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Imports and Exports.
7. The official returns show a great increase in the value of the exports of the colony, the aggregate having been 1,345,3617. 8s. 4d. in 1587, against 921,0287. 7s. 3d. in 1856. I must, however, offer some remarks in explanation of this important return.
8. I drew attention in my last report to the extent of the intercolonial trade between Barbados and the other West India colonies, owing to the windward position of the former, which renders it a convenient depôt for the latter.
9. I find that the exports from Barbados to the British Islands were 183,1671. in 1857, against 152,4267. in 1856; to British Guiana 87,7591. in 1857, against 35,690l. in 1856. The aggregate exports to the neighbouring colonies, therefore, were 85,000l. more in 1857 than in 1856. I stated in my last report that the exports of 1856 had been considerably under estimated, and that 130,000l. might safely be added to the value of the staple article of export. With these allowances, the exports of 1857 would be about 150,000l., higher in value than those of 1856.
10. The imports of 1857 are stated in the official returns to have been 976,306l. in 1857, against 841,254l. in 1856; but the local consumption did not increase to this extent, for, as I have already pointed out, a considerable portion of the imports was re-exported to the neighbouring colonies.
11. It may be interesting to notice the course of trade between Barbados and other countries. The imports from the United Kingdom were 475,855l. in 1857, against 351,440l. in 1856; and the exports thereto 937,8221. in 1857, against 660,9591. in 1856.
12. Referring to particular items, there was an increased importation in 1857 of linens and cottons to the extent of 33,424., butter 2,793l., bricks 1,7191., corn and grain 6,556l., coals 2,7591., copper 4,608l., cordage 2,903l., hardware 12,000l., manures 24,3927. (the direct importation of guano was proportionately less), salted meats 13,4797., soap 2,9617., machinery 2,4837., woodhoops 1,795.
13. The imports from the United States were 244,9551. in 1857, against 274,030l. in 1856, and the exports thereto 92,9197. in 1857, against 74,510l. in 1856. The falling-off in the imports from the United States was chiefly in the articles of bread, salted meats, corn and grain, and corn meal. In these articles there was a decreased importation in 1857 of 42,6897., while there was an increased importation, of horses and mules 5,405l., lumber 8,5671., tobacco 4,655l., and cordage 5,135l.
14. The imports from the British North American colonies were 101,393/. in 1857, against 72,0697. in 1856, and the exports thereto 29,4127., against 29,0147. There was an increased importation of fish to the extent of 11,8697., and of lumber, including shingles and staves, to that of 14,0391.
15. The imports from the British colonies in the West Indies were 100,0231. in 1857, against 77,9251. in 1856. This inter-colonial trade is one of great importance to Barbados, and the returns prove that it is in a flourishing condition.
Gaols and Prisoners.
16. The returns show that the total number of prisoners in confinement at Michaelmas 1857 was 322, against 393 at the same period in 1856, and that the greatest number in confinement at any one time in 1857 was 502, against 557 in 1856.
17. Although the means of classifying the prisoners are defective, and will necessarily continue so until the projected extension of Glendairy Prison shall have been completed, yet there are so many places of confinement in the island, and at such convenient distances, that it is found practicable to have two prisons for females, one for boys, one for males summarily convicted, one for the worst felons, who are confined in separate cells and the common gaol, which admits of partial classification.
18. The compiler of the Blue Book has had again to report his inability to furnish reliable agricultural statistics, owing to the reluctance exhibited by many of the leading proprietors to supply the required information. It will, I fear, be found impossible to obtain returns from the estates without a compulsory enactment; and in the present state of public opinion the recommendation of such a measure would merely create irritation without being productive of any good. It may be hoped that in the course of time the proprietors will become convinced that this information is sought for with a view to their own benefit.
19. It is stated in the Blue Book, that according to a rough estimate there are upwards of 100,000 acres of land in cultivation in the island, 30,000 of which are annually planted in canes, the remainder being planted in provisions, or with grass as forage for the cattle. I shall proceed to state the result of my own inquiries on the subject.
20. The island contains about 106,500 acres of land, which may, I think, be fairly divided as follows:-Cane land in the sugar estates, 55,000 acres; pasture land, town plots, ordnance land, roads, yards, and land unfit for cultivation, 31,500 acres ; labourers' allotments, 9,500; and land of small proprietors, 10,500. Of the 55,000 acres of cane land, 30,000 acres may be estimated as annually reaped, the remaining portion being in young canes for the crop of the following year, and 5,000 acres being a rough estimate of the land in ratoons. Provisions are chiefly grown on the cane lands in the interval between the reaping of one crop and the planting of the next.
