No. 14
16 February 1869
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No. 127 of 30th November enclosing a Petition to Her Majesty from the Municipal Council of New Westminster, and a Copy of one which will be presented to both Houses of Parliament from the same body claiming compensationonManuscript image on account of the removal of the Capital of the Colony to Victoria, and complaining that the New Westminster Land Fund has not been employed in the improvement of the Roads and Streets.
I have been unable to advise Her Majesty that the Memorialists' claim for compensation is well founded.
When New Westminster was proclaimed the Capital of British Columbia, I am not aware that the Government gave, or was asked to give, any pledge that the Capital would never under any circumstances be removed. It isindeedManuscript image indeed evident that if any such pledge had been asked it would have been peremptorily refused, or if made by the Governor would have been disallowed by the Home Government.
It is indispensable that the Supreme Power in a young Country should remain at liberty to change the Site of the Capital, if necessary on Sanitary, political or Commercial, or any other sufficient grounds, and every land purchaser in the neighbourhood of a Capital buys his land subject to this possibility, and though his natural expectations that theseterminationManuscript image determination of Government will not be hastily reversed are entitled to all practicable consideration from the Government, yet he can have no claim to indemnity in case these expectations are disappointed.
Much therefore as I regret any losses which have been sustained by the purchasers of land in New Westminster, I cannot recommend Her Majesty to comply with the Memorial from the Municipal Council of that place.
With regard to the misapplication of the Land Fund, I have to observe that no documents are referred to either in supportofManuscript image of the allegation that the purchase money of Town lots in New Westminster was to be devoted to improving Streets and Roads in the City or of the allegation that they have not been so devoted.
On these points the first step of the Memorialists should be to bring their case before the Legislative Council through those Gentlemen by whom they are substantially represented in that body, and it would be for the local Government to consider, at least in the first instance, by what form of enquiry the grievance should be ascertained, and for the localLegislatureManuscript image Legislature to provide for its removal.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
humble Servant