HC Deb 17 April 1877 vol 233 cc1269-70

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to a Memorial addressed by the inhabitants of the Island of Nevis to Her Majesty, setting forth the heavy taxation and other grievances from which the colony is suffering under the federal system of government; and, whether, in consequence of the unsatisfactory working of the federal system in the Leeward Islands, Her Majesty's Government propose to make any changes in conformity with the wishes and in satisfaction of the complaints of the inhabitants of those islands?


A Memorial has been received from the inhabitants of the Island of Nevis. It is no doubt correct in representing that taxation is heavy in the island, notwithstanding the fact that the strictest practicable economy has been observed in all Departments of the Administration. I cannot, however, admit that the federal system of Government is responsible for this state of affairs. I would, on the contrary, point out that Nevis being a very small island, less than two miles distant from St. Christopher's, the manifest remedy for the present needlessly heavy expenditure would be the consolidation of both islands under one Government. As long as these very small communities maintain separate Legislatures and Administrative officers, the cost of Government must be comparatively great, and Her Majesty's Government can only, as hitherto, supervise closely the expenditure of each island; but they have hopes that the inhabitants may be induced to agree to a closer union than that under which they have agreed to be confederated, and it will then be possible to reduce materially the local expenditure and taxation.