Despatch from Lieutenant Governor George Dundas to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (28 November 1864)

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Date: 1864-11-28
By: George Dundas
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor George Dundas to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (28 November 1864) in Journal of the House of Assembly of Prince Edward Island (1865), Appendix E. (1865).
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28th November, 1864.

I have the honor to transmit herewith duplicate copies of the Blue Book for the year 1863.

2. The year 1863 was one of prosperity to this Island; the harvest was an abundant one; the war in the United States created an unprecedented demand for oats, the staple produce of this Colony, and this demand naturally caused a considerable rise in the prices of that product.

3. In addition to this, trade in ship-building was unusually brisk, and the tonnage of vessels launched exceeded the of any previous year.

4. The most important point on which I have to remark with regard to the Returns comprised in the present Blue Book, is the great improvement in the Financial condition of the Colony.

5. Since the year 1853 the Expenditure has been annually in excess of the Revenue. ln the year 1862 it exceeded it by £8590.

6. I brought the financial state of the Colony prominently before the Legislature in stimulate the Speech with which I opened the Session on the 3rd of March, 1863. I particularly directed its attention to the system under which individual members of the Legislature had the power to propose Grants of money for any purpose, and urged it to consider the propriety of placing the appropriation of the Revenue under the direct control of those to whom the responsibility of administering Public affairs was entrusted. The Legislature readily adopted this principle, and passed a Resolution, yielding to the Executive the exclusive right to initiate money votes in the House of Assembly.

7. With a view to equalizing the Revenue and Expenditure of the current year, it was deemed advisable to modify to a certain extent the Free Education System, a measure was, therefore, passed reducing the Government allowance to Teachers by about one third, and providing for the deficiency by the voluntary contributions of the parents of the several School Districts and in default of those contributions by local Assessment.

Praiseworthy as Free Education undoubtedly is, I have considerable doubt as to the success which has practically attended it here. I believe that the people have not sufficiently appreciated, what they apparently obtained for nothing, and that the direct taxation, consequent on the modification of the system will stimulate them, not only to send their children to school with greater regularity, but also to take a greater interest in their District Schools and in the efficiency of the Teachers.

8. The new Act did not come into operation until a considerable part of the year had passed, but there was, nevertheless, a decrease of £450 in the Expenditure on Education in place of the usual yearly increase.

9. The ad valorem duties on Imports were raised from £7 10s to £10 per £100. The unprecedented activity of trade, and the consequent productiveness of these duties gave a return of £30,704 against £17,136 collected in 1862, or an increase of £12,568 from this source of Revenue alone.

10. The Revenue for the year was £41,125—£15,496 more than the Revenue of 1862 and nearly 35 per cent in excess of that of any previous year. The Expenditure was £36,441, about £2,000 more than that of 1862.

11. The Revenue exceeded the Expenditure by £4,684, and the Public Debt is thus reduced from £54,803 to £50,149.

12. £3,522 included in the Revenue, and £1,925 in the Expenditure are amounts received from the sale of Lands, or expended in their purchase from Proprietors, and cannot be considered as ordinary Revenue and Expenditure.

13. General Commerce,—The value of Imports was £293,431, an increase of £82,191 on the value of those of 1862. The value of Exports was £209,472, an increase of £58,823 on the value of those of the preceding year.

14. From these Returns it would appear that the value of Imports exceeded that of Exports by £83,959. But no account is taken of vessels built in the Island while their material rigging, &c., are included in the Imports. 100 vessels of the aggregate burden of 24,991 tons were built in the year 1863. The value of these vessels, about £125,000, added to the Exports, leaves a balance of about £40,000 in favor of the Colony.

15. From the Custom House Returns it appears that this Island imported nearly half its requirements from the United Kingdom, and exported more than half of its product to the United States.

16. Councils and Assemblies.—A General Election for the House of Assembly took place early in the year, and resulted in a considerable majority being returned to support the existing Government.

17. Since the General Election of 1859 all holders of salaried offices had been excluded from seats in the Legislature, in conformity with pledges made on the Hastings by the place of the present Government Party, which was previous to that Election in opposition. The practical inconveniences which attended this experiment proved greater than those which it was intended to remedy, and at the Election of 1863 this system was so far modified, that two salaried officers, the Attorney General and the Colonial Secretary came forward as Candidates, and were returned as Members of the House of Assembly. In my opinion, a further extension of the Departmental System, and the appointment of a Financial Secretary, with a seat in the House, would be advantageous.

18. A few weeks after the General Election of the Lower House, the first Election for the Upper House took place under the Act which had been passed in the previous year “to change the Constitution of the Legislative Council by rendering the same Elective.”

19. The qualification for Electors under this Act is fixed at Freehold or Leasehold Property, of the value of £100, currency, or lands partly freehold, and partly leasehold, amounting together in value of that sum. A candidate for the Council is required to be a British subject, 30 years of age, who has been resident in the Colony for five years previous to the Election.

20. Seven of the thirteen Members elected were Members of the nominated Council at the time of its dissolution, and of these seven, five had been placed in the old Council by me since my assumption of the Government of this Province. Nine of the thirteen elected Members were returned to support the policy of the Party composing the majority in the Lower House. The first Elective Council, therefore, was in harmony with the popular branch of the Legislature.

21. Military Expenditure.—The amount expended by the Colony towards its own defence was £285, of this £266 13s 4d was appropriated for the Volunteer service, and £16 13s 4d is the salary by statute of the Adjutant General of Militia, with this inadequate grant it was obviously impossible for me to do much to maintain the discipline and efficiency of the Volunteer Force. I have to rely mainly upon the patriotism and liberality of the Volunteers themselves, and to them individually is due all the credit of the movement in this Island.

22. In my Despatch which accompanied the Blue Book for 1862, I directed the Secretary of State’s attention to the Militia Law. I have recently received Your Despatch, No. 24, of 15th October, containing the views of Her Majesty’s Government on this Law, which, as you justly remark, is without a parallel in British North America. I entirely concur in your opinion, that if in time of peace a community neglects those precautions, by which its independence against foreign aggression can be secured, its safety must be more than imperilled in time of war. It affords me much satisfaction to express my belief, that within the last few years, a feeling has been rising in this community, that it is hardly keeping pace with the neighboring Colonies in measures of self defence, and I trust that during next Session an Act for the amendment of the Militia Law will be proposed to the Legislature.

23. When that measure is proposed, and the Legislature is asked to appropriate for that service a reasonable grant of money—without which all Legislation on the subject is useless—I trust that the measure will not be treated as a Party one, but that Members of the Legislature, irrespective of party will vie in perfecting an enactment calculated to place the Militia in a position creditable to the people of the Colony, and suitable to the privileges and free institutions which they enjoy.

I have, &c., &c., &c.,
Lieut. Governor.

The Right Honorable
Edward Cardwell, M. P., &c., &c., &c.

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