21. There can, I think, be little doubt that the produce of the land in the labourers' allotments and in the holdings of the small proprietors is from 7,000 to 8,000 hogsheads. In Dr. Davy's "West Indies before and since Emancipation" the labourers crop of 1846-7 is stated to have been 7,000 hogsheads. I have no doubt, however, that this included the crop of the small proprietors.
22. It is a remarkable circumstance, that in this island, where land is held at such high prices, ranging in small parcels from 4008 to 700$ per acre, the labouring classes should already have acquired so large a proportion of that available for cultivation, which probably does not much, if at all, exceed 75,000 acres. It furnishes striking evidence of the industry of the population.
23. It is likewise a fact deserving of notice, that in no other colony, so far as my information extends, are the labourers so much encouraged to cultivate the sugar cane on their own account. I believe that the liberality of the proprietary body in aiding the labourers to reap and manufacture their small cane crops has been attended with the best results, and has been the principal means of restricting that emigration which the higher wages given in one or two of the other colonies would otherwise have induced.
24. It is not by any means an uncommon thing for labourers on a Barbadian estate to make 20 to 25 hogsheads of sugar, which in ordinary times would be worth from 250l. to 4007.
25. It is gratifying to me to be able to report, that the past year has been marked by the establishment of voluntary associations among the proprietors for promoting the amelioration of the condition of the labouring classes.
26. One of these associations has been formed in London by the non-resident proprietors, and two others have been established in the island. Among many reforms which have engaged the consideration of the local associations has been a change in the tenure of the land leased to the labourers.
27. I have long been of opinion that the abandonment of the sugar estates by the creole labourers in many of the West India colonies is mainly to be attributed to the unsatisfactory tenure established at the period of emancipation, under the mistaken idea of keeping the labourers in a state of dependence on the proprietors.
28. It is not in the West Indies alone that cheap land has led to a scarcity of agricultural labourers, and of course to high rates of wages. The same cause has produced a like result in Canada and the United States.
29. But in my opinion the West India planter has a most important advantage over the Canadian farmer, owing to the fact that the staple tropical product, the sugar cane, must be manufactured on the spot, and that the skill and capital required for this purpose place it out of the power of ordinary labourers to cultivate the cane without the aid of capitalists.
30. It is, moreover, admitted on all hands that the most profitable tropical product is the sugar cane, and that it would be for the general interest of the community, proprietors as well as labourers, that all available labour should be employed in the production of this plant.
31. It is in my opinion a fatal error to rest satisfied with the common allegation that the creole labourers are notoriously idle, and inclined to relapse into barbarism. It must, I think, be conceded, that the exceptions are too marked and too numerous not to render such an assertion a very unsafe guide for a statesman.
32. What are the ordinary inducements to industry on the part of creole labourers? BARbados. In most of the colonies circumstances have rendered it difficult if not impossible for them to cultivate the cane. Their industry is chiefly employed in the raising of provisions, for which there is a very limited demand, and which if redundantly supplied would fall in price.
33. It may be alleged that it would be open to the labourers to cultivate the cane on their allotments on the sugar estates, as indeed they do in Barbados; but there is a simple and obvious reason for their not doing so elsewhere even, if they were permitted by the proprietors. No man will remain as a tenant at will, liable to ejectment at a few days' notice, if he can obtain a freehold of his own.
34. The tenure, I have no doubt, drives the labourers from the sugar estates, and when removed from them the cultivation of the cane is out of their power. In Barbados the labourers remain on the estates, not because they like the tenure, but because the scarcity and high price of land place freeholds beyond their reach; but even there the fact to which I have elsewhere referred, that 10,000 acres of land have already been acquired by the industrious classes, is conclusive proof that the tenure is only submitted to from necessity.
35. I believe that if at the period of emancipation the small allotments had been granted in freehold to the labourers, or even sold to them at prices as low as they could have got land elsewhere, and if at the same time encouragement had been given to them by the manufacture of their small crops which would have been raised by the labour of extra hours, there would have been little, if any, abandonment of the estates.
