy with which these barbarous tribes regarded the separation from them of their nearest of kin. When we demanded hostages, the King expressed his aversion to separating near members of his family from himself. It might, then, be inferred that the King was abandoning that jealousy and suspicion of British power which he had always hitherto displayed. He did not wish to give a rose-coloured view of the circumstances of the case, but we might reasonably hope that we had borne down to a great extent the hostility and opposition of the Ashantees. He regretted that depredations upon Ashantee traders which were charged to Fantees had not yet terminated; there were still reports of interference with Ashantee traders by Fantee tribes; and this was a matter which required to be rigorously dealt with. If we were to hope for the cooperation of the various native tribes in our occupation of this Protectorate we must maintain order, and strict injunction had been forwarded to the officers in charge of the Settlement that these outrages should be rigorously put down. He hoped by this time considerable progress might have been made in that direction. The Government would also direct that encouragement should be given to the legitimate trading of the Ashantees; and this was, perhaps, the channel through which we might hope to effect the greatest amount of reform. It would not be necessary further to detain the Committee. If in the course of 459 the discussion which was likely to arise any hon. Gentleman wished for further explanation, if it was in his power he should be happy to give it. He had shown that it was necessary that the sum asked for should he granted to the Government. The House had refused to adopt the alternative of withdrawing from this Coast, and the Government were not disposed to adopt half measures. Gradual abandonment was of all others the course which was most to be deprecated. Circumstances might arise in which reconsideration of our position might be needful, but when that time came, Parliament must be prepared to deal with the matter immediately, and by no half measures. The hon. Gentleman concluded by thanking the House for the kindness with which they listened to his statement, and by moving the Vote.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he wished to state the reasons which had induced him to put on the Paper the Motion which stood in his name—namely, to reduce the Vote by £10,000. In his judgment, we were bound by considerations of duty to remain on the Gold Coast, as otherwise the Ashantees would either overrun the district and offer human sacrifices within sight of Cape Coast Castle, or else they and the Fantees would drag on a remorseless war. If, however, we were bound to stay there at all, we were bound to stay there permanently; because the policy of remaining there in order ultimately to abandon the Coast caused vacillation in our counsels and produced the very difficulty it was intended to prevent. It was a very great gain that we had now got for these Settlements a thoroughly well qualified Governor, who, it might be expected, would be able to remain there; and the Government ought, as far as possible, to leave his hands unfettered, and to give him full discretion, especially with regard to the manner in which he wished to deal with the Native races. There were two systems under which we might deal with the Native races; the one being to maintain perfect neutrality between the two, and the other our own system of taking sides with one or other of them. If the latter course were maintained, we might either take the Natives under our protection and constitute a Crown colony, or we might continue that system of protection which 460 had been attended with such fatal results. The creation of a Crown colony would, in many respects, be the better plan, for we should, after all, only assume the same responsibilities that we incurred by the establishment of a Protectorate. In 1844 the miserable tribes of Fantees were taken for the first time under our protection; in 1852 our jurisdiction was confirmed by the imposition of a Poll Tax; and since then we had undertaken the administration of justice, and taken nearly all power out of the hands of the Chiefs. Indeed, we were assuming responsibilities in a much more dangerous form than if we constituted the territory a Crown colony. The result of our contact with the Fantee tribes was that they were becoming more demoralized year by year. In his opinion, the only proper course for us to adopt was to remain on the Coast simply and solely as policemen, to keep the peace between the two hostile tribes. The war had put an end to all claims the Fantees might have had upon us for a continuance of the Protectorate as it was understood by Her Majesty's Government. Again, in taking over the Dutch possessions we became, to a certain extent, bound to enter into an alliance with the Ashantees, and it was most important that we should cultivate friendship with this superior race. "We had met the Ashantees six times, and it should be recollected that this last war was the first occasion in which we had defeated them. So long as the Ashantees saw that we gave protection to those wretched people the Fantees, they would be discontented, and would be disinclined to enter into a Treaty with us; and so long as that state of things existed, we should have no security, or only a very small security, for the maintenance of peace on the Gold Coast. Our one security was the goodwill of those Ashantee people. The education in this country of a so-called son of the King was no security at all, and as the inheritance descended in that country of conjugal infidelity to brothers and nephews and not to sons, the probability was that this youth would be no son of the King. While we did not allow arms to be imported into the territory we had undertaken to protect, we allowed them to be imported into the territory of the Ashantees, and the whole policy of the Government amounted to this—that we were to maintain the Protectorate, 461 and, therefore, to be subject to the old obligations, but were to disarm the very people whom we had undertaken to