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economy in the plans and estimates. Among others, two bridges, from which great public advantage Mauritius. was expected, one at Plaines Wilhems and one at Moka, have given way, partly, as it is said, in consequence of injury to the foundation, as well as of the well-meant but undue parsimony which prompted the adoption of inferior plans of building, and partly in consequence of the indifferent material supplied by the contractors in England, and which remained undiscovered until the bridge was completed and tried.
31. In other cases, likewise, where contracts have been based upon estimates intended to economize Public Works, the very opposite effect has unfortunately resulted, and additions which have been found indispensable have been made at advanced stages of the work at greater expense than would have been incurred had a more liberal expenditure and estimate been sanctioned in the first instance; and works now under progress, under estimates of previous years, are in some cases found to be inadequate to the wants which they were designed to supply, and must during the present year be extended at greater expense, to supply the original deficiency.
32. No doubt, the greatest difficulty is experienced in this department in the preparation and realization of estimates, in consequence of the fluctuating and ever-varying prices of labour and materials, and the difficulty of keeping skilled labourers steady to their engagements; besides which, contractors appear to be very little influenced in their tenders for Public Works by any clear principle which should regulate the value of their services. An incredibly broad margin must, therefore, always be left for casualties such as these in all engagements for Public Works, and the practice of that public economy which is prompted in all Colonial Works is rendered exceedingly difficult in such circumstances.
33. Notwithstanding all that has been recently accomplished in the Department of Public Works, much is still to be done, great part of which should have been embraced in the service of former years, and the cost of which must now be sustained by past accumulated balances, augmented as it will be by the increased price of materials and labour.
34. The business of the several Public Departments has within the last ten or twelve years so increased. as to have rendered it necessary to improve their accommodation, and in some instances to build new offices for those public servants for whom hired houses have hitherto been used, but who, in consequence of the largely augmented rents demanded, or of notices received to quit, in order to make room for other tenants, will be obliged to leave the premises which they now occupy.
35. The Post Office especially is an institution which produces much public anxiety in this respect, for in consequence of the enormous increase in postal correspondence within the last few years, not only are the clerks of that establishment fewer than ought to be there employed, but the building in which this public service is conducted is wholly unfit for its use in its increased importance. A new building, therefore, and a costly one it will be, must of necessity be erected, the only difficulty, in the present scarcity and high value of sites, having been to determine where it should be built; but this point has lately been settled.
36. Under recent recommendations from the Admiralty, a great and expensive undertaking for the improvement of the harbour will likewise soon be brought under consideration, which, with the improvement already described, will produce much additional harbour accommodation and protection.
37. But another maritime town and harbour would be of great value, not only for the purposes of trade and shipping, but for the relief of this town of part of its redundant population; and I hope that Mahébourg may soon become an object of improvement for all these objects.
38. And as great perplexity exists in most of the districts with regard to public accommodation for courts, prisons, asylums, police, schools, and other necessary institutions, which are at present very inconveniently scattered, and of a very inferior description, it cannot be long before Public Works must be undertaken for the purpose of centralizing in district towns all these necessary establishments.
39. The legislation of the year 1857 was unusually active and important. It embraced schemes for compulsory education throughout the Island; for facilitating the engagement of Indian immigrants; for introduction of labourers from places beyond the territory of the East India Company; a revision of the laws concerning quarantine; and the curatorship of vacant estates; with other Ordinances of minor but still considerable importance.
40. I proceed to notice briefly the leading Ordinances of the year.
41. (I.) Ordinance, No. 21, for making compulsory the education of children in the Colony.
42. The measures heretofore taken for educating youth in Mauritius had made comparatively little progress, owing partly to the apathy of both Creoles and Indians on the subject, but chiefly to its being more profitable to send young persons to work than to school. It was accordingly resolved to try the effect of making education compulsory.
43. The education thus forced upon the community is purely secular. It includes morality, order, and cleanliness, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and such industrial training as the Governor may appoint. The girls will also be taught needlework and domestic economy.
44. Religious instructors of any denomination will be admitted during limited portions of the time for compulsory attendance, but no children are allowed to attend such religious instruction against the wish of their parents or guardians.
