HC Deb 03 April 1879 vol 245 c262

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether Sir Arthur Gordon, the Governor of Fiji, has submitted to Her Majesty's Government any recommendation with regard to the establishment of a Protectorate over the Island of New Guinea; and, if so, whether Her Majesty's Government is prepared to take any steps with a view to carry out such recommendation?


Sir Arthur Gordon has not recommended the establishment of a Protectorate over the Island of Now Guinea, nor do we propose to take any such stop. What has occurred in the matter is this. My attention was called some months ago to the several gold mining expeditions which had gone to New Guinea during the past year from the Australian Colonies and to the difficulties which might arise from the absence of any legally-constituted authority for maintaining order among the British subjects engaged in such expeditions and controlling the relations between them and the Natives. I consulted Sir Arthur Gordon whether it might not be necessary to appoint a Deputy Commissioner to reside in Now Guinea for this purpose, as has already been done in other Islands in the Pacific. In reply, he pointed out certain practical difficulties in the exercise of jurisdiction by a Deputy Commissioner in this case unless the settlement where it was exorcised was proclaimed to be British territory. There appeared to me to be grave objections to this course; but it is not necessary even to consider it now, as we have recently heard that the mining expeditions have almost entirely failed, and, therefore, probably what is required may be effected by arranging that the coast shall be periodically visited by a ship of war. But Sir Arthur Gordon will shortly return to Fiji, and has been instructed to inquire into the matter on the spot and make such recommendations as he may consider necessary.