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New Zealand

Volume 87: debated on Friday 17 July 1846

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On the Question that 30,000 l. be granted to defray the charge of the Government of the Colony of New Zealand,

called attention to a paper recently printed, giving an account of the conduct of the prisoners sent out to Now Zealand from Parkhurst, from which the House might see what had been the good effects of the large expenditure upon those criminals. The conduct of the boys was described in a letter from a missionary as being of the worst kind. He should like to know to what purpose the Bills to the amount of 21,134l. were to be applied?

said, that although the vote was not framed when he left office, he believed this sum was put down to make up the round sum of 30,000l. This increased expenditure was necessary, to give Governor Grey the chance of retrieving the affairs of the Colony. It was absolutely requisite he should have funds provided on which he could draw in the first instance. The House might safely leave Governor Grey a discretion as to the amount of the draughts he should draw on the credit now given, as from his previous career there was no doubt he would justify the confidence Parliament might place in him.

wished to ask whether, when a colonial Governor committed this country to a large expenditure of money, any inquiry was instituted into his conduct by the Colonial Department. It appeared to him, that any person sent out as the Governor of a Colony might expend what money he pleased without being called to account. He wished to know whether Captain Fitzroy had returned to this country; and, if so, whether his conduct while he was Governor of New Zealand had been inquired into? He considered that, when Captain Fitzroy arrived here, a Court of Inquiry should immediately be appointed to investigate his conduct. He believed that Captain Fitzroy had been influenced by good intentions; but such an inquiry as he suggested might prevent other persons who held similar appointments from acting in the same manner.

said, that when the appointment of Governor of New Zealand was offered to Captain Fitzroy, that gallant officer held a permanent public appointment in this country, and had discharged his duties most satisfactorily. He believed that Captain Fitzroy had been influenced in accepting the government of New Zealand by a desire to benefit the Colony, and that he had acted with the best motives; but he had been placed in a very difficult position, and he had certainly acted in defiance of what might be termed the generally received maxims of colonial government, though he had no doubt from a desire to benefit the public service. He considered that Captain Fitzroy had committed grave errors, and the consequence of his conduct had been most serious; but that gallant officer had himself been the loser by those errors, both in interest and reputation. Captain Fitzroy had been recalled by the Government who had appointed him; and he (Lord J. Russell) really thought that enough had been done in the matter. He was not disposed to institute any further inquiry on the subject.

thanked the noble Lord for having formed so generous, but at the same time so just, an estimate of Captain Fitzroy's motives. Whether that gentleman had exercised a sound discretion in his mode of policy was another question; but that he was actuated by motives the purest and the most honourable could not be doubted for one instant. He had made great sacrifices, and suffered very severely.

said, that Captain Fitzroy abandoned an appointment in this country worth 900l. a year, and a seat in Parliament, in order to accept the governorship of New Zealand at a salary of 1,200l. a year. When the expenses of proceeding to such a distant Colony were considered, there could be no doubt that, in a pecuniary point of view, Captain Fitzroy must have been an actual loser, even if he had continued to hold the appointment for a longer period. He believed that Captain Fitzroy was principally influenced, in his acceptance of the appointment, by a desire to promote the civilization and welfare of the aborigines; and the injury to the high professional reputation he had long maintained, which resulted from his recall, was in itself as heavy a sacrifice as a man in his position could be called upon to bear. He could name other persons who had occupied similar stations, and who had fallen into similar errors, who were still suffering most severely from the consequences of those errors, though they had not been called to any pecuniary account.

observed, that this question seemed to be treated as a mere pecuniary matter; but it must not be forgotten that through the imbecility and total incompetency of Captain Fitzroy, the lives of some of the principal inhabitants of the Colony had been sacrificed. If no inquiry was instituted into his proceedings, they would hold out encouragement to similar misconduct in future.

, in justice to Captain Fitzroy, must state that the loss of life to which the hon. Gentleman referred, took place three months before the gallant Captain arrived in the Colony.

Vote agreed to.