HL Deb 25 July 1864 vol 176 cc1986-99

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, he thought it was, as a general rule, undesirable that this country should guarantee loans raised for colonial purposes. Such a course must tend, in his opinion, to encourage a large increase in the expenditure of a colony. At the same time, it was impossible for the mother country to divest herself entirely of responsibility for her colonies, especially in case of war; and the circumstances of the present case were so exceptional and so strong, that he thought it impossible for their Lordships to refuse their assent to this Bill. With regard to the origin and commencement of the war now being waged in New Zealand, he believed it to be a just war, for there could be no doubt that the immediate cause of it was the murder of British subjects by the Maories. The struggle which ensued had been a very severe one, and there could be no doubt that in the struggle the colonists had greatly exerted themselves. There was, he believed, no foundation for the charge that they had supplied arms and ammunition to the Natives, to be used against themselves and us. No doubt, in a free country, and in peaceable times, the Natives had had abundant opportunities of providing themselves with arms; but it was utterly incredible that at a time when the whole male population of the colony were combined against the Natives, that any portion of them would be allowed by the rest to furnish arms to the insurgents to be used against themselves. In consequence of the expenses occasioned by the war, and the consequences of the disturbed state of things, the colony were compelled to have recourse to a loan; but they experienced great difficulty in obtaining it, and they then applied to the Government for a guarantee. One of the great objections, so far as he had been able to ascertain, against the proposed guarantee was founded on the alleged insufficiency of the resources of the colony, but, after the most careful consideration of the point, both on the part of the Colonial Office and the Treasury, the conclusion had been arrived at that the security was satisfactory. The revenue of the colony was largely increasing, and although no doubt the expenditure was also increasing, yet on a comparison of the ordinary income with the ordinary expenditure, there was a surplus of revenue of £260,000; and besides the ordinary revenue there was a large sum derived annually from the sale of waste lands. Moreover, and above the advantage of assisting the colony in its difficulty, there would be this further advantage in giving the Imperial guarantee asked for by the Bill, that the mother country would receive out of the loan to be raised the immediate repayment of the sum of £500,000, in which the colony was already indebted to us. He did not attach much importance to this, except in one respect—that it at once wiped away a cause of irritation between the mother country and the colony which had at various times been found to be exceedingly inconvenient. With respect to the termination of the war, he could only say that the Government were anxious that it should be brought to a close at the earliest possible moment; and, to that end, they had by their last despatch invested Sir George Grey with summary powers over the movements of the troops in New Zealand; and Governor Sir George Grey, in writing on the subject on the 7th of April last, said— I can have no hesitation in saying that the wishes and instructions of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle impose on me as a duty that which is entirely in consonance with my own feelings and with yours—namely, that I should instantly listen to any reasonable overtures that the Natives in arms may make, and that I should avail myself of any opportunity that offers of obtaining permanent peace for this colony. I am quite confident that general public opinion in this country will support me in taking this course and would expect me to do so. With regard to the confiscation of portions of the lands of the Natives now in arms, this point has to be considered—that mercy requires that future contests between the two races should in as far as practicable be prevented, and that there are many tribes in New Zealand who have taken no part in the present lamentable conflicts, yet who might hereafter be led into similar acts; while nothing would more certainly lead to the extermination of the Native race than a series of contests such as that which is now being carried on. The object of the local Government, therefore, has been to secure to that numerous part of the Native population who have taken no active share in the present war the whole of their landed possessions, and also by laws passed expressly for this object, to give to the lands held by such Natives a value greater than they have previously had for their owners, by in all respects giving them equal rights in their landed possessions with those enjoyed by their European fellow-subjects, the intention in this respect being to show that the rights of peaceable citizens of whatever race are carefully respected, and to give the Natives so valuable a stake in the country that they are not likely hereafter to regard it lightly. On the other hand, it was thought necessary by an example to show that those who rose in arms against their fellow-subjects of another race, suffered such a punishment for doing so as might deter others from embarking in a similar career. It is therefore proposed to deprive such persons of a considerable portion of their landed properties, and to provide for the future safety of the colony by occupying such lands with an European population. But even in the case of these persons it is intended that sufficient lands shall be reserved for themselves and their descendants, to be held on the same tenure as lands are henceforth to be secured to the rest of the Native population. That these measures will be carried out in a spirit of liberal generosity and mercy I earnestly hope, and will do my best to insure, and I believe that I shall be supported by a large majority in this colony. The despatch of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Colonial Office giving the general support of the Home Government to the policy would, he believed, enable Sir George Grey to carry out his liberal and just scheme in a manner which would have the effect of securing permanent peace for the colony.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord President.a)


