HC Deb 28 February 1882 vol 266 cc1869-74

, in rising to move the following Resolution:— That this House regrets the indecision of Her Majesty's Government, by which Mr. Sendall was withdrawn from the appointment of Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, to which he had been nominated, and for which, in the opinion of the Colonial Office, he was eminently qualified, observed, that Mr.Sendall was appointed to the Lieutenant Governorship of Natal during the Recess; but the appointment had since been withdrawn by the Government, on the ground, he believed, that it was against the feeling of the people of Natal: but, from his own observation, he gathered that while one party among the Colonists was strongly in favour of the appointment, the other was willing to wait to see what kind of man Mr. Sendall was before actively opposing him. There was, however, a gentleman named Statham, editor of The Natal Witness, who organized an agitation, to which Her Majesty's Ministers succumbed, and he wished to point out that this powerful Government, with an irresistible majority in that House, had been defeated by Mr. Statham. The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies told his constituents at Liskeard that Mr. Sendall was, in the judgment of Lord Kimberley, the most proper person that could be appointed. Why, then, did not the Government adhere to the appointment? Either the appointment was originally a mistake or it ought to have been adhered to. Apart from this consideration he thought it a mistake that the Government in their new appointments should have reverted to the old plan of nominating a full Governor for Natal instead of a Lieutenant Governor, as they thereby threw an impediment in the way of a union of Natal and Cape Colony. Moreover, it seemed to him that with full Governors in Natal and Cape Colony there would be a conflict of jurisdictions. The Native races might be treated differently by the two Colonies. A great deal had been said about Confederation in South Africa, the dream of statesmen in the House for many years past. Although such a Confederation could be regarded as at present nothing more substantial than a dream, the question of a union between Cape Colony and Natal was one which came within the limits of practical politics, and the course the Government had taken had directly tended to prevent such a union. He feared that neither side wished it, and it was not for a British Minister to urge it; but he ought to be very careful not to hinder it. The appointment of a full Governor seemed to him distinctly a step in the wrong direction. In conclusion, the hon. Gentleman said a great hardship had been inflicted on a most deserving public servant.


, in seconding the Motion, thought that the prospects and position of our public servants were well worthy of the consideration of that House. In supporting the Motion of the hon. Member he was acting without having been requested to take any part in the discussion by Mr. Sendall. It was no controversial matter that Mr. Sendall was an important and a valuable public servant, and it was most undesirable that his conduct should be the subject of misapprehension. What were the qualifications and what had been the career of Mr. Sendall? As a young man at Cambridge he had passed first-class in classics and third-class in mathematics. Soon after leaving the University he went to Colombo on the staff of the Government College, and he held that appointment for 18 months. He then obtained the appointment of Inspector of Schools there, and afterwards became Director of Public Instruction in Ceylon—a post of very considerable administrative importance. After 12 years' service in that position he returned to England, and in 1872 was appointed Assistant Inspector to the Local Government Board, in 1876 General Inspector, and in 1878 Assistant Secretary to the Local Government Board. He possessed very high testimonials from those under whom he had served in the course of his career. For instance, Sir Hercules Robinson, in a letter dated Queen's House, Galle, 9th February, 1880, says— During the last four months Mr. Sendall has been acting as Director of Public Instruction, in which capacity his ability, tact, and sound judgment have proved of signal assistance to the Government in inaugurating the extensive and difficult changes in the educational system of the Colony which have recently been determined on. I consider Mr. Sendall well fitted for a far higher and move responsible sphere than that which he has so efficiently held here for the last ten years. Then here is another letter, dated August 14, 1872, signed Arthur Helps. He says, speaking of Mr. Sendall— I have every reason to think that he is a man of much administrative ability and experience. He need not trouble the House by quoting more. From information he had received on the best authority he believed that the resistance to Mr. Sendall's appointment, though undoubtedly violent, proceeded from a very small knot of persons, and it was unfortunate that Her Majesty's Government should so soon have arrived at a decision to cancel his appointment. He had been informed that the whole of the communications which had taken place between the Home and the Colonial Governments on this subject had been conducted through the telegraph. This was a very serious matter, especially in a case requiring the utmost deliberation and consideration. He had no desire to turn this Motion into a serious attack upon the Colonial administration of the Government; but presented it rather in the form of friendly criticism. South Africa had a history, and he hoped for it a great future. The difficulties and the character of the Colony were often misunderstood in England; but he trusted that the able Under Secretary would devote his talents and his energies to mastering the details of questions by no means easy, and to promoting the welfare of one of our most important Possessions.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House regrets the indecision of Her Majesty's Government, by which Mr. Sendall was withdrawn from the appointment of Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, to which he had been nominated, and for which, in the opinion of the Colonial Office, he was eminently qualified."—(Mr. Robert Fowler.)


