HL Deb 16 July 1889 vol 338 cc515-7

Order of the Day for the Third Reading, read.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words on this Bill with regard to handing over the Crown lands in the northern portion of the territory of the colony to a small population of 40,000 inhabitants. I should like to ask the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies whether the Bill follows the lines of former legislation for the Colonies? At the same time, I believe there is no previous instance of handing over such an enormous territory, as is now proposed to be handed over, to the responsible Government of the colony. I protest against such a large tract of territory being so handed over.


My Lords, I shall not venture to trouble your Lordships with a re-statement of the arguments which I adduced yesterday, but I will shortly answer the noble Earl's question. With regard to the question whether a precedent exists, I may inform the noble Earl that in Queensland we handed over an equally large area to a population of only 28,000, whereas the population of Western Australia is over 40,000. I may also point out that, under the system of representative Government, the people of Western Australia have practically had the control of these lands for many years, and that, as I have already shown, their policy has been in favour of immigration. There is no reason to doubt that that policy will be continued, and that, as in the case of Queensland and the other Australian Colonies, after Responsible Government had been granted to them, immigration will steadily increase. As regards the land which is to remain under the control of the Colonial Government, I may remark that by far the largest part of it is unfitted for agriculture; and it will be remembered that all the land in the northern part of the colony is to remain under Crown management and control


My Lords, I must say that I also protest against the handing over of this enormous territory to 40,000 people. If we hand over all the Crown lands to our Colonies the result will be that the Colonists will say, "We do not want any more people to come here; we want the land for ourselves." Let me ask your Lordships to consider what you are going to do in this matter. A Committee has been appointed in the other House for the purpose of considering colonial questions, and yet your Lordships are going to hand over this enormous tract of country at once to a small population no larger than that of a country town. I do hope, my Lords, some action will be taken to stop it.


The noble Lord has said there is a precedent for this. I do not think he has quite correctly understood what has taken place in the other colonies. I would point out to him that the population of New South Wales is at least 1,000,000, the population of Victoria is 1,000,000, and the population of New Zealand 600,000. In New Zealand the Government had for a longtime encouraged immigration, and had paid the cost out of the public funds, because there was nothing they were so anxious for as to increase the white population. A colony in its infancy will always be found to be most anxious to obtain as many immigrants as possible; but when they have a million or so of white inhabitants you will find they no longer desire to receive the labouring class of immigrants. I would ask the noble Lord whether he thinks any Minister or Government in this country would ever undertake to advise Parliament to send emigrants to a colony whether the colonists desired it or not? I venture to say that no Government would be so insane.


That, I think, is an argument against handing over so large a territory at once.


To interfere with the colonists in this matter is practically telling them that they cannot colonize their own lands. It will always be found that the colonists on the spot can best assist immigration and promote the colonization of lands adjoining those already colonized. Even large tracts of country are better managed and dealt with by colonists on the spot. If it is desired to send out emigrants, that can best be done with the assistance of the colonists themselves, and when they have obtained a large population you will find they will colonize the adjoining lands themselves.

Bill read 3ª (according to order); an Amendment made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.