§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
rose to present (by command) papers relative to legislative proceedings in Jamaica. He said their Lordships were no doubt aware, by the accounts which the two last West India mails had brought, of the unfortunate dissensions which had occurred in Jamaica between the Governor and the Executive Council on the one hand, and the Assembly 948 of the island on the other; arising, so far as the immediate cause was concerned, from the measures of retrenchment proposed in the Assembly—measures affecting especially the salaries of Judges and of other high officers, which had been disapproved of and rejected by the Executive Council. Her Majesty's Government had felt it desirable that Parliament should be placed in possession of such information as had been obtained from the Governor, with respect to this unfortunate condition of one of the most important colonies of the empire. And he thought it would be right, in presenting these papers, that, although the Government did not propose to call upon Parliament to interfere in this quarrel by legislation, or to place the parties in a different position from that in which they at present stood, he should inform their Lordships of the views which the Government took of the question, and of the measures which they had decided upon adopting. He must say, at the outset, that he was not about to propose anything that could be called a plan, for he believed that in the present state of the island the quarrel was more likely to be adjusted by good management on the part of the Governor, and those who advised him, and by care and vigilance on the part of the Government at home, than by the intervention of the Imperial Parliament. It was desirable, whether they looked to the events which had arisen in the island, or whether they looked to the remedies which might eventually be called for, that their Lordships should consider the peculiar position of the constitution of the island. It was a constitution which was somewhat more than two centuries old. It was not, as many of the constitutions of our Colonies were, conferred by charter from the Crown, or, as was the case with others which had been more recently granted, conferred by an Act of Parliament. It appeared to have taken its rise from a patent granted by King Charles II., and in a very short time to have arrived at the form it presented at the present moment. It was worthy of remark, that while from almost the first moment of the commencement of this constitution the authority of the Crown was practically very small in that island, at a very early date those dissensions which had disturbed and tormented its condition for the last thirty years had also arisen at a very early period. Very soon after the commencement of the constitution, under the second Governor appointed during 949 the reign of Charles II., the very same measure of refusing a Revenue Bill took place. If they looked to the constituency which returned the Assembly of Jamaica, it would be found very limited as regarded the amount of the population of the island, which, in round numbers, amounted to about 400,000; and, so far as they could judge of the numbers of the constituency by the numbers of persons who presented themselves to vote at the elections for the return of Members to the Assembly, it appeared that the constituency could not greatly exceed 3,000. The qualification of voters was threefold: the possession of property worth 10l. a year, an annual rental of 50l., or the yearly payment of 5l. in taxes. He was speaking in pounds, in order to avoid the island currency; but the difference was immaterial. The peculiar anomaly of the constitution of the island was, that the functions of the Assembly had never been confined to those acts which were the peculiar province of representative assemblies all over the world—namely, those of legislation; but it had combined with its legislative functions both administrative and financial functions. Not only did they thus encroach upon the proper province of the Executive authorities in the island, but to such a length had this been carried, that even during the prorogation of the Assembly, and for the period between the dissolution and the meeting of the new Assembly, these functions were retained by the Members of Assembly thus prorogued or dissolved, in the form of Commissioners of public accounts, who carried on those functions until a new Assembly was returned, and thereby assumed the position of a permanent Committee. Instead, therefore, of the finances of the country being in any way under the control of the Governor, or of those who might advise him, as was the case in other colonies, and in other countries, in the Assembly of Jamaica each individual Member had the right to propose a vote for money or a money Bill, as he chose. The Governor had no Government organ in the Assembly, and there were no means whatever of interfering with or regulating or advising the Assembly in these respects. No estimates of the receipt and expenditure of money were annually prepared, and none were ever submitted to the Assembly previously to the money votes or Bills being proposed. The Assembly, therefore, contrary to the practice pursued in other countries, in the first instance proposed the money votes, it then voted the money Bills, and next it 950 expended the money so voted and obtained by taxes. It made contracts and other regulations with a view to this expenditure. It did not authorise this expenditure in separate Bills, as was done in this country, but it specified in each particular Bill by "appropriation clauses" the particular object the money Bill was provided for; and, to make the anomaly still more complete, the same body audited the public accounts. What was the consequence of this state of things? Taxes had been repealed, and were constantly being repealed, without any consideration, except so far as they bore upon particular classes or interests, and without any consideration of the effect such proceedings must have on the general revenue and expenditure of the colony. Among other important things, one result had been to inflict upon the colony a very considerable debt, added to which was what he was sure their Lordships would concur with him in thinking a great aggravation of the evil, an inconvertible paper currency, which had been introduced, and had been existing for some time in the colony. Nor was this anomalous and monstrous state of things confined to the taxes collected for the revenue and for public purposes of the colony. The same system prevailed also to a great extent as regarded the parochial taxes, which amounted to about 65,000l. annually, and which, therefore, formed a very important item, when they came to look at the extent of the revenue dealt with and controlled by the Assembly. The management of the roads, and of other important branches of the public service, was entirely under the control of the Assembly. The result of this state of things was, that the taxes imposed by the instrumentality of the Assembly were either collected or not collected, as suited, in many instances, the partial views of classes or individuals. If the taxes had been fairly, and impartially, and rigorously collected, as was the case in other countries, the revenue would, upon all occasions, have been sufficient for the colonial expenditure; but much of the difficulty which had arisen, and which had led to the system of retrenchment the Assembly was now endeavouring to carry out, had been occasioned by remissness in the collection of taxes. He had already said that contracts were made by the legislative, administrative, and executive body in Jamaica, and he need hardly point out to their Lordships the unavoidable consequence which must arise in any state of society, and more especially in such a state of society as existed in Jamaica, from an 951 arrangement of this nature—namely, extravagant and wasteful expenditure of the public funds. There was even another element in this anomalous state of affairs still more embarrassing. There was not in Jamaica even the security of a "consolidated fund," which we had in this country, nor were taxes imposed by the Assembly, or by the other authorities of the colony, until they should he found inconvenient or improper, when they might be repealed by the same authority which enacted them; but, following the former exceptional precedent of this country with regard to the sugar duties, which had since been abandoned, the island of Jamaica imposed nearly the whole of