HL Deb 01 June 1837 vol 38 cc1136-8
The Earl of Ripon

rose to move an Address to the Crown for the production of a despatch written by the Governor of Van Diemen's Land in October last, and addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, with certain inclosures, including an accurate statistical account of the state of the colony at the date of the letter, as compared with the antecedent period, when that Governor was first appointed Governor of the colonies, on the separation of Van Diemen's Land from the larger colony in New South Wales. There were several grounds on which he considered that the state of Van Diemen's Land at the present period required their Lordships' serious consideration. Some measures were before the other House of Parliament having for their object to mitigate the severity of our criminal code. On this subject he must remark that the question of secondary punishments became of peculiar importance when it was proposed to abolish to a considerable extent the punishment of death. Parliament was particularly called on at such a time to consider what was the state of those colonies with respect to their convict population; whether they were adapted to the penal object with which they were maintained: whether the regulations for insuring that object were such as were consistent with the interests of the other classes of the population, and what substantial punishments should be inflicted in those cases in which the punishment of death was withdrawn. Great improvement had taken place in the course of the last ten years in that colony; there had been a considerable increase in its population, in the amount of its agricultural produce, and in its manufactures and. trades of every description. Large quantities of wool had been sent from the colony to England. In 1824 there was only one bank in the colony; in 1835 there were six, with a paid-up capital which amounted to 200,000l. With regard to its shipping, in 1824 there were entered inwards thirty-three vessels, the tonnage of which was 11,000; the number entered outwards was thirty-five, the tonnage of which was about 11,000. The value of the imports was 62,000l. In 1835 the number of vessels entered inwards was 234, the tonnage being 55,000; the number entered outwards was 225, the tonnage being 53,000l. The value of the imports was 583,000l., and the value of the exports was 320,000l. These statements showed that the Government had paid its best attention to the interests of the inhabitants of the colony. Before he concluded he begged to say a word or two respecting the individual under whose administration these great improvements had taken place. For the last ten years the government of the colony had been administered by an officer in his Majesty's service — he meant Lieutenant - Colonel Arthur; and having had the means of knowing officially the views of those who were resident as to the manner in which the government of the colony ought to be conducted, and having had the opportunity of watching the government of Colonel Arthur, he thought it an act of justice to that gentleman to say, that in his opinion the government of a colony had never been administered by any gentleman more thoroughly competent to the discharge of the arduous duties undertaken by him. Colonel Arthur was a model of a judicious, a humane, and a liberal governor.

Lord Glenelg

had no objection to the production of the papers moved for by his noble Friend. He agreed with his noble Friend that the task of governing those colonies required great firmness and great ability, and that Colonel Arthur in everything that he had done appeared to have been directed by the best motives, and, generally speaking, his government was distinguished by great firmness. That gentleman had been exposed to many attacks—charges had been made against him while he (Lord Glenelg) held his present office; it had, therefore, been his duty to examine into them, and he had the satisfaction of saying, that Colonel Arthur had given them not only a complete but a triumphant answer.

Motion agreed to.

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