HC Deb 28 July 1876 vol 231 cc42-59

on rising to call attention to the social and political condition of Barbadoes, with special reference to the recent disturbances in the island, said, he should, but for the fact that he was precluded by the Forms of the House, have moved for an Address to the Crown praying for an inquiry into the working of the Constitution of Barbadoes, the operation of the laws, especially relating to taxation, education, vagrancy, and the proximate or remote causes of the recent disturbances. He had been induced to submit the Motion to the House in consequence of the grave questions that had lately arisen between Governor Hennessy and the oligarchy of the island—using the word oligarchy in no offensive sense, and he desired to approach the question in a judicial spirit. He hoped that other hon. Members would follow his example, neither committing themselves wholly to the Governor nor to the oligarchy which governed the community. In 1870 he had visited Barbadoes and seen the prosperity which existed there. Out of 107,000 acres 90,000 were under sugar cultivation, and were cultivated in a manner that was perhaps superior to what could be found in any other part of the world. This was due to the population exceeding 1,000 to the square mile, and hand labour was consequently brought to bear upon the land. In that island very grave questions had recently arisen. On the one hand there were the interests of a population of nearly 180,000 to be considered; and whatever their ideas and prejudices might be with regard to Governor Hennessy they ought to discuss the subject in a generous spirit towards a young man who had been placed in difficult position. On the other side there was an oligarchy that had existed for 200 years, which presented claims for sympathy which naturally arose from their having successfully carried on a government for so many years. Whatever might be thought of the rights and wrongs of both sides, in the Papers that had been presented on the subject, Governor Hennessy had put his case in a clear, dignified, and comprehensive manner, whilst the planters had stated theirs in a heated, incoherent, passionate, and irritating manner, calculated to create a prejudice against them. Two questions presented themselves for consideration—first, with regard to the social and political constitution and circumstances of the island; and secondly, as to the Imperial question of confederation, which, no doubt, contributed, directly or indirectly, to the recent disturbances. In the Correspondence the two were so inextricably mixed up that it was difficult to estimate exactly the influence exerted by one or the other, butte one re-acted on the other. It would not be necessary to discuss the merits or demerits of the question of confederation further than to say the Governor had been anxious to carry out reforms which both himself and the Colonial Office deemed to be necessary, and for which there was undoubtedly much need. The population of Barbadoes was 180,000, with only 1,279 electors out of 30,000 adult persons. The franchise consisted of £20 freeholders and upwards; leaseholders of £200 value, and a rental of £32 10s. per annum of our currency. One firm alone held mortgages over half of the estates of the island, which were said to exceed £1,000,000 sterling, and the land might be said to be in the hands of what in America would be called a "plantocracy." No doubt the island had—as it had been stated—"a glorious and a liberal charter," at a time when the Whites only were acknowledged before the law to have rights, and when they held in subjection a large number of slaves. There were now 46,000 agricultural labourers in the island, 30,000 of whom were employed in producing sugar, leaving a large excess of unproductive labour in the island. Out of the 180,000 persons only 18,000 were sufficiently well off not to mind very much what taxation was imposed on food, leaving 162,000 to whom it was a matter of serious consequence. The natural result had been a great reduction in wages, whilst on the other hand the price of sugar in the world's market had been so low as scarcely to leave a profit, however large the yield might be. The consequence had been to bring down wages in the labour market, and produce vagrancy and crime. In 1872 the gaols of the island were overcrowded, and out of 256 boys then in prison only 28 had received any sort of instruction. With such in- tense and helpless poverty incendiarism was a natural result of the want that existed. In 1873 there were 68 fires; in 1874, 16; and in 1875, 141; and Governor Hennessy mentioned the case of one boy who had been sentenced to fourteen years' imprisonment for setting fire to a sugar field, whose previous conduct had been so bad that he found himself unable to do anything to limit the term of incarceration. He also found in prison boys seven years old who had been convicted and sentenced for the crime of incendiarism. What was complained of was not only the low rate of wages but the injustice done by managers in the stoppage of wages. An appalling