36. I am persuaded that the dependence of the proprietors and labourers on one another would have produced the best results, and would have led to mutual good feeling, to the absence of which many of the calamities which have been experienced are to be attributed.
37. It is certainly a remarkable fact, that in Barbados, where alone the labourer is dependent on the proprietor both for employment and for the land on which he lives, and where consequently the latter can dictate his own terms as to the tenure of land, the first movement should be voluntarily made by enlightened planters towards the establishment of a better system.
38. It is equally remarkable that the wages of the labourers in Barbados are as high as in many of the adjoining colonies where property is less than one fifth of the price which it commands here.
39. The opinion is so general that the prosperity of Barbados is to be ascribed solely to the abundance and cheapness of its labour, that it is not without hesitation that I venture to state the opinion which I have formed on that subject, which, however, is the result of information derived from the most experienced planters.
40. I am convinced that it is to the economical management of labour and to agricultural skill that the prosperity of Barbados is mainly to be attributed. The use of the plough and of other implements of husbandry may be found impracticable in other colonies, but if so I fear that sugar cannot be produced so cheaply as in those colonies where such facilities are attainable by the planters. The advantage which Barbados enjoys is rather in the small number of labourers required to cultivate the estates, and to the skilful and economical management of the latter, than in the superabundant supply of labour.
41. There can, I think, be little doubt that the number of labourers employed in the production of sugar in Barbados is much less in proportion than in those colonies from which the strongest complaints have been made of the scarcity of labour..
42. I have already estimated the land available for cane cultivation in this island, exclusive of that held by small proprietors and that occupied in allotments by the labourers, at 55,000 acres. According to the best information within my reach, the number of agricultural labourers employed does not exceed 22,000, or 2 acres to each. This will be considered a very large proportion of labourers, when compared with England, even making ample allowance for the number engaged in the manufacture of the crop.
43. It must be borne in mind that not more than 30,000 acres of the above 55,000 are in canes for the crop of each year, and these, if the season be favourable, will yield an average of 11⁄2 hogsheads of sugar per acre, though 14 hogsheads is probably as much as can safely be calculated on.
44. I think that the planters' crop, excluding that of the small proprietors' and labourers' will hardly average 40,000 hogsheads, but it may be estimated at that in round figures, which would give nearly 17 hogsheads to each labourer. In estimating 22,000 labourers as the maximum number employed, I should observe that I have assumed all to be first
BARBADOS. class labourers, due aliowance having been made for women in the second-class and children. There are about three fourths of the labourers in the first class, and one eighth in each of the others. I estimate that on an average 200 days' labour is given by each labourer in the year; and as wages vary from 10d. to 1s. per task, I have taken 11d. as a fair average.
45. By this calculation 5l. Os. 10d. would be the cost of labour in each hogshead of sugar averaging about 15 cwt. net in England. I admit that this would be considered by many planters as a low estimate, but I give it as the result of careful inquiry on a subject on which it is difficult to obtain precise information. Of course the cost of labour differs materially on the various estates, according to the skill and economy with which they are conducted, and it is desirable, in stating my own opinions, to accompany them with those of others. I may therefore mention that two agricultural societies in this island estimated the cost of labour per hogshead in the year 1847 at 67. 5s. Since that period there can be no doubt that, owing to a more extended use of implements and of increased economy, the cost has been reduced; and it has been repeatedly stated to me that 57. is an ample allowance. I have tested the accuracy of these statements in various ways; and I have seen returns from well-managed estates, showing the amount paid for wages during several years, the average having been under 41. per hogshead. My own conviction is that my average is rather over than under the actual cost of labour.
46. It is considered in Barbados that the miscellaneous expenses on an estate, viz., casks, salaries of managers and skilled workmen, cost of manures and other supplies, maintenance of stock, and wear and tear of buildings and machinery, are rather more than the cost of labour; and 10l. per hogshead is now considered a full estimate for the entire cost of production of the sugar crop including rum, molasses, and provisions, irrespective of the interest of invested capital.
47. It seems to me most improbable, looking to the prices which have been paid for estates during the last few years by gentlemen of large property and great experience, that the cost of labour per hogshead can be greater than I have estimated it at, and if not the statement as to the number employed on the estates must be tolerably accurate.
48. It is satisfactory to be able to report, in conclusion, that the labouring classes seem to be contented, and that a good understanding prevails between them and their employers, who manifest an increasing interest in the social improvement of the masses of the people.