45. It is made an offence, punishable by fine and imprisonment, in any person to withhold from school or deprive from education children between certain ages; and provision is made for the inspection of districts and schools to be erected under the law, and for preventing its evasion.
46. The Ordinance contains little more than an outline of the scheme, the details of which have yet to be completed by Regulations, which the Governor has power to pass in Executive Council. Nor
MAURITIUS. Can the law come into operation until more schools have been erected, and inspectors have been
appointed for the educational districts.
47. The success of the scheme will depend entirely upon the efficacy of those measures; but the practical operation and enforcement of this law will be attended with many difficulties.
48. (II.) Ordinance No. 22 is likely to produce considerable addition to the supply of labour from India. It enables any employer to engage newly arrived immigrants to whatever number he chooses, upon repaying to the Government the expense of introducing those in excess of the number to which he is entitled by Regulation.
49. (III.) Ordinance No. 23 was designed to supply still further a deficiency in the labour market, by authorizing the introduction of immigrants from territories not under the government of the East India Company.
50. Previously to the passing of this law, the introduction of such immigrants had been rather discouraged, as effectual means did not exist for protecting them on their arrival in the colony, while employers were deterred from introducing them on account of the inability to engage them for more than one year.
51. By the new law three years' engagements are legalized, wherever the immigrant has been intro-
1. Licence from the Governor or a Government Agent to introduce from a particular place.
3. Proper treatment on board ship.
4. The surveillance of the Protector of Immigrants, on the labourers being brought to Mauritius.
52. In order to prevent sums from being charged as passage money which really included the purchase price of the labourer, provision is made for fixing by arbitration the expense of introduction.
55. The immigrants, after being landed and engaged, become subject to the same laws as Indian immigrants, regarding unlicensed absences from work, on the one hand, and the recovery of wages and prevention of cruel treatment, on the other; while provision is also made for registering the marriages and parentage of all those who are introduced under the law.
54. From this Ordinance, and the Regulations in course of being framed to carry it out, and which are to be approved by the Secretary of State before they are put in force, considerable benefit is anticipated in the labour market; and it is expected that the Government will authorize several new sources to be opened for the introduction of labour under a scheme which provides for them the same freedom of choice and security against ill treatment, with the same social advantages, as the Indian Government has anxiously secured for Indian immigrants.
55. (IV.) Ordinance No. 26. The immigration from India having been placed under Regulations, in which the Colonial Government and the East India Company concurred, it was deemed proper to prevent private persons from introducing immigrants from territories under the government of the Company upon private speculation beyond the Government control, as experience had shown that the promoters of all such private schemes sacrificed the interest of the Indians to their own pecuniary advantage.
56. Repeated instances of cruelty and injustice to immigrants so introduced had pressed themselves on the attention of both the Home and Colonial Governments, while the East India Company were still more anxious to put a stop to them.
57. Under the law, severe penalties are enacted in every case where such immigrants are introduced in any way except under the system agreed to by the Indian and Colonial Governments.
58. The law appears to have attained its object, as no case has yet occurred to put in force its penal
59. (V.) Ordinance No. 3, to amend the laws concerning quarantine.
60. The repeated evasions of the quarantine laws, and their inadequacy to secure their object, induced the late Governor to submit them to revision by a committee consisting of the Procureur General, the Chief Medical Officer, the Harbour Master, and the Pratique Surgeon. The Ordinance No. 3, of 1857, resulted from their joint labours.
61. Its provisions are more especially applicable to the present quarantine stations of Flat Island and Cannonier's Point, and to temporary or provisional quarantine at the roadstead of Port Louis. In anticipation, however, of additional stations being afterwards required, it empowers the Governor in Executive Council to appoint these, and to extend to them the whole Ordinance or any part of it.
62. The Ordinance provides severe penalties against communicating with vessels before pratique, and against communicating with or approaching the quarantine stations and vessels under quarantine; it also enacts that persons attempting to escape from quarantine may be fired upon, and shall be liable to fine and imprisonment.
63. Precise rules are provided as to communication by pilots and health officers with vessels; as to signals and guard boats; and as to the place, manner, and period of quarantine in each case of infectious disease.