amount of squalid misery existed, and concubinage became the rule, as the people could not afford to buy the clothes in which to get married. As a consequence, infanticide prevailed to the extent of 1,000 children every year. Owing to the carelessness of the Legislature the prison accommodation was insufficient, and the reports especting the lunatic asylums were simply horrible. Education was imperfectly provided for; taxation was unfair in its incidence, the general fund, for instance, being charged with a subvention for the highways which ought to be kept in repair by the planters. The persons who were most interested in improving the condition of affairs had no representation in the Government, and no means of bringing influence to bear upon it. It could not be surprising, then, that in 1863 riots took place and the troops were called out, that the same thing occurred in 1872, and that in 1875 there was plundering and rioting, a proclamation had to be issued by the Governor, the provision grounds were attacked, and a watchman was shot. In 1868 Governor Rawson was sent out to carry into effect a policy of confederation. He left the island, however, before he had been able to do so, and Governor Freeling succeeded him as Acting Governor for a few months before the arrival of Mr. Pope Hennessy. The planters and estate agents exhibited great disquietude at the prospect of confederation. That policy had been carried into effect in the Leeward Islands, and there was a strong feeling in Barbadoes that it had been effected by official influence, and had not been fairly carried. In July, 1875, there were disputes between Governor Freeling and the Assembly, and altogether there had been a good deal of agitation antecedent to the arrival of Mr. Pope Hennessy, and any one coming from the Colonial Office was looked upon with suspicion. About October, 1875, Mr. Hennessy arrived in the island as Governor, finding it, as described, in a state of excitement. From the reputation he had acquired in similar positions, and which had preceded him, he was popular with all classes, and met with a very warm reception. Within the next two or three weeks, as would be seen by the Papers, some things were done by the new Governor which could not, perhaps, be altogether approved of; but whatever occurred during the first two or three weeks ought not to be too harshly charged against him. For instance, he complimented the House of Assembly in terms which he was afterwards obliged to retract. On the 7th of December he brought the question of confederation before the Legislative Council, and at his suggestion it was arranged that a conference should take place between Representatives of the Assemblies of all the islands on the subject of confederation. It was at that time that Lord Carnarvon sent him his celebrated telegram cautioning him not to proceed too fast, and today great respect to the feeling and constitution of the country. A message was sent to the Assembly on the 22nd of January, and they passed resolutions in which they declared that they could not consent to become one of a confederation, but that they were willing to consider the suggestions which had been offered by the Governor. There was one thing which excited considerable feeling, and for which the Colonial Office, and not the Governor, was responsible. He was directed in the Letters Patent to divest the Legislative Council of its executive functions, and to create an executive body which should be responsible directly to the Governor. This change he (Mr. Jenkins) admitted was necessary, but it had a serious effect on the minds of the oligarchy. It was also evident that at this time the planters, or some persons connected with the planters, endeavoured to frighten the negroes against confederation by stories which were untrue—for instance, that it would lead to the re-introduction of slavery. The Defence Association was formed, and shortly afterwards the Governor went down to the Assembly and made the speech which had since become famous. However injudicious that speech was£ a speech directly contradicted by a subsequent proclamation—England must feel that Governor Hennessy meant simply that confederation would open a larger field of labour—a view which had been stated by Governors before him. The result of this was a "flare up, "which exhibited itself in the form of speeches and articles in the newspapers, so incoherent that one scarcely knew what to make of them. Meetings were held by the Defence Association in various parts of the island, and at length the firing from a pistol and the wounding of a person for the purpose of intimidating an excited mob, led to the outbreak of a riot, which continued until it was found necessary to call out the troops, and telegraph to neighbouring islands for further assistance. The origin of the riots undoubtedly was the excitement created by these confederation meetings held in the various parishes working on the minds of the people, aided by the fact that there were large numbers of persons in the island who were vagrants, and were ready to take advantage