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GRENADA. and with the character of the labouring population, are aware of the horror with which they regard any attempts at direct taxation. It is difficult to persuade them that it would be conducive to their good; and it is very doubtful whether they could be brought to consider an improvement in their social position as an equivalent for an increased taxation. I feel satisfied that no reliance could be placed on the countenance or support of the majority of the upper or middle classes, some from objecting to the principle of the measure, and some from alarm at the probable opposition of the lower orders to the introduction of a system of internal assessments. I know, from experience, that the collection of direct taxes is at all times difficult, and generally very imperfect, and I believe that in Grenada it would be attended with much greater expense proportionably than the collection of customs duties.
10. The great and principal difficulty to be encountered and overcome would be the prejudices of nearly the whole population of Grenada, with the exception, perhaps, of the mercantile body. I confess that in the present state of the West Indies, taking into consideration the excitable character of the labouring class, and the really little influence possessed over them in this island by the planters as a body, even supposing that the latter should be brought to take a favourable view of the subject, I consider that an attempt to introduce a sudden change in the mode of taxation would be an experiment fraught with so large an amount of danger, and that the risk and responsibility attendant on the levying direct taxes to the amount of 8,000l. would be so great, that it would be unwise to attempt it until the minds of the people had been fully prepared for so great an innovation. As a preparatory measure, however, and as one which would, I believe, to a considerable extent, increase the imports, I am quite prepared to recommend the abolition of the tonnage duties on vessels discharging or receiving cargo in the ports of this island. The amount raised by these duties during 1857 did not exceed 8301 17s. 5d. This small sum would, I have reason to believe, be more than made up by the increase in the imports consequent on the abolition of a law which subjects the transient trader to a tonnage duty on the burthen of his vessel of at least 4 d. in the ton on the smallest trade that he may have with this island, the largest duty being ls. 6d., there being an intermediate one of 9d. in the ton. A Bill was some time since introduced into the House of Assembly for the purpose of relaxing these duties in certain cases. The report of the attorney general upon it was unfavourable, and pointed out several defects in it which would have rendered the Act ineffective in its operation. I thought this a good opportunity to recommend that all the Acts connected with tonnage should be taken into consideration by the legislature, with a view to their consolidation. Since then I have adopted the opinion that it would be advantageous in many respects, and perfectly safe, to repeal the laws altogether. Should the deficiency caused in the revenue by the abolition of tonnage duties fail to be met by an increase in the imports, I do not believe that any opposition would be offered to low stamp duties on deeds, law proceedings, and other written or printed instruments; nor to duties on legacies and successions to personal estates on intestacies. I am not in a position at present to state what amount might be raised by a Stamp Act of this deseription, but should it prove productive the tariff of import duties might be reduced.
11. A land, tax imposed for the first time last year yielded 1,1937. 5s. 7d., being nearly 2001. in excess of the sum which it was calculated the rate would produce. In my Despatch, No. 14, Legislative, of the 12th March 1857, I expressed an opinion entirely favourable to a land tax, as one of the most legitimate that could be imposed, although I did not thoroughly approve of the principle on which this one was to be adjusted. It appears, however, to have worked tolerably well for the one year that it has been tried. The small settlers paid cheerfully, although they were taxed proportionably higher than the larger proprietors; indeed by these latter alone has any dislike to the tax been evinced. A strong attempt was made this year by the planters in the House of Assembly to get rid of it; they have not succeeded, but I regret to say that it has been reduced to one-half. This demonstrates clearly the opposition that would be offered by the planters to a system of internal taxation. They appear to consider that if the abolition or relaxation of the customs duties necessitated an increased direct taxation on themselves, the merchants would be benefited at their cost, forgetting that it can be of no essential consequence to them whether they pay a certain amount in the shape of a tax on their land or as import duties on those articles necessary for their consumption and for the cultivation of the land, and keeping out of view the principle that if low customs duties would tend to the general benefit of the island, they must of necessity be participators, in common with the mercantile body, in any amelioration that might take place in the condition of the country.
