Laing to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Treasury Chambers
25 April 1860
In reply to Mr Merivale's Letter of the 29th February last, and to your Letter of the 12th Instant, relative to the proposed payment to the Hudson's Bay Company of the sum of £25,000, towards the adjustment of their claims Consequent upon the resumption of Vancouver Island by the Crown; I am directed by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to acquaint you, for the information of the Duke of Newcastle, that, as it appears that the total sum to be awarded to the Hudson's Bay Company, for the adjustment of these claims, cannot at present be ascertained, My Lords are of opinion that the time has not yet arrived for submitting to Parliament an Estimate for the discharge of such Claims.
Their Manuscript image
Their Lordships will however be prepared to advance the sum of £25,000 recommended by the Emigration Commissioners, at the proper time, such advance to be replaced out of such moneys as Parliament may hereafter vote for this service.
As the settlement of these claims must be founded on an investigation not only of the cost of the Buildings &c: erected by the Company, but of the account of Credits for Land Sales &c: and upon an Estimate of the abatements to be made, from the outlay of the Company for deterioration,
No doubt. But so they must [one word off file] before the 25000 is paid?
My Lords would suggest to the Duke of Newcastle that it would be advisable to entrust the examination of the several Accounts to an Officer of His Grace's Department, assisted by one to be named by this board; and that the Estimate to be submitted to Parliament should be founded on their Report, which should be printed with such Estimate; and, upon hearing that His Grace approves of this suggestion, Their Lordships will instruct one of Their Officers to put himself inManuscript imagein Communication forthwith with the Colonial Office, in order that no unnecessary delay may take place.
I am etc.
J. Laing
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
Pending the receipt of this answer we have been obliged to pause in referring the despatch to Govr Douglas, which was written by Mr Murdoch, to the Hudson's Bay Co as proposed in yr minute on 2978. You will now be able to advise whether it should still be referred to that Co, and with what, if any amendment—for the Treasury seem to require an examination of the Accounts previously to payment of the £25,000.
You will also have to consider what we are to tell the Co.
ABd 25 Apl
The Treasury letter is obscure, but I hardly think they mean to require a fresh investigation of the claims before the £25,000 is paid. It is very desirable they should not: as, until that sum is paid, there may still be difficulties with the Company about the land sales in Vanc. I. Place Mr Murdoch in communication with the Ty? He will easily explain to them how the matter really stands.
HM Apl 26
Advise Mr Murdoch accordingly?
CF 28
N 28
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Mr Elliot
In obedience to the Minutes on this letter [I] have seen Mr Shelly of the Treasury, and have been informed by him that the Treasury will be prepared to pay the £25,000 at once, on being requested by the Colonial Office to do [so]. The proposed investigation will be preliminary to the final closing of the account.
I think its right, however to remind you that the arrangement with the H.B.Co. is a compromize—and that it is by no means advisable to make the investigation which [is] proposed very stringent. The Co were told, in the letter proposing the compromize that altho' their accounts must be supported by reasonable proof of expenditure, the Govt would not insist strictly on the production of vouchers where probably no voucher had Manuscript imagebeen taken. If a severe scrutiny should now be instituted into their accounts, the Co might complain that faith is not kept with them—and might be disposed to fall back on the terms of the grant of 1849. In that case it is impossible not to fear that the Crown might eventually find itself compelled to pay for the whole expenditure of the Co amounting to upwards of £225,000, and it is not clear that even after paying that sum the Co would not have a further claim against it.
TWCM 1 May 1860
TFE 1 May
Write now to Ty asking them to pay the £25000 to the Co. The investigation will be matter for subsequent arrangement. [Next?], see to the land sales in Vanc. I.
HM My 1
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I have no doubt but that Mr Murdoch is quite right in his caution.
CF 3
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to Laing, 5 May 1860, asking that the paymaster general be authorized to advance £25,000 to the Hudson's Bay Company as a payment on account.
Minutes by CO staff
See draft to the Hud. Bay Company on 2978—which may now proceed?
An amended draft submitted in consequence of a message from the Treasury.
TFE 15 May
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 17 May 1860, concurring with his suggestion that the accounts of the Hudson's Bay Company be examined prior to disbursement of the initial £25,000, but stressing the need for a speedy settlement.
Minutes by CO staff
The Treasury have sent word that they did not mean to promise payment of the money absolutely, but only upon condition of some such cursory inspection of the accounts as may shew that £25,000 will certainly fall within the total amount that will ultimately be proved to be due. This Draft is therefore submitted. They are quite prepared to act upon it immediately & without any needless obstruction.