of any row to plunder the well-to-do people. It was a singular circumstance that not a single person was killed by the rioters, notwithstanding that there were some of the rioters killed, 30 or 40 wounded, and a large number taken prisoners, and this circumstance was, he thought, an indication that there had been a certain amount of panic among the planters, and that it was the re-action from that panic which had caused the deaths which had occurred. There would, he felt sure, have been absolute cruelty inflicted but for the coolheadedness of Governor Hennessy, who undoubtedly had persistently set his face against the various representations which had been made to him in that direction. For instance, he had been urged by a lieutenant colonel in Her Majesty's Service to take to flogging. In another letter, he was advised that hanging would be a good thing; and in a third, he was recommended to train a gun down the streets of Bridgetown. Whatever, then, might be thought of his conduct in the earlier stages of these proceedings, he had subsequently, at all events, shown a decision of character which was worthy of the favourable recognition of the House. He would further point out that when the rioting had subsided, the Legislature absolutely proposed to discuss the question of the Governor's recall. This step was proposed in the midst of the excitement following the riots, and it was only by using a very strong influence that Mr. Hennessy was able to stop that dangerous proposal. The Governor declared that the animosity exhibited against him was so great that again and again the slanders which had been uttered with regard to him were repeated, and he also stated that the state of things was such that he dared not dissolve the Assembly and issue writs, as he knew it would lead to a renewal of rioting. Whatever they thought of Mr. Hennessy's conduct, they must do him the justice to well weigh the fact that he had been acting in a time of great excitement. One thing was clear—namely, that things in Barbadoes could not be allowed to remain as they were, and he put a case before the House for inquiry. They had not sufficient evidence before them to enable them to form a judgment on the matter. He neither fully exonerated the Government nor censured the planters, but they must have a full inquiry, for grave charges had been made against the Governor, and there were many matters to be investigated, which could only be brought out by a Commission appointed by the Government. Whatever the result, one thing was certain—namely, that the present Constitution of Barbadoes was doomed. A Constitution which might be suitable in a time of slavery could not exist with anything like proper and just government at the present time. Therefore, if he had been able to move his Resolution, he should have not asked for inquiry merely upon the ground that justice might be done between a Governor and a community with which he was at variance, but upon the ground also that it was absolutely necessary to consider whether it was desirable that the existing Constitution of Barbadoes should be continued. Although the House could not come to any Resolution on the subject, he thought Her Majesty's Government would agree with him that an inquiry into the condition of the Island was absolutely necessary; and he trusted they might look forward to the time when reforms would be in- troduced into Barbadoes, the result of which would be that the island would be not only outwardly prosperous and flourishing, but the abode of a free, happy, and contented population.


said, he must at once emphatically contradict the assertions of the hon. Member for Dundee, that the condition of Barbadoes was anything like what the hon. Member had described. He (Mr. Thornhill) had received a letter from a clergyman on the island stating exactly the contrary. He maintained that the planters were fully sensible of their responsibility in respect to the education, peace, and happiness of the negro population. There was no doubt a redundant population in Barbadoes, and that created misery and distress, and he should like to see a well-devised system of emigration brought into play to put an end to such a state of things. With reference to the telegrams which passed between the Earl of Carnarvon and Governor Hennessy there could be no doubt the Governor had considerably falsified facts, and that they contained gratuitous pieces of incorrect information. The truth, it would appear, had to be forced out of him, and, if it had not been for the private telegrams received from the island, and which led to the Home Government taking action, the country would never have found out the true state of the case. The question now arose, could the people of Barbadoes get on with a Governor who was not on good terms with the better classes of the population? He had excited an excitable people, and he had not acted in that reasonable and careful manner which they might have expected from him. He (Mr. Thornhill) thought they could not, and he therefore hoped another Governor would be substituted for him.


