HL Deb 18 July 1862 vol 168 cc479-98

rose, according to notice, to call attention to certain Charges connected with Colonial Fortifications and Defence; and to move for Copies of Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Governor General of Canada in reference to the Militia Bills proposed and passed in the Canadian Parliament. The noble Earl said it was difficult, with such exciting news as had just been communicated to their Lordships, to expect their calm attention to the subject of his remarks; but bearing in mind that they would shortly be asked by Her Majesty's Government to give a second reading to the Bill on Fortifications—after which, no doubt, they would take the earliest opportunity of introducing the Appropriation Bill—it might be advantageous to clear the ground by a few preliminary observations. Previous to making any remark on military expenditure with reference to the Colonies, it would not be perhaps beside the mark, to note the great increase of charge for that expenditure which was included in the Estimates, commonly called the Colonial Estimates, and which had taken place within the last seven years. In 1856 the total outlay under this head was £320,000; in 1857 it was increased to £382,000; in 1858 it stood at £316,000; in 1859 at £428,000; in 1860 to £483,000; in 1861 it had risen to the very high figure of £689,000, showing an increase of £206,000 over the previous year. The Estimates for the current financial year placed the civil colonial and consular expenditure at £937,000, or nearly a quarter of a million over the increased expenditure of the previous year. The amount had risen in six or seven years from £320,000 to a point little short of a million. Surely an increase so rapid was in itself sufficient to attract the attention of Parliament. In turning to the increase of expenditure proposed under the present Estimates, it was apparent that the amount was made up in various manners; but the amount was perhaps of less importance than the principle involved. In part it was accounted for by a heavy loss in the exchange of money; in part by the liquidation of liabilities incurred by Sir George Grey, when Governor of the Cape, on his own responsibility; in part by the settlement of some Hudson Bay Company claims, and in part by the creation of some fresh consular establishments in China and Japan. Among other things was the foundation of the new colony at Lagos. Now, setting aside the right or wrong of this annexation, it involved fresh permanent expenditure. There were three settlements on the coast of Africa, of which two exceeded their income, and one was only £700 within it. Taking, however, the average expenditure and income of all, there was on each a deficit of £4,500 a year, which this country had to make good. Every ship of war, and every detachment of troops sent out was merely digging a fresh grave for the European colonists, while the vague indefinite jurisdiction always maintained upon the coast was laying the foundation for disputes, and it might be military operations of a very costly character. This sum of £937,000 was not by any means the whole cost of the colonies to this country. If he were to attempt to give their Lordships any account of that, he thought he should be obliged to go to the Estimates for the naval and military expenditure of the country, and probably they would find it necessary to multiply the total amount of the colonial and consular Estimates by the figure four or five. The Motion, however, which he had placed on the table had no refe- rence to the expenditure incurred in garrisoning the fortifications in the colonies, but to the expenses which were being incurred in building the various fortifications. Nor would he enter upon the question of colonial fortifications as a whole; he would merely touch upon those which were included in the Estimates for the coming year. In the Army Estimates for the present year it was proposed to appropriate money for fortifications at Malta, Gibraltar, Bermuda, the Ionian Islands, Mauritius, St. Helena, Jamaica, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. With regard to these he might lay down a threefold classification. Those fortifications, which were of great acknowledged value to this country might be placed in the first class; the second would comprise those of questionable or doubtful value; and the third those of very little or no value at all. In the first of these classes he unhesitatingly put such fortresses as Malta and Gibraltar, and with a little hesitation he would include Bermuda. Gibraltar, indeed, formed part of the history and traditions of the country, it was in this day the key of the Mediterranean, and it was not in strengthening such fortifications as those he should grudge the expenditure of any amount of money that might be necessary. The same might be said with respect to Malta, which was, as it were, the halfway-house between the east and west. To sum up the whole question in a few words, he would say, that if they desired to retain our empire in the East, it was absolutely essential that they should maintain in their full efficiency the forts of Gibraltar and Malta. He was quite aware that occasionally this country had economized money unwisely. There could be no doubt that in 1858, when his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) came into power, the condition of Malta was highly unsatisfactory, and could not have stood an attack for twenty-four hours against assailants who possessed anything like an efficient naval force. The Government of his noble Friend applied themselves at once to the task of putting Malta into a proper state of defence; and it would be unjust to the noble Duke opposite, and especially to his late friend and relative, Lord Herbert, to say that they did not afford every assistance in their power to further the accomplishment of that object. Thanks to their exertions—and thanks also to the present