Peel to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Treasury Chambers
23 October 1862
I am directed by The Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to acquaint you, for the information of The Duke of Newcastle, that They observe with regret the tone exhibited by the Gentlemen of the Assay Dt at New Westminster in British Columbia, in the correspondence enclosed in the Despatch of theGovernorManuscript image Governor of that Colony, which accompanied Mr Elliot's letter of the 22nd Ultimo, particularly as it will be seen by the observations of The Master of the Mint in his letter of the 3 Inst, copy of which is forwarded herewith, that the terms of their engagement do not support their right to any increase of Salary beyond what they have already received.
My Lords would have beenManuscript image disposed to have expressed, in the strongest terms, Their sense of the impropriety of the course taken and the language used by these Gentlemen, and which, as stated in Governor Douglas' letter of 28 July, appeared to bear very much the complexion of an attempt upon their part to coerce the Government into a compliance with their demands at a moment when they believed their services to be indispensable.SuchManuscript image Such a course and language on the part of any Servants of Her Majesty would not, under ordinary circumstances, be tolerated in the Public Service.
Having regard, however, to the inexperience of these Gentlemen, and to the fact that their aid has been ultimately given to the Mintage operations, My Lords will leave to GovernorDouglasManuscript image Douglas the decision as to the propriety of complying with Captain Gossett's recommendations for an increase of Salary to the several Members of the Assay Department in consideration of the additional Duties now devolving on them.
Their Lordships think it right to re-call the attention of the Secretary of State to the former correspondence on the subject of the establishment of a Mint in BritishBritishManuscript image Columbia, and more particularly to the grounds upon which My Lords were pleased to waive the objections which They entertained to the establishment of an Assay and Refinery Department, under Government Control, instead of leaving such work to private enterprise.
The grounds upon which My Lords came to the conclusion that this might be permittedManuscript image under the circumstances were:
1st That no private Establishment would command the confidence of the Miners.
2nd That the Government Offices would very soon become self supporting.
It now appears that the Public has not to any great extent availed itself of the Government Assay Office, and, consequently, so far from its being self-supportingthatManuscript image that a loss of upwards of £6000 has already accrued.
There is no information contained in the Papers before this Board as to what has led to a result so different from what was anticipated, and Their Lordships request that a Return may be furnished showing what amount of Work has been performed in the Assay Office, month by month, since it came intofullManuscript image full operation, the actual current cost of the Office up to the latest period, and the receipts, accompanied by explanations of the causes which have led to the apparent failure of the project, and the views of the Governor with regard to its prospects for the future.
My Lords would also be glad to have the Governor's opinion as to retaining the office at New Westminster or removingitManuscript image it to Victoria.
I am,
Your obedient Servant
F. Peel
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The Treasury consider that Offices of a Mint or Assay Establishment in a Crown Colony are under their control. And if so they must have the deciding voice in matters relating to their own Establishment.
I presume that copies of these papers shd be sent to Gov. D. for his infn & guidance.
It is perfectly true that amongst other considerations we were induced to urge the establisht of an Assay Office in B.C. onManuscript image the strong representations of Capn Gosset, the Treasurer, that after the first year the concern would be self supporting. The reverse has been the fact. As Capn G. is now in England he might be able to furnish some explanations.
ABd 24 Oct
I think that the best course will be to send out our letter and the answer from the Treasury to the Governor for his information and guidance, and to say that the result, as His Grace understands it, is to leave it open to the Governor to deal with the case according to his discretion. Request him to furnish the general information called for by the Treasury.
TFE 25 Octr
And then request Captn Gosset to give any explanation in his power.
N 26
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 147, 28 October 1862, informing him of the Treasury's decision and asking that Douglas provide a report reviewing the office's operations and future prospects.
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Draft, Elliot to W.D. Gosset, 30 October 1862, concerning the establishment of the assay office and asking for an explanation of its failure to become self supporting. (For Gosset's reply, see Correspondence.)
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Thomas Graham, Royal Mint, to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 3 October 1862, denying that he made promises to the staff of the assay office in regard to position and salary.