said, it was only necessary to have listened to the two speeches delivered to find out that there were two sides to this question. It would be his good fortune to agree with a certain amount of what had fallen from both hon. Gentlemen; but he would also have to express considerable difference from both. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Jenkins) had recounted various historical circumstances connected with the island of Barbadoes, which it would not be necessary to touch upon seriatim. He would take up the hon. Gentleman at his last point—namely, the disturbances that broke out in the spring of the year. The first thing to be noticed in connection with these disturbances was the various charges which were bandied about between the Governor, the Assembly, and the Planters' Defence Association. He would first deal with the charges brought against the Governor, a great many of which might be described as paltry, but there were others which, if proved, would have called for serious notice. For instance, it was alleged that Mr. Hennessy entertained at his official residence persons of the Negro race who were not exactly the proper subjects of a Governor's hospitality. Of course, the House would see that it was impossible for the Colonial Office to lay down regulations as to the mode in which a Governor's hospitality ought to be exercised; but he felt bound to say that if the charges made on this point had been true there would have been occasion for some surprise, if not alarm, in the island. However, he was happy to be able to state that Mr. Hennessy denied those charges. Another allegation was that Mr. Hennessy had deliberately falsified the telegrams he despatched to the Home Government, underrating and occasionally suppressing facts. Mr. Hennessy's accounts, no doubt, differed from those of the West Indian Committee, but striking a fair balance, the truth would probably be found to lie somewhere between them. Mr. Hennessy might not have been informed of the full magnitude of the events which occurred, while the Committee, probably, was misled in the opposite direction. The House, he was sure, would readily give credit to both parties for a sincere desire to get at the truth. But two charges of a more serious nature were made against Mr. Hennessy—one being that he personally encouraged agitation against the Assembly of the island in favour of federation, the other that he made certain objection able observations in a speech. He might state at once on the first point that Mr. Hennessy entirely denied that, either directly or indirectly, he was in any way responsible for the agitation which prevailed, and there appeared to be nothing in the Blue Books to justify any one in doubting his word. With regard to the second charge, relating to the speech of the 3rd of March to the Assembly, it was certainly to be regretted that Mr. Hennessy should have made use of certain phrases which, in a community like that of Barbadoes, were calculated to cause considerable uneasiness. No doubt, however, he used them without fully realizing their import, and it was unnecessary unduly to dwell on them. Passing on to the time when the disturbances unfortunately broke out, he was glad to find that the conduct of Mr. Hennessy left little to be desired. Mr. Hennessy apparently acted with promptitude and energy, and, beset though he was by conflicting counsels, maintained great coolness of judgment and presence of mind. He had the misfortune to be surrounded by not very discreet friends, some of whom had been already alluded to by his hon. Friend (Mr. Thornhill), who had more particularly referred to one gentleman (Sir Graham Briggs). Now, this gentleman was not a public servant, he was happy to say, and it was not incumbent upon him (Mr. Lowther) to attempt to explain what he must admit was most unwise conduct on his part. This mischievous agitation about Confederation, in which a legal adviser of the Government was said to be mixed up, could not be too strongly reprobated. If, however, Mr. Hennessy was unfortunate in his friends, he must be congratulated upon having such opponents as he had. The Colonial Office had received innumereble letters and telegrams from various persons connected directly or indirectly with the island, and with a few exceptions he was bound to say that the tone adopted by those who opposed Mr. Hennessy had been as indiscreet or more so than that of those friends to whom he had referred. For instance, an application was made to the Secretary of State on the strength of a private telegram, uncorroborated by any authenticated details, for the instantaneous removal of Governor Hennessy. That was an appeal to which no Secretary of State with any sense of justice could for a moment listen. He had now mentioned the charges which were made against Mr. Hennessy; he had not hesitated to indicate where he thought his conduct had not been discreet, and at the same time he had stated, and he hoped he had made it clear, that Mr. Hennessy had triumphantly acquitted himself of the more serious accusations brought against him, while, moreover, his conduct during a trying emergency had been all that could be desired. He now came to the charges which had been brought against the Assembly, the planters, and the Defence Association; and with regard to the first the Assembly of Barbadoes had been charged with systematically neglecting the interests of the population of the island. Their financial arrangements were alleged to be most defective, the prisons to be in a most deplorable condition, the police system tube very unsatisfactory, and the Assembly had been accused of omitting to make proper provision for correcting those evils. Those charges, he was afraid, had been proved against