12 The Executive Council, established towards the end of 1856, vested with all the powers of the Privy Council, consisting of ten members selected from the two deliberative branches of the legislature, care having been taken to appoint the most influential members of the Assembly, has undoubtedly proved of great service, by bringing the Governor into immediate connection with the legislature, by enabling him to ascertain the views and opinions of the House on most matters of importance, and by placing the legislature in possession of his ideas, without having to resort to the old custom of communicating them by means of messages, which could rarely convey such full explanations as were necessary to elucidate a subject, unless extended to a length that would rather weary than command the attention of the members. The dispassionate consideration by a Council of ten of most measures of importance previously to their being placed before the legislature is without doubt an immense improvement on the old system, under which the most momentous questions were initiated by independent members, and were taken up and dealt with by the House with probably very little, if any, previous consideration, the result, as might be expected, being too frequently a crude and imperfect measure, for which no one was responsible. With these manifest advantages the Executive Council is not yet by any means perfect in its constitution. Of the ten members of which it is composed, three only reside in town, and it is only on such occasions as the meetings of the courts of law or of the
egislature that a full board can be expected. Of the three members residing in town, one, a merchant, is seldom able to leave his business, and another is too infirm to give much attention to public matters. Were it not for the regular attendance of two gentlemen residing some few miles from St. George's, who have frequently at great personal inconvenience placed their services at my disposal whenever I required them, and performed gratuitously the duties of a working committee, the Execu tive Council would have entirely failed in the object it was intended to effect.
13. It is evident that in order to render the Executive Council practically useful, and to carry out to its full extent the purpose for which it was established, it is necessary to provide salaries for the members of a working committee, for it is not to be expected that they would willingly bear, without remuneration, the responsibility and actual labour which their political and executive position would impose on such a committee.
14. The legislature met on the 3d of November, and that being the commencement of another financial year, with the advice and concurrence of the Executive Council, I availed myself of the opportunity this circumstance afforded me to open the legislature in person, and to make it acquainted with my views on the subject of a paid executive committee. A Bill, having for its models the Jamaica, Tobago, and St. Christopher Executive Committee Acts, was prepared and submitted to the Assembly. It proposed to provide salaries for the members of an executive committee, to consist of three persons selected from the legislative bodies, who should be the responsible advisers of the Governor, assisting him in the administration, and performing certain executive duties now performed by joint legislative committees; and it followed, with slight deviation, the wording of the Acts to which I have referred. I am sorry to say it has met with great opposition in the House of Assembly. I believe that personal feeling of enmity and dislike for some of the members of the Executive Council have had more to do with the violence and determination of the opposition than any real aversion to the measure itself. There are two provisions in the Bill which its opponents contend would encroach on the privileges and diminish the powers of the Assembly. The first is the clause which provides that all motions for grants and appropriations of money should originate in the House with the members of the executive committee or with their sanction, and the second is the provision that the Governor and the executive committee shall discharge the duties of a board of audit and all other administrative duties now performed by joint committees of the two deliberative branches of the legislature. In no part of the Bill are its usefulness and merit in my opinion more conspicuous than in these two clauses, and the evils of the present system have clearly pointed out the necessity of applying the proposed remedy. On the government devolves the task of preparing the annual estimates of ways and means to meet the expenditure that may be deemed necessary to carry on public business. Whilst individual members enjoy the privilege of moving for votes of money after forty-eight hours' notice, the financial arrangements of the government must be at all times open to be disturbed, and the grave consideration which has been given to them rendered nugatory. It is also to be observed, that these money votes are not always referred to a committee of supply, where the whole financial question is under consideration, but are frequently made in the House, if their respective amounts do not exceed 1001. The sums thus voted appear small by themselves; but as the year advances they creep up, and reach an amount which probably the Assembly would never have agreed to if it had been asked for in the aggregate. I am perfectly convinced that until so vicious a system is abolished, and the power of moving for money grants is vested solely in a responsible government, or is exercised by others only with its sanction, the finances of the colony can never be placed on a secure or healthy footing. With regard to the second objection, those even most opposed to the principle of imposing certain administrative duties, now performed by joint committees, on the members of an executive committee, will, I believe, not deny that it is with the greatest difficulty that the members of the several committees can be brought together when their services are required. They are scattered over the island in all directions, and, with few exceptions, do not consider themselves bound to give up their time and to sacrifice their convenience; and I admit that the sacrifice is frequently great, to perform public duties for which they receive no remuneration whatever. The inevitable consequence is, that the business of the colony is retarded, the public accounts remain unaudited, and the credit of the colony falls in proportion to the delay which takes place in liquidating its liabilities.