its revenue by annual Bills. Those Bills were passed only for twelve months, and were renewed or not at the option of the Assembly, after the expiration of that period. By far the largest portion of the whole revenue of Jamaica consisted of the import duties and the rum duties. The amount derived from all sources in Jamaica in the year 1852 was 253,000l. Of this, he found that the rum duties produced upwards of 45,000l., and under the Import Duties Act 139,000l. was collected; so that these two taxes alone yielded about eight-tenths of the whole revenue of the island; and it was to these two sources of revenue that the prevailing dissension principally referred. There were also other taxes which were imposed in the same manner—enacted by annual Bills. The parochial taxation of the island was in the same condition as the public taxation, with respect to its imposition by annual measures. He hoped, if he was not troubling their Lordships at too great length, that they would allow him to show them, from a paper which he had drawn out, what was the condition of the Assembly of Jamaica, with regard to its financial functions, as compared with the legislative body of Canada. He thought this comparison would show their Lordships the anomalous position of the Assembly of Jamaica still more clearly than the statements he had already made, and would satisfy them to how great an extent the powers of the Jamaica Assembly exceeded those of the Legislature of Canada—a colony which had frequently been referred to in that House as one of the freest under our rule. He contrasted the different systems which prevailed in Canada and Jamaica. In Canada all money Bills originated with the Government; other Bills might originate in the Assembly. 952 In Jamaica all Bills originated in, the Assembly. In Canada there was responsible government, and the Executive had seats in the Assembly; in Jamaica the Governor had no organ in the Assembly; and though the members of the Executive were not absolutely ineligible for election, practically they were excluded; and even if they were admitted, they had no recognised position there as representing the Government, and could not in that capacity originate measures. In Canada many Bills might be originated in the Assembly by message from the Governor; in Jamaica they could only be initiated by votes of the Assembly. In Canada the principal revenue Acts were permanent, and there was a Consolidated Fund, as in this country; in Jamaica the principal revenue Acts were annual. In Canada the civil list was fixed by the Union Act; in. Jamaica none of the establishments rested upon any permanent enactment, but the salaries were by the Assembly directed to be paid out of unappropriated funds in the receiver's hands. In Canada the Consolidated Fund was charged with the expense of collection, and there was a receiver general and inspector general of revenue appointed by the Governor—often (as now) leading Members of the Government; in Jamaica the whole Assembly, as commissioners of public accounts, had the control of the expenditure, and without their authority the receiver general could not make any payment, a small sum of 6,000l, a year being the sole permanent revenue under the control of the Executive. In Canada the municipal system was regulated by an Imperial Act (12 Vict.); in Jamaica local taxes were collected under annual Bills. Such was the condition of Jamaica with regard to the anomalous powers of the Assembly, as contrasted with the free colony of Canada. Their Lordships must also at once see bow different were the powers claimed by the Assembly of Jamaica from those claimed and possessed by the British House of Commons. Although the House of Commons evinced the greatest jealousy of their Lordships with regard to all money Bills—so much so, that he believed if, the other night, an alteration proposed in the Income Tax Bill by a noble Friend of his who was not now present had been carried, the inevitable consequence would have been, that the Bill would have been rejected on its return to the other House—yet, although the rules of the House of Commons were 953 so rigid in this respect, he believed it was never considered by that House that it was one of its privileges, or a privilege it had ever attempted to obtain or to exercise, to interfere with the executive power of the Crown in the expenditure of money voted by the House of Commons. In fact, the Assembly of Jamaica exercised the functions of three bodies in this country—the House of Commons, the Executive Government, and the Board of Audit. The House of Commons in this country voted the public money; the Executive Government provided for its appropriation; and the Audit Board, which, so far as the public accounts were concerned, was an authority controlling the Government itself, possessed a power which was exercised with the greatest possible regard to economy and accuracy. In Jamaica, however, all these powers were exercised by the Assembly, which was, in fact, neither more nor less than an oligarchy. He wished to avoid saying anything which would at all engender any additional ill-feeling between those bodies in the colony, which were sufficiently embittered at the present moment. Her Majesty's Government were anxious to deal with principles and not with persons, and, if possible, to obtain an amendment of the system, instead of condemning those who were at present exercising functions which, in the opinion of the Government, ought not to belong to them. He would, therefore, say nothing with reference to the exercise of these powers by the present or any previous Assembly, but he would proceed at once to state the events which had brought matters to their present condition. He believed he might truly say that the quarrel which had arrived at its present point had been carried on to a greater or less extent, and under somewhat varying circumstances from time to time, for the last thirty years. On the 10th of March last, as their Lordships would see from the papers he was about to lay on the table, a Bill was sent up by the Assembly of Jamaica to the Legislative Council for the reduction of the salaries and stipends of the civil and ecclesiastical establishments. This measure paid no regard whatever to existing and vested interests, but proposed to reduce all salaries, from the highest to the lowest, by 20 per cent, without any reference to the duties performed. The Executive Council felt they could not agree to such a measure, and on the 23rd of March it was rejected by the Council. He would not occupy their Lordships' time by 954 a long and uninteresting account of the disputes which ensued; but, as Sir C. Grey entered very fully into the circumstances in the papers he was about to lay on the table, he would only give the merest outline of the facts:—On the 31st of March, in consequence of the rejection of this measure by the Executive Council, the Assembly passed certain Resolutions, and shortly afterwards they agreed to the Annual Import Duties Bill, to continue the Act which would expire in the month of April; but this measure was clogged by restrictions with regard to the appropriation of the money to be raised which would have carried out, though in another form, precisely the same object with respect to salaries which they had attempted to effect by the Retrenchment Bill, which had been rejected a few days before. The Import Duties Bill was, therefore, for the same reason, rejected by the Executive Council. On the 19th of April, finding that there was no chance of any accord between the Assembly and the Executive Council, the Governor prorogued the Assembly for a short time, in the hope that the interval might give them time for reflection, which would result in the establishment of more harmonious feeling and action. The Assembly met again on the 25th of April, and they took the immediate step of introducing a Rum Duty Bill for the continuance of the rum duties, which were then about to expire; but they clogged the measure with precisely the same restrictions and conditions which they had previously introduced in the Import Duties Bill. Of course the same fate attended that measure, which was rejected by the Executive Council; and on the 30th of April the existing Import Duties Act and the Rum Duty Act both expired. Their Lordships would understand, from what he had before stated, what an enormous proportion of the revenue of Jamaica was derived from those taxes. In consequence of the expiration of the Import Duties and Rum Duty Acts, the revenue of Jamaica had practically ceased, and, with the exception of some small items, no revenue had been collected since the 30th of April. He thought it might be fairly presumed that by the conduct of the Assembly nearly 1,000l. a day was being lost to the revenue of the island, to say nothing of the less which might result in future from the introduction, duty free, of a much larger quantity of articles than were required for present consumption in the island, but which would, of course, remain in stock. 