that body. He was happy, however, to be able to say that the latest information which the Government had received led them to hope that as regarded the prisons the Assembly would enter upon the necessary reform. He might observe that several suggestions had been made by Mr. Hennessy in the Assembly which that body had not felt itself able to concur in. Among them was a suggestion that it should energetically grapple with the question of emigration—a matter of serious importance in all over-crowded communities. He thought that the over-population of Barbadoes could only be met by a system of emigration to the neighbouring islands, and it was to be hoped that the Assembly would soon devote its attention to that subject. One point which Mr. Hennessy pressed upon the Assembly had reference to the fact that four weeks' notice to quit was the condition under which agricultural labourers held their tenancies. Mr. Hennessy quoted a passage written by one of his predecessors strongly condemning that system—a passage which he confessed he had read with feelings that he could hardly venture to describe to the House. It suggested that the proprietors had it in their power to effect an important reform in that matter by granting leases in perpetuity to the tenants. Now, the labourers in Barbadoes for the most part inhabited houses, such as they were, of their own building, and erected on the land of their employers. He understood that at one time the proprietors on certain estates erected dwellings for their own labourers, but that that system had fallen into disuse, because that which had been intended to do duty as a roof was made to serve as fuel, and the labourers now erected dwellings for themselves on their employers' ground. But the idea of granting leases in perpetuity to labourers to dwell on an estate on which from circumstances they had ceased to labour was a most extraordinary one. It was only right to add that Mr. Hennessy, further on, said he shrank from the strong measure that his predecessor recommended of granting leases in perpetuity, which would in his judgment be an invasion of the just rights of property; but as an equitable and efficient remedy he should submit to the Legislature a proposal for abolishing the four weeks' notice to quit and substituting a much longer notice. Hon. Members would know from their own experience that the length of notice to labourers on English farms was about a week or a fortnight, and he therefore saw no reason why the length of notice in Barbadoes should be extended beyond its present limit—namely, four weeks. It was only right that the Assembly of Barbadoes should be made fully aware of the view of the Home Government upon this point. With respect to compensation being made to the tenants for what were termed unexhausted improvements which they had effected with the consent of their landlords, the Legislature might fairly enough take that into consideration, care being taken not to interfere with the sacred right of freedom of contract. But as to the idea of interfering by legislative enactment with the arrangements between employer and employed on the estates, he thought that was a notion which it would be most unwise to allow to go forth as having the approval of Her Majesty's Government, since their influence for good would be seriously diminished if they were to be suspected of any sympathy with Communism. The subject had not been overlooked, and his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies had lost no time in telegraphing to the Governor of Barbadoes to take no further action with reference to proposals bearing on the relations of landlord and tenant. With regard to the alleged obstructive tendency of the Assembly, he hoped that that body had learnt wisdom by recent events, and that they were now disposed to effect some necessary reforms. The hon. Member for Dundee had spoken of a re-constitution of the form of government in Barbadoes. For himself, he (Mr. Lowther) confessed he did not follow many hon. Gentlemen who appeared to have a preference for despotic forms of government. A good deal had been said about an oligarchy. He presumed that oligarchy meant the government of the many by the few, and he confessed to having no objection on principle to that form of government. Whether the suffrage in Barbadoes was capable of extension was a question on which at present he should not like to offer an opinion; but it would be necessary to take care that by any efforts in this direction the property and intelligence of the community should not be swamped by the negro vote. Other questions had been touched upon in the course of the debate. Something had been said about federation, but he did not wish to enter into a full discussion of the question at that time. He thought it matter of regret that the Assembly had not seen their way more distinctly upon this question, though, if they thought it would affect the rate of wages, or the price of food, they had a right to protect themselves, and he could not wonder at their objecting to anything of the kind; but it had now been fully explained that federation had no such object, and he trusted that a plan which promised improvement in the present system of government would be adopted. He trusted that no spirit of intractability would be shown, and that the Legislature of the colony would of their own will take steps for the effecting of such reforms as were necessary. It would be a matter of regret to the Home Government if they were compelled to adopt a line of action opposed to the love of Constitutional principles and the aversion to interfere with established institutions to which reference had been made. Reference had also been made to the absentees. He had looked into the question