15. A considerable portion of what I have said with reference to the joint committees applies also to the House of Assembly. It is composed principally of planters who cannot well afford to absent themselves from their homes for more than two days at a time to attend to their legislative duties. The business of the House generally commences late on the first day, and by two or three o'clock on the following day most of the country members are anxious to return home, and little time being left for the consideration of important measures, they are either hurried through, or unavoidably postponed until another session of similar duration. In such a state of things it is of urgent necessity that all subjects for legislation should be well and thoroughly considered before they are submitted to the House; and it appears to me that the only efficient mode of securing such a consideration would be by the employment of paid persons officially responsible to the legislative bodies.
16. The number of Acts passed by the legislature during the year 1857 has not exceeded seven. Of these probably only two require to be specially noticed. The first in importance is the one constituting a board of education, and the second the one providing for the establishment of a court of appeal. By the former Act the legislature, with commendable liberality, has placed at the disposal of a board of seven members, presided over by the Governor, the sum of 1,2001. annually for educational purposes. Provision is made in the Act for the appointment of a head master and inspector of schools, who is also to be the principal of a grammar and training school in the town of St. George. Unfortunately, as yet, the duties of the board of education have been merely nominal, owing to the diffi
GRENADA culty which has occurred in procuring a fit and proper person for the head master, and the total want of practical knowledge in the members of the board. The old system of schools being under the uncontrolled superintendence of the clergymen of the several religious denominations, therefore, still exists, and I do not feel justified in reporting any improvement in educational matters. There is some hope, however, that no long time will now elapse before the groundwork of a better system will be laid, as the colony has fortunately secured the services of a gentleman having the highest testimonials of competency, and recommended as possessing qualifications of no ordinary description for the discharge of the very difficult duty which will be entrusted to him. He will have no light task in organising and reducing to a systemized form elements of the most antagonistic and conflicting nature. Mr. Noble is daily expected from Europe, and I trust that those who profess to feel an interest in the cause of education, and the upper class generally, will second his efforts, and give some tangible proof of their desire to see instruction disseminated among the peasantry of the island. Without support of this kind, and the hearty co-operation of the clergy, I feel convinced that not only will Mr. Noble be doomed to the disappointment consequent on the expenditure of talents and energy without a corresponding return, but that also the legislative grant will be totally inadequate to maintain in a state of efficiency the large number of schools which are necessary, in consequence of the variety of the religious denominations in the island, and the determined objection of the clergy to sanction the attendance of the children of their several congregations at any schools not presided over by themselves respectively, or by persons holding their tenets. I fear too that the class to which we might legitimately look for assistance does not view the education of the masses as an object of primary importance.
17. The next most important legislative Act for the last year, the providing for a court of appeal, scarcely demands any comment on my part, not because I underrate its importance, or the benefit it is calculated to be to this island, in common with such others of the general government of the Windward Islands as have adopted a similar one, but because it was taken from an Act passed in Barbados, with only such alterations as were necessary to adapt it to this island, and had been before considered and approved of by Her Majesty's Government, both in principle and in detail. Appeals will probably be of very rare occurrence; but the fact that a court for such appeals exists, and is easy of access, will greatly add to the authority of the judgments of the courts of this island in the estimation of the people. The advantages which may result from the establishment of this court are to be obtained, in so far as Grenada is concerned, at the very moderate yearly maximum cost of 175l., while it is highly probable that less than one-half of that amount will be generally sufficient to defray the proportion of the expenses &c. to be borne by this island.
