HL Deb 19 July 1870 vol 203 cc479-83

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Earl of Kimberley.)


said, that of all modes of assisting a Colony the guarantee of a loan was the worst. Most of the Colonies had shown a disposition to abuse their powers of borrowing money, and New Zealand itself was a striking instance of this. It was all very well to say that a guarantee cost this country nothing. A young man was urged on a like plea to back a bill for a friend. Moreover, if a guarantee was given to one Colony why not to another? He strongly objected to the Bill.


said, that as he had himself on one occasion, while expressing his preference of military aid, suggested the guarantee of a loan, he could not be said to be entirely opposed to them. On the occasion to which he referred the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) took him to task for so doing, and laid down a series of admirable economic principles, in which he urged that it was unwise and altogether objectionable to guarantee loans to our Colonies, and said that it was very much against the interests of the Colonies themselves that they should be encouraged to borrow, and the noble Earl proceeded to say that had he given a guarantee to New Zealand the Colony would have been burdened with an additional debt of £1,500,000; and that its future credit would thereby have been injured. In that remark he (the Earl of Carnarvon) quite agreed, and he could not help asking what there could possibly be to induce him two months after making that statement to depart from so sound a principle. Having been charged by the noble Earl with exaggeration when on a former occasion he dwelt on the serious danger of some great catastrophe through our policy towards New Zealand, he wished to justify himself by reference to a Memorandum of the Colonial Minister of New Zealand which had since been published. The Memorandum stated substantially the result of that decision was that the Imperial Government virtually retired from the great colonizing work which it had undertaken; that it told the colonists and Natives to do what they liked, for it had ceased to care what might happen; that it even refused to leave troops if the Colony paid for them, on account of the contingencies which this would involve; and that New Zealand was thus told that it had ceased to be a part of the Empire. It added that the Assembly would possibly think that on so important a matter as the severance of a Colony from the Empire the Imperial Legislature should express an opinion, and that possibly the course of public opinion, already in a measure expressed, would induce Her Majesty's Government to regret the invitation to New Zealand to leave the Empire implied in the noble Earl's despatch. Now, he pronounced no opinion on this Memorandum, which was somewhat voluminous, but their Lordships could read it for themselves if they desired; but he referred to it in order to show that in stating that we were on the verge of a serious catastrophe in New Zealand he did not outstep the limits of truth and was guilty of no exaggeration.


said, he had always contended that the Colonies should govern themselves, fight their own battles, and pay their own expenses, and he approved the withdrawal of the troops from New Zealand, as their presence tended to promote war with the Natives and harsh conduct on the part of the settlers—just as their presence in Canada encouraged, if it did not excite, the notion of some persons in the United States that they should attack that Colony. He objected also, as a rule, to guarantees, because in many instances they had been improperly applied; but this, being for the specific and pacific purpose of making roads, which it was true might be advantageous in case of war, but which likewise extended civilization and improvement, and promoted intercourse with the Natives, was of an exceptional character. The present state of Now Zealand, which encouraged us to anticipate for it a peaceful and prosperous career, was a triumphant refutation of the charges and animadversions which had been directed at his noble Friend (Earl Granville)—especially by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon). There could not be a greater mistake than to suppose that our present colonial policy implied any desire for separation. He believed, on the contrary, that self-government would unite the Colonies to us more closely than any other policy; and that, with the love of independence which Britons in all parts of the world should possess, they would be thankful to us for pursuing such a policy. He presumed the Memorandum mentioned by the noble Earl had not been printed in the Blue Books? [The Earl of CARNARVON intimated that it had not.] In that case, as it was an important document, he hoped his noble Friend would lay it before the House.


admitted that his noble Friend (Earl Grey) had always consistently objected to the guarantee of colonial loans. He was also, however, the advocate of an opinion which had not been entertained by Governments for many years, and he believed was not held by the country at large—namely, that we should retrench the liberty we had given to our self-governing Colonies, in order to assume greater control over their affairs than of late years we had done. As to the refusal of military assistance, he was excused from defending it by the remarks of his noble Friend (Lord Lyveden), or it would be easy to show that the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) was not perfectly consistent with himself. He wrote last autumn a letter to The Times advocating the guarantee of a loan without reference to any specific expenditure, military or otherwise. Now, this would have been a direct encouragement to the Colony to continue their proceedings against the Natives, instead of adopting the policy which had answered so well—that of limiting the war to the greatest degree, and cultivating friendly relations with the great majority of the Natives. For his own part, he was bound to say that, absolutely and in point of consistency, he could not defend this guarantee; but as an exceptional measure it was perfectly defensible and desirable. The definitive carrying out of the policy of withdrawing the troops, which had been the object of many successive Secretaries of State, naturally caused irritation in the Colony, as the withdrawal of privileges usually did; and the conviction of the colonists that they were very much ill - used was materially strengthened by violent letters and speeches in this country, which described our object as that of cutting them off from the mother country. Indeed, he must say that this feeling was not without some encouragement from the letters and frequent speeches of the noble Earl. In that state of things the colonial Ministers wrote the Memorandum referred to by the noble Earl, containing vague menaces as to the future which he never for a moment believed, notwithstanding the encouragement they received in England, they would think of putting into effect. He would, however, rather not go into a discussion on this subject, which would re-open sores which it was the object of this small guarantee to heal. It was desirable to employ the friendly Natives, who had behaved admirably as soldiers, in some useful occupation, such as making roads and public works, thus not only developing the resources of the country, but tending to pacify it. The Government, therefore, after much consideration, decided that this was an exception to the rule which they might fairly propose to Parliament as a graceful concession, which would soothe the somewhat acrimonious feelings which had attended the carrying out of our policy as regarded New Zealand.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.

House adjourned at Six o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.