protect. That seemed to him a ridiculous proposition, and, therefore, he hoped that before the evening passed the Committee would be informed that the Government had changed its mind on that subject. He would suggest that, instead of adopting the policy of the Government, the course recommended by Governor Maclean, and strongly supported by Sir Garnet Wolseley, should be adopted, whereby the importation of arms into the West Coast of Africa would be entirely prohibited. There could be no hope of civilizing that region unless all the European Powers entered into an agreement to prohibit the importation of munitions of war into it. Her Majesty's Government ought to release themselves altogether from the obligations which the Protectorate of the Fantees imposed upon them. If another war should break out between the Fantees and the Ashantees, the latter would require to be supplied with very much better weapons than they had in the late war on the Gold Coast, and a great many of our countrymen would be very glad to supply them with better weapons. By stopping a supply of arms we should not only encourage trade in Ashantee, but a passage of trade through that territory. It was absolutely essential in our own interests, not less than in the interests of humanity, that we should prevent the smuggling of arms into the territory of our late enemy. One mode of effecting that most desirable object was an appeal to public opinion, which was all the more necessary when they found that respectable traders had been found ready to supply the Ashantees with arms to be used against Englishmen. It was to be regretted that of the three tribes we had recognized the two worst, and our relations with them would one day, he was afraid, involve us in a war, the horrors of which would exceed anything they had yet heard of. In conclusion he begged to move the Amendment which stood in his name.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £25,000, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1875, in aid of Colonial Local Revenue, and for the Salaries and Allowances
of Governors, &c., and for other Expenses in certain Colonies."—(Mr. Hanbury.)
§ MR. J. HOLMS
, after complimenting the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Lowther) on the ability and clearness which characterized his statement, said, that he quite agreed with him that the alternative presented to this country was that we should either leave the Gold Coast altogether, or make our government there more efficient, and our authority more respected. He had himself on a former occasion advocated the first course, but the feeling of the House was clearly opposed to his view. Since then, however, a change appeared to have taken place in the views of several hon. Gentlemen, and he thought the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Mr. Hanbury) was very much in that direction. He was quite ready to admit that her Majesty's Government were placed in a difficult position when they came to consider what was the form of government they should establish on the Gold Coast. He understood, however, from a statement made by the noble Earl the Colonial Secretary in "another place," that while the circumstances of trade were not sufficient to induce us to remain on the Coast, still we could not abandon the Protectorate without a breach of the moral obligations into which we had entered with the protected tribes. He also understood it was part of the scheme of the Government that they should control in the future the importation of arms and ammunition, but if they were entirely successful in keeping out guns and gunpowder from the Protectorate he believed their object would signally fail, because any quantity of guns and gunpowder could find their way into Ashantee from the west. It was said that we might get over that difficulty by taking the French settlement into our hands; but even then guns and ammunition would pass in by the port belonging to the King of Dahomey; and the result would be that all the raw produce of Ashantee, its gold and its ivory, would in return find its way down to the King of Dahomey's port, so that, without succeeding in our object, we should lose the trade of the country; and it might happen that the Kings of Ashantee and Dahomey—for they were very friendly with each other—might unite in attacking us at the first favourable opportunity. On the subject of 463 domestic slavery, in the event of our establishing a colony on the West Coast, slavery must be done away with; and in that view they would have to make up their minds to pay the cost of its abolition, which they had hoard would amount to about £1,000,000. With regard to the Legislative Council, he trusted that it would not be composed merely of a small number of officials. The presence of some English merchants would be a great advantage, and he believed from the time of Governor Maclean to a very recent period the European merchants had had a voice in the administration of affairs. It would be wise to admit some native merchants into the Legislative Council, so that the Natives might be encouraged to take a part in the government of the Coast. He gathered that a military force would be kept there of from 1,000 to 1,100 men; and he feared that the sight of so large a force would kindle a spirit of anger and a thirst for revenge on the part of the Ashantees, while it would lead our allies to depend upon us in the future as in the past. It was, he was afraid, a continuance of the old policy to press the Ashantees back from the Coast, to which they must find their way in order to obtain salt, a commodity of which they were entirely deficient; whereas if we encouraged them to come down to Elmina and mingle with the neighbouring tribes we should get rid of one source of difficulty. The fault of the Government scheme was that it paid too much attention to the Fantees and too little to the tribes from which we must look for civilization in Africa. If any one moved the rejection of the Vote he should go into the Lobby with him, because he believed we were about to establish a great Empire on this Coast which would involve us in endless difficulties.
