Murdoch to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
31st May 1869
I have to acknowledge your letter of this day with a despatch from the Governor of B. Columbia enclosing an Ordinance passed by the Legislature of that Colony entitled "An Ordinance to facilitate the working of Mineral Lands."
2. The Attorney General explains that the previous system of leasing mineral lands, which was copied from the system prevailing in this country, had become so unpopular—especially when conManuscript imagetrasted with the simpler system prevailing in the United States—as to repel Capitalists. It became, therefore, necessary to adopt a new system and with this view a Committee was appointed to consider the subject, and their report is enclosed in the Governor's despatch. Eventually the Ordinance now sent home was after full discussion adopted by the Legislature, and it is recommended to favorable consideration by the Governor & Attorney General.
3. The general principle of the Ordinance is to allow any person to apply for and obtain a prospecting licence for 2 years renewable for one year more,Manuscript image over a certain extent of mineral land—and during the currency of the Licence to purchase a certain extent of the land comprized in it at a fixed price. The quantity of Land to be included in a prospecting Coal Licence is to be 500 Acres for an individual, and 2500 for an Association of 10 or more persons. The quantity to be included in a Licence to search for silver and the baser minerals is to be 100 Acres for an individual and 500 Acres for an Association of 10 or more persons. The quantity of Coal Land that may be purchased by an individual is not prescribed—but an Association may purchase not exceeding 1000 Acres at theManuscript image rate of $5 an Acre. The quantity of other mineral land that may be purchased by an individual is 3/5ths of an Acre at the price of $100 or by an Association 18 Acres at the price of $250—in each case in addition to the expense of survey. But on proof that $10,000 has been expended on Coal Lands, or on Mineral Lands $1000 by an individual, or $5000 by an Association, the Governor may grant the Land without further payment. The Ordinance requires notice to be given before application for prospecting licences—and also before the issue of Crown Grants—and in the case of grantsManuscript image it provides that if an adverse claim is put in all proceedings shall be stayed till it has been decided by the proper tribunal. But a Crown Grant when once issued is indefeasible except in case of fraud or wilful misrepresentation. The rights of the Crown are reserved, and it is provided that the Land acquired under the Ordinance shall be subject to any regulations affecting its acquisition and tenure, which may from time to time be prescribed by Law.
4. It is anticipated by the Attorney General that the Ordinance will attract much new Capital and a large settled population to the Colony, principally, it is to beManuscript image inferred, from the United States. If this be so, it will confer an advantage on the Colony far exceeding its pecuniary results. The only risk appears to be that speculators may purchase mineral lands under it with the view, not of working them themselves, but of holding them over for future sale at an advanced price. This however may be guarded against by vigilance and caution on the part of the Government, and if further power is required to do so it may be obtained under the proviso in the first section which subjects the acquisition and tenure of land purchased under the OrdinanceManuscript image to such regulations as may be subsequently established by Law.
5. Upon the whole I would recommend that the Ordinance should receive Her Majesty's confirmation. The Governor requests that the decision may be communicated to him by telegraph in order, apparently, not to lose the present mining season. Whether H. Majesty's confirmation of the Ordinance can be conveyed by telegraph in a sufficiently formal manner to allow of it being proclaimed at once in the Colony I am not aware.
I have the honor to be
Your Obedient
Humble Servant
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Holland
The Govr wishes the decision on the Ordinance to be telegraphed. It has a suspending Clause. Can a telegram convey HM's confirmation?
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Sir F. Rogers
I think a telegram may be sent to the effect that HM has been graciously pleased to confirm & allow Ordinance No 22 of 1869.
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Done 14 June.
The Govr can publish this.
Then by next Mail send out Report of Land Board & formally sanction the Ordinance again to guard against any accident.
HTH 1.6.69
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So proceed.
FR 1/6
WM 3/6
G 4/6
Other documents included in the file
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Draft telegram, Granville to Seymour, 14 June 1869.
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Draft reply, Monsell (for Granville) to Officer Administering the Government, No. 56, 15 June 1869.
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Draft reply, Granville to Officer Administering the Government, No. 58, 16 June 1869.