COLONIAL DEFENCE AND IMPERIAL REPUDIATION. (From the Spectator.)
" Saving" is sometimes waste. A proposal has bsen submitted to the Executive, and to Parliament, for saving £4,000,000 of the public money, or some great portion of that sum ; and we truly believe that the proposal amounts to a suggestion of throwing away the colonial empire of Queen Victoria. The suggestion is advanced on authority so good, for knowledge of the subject, for intelligence, and for moral integrity, that it is only the more dangerous ; and we cannot too strongly enforce the reference of the matter to a committee of the House of Commons. It is not a party question, and it has not been treated as a party question ; the perilous proposal tinds the support of Sir de Lacy Evans and its most ettective advocate in the House of Commons is Mr. Addeiley ; its chief adversaries on Thursday last, were Mr. Chichester Fortescue and Lord Robert Cecil. Nevertheless, we cannot but think that the influence of certain connections has swayed the understanding of those gentlemen who lend it their countenance. We do not for a moment mean that Mr. Godley and Mr. Adderley are party men, or swayed by party feeling ; and the writer of these words has for many years, in this journal, been accustomed to find himself on the same side with Mr. Godley and Mr. Adderley, and but once before with Mr. Frederick Elliot, as he is now. But there is a certain effect in personal' connection which is unavoidable. Indeed it implies tome deficiency of mind or feeling not to be influenced by the constantly lepeateJ sentiments, and even the wishes, of high minded and intelligent men by whom we are surrounded ; and we cannot but think that in the present instance, Mr. Adderley and Mr. Godley, like Mr. Hamilton, are influenced by the original movement of General TeA, and by the habit of regarding the subject from a received point of view. The question at starting was the charge of £4,000,000 set down, in the annual estimates towards the military expenses of the colonies ; and on that disposal of money General Peel obtained a special commission The commissioners appointed were, Mr, John Robert Godley, whose acquaintance with colonial subjects is well known : Mr. George Alexander Hamilton, the permanent Secretary to the Treasury ; and Mr. Frederick Elliot, a permanent Secretary to the Colonial Office. The report is drawn np by the two first gentlemen, Mr. EUiott refusing his concurrence. It represents the charge of £4,000,000 as being to a great extent useless, and unfairly imposed upon the mother country. The writers of the report lay down the principle that the colonies should be defended by the people themselves. The Late Colonial Minister in Lord Derby's Administration pointed out to the Commissioners, that nearly all the colonies are increasing in population and wealth, and ought to develop their own means of local defence ; that any Impeiial outlay towards that purpose ought to be reimbursed out of the Colonial funds ; and that the Imperial Government should only be responsible for the charge on account of Imperial pro* ceedings, or for the defence of the colonies against foreign aggression. One of the complaints of the Commissioners is the great disparity of the charge borne by the several colonies ; New Zealand, Tasmania, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia pay nothing ; the Cape of Good Hope, which at the breaking out of the Indian war had 10,000 men within its frontiers, pays litttle ; Ceylon pays one-fifth of the charge, Canada pays two fifths ; and Victoria pays two-thirds for its ordinary military expenditure, besides large sums towards fortifications. And this disparity is spoken of as being an evil ferae, not less than the actual charge ; the main idea on the pa -t of the Commissioners being, that the colonies should defend themselves, the Imperial Government only defending the interests of the Imperial Crown and authority. We cannot but agree with Mr. Elliot and Lord Robert Cecil, that there are several fallacies in this view. In the first place, many of the dependencies classed under the name of " Colonies" and chargeable with the £4,000,000, are not colonies at all, but are really military stations— like Malta and Gibraltar: Ceylon is scarcely a colony ; it is * aubjugatsd province. Then again it was shown with great distinct ness by Mr Childers, that some of the coloniei are not accredited in the Imperial account! with their real_putlay. In the year 1856-57 the Legislature Jof Victoria voted for military purposes £147,000 ; of which £3500 was for the staff at Melbourne, £30,000 for the Imperial, £31,000 for the colonial pay of the troops, and £45,000 for "ordinary contingencies under vote 8." Yet in that year credit was given to the colony only for £3000. In another year the colony was accredited with £26,000, then £3000, then £5000 j where&o the annual contribution wes £50,000 or £60,000. The strongest argument is, perhaps inadvertently, supplied by Mr. Adderiey, in controverting it :— "Mr, Elliot denied tha soundness of the principle laid down by the committee, that the non-representa-tion of the colonies in the British Parliament oons'ituted the only reason for their exemption from paying the coat of their own defences, and insisting that ( inere self-interest ought to induce us to defray the whole'outlay on account of colonial defences, because the colonies consumed more of our produce than other countries That was one of the old fallacies which used to prevail 'in the days when political economy was less understood than now | and ne was lurpritfed'to find, that Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, entet-