Governor of Malta, than whom there was no more vigorous public officer—the fortress of Malta was now comparatively safe and secure. Bermuda, again, was of the highest value to this country, but on the condition that it could be made defensible and tenable against a hostile force, when subjected to the conditions of modern war. For all these three places it was proposed to take money, and he did not grudge a single farthing which was to be so voted. He now came to the second class—that of fortifications the value of which was more doubtful. The first place in this list was the Mauritius. He was aware that there might be advantages derived from the possession of the Mauritius; but it ought not to be forgotten that the alterations which had been introduced into the art of warfare by the application of steam, and the modification of the laws of war by the abolition of privateering and the adoption of the principle that a neutral flag should cover the goods of belligerents, had materially diminished those advantages. More than this, it ought to be borne in mind that there were on the island of Mauritius eleven different points at which an army could be disembarked; and that to render the place thoroughly defensible, it was calculated that a garrison of not less than 5,000 or 6,000 men would be required—a number which it was not likely that this country could at any great military crisis spare for its defence. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that an inadequate garrison would only be in the position of one caught in a trap, and we should be in danger of having our fortifications turned against ourselves. Yet the Estimates showed that at the Mauritius we had spent £140,000, were spending £15,000, and next year or the year afterwards were about to spend £50,000, in fortifications. At St. Helena we had spent £10,000, and were spending £3,000, and according to Sir John Burgoyne's own estimate, £10,000 or £15,000 more would be required before the works could be placed in a position of reasonable defence. The Ionian Islands must also be placed in this class. He looked upon these islands more as a trust confided to us, than as a colony—more as an obligation than as an advantage. He had for a long time thought that it would be our wisest policy to discontinue the maintenance on these islands of a separate military command. It was true that some troops were required there to maintain order, and insure respect for the protecting Power, but beyond that the advantage of troops seemed very doubtful, and à fortiori, the usefulness of fortifications might be questioned. Military authorities had repeatedly laid it down, that in the event of hostilities it would be impossible, in spite of the fortifications, to hold the town of Corfu without inflicting upon the people the extremities of war. It was true that at that point we were expending but a very small sum, but a variety of these small sums would involve in the aggregate a considerable outlay; and, whether the outlay was large or small, an important principle was involved in every expenditure of the kind. In the third class, which included fortifications which were of very little, and in some cases of no value, the first place that he would deal with was Jamaica. By the Estimates of the present year £1,000 was appropriated to the improvement of the fortifications in the colony of Jamaica. That was in itself a trivial and insignificant sum, but the principle involved in the grant was one of great importance. He was at a loss to understand what £1,000 could effect with reference to the fortifications of Jamaica, unless it was intended to be expended merely on repairs. The existing fortifications could not resist an expedition organized and equipped as modern expeditions were; and if these fortifications were intended to resist merely privateering incursions, it would be more reasonable to cast their charge upon local resources, than on the Imperial Treasury. The sum apparently voted for Nova Scotia was £5,000, and that for New Brunswick £5,000. It might be desirable to protect the important city of Halifax against attack; but the fact was, that if Nova Scotia and New Brunswick valued their connection with this country, and appreciated the political independence which, practically, they enjoyed, they must, in a great measure, depend for their defence upon themselves, and upon their own local efforts. There was also a charge of £1,000 for Newfoundland; but the fact was that that colony could be attacked only by sea, and the only means of insuring its security was by the maintenance of our maritime supremacy. He disclaimed all sympathy with those visionaries who, while they would fain reduce our military and naval armaments to a state of inefficient mediocrity, grudged every shilling that was spent on colonial defences. He was quite ready to agree to any expenditure for that purpose upon two conditions—first, that our honour or interest rendered the position in question worth fortifying; and, second, that the position was one which, according to the practices of modern warfare, was capable of being fortified. In short, he desired to see our colonial expenditure for fortifications regulated on some definite principle. At present there seemed to be no system at all. While in some cases we economized unwisely, we lavished our money on other places where there could be no advantage proportionate to the outlay. With a population of 28,000,000 we undertook to maintain garrisons, and with a national debt of £800,000,000 to erect fortifications in almost every part of the world. The fact was, that we were attempting a great deal too much. We were trying to embrace more than we could possibly hold, and were incurring a serious risk of losing the substance while we grasped at the shadow; and the source of the evil was that Parliament was pledged unconsciously, by a small instalment in the first instance, to a large ultimate expenditure.