ADMIRAL SIR WILLIAM EDMON-STONE
supported the Vote, and thanked the Government for the wise and sound policy they had adopted, which reflected credit on the Department which his hon. Friend the Under Secretary to the Colonies so worthily adorned. If that policy were intrusted to a fit person on the spot, and if he were not too much interfered with by the Government at home, it would materially develop the resources of the Coast, and redound to the credit of this country. The great mistake had hitherto been in making the 464 Chief Administrator reside at Sierra Leone, but as soon as this became a consolidated Colony, it would become a fine country for our mercantile interests. Great complaint had been made about the importation of arms being still allowed, but along such a Coast it was quite impossible to prevent importation. We had found this even in Russia during the Crimean War, when, notwithstanding all our precautions, arms were regularly imported. War was the normal condition of the Blacks on the Coast, and a negro was never happy unless he had a musket in his hand and plenty of gunpowder. Domestic slavery was a terrible source of anxiety to himself when he was on the Coast; but he saw no possibility of interfering with it. The best way was to deal with it cautiously, and if wise measures were taken it would gradually disappear. Two places, Elmina and Accra, had been mentioned as the probable seats of Government. Accra was the more central, and probably, on the whole, the better. With regard to a sanitarium, he thought they could not do better than follow the steps of the missionaries, who generally selected a nice and comfortable spot for their station. He entirely concurred in the policy of the Government, and trusted they would be able to carry it out.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he had read with great pleasure that morning the speech of the Prime Minister at the Merchant Taylors', by which, as far as he understood it, he meant to imply that the House of Lords represented 28,000,000 of people, and the House of Commons only 2,000,000. That would account for the Government first laying their proposal on this subject before the House of Lords; but if the House of Commons only represented 2,000,000, they represented the taxpayers of the country, and the question now before them was whether this Vote was really to benefit this country or the world at large. Were they to vote this money as politicians or as philanthropists? The establishments we kept up on the Coast were expensive and unprofitable. In 20 years we had spent upwards of £2,000,000, while our trade with that country amounted to only £2,270,000. A Member of the Government had stated that the question was not to be settled by the more balance of profit and loss. It was also admitted that there was no written obligation binding us to maintain 465 our present position on the Coast. The object of the Government was entirely to benefit the Natives. They must look a little back and a little forward to understand this question. The Coast was a plague-spot and charnel-house. We had been there for generations. Originally, we went there for no other purpose but carrying on the slave trade, and we stayed there now for reasons which no one could precisely explain. Our engagements with the native tribes were vague, uncertain, and indescribable. It should be borne in mind that a Select Committee which sat on this question in 1864, recommended that all further extension of territory, assumption of government, any new Treaty, or offer of protection to the native tribes, would be inexpedient, and that we should encourage the Natives to exercise those qualities which would lit them for self-government, with a view to our ultimate retirement from the Coast. Yet, in spite of that recommendation, we had had a war on that Coast almost every 10 years; we had gone on increasing our Protectorate, and had accepted a large territory from the Dutch without asking the Natives whether they cared for our protection or not. The war lately concluded had brought us nothing but a Treaty, which was said to be scarcely worth the ink it was written with. It seemed to him that it would be an act of moral cowardice to remain on the Coast just because we were there, and had some difficulty in getting out of the way. The Pall Mall Gazette said—We do not hold the Gold Coast to spread Christianity, or to civilize the natives, or to attempt the suppression of human sacrifice, and it is miserable hypocrisy to pretend that we do. We hold it because we want to trade with the natives of West Africa. It is but too true that in this case Christianity moans rum and civilization gunpowder; but the proper inference may he, not that we should give up trading in rum and gunpowder, but that we should give up talking about Christianity and civilization.But this was clearly a mistake. Lord Carnarvon, the responsible Minister of the Government, said—It is simply and solely a sense of obligations to he redeemed and of duties to he performed which bids us remain on the West Coast of Africa.We had taught these people, by a long system of protection, to depend on us; we had made them worse than before, 466 and most of them hated us. He had read in The Times the other day an amusing description of the sword that was about to be presented to Sir Garnet Wolseley. The Times said—Messrs. White and Campbell have been entrusted with the execution of the sword to be presented by the Corporation of