64. Power is, moreover, conferred upon the Governor in Executive Council to frame Regulations for carrying out the purpose of the law, and to provide limited penalties for their infraction.
65. Shortly after this law was passed, it was found not to have anticipated two difficulties; namely, the inability of the local courts of Mauritius to punish communication with vessels beyond the local jurisdiction; and, secondly, the inability to prosecute with sufficient promptitude offences, which, from the amount of penalty attached to them, could only be tried by the Court of Assize.
66. In these circumstances the Council passed the Ordinance No. 27, of 1857.
67. By this law penalties are imposed on any person who, before any vessel coming to Mauritius shall have received a pratique, shall land upon any part of the Colony, or enter any river or creek, after
having approached or communicated with such vessel, there being no distinction as to whether such MAURITIUS.
68. This Ordinance also enables the Public Prosecutor, by restricting the penalty for any contra-
69. Since these laws were passed they have been repeatedly put in force with success to punish contraventions. It remains to be seen whether they will attain the more important object of preventing
70. The penalties are, I think, too heavy in many cases, and as they have given rise to several special applications for relief, I propose soon to suggest amendments in this respect.
71. Several breaches of the law have arisen from the scarcity of labour in the Colony, since, upon a
72. Although some of the penalties are no doubt too severe, such contraventions as these rather deserve a corresponding increase in the severity of the punishment imposed; but the increased supply of labourers will furnish less temptation to brave the consequences of communicating unlawfully with vessels bringing immigrants.
73. (VI.) Ordinance No. 13, for amending the law on the Curatorship of Vacant Estates.
74. The costliness and inefficiency of the administration of intestate estates, under the Ordinance No. 9, of 1838, had been the subject of repeated correspondence between the Secretary of State and the late Governor. The Curator of these estates then acted as the head of his own department, employing, whenever he thought fit, an attorney, counsel, and notary of his own selection, and acting almost entirely without check or control as to the mode of his administration. The funds of the estates in his hands, while bearing costs and commissions, were entirely unremunerative, as they lay in the Treasury without bearing interest.
75. To remedy these evils, the new law places the Curator under the immediate personal superintendence and direction of the Colonial Treasurer, while in matters of law the office is under the guidance of the Procureur General. This kind of supervision was adopted on account of the interest which the Crown, as "ultimus hæres," has in unclaimed estates, and from its being the least. objectionable surveillance that could be obtained.
76. In order that the estates may be no longer unproductive, the Ordinance places them on the same footing as deposits in the Savings' Bank, the Treasury lending the funds on security, and allowing per cent. upon them.
77. The difference between that amount and the interest received will, it is expected, defray the cost of administration.
78. The Ordinance also simplifies and cheapens the proceedings for putting the Curator in possession, and for realizing the estates administered.
79. The law has not yet, however, been put into operation, as there have been some unforeseen difficulties still to be overcome.
80. Besides the laws thus mentioned in detail, there are some of minor importance, which deserve to be shortly noticed.
81. (VII.) Ordinance No. 2 introduces modified punishments in lieu of the long imprisonments which had been substituted for transportatton, and it allows the Court of Assizes to relax the severity of punishment, by imprisonment where the penal code prescribes their minimum.
82. (VIII.) Ordinance No. 9, "for amending the law as to the preparation of the Jury lists," enables persons who do not sufficiently understand the English language to have their names struck out of the Jury list by the officer by whom it shall be prepared, without the inconvenience and delay of having to appear and be examined as to their inability to serve.
83. (IX.) Ordinance No. 11 reduces from ten to six per cent. the Customs Duties upon certain manufactured articles of constant consumption in the Colony. It had been loudly called for by the public.
84. (X.) Ordinance No. 12 was proposed to the Council in consequence of suggestions from the Secretary of State. It provides that costs shall be given in civil causes by and against the Crown in the same manner as in causes between subject and subject. It re-introduced the just rule of the Civil Code, from which there had been repeated but not well-defined deviations by the Court. Its provisions are similar to those of 18 & 19 Victoria, Chapter 90, which, however, relates only to cases instituted against the Crown.
85. (XI.) Ordinance No. 18 was passed to remedy the inconvenience which had repeatedly arisen from the temporary suspension of business upon the death, illness, or absence of Magistrates in rural districts.
