HC Deb 05 August 1878 vol 242 cc1217-9

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether the organization of the police forces maintained in Perak, Salangore, and Sungei Ujong, the number of their men, the terms of their engagement, the scales of pay, and the official costume are not all matters under the immediate regulation of the Governor of the Straits Settlements? Whether those forces are not under the orders of the local British Resident, and whether the officers who hold commands in them are not appointed by Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies? With whom does it rest to dismiss a member of those forces for misconduct? Are the public revenues in each of the above States collected by the British Resident and his subordinates; and is not the taxation regulated by him, subject to the control of the Straits Government at Singapore? Is not justice administered by British officers, under the supervision of the Resident? Are not public works in the above States all designed, sanctioned, and executed by and under the supervision of the British Residents, subject to the control and approval of the Governor of the Straits Settlements? Do the British Residents report to and correspond with the Governor of the Straits at Singapore? If not, do they do so with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or what is the machinery for supervising their policy and proceedings? Are the public accounts for each of those States audited; if so, by whom; and is the Audit Office at Singapore used for this purpose? Whether slavery has been or is about to be abolished in the States mentioned; if not, then what are the reasons which have led the British Residents, while taking over the administration of the revenue and justice, the control of the police, and of public works, to leave the question of slavery out of account? Have instructions been given to the newly-organized police force never to interfere to re-capture fugitive slaves; before what tribunal would a claim to a re-captured slave be tried; and what provisions have been made to protect the slave in such a case from being tortured and punished for the mere attempt to escape?


said, he must reply to the Questions of the hon. Baronet on imperfect information; but he believed the statements he should make would be found accurate as far as they went. With reference to the control of the police force, he thought it was practically controlled by the Residents, subject to the superior authority of the Governor of the Straits Settlements; but the officers were not appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The British Resident collected the revenue of each State and regulated the taxation. Justice was not administered solely by British officers under supervision of the Resident, but by the Native Judges in conjunction with the Resident. The accounts were audited first by the Resident, but were subject to further audit by the Government of the Straits Settlements. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) quite understood the object of the Questions as to slavery. The intention was first to suggest that the control of the Residents over the police, the administration of justice, and of public works, amounted to the entire government of these States, and then to argue that the Residents should also control questions connected with slavery. He could not quite admit the premise, for in various matters to which he could refer the authority of the Residents did not amount to supreme control. With regard to slavery, however, he felt the importance of this subject, into which he intended to inquire fully with the view of seeing what could be done; but it did not follow that though the Native Rulers of these States were willing to intrust other affairs to the practical control of the Residents, they would be equally prepared to sanction interference with matters of such extreme delicacy and difficulty as those connected with domestic slavery. Any hasty attempt at such interference might result in the impossibility of continuing the Resident system, and in the consequent loss of our influence. The Government must act cautiously in these matters, but the subject would not escape his attention.


asked, Whether there would be furnished annually some Report as to the state of matters in Perak?


said, he should endeavour to comply with the request of the right hon. Gentleman. He had omitted to state, in reply to the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, that no Papers on the question of slavery except those which had been presented had been received.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.