There was one point with regard to Canada which he wished to notice before he concluded. About the year 1859 it was deemed necessary to place the militia of Canada on a more efficient footing; and an Act of the Canadian Legislature was passed for that purpose. At the same time, however, that the force was improved its number was limited to 5,000. That might have been quite sufficient at that period; but since then circumstances had greatly changed. A convulsion had torn asunder the United States, and a very bitter feeling had arisen against England on the part of the American people. The present situation imposed new duties both on England and on Canada. It was, therefore, only natural that there should be a strong feeling in that colony that the militia ought to be reorganized. Under the late Government of Canada a recommendation was made, by Commissioners appointed to inquire into the subject, that there should be an active Militia of 50,000, and a reserve of the same number. A Bill was introduced to increase the Militia, which substantially gave effect to these recommendations, without, however, asssigning a precise limit to the number of men. That measure was unfortunately rejected by the Canadian Legislature. The colonial Ministry resigned, and under their successors another Bill had been passed, which, in addition to the force authorized by the Act of 1859, created a "sedentary" Militia of 5,000; thus limiting the total Volunteer force in Canada to 10,000 men. The new body was, however, of scarcely any value, as it was not to be called out. He did not for a moment doubt the loyalty of Canada to the British Crown, nor was he unaware of the financial difficulties of the colony; but he deeply deplored the resolution at which the local Legislature had arrived. He could not understand how Canada, when 1,000,000 troops were engaged in a civil war in the country which adjoined her own frontier, and when threats of conquest and annexation were continually thrown out against her, could possibly bring herself to believe that a contingent of 10,000 men was her fair and equitable proportion of the force required for the defence of the territory under the present critical circumstances. But if, indeed, this was her deliberate opinion, it became our serious duty to consider whether it was right to leave the flower of the English army in a position of acknowledged peril in order to defend a country which would not contribute either money or men to its own defence. There was no more difficult or pressing question than the relationship between the mother country and the colonies in regard to military expenditure. It was not a mere matter of money—interest, honour, sentiment, and humanity were alike involved. Into that question he would not now enter; but it must be admitted that of late years the character of the relationship had been reversed, and while the bulk of responsibility remained with the mother country, the main body of advantages belonged to the colonies. He held that there ought to be not only a community of feeling but a real and equitable proportion of the common burdens between England and her dependencies. Duties and rights went hand in hand, and the people who were desirous of enjoying the privileges of constitutional freedom must be prepared to make some sacrifices in return for that inestimable boon. The noble Earl then movedThat an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for Copies of Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Governor General of Canada in reference to the Militia Bills proposed and passed in the Canadian Parliament.


My Lords, it would have been more convenient if the noble Earl had not prefaced his observations upon colonial fortifications by reference to the subject of colonial civil expenditure, of which he had given no notice, because it is impossible upon the spur of the moment to discuss or verify statements in which figures are largely introduced. I charge the noble Earl with committing an error against the interests of the public service by introducing such a topic, without the slightest intimation of his intention, when he knew that the Colonial Minister must avow his inability to deal with it, without reference to documents. But, although I am unprepared to meet all the figures which the noble Earl has quoted, I have not the least hesitation in saying that my noble Friend is singularly and entirely in error, both in his facts and in his figures, and I can only imagine that he has quoted from one class of the Estimates which include not merely the civil colonial expenditure, but the consular and diplomatic charges of the country. The noble Earl comes down to the House, and before entering upon the important question of which he has given notice, says he wishes to point out the reckless way in which the Government has proceeded.


