No. 64
Downing Street
6 December 1860
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches No. 78 of the 24th of August and No. 81 of the same date, the former containing your comments on Captain Clarke's scheme for the disposal of land in British Columbia, the latter transmitting a report from Mr Justice Begbie on the same subject.
You inform me that the land regulations of British Columbia including the provisions ofManuscript imageof the preemption Act of 1860 contain substantially all the important suggestions in Captain Clarke's scheme. The only material difference between the two being the acceptance in British Columbia of deferred payments for lands sold and the reservations to the Crown of Gold and Silver on lands sold to individuals.
In respect to the first of these points, I believe that, theoretically, the arguments in favor of prompt payment are conclusive, on the other hand I can readily understand that fromManuscript imagefrom the peculiar character of the population, and the great inducement for the employment of capital, at present, in gold seeking rather than in the cultivation of the Land, the system cannot be enforced practically in British Columbia without creating more inconvenience that it is designed to prevent. Upon the whole, therefore, and looking moreover to the general prevalence of deferred payments on the American Continent, I am willing that for the present, the system which you consider essential to the progress of the Colony should be continued.
With Manuscript image
With regard to the reservation of the Crown's right to the precious metals in sales to private individuals, the reasons which you give for deeming it desirable for public interests that the reservation should be maintained, until the Country has been more completely surveyed, appear to me to be satisfactory, and I accordingly approve your decision in this matter.
It remains therefore for me to convey to you Her Majesty's sanction, which had been withheld pending the receipt of your report, of the "Preemption ActManuscript imageAct of 1860," by which the foregoing regulations are enacted. You will doubtless not have overlooked the amendments in the Act which were suggested in my despatch No. 23 of the 7th of May, and a further amendment (clause 7) will appear to have become necessary in consequence of the reduction in the minimum price per acre of Crown Land which has been effected during the course of this correspondence.
In conclusion I have to request that you will convey to Mr. Begbie my thanks for the interesting report which he has supplied on these subjects.
I have the honor to be
Your Obedient Servant