as far as he had been able, and he believed that, so far from the absentees being the worst landlords in the island, to a certain extent they were the best. He would remind the House that many of these estates had been held by the same families for generations, and the system of absentee proprietorship had been connected with the institutions of the island. He happened to know one case of a Nobleman in this country, whose estates were admitted to be the best managed in the island. He believed it was also a mistake to suppose that the fact of certain properties in the island being mortgaged to persons resident in this country did any practical harm to the colony, for it was not the fact that such mortgagees were persons of usurious tendencies. He had observed with regret some reflections which had been east, in the Correspondence on the Table, upon one particular firm which he believed to be wholly uncalled-for; and with regard to the gentleman named Mr. Thomas Daniel Hill, he felt bound to say that if this irritating controversy had been conducted in all quarters in a similar spirit, matters would have now stood in a far more favourable position. As it had been his duty to speak in terms of censure of almost everybody connected with the island, he was glad to be able to mention the name of one gentleman who at any rate thoroughly deserved the thanks of the Government and the House. He meant Colonel Clarke, who deserved all praise for his conduct throughout these troubles. As far as Her Majesty's Government were concerned, he might say at once that they had no intention of appointing any Commission, as suggested by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, to inquire locally in the island into the questions which had been brought forward. His noble Friend the Secretary of State was prepared, on be half of the Government, to undertake the sole responsibility of dealing with the matter; and he was of opinion that the appointment of a Commission to inquire locally would probably cause a renewal of controversies which had been happily laid aside and re-open heart burnings and recriminations that had been abandoned. Further, it had been decided after full consideration that it was not the duty of the Government to recall Governor Hennessy. To recall a Colonial Governor was, under any circumstances, a measure of a very serious character, in that it was apt to reflect discredit upon the person recalled, and to cause those who had opposed him to conclude that they were altogether in the right. On the whole, his noble Friend did not think that, under existing circumstances, it would be wise to recall the present Governor of Barbadoes. But if in the course of time a favourable opportunity for a transfer or exchange between Mr. Hennessy and the Governor of another colony should arise, of course that would be a matter which would be fully considered by his noble Friend the Secretary of State. At present, however, it was not his noble Friend's intention to take any step in the matter. Now, it had been his painful duty to distribute, perhaps rather freely, a certain amount of blame among many people in connection with this matter. He hoped he had done so with as little unfairness as possible. While he had been obliged to speak in terms of depreciation of some gentlemen who had conducted this agitation against Mr. Hennessy, he had also felt himself compelled to speak with regard to some minor matters in candid terms of the conduct of the Governor. He had, however, the satisfaction of being able to state to the House that it was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that Mr. Hennessy had fully cleared himself of the more serious portion of the charges brought against him; and it was an especial satisfaction to him that a gentleman who had occupied a very honourable position in that House, and who had distinguished himself in Parliament, had an opportunity, of which he was confident he would avail himself, of earning distinction yet again in the Service of the Crown.


said, he was glad at the conclusion at which Her Majesty's Government had arrived in regard to this matter, for it was the conclusion to which he himself should have come from the evidence of the Papers on the subject—namely, that the conduct of Governor Hennessy in very difficult circumstances had been such as on the whole to deserve the confidence of the Government and the House of Commons. There had been much excitement as to his acts, and for several weeks the charges against him were constant and numerous; but they would all probably feel, with the full evidence before them, that as the hon. Member opposite (the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies) had said, those charges had dwindled down to very small dimensions. In point of fact, it was quite clear that Mr. Hennessy had shown great moderation, courage, and discre- tion, and that if he was in any way to blame it was for mistakes in point of management or prudence which almost any one might have fallen into. Many of us recollected what had happened in a neighbouring colony some years ago, and it was impossible to read the accounts of the excitement in Barbadoes and of the panic which had prevailed there without a feeling of gratitude to the man who had saved us from horrors which might have readily occurred. Any blame that might be attached to Mr. Hennessy was, upon investigation, diminished to a few remarks which were contained in his speech; and if he had had to make that speech over again he probably would not have used the same words. When we came carefully to read the speech which had been so much found fault with, it would, he thought, appear a very natural, though not a very prudent, one. Mr. Hennessy had gone out knowing