Walcott to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
4 October 1861
I have to acknowledge your Letter of the 28th ultimo, on the subject of the application from the Governor of Van Couvers Island for an advance of £3000 from the Imperial Government for the purpose of extinguishing the native Title to certain lands in the Colony.
The circumstances of thecaseManuscript image case and the importance and practical economy of extinguishing the aboriginal title on the lands in question as early as possible, are fully set forth in Mr Murdoch's report of the 12th of June last, who recommended that the application should be submitted to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, as the only question which appeared to remain open was the source from which the money should in the first instance be obtained.
3. From Mr Peel's letter of the 25th ultimo which accompanies your Letter it appears that theLordsManuscript image Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to whom the matter had been submitted, are not prepared to purchase up the native Title at the expense of this Country, and do not view the present application as one for a loan, since the House of Assembly had asserted the liability of the Home Government to bear the charge of extinguishing the Title. Their Lordships moreover consider that the Governor's best course would be to follow his previous practice of purchasing the native rights over such land only as was immediately required for settlement, and notonManuscript image on so large a scale at once as to require that a loan should be raised for the purpose.
4. The Governor has however explained, in his Despatch of the 25th of March, his inability to continue the practice of purchasing the Native title, and the great difficulty he experiences in raising sufficient money to defray the most indispensable wants of his Government. As the matter therefore stands the Colony cannot provide the required sum, and the Home Government declines to make a grant of it. The resultwillManuscript image will be that the opportunity will be lost of extinguishing the Native Title on very moderate terms, and that faith cannot be kept with the persons to whom the Government sold the land 3 years ago without endangering the peace of the Country.
5. The only alternative which seems left, that offers a prospect of solving the difficulty, is that the Governor should be invested by the Local Legislature with full powers to raise a loan on the best terms he can, on the security of the land and generalRevenuesManuscript image Revenues of the Colony. This security, and distinct admission of Colonial liability, may probably remove the objection of the Treasury (which I understand is not so much to a loan as to a grant) to guarantee so small a sum as £3000—or if not some capitalist may be found willing to lend it on terms which, looking at the object to be attained, it may be well worth the Colony's while to give.
I have etc.
S. Walcott
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The reason why the Governor finds it difficult to get money for the service of the Govt of Van C. Island is simply because the Legislature is unwilling to tax the Community sufficiently for the purpose. Free trade prevailing there, & Custom House Officers being unknown—whilst the proportion of taxable persons is very small—it is doubtless a source of embarassment how to raise funds so as to make every body contribute his just share towards the expenses of the public service. [But I?] suppose that difficulty may be overcome at Van C. I. as it has been in other places. In this particular case there can be no question that the Land fund of the Colony is the primary source to which the community must look for guaranteeing the loan which is wanted for the extinction of the Indian Titles, or if the Land Fund is inadequate then recourse must be had as Mr Walcott suggests, to the general revenue of the Colony.
ABd 5 Octr
Two things appear to me equally clear, 1st That the land ought to be purchased, and 2nd, That it ought not to be done by English money or by English credit. The Colonists cannot be suffered to cast their own proper duties and burthens on the English Tax payer, and the way to prevent it is by steadily refusing to grant them one or the other. The Treasury seems to me perfectly right. IshouldManuscript image should recommend a despatch to the Governor, agreeing in the great importance of losing no time in purchasing the Title; I should point out that it is a purely Colonial Interest and should inform him that the Legislature must not indulge any expectation that the British Taxpayer will be burthened to supply the funds, or British Credit be pledged for the purpose; I should earnestly recommend therefore that they should enable the Governor to procure the requisite means, but should say that if they do not think it proper to do so, they must be deemed the best judges of their own affairs, and that this Country cannot supply the deficiency of the small amount requisite for the service which is so important to the interests of the people of Vancouver's Island.
TFE 11 Oct
I quite agree. It is miserable work to see the Colony objecting to pay so small a sum for an object at once essential to their interests and purely Colonial in its character.
N 12
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 73, 19 October 1861, informing him that extinguishing the Indian title on Vancouver Island was the colony's responsibility.