955 The Governor again prorogued the Assembly until the 17tli of May, when certain votes were passed by the Assembly declaring that they would hold no communication and transact no business with the Executive Council. Some very angry communications passed between the Governor and the Assembly, and the Assembly adjourned to the 26th of May, the date of the last despatch of Sir C. Grey. Her Majesty's Government were not, of course, aware, whether, after that adjournment, the same course had been pursued by the Assembly, or whether they had yielded on any points; but he certainly could not hold out any strong expectation, after the statements made by the Governor, that the latter contingency was likely to occur. They might, however, expect to hear the result in a day or two from the present time. He had already intimated that the immediate subjects of these dissensions were principally the salaries of the high judicial functionaries, and other public officers; and the quarrel, as was well known to several noble Lords who were present, was by no means a new one. He certainly was prepared to admit, that, looking at the present circumstances of the island, the judicial as well as other establishments might require revision; and, occupying the position which he (the Duke of Newcastle) had the honour to fill, he would be ready to afford any assistance in his power, by every fair and legitimate mode, towards carrying out the most desirable object of reforming and remodelling the establishments of the island, and placing them on a scale more commensurate with its wants, and—he regretted to say—with its present depressed condition. The question which had arisen, however, was not one as to the recognition of the need of retrenchments, but as to the mode in which those retrenchments should be effected. He considered that the system existing in Jamaica with regard to the judicial salaries, which depended upon an annual vote of the Legislative Assembly, was most objectionable. In Canada the appointments and emoluments of the judges were regulated by permanent Acts; but in Jamaica the Assembly possessed the strange and inconvenient power of voting the taxes from year to year, which allowed practically the withdrawal of the salaries, although the amount of the salaries was nominally fixed. Now, both he (the Duke of Newcastle), and those who had held high office in Jamaica, and those who had preceded him in the office he 956 had now the honour to hold, had equally felt that the public faith was involved in this question, and that it was not right to place at the mercy of a popular Legislative Assembly men who had abandoned, in many instances, a lucrative profession in this country, and had devoted themselves to the public service in Jamaica, where, he believed, there was this peculiar regulation—that the judges and other functionaries had no claim to pensions even after any period of service; added to which, it was impossible to forget that there were other colonies in the same position in the West Indies; and if it were once admitted that the salaries of existing judicial functionaries could be cut down to any scale the Assembly might think proper, there was nothing to prevent them from carrying on similar operations, from time to time, to any extent; and, in addition to all the evils with which Jamaica was afflicted, it would be unfortunate, indeed, for her if they were aggravated by the degradation and disorganisation of the judicial establishments. He had already stated that some communications, which were given in the papers he was about to lay on the table, had passed between the Governor of Jamaica and the Legislative Assembly; and he thought it right to say, that the explanations given by the Governor with regard to his Message to the Assembly considerably modified the impression produced upon the public mind by the representations which had been given of that Message. It had been considered that the Governor had threatened the Assembly with two additional evils—the abolition of the police, and the opening of the prisons. He (the Duke of Newcastle) must say, he regretted the language in which that Message was couched, but it should be considered that there was great reason for irritation in the Address to which the Message was an answer. The Governor stated to him that he had not used any threat, but that he considered he was acting prudently and with a due regard to economy, not by threatening to dismiss the police, but by explaining that the police themselves would be relieved from their functions under the existing Act, and by making provision for relieving the colony from the heavy weight of the prison establishment by introducing something like a ticket-of-leave system. There was, however, no concealing the fact that at the present moment the island of Jamaica was brought, with regard to revenue, to what 957 was commonly called a dead lock. Now, what was the remedy proposed for this state of things? He (the Duke of Newcastle) would inform their Lordships what were the recommendations of the Governor of Jamaica himself. Sir C. Grey suggested, first, that an Act similar to that of 1839 should be immediately obtained; and, secondly, that a Commission should be issued to such persons as Her Majesty's Government might think fit, to frame any temporary ordinances which the circumstances of the case might seem to require, with a power either to bring such ordinances into operation, with the assent of the Governor and Council, subject to disallowance by Her Majesty in Council, or merely to submit the ordinances to the Privy Council in England and to Parliament. That was the proposal of the Governor; but it had been also suggested by persons in this country that Jamaica should be constituted a Crown colony. Her Majesty's Government had considered, with the respect due to the opinion of the Governor of Jamaica, the suggestions which he had made, and also the recommendations which had proceeded from other quarters; but they had come to the conclusion, that, lamentable as was the state of the colony, and little likely as it appeared at present that there would be any pacific solution of existing difficulties by any wholesome action of public opinion, yet that there was not cause for such intervention as was recommended either by the Governor of Jamaica, or by the gentlemen to whom he had before referred. Her Majesty's Government felt that it was not right, until the very last extremity, to call upon Parliament to interfere to settle matters for which the Colonial Government itself and the people of Jamaica ought easily to find a solution. Without saying what might be advisable hereafter, if, the trial of milder measures and the attempts of a new Governor failing, it should be requisite to come to Parliament for any increased powers, he would only express his hope and his confident belief that such a course would not be necessary. Without prejudging such an event, he would only say that the deliberate opinion of Her Majesty's Government was, that they would not be justified either in adopting the recommendations of the Governor of Jamaica, or following out the suggestions made by the gentlemen connected with the island to whom he had referred. The Government proposed to send out a new 958 Governor to the is land. He (the Duke of Newcastle) thought it right to state, that this was no party triumph on the part of the Assembly, or of any other body with whom the Governor had had differences. Sir C. Grey had completed the period of his government on the 21st of December last, and he received nearly a year ago from the late Government, an intimation that, so soon as the usual period of a colonial governorship—namely, six years—had expired, he would be relieved from his governorship, and replaced by another officer from home. He had no doubt that that intention would have been carried into effect if the late Government had continued in office. He (the Duke of Newcastle) succeeded Sir John Pakington in the Colonial Office a few days after the expiry of the term of six years which Sir C. Grey