No. 127, Financial
8 April 1859
Sir,
I have the honor of transmitting herewith for your information, an abstract of the Revenue and Expenditure of the Colony of British Columbia, taken from the Accounts of that Colony, which have been made up in a clearManuscript imageclear and intelligible form, to the 23rd day of February 1859.
2. Those Books comprise all our Financial transactions up to that period. It will be observed, that the Income derived from the various sources therein shewn, amounts to the sum of £22,924.1.5; and the expenditure for the same period, to £25,059.6.4, exceeding the Income by the sum of £2135.4.11.
3. To meet the deficiency, there is on the other hand the sum of £10,284.19.9 remaining, partly in Cash at Langley, and partly due on the saleManuscript imagesale of Town Lots, at the same place; a small sum invested in Government buildings, and in aid of the Harrison's River Road, which leaves a Balance on that date exceeding £8,000 in favor of the Colony.
Some petty balances may remain outstanding at Fort "Hope", "Yale", and "Lytton", which were not received in time to be incorporated with those accounts; but such sums will be paid out of the current revenues of those Districts.
At the Towns of "Lytton", "Hope" and "Yale", which were surveyed and laid out into building lots, last autumn, no sales have yet been made, but instructions have beenManuscript imagebeen conveyed to the Commissioner of Lands and Works, to bring those lands into the market with as little delay as may be convenient.
4. The construction of the Harrison or Lillooet Road, has been the great source of outlay this season, that work having cost the Colony nearly £14,000.
5. Large as the outlay may appear, it very inadequately represents the value of this important public work, which has removed the difficulty of access, and the great impediment to the development of the mineral regions of British Columbia.
6. TheManuscript image6. The outlay for all other objects connected with the Colony, including £2,300 applied in defraying the extra pay allowed, for one quarter, to the Officers and Ships Companies of Her Majesty's Ships "Satellite" and "Plumper" forms the moderate sum of £11059.
7. The removal of the intended Sea Port Town, from Langley to Queensborough, has caused a depression in the public revenue, arising from sales of Town lands, which ceased entirely at the former place, with the first announcement of the proposed change in the seat of Government.
Colonel Moody reports that itManuscript imageit will be several weeks before the survey of the site of Queensborough is completed, and that no country land will be surveyed for sale before the first week in May.
8. Those sources of revenue are therefore for the present altogether unproductive though the current expenses of the Colony are somewhat increased by the addition of civil assistants to expedite the survey of country lands, and to increase the means and efficiency of the Department of Lands and Works, and to render it productive of revenue.
9. TheManuscript image9. The Colonial Treasurer advocates Stamp duties as a source of revenue "in combination with a self paying Registration of Assurances affecting real property," and I have desired him to prepare a report on the best means of carrying those views into effect.
If such duties be confined even to conveyances of real estate, they will be productive of considerable revenue.
10. The want of an assay office in the Colony is felt as a public inconvenience, and is no doubt highly detrimental to the commercial interests of the country. ThereManuscript imageThere being at present no means here of ascertaining the true commercial value of Gold dust, the merchant to save himself from loss will only purchase it, at a low rate, which the Miner will not accept, or the gold dust is retained in the Merchant's hands in deposit, until samples of it are sent and tested at San Francisco.
Hundreds of Miners worn out with the expense and delay so occasioned, fly in disgust with their gold, to San Francisco.
11. An assay office established here, the evil would cease to operate, and the gold would remain in the country.
12. TheManuscript image12. The establishment of an assay office would otherwise I believe, prove of signal advantage to the public revenue, in as much as it would give facilities for levying an export duty on Gold. That is now impossible, and will be, so long as the Miner cannot get a fair price for his gold in this country, and in consequence keeps it in his own hands. If collected at all, in those circumstances the duty would have to be wrung from each individual miner, and they, to elude the payment, would cross the frontier and flyManuscript imagefly with their treasures into the United States.
13. The Assay Office would provide a remedy for the evil. Every man, might through its aid, learn from an official source the true value of any gold in his possession, and either spend or exchange it for coin in the country. This would throw the export of gold into the hands of large dealers who having no inducement to smuggle equal to the risk, would export through the lawful channel, paying the duty, which they in turn would take care to levyManuscript imagelevy on the Miner, by deducting it from the price paid.
14. An export duty might then be imposed with advantage and be found easy and cheap of collection.
The other features of the Australian system of taxation on Miners, might also be adopted and made applicable to the circumstances of British Columbia; in which case the Licence Fee on Miners, so objectionable on account of the expense, and affrays produced in its collection would cease to be enforced.
15. I have only further to state in reference to the Abstract ofManuscript imageof British Columbia Accounts, forwarded, that the Treasurer Captain Gosset, has now the sole and entire arrangement of the Financial Department over which I have hitherto had to maintain a rigid control.
I have etc.
James Douglas

Note. Subject continued in Despatch No 135.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
Treasury—see minute on 5331.
The Revenue of the Colony is scarcely what we hoped. But this Account includes the winter season, & dates from the [inception?] of the Colony which was perhaps not to be expected at first starting. Later reports may be more favorable.
ABd 1 June
Recommend the proposal of an assay office to the serious consideration of the Treasury?
HM June 1
C June 2
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Note in file as follows: "C.O. 60 Vol. 4 Folios 266 verso, 267 recto, being too large will be photographed later."
Douglas, James to Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer 8 April 1859, CO 60:4, no. 5439, 259. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B59127.html.

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