HC Deb 19 July 1867 vol 188 cc1740-3

in rising to move an Address for a Return of the names of all the Colonial Governors, the dates of their appointments, the amount of their salaries, and the number of years' service of each, inquired what the rules were which were in future to regulate the appointments of those officers? It would, he added, be in the recollection of the House that a Bill had some time ago been passed recognizing the claims of Colonial Governors to a pension, but not till after the expiration of the long period of eighteen years' service. Now, it was all very well to make such a provision, but when it was borne in mind that the time of service in each case expired at the end of six years, it would be seen that there must be three successive appointments of that duration in order to entitle a man to get his pension. He had brought one or two cases under the notice of his right hon. Friend below him in which the present system, he thought, operated with great hardship; but his observations had not, he regretted to say, been received with that frankness by which the Colonial Office was generally characterized. Those cases related to one or two gentlemen of high rank in the service, who had served fifteen years, but who were not promoted to other appointments, and who therefore were not entitled to a pension. There was a rumour, he might add, that a colonial appointment of great importance had been conferred on a noble Lord of high ability, but then he had not previously served in the Colonial Service. There were, in fact, very grave considerations bound up with the whole question, and he hoped the case of those Governors would be taken into the consideration of the Colonial Secretary with the view of having justice done to them.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Return of the names of all the Colonial Governors, the dates of their appointments, the amount of their salaries, and the number of years' service of each,"—(Mr. Baillie Cochrane,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, in reference to the Motion, the Return asked for was given constantly from time to time, generally every three years. Such a Return would be immediately repeated. The hon. Gentleman knew the Colonial Regulations as to those appointments. They were made for six years, and might be continued at the end of that period, as long as Her Majesty pleased. As to laying down any rules respecting those appointments—that was impossible, inasmuch as they would fetter the discretion of Her Majesty in obtaining the persons she thought, on her own responsibility, best quali- fied to fill those situations. With respect to the Colonial Governors' Pensions Act, he would simply observe that it was the hon. Gentleman himself who had been instrumental in passing it through the House, and that he had differed from him as to the proposal which he then made. That Act had, however, been passed, and no good could, he thought, arise from now again opening the discussion. It was true that the salaries of some of the West Indian Governors were small; but it had been the tendency both of the last and the present Administration to combine those small governments, whenever opportunity occurred, in order to give larger salaries, and to obtain persons of the highest qualifications to act as Her Majesty's representatives. It was absolutely impossible to introduce into those Governorships a system of regular promotion like that of the army. Any attempt to do so would very probably break up the connection between the colonies and this country. The colonies now pay for their own Governors; and it would be unfair to them if the routine promotion contemplated by the hon. Gentleman was adopted, so that the Governor of St. Kitts, for instance, might claim, by the regular grade of promotion, to arrive at the Governor Generalship of Canada. It was the object of the Colonial Department as much as possible to give promotion to those who served the country well in this important service, and promotion had always been given in preference to such officers. The only rule that could be laid down and acted upon was that the best men should be found. If two men of equally good qualifications presented themselves for a vacant Governorship, it was but right that the man who had been in the service should be preferred; but it frequently happened that gentlemen who had never before been in the service made the best Governors. He believed that the training hon. Gentlemen received in that House was the fittest qualification for the discharge of the important duties of Governors of large colonies.


said, he highly approved of the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary to the Colonies, and agreed with him, that any attempt to carry into effect the views of the hon. Gentleman would only be detrimental to the best interests of the service.


said, that as the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies was unsatisfactory, he should bring the whole question before the House on a future occasion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.