had completed in the colony; but he need hardly say that it was not until a short time afterwards that he was made acquainted with the fact that the period of that officer's service had expired. As soon, however, as he learnt it, be turned his attention to the question as to whether it was desirable to carry out immediately the intention which had been expressed to Sir C. Grey; and, finding that the colonial Assembly was sitting, and that the Session was somewhat advanced, and hoping, as he had reason to do from a despatch which he had received from Sir C. Grey, that the session would be brought to an early termination without those difficulties which had since arisen, he considered it desirable that the session should be completed before a change of Governor took place, rather than that a new Governor should enter upon his functions in the middle of a session. It was for this reason that the Government determined to wait till nearly the close of the session which was then going on, before appointing a successor to Sir C. Grey; but, finding that that was now hopeless, and that difficulties had arisen which would probably require that the Assembly should sit, with short intervals of prorogation, until some solution of those difficulties should be found, the Government had determined at once to relieve Sir C. Grey from his duties; and he had the pleasure of informing their Lordships that he had recommended to Her Majesty, and that Her Majesty had been graciously pleased to approve of the recommendation, to appoint Mr. Barkly, the present Governor of Guiana, to succeed Sir C. Grey in Jamaica. Mr. Barkly had 959 arrived in this country only a few days before on leave of absence from Guiana; and he (the Duke of Newcastle) felt sure, that if no other step but this had been taken by the Government—considering the character which Mr. Barkly had earned for himself under circumstances of great difficulty in the government of the colony he was just quitting, it would afford a great security to their Lordships that there was one main element of success at all events in the attempt to settle the present difficulties, by obtaining the services of Mr. Barkly for that difficult and important task. Mr. Barkly would proceed to Jamaica with instructions from the Government to take every legitimate means in his power for bringing the expenditure of Jamaica into a condition, as regarded both its character and amount, in conformity with the necessities of the island, and with its financial means. And here he wished at once to state that, when he saw Mr. Barkly for the purpose of proposing to him that he should quit Guiana and proceed to Jamaica—a task which he was bound to say Mr. Barkly felt no particular or personal desire to enter on, but which he at once said if public duty called upon him he should not hesitate to undertake—when he saw Mr. Barkly for the purpose of making that proposal to him, Mr. Barkly, seeing that retrenchment and economy must be among the earliest measures to be set about the moment he arrived in the island, said at once, before he (the Duke of Newcastle) had an opportunity of speaking to him on the subject of salaries, that retrenchment must begin with the Governor, and that he hoped it was meant to propose that the salary of the Governor of Jamaica, which had hitherto been 6,000l. a year, should be reduced to 5,000l. in his (Mr. Barkly's) person. Now, this undoubtedly met the view of the Government; but he should be wanting in fairness to Mr. Barkly if he did not state that he proposed it to him first, before he (the Duke of Newcastle) had had an opportunity of suggesting it to him. It was right that he should further state, that it was not until recently that the salary of the Governor of Jamaica had been so low as 6,000l. It had been up to a very recent period not much less than 8,000l.; but the fees which had raised it to that amount having been abandoned, it was at present 6,000l., and would, as he had said, be further reduced to 5,000l. This salary of 6,000l. was made up in the following man- ner;—1,500l. was paid out of a fixed sum 960 called the Council Fund, and did not come into the category of the annual Bills which he had referred to. The remainder of the salary was made up, like all the other salaries in the island, by the annual votes and appropriations of the Assembly. The Government had felt it was desirable on more accounts than one, that, with the duties before him, the difficult, and in many respects the irksome and invidious, duties which Mr. Barkly would have to perform, he should be at once relieved from the painful position of being dependent upon a vote of the Assembly for any part of his salary. He (the Duke of Newcastle) trusted that Mr. Barkly would be enabled to induce the Assembly to place all the other salaries of the functionaries of the island on a permanent footing; but with this view, as well as with a view to some other small measures of pecuniary relief to which he would advert, the Government proposed, as regarded the sum heretofore voted by the Assembly, that for the next three years the Parliament of this country should vote the sum of 3,500l. a year, which, with the sum of 1,500l. to which he had referred, would make the Governor's salary up to 5,000. Their Lordships were aware that it had been frequently discussed whether it was not desirable, on general principles, that the whole of the colonial governors should be paid from funds in this country. He should not then express any opinion on that subject, which was of a very much larger character than might at first sight appear. He should not even enter upon the discussion of the question as to whether it might be right that Jamaica itself should be an exceptional case, and that the salary of the Governor should be permanently paid by this country. All that the Government asked the House of Commons to do was, that for three years, with a view to some permanent arrangement hereafter, the salary of the Governor should be paid out of the public funds of this country. He had already said that the Government were willing that the salaries of the judges and other public officers of the island should be revised; but instructions would be given to the new Governor that he should adhere to sound maxims of public faith, and not place the functionaries of the island in the position which he had already referred to in terms of condemnation. But there was another object which the Government had in view besides the reduction of salaries, whereby a considerable saving might be effected. The officers 961 themselves were more numerous than was required; and a reduction of the number of officers, as well as a prospective reduction of the amount of salaries, was extremely desirable. But there had hitherto been a great difficulty in dealing with this matter, from there being no funds at the disposal of the Assembly to pay compensation to retiring officers, unless from the general revenues of the island, which were barely sufficient for its current expenditure. He believed, however, that with reference to the proposed abolition of offices, an arrangement might easily be effected by which some of those who now held office would be induced to retire upon receiving a compensation amounting to something like two or three years' purchase of their offices. The question then was, as to how this could be effected. But, before he adverted to that, he begged to refer to the condition of the island debt. The island debt amounted at this moment to something like 700,000l. But this comprehended the loans from this country—he did not mean the emigration loans, but the loans previously granted, and amounting to 160,000l. The debt, therefore, might he said to exceed 500,000l. Upon this debt, in consequence of the financial condition of the island, interest was paid at the rate of 6 per cent. The Government proposed that, on certain conditions to which he should presently refer, the credit of this country should be lent to the island to enable them to pay this debt of 500,000l. This loan, he thought, could be raised at about 3 per cent. The result would be, that upon this debt there would be an immediate saving effected of 15,000l. a year. He apprehended that however that might be convenient as an appropriation, nevertheless it would be an improvident use to make of it. The Government proposed that a portion of this should be set apart as a sinking fund, so that while there should still be an annual saving to the island of about 5,000l. or 6,000l. a year, there should be a sinking fund set