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LORD JOHN RUSSELL TO GOVERNOR PRESCOTT.
FOREIGN LETTERS, RECEIVED, ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND.
Volume 17, page 431.
No. 97. 4th March, 1841.
I transmit to you, herewith, the copy of a Memorial which has been addressed to me by the Merchants engaged in the Fisheries at Labrador, complaining of an attempt made by the Authorities of Newfoundland to exact payment of duties on that Coast; and I have to request that you will favour me with a Report on this subject.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
(Signed) J. RUSSELL.
[Enclosure in No. 552.]
COLLECTION OF CUSTOMS DUTIES AT LABRADOR.
FOREIGN LETTERS, RECEIVED ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND.
Volume 17, page 432.
To the Right Honourable Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The Memorial of the undersigned Merchants engaged in the Fisheries on the Coast of Labrador,
That a Memorial was some months since presented to the Honourable the Board of Trade a copy of which is sent herewith, and to which they
request Your Lordship's reference, but in consequence of the Act complained of not having been passed, and sent home for approval, they are informed that the Board is unable to render them any assistance.
That altho the Act was not passed, a Collector has been appointed by the Governor of Newfoundland to receive duties on the Coast of Labrador, and he has accordingly exacted payment of them from several of your Memoralists. His Excellency having considered himself authorised to make such appointment from a despatch of Your Lordship's predecessor Lord Glenelg dated 29th June, 1836.
That your Memoralists would beg to observe with reference to this despatch, that altho there can be no doubt that the Coast of Labrador is by Acts of Parliament therein named, placed within the Jurisdiction of the Governor of Newfoundland, yet it by no means follows that it forms therefore a dependency of the Colonial Legislature, which was not in existence at the time these Acts were passed, and that his Lordship appears to have entirely overlooked the important fact that while the fisheries of Newfoundland are protected from all Interference on the part of other Countries, the British Fishermen on the Coast of Labrador have little more than a concurrent right of Fishery with those of the United States.
That the Governor of Newfoundland has not except during the few years that the Labrador Court annually visited the Coast, exercised any more than an Admiralty Jurisdiction there, one of H.M. Ships being sent round for a few weeks in the fishing seasons.
That there are on the Coast merely moveable fisheries without a Single Town or Village, and without one resident Officer of Justice, Police or Revenue of any kind, so that laws and regulations adapted to the wants of Newfoundland a long settled Colony with regular establishments of Justice, Police &c. would be quite inapplicable to Labrador.
That the attempt to impose duties on Articles employed in the fisheries is also directly opposed to the policy of the Government at home, whose object has always been to encourage them by allowing the import of all Articles used, by the fishermen free of all duties, which privilege is enjoyed by the fishermen of Nova Scotia & those of the United States with whom Memoralists have to compete, the latter being further assisted by bounties.
That the proceedings of the Collector during the past Season afford a striking proof of the injustice which must always result from an attempt to levy duties on the Labrador Coast. He has passed along the Coast in a small vessel calling only at the principal British establishments, or such of them as he thought fit or convenient, passing over all or nearly all, the numerous American traders having indeed no means of knowing whether or not they are engaged in trading or merely fishing Vessels. It is unnecessary to point out the various particulars of injustice which such a mode of proceeding must obviously produce, but it is clear that the mode adopted of levying duties is as unjust & oppressive in practice as the right assumed by the Authorities of Newfoundland is opposed to the principles of Government & the established policy of the Mother Country & that while adding to the burdens of the
British Fishermen it confers a Benefit to the same extent on those of the United States.
Your Memorialists therefore beg that your Lordship will transmit such instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland as may serve to prevent any further attempt at levying Colonial Duties on the Coast of Labrador.
|C. & E. HUNT & CO.|
EWEN STABB for John Stabb & Co.
D. & J. SLADE,
THOS. J. BIRD,
PHIL DE QUETTEVILLE & BROTHERS,
EDWARD LE FEUVRE,
PHILIP DUHEAUME & BROTHERS,
L. BOUTELLIER & BROTHERS.
COLLECTION OF CUSTOMS DUTIES AT LABRADOR.
FOREIGN RECORDS, ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND. Volume 17.
To the Right Honourable the Committee of Privy Council for Trade & Plantations.
The Memorial of the Undersigned Merchants trading with and having Establishements on the Coast of Labrador.
That your Memorialists who are extensively engaged in the fisheries on the Coast of Labrador have recently learnt with surprize that an Act has been passed in the Legislative Assembly of Newfoundland, for levying Customs Duties on that Coast on the various articles used for the purposes of these fisheries, and Assembly claiming the power of imposing those Duties on the ground that Labrador is a dependency of Newfoundland.
That in the Royal Commission authorizing the formation of the Colonial Govt. of Newfoundland, no mention is made of Labrador nor is it included in either of the electorial districts into which Newfoundland with the adjacent Islands was under the Commission divided.
That since the Establishment of the Colonial Govt., no Judge, Magistrate, or Officer of any kind has been sent to Labrador from Newfoundland,
no part of its Revenues are laid out there; nor, as your Memorialists believe, has any measure been attempted or proposed by which its fisheries could be encouraged or its interests in any way promoted.
That your Memorialists therefore are not represented in the Colonial Legislature, & have never derived any advantage from their assumed connection with it, and that if the present attempt to impose Duties be successful they will be compelled to contribute towards the expenses of a Govt. from which they receive no protection and derive no advantage whatever & with which in fact they are if at all, only nominally connected.
That in addition to what is above stated the Memorialists beg further to represent that their trade has for several years been much interfered with by trading Vessels from the United States, as well as British Colonies which every season visit the Coast in great and annually increasing numbers. And as from the nature of the Coast and other Circumstances, it is impracticable, without a large establishment of officers (which is not contemplated) to visit more than a very small proportion of the Harbours these traders would evade without difficulty the payment of the Duties which would be levied on the occupiers of the regular fishing establishments. Thus the Act lately passed, if allowed to be carried into effect, would most oppressively & unjustly add to the difficulties under which the Memorialists labour in their competition with the privileged fishermen of the United States, & would in effect encourage the rival trade of that Country at the expense of the British Fishermen.
Your Memorialists therefore respectfully beg that your Honourable Board will be pleased to take the necessary steps for procuring the disallowance by Her Majesty's Government of the Act of Colonial Legislature above referred to, and in order to prevent its being acted on during the fishing season now commencing, will cause directions to be immediately transmitted to the Governor of Newfoundland to suspend any appointment of proceedings under the said Act.
And your Memorialists will ever pray.
|D. & J. SLADE,|
THOS. J. BIRD,
JAS. LE BREEN,
C. & E. HUNT & CO.,
EWEN STABB for Stabb &Co.,
PHIL DE QUETTENVILLE & BROTHERS,