that one of the objects of the Home Government—an object, too, with many preceding Governments—was to obtain, if possible by the goodwill of the colony itself, confederation. Mr. Hennessy was convinced, he thought rightly, that confederation would be for the advantage of the colony, and what he stated was simply this—that in all probability it would have a good result upon the whole social condition of the people. In one way, for instance, the encouragement of emigration—it might have that result. If they had to inquire further into this matter he must say there certainly was evidence in these despatches that there was an agitation in the island against the proposal for confederation, and to that agitation might fairly be traced the disturbances that followed. He could not say less with regard to Mr. Hennessy. He had always sat opposite to that Gentleman in that House, and had not always agreed with him in opinion; but he felt great pleasure in bearing his testimony that one who had been an honour to the House of Commons and to Parliament had not disgraced himself, but, he must fairly say, had distinguished himself by his conduct in this matter. As to the Constitution of the colony, he could hardly understand from the hon. Gentleman thunder Secretary of State whether the Home Government in- tended to mate any alteration. One alteration they had suggested with regard to the Council. To that suggestion, he believed, was very much owing the opposition with which the Governor had been received, and no doubt that was an additional reason why the Home Government should sympathize with Mr. Hennessy. He confessed he could not but agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Jenkins) that there was great danger to good government in the present Constitution of such a colony as Barbadoes. He did not know that he should have used the word oligarchy, but he could hardly join in the criticism of the term by the Under Secretary of State. Certainly one remark which the Under Secretary made seemed to show that there must be a feeling at the Colonial Office that the Constitution as it now existed was not the best of all Governments, or he would not have given the excuse he did for their dislike to confederation. No doubt there was a redundant population in Barbadoes, and that, consequently, wages were very low; and no wonder therefore that federation was disliked by the Assembly if supposed likely to raise the rate of wages. That was an illustration of the danger and difficulty of governing a numerous colony by an assembly chiefly representing the employers. He should have been glad if the Under Secretary could have informed them of the manner in which Lord Carnarvon intended to deal with these difficulties. He had every confidence in Lord Carnarvon's colonial policy, and his great desire to be just to all parties and races under his sway, and he felt certain that, although he was not prepared to inform the House, through the Under Secretary of State, of the actual measures he was going to take, he must initiate some change in the Constitution, and not leave the island in its present position. He was glad the Government had come to the conclusion that it would be unjust and impolitic to remove Governor Hennessy.


said, he was glad that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Carnarvon) refused the demand of the Committee from Barbadoes, that Governor Hennessy should be withdrawn; but he regretted to find that the Government did not intend to institute an inquiry through a Royal Commission. The fact that there was a party in London trying to press their views upon the subject on the Government showed that all controversy in the island had not been laid aside. Much of the evils that had recently taken place was owing to the pushing of confederation on the colony, although the noble Earl had said he did not wish it until its inception came from the Legislative Body of the island. At that moment the island was in a most unsatisfactory condition. There was a great deal of pauperism and vagrancy there, and a large proportion of the respectable population were in direct variance with the Governor, and demanding his recall. He (Colonel Mure) was opposed to his recall on the demand of any individual; but the fact of the demand having been made showed an unsatisfactory state of things. One thing was clear, that further inquiry should take place.


said, he was a personal friend of Governor Hennessy, and that he had received a letter from him in which he solemnly denied that he said or did anything in any degree to sanction or encourage the disturbances that had taken place there. Governor Hennessy had been placed in a very exceptional position, and had a most delicate and difficult duty to perform. In the first place he had to promote confederation, and next to make some alteration in the constitution of the colony. He had to reconcile the oligarchy of the Whites to the Natives, who were reduced to a most miserable state of pauperism, and were greatly oppressed. Any Gentleman who had read the Blue Books must have seen that under these difficult circumstances Governor Hennessy had shown along with good intentions great prudence and discretion. It was to be hoped that Her Majesty's Government would allow him to retain his present position. A man in such a position should be supported by the Government in the honest discharge of his duty, and he was rejoiced to find from the discussion that Governor Hennessy had not done anything unworthy of his position.


thought that some injustice had been done to the Legislative Assembly of Barbadoes in the remarks which, had fallen from some hon. Members.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

House adjourned at half after Two o'clock.