apart which would pay the debt in about thirty years. The Government proposed that, with the view to the abolition of the offices to which he had referred, the credit of this country should be further extended to the island to a limited amount—that was to say, if the island chose to borrow, say 50,000l., which would enable them at once to abolish these offices, and grant compensation to the holders in the way he had suggested. He had intended 962 to lay before their Lordships in distinct figures the expected amount of saving; but, on consideration, he had purposely abstained from doing so, inasmuch as the proposals had yet to be offered to the island; and he thought it the wisest course to leave the details to be arranged by the Governor, with the Council and Assembly of the island, rather than by saying anything which might operate as a restriction upon their discretion in the matter. At the same time, he thought it right that their Lordships and the other House of Parliament should be made aware, generally, of what the Government intended to propose. He had already told their Lordships that the offer to the Colonial Legislature would, of course, be accompanied by certain conditions. However desirable it might be that there should be other and more extensive changes in the consitution of the island, their Lordships would at once perceive, that if the credit of this country was to be lent to the island of Jamaica, the Government had a fair claim to call upon them to place their finances in such a condition as to render the guarantee practically nominal as regarded this country, though practically real as regarded the advantage to the colony. The conditions which, speaking generally, the Government proposed, were these—to instruct the Governor to endeavour to obtain from the Assembly the abandonment of the anomalous position which they occupied in connexion with their finances; to secure the permanent voting of taxes in the same sense in which they were voted in this country and in other colonies; to obtain the placing of the finances under proper restrictions, and the management of paid officers; to secure the proper auditing of accounts, and other financial changes which had been indicated in the previous part of his statement. He did not mean to say that other changes were not very desirable; and he did not doubt that before long other changes would be undertaken, and possibly carried out by the energy and zeal of the new Governor, in conjunction, he hoped, with a co-operating Assembly. But he thought that, before any other plan suggested by the colony could be entertained by the Governor, and before any other assistance, such, for instance, as further loans for emigration, which had been frequently proposed both by the Assembly in Jamaica, and by their representatives in this country, and by gentlemen interested in the welfare of the island—before this 963 purpose could be entertained, without prejudging the question if it should be raised, it would be absolutely necessary that those financial changes should be made to which he had alluded; for the Government felt that it would neither benefit the inhabitants of Jamaica, nor any of those concerned in its prosperity, to lend the security of this country for any further sums of money for other purposes till these questions were settled. He did not, however, preclude himself from proposing other measures of assistance to the island in its present depressed condition; but he thought the changes to which he had alluded must precede not only any decisions of Government on such points, but even the entertainment of any proposals with regard to them. He had said that he thought other reforms were necessary, and that he hoped they would be carried out before long by the island. He had already pointed out to their Lordships how in many respects the Assembly required self-reform. He was by no means anxious to conceal that the Executive Council still stood in need of considerable amendment. He did not intend any disrespect to the individuals composing that body, but he thought it desirable that they should be brought into more harmonious action with the Legislative Assembly. The noble Earl (Earl Grey), who had so long occupied the position which he (the Duke of Newcastle) had now the honour to fill, received at one time communications on the subject of responsible government in Jamaica, on the plan of the Canadian system. His noble Friend recognised the wisdom of adopting some such plan, and expressed his willingness to consider it, if proposed in a proper manner by the Legislative Assembly. He (the Duke of Newcastle) could not but look upon the introduction of that system as one which would eventually lead to an effectual cure of many of the evils under which Jamaica was now suffering. He would not, however, pledge himself to all the details of the Canadian system. On the contrary, he believed that it would require considerable modification when applied to the different circumstances of Jamaica. But he was speaking of what was called by the general name of "responsible government," which he believed would be a right and effective remedy for many of the evils which at present existed in Jamaica. He believed that when once they conferred upon any body of men—though he admitted the case was not so clear as where it was a 964 more homogeneous and larger body—representative institutions, they had in reality by that Act given powers which practically, and before very long, must lead to responsible government. He said so for this reason, that in every instance they had seen among the more thriving possessions of this country that representative institutions without responsible government were apt to engender the evils under which Jamaica was suffering; where there were representative institutions, that body soon after its establishment was apt to encroach upon the executive functions, and it was only by being brought into a fair and well understood position with the executive that that tendency was checked. He did not now wish to express an opinion whether this end should be sought in Jamaica by the introduction of responsible government, or by giving to the Governor such a representation by official Members in the Assembly as would introduce the system in a modified form—such Members to be removable from office by him, but not by an adverse vote, as in Canada and in other colonies. At present he would not allude further to the practical evils in Jamaica, arising out of the existing form of representative government. He ventured to hope that both the Executive Council of Jamaica and the House of Assembly—the government of that country, and those who were connected with the island of Jamaica by property—would see that it behoved them at the eleventh hour to make a great effort, in conjunction with the Governor sent out by the Crown, to place upon a better footing those institutions which had already engendered so much dissension and dissatisfaction in that colony. He said "the eleventh hour," because some few years ago the planting interest was paramount in the Assembly of Jamaica; but their power was now rapidly decreasing, and they must look forward, in the natural course of things, to see the coloured and black population assume in the representative body a much larger and greater power than they had heretofore possessed. Therefore it was the more incumbent, for all the interests in the colony, for the sake of the happiness and prosperity of the population, both white and coloured, that a sound system should be introduced, rather than the anomalous constitution to which he had referred. He would not trouble their Lordships further, but would conclude with presenting the papers to their Lordships, 965 He begged to apologise for having trespassed further than he intended; also for the imperfect manner in which he had placed the question before them. It was, however, desirable that they should be informed as to the state of Jamaica, and also as to the views entertained by the Government in regard to the only mode in which these difficulties ought to be met. He begged to express an earnest hope that what was about to be done would lead to harmony in that island, and eventually to a better state of government; and he would sit down earnestly trusting that if he was followed by anybody on the present occasion they would not enter into controversial topics upon the state of the island of Jamaica, but that they would abstain from anything that would have the effect of embittering the feeling that at present prevailed.
