No. 16
Downing Street
16 February 1867
I have had under my consideration a Despatch from Acting Governor Birch, No. 63 of the 8th of October last, relative to the traffic in Spirits with Indians.
I see no reason to complain of the Servants of the Hudson's Bay Company for having drawn attentiontoManuscript image to this subject. If they saw an injurious illicit trade in liquor, they were right to denounce it to the Government.
As to their declining to undertake the Office of detecting and punishing illicit Traders, in fact to discharge the function of Custom House Officers, it must be remembered that the Company are no longer rulers or a political body, but only commercial. There is hardly reason to complain of Traders declining to accept the questionable business ofjudgingManuscript image judging and punishing rival Traders.
I gather from Mr. Birch's Despatch that there are in British Columbia effectual Laws against the illegal Spirit trade which do not exist in Vancouver Island. This distinction will not, I apprehend, be removed by the Union Act, since the 5th Section keeps in force the separate Laws of each place until otherwise provided, with the single exception of the Laws relative to the RevenueofManuscript image of Customs. I by no means wish you to act precipitately in seeking an extension of any of the British Columbia Laws to Vancouver Island, as it will be advisable that you should avoid raising any jealousies or alarms on that point, and should aim at bringing about gradually and with the assent of public opinion such assimilation of the Laws as may be desirable. But if it be the fact that there are enactmentsinManuscript image in British Columbia which are wanting in Vancouver Island, proved by experience to act as a useful check on the injurious and demoralizing traffic with the Natives in Spirits, it will be very proper that you should take any favorable opportunity of endeavouring to procure an extension of those salutary Laws to the whole of the United Colony.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
humble Servant