I made no charge of recklessness against the Government. I merely cleared the ground by saying that for many years there has been a considerable increase in the expenditure under the Estimates strictly called colonial.


If the noble Earl does not intend to represent it as reckless expenditure I am perfectly prepared to say, that if the figures he quoted were correct, the expenditure could only be characterized as most reckless. The noble Earl says that in four or five years an expenditure of £300,000 or £400,000 has increased to £937,000. I will undertake to say that those figures do not represent the colonial civil expenditure, or anything resembling it. I will undertake to say that the colonial civil expenditure has been gradually and steadily decreasing year by year for many years past, and I defy the noble Earl or any one to bring forward proofs to the contrary, notwithstanding the assertions which he has made. The item of payment to the Hudson's Bay Company for their rights over Vancouver's Island, which occurs this year, cannot be strictly called colonial expenditure; and though the item for the Cape may be more properly said to belong to colonial expenditure, it is an expenditure which was incurred many years ago. I am not aware whether the expenditure for consular establishments has increased; but if my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary were present, he would, no doubt, be quite able to justify the outlay. Having raised a prejudice against the civil colonial expenditure, the noble Earl, before entering upon the question of fortifications, proceeded to deal with the smaller yet important question of Lagos. We had an opportunity, by a treaty with the King of that country, to enter upon the possession of Lagos, and it was done with the full consent of Parliament. It can hardly be called colonial expenditure. It is not with the view of colonizing, but to enable us to suppress the slave trade, and it is as much a part of the expenditure for that object as the expenditure upon every ship kept upon the west coast of Africa. My noble Friend said that in discussing the question of colonial fortifications he would divide the fortresses into three classes—one unquestionably valuable, one questionably valuable, and the third of no importance at all, and which ought not to be maintained. I do not agree with my noble Friend's classification, still less with the division of the fortresses by the Committee of the House of Commons into two classes—one of Imperial, and the other of purely colonial importance. I believe they may be more properly divided into five classes at least. Those in the Mediterranean, at Halifax, and at Bermuda I place in the first class. They are of great Imperial importance, with the view of maintaining the power and position of this country, and not one could be abandoned without detriment and discredit. The next are of nearly equal importance, at the Mauritius, Hongkong, and Simon's Bay. They are situated in the highways of the great maritime traffic of this country; and if lost, our commerce in time of war would be exposed to destruction. The third class is of great importance as rendezvous for our ships in time of peace, and still more so in time of war, and it includes Port Royal, Antigua, and Trincomalee. My noble Friend has spoken of Trincomalee, and I ask any one whether anything could be more monstrous than to call upon the island of Ceylon to main- tain a fort at Trincomalee? It is of no more interest to the island of Ceylon, than the tower of London is to England; its sole object is to protect that magnificent harbour, the only available harbour in the Bay of Bengal. In the fourth class I place the forts on the west coast of Africa, which I would place in the same condition as Lagos; they are kept up for the protection, not of colonists, but of persons living there for Imperial purposes. In the fifth class I place the whole of the remaining fortifications, small in value, though not small in number. They may be said to be for colonial purposes. I will readily admit that they may either be abandoned altogether, which would probably be the most desirable course in many instances, or handed over to the Colonies to do with them as they please. Early in the present Session I put myself in communication with the illustrious Duke on the cross benches, the Commander-in-Chief, and the right hon. the Secretary of State for War, with a view to carefully consider, individually as well as collectively, the whole of the colonial fortifications. The illustrious Duke wished the question to be carefully considered at the Horse Guards with the assistance of the Under Secretary of State for War on the part of the War Office, and the Under Secretary for the Colonies on the part of the Colonial Office, and in a few days I anticipate we shall have the result of their inquiries. No doubt there has been a large expenditure on colonial fortifications, and I am not by any means prepared to say that it has been altogether judicious; in fact, a great deal of money has been spent which will turn out to be perfectly useless; but the noble Earl is entirely wrong in supposing that the principle on which the works are proceeding in the Mauritius is of an obsolete character, and would be of no use