Murdoch to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
29 June 1859
I have to acknowledge your letter of 21st instant enclosing the extract of a Despatch from the Governor of VanCouvers Island, on the subject of communications which have passed between him and the House of Assembly of that Island, relative to the reservation by the Government of Crown Lands in the several Districts of the Colony.
2. The House of Assembly, it appears, had requested the Governor to make reserves in certain DistrictsManuscript imageDistricts of 100 acres for educational and 100 acres for public purposes—and the Governor in answer informed the House that he had instructed the Surveyor General "to make large reserves for the general purposes of Government" in certain districts which he named. To this, however, the Assembly objected on the ground that large reserves are prejudicial to a Colony, and that endowments in Land for religious Establishments are objectionable—and they requested that (as I understand their meaning) Reserves should be made only to the extent and for the purposes suggestedManuscript imagesuggested by them, and that no reserves should in any case be sold or otherwise disposed of except with the consent of the Legislature. The Governor informed the House that it was not in his power to comply literally with their request, but that he would recommend it for the favorable consideration of H.M. Government. In the Despatch of which an Extract is enclosed in your letter he describes the claim advanced by the Assembly as unconstitutional and an encroachment on the rights of the Crown.
3. So long as the control over the Waste Land remains in the handsManuscript imagehands of the Crown, it is for the Crown or its representative to decide what reserves may be necessary for public purposes. And in a young Colony it would not be advisable to lay down any narrow or inelastic rule, either as to the extent of the reserves which should be made or the purposes to which they should be applied. At the same time there is much truth in the objection of the House of Assembly, that extensive reserves are prejudicial, inasmuch as they interrupt communications & interfere with the concentration of the population—andManuscript imageand they have been invariably found an objectionable form of endowment for religious establishments in the Colonies.
4. In the Land Sales Act
the Imperial Legislature
of 1842
5 & 6 Vic. C. 36
Parliament specified the objects for which reserves might be made as follows: For public Roads or other internal communications whether by Land or water—or for the use or benefit of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Country—or for purposes of military defence—or as the sites of places for public Worship, schools or other public Buildings—or as places for the interment of the dead—or places for the recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of any Town or Village—or as the sitesManuscript imagesites of public Quays or landing places on the Sea Coast or Shores of Navigable Streams—or for any other purpose of public safety, convenience, health or enjoyment. This specification appears to furnish a very sufficient rule as to the nature of the Reserves to be made in a new Colony. The general principle is indicated in the concluding words of it—vizt—that Reserves should be made for any public object requiring the use of Land, but not for the purpose of raising a Revenue either by its cultivation or by its sale at a future period.
In Manuscript image
5. In regard to the request of the Assembly that no Reserves should be used or disposed of except with the consent of the Legislature, it would not be advisable to comply with it so long as the management of the Crown Lands is retained in the hands of the Executive Government. But the Governor would no doubt willingly consider in any such matter any suggestions or recommendations which he might receive from the Legislature.
6. If the Duke of Newcastle should concur in the above views I would submit that the Governor should be informed that the Secretary of State does not think itManuscript imageit desirable to restrict the reservation of Land to the extent proposed by the House of Assembly, but that Reserves should not be made beyond what the ascertained or highly probable wants of the public service render necessary—and should not be used as a means of raising an income for any establishment or person. It might further be proper to state that the Secretary of State approves of his having declined to accede to the requestManuscript imagerequest of the Assembly that the Reserves should be dealt with only according to the views of the Legislature.
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
You are aware that no exchange of Crown Lands for a Civil List has yet been effected in this Colony.
ABd 30 June
I should adopt the Comrs' views.
I should therefore ackge the Governor's despatch, should inform him of the facts stated in Par: 4 as to the purposes enumerated in the Land Sales Act of 1842 as fit objects for reserves, and should then answer in accordance with par: 6 of this report.
TFE 7 July
CF 9
N 10