HC Deb 07 June 1877 vol 234 cc1439-41

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, If he would state what was the date of the appointment of Mr. Adolphus as Chief Justice of the Gambia; whether the merchants and residents in that Colony had not in a Despatch or Letter, as far back as April 1876, strongly expressed the necessity for a properly qualified lawyer to fill the appointment; whether he would lay any such Despatch or Letter as exists upon the Table of the House; if he would state the nature of the judicial experience of Mr. Adolphus referred to by Lord Carnarvon, in his Despatch of 27th February last to Governor Kortright, and what was the legal appointment held previously by Mr. Adolphus; and, whether, as judge, he would not now have the highest powers over liberty, life, and property in the Colony?


As regards the first of the Questions put by the hon. and learned Gentleman, I must point out that there is no such appointment as Chief Justice of Gambia, but that the post held by Mr. Adolphus is that of Chief Magistrate, to which he was appointed by a despatch dated October 16, 1876. Now, as to a communication from the Colony on the subject, a letter was received bearing the date of April 29, 1876, in which complaint was made of the Settlement of the Gambia being made a dependency of Sierra Leone, and among other matters objection was made to the judicial business of the Colony being left in the hands of a Chief Magistrate, and that an appeal lay to Sierra Leone, instead of the Court of Queen's Bench. I shall be glad to show the hon. and learned Gentleman a manuscript copy of the letter in question, and if he thinks it worth while incurring the cost of printing it, I shall be ready to carry out his wishes. Mr. Adolphus occupied for 12 years the position of Magistrate of the Northern Division of British Honduras, during which time he discharged his duties to the entire satisfaction of the Colonial Government. As to whether he will now have the highest powers over liberty, life, and property, I find that no sentence exceeding 12 months' imprisonment with hard labour can be carried out until approved by the Administrator of the Government, and in capital cases a further reference must be made to the Governor in Chief and Executive Council at Sierra Leone. In any case, moreover, of exceptional im- portance there is power to substitute for the Chief Magistrate a Judge or barrister specially commissioned for the occasion. There is also an appeal to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone in civil cases above £50.