18. The militia of Grenada consists at present of a volunteer artillery corps, formed immediately after the withdrawal of Her Majesty's troops. It is composed of persons holding respectable positions in the community, and is officered by merchants carrying on business in the town of St. George. In 1855 a Militia Act was passed, giving legislative sanction to the corps, and limiting its strength to sixty men. It also authorized the raising of a company of rifles in each parish, not to exceed in the aggregate 1000 men. The artillery has attained a state of efficiency which reflects credit on the exertions of the officers, and on the patience with which the privates have submitted to the tediousness of drill and restraints of military discipline. A variety of causes have conspired to retard the enrolment of the rifle corps, the most prominent of which are, the delay that has occurred in providing arms for their use, and the disinclination of the men to furnish uniforms at their own expense. The legislature has this year granted 400l. for militia purposes, and I have ordered from England clothing to equip one company of rifles at Carriacou, and one in the town of St. George. This force, in concert with the artillery, is sufficient to repress any attempt at riot or tumult in the town, and will probably form the nucleus of a militia on a more extensive scale.
19. Considerable improvement has taken place in the roads since the appointment of a "surveyor of roads and public buildings," in 1855. The only public work of any importance completed during the past year has been the relaying of the pipes for the introduction of water into the town of St. George, at a cost of 9501. The public buildings have been kept generally in good order.
20. The scarcity of agricultural labour and immigration, are the two subjects which at present engross the minds of not only the planters, but of all persons connected with the West Indies, and interested in their present state and future prospects. Grenada, owing to its climate and fertility of soil, is capable of supporting in comfort and comparative affluence a population nearly double that it now possesses. Not more than 30,000 persons are scattered over an area of 83,451 acres or thereabouts. The facility with which land may be obtained induces an occasional serious want of labour on the sugar estates, which will in each successive year be more severely felt, not only in consequence of the daily secession of labourers from the ranks of hired servants to become proprietors on their own account, but also, I regret to say, from actual emigration to Trinidad. It is true that of those who leave this island a greater part return generally penniless, and so demoralized by their contact and companionship with a labouring people collected from all quarters of the world, and probably possessing all the vices which the amalgamation of a variety of races is apt to produce, that they have become unsettled in their habits, and utterly useless as labourers in their own country. It is difficult to assign any one reason of sufficient weight to be a conclusive one for this propensity in the native labourer to emigrate. The planters will tell you that the wages are not higher in Trinidad than in Grenada. If you ask the labourer what he has benefited by his residence in Trinidad, and whether he has saved money, he will tell you that he has had "too much pleasure," but that he has saved nothing, that he has gained more money than he would have done in the same period of time in Grenada, but that everything is so much dearer in Trinidad that he has spent his earnings as quickly as he has acquired them. There is probably some truth in this, and that whilst living is more expensive there are also
many more inducements to dissipation and extravagance in Trinidad than in Granada. Agents from GRENADA. Trinidad are constantly finding their way among our labouring population, and I have no doubt hold out allurements of higher wages and pleasure, which to those springing up into manhood, and unrestrained by any obligation of gratitude to those who might have exercised a salutary influence over them, are irresistible. It is far easier to see the evils attendant upon this constant emigration of labourers than to devise a remedy for them. The planters are urgent in their demand for legislative interference; but I am at a loss to conceive what measures can be passed by the legislature to prevent persons from exercising their undoubted right of going whither they please, and of choosing their own place of abode. The class of vessels engaged in the Trinidad trade, and used to convey labourers to that island, are of a description utterly unfit for the service in which they are employed. They average from eight to fifteen tons, and frequently carry from thirty to forty persons of all ages and of both sexes. Not only is this crowding together of so many individuals into a small space highly objectionable, on the ground of morality and common decency, but is attended with imminent risk to the lives of all on board in the event of bad weather. It is very desirable that some course should be adopted to regulate the number of passengers to be carried in these small vessels according to their tonnage. I have been frequently requested to issue a proclamation for the purpose of subjecting them to the provisions of the Passengers' Act, 1855, but, with every desire to check an undeniable evil, I cannot adopt so free a construction of the 97th clause of the Imperial Act as to feel myself justified in declaring the duration of the voyage between Grenada and Trinidad to exceed three days. I believe that if a remedy exists it is in the hands of the planters themselves. An increased rate of wages might possibly have some good effect, but the relation between master and servant must be subjected to an entire change, the mutual distrust existing between the two classes must disappear, before a healthier state of things can be brought about. It is a question difficult of solution, whether this evil is not now too deeply seated to be removed.