in modern warfare, and also when he says that they will require a garrison of from 5,000 to 6,000 men. Fortifications, no doubt, were originally projected for that amount, but the works now are confined solely to the fortification of the little island which protects Port Louis; the fortifications as originally planned would have required that number of men. The noble Earl says that under the altered circumstances of warfare, and the commercial laws of the world, he could not see the importance of maintaining the fortifications of the Mauritius. I know that that opinion has been expressed by many persons; but I cannot conceive how anybody can imagine that position to be other than of Imperial importance, considering the immense trade passing between India and the Cape of Good Hope. We should remember what loss we sustained from that position being in the hands of the enemy before we took possession of it in the last great war, and the same consequences cannot but follow if we abandon it. These fortifications cannot be said in any way to be for the purposes of the Mauritius—they are entirely for an Imperial interest. I readily admit that it would be a waste of money to attempt to fortify every point on the island; for the protection of the island must mainly depend on the fleet: but, still, if the fleet be not in full force at the time of the attack, it is quite clear that this fort would be of the utmost service in the defence of the island. With regard to St. Helena, I believe a sum of £3,000 has been taken this year; the fact being, that if there are to be any fortifications at all there, they must be restored, for at present they are quite obsolete, and the guns almost useless. The noble Earl expressed considerable doubt about the Ionian Islands; but when he said, that we held those Islands under treaty provisions, he gave sufficient justification for what we have done there. If we have been put into possession of those Islands under a treaty, it is quite clear that we must prevent them from being taken by any foreign Power. The noble Earl did not object to a certain number of troops being kept there to preserve order among the inhabitants; but that has always been a secondary consideration. Troops have always been kept there for the purpose of securing the fortresses and maintaining the Islands as Imperial garrisons, and surely the noble Earl does not mean to say that we could place these men in different parts of the Islands unprotected by fortifications. That would be a certain way of exposing them to considerable danger. These are the fortifications which the noble Earl extracted from the second class, and which he said he disapproved of. He then came to some minor points, and first of all to Jamaica, for which there is a Vote of £1,000, which he treated as if it were intended for the protection of the inhabitants. But the noble Earl must be aware that at Jamaica there is a great naval establishment. There is a considerable amount of naval stores at Port Royal, and I am sure my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty would be unwilling to leave them there without protection. When the alarm of a war with America was raised by the Trent affair, we found that the guns on the fortifications at Port Royal were quite insufficient to protect it against any privateer which might come in to shell the dockyards. The same observation applies to the sum of £1,000, which has been taken for Newfoundland. The harbour of St. John's, though not of sufficient size to be of great value for any naval purpose, gives accommodation for half a dozen ships-of-war and a large fleet of merchantmen. The entrance to the port is narrow, and up to the time when the Trent affair took place it was totally unprotected. The only battery on which any guns were placed was on the top of a cliff, for the purpose of saluting, and any privateer might have sailed into the harbour, levied contributions on the town, and destroyed the shipping. In this state of things I felt bound to apply to the War Department to remedy that defect, and the sum of £1,000 has been taken to place guns on a battery already existing. The noble Earl is in error in supposing that because £10,000 appears in the Estimates for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, that therefore £5,000 is taken for each. The greater portion of the expenditure of that £10,000 is intended for Halifax, and is rendered absolutely necessary by the condition of that fortress. Everybody knows that the altered system of warfare, the increased weight of armament, and other considerations, render alterations necessary in fortifications; and I may say that this is the cause of a great part of the expenditure for fortifications. In these times you must place your guns in casemated batteries, and where they do not exist you must create them. Indeed, I am astonished that these fortifications have not cost more money. With regard to New Brunswick, when war with America was anticipated, it was found that the town of St. John's and its harbour were entirely at the mercy of any privateer which chose to sail in; and as this was the point at which we landed the greater part of our troops and some of our stores, it was of great importance that it should be protected. Then there are the