The Right Hon. Sir E. B. Lytton, Bart.,
The Right Hon. Lord Stanley,
I have, &c. (Signed)
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor HINCKS to the Right Honourable
Windward Islands, Barbados,
I HAVE the honour to transmit to your Lordship the copy of a Despatch from the Lieutenant-Governor of Grenada, together with the Blue Book for the year 1857, and three enclosures accompanying it.
I have, &c.
(Signde) F. HINCKS.
Government Office, Grenada, April 16, 1858.
I HAVE the honour to transmit to you the Blue Book for the year 1857, together with my report thereon.
Enclosure 1 in No. 14.
2. It is with pleasure that I have to remark that the state of the finances during the whole of the year has been most satisfactory. The fixed revenue, amounting to 11,9941. 7s. 11d., has exceeded that of 1856 by 1,156. 16s. 1d. The increase on imports has been 1,3037. 8s. 10d. A corresponding augmentation of tonnage dues has taken place; whilst under the heads of water tax, spirit licences, and duty on rum there has been a decrease. The incidental receipts, amounting to 5,4937. 6s. 1d., have fallen somewhat short of those of 1856. This sum includes a loan of 1,4007.
3. The arrears of revenue of the previous year were 1,436l. 2s. 1d., and the total amount collected during the year 1857 has been 17,4877. 14s., and the total expenditure 13,5447. 17s. 7d., leaving a surplus in the treasury at the end of the year of 5,3787. 18s 6d., and showing a decrease in the expenditure, compared with 1856, of 1,9091. ls. 5d.
This saving has been effected principally by the abolition of the offices of comptroller of colonial customs and of inspector of police, and by a reduction in the salary of the public treasurer and in the pay of the police force.
Arrears of preceding year
4,390 0 2
Total Amount at Disposal of Colony 16,890 1 1 Expenditure 15,453 19 0
1 Total increase in
1,909 1 5 Decrease in 1857.
Surplus on the 31st December 1857
£5,378 18 6
5. In January 1857 a debt of 1,400, bearing interest at the rate of 6 per centum per annum, payable quarterly, and redeemable at the expiration of 5 years, was incurred to meet the exigencies of the colony. This amount is chargeable on the general revenues of the island. A sum of 3601. was raised by the Supply Act of March 1857, for the payment of the interest, and for the formation of a sinking fund for the liquidation of the debt. An Act has lately been passed authorizing the deposit of this money at interest in the Colonial Bank. The state of the finances for the past year marks a favourable change in the condition of the island, the increased revenue having arisen from an augmentation in the imports, and not from any incidental receipts.
6. Some time since the question of the entire abolition of customs duties was one which occupied the public mind, and which found many advocates in this community. Discussion upon the subject has lately been revived in consequence of a letter which appeared in the "Chronicle" newspaper of the 13th of March last, addressed to the editor by Mr. Thomson Hankey, M.P., the agent for the colony, a copy of which I transmit herewith. The advantages that the colony would derive from relieving all imports into it from duties have not been exaggerated by Mr. Hankey. There is no doubt that the mercantile body would import more largely; that what are now called luxuries, and which as such are liable to a heavy duty, would be placed within reach of all classes, and that the facility with which they might be obtained would cause them ere long to be regarded by the labouring population as necessaries; and I believe that one of the greatest auxiliaries to the advancement of civilization among the black population in the West Indies would be the introduction of comforts, or comparative luxuries, at so cheap a rate as to make them common in every cottage.
7. I entirely concur, therefore, with the opinion of those who contend that the removal of all restrictions on the entry of shipping and the importation of goods into the island would be of material benefit to the whole population; and that the principle of establishing free ports, whenever practicable, is sound. It must not be forgotten, on the other hand, that if the system has its advantages, there are numerous and very great difficulties to be overcome before it can be brought into operation.
Encl. in No.14.
8. The revenue derived from imports amounted last year to 7,9937. 5s. 2d., or in round numbers to 8,000%. If this large item of revenue is to be given up, it is perfectly clear that we must be prepared with an equivalent, in order to maintain the revenue in its present condition. This can only be done by direct taxation, and the difficulties of making a total change in the mode of taxation must be seriously weighed and most gravely considered.
9. Duties on imports are not felt in any way burdensome; it is a system to which the people are accustomed, and to which they offer no objection. Those who are acquainted with the West Indies,