HC Deb 14 February 1882 vol 266 cc635-6

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether instructions have been sent to the Governor of Jamaica authorising the payment out of the Colonial Treasury of £10,000 damages and costs in an action brought against him for the wrongful seizure and detention of a foreign vessel, called the "Florence," and her cargo; and, whether, seeing that the action arose out of a breach of International Law, the sum in question ought to be paid out of the Imperial Treasury, and not out of the local taxation, which already presses heavily on the people, who, moreover, have no voice in raising them?


NO instructions were sent to the Governor of Jamaica to pay out of the Treasury the damages and costs—something under £9,000—referred to in the Question. The Governor was instructed to submit a Vote for this sum to the Council; but the Council had already passed an adverse Resolution on the subject, and the sum has not been voted. The Governor, however, to save interest, has provisionally paid the amount out of Colonial funds. I am not sure whether I ought to answer the second Question. It raises an argument and invites an argument, and is so far irregular. The liability arises out of a local miscarriage of a local Foreign Enlistment Act. The duties of neutrality prevail throughout the Empire; and it seems a sound principle, in the absence of special circumstances, that each part of the Empire should observe these obligations within its own limits. The alternative, which the hon. and learned Member seems to favour, is that the Treasury at home should pay the cost of upholding the Neutrality Laws in every Possession of Her Majesty. I cannot assent to that proposition; but the action to be taken in this case is under consideration.