London to Sir Garnet Wolseley, and have submitted for inspection a drawing of the weapon, with the ornaments to be cut and embossed on it. On the panels of the hilt are represented the figures of Wisdom and Truth. Fame and Victory recline on the guard. The sheath hears on one side the arms of Sir Garnet, and on the reverse those of the City of London. Underneath are figures representing Britannia, accompanied by Peace, receiving a welcome from the Fantees, Victory encouraging the negroes to energy and exertion, and Valour trampling on Tyranny. In the midst of the trophies are the words, 'Cape Coast Castle, Amoaful, Coomassie, and Abrakrampa.'In a lecture delivered by Colonel Evelyn Wood, they had a very different decription of the Fantees—The Fantees, fine tall men, were drawn up in line, after great competition among them as to who should be on the left, as that was farthest from the bush; behind them were their chiefs and kings with whips, and behind them again Kossus with swords. After great efforts, they were induced to march forward, the kings thrashing all within reach, and the Kossus in turn pressing the chiefs on. The officers, who were forbidden themselves to enter the bush, did all in their power to drive the Fantees forward, using, in the words of a despatch, 'more than verbal persuasion.' One officer, in fact, completely ruined his umbrella. But when they reached the hush, into which all but the kings were at last forced to enter, they squatted down, and there they remained for the rest of the day.When he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) heard of the grateful reception of the English troops by the Fantees, he felt inclined to exclaim, with Byron—O for a forty-parson power To chant thy praise, hypocrisy?Surely this was a good time to get rid of this miserable business altogether. But the responsible Minister now came forward with a new policy. The Government was to be reconstructed. There was to be a consolidated establishment, and of course the first thing was to spend more money. The only omission they had made in the new establishment he hoped would still be supplied—they wanted a Bishop. Those who read the statement in this morning's paper as to the officers who were left on the Coast, must feel pretty sure that we could not do much with the climate. Certainly, 467 the medical officers would have the most to do there. Then, as to the change of the capital, there was much vagueness in the statement of the Government—three places had been mentioned, but no selection had yet been made. The next question was the appointment of a Governor who, according to a noble Lord in "another place," must be a man of considerable eminence, ability, determination, and force of character. He presumed he would be a teetotaler; for the noble Lord laid great stress on absence from stimulants. He hoped that the Governor would not be a clever man, because a clever man was dangerous, and could either involve himself in superabundant activity and some fresh combination, or employ his energies in civilizing the people, getting more tribes to join us, and give us fresh trouble in looking after them. He wanted to know what they were going to do about the guns, which he thought was a piece of severe irony. He did not know how that policy was to be carried out, unless the rifles were to be of that wonderful kind which his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Barttelet) had made familiar to the House—imperfect in the stock, defective in the lock, and not altogether satisfactory in the barrel. But if the Government decided what sort of weapon was to be supplied, why not also what sort of drink? He would recommend champagne if we wanted to civilize the people, and he would tell the Committee why. When the Japanese Ambassadors were over here, in order to introduce them to European civilization and manners, they were invited to a champagne luncheon, and after every glass, one of them used to heave a sigh and say—"How I do like civilization!" There was a far more important part of the plan, however, which the House of Commons would hardly endorse, and that was the sanctioning and maintaining slavery in that country. It was all very well for the Under Secretary to call it domestic slavery. Did the hon. Gentleman think he could alter the nature of slavery by an adjective? It was all very well for Lord Carnarvon to say that the hardships of the slave had been reduced almost to a minimum. Here was a paragraph from a paper which advocated the policy of our remaining on those Coasts. The Colonial Intelligencer said— 468The most superficial acquaintance with human nature ought to have satisfied any candid person that slavery necessarily bears the same fruits in Africa as it does in Cuba or Brazil. The special correspondents attached to Sir Garnet Wolseley's expedition found that negroes were openly bought and sold within the limits of the British Settlements; that the Courts were habitually used to assert the authority of the master over his bondsman; that shrieking women who had endeavoured to fly from captivity were bound hand and foot and dragged back to their owners; and that even the deck of an English vessel in the harbour offered no secure asylum to the fugitive slave. Nay, more, it appeared that the corps of female porters, whose services proved of the greatest value to the Army, consisted to a large extent of slaves who had been supplied by three ladies of Cape Coast Castle.A statesman had said that