§ The EARL of DERBY
My Lords, I conceive that not only on the grounds stated by the noble Duke in his concluding observations, but also because we have not before us the papers he has alluded to, nor, indeed, a considerable portion of the information which is necessary to guide our judgment, that it would be premature to enter into any discussion on the details of the course the Government propose to pursue, and still more into any discussion as to the causes which have brought the island of Jamaica into its present state of distress, and the nature of the remedy to be applied; but I think it right to state that, so far as I can understand the course to be parsued by the Government, from the clear and conclusive statement of the noble Duke opposite, so far from finding fault with it, it resembles, in a great measure, and in all the essential particulars, the course which suggested itself to the minds of the members of the late Government, who thought it would be necessary, at an early period, to call the attention of Parliament to the state of Jamaica. Undoubtedly the state of feeling which had arisen in the island would have led the late Government, if no other cause had existed, upon the expiration of the usual period of office, to have relieved Sir Charles Grey from his duties, and to endeavour to repair the disorders of the colony through the instrumentality of a new governor. I have much pleasure in listening to the announcement of the noble Duke, of the selection of Mr. Barkly for the now Governor of Jamaica, and I have reason to believe that the ability and discretion of that gentleman, and his long experience 966 in West Indian affairs, will make him a proper instrument, if one can be found, of effecting that reconciliation—if I may so—between the different classes of the island, so absolutely necessary for the restoration of prosperity to the colony. I confess that, in speaking of Mr. Barkly, I could have desired that some course had been taken by Her Majesty's Government rather to make the new appointment of a more exceptional character than it has thought proper to propose. I would have preferred, in making this new selection, considering the task which he is to undertake, that Mr. Barkly should have gone out in the character of a Commissioner rather than as a mere Governor—at all events, that he should have been invested with powers to examine into and report upon the condition of the island; and I would not have wished that he should be sent as a simple Governor, but as an officer invested with power to place the colony on such a footing that it might be subjected to the authority of the Government in a regular and legal manner. I also think that, in adopting that course, the Government might usefully have granted to Mr. Barkly a higher salary than that which it might be deemed expedient to give to ordinary governors hereafter. The noble Duke has stated that so much have the revenues of the island fallen off, that very extensive reductions must take place, not only in the Governor's, but in other salaries; and has also stated that Mr. Barkly very liberally insisted, of his own accord, that the reductions should commence with the head of the administration. The reduction effected in the salary of the head of the administration must, no doubt, be looked upon as the key-note of all other reductions, and as fixing the scale and extent of reductions in the general establishment; but I am afraid that the 5,000l. proposed to be given to the Governor of Jamaica—although it may not be too much for a person like Mr. Barkly, who has occupied the position which he has filled—but I cannot help thinking that 5,000l., in the present reduced state of the finances of Jamaica is a higher amount than it is expedient to attach to the office; and I think that a greater retrenchment than a reduction from 6,000l. to 5,000l. would have facilitated the task of retrenchment among the other officers and establishments of the colony. I hope, also, that I understand the noble Duke correctly to say that the proffers of assistance in every shape, 967 whether for limited periods or otherwise, from the funds of this country—upon which, at present, I give no opinion—I hope that the advances to Jamaica are to be made contingent upon the colony placing its financial affairs in such a position as would satisfy this country that the revenues of the colony would be able to meet, not only the ordinary expenditure of the island, but to provide for the payment of the interest, and, at a proper time, of the principal, of the sums to be advanced. I know that many applications were made by the colony during the late Administration, and, I dare say, also under preceding Administrations, for additional loans; and, certainly, I may say we felt it our duty to abstain from replying to those applications, as we found that not only had no portion of former loans been repaid, but that the colony, in its present state of finance, was incapable of meeting the ordinary interest of loans which had been previously made, and was not in a condition to warrant any further loan being granted, without throwing away the money of this country, and deluding the colony with false hopes of continual relief. No man can feel more deeply than I do for the distressed condition of Jamaica, and the suffering entailed upon many of its inhabitants by acts for which the greater portion of them are not responsible; but I say that it would have been no kindness to make fresh advances and fresh loans, which might have encouraged additional expenditure, instead of leading them to contract their expenditure and economise their resources, as we should do, by withholding from them the dangerous facility of getting loans guaranteed by this country. If the colony will place its finances in a sound condition, and its government upon a sound footing, and take steps to place before the governing body of that colony an annual account of its wants and resources, and, above all, to place in the hands of the Executive the sole and absolute power of originating all money grants—if such steps are taken, and if the House of Assembly is prepared to surrender some of these anomalous powers which they now exercise with a most injurious effect upon the interests of the colony, I should be far from disinclined to afford to the colony that assistance which the noble Duke proposes, in regard to giving the guarantee of this country to enable them to raise money at a lower rate of interest than that which they are now paying. I concur with the noble Duke in thinking that the savings proposed to be 968 made ought not to be applied to the mere present wants of the colony; but should, in part, be set aside to form a sinking fund, by means of which a diminution in the present debt may be effected. I do not know whether an account of the present state of the finances of Jamaica forms any portion of the papers which are to be laid upon the table; but I think it forms a most important element for the consideration of Parliament when Parliament is called upon, as it must be, to consider the whole question of the affairs of this island. I think it would be very satisfactory, too, if, at the same time that the Government informs us of the sum assigned to the new Governor with certain instructions, it would also lay before the House such instructions as they had deemed it necessary to give, together with an account of the state of the revenue, and the financial condition of Jamaica, and what was considered to be necessary to be done to place them upon a better footing. I will not enter into a discussion upon the subject which formed the latter portion of the noble Duke's speech—the effect of what he called "responsible government" in a colony so circumstanced. That colony, as he has said, presents considerable difficulties to the adoption of the representative system; but I do not hold that, with regard to colonies generally, the term responsible government has the same meaning as representative government. I doubt whether in such a colony as Jamaica, composed as its inhabitants are of different races, possessing different habits and different feelings, in admitting the representative system you will not be creating an Assembly devoted to the interests of one or other of the various classes of the island, and not an Assembly of all working together harmoniously for the general welfare. I am inclined to think that the noble Duke will find, whether the representative system in Jamaica can be improved or not, that responsible government cannot be advantageously introduced there; and I hope that forms no part of the scheme which it is intended the new Governor should work out. In that part of the plan spoken of as remodelling the power of the Assembly, and placing the finances upon a sounder footing, giving the Governor—not additional power in the House of Assembly, for he has none, not even in Canada—I hope the inquiries of the new Governor will be limited to that part of the constitution of Jamaica which relates to the constitution of the House of Assembly, and 969 the financial powers of that body; and that any ulterior changes in its constitution will be postponed until it can be taken into consideration with more advantage, at a time when less heated feelings prevail, and less asperity is exhibited. I earnestly hope there may be sufficient good sense in the colony to lead them to adopt such amendments in their system as are necessary to afford them any chance of restoring the island to its former prosperity; and I should be sorry to anticipate the necessity of any interference by Parliament, in consequence of the refusal of the House of Assembly to take such steps; but it will be impossible for Parliament to allow the colony to remain as it is, with all the business of Government at a dead lock. I do trust that Her Majesty's Government will impress upon the Governor and the legislative body of Jamaica, that while this country is disposed to do all in its power to relieve the financial difficulties of the colony, and to agree in such measures of change as the altered circumstances of the colony render necessary; yet it is impossible that Parliament can abstain from interfering with its authority if it should be necessary to terminate the state of things now existing there. If the colony wishes to be assisted by this country, it must be ready and willing to assist itself. The House of Assembly must part with some portion of the privileges which they exercise, not for their own benefit, and which they cannot continue to hold with advantage to the colony. Upon these conditions only the Government of this country should be willing to come forward and afford to the colony the advantage of the credit and pecuniary assistance of the mother country. I sympathise with the House of Assembly in its desire to effect considerable retrenchment in the expense of its establishments; and I think it is a matter of regret—although I am not disposed to violate the faith of the Crown in regard to individuals—that there have not been greater indications, on the part of individuals themselves, to meet the difficulties in which the colony is notoriously placed, and to make some sacrifice of extreme right to meet the Assembly in its desire to reduce the extravagant establishments too great for its crippled revenue. I do not think the House of Assembly altogether to blame, although I think that House did not take its measures in a mode and spirit likely to obtain the concurrence of the other party; but I cannot help thinking 970 that there might have been, upon the part of the Council and the authorities of the colony, a greater disposition shown to meet the reasonable views of the Assembly in this respect. As to the mode in which the finances are now arranged, and the inconveniences of annual bills, I entirely concur with the noble Duke in the opinion he has expressed upon that point. The present is a crisis in the affairs of Jamaica; and, unless the colonial Government deal with that crisis as they ought, I think that Parliament ought to take the opportunity of remedying, by its authority, a state of things which it is impossible to permit to continue without inflicting serious permanent injury and inconvenience to the colony, and to every interest concerned.