said, he had not intended to make any observations on the Bill, but in the absence of his noble Friend the Earl of Carnarvon, who took a great interest in the subject, he could not allow the Bill to pass without making a few observations on the nature of the proposal. The apologetical tone in which the noble Earl had introduced the Bill, was certainly by no means misplaced, for a more questionable measure had never come before Parliament. The feeling of the country had been unmistakably manifested against the principle of the Bill, and there was now firmly established in the public mind a complete conviction that a colony, when once it had arrived at a certain point of power and prosperity ought to defend itself against its natural enemies, and ought not to call on the mother country for the aid of Imperial troops. With respect to Canada, we could not too soon persuade the people of that country that it was impossible for them to obtain Imperial assistance in the way of English troops. If they were attacked by the Indians, or by their neighbours of the same race with themselves, they were now strong enough, prosperous enough, and populous enough to do without British troops, and any help which they asked from us must be in the way of naval assistance and guns and materiel of war; but they ought to find their own men, and defend their own frontier. The same principle applied to New Zealand. There certainly were no restless aggressive elements in Canada, but the same compliment could not be paid to the Government of New Zealand. Colonists of New Zealand had obtained from this country powers of self-government, and since then they had kept up a constant quarrel with the Natives. They had done nothing to reconcile the Natives to their rule, and if they became engaged in consequence in a war with the Natives—which should be regarded in the light of a civil war—they ought to learn how to take care of themselves, and not to call on this country for some 10,000 or 12,000 soldiers, thus draining our small army, and staving off the retribution for their mismanagement at our expense. If they had had themselves to pay and to bleed for their own defence, we should have heard very little of the present difficulties, and when people had to pay their own expenses, the amount was far less than if they could send in their bills to other parties for payment. There was another point with respect to the defence of the colonies by our troops. He saw no reason why British soldiers alone should be sent to carry on these colonial wars. The Romans did not send Italian soldiers into Syria, Britain, or any of their colonies; they sent the troops of the countries which they had conquered and occupied, and in the same way he never could understand why some of our Indian regiments, the Sikh regiments, should not be employed in our colonial wars. He looked on this Bill as an encouragement to all colonies in the same position as New Zealand to quarrel with the Natives, and get up little wars of which they were sure not to bear the burden. He had no wish to divide the House against the Bill, but he looked upon it as a most impolitic measure, and was astonished how it could have received the assent of the House of Commons. He believed that if the public purse were in the hands of their Lordships instead of in the hands of the House of Commons, a much more economical system would be adopted. The House of Commons was by far too generous in many respects, and it sanctioned many things which never would have passed their Lordships. He thought this war in New Zealand was unholy and unjust, and that every drop of blood shed and every guinea spent upon it was wasted.