liberty was commensurate with, and inseparable from, English rule; but that state of things did not look like it. A mooting had been held at Stafford House not long since, to put down the East African slave trade. At that meeting were several Members of Parliament, among whom were Mr. Pease, Mr. Shuttle-worth, Mr. Jenkins, The O'Donoghue, and Mr. Alderman M Arthur; and a resolution was passed which declared that the slave trade prevented the introduction of civilization, Christianity, and lawful commerce. And the words of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), who had so much of the confidence of that side of the House, and the entire confidence of the other side, were that that meeting represented the wealth, the power, and the intellect of the country; but he did not suppose that the verdict of any other assembly of his countrymen would be different. Well, let the gentlemen who had gone to that meeting show their faith by their works, and vote with him against establishing the slave trade in Africa. It had been said that nothing was so bad as a doubtful policy. But the noble Earl who introduced the policy now recommended to the Committee, had said it would be open to us at any future time to reconsider it. It would be far better, however, to consider it now than to have to reconsider it hereafter. The only argument that had been advanced in defence of it was that it would not do for us, having got the Fantees into a mess, to desert them. Well, the Ashantee power was either destroyed by the late war or it was not. If it was destroyed, in that case we might assuredly leave the 469 Fantees to themselves. If it was not destroyed, we should certainly have to fight the battle over again in a few years, and we should be fighting with the weakest tribe against those whom nature had pointed out to be the strongest. What had we to do with that country at all? The Church Catechism told us to do our duty in that station of life to which it had pleased God to call us. He did not think we were called to that station on the Gold Coast, and he maintained that the lives and safety of our own countrymen were the first duty which this House had to consider. Many years ago, the late Duke of Wellington warned us against this policy, a Committee of this House had warned us against it; but, deaf to all warnings, were we now about to go on with this mischievous system? Was it possible that there was something behind? The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) had intimated that the Government, perhaps, intended to establish a great African Empire. If so, let them say so; lot it be fairly discussed, and let the public know what we were about. There was no doubt if the Ashantees were not drubbed, they would be down upon us in a few years. That was not his own opinion merely, it was also the opinion of Colonel Evelyn Wood; and when the next war was carried on, it would not be carried on against us with seven-and-sixpenny Birmingham guns, but with something very different. Now was the time to prevent such a state of things, now was the time to consider a policy which our reason told us was senseless, which experience had proved dangerous, and which prudence had warned us would one day be disastrous to the true interests of this country.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
said, that in the early part of the Session it was his duty to speak at length on the policy of the late Government in acquiring the forts on the Gold Coast. He stated at that time the policy of the late Government as clearly as he could, and his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) must excuse him if he declined to-night to return to the subject and to follow him into questions he had attempted to re-open. He felt bound to give a general approval to the policy of the Government. Considering the past, it was impossible for the Government to propose that we should 470 quit the Gold Coast, at all events immediately. In the future we must rely upon the Houssa force established by Captain Glover, the enlargement of which would increase our security. He was glad the Government had endorsed that view which he had expressed in the previous debate, and also that they had determined upon the severance of the Government of Sierra Leone from that of the Gold Coast. Separated as they were by distance, it was almost impossible they could be managed together, and difficulties must arise from the delay involved in communication with the seat of Government. Before acquiring Elmina we did all we could to ascertain the feelings of the Natives, and although some were opposed to the transfer, yet the majority were satisfied with it. The hon. Member for Hackney had spoken of our having bought these forts; that was not an accurate description of the transaction. The cession was made willingly by the Dutch Government; it was made freely, according to a policy agreed upon between the English and the Dutch Governments, and there was no payment, except a trifling one for certain fixtures. He asked those who objected to the Vote what they would have had Government do? No man of common sense and humanity could have justified our retiring from the Gold Coast at the close of the last war. Human sacrifices would not have been put an end to; the condition of no one tribe would have been improved; and any Government, whether Conservative or Liberal, could only consider what it was right, just, and honourable for the country to do. As far as he