21. Annexed is a report from Mr. Cockburn, the immigration agent and acting stipendiary magistrate, containing some valuable remarks respecting the coolie immigrants who arrived here in May last. It is gratifying to find that the care and attention bestowed on them by their employers at the time of their arrival, when they were not in a condition to make much return, have been appreciated by them, and that their services are found to be most valuable. They appear to be exceeding tractable, but jealous of their rights, and keenly alive to any act of injustice. Mr. Cockburn evidently takes great interest in them, and has established among them so high a character for impartiality that they are perfectly satisfied to abide by his decision, and to be guided by his advice in any difference between themselves and their masters. They are classed in the same way as the native labourers, according to their usefulness and capability for work, and receive the same rate of wages, 10d. a day for the 1st class, and 8d. and 6d. for the 2d and 3d, and 3d. for extra hours in crop time. They have not availed themselves of the privilege of cultivating gardens on their own account, but are supplied with rice, fish, &c., on the estates at cost price. Mr. Cockburn reports that they are saving money.
22. The growing independence of the native labourer, and his consequent secession from work on the estates, will soon create a void in the labour market which will render a stream of immigration necessary to keep up the cultivation of the staple product of the island. It is generally admitted that the African makes the most efficient labourer, but if he is not to be obtained, the Indian appears to be well qualified to take the place of the creole. It is a remarkable fact, alluded to by Mr. Cockburn, that, so far from the immigrant being regarded by the native labourer with jealousy, he is rather viewed as one of the means destined to emancipate the latter from the necessity of offering his services for hire, and to enable him to become a cultivator of the soil for his own special benefit.
23. A proprietary body of considerable magnitude and importance has already risen from the labouring class, and several of its members are possessed of sufficient means to carry on beneficially agricultural pursuits. Mr. Cockburn's remarks, bearing upon this subject, contain some valuable information, and as he is a native of Grenada, possessed of considerable ability, and has been an eyewitness of the changes which have taken place of late years in the social condition of the island, I believe that much reliance may be placed on the correctness of his statements.
24. If it is desirable that the sugar estates should remain in the hands of the present class of proprietors, I am convinced that an abundant and immediate flow of immigration is necessary. The beneficial result of the very inconsiderable accession of labourers from India by the "Maidstone" is very visible in the parish of St. Patrick, where they are principally located; and I am informed by the planters of that district, that the proceeds of the crop now in course of manufacture will largely exceed that of 1857, which improvement they ascribe in a great measure to their having had a constant supply of labour.
25. In order to show the extraordinary effects of immigration where labour is scarce, I give an extract of a letter written to me by a gentleman largely connected with estates here as well as in Trinidad, to which island his communication has reference. He says, " Having alluded before to the "colony of Trinidad, which has taken the lead of us in the system of immigration, perhaps it may not "be out of place to give the working of that system there as far as I can from my own knowledge. I "will confine myself to one estate there in which I am interested. During slavery it shipped about "120 hogsheads, which fell after emancipation to about 80 hogsheads; since the regular introduction "of Coolie immigrants the crop has steadily increased to 400 hogsheads, the wages of labour having "fallen from 2s. 6d. with rations to 10d. without rations, the present rate I pay." If such an increase in the produce of an estate in Trinidad could be caused by an additional supply of labour, there is no reason why a similar improvement, though I scarcely think to the same extent, might not be effected by the same means in Grenada.
Enclosure 2 in No. 14.
26. In conclusion, I have the satisfaction to state, that contentment appears to pervade all classes of the community, and that I know of no circumstance calculated to disturb the internal tranquillity of the island. Annexed is a return, showing the number of prisoners confined in the gaol during the year 1857, with the nature of their offences, and the amount of imprisonment awarded to them respectively. One person was convicted at the February Sessions of murder, and was executed in March. In other respects the return is satisfactory, exhibiting fifty-two convictions less in 1857 than in the preceding
His Excellency Governor Hincks,
I have, &c.
