No. 65
12th October 1866
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Secretary Cardwell's despatch No. 24 of the 1st May, directing me to take steps for assessing the amount of CompensationthatManuscript image that may be considered fairly payable to Messrs Clark and Skinner on account of the premature termination of their contract for the supply of the Troops in British Columbia.
2. In obedience to these Instructions I have now the honor to enclose a copy of a Report furnished by Mr Trutch, the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, after a perusal of the correspondence and documents relating to Messrs Clark & Skinners Claim.
3. MrManuscript image
3. Mr Trutch's long experience as a Public Contractor and his personal knowledge of the circumstances connected with Messrs Clark & Skinner's contract peculiarly qualify him to give an opinion on this subject.
4. I consider the basis taken by Mr Trutch for assessing the amount of Messrs Clark & Skinner's claim more simple and fair than that proposed by Major General Moody in the correspondence which accompanied MrCardwell'sManuscript image Cardwell's despatch. I would therefore beg leave to suggest that Mr Trutch's recommendation be adopted.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Arthur N. Birch
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
This is a claim to compensation for loss sustained by Messrs Skinner in consequence of the abrupt termination of their contract to supply the force of Engineers with provisions. Colonel Moody, to whom the matter was referred by the W.O., admitted theManuscript image hardship of the case, but denied that the Messrs Skinner had any ground for asserting a right. The War Office (4022) are of opinion that the compensation, if granted, should not be charged on Army Funds—while Mr Seymour (4118) thinks that the Colonial Treasury should not be called upon to make provision for it. The two points now to be decided are 1st whether the claim is a just one, and, if so, 2nd from what source it is to be paid.
VJ 26 Decr
FR 29/12
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This is an unpleasant case. On the 1st of April 1863 General Moody commanding the Troops in British Columbia (consisting of a party of Royal Engineers) made a contract for their supplies for 12 months. But at the end of 8 months the Troops were suddenly removed. The contractors had in the meanwhile erected large Butchers' shops and stalls, and represented that they suffered heavy losses, estimated by them at £1000.
The justice of their claim to some compensation has been admitted by all the Authorities who have considered the case—by the Colonial Attorney General, by General Moody who commanded the Troops, and by Mr Seymour, the Governor of the Colony.
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With regard to amount, Acting Governor Birch recommends an estimate formed by Mr Trutch, the Chief Commissioner of Lands, on the following basis: he dismisses all question of losses incurred by sudden changes in the course of trade, and by Customs duties in the U. States, but taking the profits made by the Contractors on 8 months, he awards to them the profits which they would have made at the same rate on the remaining months, i.e. it is presumed the difference between the prices payable by the Govt & the cost of the articles to the Contractors. On this principle his estimate amounts to about £568, taking the value of the dollar at 4s/2d.
If the claim be just, the next question is the source of payment. The War Office decline, because they never had anything to do with providing from Army Estimates the supplies or the Colonial Pay of the Troops inBritishManuscript image British Columbia. The whole of these charges were defrayed either out of Colonial funds or special grants of Parliament for the Colony. This reasoning seems valid. As regards Colonial funds, Mr Seymour has submitted that since the withdrawal of the Troops was an act of the Imperial Govt, the Colony ought not to pay for the consequent loss on the contract for provisions. This is to be weighed, but the choice will lie between either paying the sum out of Colonial funds or else submitting a special estimate for it to Parliament.
TFE 25 Jany
Ld Carnarvon
Whatever Departt or Treasury paid the contract on the 8 months, ought to pay the forfeit on the remaining 4.
CBA 26/1
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I sd be glad to see Mr Elliot on this.
C 31 Jany
Lord Carnarvon saw me this week, & decided that this should lie over for his successor.
TFE 8 March
I do not see the original contract on which claim is supposed to arise.
B&C 9/3/67
TFE 9/3
The contract was absolute for 1 year. It was made by an imperial officer on behalf of "Her Majesty's Government." The troops were removed by Imperial govnt & not upon any application of Colonial government.
The groundation for the claim therefore rests on Acts of Imperial Officers—and the circs appear to give a good ground for some compensation. I see no reason to question the amount recommended by Mr Birch & Mr Trutch—this amt of £568 shd be paid therefore from Imp. funds & the Treasury may probably think the best mode will be to take a special vote for the amt as supplemental to the vote for B. Columbia. Consult Treasury thereon.
B&C 12/3
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Mr Elliot
It was decided by a Despatch from Sir E. Lytton in Sept 1858 that "it wod be impossible to impose on this Country the charge for the R. Engineers," & that the first charge on the Land Sales must be that of re-imbursing the Imperial Treasury forManuscript image all expenses incurred in the expedition.
Such were the conditions but the Colony found itself unable to repay, & the rule had to be relaxed in practice, the burden falling upon this Country.
No exact time was specified for them to remain butManuscript image in 1863 the War Office inquired whether their services were still required, & the Duke of Newcastle decided that they might be withdrawn.
FWF 1 Feb
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Copy, J.W. Trutch to Officer Administering the Government, 16 October 1866, advising that the claim appeared a just one and recommending the sum of £568 in total settlement, with explanation.
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 18 March 1867, forwarding correspondence on the subject with recommendation that parliament be asked to grant the money in a supplementary colonial estimate.