No. 36, Miscellaneous
7th June 1865
1. I have the honor to transmit the copy of a correspondence which has passed between the Government, the Acting Attorney General, and the Postmaster of this Colony which explains itself.
2. The extraordinary and anomalous condition of the Postal Establishment of Vancouver Island compels me to trouble you withthisManuscript image this matter, inasmuch as at present there is no legal guarantee for the safe receipt or transmission of the public correspondence.
3. You will observe that I do not make this reference without having first adopted the only course open to me for the correction of so serious an evil.
4. In the course of my inquiry into the working of the various Departments of this Colony, I arrived at the conclusion that great mismanagement, inconvenience and loss to the public RevenueresultedManuscript image resulted from a bad postal system inefficiently worked.
5. To remedy this state of things I had the Postal Bill of which I enclose a copy drafted by the Acting Attorney General and introduced into the Legislative Council which it passed, and was sent in the usual course to the Legislative Assembly, where it was thrown out without even the form of discussion, and I see no reason to anticipate that the Assembly will take any step to place the Department on a sound or legal footing tillsomeManuscript image some financial scandal take place such as that which signalized Mr D'Ewes administration of this important Department in 1861-2. Indeed it seems unaccountable why steps were not at that time taken by the Legislature to place it on a sound and legal footing.
6. You will observe from the letter of Mr Wootton the present Harbour Master that he is conducting the Postal Department without any Rules or Regulations, and never received any but verbalinstructionsManuscript image instructions, and that he knows of no authority by which the different rates of postage are fixed and levied.
Then why does not K. issue rules.
7. You will also learn from the concluding portion of the Acting Attorney General's letter (of May 31st 1865) that he is "at a loss to know by what lawful authority the existing Postal Service" (in this Colony) "has been established."
8. It thus appears that Mr Wootton the present Acting Postmaster was appointed in 1861 without written Regulations andwithoutManuscript image without other than verbal instructions of the Colonial Secretary, the nature of which in his absence I cannot know, and for the issuing of which there does not appear to be any legal authority.
9. It further appears that the Acting Postmaster at present is under no legal control, and that the Governor has no legal warrant for reforming an ill managed Department by issuing Rules and Regulations—by fixing rates of postage and having the proceeds duly accounted for.
Does he not hold office at pleasure.
10. TheManuscript image
10. The financial arrangements are in my opinion of a most unsatisfactory kind, offering great temptations to fraud without any adequate check or means of detection.
11. I would under ordinary circumstances deem it my duty to apply some temporary remedy, but it would be hardly convenient to do so,
Why not.
immediately after the Legislative Assembly having refused to entertain the subject by throwing out a carefully considered Postal Bill which had passed theotherManuscript image other Branch of the Legislature, without reason assigned, or attempt to amend it.
12. I enclose extracts from two local Newspapers of the 27th May containing the only information I have received or can offer on the course adopted by the Legislative Assembly.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient Servant
A.E. Kennedy
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
Refer this to the G.P. Office and ask that Dt to favor Mr Cardwell with any suggestions which he may communicate to the Governor for his guidance.
If this obstructing Ho: of Assembly will not pass a Law to regulate the Posts of the Colony can the Imperial Acts be brought to bear upon them?
ABd 31 July
[I suppose that the Postmaster holds during pleasure and therefore will be obliged on pain of dismissalManuscript image to observe any regulations wh the Governor may lay down.]
What may be the right of the Postmaster in respect of levying rates of postage is another matter which may possibly be complicated by Imperial Law.
I do not understandy why Mr Kennedy refrained from issuing instructions to the P Master (if necessary to be enforced by suspension). They wd of course be obeyed.
Refer to P.O. with an observation to the effect of the words betn brackets.
Draft at once.
FR 7/8
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Henry Wakeford, Acting Colonial Secretary, to Acting Attorney General, 30 May 1865, asking for general information on the postal laws of the colony and the authority under which the laws were enacted.
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Thomas L. Wood, Acting Attorney General, to Wakeford, 31 May 1865, providing detailed information on the postal laws and advising that he was "at a loss to know by what lawful authority the existing Postal Service has been established."
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Wakeford to Postmaster, 5 June 1865, asking for a copy of the "Rules and Regulations under which your Department is conducted together with a copy of any instructions you have received as Postmaster of this Colony."
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Henry Wootton, Postmaster, to Wakeford, 7 June 1865, advising that except for a letter from the Colonial Secretary he had never received any written instructions, but had merely continued to charge the rates in effect when he assumed office.
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Extract, W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to Wootton, 23 October 1861, advising that he would assume the duties of Postmaster, with all arrangements left in his hands as he felt "expedient and proper, seeking instructions from this office in any case of doubt or difficulty."
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to Hill, Post Office, 17 August 1865, forwarding copy of the despatch and enclosures for observations and suggestions.