said, he believed there was a pretty general concurrence in the principle laid down by the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury), that every colony should bear its own expenses; but though this principle was undoubtedly sound, the difficulty lay in the application of it; and he would take the liberty of reminding their Lordships that every successive Colonial Secretary had, in his own despite, been dragged into a colonial war, with all its attendant cost. The noble Earl suggested the employment of Indian troops in New Zealand; but did the noble Earl mean to saddle the Indian exchequer with the cost? He was afraid that this important measure had not been sufficiently considered. It was introduced to the House of Commons at a very late period of the Session—so late, in fact, that a discussion was out of the question even in that House; and if their Lordships could, according to the rules of the House, discuss the measure—which he believed they were not able to do—there was not time for it. The only valuable part of the Bill was that which was not in it when it was introduced into the Commons. He alluded to the proviso at the end of the second clause, which provided that the guarantee should not come into operation until the Colonial Legislature had passed such measures as were required by the Secretary of State to secure the repayment of the loan, as well as the cost of the British troops employed in the colony. But this was a new clause. If the Bill had passed in its original shape it would have been quite possible that the Colonial Legislature might not have taken steps to provide for the repayment of the loan. The colony was at war. We said it was the war of the colonists; they said it was an Imperial war, produced by carrying out the measures of the Home Government, and compelling them to deal with the Natives in a particular manner of which they did not approve. The colonists added that they would not have been in their present unfortunate position if they had been left to themselves. Being in this state of distress, they sought a loan, which they asked the Home Government to guarantee. They wanted a loan of £3,000,000; and the Government consented to grant a guarantee for £1,000,000. What was to be done with regard to the other £2,000,000? The colonists said they found a difficulty in procuring a loan themselves. Doubtless there must be a difficulty in obtaining the money at 4½ per cent; but there would be no difficulty if they gave the market price, say of 7 per cent. We should adopt the principle of refusing to guarantee any loans whatever. We had refused to do so in the case of India, although we should have thereby saved to the Indian treasury a very large sum of money. It was unfair to say that the murders which had been the origin of this war could be traced to any other source than the question of land. Sir George Grey, in one of his despatches to the Duke of Newcastle, expressly said that if the colonists were resolved to take the lands of the Natives they must be prepared to abide by the consequences. He (Lord Lyveden) was of opinion that the war was not likely to be brought to a speedy conclusion, for but little had been done to mitigate the hostility between the Natives and the settlers. He quite agreed in thinking that guaranteeing the loan was guaranteeing everything that had been done by the settlers to the Natives, and, while the saving would be small, the loss in point of principle would be great. Everyone must regret the loss of life which had taken place, and they were told that the troops were utterly disgusted with the service on which they were engaged. That might or might not be true, but it was an awful responsibility for any one to incur to proceed with a war which it was believed at home could not be proved to be quite just, and which was certainly not one upon which this country would be justified in expending its resources. In the present state of the House it would be useless to divide against the Bill, but he thought it right to enter his protest.


My Lords, I cannot allow an observation which has just fallen from the noble Lord (Lord Lyveden)—namely, that the war is viewed with utter disgust by the British troops—to pass unnoticed. We all must regret the misfortune which has happened to a distinguished regiment; but I wish in the strongest manner to protest against the impression getting abroad that any of Her Majesty's troops, in whatever service they are employed, so long as they are employed by Her Majesty's Government, perform the service on which they are sent with the slightest disgust. Discipline and obedience constitute the means by which an army is held together and prevented from becoming a useless collection of men. It is the duty of the Government to decide on what service the troops shall be employed; and, as is well known, Parliament can dissent from any measure adopted by the Government; but it is the duty of the troops implicitly to obey any order and command they receive from those under whom they are placed. I firmly believe that there is no foundation for the impres- sion that the cause of the misfortune which has recently occurred is that the troops did not like the service on which they were engaged. If there were the slightest foundation for such a suspicion, I should sincerely deplore that any of Her Majesty's troops should have become so undisciplined. I cannot concur in some of the observations which have fallen from the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury). So long as this country possesses colonies it cannot be expected that the British troops I shall not be employed in them, and I; cannot imagine that the noble Earl meant to say that Indian troops would have behaved better than British troops.


explained that what he said was that he believed that an impression, however false, prevailed in the colony that the troops felt disgust with the service on which they were employed.


said, that in speaking respecting the employment of British troops in the colonies he had in mind that the colonies were of two descriptions. He never intended to suggest that we were not to employ British troops in Gibraltar, Bermudas, and Malta, which were not so much colonies as military stations. But when colonies had increased to such an extent of prosperity as to have 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 of inhabitants, it seemed hard that they should not find men enough to form regiments to defend themselves. He did not pretend to say that the Indian troops were superior to the English troops; but he was sure the illustrious Duke would agree with him that they were very good troops. He considered that the Sikhs might be made available for service in the colonies, and thus release the British troops for other service.