coalmines at Sydney, Cape Breton, which supply our fleet on that station with coal, which require protection. Several shafts have been sunk to the coal, but none of them are more than half a mile from the sea, and a ship of war might go and destroy the works and deprive us of the benefit of the coal, perhaps, during the remainder of the war. A battery for six guns has been erected to protect these mines; but no other expense need be incurred, beyond the cost of one or two officers, because the proprietors have undertaken to drill their men to work the guns. I believe that I have now gone through the points raised by my noble Friend with regard to the colonial fortifications. He said he should avoid the more general question of the colonial military expenditure, and I will follow the example of my noble Friend in this respect. Whenever the question comes before your Lordships, I shall be prepared to enter into it fully. Meanwhile I may say that I believe a good deal may be done to reduce that expenditure, and, indeed, measures are in progress—at any rate, they have been proposed by me, and are now under the consideration of the military authorities—for reductions in three or four of the most important dependencies. But I wish to observe—and it is a singular and important fact—that, comparing the present number of troops in the colonies with the number stationed there twenty years ago—though I am bound to say that in that year there were more troops in the colonies than usual—we have now only forty seven battalions in the whole of our colonial dependencies, greatly increased as they are during this period, while in the year I mentioned the number of battalions was sixty. And then the number now in the colonies includes seventeen battalions in Canada and New Zealand, who are there under very exceptional circumstances. Your Lordships will therefore see, that considering those exceptional circumstances, there never was a time when so small a number of British troops was maintained in the colonies as at present. I come now to the last point mentioned by the noble Earl—the subject of the Canadian militia; and I may say that I have no objection to the Motion of my noble Friend if he will consent to insert the words "or Extracts." I have no doubt that his experience of office will enable him to see that in a matter of this description it will be necessary to provide for the production of copies "or Extracts" from the correspondence with the Governor General on the subject of these Militia Bills. I concur very much with what has been said by my noble Friend on this subject. It is deeply to be regretted that the Canadian Parliament should have rejected the Bill which was proposed for their acceptance, or that they should have separated without having passed some efficient measure for the defence of the colony. I am not prepared to say, that if things were not as they are, this measure would not have been a step in advance; but taking the present state of things into consideration, the force of militia which is now proposed as their contribution towards its defence is a most insufficient force, and I think that the Canadian Parliament ought to have made a very much larger provision. Perhaps the Bill which was thrown out was of rather too ambitious a character as regards some of its provisions, but certainly not as regards the number of men to be provided. The proposal was, that there should be a force of 50,000 effective men, and 50,000 reserve. I think that that would not have been too large a provision for the defence of the colony, though the expense of maintaining such a force would have been very heavy, amounting to between £400,000 and £500,000 for the first year, and upwards of £300,000 for every succeeding year. I can sympathize with those who wish to keep down expenditure in Canada; but it would have been better to starve other services than to leave the colony with only 10,000 militia to assist the Imperial troops in defending it. The Bill, however, doubled the existing force, and the spirit now existing in favour of volunteering will, I hope, greatly increase that force, and it will also hereafter be far more easy to call out the militia than it has hitherto been. The Governor General found that his hands were almost tied last year; but facilities are now given for rendering the force more easily available. In any case I believe that the spirit and the loyalty of the Canadian people may be relied upon. I do not believe that they would have shrunk from the expenditure which would have been thrown upon them by the Bill first proposed, and I am certain that whether it costs them much or little, they will be ready to come forward when the moment arrives. Though, however, they may be ready, organization will be wanting, and they will not possess the experience and the discipline which will render their services of value. On every ground, therefore, I deeply regret the course which has been taken by the Canadian Parliament. I believe the injury done will be at the earliest moment repaired, and I hope that moment may not be too late. Whether it be so or not, every effort has been used to induce the Canadians to take a different course instead of rejecting a Bill of paramount national importance upon a mere party question.


