No. 50
22 August 1861
My departure for the interior of British Columbia shortly after the receipt of your Despatch No 67 of the 24th February last, and the many matters I have had pressing upon my attention since my return, will, I trust, be accepted as my apology fornotManuscript image not earlier affording the information required in respect to the Accounts of the Colony of British Columbia.
2. I gather from the tenor of the Despatch that Your Grace considers inattention has been exhibited to established Rules, and to previous Despatches upon the subject of the periodical transmissions of Colonial Returns and Accounts. I cannot but express my deep regret that such should be considered to be the case, and my hope that hereafter it will be found that all Returns and Accounts will be renderedwithManuscript image with the utmost punctuality. I am glad however to think that the receipt of my Despatches No 7 of the 26th January, No 12 of the 7th February, and No 18 of the 19th February, will have afforded to Your Grace within a short time after the date of your Despatch, the information that was the more immediately wanted for the furtherance of the interests of the Colony, and will have evinced that I was not altogether unmindful of established regulations; and I have now the satisfaction of acquainting Your Grace that the entire Accounts,bothManuscript image both for the year 1859 and for 1860, were forwarded to the Commissioners of Audit on the 15th of last month, after having undergone a thorough Audit in the Colony, and been ascertained to be in a very satisfactory condition, as will be seen from the enclosed copy of a report upon their state which I called for from the Auditor at the time of the receipt of Your Grace's Despatch, knowing the Accounts to be then in his hands.
3. With respect to the delay that has undoubtedly occurred, I feel assured Your Grace will notoverlookManuscript image overlook the great difficulties with which we have had to contend in the organization of Departments in British Columbia; a Colony suddenly called into existence under peculiar and unforeseen circumstances; a Country previously unsettled, and unoccupied, and far removed from the parent State from whence supplies could be drawn suitable to requirements. To find men fitted for the many offices it was absolutely necessary to create for the peace, order, and good government of the Country, has from the first been to me a source of harrassing anxiety,andManuscript image and although men have been found capable of discharging the more important duties of Assistant Gold Commissioners and Justices of the Peace with perhaps even more than ordinary discretion and firmness, yet it can scarcely be expected at once to realize in such men the qualities of trained Accountants, enabling them to keep with correctness and punctuality, in addition to the Accounts pertinent to their Department, the elaborate Accounts incident to a Sub-Treasurer, or District Collector, all of which it has been imperative that they should attempt to do in order that the System of AccountestablishedManuscript image established for British Columbia should be carried out. That failure should arise at first, that greatly increased labour should fall upon the head Offices, and that delays should in consequence occur, is no more than a natural result. Such has been the case in British Columbia, and to attempt to overcome these drawbacks, and to render the entire accounts of the Colony in the first year of its existence in a shape closely approximate to the system we were directed to adopt, must I principally attribute the delay which has arisen in forwarding any Accounts at all.
4. With regard to theBookManuscript image Book of Colonial Rules and Regulations, I have but one Copy;
Send him some more copies.
3 copies sent.
EBP 11/1/6
I have, however, since the receipt of Your Grace's Despatch communicated to the Treasurer the paragraphs to which you draw my attention respecting the Special Returns required. I will take care that in future these Returns are punctually forwarded, but I cannot now, under these circumstances, charge the Treasurer with any remissness of compliance with those rules, and I have not, consequently, called upon him for the explanation which Your Grace required, if the omission were justly attributable to him. IwouldManuscript image would ask Your Grace to cause three Copies of the Book of Regulations and Two Copies of "Instructions to Governors of Colonies," respecting Accounts, to be furnished to me by the first suitable opportunity, in order that hereafter inconvenience may be avoided and the strictest attention be given to the requirements therein contained.
5. I cannot close this Despatch without observing that the system of Accounts established for British Columbia, which is similar to that pursued in Ceylon, does not appear to be suitable in its entirety to a Colony so small and so expensive as British Columbia. In Ceylon probably three or fourexcellentManuscript image excellent Clerks and good Accountants (Natives) can be obtained for a less rate of Salary than one young, inexperienced and untrained Clerk can command in British Columbia. The multiplicity of Documents, the consumption of paper, the cost of printing Forms, the expense of postage, and the amount of clerical labor arising out of this System appear greatly incongruous to the circumstances of the Revenue and Population of the Colony. Some time back I called upon the Treasurer to report whether he was able to suggest some modification of the system that would have the effect of lessening labor and expense, but he did not seem inclined to proposeanyManuscript image any alterations, greatly approving of the system as a whole. I notice however that the Auditor does consider that a more simple and less expensive system might be substituted; and I should be glad if Her Majesty's Government would permit me to dispense with some of the More elaborate details, taking care meanwhile that no safeguard or really efficient check be withdrawn.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
Send copy of the whole correspondence to the Treasury enquiring whether the Lords Crs consider it desirable to modify the system of Accounts for B. Columbia, as suggested by the Govr, & if so to furnish this Dt with such a system as they shall think more suitable & likely to attain the Accounts.
N.B. It seems to me strange that the Treasurer with four Clerks shd not be able to keep and make out the accounts of a Colony whose income & expre is between £50 & £60,000 a year. And I think that the Governor ought to have fulfilled the Duke of Newcastle's instruction of calling upon the Treasurer for an explanation of the delay of which we complain.
In saying that the Treasurer has 4 Clerks I mean that he has that number now. I do not know what staff he had in 59/60.
ABd 11 Octr
Refer to Treasury, as proposed by Mr Blackwood?
TFE 11/10
N 12
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Auditor General to Colonial Secretary, 10 May 1861, explaining the dates he received information from the treasurer necessary to carry out the audit and offering further explanation for the delay in forwarding the 1859 accounts.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 17 October 1861, forwarding copy of the despatch and asking whether a modification of the accounting system could be effected.