HC Deb 04 May 1865 vol 178 cc1514-9

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said, he should preface with a very few remarks the Bill he now asked permission to introduce. The subject had already been brought more than once under the consideration of the House by different hon. Gentlemen who took an interest in the subject. He thought it would be generally admitted that the position of Colonial Governors was a most responsible one, and that the gentlemen who filled it ought not to be called on to exercise parsimonious savings with a view to make provision for their declining years. It was also one in which the holders had no claim for consecutive employment. According to the rule laid down by Mr. Huskisson, their employment terminated at a given period, it was uncertain and could not always be immediately renewed. It was, therefore, felt desirable that some provision should be made in the nature of a pension for those who had held this particular office. This class presented the single exception to the rule of retiring pensions. Throughout the Civil Service such a provision was made. In the diplomatic service there was the same provision. Even those engaged in the political service of the country had some provision in the shape of pensions. It appeared right, therefore, that some provision should be made for those holding the office of Colonial Governor, But it had been suggested that if made it ought to be at the expense not of this country but of the colonies. Now, the answer he had to make to that statement was this. He fully insisted upon and recognized the principle that the payment of a Colonial Governor properly fell upon the colony, and not on this country. But if the Governor chiefly served the colony, it could not be denied that he did discharge important duties to the Queen, whose representative he was, and to this country Was it right, then, that, admitting; the principle of retiring pensions, these Imperial services should be ignored? It must be recollected that, in point of fact, to throw this particular payment on the colonial resources was only, in other words, denying it altogether. The colonies had not and could not have, a joint purse. Every colony had a separate treasury, and separate responsibilities, and they could not pension a Colonial Governor from the treasury of one for services rendered in another. Nor could any scale be adopted. The highest salary of a Colonial Governor was £10.000 a year and the lowest £500. There could be no joint purse or scale of contribution, and, therefore, if the payment was just and right, it must be defrayed from the finances of this country. Having established, first, that the charge ought fairly to be incurred, and secondly, that from necessity and justice it must be met by the Treasury of this country, the next question was as to the principle they should adopt in regulating what the pensions should be. It would be evident to the Committee that they should arrive at some principle to be laid down by Act of Parliament, to which the gentlemen who received the pensions might look forward as Constituting a regular and established rule. Such a matter should be left as little as possible to the judgment, the interpretation, and, he would even say, the caprice of the Secretary of State. From the nature of the employment it was difficult to lay down those precise rules which referred to the permanent servants of this country. The employment was, for public reasons, temporary, and terminating in each case after a number of years. That rule was laid down by Mr. Huskisson, and had been maintained ever since upon grounds of public policy and utility. The Committee would feel, however, that an endeavour should be made to establish some rules, and not leave a question of this kind to be decided by political considerations. In laying down these rules he thought they must adopt as far as possible an analogy—though not in the precise terms—to the rules relating to the permanent Civil Service of England, and the first rule he would lay down was that every pension should begin to be paid at the age of sixty years. He took that from the Civil Service Superannuation Act. The next rule he proposed was that, as the office could not in principle be considered permanent, a pension should be given to those who had devoted their lives to the service of their country in that particular mode for which the Bill intended to provide. It was thought by the Government that these conditions constituted a guasi- permanent service. In the first instance, if a gentleman had filled three Governments—that was, if he had served for eighteen years, he might be considered to have devoted himself to the service of his country as a Colonial Governor, and as being entitled to a pension. Next, they thought that those practical and valuable public servants who were taken from the permanent Civil Service of this country to fill the office of Colonial Governor should not be excluded from combining the time they had served in the Civil Service with that which they had served as Colonial Governors. Therefore, the second class of persons whom it was thought fair to include within these pensions were those who had served altogether a period of at least twenty-five years, having served ten of these as Colonial Governors. The Government would make provision, thirdly, for those who retired, not from age, but in consequence of ill health. If a person had served fifteen years as Colonial Governor, and then retired from permanent ill health, he should be entitled to a pension, and in this case it was not proposed that the pension should wait until the officer was sixty years of age, but should begin from the time of his retirement. Another class of persons would obtain the benefit of the Bill, and these were gentlemen who, not having served the full period would not be entitled to the whole pension, but would receive a portion of it. This was the case of a person who, after forty years of age, had served for twelve years as Governor of a colony, or for twenty years partly in the Civil Service, but at least eight years as Governor. This class would constitute a claim for a pension of two-thirds of the entire amount of the salary, and would include persons retiring from permanent disability after a service of ten years. Then the pension itself would depend upon the salary which the colony gave the Governor. The colonies would be divided into four categories, according to the amount of salary. The first would be colonies where the salary was £5,000 and upwards, where the pension would be £1,000; next, the colonies where the salary was £2,000, where the pension would be £750. The third class would be where the salaries were £1,000, where the pension would be £500. The fourth, where the salaries fell below £1.000, and where the pension would be £250. There would be certain other conditions laid down accompanying the granting of pensions. He would now move a Resolution on which he proposed to find a Bill, in accordance with these propositions.