could understand, the Government did not propose a policy which pointed in any way to the continuance of domestic slavery, the existence of which had been one of the great difficulties in dealing with that Coast. He would warn the Government and the House that this question of slavery was one which must be dealt with. The best thing to be done was for England to make these dependencies Crown colonies, and govern them absolutely; but England could not possess dominions in which slavery existed in any form. We had found it was an institution we could not put an end to on this Coast; but if we were to maintain our position we must pay close attention to it; and probably our best 471 course would be to make the Natives understand the great advantages they would gain by coming more immediately under our rule, but at the same time to impress upon them that this could never be the case whilst they maintained the system of domestic slavery. We could not now abandon the Coast; we had got into a difficulty there and we must get out of it as best we could. The Government was placed in a difficult position, and the House must repose confidence in it, without criticizing details too minutely. At this time it would be unwise to reject the proposal of the Government, although he reserved to himself full right to object to particular points hereafter. He was inclined to think Elmina would be the best place for the seat of Government; but that must be a matter which must be left to the Ministry. We had not now to consider what we had to do in that country at all, but being there, and being unable to get away, what was the best way of remaining there in a manner honourable to ourselves? The Government had exercised a wise discretion; and he thanked them for the boldness with which they had submitted their policy. He had full confidence that the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office would be actuated in dealing with that matter by a sincere desire to do that which was best for the Gold Coast, and also that which was most consistent with the honour and dignity of this country.
§ MR. HORSMAN
wished to address himself to the general policy of the Government rather than to points of detail. He had listened with great interest to the very able and clear speech of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whose frankness he thought had loft nothing to be misunderstood as to the future policy of the Government. In that policy, as explained by his hon. Friend, he saw nothing which he could not cordially support. They were there, and they should remain and do the best they could there. They had drifted into a war—a miserable war with a miserable enemy. They had succeeded in the war, and they had deservedly heaped honours and rewards upon Sir Garnet Wolseley for what he had done. The question was, were they to remain there, or were they to withdraw? And if they remained, were they to keep a 472 temporary or a permanent hold of that territory? Now, no one believed they ought to retire immediately from that country—a course which would hand over those unfortunate tribes to the vengeance of the race we had defeated, accompanied by scenes of massacre and cruelty for which all the obligations of honour and humanity called upon us not to make ourselves responsible. The English people would not have tolerated any Government for a month which allowed it to be associated with a policy so degraded as that would have boon. Well, the question practically was, whether our occupation of that territory was to be temporary or permanent. On full consideration, the Government had decided that it should be permanent. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary spoke, indeed—with a command of countenance which for one so young in office was highly creditable—of re-considering that policy; but the fact was, the Government had determined that there should be a permanent Protectorate. It was admitted that we had no great advantages of trade to expect there, no great hope of spreading civilization, no desire for an extension of territory. For what, then, did we maintain ourselves upon that Coast? He answered that we remained there because England held a position which imposed on her duties and obligations not to be measured by mere considerations of trade returns or the balance of profit and loss in the ledger. That might seem a truism with every British statesman; but of late years men's minds seemed to be unsettled as to the principles of our Colonial policy. There had been a tendency in influential quarters rather to hold our Colonial policy cheap, and to imply that it was to us a burden and an expense, and if the Colonies had not been more loyal and true to England than some of our countrymen at home, they would have been alienated by the manner in which the doctrine had been propounded that we were only nursing and educating our Colonies till they were fit to be independent, with the hope that as soon as they were fit for that independence they would assert it, and relieve us from the cost and the risk of defending them in case of attack. It was refreshing, therefore, to hear the speech of a Colonial Minister who on that point gave forth no ambiguous ut- 473 terance; it was satisfactory to the House and the country to know that at the head of the Colonial Office there was now a nobleman who appreciated the character and value of our Colonial Empire, who realized the position of England and accepted all its responsibilities