My Lords, I must express my entire concurrence with the noble Duke in his expressions of extreme regret at the conduct of the Canadian Parliament in not passing the Militia Bill. I cannot understand what spirit of infatuation can have possessed that Parliament to induce them to act in such a manner. Is it possible that they cannot see—what every other man must see—that in whatever manner the present civil war in America terminates—whether in the success of the North, or in the South succeeding in establishing their independence—the immediate result will be an irruption into Canada? If the people of the North fail, they will attack Canada to obtain a compensation for their loss. If they succeed, they will attack Canada in the drunkenness of victory. They will then have an army which it will be difficult to control—an army very differently constituted from any which America has ever possessed before. It is idle for us to talk of opposing to the American army, as it is now constituted, the troops which in former times were considered sufficient for the defence of Canada. The circumstances have entirely altered, and yet I can recollect, some years ago, the despatch of a Governor General, who said that 50,000 British troops were absolutely necessary to enable Canada to defend herself against the United States, weak as they then were, having, I believe, not above 13,000 regular troops dispersed over the whole country, and a militia without discipline, the achievements of which, if achievements they can be called, during the last war, were such as to cover the military profession with ridicule. We have now sent to Canada all the men we can spare for her defence, and the Canadians must not look to us for further support. Occasions may, indeed, arise when it might be extremely difficult for us to part even with the 12,000 troops we have now sent to the colony; yet it is idle to suppose that Canada can be defended without disciplined troops. She can only be defended by the regular army of England combined with the local forces; and if Canada is to be protected from successful invasion, the whole population must come forward, as the people of the Southern States have come forward, in defence of their soil. To suppose that any country in the world can be defended against a regular army by coming forward in a state of enthusiasm — Sir Charles Napier observed, "Enthusiasm runs away"—to suppose that the Canadians when invaded are to come forward in a state of unarmed and undisciplined enthusiasm against the well-armed and the disciplined army of the United States is to suppose what is utterly impracticable, and every reasonable man in the country must know it to be so. If the Canadians persist in the course which they have recently taken, I shall see with very deep pain and apprehension that which, under the circumstances, would be but a handful of British troops left alone in Canada, and dispersed over the country, to fight a desperate battle in which they must lose their lives and imperil the honour of their country. My Lords, I think it is a little too much for the Canadians to take our troops and not to take our goods. It is a little too much for them to expect, under these circumstances, that we shall continue to incur the sacrifices and to run the risks we now run, when they thus requite the friendship which we desire always to entertain for them.


said, the noble Earl who had just sat down had expressed more forcibly than he could hope to do the condition of things which now existed in Canada. That condition was most unsatisfactory; and though he did not believe with the noble Earl that an attack on Canada at the close of the civil war in the American States was inevitable, no man could help feeling that such an attack was far from improbable. That being the case, they had heard from the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Department what our position at present was with respect to Canada. However good the feeling of the Canadians towards this country might be—and he was not disposed to depreciate it, for he believed a good feeling really did exist—it was clear they were not prepared to make those sacrifices which the position of Canada demanded. On the other hand, there was no disposition on the part of this country to shrink from doing all that she might fairly be called on to do in order to defend Canada against any attack; but the people of England had a right to expect that the Canadians would do their part. The Canadian Parliament had, he might say, almost entire control over the government of that province, and it had not failed to exercise that power for local interests. He should be the last to complain of that, because it was a mockery to give a colony free government and not allow it to use its freedom; but he was justified in saying that the Canadian Parliament had exercised its powers in the manner it thought best for their own interests, without attending much to the interests of the mother country. They had in particular passed a tariff, which might be necessary—as to the necessity he desired to express no opinion—but which, at all events, showed very little regard to Imperial interests. Yet, notwithstanding that fact, Canada now asked us to bear not only the burden of diplomacy, not only the burden of giving it a part of our not very large army, but also that greater burden involved in running the risk of leaving a small number of our gallant troops in a position where, if they were not supported by local assistance, it would be impossible for them to resist any attack which a large army from a neighbouring territory might think fit to make. It was a very serious question for Her Majesty's Government to consider what the position of our troops in Canada might be during the coming season, when their Lordships knew from the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) that it was impossible adequate arrangements could be made for putting even the Militia on a proper footing before next spring. Nothing could compensate this country for any disaster which proper foresight might prevent from occurring to the portion of the British army now in Canada.


