HL Deb 15 June 1860 vol 159 cc498-500

asked, Whether the Question of introducing and acclimatising in the Australian Colonies Animals of a rare and valuable Character, has been brought under the Consideration of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and is favourably entertained by Her Majesty's Government? The question, he thought, did not fall within the category of ordinary questions, inasmuch as no principle of public policy was involved in it; but it was one, nevertheless, of considerable interest and importance both to the Colonies and to this country. The expediency of introducing and acclimatizing in Australia various British and other animals had been mooted some time since, and had been brought under the notice of the Colonial Office by an Australian gentleman, and since then a scheme for that object had been sketched out, and had now acquired considerable maturity. The noble Earl here mentioned several of the animals which had been introduced into that country, and stated that Her Majesty had countenanced the scheme by sending out specimens. The introduction of British fish into Australia was a matter which received a good deal of attention, and, considering the great value of the salmon fishery in this kingdom, the introduction of the salmon would, doubtless, be of the greatest advantage to Australia. Moreover, numbers of the fine birds which thronged the English woods, or flew about the fields, had been exported to Australia, and he was glad to think that in the groves and streams of the British colonies the birds and fish of the mother country would be revived. The Victoria Government had given £500 towards the encouragement of this scheme, and in public meetings the Government had been urged to increase the grant to £2,000. He should certainly not wish to make any addition to the Miscellaneous Estimates of this country in the present year, because he thought them high enough already; but the scheme might be promoted by other means besides money, and much might be done for it by the expression of opinion in its favour.


said, that the subject of the introduction and acclimatizing animals of a rare and valuable kind into a distant quarter of the world was no doubt one of very great interest, not only in a scientific point of view and with reference to the enjoyment which it was calculated to produce, but also for a more practicable reason—namely, the value of those animals to those countries in which they were introduced. The matter had attracted some attention for a number of years, and two great attempts had been made to introduce animals from this and from other countries into Australia. One of these attempts had hitherto been successful, while the other had met with eminent success. The first, of course, was the introduction of salmon into the Australian waters. That was attempted during the previous time that he was at the head of the Colonial Office; but that undertaking, although it was conducted under very scientific superintendence, failed in consequence, it was now supposed, of mistakes which might in future be obviated. Another effort was at present being made for the attainment of the same object, and he earnestly hoped that it might prove successful, because it would tend greatly to the pecuniary advantage as well as the social enjoyment of the colonists. The second experiment to which he referred was the introduction of the alpaca into Australia; which he believed might already be said to have completely succeeded. His noble Friend said that he did not wish that any Vote should be taken in the present year among the Miscellaneous Estimates for the promotion of these experiments; but he (the Duke of Newcastle) should go rather further than his noble Friend, and he should express his belief that, as a matter of principle, it would not be desirable to take a Vote in any year for such a purpose. He believed that the Government could assist such an undertaking more effectually in other ways than by any pecuniary contributions, and he felt persuaded that the general superintend- ence of such schemes would be best conducted by private individuals. That was the opinion he had maintained with respect to the transmission of botanical specimens, and he held it with respect to the removal of animals also. He could, however, assure his noble Friend that he was sincerely desirous of assisting those who engaged in such experiments by addressing communications in their favour to the Governors of colonies, and other measures. In the case, for instance, of the removal to Australia of that very rare and delicate fish which had originally come from China to the Mauritius, he had written to the Governor of the latter colony for the purpose of asking him to give all the aid in his power to the undertaking. As his noble Friend had brought forward that subject he (the Duke of Newcastle) thought it would be wrong for him not to give credit to a gentleman connected with Australia—namely, Mr. Edward Wilson, for his efforts in ensuring the success of the experiment as far as it had gone. He certainly could not hold out any expectation that the Government would contribute pecuniarily to that object; but on the other hand he should feel it to be both a duty and a pleasure to afford every other kind of aid in his power to those who were so generously and patriotically promoting an object of such great social and scientific importance.


said, the noble Duke had misunderstood him upon one point. He had not expressed the opinion that a Vote should be taken either in the present or in any future year. On the contrary, he believed with the noble Duke that such an object as the introduction of animals into Australia should be left to the enterprise of private individuals.