No. 59
12 October 1865
I have received your Despatch of the 18th of July No. 57 transmitting the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure of Vancouver Island for the present year, together with numerous documents in elucidation of the same, and I have to express my thanks for the very clearexpositionManuscript image exposition which, with the assistance of your late Colonial Secretary Mr. Wakeford, you have laid before me upon this subject.
It is beyond the scope of my authority to comment upon the discretion of the House of Assembly in not providing sufficient means to meet the expenditure of the year. But I am at liberty to express my fear that a policy of this nature will in the end be detrimental to the interests and credit of the Colony. What I have chiefly to deal with in the Despatch under consideration is the refusalofManuscript image of the Assembly to repay the share due from Vancouver Island for the erection of the Lighthouses, and to replace the sum which was advanced last year from the Crown Revenue for the payment of certain salaries which the local Treasury had not at that time the means of discharging.
1. As to the Lighthouses.
I learn from a review of the correspondence that Sir James Douglas earnestly represented to this Office the importance of establishing Lighthouses upon some of the approachestoManuscript image to the Harbours and Anchorages of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, but that the infant state of the two Colonies precluded them from undertaking this work themselves. Her Majesty's Government desirous of promoting the interests of these Colonies, and feeling that at that early stage of their career the observation of the Governor as to their inability to help themselves was just and reasonable, consented to send out the necessary Lighting apparatus, and to contribute, from Imperial resources, one half of the cost oftheManuscript image the work on condition that the remaining moiety should be repaid by the Colonies jointly. Sir James Douglas expressed himself highly gratified at this liberality, and assured the Secretary of State that he would take the earliest "opportunity of bringing to the notice of the Legislature the necessity of providing for the repayment of the proportion of the advance due from Vancouver Island." Consideration for the circumstances of the Colonies in their early stage seems to have induced Her Majesty's Government to deferinsistingManuscript image insisting on the repayment of the advance, but when at length you very properly brought the subject under the notice of the House of Assembly, the appeal made to that Body has been met with a decided refusal to fulfil the condition on which this important public work was executed.
I have to express my deep regret at this resolution: and have only to say that if the Assembly shall think proper to adhere to this decision, the charge must be thrown upon the Crown Revenue and be defrayed out of it whenevertheManuscript image the state of its funds will admit.
2. Refusal of the Assembly to indemnify you for having paid certain salaries out of the Crown Revenue.
I observe that on the 2nd July 1864, the Assembly by a Resolution of that date pledged itself to indemnify His Excellency the Governor in case he shall take the responsibility of paying the said salaries (i.e. the half years salaries to the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the Colonial Treasurer, and the Surveyor General) out of the Crown Revenue while awaiting furtherinstructionsManuscript image instructions from Her Majesty's Government, In consequence of the exigency which had arisen as to want of funds in the local Treasury, and acting upon the assurances you had received from the Legislature, you paid the salaries to these Officers out of the Crown Revenue. Understanding that the Assembly had undertaken to replace this money out of ordinary revenue, if it should be necessary for you under instructions from me to require them to do so, and having been apprized by you that the greatest public inconveniencewouldManuscript image would have resulted if you had refused to make the necessary advances I approved the course you adopted of affording the desired assistance.
I do not understand that the Assembly have repudiated this manifest obligation, and I do not doubt that they will discharge it, if it is specifically brought before them.
It appears, however, from the Resolutions passed in Committee of Supply that the "Committee do not consider the General Revenue liable for the payment of the thirty-four thousand, andsixtyManuscript image sixty six dollars," which you had set down in the Estimates of Expenditure as a claim against the Assembly; and which I suppose includes the advances you had made to the public Officers under pledge of reimbursement. The Committee support their conclusion by referring to my Despatch of 1st August 1864. I have likewise referred to that Despatch and I find that it applies exclusively to a question which you had submitted to me respecting the Auditing of the public accounts. I cannottherefore,Manuscript image therefore, regard that Despatch or anything which I have written to you, as authorizing the view taken by the Assembly with regard to this claim. It is possible that as no distinct instruction has been yet addressed to you for obtaining reimbursement of the advances in question, the Assembly have viewed the delay as an indication that the claim would not be preferred. This, however, is not the construction which can be put upon the transaction. The delay wasoccasionedManuscript image occasioned solely by the hope that an arrangement for a Civil List would have been accomplished.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
humble servant
Edward Cardwell