The Daily Ties. FRIDAY, SEPT. 28, 1883. FRENCH CONVICTS IN THE SOUTHERN SEAS.
Manawatu Times, Volume VIII, Issue 373, 28 September 1883, Page 2
The Daily Ties.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 28, 1883. FRENCH CONVICTS IN THE SOUTHERN SEAS.
The oldest Manawatu journal: Established 1875.
The question of annexation generally pnles into comparative insigni* ficance when the particular aspect, Shall i;he French people with convicts the South Pacific Islands ? is considered. In the memorandum sent by the Agenta«oen&rai to Lord Derby the following passage occurs, which puts this part of the whole question very clearly : — ■ ; " A scheme' is being debated even now m France, which, if it is carried into effect, will be more disas* trous for the Pacific than anything that has happened since the creation of the penal settlement at New Caledonia; for it is nothing less than a well-matured design for transporting for life to New Caledonia, the Loyalty Isles, and the Marquesas Islands, great numbers of French habitual criminals. . Four proposals to this effect were before the FrencTi Legislature, one of them a Bill brought m by the Govern* ment. They were all referred together to a Committee, which reported that the Minister of the Interior had accepted certain modifications, and that there was no further difficulty. In the "debates m the Chamber of Deputies, the reporter of the projet de. hi (M. Gerville-Reache) stated that at least 60,000 could be s*ent; to New Caledonia, and 23,000 to the Loyalty Isles. It was calculated that m the first, year after the law came into force 6000 convicts would be transported for life under it, and an omcial estimate was presented of the probable cost df sending these 5000 to the Loyalty Islands and the Marquesas. It was said by the opponents of the measure that the number of convicts transported would be 100,000; this was denied ; whereupon it was asked whether,
since m the first year 5000 were to be sent, it could be expected that the number would not increase every year after ? The class to be sent was officially described by M. Gerville» Reache as dangerous, steeped m vice, debauchery, and crime. These criminals were to be transported for life, but were not to serve any term of punishment, and were to be free on arrival. The object waa to rid France of them. The Governs ment was to support them at first till they could get work ; if they would not work they must live how they would. The jprojet de hi appointed New Caledonia and its de« pendencies, and the Marquesas Group, as ' Colonies' to which the recidivistes were to be sent; but it was openly proposed m the debate to include the New Hebrides, the Loyalty Islands, and the Isle of Pines. The Comte de Lanjuinais said it had been talked of to send the convicts to the New Hebrides. M. Richard Waddington, speaking officially as a member of the Committee,said that the title to the New Hebrides waß not settled, but he thought the French title was good, and tho French flag might very soon be hoisted on the islands, adding however, that m saying so he was i speaking for himself and not the ! Government. Another speaker went further, and said that m response to the supposed action of England m JNew Guinea, the New Hebrides would be seized by France. The Chamber of Deputies, after adopting most-of the Government Bill, sent it back for revision to the Committee, who returned it wifh very little alteration. They estimated tbat m the first four years the number of convicts to be sent would be 20,000. The Colonies to which the convicts might be sent remained the same, namely New Caledonia and its dependencies, the Marquesas, an island called Phu-Quoc, and Guinea. The Bill has passed the, Chamber, but is not before the Senate." In view of such a set of facts the Agents-General might well write to Lord Derby to the effect that "the Australasian Governments urged that this scheme for making the Pa* cific islands the receptacle for the dangerous classes ot France is deserving the serioue consideration of the Imperial Government. It is impossiole for Australasia to look without the gravest apprehension at the prospect of any proposal of the kind receiving the tacit acquiescence of England. What hope would there be for the Pacific islands, if a great nation like France pours into them vast numbers of her dangerous classes, not as convicts under penal servitude, but free the moment they land, so long as they do not return to France ? How could Australia and New Zealand be expected to hear with patience of such a law being passed ? It was sincerely to be hoped that the New Hebrides would not be allowed to pass m any way under the dominion of France," The coolness with which the French authorities propose to rid their country al« most at once of 100,000 of its most dangerous class siiow that they are dealing with the matter entirely from a national business point of view, apart altogether from sentiment, and that the advent of a huga number of Fieneh criminals m the Southern Seas is a by no means distant contingency, unless a general policy of annexation is undertaken, or some other step taken to prevent the French proposal becoming an accomplished fact. As the Lyttelton Times remarks —"The bare idea of having m the immediate neighbourhood a hundred thousand people totally devoid of all respect for every law. Divine or human, absolutely without principle or respectjfor industry, perfectly free to go where they*please except to French territory^ is too appalling for any Australian or New Zealander to contemplate with calmness. Annexation D.y Great Britain of the Western Pacific will prevent that discharge of drainage from the moral Cloaca Maxima of France into the Western Pacific, at all events outside the borders of French territory. Mores over as French colonists may be expected to sbow the desire which animated Australasians. some years ago to resist the* convict taint, and as m any case no transportation of free convicts is likely to be made into French territory, British annexation of the Western Pacific would probably pat aa end to the French convict project altogether.."