Great Britain: Foreign Policy and the Span of Empire, 1689-1971: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

By Joel H. Wiener | Go to book overview

DEBATE OVER IMPERIAL EXPANSION

Report of the Select Committee on Colonial Military
Expenditures Recommending the Reduction of
Colonial Defense Expenditures, 11 July 1861*

1. The dependencies of the British Empire (exclusive of India, to which your Committee have not extended their investigations) may be divided for the purposes of this inquiry into two classes :—

1st. Those which may properly be called “Colonies.” To this class belong the North American and South African Colonies, the West Indies, Ceylon, Mauritius, New Zealand, and the Australian Colonies, with the exception of Western Australia.

2d. Military garrisons, naval stations, convict depôts, and dependencies maintained chiefly for objects of Imperial policy. To this class belong Malta, Gibraltar, and the Ionian Islands, Hong Kong, Labuan, Bermuda, the Bahamas, St. Helena, and the Falklands, Western Australia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and the Gold Coast.

Throughout their inquiry, your Committee have deemed it essential to keep in view the distinction to be drawn between these two classes.

2. In order to enable your Committee to form a correct opinion as to any alterations which it may be their duty to recommend in the military administration of the Dependencies to which their inquiries have extended, they have deemed it necessary, in the first instance, accurately to ascertain the details of the system which at present exists, and the proportions of cost actually incurred by the Imperial Government and the Dependencies respectively in their military defence. With this view they have examined witnesses connected with various public departments at home, and others who have held positions of official responsibility in various Colonies. They have also taken some evidence as to the actual condition, cost and objects of colonial fortifications.

3. It appears that the forces stationed in the British Dependencies, and the cost incurred in their defence, have fluctuated according to the circumstances affecting them at different times. In order to arrive at a fair estimate of the average annual expenditure incurred, and of the number of troops employed, your Committee have obtained returns for the year ending 31 March 1860, the most recent period during which no disturbing causes existed, involving an exceptional increase of force.

6. In connexion with this portion of their inquiry your Committee think it necessary to state that some of the appropriations in aid of military expenditure made by Colonial Legislatures, have not been properly brought to account at

* Parliamentary Papers, 1861, XIII, Cmd. 423, iii, v-vii.

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