No. 28, Financial
20 July 1863
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your Despatch No 17 of the 9h May, acquainting me that Your Grace had authorized the Agents General to accept and pay Six Bills amounting to £5000 drawn by the Treasurer of Vancouver's Island on the 27h of February.IManuscript image I have also the honor to acknowledge receipt of Your Grace's further Despatch No 18 of the 13th May advising me that the Agents General had likewise been authorized to accept and pay three more Bills, Nos 7, 8, and 9, drawn by the Treasurer to the amount of £6000.
2. I have duly noticed the remarks Your Grace has made with respect to these Bills, both as regards the source from which they are to be met, and theabsenceManuscript image absence of the customary letters of advice.
3. In reference to the first point I have to express my regret that any misunderstanding should exist as to the nature of the Bills, and I really am at a loss to conceive how it can have arisen; inasmuch as the Bills were drawn upon the Agents General, on account of the £40,000 loan under a pre-arrangement made by themselves, the very form ofBillManuscript image Bill to be used in drawing being furnished by the Agents General; as will be seen from the following extract from a letter addressed by them to the Colonial Secretary on the 1st January 1863 You shall be duly advised by the Mail of the 16h Instant of the result of the sale, but if in the meantime the Government should be pressed for funds, the Governor might draw on us to a limited extent, say one third, or onehalfManuscript image half the amount in manuscript according to the enclosed form, giving us due advice of the same.
In reply to this communication the Colonial Secretary wrote
His Excellency desires me to say that as a necessity exists for the present application of a portion of the funds, he has authorized the Colonial Treasurer, Mr Alexander Watson, to draw upon you as suggested in the second paragraph of your Communication. The draftsuponManuscript image upon this account will be signed by the Treasurer, and countersigned by myself, and will bear in addition a small unpressed Seal of which a fac-similie will be found against my signature to this letter.
The Treasurer has been directed to keep you duly advised of all the drafts made upon you as aforesaid.
On the 16h January the Agents General, in reporting the result of the sale of a portion of the Debentures, remark TherecanManuscript image can be little doubt but that the remainder will be successfully placed on the market in the course of a few weeks and before any Bills drawn by the Governor against the proceeds are likely to mature.
4. With respect to the second point, the absence of advices, I have the honor to acquaint Your Grace that the Colonial Treasurer assures me and an inspection of hisletterManuscript image letter Book bears out the assurance, that upon no single instance has he ever drawn a Bill upon the Agents General without concurrently writing, and sending off a letter of advice. That the Bills may have arrived before the letters of advice is owing to circumstances wholly beyond our control. Your Grace is aware that we have no direct postal communication with the Mother Country. Our Mails are carried between this and San Francisco by AmericanVessels:Manuscript image Vessels: and from thence there are no less than four different ways by which letters may be forwarded, viz. By express across the Rocky Mountains, by the ordinary Mail across the Rocky Mountains, by Steamer to Panama and from thence by Steamer to New York, or by Steamer to Southampton. Bills purchased here are in most instances, I believe, sent to San Francisco for resale, and once in the hands of the Merchants there, it is notunlikelyManuscript image unlikely that they would be forwarded on by the express, while the letter of advice is travelling by one of the regular and less expeditious channels. Indeed even in the ordinary channels of communication there is a considerable difference occasionally in the time consumed, as all depends upon the chance connection of Steamers not acting in conjunction. As an illustration of this I would beg to mention that nearly three weeks ago Colonel Moody received advices from the War DepartmentthatManuscript image that Her Majesty's Government had determined to withdraw at the close of the year the Detachment of Royal Engineers serving in British Columbia, while up to the present moment Your Grace's Despatches upon the same subject have not reached me. I can assure Your Grace that I am fully sensible of the inconvenience arising from the presentation of a Bill before its advice is received, &IManuscript image I much regret its occurence in the instances mentioned in Your Despatches now under reply. I trust, however, that Your Grace will absolve me of the imputation that the inconvenience has arisen through any want of attention of my part to the ordinary requirements of business. In future I will direct that Duplicate Letters of advice be sent by the same Mail from this, and I will endeavor to arrange that they be forwarded from San Francisco by differentroutesManuscript image routes.
5. I deeply regret to learn that Your Grace should entertain the impression that the financial reports both from Vancouver's Island and British Columbia are less methodical and complete than those of any other Colony. I assure Your Grace that it has ever been my desire to afford the fullest and most satisfactory information upon these points to Her Majesty's Government, and so far as the Colony of BritishColumbiaManuscript image Columbia is concerned I hoped I had succeeded. Since the establishment of the Audit Officer in that Colony, the Accounts have been regularly forwarded at as early a period as was possible in the present circumstances of the Country, and the reports hitherto from the Commissioners of Audit have led me to assume that their state has been very satisfactory. With respect to the Returns required by the Book of Colonial Regulations, I, immediately upon Your GracecallingManuscript image calling my attention to them upon a former occasion, issued instructions to Captain Gosset, the Treasurer, to observe rigidly the rules laid down respecting those Returns, and to forward the Returns periodically with the utmost punctuality. I have now also drawn the attention of the present Acting Treasurer to the matter, and have enjoined him to permit no delay to occur in the making up and rendering of the Documents in question.
WithregardManuscript image regard to Vancouver's Island, a great want of clerical assistance has hitherto prevailed. The Legislature has as yet voted no complete Civil List, that is to say small and insufficient Salaries have been fixed by Law for the Heads of Departments, but no provision has been made for paying the staff requisite for those Departments properly to conduct the duties appertaining to them. Upon one occasion the Assembly refused to vote any moneys by way of a Salary to aClerkManuscript image Clerk for the Treasurer, and it was with great difficulty that a small provision could be obtained to pay one sole Clerk for the Colonial Secretary. The Revenue of the Colony is small it is true, but from its circumstances, and from the manner in which the Revenue is raised by direct Taxation, the amount of business that has to be transacted both by the Colonial Secretary and the Treasurer is very heavy, and Your Grace is well awarethatManuscript image that without a sufficient and a permanent staff it is impossible, however careful and energetic the Head of the Department may be, to conduct business either satisfactorily or methodically. In the present instance I have directed the attention of Mr Watson, the Treasurer, to the financial Returns required by the Book of Colonial regulations, and I have instructed him to be most careful in duly rendering them, and I trust that so far as the limited meansatManuscript image at present at my Command in this Colony will admit that Your Grace will not again have occasion to apply to me for information which it has always been my sincere desire to furnish in as complete a form as the circumstances of the Colony permitted me.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Graces most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Sir F. Rogers
Send the Agents Genl copy of Paragraphs 1, 2, 3 & 4 of this desph.
If the Agents Genl had, when they communicated personally with Mr Elliot, laid before him the communications which passed between them & the Coll Secy on the subject of drawing bills for the V.C.Isld loan, or more fully explained to him the state of the case I think the terms of his Minute on 4293 would perhaps have been different.
ABd 4 Sepr
Duke of Newcastle
I do not see that this requires more than an acknowledgement.
FR 5/9
N 8
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 36, 17 September 1863.