HL Deb 18 June 1852 vol 122 cc902-3

presented a petition from the inhabitants of the Australian Colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Van Diemen's Land, South Australia, and New Zealand, for the immediate discontinuance of, and for the total abandonment of the present penal policy. He had postponed the presentation of this petition from an unwillingness to press the Government unfairly, as they had only recently acceded to office; but the subject was of considerable importance, and well deserved their earliest consideration. The noble Duke then read the petition, which dilated upon the many evils arising to the colonies from the system of transportation.


said, that, while he guarded himself against easting any imputations against the petitioners, or from being understood to say that there were not many persons of character in the colony whose position entitled them to respect, he was bound also to make a short statement of the manner in which the bulk of these colonists endeavoured to evade the evil so much complained of on the arrival of convict ships in Van Diemen's Land. The transportation of convicts had very much decreased within the last few years. In order, however, to show the reception accorded to these "pests" by the colonists, he (the Earl of Desart) would read a letter received from a religious instructor on board the Rodney, dated Van Diemen's Land, Jan. 20, 1852; and he would add, that the statements contained in it were worthy of consideration, in connexion with the evil of which the petitioners complained. [The noble Lord then read the letter, which was to the effect, that on the arrival of the vessel in question in Hobart Town there were 870 applications for the 240 men on hoard; that 1,150 applications were registered for the next ship at the comptroller's office; that all the convicts were employed at once at an advance of 30 per cent wages, in some cases of 70 per cent; that the ship was crowded with persons of all classes anxious to obtain convict servants; and that the confusion on board was so great, that a sentinel had to be placed on the cabin door to prevent the pressure of the applicants.]

Petition read, and ordered to lie on the table.

Back to