It may be remembered that some time during the last session of Parliament the attention of the Colonial Secretary was directed to a statement which appeared in a Melbourne newspaper, to the effect that a philanthropic association in London called the St. Giles's Christian Mission Society were sending out to these colonies a miscellaneous assortment of discharged convicts—criminal expirees, in fact. The Colonial Secretary then promised to make inquiry as to the veracity of this statement, and accordingly communicated with the Agent - General, acquainting him that the matter had engaged the attention of the House, and requesting him to obtain information as to "the constitution, objects, and work" of the St. Giles's Mission, and to "endeavor to ascertain whether this Colony is "likely to be injuriously affected " thereby in the direction indicated." Sir Dillon Bell promptly wrote, through his secretary, to a Mr Wheatlet, who is either manager or secretary to this precious Mission (which, it appears, carries on its operations in Brooke street), asking information, in the terms of the Colonial Secretary's letter, as to the constitution, objects, and work of the Mission, and whether any emigration to the colonies is conducted under its auspices, and to what extent Mr Wheatley's reply would be amusing if it were not impudent. He says:— "It has been my lot for many years "to be closely associated with the "Mission, and I never knew any "real deserving case of distress re- " fused assistance. If there are any " persons you are interested in, please " give name and address for further "inquiries." Sir Dillon returns again to the charge, and this time more explicitly. Quoting the statement published in the newspaper, to the effect that "the Mission was in the " habit of assisting convicts who had " served their sentences in England to " emigrate to the colonies of Australia "and New Zealand," he asks if Mr Wiieatley can enable the AgentGeneral to "convey an authentic "denial of the same to the Govern"ment of New Zealand." It may have been supposed that the agent of the so-called "Christian Mission" would have replied " Yea " or " Nay " to this direct challenge. Nothing of the sort. The astute Wheatley was
not to be caught. His curt and evasive reply runs thus: " I beg to inform " you that / don't sec that I can add " anythhuj to what I have already "stated." This correspondence has been forwarded to the Government here, accompanied by a letter from the AgentGeneral, in which he says: "There •'can be little doubt that the,society *' sends out now and then convicted *' criminals who have served their »' sentences ; but the society will not " acknowledge it is engaged in such a t: work, and whatever it does of the " kind is done as much as possible in *' secret Its officials will not give "any information about its objects or *' proceedings, and have no hesitation " in eluding questions put to them by " anyone not a friend." In point of fact, the society is engaged in an unlawful work, and its members and officials know it ; hence the secrecy in which its obnoxious proceedings are shrouded. The name of "Christian Mission," which it assumes, is an offence to common decency. Their Christianity consists in throwing refuse into their neighbors' gardens. Sir Dillos Bell thinks that " the "instances in which criminals are " spirited away can only be few com- " pared to the aggregate numbers "of the emigration that is always "going on." But the Melbourne paper that drew attention to the proceedings of the Mission asserts that last year 105 of these undesirable importations were made into that colony alone. How such information was acquired Ave cannot say; but we cannot agree with Sir Dillon that it would be " difficult to devise any way of preventing the practice," nor with his suggestion that it would not be " worth while making the attempt to do so." If, as has been recommended, the colonies were to act jointly and fL-mly in the matter, the English authorities would soon find means of checking the practice, for the police authorities keep a strict watch on discharged convicts at all times, and there would be little trouble in preventing the pets of St. Giles's Mission from being sent out to us. The colonies have stamped out the same practice when carried out by the British Government, and protected themselves against the presence of French recidivistes, and surely they can cope with this unchristian mission.
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UNDESIRABLE EMIGRANTS., Evening Star, Issue 7960, 16 July 1889
UNDESIRABLE EMIGRANTS. Evening Star, Issue 7960, 16 July 1889
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