86. In those districts in which there are separate District and Stipendiary Magistrates, the Ordinance clothes the one with the functions of the other until his return or recovery, or until a successor be appointed to him.
87. It also enables District Clerks, in cases of urgency, to grant warrants for arrest and search. By this means the officers of justice will not be baffled in the detection of crime, owing to the temporary absence of the District Magistrate.
88. (XII.) Ordinance No. 20, "to make provision for regulating the temporalities belonging to the United Church of England and Ireland."
89. Her Majesty's confirmation having been withheld from Ordinance No. 22, of 1856, which had been passed for the same purpose, the Ordinance No. 20 was proposed in place of it, under directions of the Secretary of State.
90. It provides that land set apart for building churches and churchyards attached to the Church of England should be vested in the Bishop of Mauritius for the time being and his successors; or, if the church shall have been erected at the sole expense of private persons, it may be vested either in that manner or in trustees named by the founders.
91. The Ordinance provides that those trustees be members of the Church of England, and regulates the mode in which they shall be appointed and removed. It also determines their mode of meeting and voting; and it contains detailed rules as to burying ground, pew rents, and other ecclesiastical
92. Notwithstanding the improvements which appear to have been made in recent years in the Civil Establishments of the colony, a great deal still remains to be done before they can attain anything like perfection.
93. The public service has so greatly increased in all departments, that it has been difficult to keep pace with the wants of the Colony; and I found on my arrival here, not only that the public buildings were far too small for the functionaries they were intended to contain, but that the public duties of those functionaries were far heavier than they could conveniently accomplish.
94. Moreover, the economy of past years,-very properly commencing at a time when financial difficulties had overtaken the country, but continuing without the same reason, although with other well intended objects, when prosperity shone upon the colonists, had introduced a practice of adding to the duties of certain public officers other duties which were wholly foreign to their primary employments; the consequence of which was, that whenever fault was found for any apparent or real neglect of public duty, or for the imperfection of its performance, the reason always promptly given was, that the pressure of these heterogeneous occupations interfered with each other, and prevented the perfect performance of them all; and this, upon inquiry, proved in many instances to be the fact.
95. The satisfactory position, therefore, in which they may have been described to be last year, was necessarily comparative with reference to their condition in previous years, and no doubt many improvements had been made, which, judging from the records of the past, must have placed these public institutions in a position of comparative advancement.
96. But most of them are still very imperfect; and the representations which I have lately had occasion to make on the subject, not only of the pnblic buildings in which the offices are conducted, but with reference also to the number of clerks and the augmentations of their salaries, will, I hope, produce many improvements in the Civil Establishment.
97. As far, also, as I have hitherto been able to judge of many of our public offices, there are several of them which require remodelling in their system; but although many amendments have lately been effected in this respect, it will be necessary to become more familiar with past and present arrangements before improvements to any great extent can be suggested for the future.
98. The accomplishment, too, of this desideratum, so much depends upon the energy and experience of the heads of departments, and upon their own well-concerted arrangements, that great hesitation must be shown in the suggestion of decided changes the success of which must wholly depend on the power and skill of those who have the immediate duty of carrying them into execution.
99. This, however, is very certain, that in an important and wealthy Crown Colony like Mauritius, where there are, so to speak, no popular institutions, and where the whole establishment of the country rests with the Government alone, the machinery of all the Public Departments should be as complete as they can be, the staff of each should be fully equal to its duties, and the head of each department, particularly of each superior one, should be thoroughly master of his work. I am not prepared to say that all these desiderata are nearly yet attained, or are even capable of full attainment, in this Colony.
100. The Census of 1851 divided the population under three heads :—the Indian, the ex-apprentice, and the general.
The aggregate was then stated at 189,327. It may now be estimated at nearly 240,000.
101. The Indian was enumerated at 86,404. It amounted to 142,534 at the end of 1857.
102. The Ex-apprentice with their families was stated at 48,366. It is now supposed to be little more than 40,600.
103. And the general population was estimated at 54,557. It is now supposed to be nearly 55,800.
104. Owing to the length of time which has elapsed since the last Census was taken, it has not been found possible to collect information relative to the proportion which the different classes of our population bear to each other, the relative numbers of the sexes, and the comparative ratio in which
the inhabitants of the different districts have increased in number, with that accuracy which can alone MAURITIUS.