§ EARL GREY
concurred generally in what had fallen from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) upon the subject of what was called "responsible government." He could not help feeling, from various indications which he had seen, that there was too great a readiness on the part of many persons to believe that "representative government" in a colony necessarily implied what was called "responsible government." He should remind those who entertained that opinion that responsible government, in the sense in which it was now understood in Canada and other places, was, as the noble Earl had justly stated, neither more nor less than party government. Party government, such as we had in England, was probably, upon the whole, in a great country like this, with a large and enlightened population, the most perfect system of government that had yet been tried; though even here, as we well knew by experience, its advantages were by no means unattended with very serious drawbacks; but he could not help remarking that in no other country in the world had that system of Parliamentary government to which we were accustomed succeeded for any number of years. It had been twice tried in France, and in both cases after a few years had led to catastrophes; he referred to the revolutions of 1830 and 1848; while, so far as our own Colonies were concerned, it was utterly unknown there until 1840. Representative constitutions of a different kind had succeeded in those flourishing provinces which now constituted the United States; without anything at all of the nature of what was called responsible government, they did enjoy all the substantial advantages of representative institutions. 971 He believed it was perfectly possible to continue such a system; but he was persuaded that if they endeavoured to establish that which was called responsible government prematurely in a colony where the state of society was not suited for it, they would inflict upon it irreparable mischief. As compared, however, with the present anomalous state of government which existed in Jamaica, even the establishment of party government would be an infinite gain, for he could conceive scarcely any change that would not be an improvement upon the present system. Still, he must say, when he looked at what the colony was, and what it was likely to be for some years to come, that, in his opinion, he would be a bold man who ventured to recommend responsible government in the sense in which it was proposed for Jamaica, without any cheek or control. Let the House consider for a moment the position of that island. The present constituency who voted for the return of members to the Assembly was stated not to exceed 3,000 persons, out of a population of 400,000. Those 3,000 persons were under the influence, to a great extent, of the white inhabitants of Jamaica, and those white inhabitants were in this anomalous position—that a very large proportion of them did not contemplate a permanent residence in the colony. Every Governor in Jamaica had found that to be a great difficulty. In most colonies those who possessed the prevailing and predominant interest, the Legislature, were persons whose own welfare and interests were bound up with the country in which they were residing. That was not the case in Jamaica. The paramount influence in the Assembly had hitherto really been wielded by the overseers and attorneys of the estates of absent proprietors, and a certain number of merchants, who did not contemplate a permanent residence in the colony. The consequence was that there was an interest created that was quite distinct from the permanent interest of the colony; and he could not help believing that to that very peculiar and anomalous circumstance much of the existing state of affairs was to be attributed. He had frequently heard proprietors in this country complain that they could not influence their own servants to take the course which they believed to be best for the permanent interests of the colony. At present, the power was practically in the hands of that small minority; but since slavery had been abolished, and 972 the negroes, however slowly, were accumulating property, there was nothing to prevent the coloured population acquiring such an amount of influence as would give them an ascendancy in the election of members of the Assembly. He knew, from conversations which he had had with persons well acquainted with the colony, that they believed that the time when the coloured races would possess an ascendancy in the Assembly was rapidly approaching. When it was considered how short a time these races had emerged from slavery, and how little progress education had made among them, he could not admit the safety of throwing, with comparatively little check or restraint, the whole power of the Executive and of the Legislature into the hands of a mere numerical majority of that population. Yet, if they were not very cautious, that would be the inevitable result of establishing responsible government in Jamaica, and it was a step, therefore, which ought not to be taken without very great consideration. He was sorry to hear from the noble Earl opposite the expression of his regret that there had not been a more ready consent to accept large reductions in salaries, because his conviction was that true economy in Jamaica was not to be sought in a reduction of salaries, but in taking care that the persons employed were the best qualified for their situations—that the offices were well administered—and that there was a general system of economy in the management of the government. He did not believe that the salaries at present were on a higher scale than was required; and, therefore, he greatly regretted that anything should have fallen from the noble Earl to encourage the feeling which prevailed too much in the island in favour of cutting down the salaries of the public servants in a manner calculated to prevent men of intelligence in this country from accepting employment in Jamaica. To do this, in the present state of the colony, would be to impose a fatal check upon the restoration of its prosperity. One of the most important classes of persons in that colony—a class answering somewhat to the Judges of our County Courts, or perhaps even higher—was the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions. They held offices of the very greatest importance in the judicial administration of the island, which had been created by a Colonial Act passed by the local Legislature only a few years ago. The persons to whom these offices were entrusted were sent from the 973 mother country; great pains had been taken in their selection, and their salary was 1,500l. a year. Now, looking at all the privations of a residence in a tropical climate, and the fact that they had no retiring pensions, he very much doubted whether we could get really fit men for such an appointment at a much lower rate. He was quite sure that if the salaries of men who, on the faith of an Act of Parliament, had sacrificed all their professional prospects here, were reduced without their consent, it would be such an injustice as would almost prevent the colony from ever obtaining the services of able men hereafter. He was prepared, no matter how unpopular the doctrine was, to declare that the scale of salaries was not too high in Jamaica, and that the whole amount of them was really hardly worth talking of when compared to the sums lavished in the grossest jobbery and extravagance in the colony. There was no use in disguising the matter—it was utterly impossible to look at the expenditure without seeing that such was the case. He did not impute corruption to any one; but it was impossible, when some forty or fifty gentlemen, none of whom was individually responsible for what was done, had the management of the finances, and could carry any votes in which they had an interest, that the colonial expenditure would be managed without gross extravagance. For an efficient system of administration in Jamaica, he believed they must have, in the present state of society there, able men, well paid, sent from this country to fill the most important offices. Therefore, he could not attach the importance the noble Earl appeared to give it to the reduction of official salaries; but so long as good faith was not infringed, he quite concurred with him in thinking that it ought to be left to the Legislature of the island to fix the amount of salaries, even if they fixed them at too low a rate. This was a question on which, though it might make mistakes, the local Legislature should decide, and not we. There was one other point he wished to advert to. The noble Earl said he wished it had been proposed to send out Mr. Barkly, not as Governor but as Commissioner. He