with the spirit, the pride, and the true wisdom of an English statesman. In every plan there must be difficulties, and in this case the first of these was the pestilential climate. But it might be diminished by the application of science. The engineer and the physician should act as the pioneers of the army, and native troops with English officers should be substituted for English regiments. Then, as Governor on such a Coast, they must have a man of strong intellect, high capacity, able to bear heavy responsibility, fit to wield great power, and at the same time remunerated by a salary proportioned not only to the service to be performed, but also to the risk to be run. That part of the plan of the Government appeared to him the one most unsatisfactory. They had heard of the fearful consequences of starving their establishments on the Gold Coast. Well, they had now got the best man they could lay their hand on for that post of labour and risk, and they proposed to give him the miserable salary of £3,000 a-year—an amount which he wished to see doubled. A man of great capacity with a miserable salary like that would naturally look for preferment, and not care to remain in so unhealthy a place. As regarded the question of slavery, he thought the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) used language stronger than the occasion deserved. It was unjust to the Government to say that they were not only sanctioning, but establishing slavery. Their plan was not a final one, but only a basis for the development of a larger policy; and it was open to any hon. Member to make a proposal by which the slave should be emancipated. The Government had left the subject of slavery perfectly open, and the question was, who would give the House a practicable plan? Whenever a practicable plan on that subject was laid before the House, he believed all sides would support the Government in putting an end to slavery on the Gold Coast. As far as the general scheme of the Government was concerned, he did 474 not believe many objections would be made to it. He verily believed the Government had adopted a plan which was satisfactory to the House and the country. Of course, on such a matter there must be differences of opinion—serious differences of opinion, which deserved great respect; but, on the whole, he believed the Government had adopted a plan which would receive the greatest amount of approval and general support. He could only express his wish that they might have equally sound and national administration in other Departments of the Government. He read, with some regret, a speech delivered at a banquet last night, in which the head of the Foreign Department stated that the first object of the Government was to preserve peace. He demurred to that. He contended that that was an unsound, a novel, and an un-English doctrine, and that the first duty of the Government was to uphold the interests and the honour of the country. When they were incompatible with the preservation of peace, the Government, however reluctantly, ought to accept the dire necessity of war instead of sacrificing the honour and the interests of the country. He felt it the more necessary to say this because he could not forget that between the noble Earl who was at the head of the Foreign Office and those who were of the Manchester School there was known to be a distinct line of demarcation, and that under his administration—["Order."]
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the Question before the Committee was the Supplementary Vote with reference to the Gold Coast.
§ MR. HORSMAN
insisted that the question before the Committee was Colonial and Foreign matters. ["No."] Then he could only say that the head of the Colonial Department had uttered sound opinions with regard to our Colonial policy, and he regretted that equally sound and satisfactory opinions had not been uttered by the head of the Foreign Department.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR
congratulated Her Majesty's Government on the course they had pursued in relation to this question, and was certain that it would be approved by the country generally. If they had taken active steps to put down slavery on the Gold Coast, the state of things there would now be very 475 different from what it was. In order to show the capacity of the Natives for administration, he would refer to the part they took in the government of Trinidad and of Jamaica; and he might also refer to the case of Bishop Crowder to show how feasible it was to establish Christianity amongst the Natives. He was much gratified to hear the statement of the Under Secretary for the Colonies that the policy of the Government, with reference to the Gold Coast, would not be a starving policy. Although the sum of £20,000 was in the Treasury chest, no step had been taken to improve the sanitary condition of the Gold Coast, which condition might be compared to that of a dunghill. As The Times correspondent had suggested, if the Government would take possession of the Gold Coast, slavery would be abolished there as it had been abolished in Gambia and in Sierra Leone. He hoped the Government would put down domestic slavery on the Gold Coast. They could deal with that matter successfully if they wished. He cordially approved of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and believed that if proper men were selected for its government, the Settlement would prove a prosperous, thriving, and vigorous Colony.