Resolution movedThat it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of the Consolidated Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, of the charge for Retiring Pensions of Colonial Governors.


said, up to a recent period the Governors of colonies generally received valuable perquisites in addition to their salaries, but these had been all abolished. He thought the time had arrived when pensions ought to be granted to them. Indeed, he wondered it had not been done before.


said, the salaries of the Colonial Governors had been fixed at a high standard, because they had not pensions, and he was astonished to find they were new about to receive them. He hoped the proposition did not include India.


said, that the Bill would have no reference to our Indian possessions. It only applied to the colonies in the usual sense of the word.


said, he had to suggest the propriety of postponing the consideration of the proposed measure until next Session, when much might be done in the way of abolishing many of the Colonial Governorships—especially those in the West India Islands—which wore utterly useless. He believed the colonies were far better able to provide pensions for their Governors than we were.


said, he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would not alarm himself about the magnitude of the expense which the mea- sure would occasion. It would not create such a heavy charge upon the country as would require the consideration of the new Parliament. The hon. Member (Mr. Ayrton) was altogether mistaken in saying that the salaries had been fixed high on the ground that there was no pension. The salaries had been largely reduced in almost every case, and the officers thrown upon the colonies themselves. While the salaries of the Governors were very moderate, they had a great expenditure, and had to maintain a high position as representatives of the Queen. He would now leave the matter entirely in the hands of the House.


said, he believed it to be a mistaken principle to regulate the pensions by the amount of salaries received by the Governors. The promotion of Colonial Governors was the result of interest, and while one man with interest might receive a large salary in a mild and healthy climate, another without the necessary means of obtaining promotion would be sent to spend years in a place like Sierra Leone, which was a perfect Golgotha. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor had complained to the House of the difficulty under which he laboured in procuring a Governor for the colony. And yet the salary of the latter Governor might be much less than that of the former. They were, in point of fact, not going to regulate the pensions by the length of time which the Governors had been in the public service, but by the amount they had received as salaries. He might mention, in answer to the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Marsh) that the lieutenant-governors and the Governors in the Indian service were not allowed to trade in any way whatever. They were strictly prohibited from speculating, buying land, taking shares in public companies, or mixing themselves in any public concern, but this was not the case in the colonies, where the Governors, the secretaries, and the clerks oftentimes engaged in speculation. In fixing, therefore, the pension of Colonial Governors, no reference ought to be made to Indian Governors, because they stood on a wholly different footing. He did not say this in disparagement of the claims of our colonial governors, but simply in reply to the observations of his hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury. His sole object in rising was to ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter, and to regulate the pensions by the periods of service.


said, he did not anticipate any heavy charge from this measure. His hon. Friend (Mr. Vansittart) had referred to Sierra Leone, but it was evident that if any Governor remained long in that colony he would not require any pension.


said, he wished to ask what proportion of the payment of the pensions would fall upon the colonists themselves. If not any, he thought the pensions should be regulated according to the amount of salaries paid by this country.


said, that the salaries of the Colonial Governors were, with very few exceptions, paid by the colonies. But the Colonial Governors were partly servants of the colony and partly of the Imperial Government, and their Imperial duties were as important as their colonial duties. The Government, therefore, thought that the pensions should be paid by the Imperial Government. There were, moreover, difficulties, almost amounting to impossibilities, in the way of charging these pensions upon the colonies, because the Governors were frequently transferred from one colony to another after short periods of service, and it would be found impossible to frame a scheme under which the colonies could he made to contribute to a common fund for the purpose of defraying those pensions.


said, that as the question before the House related only to the introduction of a measure for giving pensions to Colonial Governors, he would confine himself to expressing the great satisfaction which he felt at the course adopted on this occasion by Her Majesty's Government.


said, he was sure the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Vansittart), when he found that his statement with reference to the tendency of the Colonial Governors to speculation was incorrect, would regret that he had made a statement which was calculated to produce a painful impression on those to whom it referred. The hon. Member was mistaken in one point, because he (Mr. Cardwell) had distinctly stated that the pensions would be regulated by the length of service. As to the amount, the usual mode of calculating pensions was with reference to the salary.

Resolution agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.