congratulated the hon. Member for the City of London upon his brevity, and the hon. Member for Stafford upon his courtesy, in bringing this matter under the notice of the House. The course taken by the Government in this matter was extremely simple. Mr. Sendall was selected for the post entirely on the strength of his own merits, and as being the person best fitted for it within the range of choice open to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. When his nomination was made known in South Africa there did undoubtedly occur a manifestation of feeling in the Colony against the appointment. There was a good deal of evidence of that manifestation in the newspapers; but to that the Government, of course, paid very slight attention. But those manifestations were made known to the Government through their Agents, and, what was more important, by two Votes in the Council. One was of a practical character, offering to raise the salary from £2,500 to £4,000, if the Government would send out a Governor instead of a Lieutenant Governor. He confessed he did not know any better teat of the reality of the feeling manifested than the readiness to vote an additional sum of money to carry it into effect. The second Vote was one limiting the supplies to six months, in order to force the Government at home, if they were unwilling, to re-consider the situation. The Government at home had no desire whatever to force upon any Colony a gentleman who would be unacceptable there, unless there were grave circumstances requiring that he should be sent out. In this case, when it was made known that the Colony of Natal were prepared to pay a much larger sum, the area of choice was, of course, very considerably enlarged. Mr. Sendall, in the most handsome manner, tendered his resignation, and said that, in the interests of the Public Service, he thought it better for him to withdraw. The Secretary of State said it was impossible not to accept that withdrawal, though he did that with great reluctance. As regarded the estimation in which Mr. Sendall was held, he entirely agreed with what had fallen from the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt). In support of that statement he would read to the House an extract from a letter of the Secretary of State— It is only due to you that I should say that my opinion of your capacity for that post remains unchanged, notwithstanding the opposition which your appointment has met with, and that I have no doubt you would have fully justified my recommendation of you to Her Majesty, which was made after very careful inquiry and consideration; hut, looking to all the circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that it will be for the advantage of the Public Service that the wish of the Colonial Legislature for the appointment of a Governor instead of a Lieutenant Governor should be complied with, and that your appointment as Lieutenant Governor should, therefore, not be proceeded with. With respect to what bad been said as to the creation of a Governorship tending to impede a union between Natal and Cape Colony, he (Mr. Courtney) believed that no federation and no union would ever be brought about in South Africa except with the willing co-operation of the Colonists, and that no step could be taken that was more calculated to impede such a movement than to attempt to force anything upon any of the parties. The hon. Member for Stafford had deprecated the action of the telegraph in the matter; but from what the Government had since heard, they had reason to believe that the case had not been materially affected thereby. He hoped he had been able to show that in accepting Mr. Sendall's resignation they were fully sensible of his merits; but that the Government had acted entirely in deference to the wishes of the Colony.


said, he was afraid that the Government had made a mistake in making such hasty use of the telegraph in respect to the withdrawal of Mr. Sendall, and had done an injustice to a useful and most deserving public servant. He did not doubt that his hon. Friend did not desire to press his Motion to a division, especially as any division of a Party character must be injurious to Mr. Sendall. He rose to say that he quite agreed with what had been said as to Mr. Sendall's capabilities by the hon. Member for Stafford. While he was at the Local Government Board that gentleman had been appointed by him entirely on the ground of his merit—first to an Inspectorship, and then to an Assistant Secretaryship of the Local Government Board. He thought that the statement which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies with regard to the matter was of a satisfactory nature.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

House adjourned at half after Eight o'clock.