Booth to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Office of Committee of Privy Council for Trade,
Whitehall
7 April 1859
Sir,
I am directed by the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 31st Ultimo, transmitting copies of two Despatches from the Governor of British Columbia calling attention to the urgent necessity for the erectionManuscript imageerection of Lighthouses in Fucas Straits, and the approaches to the Harbour of Esquimalt, and stating that as the Colonial Office cannot apply to Parliament for a grant of money for these necessary public works and as the Colony has not at present the means of paying for them, Sir E.B. Lytton is desirous of being informed whether My Lords cannot include the required Lighthouses within "the class of Imperial Lights," and give the Colony someManuscript imagesome assistance towards their erection out of the funds placed at their disposal for such services.
In reply My Lords direct me to state that, whilst there can be no doubt of the importance of the proposed Lights, they are required for the Trade of the Colony, and not, as in the case of the Lights in the Bahamas and elsewhere, for the Trade which merely passes the Colony.
Under these circumstances they are Lights which should, My LordsManuscript imageLords think, if practicable, be erected and maintained by and at the cost of the Colony rather than the Home Government.
But even if the Lights in question could be said to belong to the class of Imperial Lights, i.e. of Lights which the Home Government is bound to erect or maintain for the purposes of the general passing Trade, their Lordships could still have no funds at their disposal out of which to erect or maintain them.
The only Manuscript image
The only funds out of which My Lords can pay the expenses of Colonial Lights are first, sums raised by levying Tolls under the Act 18 & 19 Vict: c. 91, and secondly, sums voted by Parliament.
The present case does not appear to be one in which it is desirable to levy Tolls under the Act in question, since the only Trade which would pay the Tolls is the Trade of the Colony and the Colony can itself, if so disposed, levy Tolls on account of the Lights in itsManuscript imagein its own Ports.
And as regards monies voted by Parliament it is to be observed that the only votes are votes taken by the Treasury on the responsibility of this Department for the services of special Lighthouses mentioned in the votes.
If, notwithstanding the fact that these Lights cannot be classed as Imperial Lights, the circumstances of the Colony of British Columbia are such as to make it proper that these Lights should be erected withManuscript imagewith Imperial instead of Colonial Funds, those circumstances are matters within the cognizance of the Colonial Office rather than of this Department; and if it is thought right that a vote for the purpose should be taken by the Treasury, the vote should My Lords think be taken on the responsibility of the Colonial Office, and the application to the Treasury for the purpose should be made by that Office.
If it should be decided to takeManuscript imageto take a vote for the purpose My Lords will be glad to give their best advice and assistance in the matter.
At the same time they could not without obtaining further local information state with accuracy and certainty what the expense to be incurred in the Colony in erecting these Lights will be.
A copy of a further memorandum by Captain Sulivan, R.N. on the character and probable costManuscript imagecost of these Lights is enclosed for Sir E.B. Lytton's information.
I have etc.
James Booth
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
The reasoning of the Board of Trade seems irresistible: & the question resolves itself into two considerations. Is the case sufficiently strong to justify Sir E. Lytton in recommending the T-y to take a vote for setting up the lights
or

should we tell the Governor we cannot help him, & that if lights are so necessary he must himself raise the funds for the purpose.
The view I take is adverse to an application to Parlt for as the trade is only a Colonial one, & at present moderate in extent, it will be difficult to support the request by reference to those general principles which guide Parlt in granting funds for Colonial Lights. If this is a correct view the alternative is to adjourn the establishment of the Lights until the Colony can itself find the means of paying for them. And perhaps this is the most wholesome policy in the end.
ABd 8 Apl
I have no doubt the Bd of Trade is right in saying that it is our business at the Colonial Office to put the expense of these lights on our estimates, if they are to be paid for out of Imperial funds at all. Manuscript imageI suppose therefore the subject must be adjourned, although it is a pity that the Americans have so much the start of us.
HM Apl 11
See Capt Sulivan's letter to Mr Merivale & Mr M. minute annexed. A draft I think may be prepared on Capt Sulivan's Letter to the Govr.
Meanwhile the Admiralty & the Bd of Trade will write officially to us on the subject.
C Apl 17
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
B.J. Sulivan, memorandum on the necessity of installing the lights.
Manuscript image
Sulivan to [Merivale], 12 April, 1859, expressing his conviction that the lighthouses should be installed with or without the financial support of the home government.
Minutes by CO staff
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Ld Carnarvon
Capt Sulivan of the Bd of Trade is very anxious about these lighthouses and with good reason. He says the loss of a single vessel would cost this country very probably much more than their expense, and moreover we stand in Manuscript imagediscredit as compared with the Americans.
I told him our difficulty with respect to any addition to our B. Col. Estimates, but said that if the Admiralty took on themselves, to urge it as a question of public security we might be perhaps persuaded. Manuscript imageOr if he could suggest any way of fairly throwing it on the colony, we might write by Mail of 15th.
He has accordingly sent here this note which might serve (if you think proper) as the basis of a despatch to the Governor. You see Manuscript imagethe cost is reduced to 7000, i.e. for two lights only.
HM Apl 12
The Bd of Trade will write to us—also Admiralty on this subject. But Capn Sulivan requests that his note to Mr Merivale may be regarded only in the light of a private communication & not to be used officially.
Booth, James to Merivale, Herman 7 April 1859, CO 60:6, no. 3721, 78. 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/B595TA02.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)