did not agree in this opinion; he thought it was of the highest importance that Mr. Barkly should go out holding the acknowledged and well-known powers of government as the representative of the Crown; hut he concurred with the noble Earl that the present circumstances of Jamaica were 974 so peculiar, there was so manifestly a crisis at hand, in which it was necessary to take some step at once, that it were to be wished some Commissioners had been sent out with Mr. Barkly; and it appeared to him to be desirable, that in sending Mr. Barkly they should have sent two or three of the ablest men they could find—one an able lawyer, to look carefully into the whole existing state of the law and government of Jamaica, and to assist the Governor and legal authorities in making the settlement which would be found to be necessary. They must remember that the whole legislation of Jamaica had grown up under a state of slavery—that it was adapted to a state of society now happily passed away—and that since slavery was abolished and freedom established, the whole condition of the colony had, unfortunately, never been considered in the large and comprehensive manner which was absolutely necessary in order to give the great change which had been effected a fair chance of working. He did not believe they could command in the island all the various knowledge and ability which was requisite to deal with that very difficult state of things. He believed they ought to have men from this country with all the knowledge of the principles of politics and of political economy which could be found here, to take a large view of the condition of Jamaica, both financial and social, and to suggest to the Legislature the changes and reforms necessary. He did not think, after all those changes had been looked into, they would be found very difficult. The real facts could be all ascertained; and he did not think able men on the spot, having the statute-book of Jamaica before them, would have any difficulty in suggesting the improvements required; and it appeared to him that, if the assistance of the Government in relieving Jamaica from the crushing load of her debt was to be afforded on certain conditions, those conditions should be, that Jamaica should adopt measures of reform such as the Commissioners might recommend, because it was impossible to conceive anything more necessary than those reforms. The system of taxation was, he thought, the least judicious for encouraging industry that could be possibly imagined—it had grown up, as it were, accidentally, under a state of slavery, and pressed heavily on the population. The whole parochial system was defective in the highest degree. The administration of the law required to he dealt with—plans 975 should be adopted for the more prompt enforcement of claims and for the settlement of disputes, and of the rights of individuals—which was the only foundation from which good government could spring; and if they left all those matters to any Governor, however able he might be, with only such assistance as was on the spot, he would not be equal to the difficulty. The most useful service this country could afford to Jamaica would be, to give her the assistance of advisers of that kind to help those who were on the spot in devising what measures were to be brought in for her relief. If that was done, and the proper measures taken, he, for one, had not the slightest doubt of the ability of Jamaica to emerge from all her difficulties, and to raise herself from her distress. She had every natural element of riches, greatness, and prosperity. She possessed a population ignorant indeed, but well disposed—disinclined, like men of every race and in every country to labour without some adequate stimulus to exertion, but capable of great industry when it was properly called forth. She possessed a soil of great fertility, and a climate well calculated to develop the products of that soil; in short, nature had denied her nothing. She possessed everything nature could give that was required to make her great, rich, and prosperous; and all that she wanted was, that her natural advantages and resources should be called forth by judicious government and legislation. He believed that, from various circumstances, this was the time when Jamaica would be more likely to act on any advice of the kind, than she had been at any former time, and that if this crisis were properly improved, great future dangers might be averted; but if, on the other hand, the island was allowed to go on, and pass from bad to worse—if they allowed a population of negroes, ignorant and uninstructed as they were, to continue in their present state, and gradually to acquire great and uncontrolled power, he thought it was impossible to take too gloomy a view of the future prospects of Jamaica.
VISCOUNT ST. VINCENT,
as a proprietor in the island, thought it right to say, that the rapid progress of decay in the whole social state of the island appeared to him to demand something more than the mode of relief indicated by the Government. The progress of that decay was so rapid that an immediate dissolution of the whole fabric of society was imminent unless steps 976 were at once taken to arrest it. The agriculture of Jamaica was not like that of England. Continuous labour was required for the crops in the island; and it was most important that the cultivator should be placed in a better condition for the supply of that labour than he had hitherto enjoyed. There were not sufficient inducements held out to make the labourer offer himself for work, and he believed the evil would not be stopped by all the talents of Mr. Barkly. He considered the state of the island most alarming, and he only hoped the Government might be enabled to restore its prosperity as far as possible by the measures they contemplated.
§ LORD WHARNCLIFFE
could not at all concur in the views of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), either as to the present social condition, or as to the future prospects of Jamaica. The noble Earl said, Jamaica was a ruined colony, and that there was scarcely any prospect of the revival of her prosperity. His observations and experience led him to very different conclusions; and he firmly believed, that if some such changes as those alluded to by the noble Duke, and approved of by their Lordships, were adopted, and if the colony were so placed that the expenditure and revenue could be equalised—if a sufficient supply of money was obtained for some important institutions and services of the island, there was not only in her natural resources, but in the possible application of the capital and industry of the colonists, a sufficient prospect of future prosperity. But while he quite agreed that Government here should do all in their power to promote that prosperity, he must say he thought the Legislature of the island ought to take a course better calculated for that object before they asked the Government of this country to assist them. One of the most important questions that required to be looked to immediately was the condition of labour; and certainly he must say that, though he was glad to see the Government of this country doing all in their power to supply labour to the colony, yet that the colonists should take some well-considered course with their own population in this matter. From the time of the emancipation no steps had been taken to check a practice which had given rise to much of the evil experienced in respect to labour, that of selling land at low prices. When he witnessed the state of society at Jamaica, it was rather matter of astonishment to him that the proprietors obtained 977 so much labour, than that they found it difficult to procure more. He objected to raising revenue from import duties, because it was, above all others, the thing which was likely to render the negroes independent of all labour, for it placed a check on the supply of the first necessaries of life, and placed an artificial value on the produce of the land. He had listened with great satisfaction to the general statement of the noble Duke; and thought he had taken the best course in not coming to Parliament to ask for an enactment to enable him to deal with the circumstances of the island by extended legislation. He hoped that something would be done with respect to the collection of the revenue: a reform on that point would be one of the most useful that could be made. He was sensible that it was not then the proper time for going at length into all the details of the subject, and he should therefore refrain from further observations beyond expressing his fear of the important character of the crisis in the colony.
§ Papers ordered to lie on the table.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.