. tamed it'as well as Mr. 'Sir George ' Grey/in a speech whioh J he recently made in' London.^said 'that' although the people of Great Britain in the first instance ' provided the funds for the'inilitary arid naval defences' of'the'einplre, the colonists' defrayed * Urge portidn of the ' expenditure in the shape/of the tax which' wai phioed On the price _of the 'commodities which the colonists consumed. But Sir George seemed to forget that' i there was not *< foreign country which imported our produce which did not do thesame.' - Mr. Elliot pointed to Australia as consuming per head a largfer amount of the produce of Great Britain' 'thaij the United States;: and drew the conclusion that, therefore, a dependentcountry consumed more than < an independent one, That argument was completely exposed by Mr. Godley, j who showed that the opposite conclusion might be »upI ported by the same logio, ;becauBe; becau8e Canada imported less per head than the United States, and the United States themselves imported more largely after they become independent than before." In this passage, Mr. Adderiey appears to us to confound things whioh ard in their nature distinct. If foreign countries impose taxes on our produce, they, spend those taxes in foreign lands for foreign purposes, and they may spend it in purposes antagonistic to this country, — even in strengthening military preparations against us. The revenue levied from taxes upon goods imported into the colonies is used for Imperial purposes. Again, the question is not whether Canada or the United States import more or less of commodities from the mother country, but how far the trade of a given country abroad is identified with our own. Let ua take the trade of Victoria., to which colony reference has already been made. In 1852, the im1 ports of Victoria were £4,000,000. Of this she imported £2,000,000 from the United Kingdom : 1,000,000 from other British possessions : 1,000,000 from foreign states, — the foreign, states probably being principally our liberated colonies of America, with some mitcellaneous trade. We have no, account at hand of the exports from Victoria ; but we find that the tonnage of shipping in '52 allowed 36,000 tons to Great Britain; i 284,000 to British colonies, and 26,900 to foreign states. The exporls of New South Wales in the lame year were £4,600,000, of which £3,600,000 went to Great Britain ; £5000 to the United State* ; £12,650 to foreign states, about half to the South Sea Islands ; and the remainder to British Colonies. In this aspect, all but a small proportion of the trade of our colonies is essentially British trade; the inflow and outflow from the United Kingdom contributes to the wealth which centres in London. The property is owned, in many cases, by families 'whose branches reside at both ends of the voyage. In short, the community in Australia, at the Cape of Good Hope, in British North America, in the West Indie*, is essentially British, in I blood, affection, and property; and the intereit of England is wrapt up in the maintenance of those outlying estates. Cut off the trade from its connexion ; with the parent country, and England would in each case lose at least Us much as the colonies would lose. The collective interest of the empire, however, is greater even than this half-and-half proportion of a great commerce. The colonies are the grand outlet for our surplus population, our surplus capita], Iney are sources of wealth and power which are still rendered subservient to the strength and greatness of Queen Victoria's empire. They employ a large proportion of our shipping, manned and retained for the Imperial control. And, as we have already mentioned, the proceeds of those burdens which they betr in taxation are, in like manner, devoted to the general strengthening of the empire. In these aspects colon'es are essentially different from foreign countries. We not only owe them moie, but we own in them a stake which we cannot possess in any land with an alien Government ; and the proposal to withdraw from their protection all those military resources for which they do not pay exclusively, is nothing more than a proposal to leave our own estates undefended. It is, in fact, a direct instigation to a dismemberment of the empire ; and* no suggestion to that end could be at once more fatally insidious or more likely to be rapid in its working. We have already introduced into the Colonies the principle of " responsible government." It was objected at the time, that the localising of the administration would tend to weaken the connexion with the mother country; and many persons regarding the acquiescence of the Imperial Government as an admission that the Colonies were less prized than they had been in the metropolitan kingdom The reverse was the case : it was because the Colonies exercised a. strongtr influence at home that they were able to attain their local rights. But, it would be most unfortunate if the predictions of the evil prophets were verified, and if the principle of "responsible government" were followed up by Imperial repudiation. Strictly speaking, it should have been followed up by a direct admission of the Colonies to representation in the Imperial Parliament. We now propose to eject them from representation even in the Executive, even in the military department, even in the Administration of the Crown. Deprive the Colonies of that truly great boon which remains to them, the being covered by the military and naval protection of powerful England, and there would be no reason why they should maintain a position different from that of our severed colonies of the United States. On the contrary, the many reasons for following the example of those older colonies would be brought out in stronger force than ever. The principles on which the select committee might regulate this inquiry do not to us appear obscure or doubtful. It has been imperfectly hinted even by the late Commissioners ; only those Commissioner* have not adequately measured the true amount of the lin- : penal interest at stake as distinct from colonial interest. At least half the trade of the whole colonial empire concerns the community at home and its Government ; while to guard the external peace and position of the empire internationally is entirely the duty of the Imperial Government. Hence we find that, on abstract ' principles alone, the Imperial Government should be i charged with the whole naval defence of our coast, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to British Columbia ; while at I least half of the defence of those outlying states, and of their trade, should be charged upon the Imperial Exchequer, together with the proper escort for the Government and the Imperial authority. Half the charge of the local defence might fairly be placed upon the colonists ; but in what form ? Not necessarily in money. If colonists find men, equipments, time for drill, and, in short, the reasonable machinery of a militia, such as ought to exist in every district of the Anglo-Saxon empire, they will have done their full share of the duty. The army and navy are ,the Queen*; the militia belongs to the people, whether in England, Australia, or America.