said, he would not follow the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) into the very large question of the employment of British troops in our colonies. But there was one thing which he wanted to know, and that was, where the colony was to be found in which there were seven millions of in habitants? When we arrived at that time in which colonies of ours should have such a large population, the whole question would have assumed a very different aspect. The question was a wide but was altogether one of relative population and wealth; but, at any rate, it could not be discussed in the present state of the House and of the Session. With regard to the war which had arisen in New Zealand, noble Lords had spoken as if it had its origin entirely in the policy, and was the fault of the Colonial Government, and as though the Natives were in no wise to blame. But such was not the case. The war had its origin in a cruel and cowardly murder committed upon a body of English troops passing from one station to another, who were surprised by an ambush, and two officers and seven men were killed and others wounded. That outrage took place, it should be remembered, after the arrival of Sir George Grey, a Governor in whom the Natives professed to have the greatest confidence, who had always been regarded as their friend, and who had been sent out after the outbreak of the previous war on account of the special qualifications which he possessed for the office. It was not, then, from any desire on the part of the Colonial Government to exterminate the Natives that this war had arisen. Under these circumstances, he did not think there was any one of their Lordships who would say that it was right to let such an outrage as that to which he had alluded pass unpunished. Measures were in consequence resorted to which led to general hostilities; but it was the desire of Her Majesty's Government to bring the hostilities to a conclusion at the earliest possible period. Noble Lords had talked as if Her Majesty's Government were determined to bear the whole expense of the war, to send out any number of British troops, and to leave the colonists to reap the benefits of supplying the commissariat. But that was not true. In the first place, the colonists bore a considerable portion of the expenditure; next, they had raised 10,000 volunteers who had served with credit in the field; and the illustrious Duke would bear him out when he said that their officers and men had been often mentioned with distinction in the despatches. The colonists were bearing the expenses of that force and various other charges incident to the war. Besides, the Colonial Secretary had lately given notice that, from the 1st of January of the next year, the colony would have to pay £45 a man for every one of our troops employed there, a payment calculated to cover the entire expenses of the troops. Under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government were not open to the charge of being ready to expend the blood and treasure of this country for the objects of the colonists of New Zealand. But we ought not to have left our countrymen in that colony entirely without protection. He thought the course which had been adopted would bring the war to a speedy conclusion; because the colonists, if what noble Lords said was true, would, when they had to pay the whole expenses of the war, take measures to bring it to an end as soon as possible.


said, the Bill now before their Lordships had been brought from the House of Commons, and being a money Bill it was not competent for their Lordships to alter it. At the same time it was matter of surprise to hear the arguments put forward on both sides of the House—first, on the side of the Government, who entered into a protest against the application of the principle, while his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) not only protested against the application of the principle, but was decidedly opposed to the measure itself. Now, it was a painful thing to one holding an independent position in that House, to observe so often a contradiction between the principle enunciated and its application; and he must say it would be far better for the honour of that House and the interests of the country if greater harmony was observed between the two. Now, if there was one principle more clear than another, it was that where a colony had been allowed by Act of Parliament to have a Constitution and Legislature of its own it ought at least to incur the expenses consequent on managing its own affairs. Some assistance might, in the first instance, be accorded by the mother country in order to help the colony in getting into a proper condition; but it would not be too much for the mother country to expect after a short time that the charge of administering its own affairs and protecting itself should be borne by the colony. It was, however, a painful thing for any one who had the honour of his country at heart to hear doubts thrown out as to the capacity of this country to protect our colonies. If unfortunately it should happen at some future time, either from the increase of the power of other countries or the reduction of our own, that we should be reduced to the necessity of abandoning our colonies, there was no necessity for anticipating any such thing, and it was much to be regretted that those anticipations could have only the effect of adding to the chances of such an event. The interests of this country would be much better consulted by waiting until such circumstances should arise and then meeting the matter with calmness. He quite agreed with the illustrious Duke that any course which seemed to admit a choice on the part of troops employed in the field would be utterly subversive of discipline and most injurious to the country whose servants they were.


