STEAM TO ENGLAND.
WE have been favoured with the following in- teresting report of an interview, which some of our London friends had with Lord Grey on the extension of Steam to this Colony.
Rooms of the Committee on Steam Communi-
cation with Australia and New Zealand, No. 30, Great Winchester-street, London.
EXTRACT FROM THE MINUTES.
Memoranda of the principal Topics discussed
at the Interview with Lord Grey, this 10th day of February, 1847. at 3 p.m.
On Tuesday afternoon, the 16th February, 1847, a deputation consisting of seven members of this Committee, headed by the Chairman, Sir George Larpent, Bart., had an interview with Lord Grey, H. M. Secretary of State for the Colonies, at the Colonial Office, at three o'clock, the interview occupied half an hour,
The deputation-consistcd of Sir George Lar- pent, Bart., Chairman of the Committee ; Lieutenant Waghorn, R.N, ; Mr. Henry Wise, Mr. Mark Boyd, Mr. J. W. Sutherland, Mr. Samuel Browning, Mr. George Hay Donald-
[Mr. F. Scott was unable to attend from the shortness of the notice.]
Lord Grey received the deputation most courteously.
Sir GEORGE LARPENT commenced by stating to his Lordship, that this was a deputation from the Committee for promoting the exten- sion of Steam Navigation to Australia and New Zealand, appointed at a meeting of the mer- chants, bankers, traders, and others, of the City of London and elsewhere, which took place last April at the City of London Tavern, and at which he had been called upon to pre- side. This meeting, he begged to add, was one
of the most influential which had ever been convened in the City of London, and there had been but one opinion declared on the all important subject of steam communication with Australia. A numerous Committee was then
appointed, representing the interests of all our southern colonies (of which those gentlemen present were some of the members) to receive and report upon the various routes and plans to be submitted to them by the different parties interested; these numerous projects had since that time been all most patiently and carefully investigated and reported upon, and a general re- port had been drawn up therefrom and adopted, a copy of which the Committee had had the honour of immediately for- warding to his Lordship tlirough himself. The members of the Committee had also had the honour of receiving a reply thereto from his Lordship through the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) in which he had been pleased to express his favourable opinion of the undertaking, and the great importance he at- tached to it; still the Committee had felt disap- pointed at his Lordship's intimation that he could come to no decision on the question, until he had received the information for which he had written to the Governors of the dif- ferent colonies in Australia ; which must ne- cessarily cause considerable loss of time. Since the important public meeting which had taken place, as before-mentioned, last April, there had continued an intense anxiety among the merchants and manufacturers to see this great national question carried out with as little fur- ther delay as possible-they being so deeply pressed with the immense benefits it would con- fer on the industrial classes, &c, by gradually developing new markets of unlimited magni- tude for the disposal of the surplus products of
their labour, procuring in return many com- modities of the first importance for themselves from new sources, among the populous islands of the Indian Archipelago and elsewhere, besidcs corresponding advantages which would result to Australia and other settlements, by bring- ing them within sixty-four days' passage of the mother country, and its connecting the former with India and China, and again its doubly re- acting influence here, which could not be too extensively estimated. He, with the other members of the Committee, being also equally cognizant of these facts, and of the imperative necessity for the extension of steam navigation from Singapore to Australia without further waste of time, was most desirous to turn to the best advantage that interval which must elapse before his Lordship could receive the informa- tion from the colonies which had been applied for. The members of the Committee, there- fore, as a preliminary step, were most desirous of ascertaining whether the Government would be disposed at the present moment to aid their endeavours by promising a certain sum towards setting the project in motion, such as would encourage merchants and capitalists to come forward and subscribe for the remaining amount required. He could state that there was every disposition to do so in the City, pro- vided the Government only came forward in the first instance with its contribution. Sir
George Larpent, in further urging Lord Grey to support the plan with an immediate grant of money, told him that he had received advices from his correspondents in New South Wales, that several public meetings had been held lately in that colony, and that the subject had been under consideration in the Legisla- tive Council. The Council was willing to grant an annual sum of money in aid of the undertaking, which would probably be between £5000 and £10,000, and there could be but little doubt that the Councils of the
other colonies benefitted thereby, would be
equally ready to vote their equitable propor- tions. The object he (Sir George Larpent) had at this moment in view was, for this coun- try to commence as quickly as possible to reap
the immense direct and collateral benefits which this steam communication could not fail in producing in every portion of the empire.
Mr. WISE, in confirming every word which his friend Sir George Larpent had advanced in urging the immediate necessity of extending the benefit of steam navigation from Singapore to Australia, stated, that our best interests peremptorily required that no more time should be spent in delays ; all that was now necessary to put the project in execution was, that the Government would promise the aid of a suffi- cient sum of money, the rest would be sub- scribed by the parties interested. He could not too strongly impress upon his Lordship the valuable native commerce which would speedily spring up at the coaling stations established on the Malay Islands, &c, on the line of route, forming respectively, like Singapore, the nuclei of entensive trading regions, encou-
raging industry, and tending to the extinction of piracy and slavery.
Lord GREY regretted that what he had to
say on the present occasion upon this most im- portant subject would be very short. He, as well as all the members of the Government,
were fully impressed with its great importance.
He had that morning made a point of seeing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and had mentioned the matter to him ; he had stated to him in reply that not, one shilling could be
spared during the present year 1847, in conse- quence of such heavy demands from other
quarters of the most urgent necessity. He (Lord Grey) could therefore hold out no hope for the present year.
Sir GEORGE LARPENT, in reply, expressed his great reluctance in having to convey to his friends, and others greatly interested in this question, such discouraging information as he had just learned ; he was therefore most anxious, if possible, to somewhat lessen the general dis- appointment, which would otherwise be felt, by leaving the subject in such a form as to hold out some expectation of support, though that support were not of a pecuniary nature. It would therefore be of material im- portance to ascertain if the Government be disposed to aid tho project by granting a charter (limiting the responsibility of the share- holders) to any Company prepared to carry it out. If it were known that the Government would grant such a charter, endeavours would be made towards the formation of a Company. He (Sir George) without wishing to obtain anything like a pledge from his lordship, would be glad to know if the Government would be likely to be favourable to the granting of such
His LORDSHIP stated his belief that there would be no objection on the part of the Government to grant such a charter ; on the contrary, he was of opinion that every facility
would be offered.
Mr. MARK BOYD said, that the important subject of Steam Communication to Australia had occupied the attention of the Legislative Council of New South Wales for some years past: he had been advised from that colony that the Council was disposed to vote a sum of money in aid of it, which he believed might be estimated at about £10,000.
Mr. BOYD referred to Mr. Browning, who stated that he expected the amount would be about £10,000; the amount he had suggested to some of his friends in the Council as being the minimum sum which should be voted for
such an important object.
Lord GREY remarked, that if such a dispo- sition was shown by the colonists of New South Wales, and the adjacent colonies, to aid the project, it would go very far to induce the Government to grant the requisite assistance.
He added, that Western Australia was also anxious to have Steam Communication.
Mr. BROWNING replied, that as the popula- tion of Western Australia was at present only 5000, it was not immediately of such import-
ance as elsewhere.
After a few remarks from Lieutenant Waghorn and Sir George Larpent, on general import, the deputation retired.