105. The only subject which the statistics at present available can serve to elucidate, is the proportion
106. The information which the statistical tables present upon this point would at first sight lead to the conclusion that the supply of labour, if not sufficient to meet the demands of the planters, is at any rate more in proportion to the demand than it was in 1851.
107. The number of the Indian population has each year steadily increased, while that of the general population has on the whole diminished, in consequence of the ravages twice made by epidemic disease, which the general excess of births over deaths has not sufficed to counterbalance.
108. The result is that the proportion which the Indian population bears to the whole population has increased in the interval from 431 to 597 per cent.
109. It appears, however, from returns which the planters have been called upon to produce, that whereas out of the 64,282 male Indians in the Island in 1851, 41,921, or 652 per cent., were employed on sugar estates, out of the 107,072 male Indians in the Island at the end of 1857, only 46,997, or 43.8 per cent., were so employed.
110. The number of male labourers, other than Indians, occupied on the plantations, is computed at 1,820. Whereas, therefore, the total number of male labourers employed on the sugar estates in 1851 amounted to 351 per cent. of the whole population, at the end of 1857 it amounted only to 20-4 per cent. In 1851 it was 44,611; in 1857, 48,817.
111. The number of the female in proportion to the male Indian population was less, however, in 1851 than in 1857, the proportion of females being in the former year 17.5, and in the latter 24-8 of the whole Indian population.
112. As a general rule, women do no work on the plantations.
113. The area of land under cane cultivation has in the meantime about doubled. In the Blue Book for 1851 it was calculated at 39,300 acres; by the statistical returns of this year it is computed, according to the lowest calculation, at 75,000 acres; according to another, at more than 80,000; while the uncultivated land susceptible of cultivation is calculated at 126,346 acres.
114. These results fully account for the large sums which are paid by the planters for engaging the services of arriving immigrants. Such sums are not the measure of the planter's wealth, but of his necessities. The question with him is, whether he is to abandon the crop upon which his capital has been spent, or pay a price for labour which will leave him little, if any, profit upon that crop. It is the middleman alone who benefits by the competition. The planter runs the risk of ruin. The labourer's wages are but slightly affected.
115. The inference that a larger supply of field labour is required cannot be questioned; and, making full allowance for the large demand which commerce makes upon the labour market, it would appear that a large number of the Indian population are not serving the purpose for which they were introduced.
116. Whether it is desirable that they should be allowed to remain in the colony without re-engagement, after completion of their industrial residence, when the chief objection to introducing a supply of field labour equal to the demand is a fear of scarcity in provisions, the most necessary of which are derived exclusively from other countries, would appear to depend mainly upon what their usual occupations are, and what may be the demand for the peculiar kind of labour in which they are engaged. But these are facts which, so far as concerns the present population, can only be ascertained when a new Census is taken, and by analogy only with the occupations of the present population can those of the future be conjectured.
117. No changes worthy of any notice have taken place in the establishment of last year, as contrasted with that of 1856.
118. The numbers of clergy and of priests are much the same as they were in 1856; augmentations of the numbers of Roman Catholic priests were sanctioned, although the full numbers were not obtained during the past year.
119. The zeal of both the churches and their ministers appears to be unabated.
120. The returns from the Acting Rector of the Royal College, and the Superintendent of Government Schools, will disclose the state of public education in the Colony during the past year.
121. The Ordinance which was passed in 1857, founded on the recommendation of the Committee of Education, and the improvements contemplated by both, were not brought into operation, under the advice of the Committee, that they should be for a time suspended, nor, indeed, in consequence of the absence of the Rector, and of the necessity for instituting some important changes which required great caution and consideration, was the Royal College in a position to be improved during any portion of last year.
122. The condition, therefore, of the Royal College at the close of 1857 must have been much the same as it was at the close of 1856; but it is expected that after the arrival of the newly appointed Rector, and the adoption of the contemplated improvements which he will be the means of carrying out,