said, that it was a folly to expect that we could give representative institutions to a colony, and yet protect the land of the Natives from encroachment. All the late difficulties in New Zealand might, in his opinion, be traced to the Treaty of Waitangi, which was a great mistake in every respect. The moment that we gave the colonists popular institutions—the moment we obliged the Governor of New Zealand to follow the advice of responsible Ministers, who were themselves dependent on the votes of the Assemblies—the Government at home was placed in a position of the utmost embarrassment with the Colonial Government, and was placed in a position with regard to the Natives which it was impossible to carry out. He had heard with the greatest gratification the statement of his noble Friend (Earl Granville), that Her Majesty's Government were doing all that could be expected in order to place all the parties in New Zealand on a more satisfactory footing. He should be sorry that the present opportunity should be lost without obtaining some guarantee from the colonists for the future security of the Natives. Sir George Grey was a friend of the Maories, and he was sure that everything that could be done by him would be done to remedy existing evils. It was very easy to say, leave the black men and the white men to settle matters between themselves. If any Government in this country were to do so, it would excite a cry of indignation from one part of this island to the other. He had heard declamations against the employment of British troops in the colonies, and it was undoubtedly right to encourage the colonists to fight for themselves; but it was utterly impossible to say that circumstances might not arise in a wide-spread empire like ours in which British soldiers might be usefully employed in the colonies for the interests of this country. His experience in colonial affairs satisfied him that a few British troops were often of essential service in a colony. At the time of the gold discoveries a very few English soldiers saved Australia from a state of things that would have been most disgraceful. In California, under similar circumstances, all law was set aside. But public opinion in this country would not have allowed such a state of affairs to arise in Australia. He could by no means agree with those who laid down the principle that, under no circumstances should British soldiers be employed in our colonies. Averse as he was to the principle of giving the security of this country for loans to the colonies, there were, he thought, exceptional cases in which the credit of the Imperial Government might usefully step in to the relief of the colonists, and that without loss to this country. The Legislature had done this on similar occasions, and there were very few cases in which the mother country had lost by the guarantee, while a great deal of good had been done. He thought that if ever there was a case in which the assistance of the Imperial Government might be properly given this was one, and he would therefore support the Bill.


said, that if he understood correctly the circumstances of the loan, and the new regulations with respect to the payment of troops, he could not understand how the various charges upon the colony could be met. He understood that the colony had now a surplus revenue of £200,000 a year. It was about to raise a loan of £3,000,000—£1,000,000 upon the guarantee of this country, and £2,000,000 upon the credit of the colony. The colonists would have to pay upon the first loan at 4 per cent £40,000, and upon the remainder £120,000, making altogether an annual charge of £160,000, which would leave £40,000 clear surplus. But then, after the 1st of January next, the colony would be called upon to pay £45 a man for every British soldier employed there, making for 10,000 men a sum of £450,000 a year. This would leave a deficit of £400,000 a year from the 1st of next January.


agreed with the Secretary for "War that it was impossible to withdraw Her Majesty's troops under existing circumstances, and leave the colonists to bear the whole brunt of the present war. But a very serious question remained behind—what was to be the policy of this country when the present war was concluded? There were two distinct courses of policy—one, imitating the policy of our ancestors with respect to the North American colonists, to leave it to the settlers to deal with the Natives as they thought fit, and to leave it also to them to fight it out if any quarrel arose; or, on the other hand, the Imperial Government might take into their own hands the whole of the relations between the settlers and the Natives, placing the government of the colony in reference to dealings with the Natives under the command of the Colonial Secretary without any interference on the part of the Government of the colony. If they adopted the latter course they would necessarily have to support the Governor in the event of any dispute between the two races. He could conceive Her Majesty's Government adopting one or other of the two courses; but the Government did not seem to have made up their minds either to give the settlers control of their affairs in reference to the Natives, or to take the control themselves. Now if Her Majesty's Government halted between these two opinions and allowed the colonists to interfere to a certain extent, whilst the Imperial Government themselves also interfered somewhat, they would have the disadvantages of both systems and the advantages of neither. He must join in protesting against the guarantee being given, and for his part he would rather that a sum of money should be given to the colony than that the debt should be guaranteed.


said, it was not always safe to leave these affairs in the hands of the colonists as our experience in North America showed. In North America the colonists waged a war of extermination with the Natives and the Red Indians, in which the Indians were shot down like kangaroos. That might be an economical system, but he doubted whether the country would allow it to be pursued in the present day. Each of these causes must be judged distinctly and on its own merits. In time of war the mother country could form alliances for its protection; but the colonists were not allowed to have allies, and we must, therefore—wisely and judiciously of course—give them assistance in periods of difficulty. He did not recollect that noble Lords opposite while they were in office proposed to throw all these burdens upon the colonists.


thought that the principles which had been laid down during this debate were excellent, provided that they were accompanied by certain checks; but that it was wrong to lay down those principles without any restriction whatever. As to what the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) had said in reference to financial matters, it must be borne in mind that it was not contemplated that the colonists should keep 10,000 troops there for an indefinite time; and one purpose of this loan was to provide for the extra expense incurred whilst the additional troops were there. It was proposed that £1,000,000 only should be borrowed at present; and it was to be hoped that there, would be no occasion for the further loan of £2,000,000. This being so, he believed that the surplus revenue in the colony would be amply sufficient to pay the interest which was guaranteed.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2aa accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.