(Signed) C. H. KORTRIght.
Enclosure 2 in No. 14.
COMMUNICATION published in the St. George's Chronicle of March 13, 1858.
I TRUST that I may be permitted to take advantage of your columns to bring under the notice of the whole community in Grenada a subject for their consideration, which, it appears to me, is second to none as regards the interest of all classes of the population in the island. I mean the question as to the expediency of continuing the present system of taxation, by which the revenue is now raised for the necessary expenditure of the government. I have on many occasions during the last six or seven years called the attention of private friends, who were taking an active part in the administration of affairs in the colony, to the advantage which in my opinion would be derived by the entire abolition of all customs duties, or charges on the entry of goods or shipping into the island of Grenada. The reply which I invariably received was, that the proportion of the revenue so collected was so large, and the habits of the people were so accustomed to that mode of taxation, it would be hopeless to expect to raise an adequate revenue for the necessary wants of the government in any other mode. Although I did not agree in the opinion as to the second argument, I could not deny at that time the fact that a very large proportion of the whole revenue was derived from duties on imports. This fact, however, has been materially altered during the last few years. I find, from the published reports, that in 1850, out of a total revenue of 15,6417., the item of customs duties was 10,214, or in the proportion of nearly two-thirds of the whole. I have no statement before me of a more recent date than 1854; but I find, in that year, the amount raised by customs duties was 7,7287. out of the entire revenue of 15,2667, or only one-half of the total income; and I find that the customs duties on import were still lower in 1855 than in 1854; so that, whilst the revenue has been nearly stationary, the part raised for customs has diminished by above 25 per cent.; or, in other words, that the customs duties produced in 1850 nearly 33 per cent. more than in 1854, and probably fully as much as 45 per cent. more than in 1855. On the other hand, I find that, whereas in 1850 the produce of assessed and other taxes was 5,4277., in 1854 they produced 7,5387. Surely this fact is sufficient to call public attention to the consideration whether it might not be advisable to alter the present scheme of taxation. I have no documents to enable me to ascertain what is the expense attendant on the collection of customs duties; probably the expense in 1851, or at the present time, is not less than in 1850; and if so, the expense of collection bears now a far larger proportion to the net, revenue than it did in 1850. If the expenditure of all kinds connected with the collection of customs revenue amounts to 9001. a year, the net revenue so raised is not now much above 6,000l. a year. Now, the point to which I wish to direct attention is, whether it might not be possible to substitute some kinds of direct taxation by which this sum of 6,0001. or even 7,000l. might be raised with greater benefit to the whole community.
To abolish all customs duties, and thus render all imports into the island perfectly free, would, as it appears to me, be productive of so much advantage to the whole population that I cannot believe there could be two opinions on the subject. No colony in the West Indies possesses greater advantages for The harbour of St. George's is, I believe, unrivalled, encouragement of inter-colonial and other trade. or certainly quite equal to that in any other West India colony, and there is no want of energy amongst the comparatively small mercantile community who are established in the island. The fact of the colony of Grenada being free to all comers, with every facility to receive and distribute the goods which might be attracted from Great Britain, America, and elsewhere, would induce, I should anticipate new establishments to enter into trade; and many now carrying on business have done so during late years, I believe, with reasonable success. The abolition of all duties on imports would so much reduce prices, that the working part of the population would find greater inducement to purchase articles, not only of general necessity, but even of comparative luxury; the supply would certainly keep pace with the increased demands, and not only would the trading community be placed in a more thriving position, but the working classes would find it more easy, with their present means, to supply themselves with many articles which are now scarcely brought under their notice. Every increase of wealth amongst the trading part of the community would tend to improve the substantial wealth and prosperity of the island. A successful merchant will be tempted, with present prices of freehold property, to invest his money either in land or houses, and improve whichever he purchased; and thus the whole property of the colony would be improved, and there would be greater means amongst the community from which the whole revenue required must be raised.