§ MR. T. E. SMITH
was sure that the general feeling of the House and the country was that, as regarded the Gold Coast, we had been the victim of circumstances, and thought it would be injurious to the character of the nation and unfair to the merchants who had invested their capital in the trade of the Coast to give up the system of protection under which they had acted, and which had so long been persevered in by England. At the same time, he considered we were laying up a stock of trouble for ourselves unless we from the very first determined to put down domestic slavery.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, there was no wish on the part of the Opposition to protract the debate, but he thought that the question of domestic slavery on the Gold Coast was one which could not be hurried over. No doubt the policy of the Government on that Coast generally commended itself to the country; but they would get into great embarrassments if they did not at once face the question of domestic slavery in the spirit of the great precedents which had been established in this country. They should 476 take care that such slavery was not allowed to exist on any territory under British rule.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he wished to support the policy of the Government as a whole in maintaining our position on the Gold Coast, and could not support the proposal that we should abandon that position. He would, therefore, withdraw his Motion, and let the sense of the House be taken on the other proposal.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 267; Noes 47: Majority 220.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £170,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1875, for Contributions in aid of Local Assessments for the Relief of the Poor, and for other purposes, in respect of certain descriptions of Government Property, and for Salaries and Expenses connected with the Investigation of Claims for Rates on Government Property, or for Contributions in lieu of Rates.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
reminded the Committee that in bringing forward his Financial Statement he mentioned that it was intended to propose a Vote for the purpose of meeting increased contributions on behalf of Government and in respect of Government property towards local rates. He had thought it convenient to bring this Vote before the Committee at a time when they had before them a Valuation Bill, which took away exemptions hitherto enjoyed, and in that respect resembled the Bill of the late Government, but which differed in one or two particulars from the latter measure, and more especially in not making any provision for rendering Government property liable to rates. When the Bill of last year was discussed some difficulty was found in arriving at a decision as to the mode in which Government property should be rated, and he believed the difficulty was one which it would not be easy to overcome. At all events, it had appeared to the present Government that they should endeavour to meet the case rather by a vote in aid of the rates, than by an Act of Parliament. With this view he now proposed that the Committee should vote a sum of £170,000, in addition to the amount—about 477 £63,000, he thought—which had already, as in former years, been voted. In order to enable the Committee to understand the principles on which it was proposed to dispose of this money he would read a Memorandum drawn up at the Treasury, and which, though not a formal document, stated substantially the plan on which it was intended to proceed. It was as follows:—We have had under our consideration the subject of the rules which ought to govern the distribution of the proposed increased grant of Parliament for contributions in lieu of rates in respect of property occupied for the public service. We adopt the principle that property occupied for the public service should contribute to the local rates equally with the other property in the parishes in which it is situated, having due regard to its character in each case. The contribution will be made to the poor and all other local rates levied in the parish in which the property is situate, and no parish will be excluded from such contributions on the ground that the Government property is less than a certain minimum. We feel it necessary, considering how widely different are the various kinds of Government property, and how impossible it is to apply to all of those the rules of assessment applicable to private property, to retain in our own hands the valuation of all Government property with the intention of adopting in each case as far as possible the same principles as are applicable to the valuation of private property. Thus, property occupied as ex officio residences or quarters for officers of the Government will be assessed on the estimated rateable value which would attach to such premises if they were in private occupation and liable to assessment to the local rates. The same rule will, as far as practicable, be applied in determining the rateable value of all Government hereditaments occupied as Post Offices, Coastguard Stations, County Courts, Police Courts, Probate Registries, Inland Revenue buildings, Custom House, &c. The rateable value of the whole of the naval establishments and of the principal military establishments was agreed upon between the Government and the parishes in which they are situated in the year 1860. The valuations then agreed upon will be revised with reference to the improvements and additions which have taken place at such establishments since that date. The valuations in these cases will be taken as a guide in fixing the rateable value of the barracks and other buildings at such of the military stations as were not brought within the arrangement of 1860, and also in fixing the rateable value of the military, naval, and convict prisons. If in any particular case the principles of valuation applicable to private property cannot reasonably be adopted, we shall inquire into and decide upon each such case upon its merits; but in no case will we contribute less than was payable on the assessment of the property at the time the Government acquired it. Hereditaments under the control of the Commissioners of Woods, &c, not being in the occupation of any other occupier will be the subject of contributions determined on principles similar to 478 those hereinbefore made applicable to Government property. These regulations will apply to Government property in Scotland and Ireland as well as to that in England.
§ MR. HANKEY
said, he had applied at the Vote Office for a copy of the Minute of the Treasury on this subject, and was informed that it could not be delivered till to-morrow morning. Under these circumstances, he put it to the Government whether they would press the Vote that evening.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
remarked that in objecting to the Vote he thought they were quarrelling with their broad and butter.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the hon. Member was under a mistake, as the matter did appear on the Vote.
§ MR. STANSFELD
considered that the Government would do well, under the circumstances, to postpone the Vote.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHE-QUER
said, he had no wish whatever to press it unduly. He was under the impression that the Notice Paper had been circulated; but as it appeared not to have been sent out till that day, he would agree to the Vote being postponed.
§ Mr. FAWCETT
said, the House ought not to give the Government power to allocate this large sum in any manner they liked, perhaps in favour of particular localities. He thought they ought to have details as to its proposed method of distribution.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.