believed it was necessary that some conclusion should be come to on the subject of the colonial fortifications. If we meant to give up our colonies, the sooner they were given up the better; but if we were to hold them, the national honour would be involved if a successful attack was made against any of them. As the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Office had said that he would reserve entering into the general question of the military expenditure of our colonies till a future time, he should not enter on that subject. He should, however, ask the noble Duke to explain a statement which he had made, and which appeared to him to be of a somewhat extraordinary character. His noble Friend had said that the Canadian Parliament could not remedy till next spring the vote by which it made what seemed to be the ridiculous provision for 10,000 Militia instead of 100,000, the number proposed by the Government. Surely the noble Duke did not mean to say it was not in the power of the Governor to call the Canadian Parliament together before next year for the purpose of submitting a Bill to remedy that state of things.


explained that what he had meant to convey was that under ordinary circumstances the Canadian Parliament would not meet till next spring. If any circumstances should arise to render it advisable, the Governor could call it together before that time. There was not the slightest doubt that it would be competent to him to take that course; but such a step was only taken in cases of emergency.


said, he was rather disappointed at the explanation of his noble Friend. He should have liked to hear from his noble Friend whether Her Majesty's Government did not consider the present an emergency in which they should instruct the Governor to call the Canadian Parliament together. It was worthy of the consideration of the Government whether a considerable body of our troops—including among them the flower of our army—should be left in Canada without adequate support from the Canadian Militia during a season when the communication between Canada and this country was practically cut off. Did it not become a serious consideration whether Her Majesty's Government should not instruct the Governor to call the Canadian Parliament together and submit to it this issue—"Either before the termination of the present season make such arrangements as will afford our troops such support as we have a right to expect for any British force that ought to be left in Canada, or no British force will be imperilled by being left in the colony?" It was, he repeated, a serious consideration whether a communication ought not to be made to the Canadian Parliament; and in the event of its being unfavourably received, whether the British force in Canada should not be reduced to the small number of men that could support themselves in the fortifications of Quebec till next year. He was of opinion that in the present state of North America we were not justified in leaving British troops in Canada without adequate support. He quite agreed with his noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) that it was perfectly idle to rely on the enthusiasm of undisciplined men, who, as against experienced troops, in times when the art of war had been brought to such perfection, might be said to be useless. He must express his obligations to his noble Friend who had brought this subject forward for having introduced it to the notice of their Lordships in so able a manner.


said, that when this subject was brought before the Canadian Parliament again, circumstances might be so much changed that local party considerations might not interfere to prevent the proper arrangements from being made, and surely the British Government would not think of taking such a step as had been suggested without waiting to see what the next Parliament would do. As the Canadians had not been used to large armaments, it was not to be wondered at if the people, especially the lower classes, took some little time before they became reconciled to them. But there was another point removed from the action of the Colonial Legislature and entirely within the control of the noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Office. Instead of dotting our troops about in exposed situations, they ought to be concentrated in important positions, where by their presence they would give the colonists confidence, without being exposed to be cut off by overwhelming numbers.


said, his impression was that subjects of this nature, brought forward in general terms at such a late period of the Session, did not tend to any very great advantage. Admitting, as he did, that the relations between the colonies and the mother country had undergone sensible changes, he saw little use, as long as nothing occurred bearing directly on the subject, in entering into a discussion of those relations, and in precipitating the period when the mother country would have to separate from her colonies. When that time came, the subject would doubtless be treated with all the wisdom which Parliament could bring to bear upon it; but until then he deprecated discussion in the abstract of such a vital change. With regard to Canada, it must have struck every noble Lord that the position in which our small army was placed, regard being had to the war in America, was one of great danger. The debate which had just taken place had in no way diminished that feeling as far as he was concerned. Bearing in mind the difficulties of the season which was fast approaching, and the near proximity to the end of the Session, the Government ought to take into serious consideration measures which would secure our interests and the honour of our troops. They ought to call on the Canadian Government without delay to commit themselves to the performance of that duty which England was entitled to expect them to perform.


having expressed his readiness to insert the words "or Extracts,"

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at half-past Seven o'clock, to Monday next, Four o'clock.