HC Deb 30 June 1884 vol 289 cc1671-2

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, in reference to his recent statement that abuses in connection with the labour trade are "prevented in Queensland vessels by the presence of a Government agent," whether one of the persons recently tried in Brisbane in the Alfred Vittery murder case was the Government agent of the ship, one "Freeman;" whether the Colonial Office, after expressing the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that the acquittal in which the trial resulted was "a failure of justice," made any representations to the Government of Queensland as to the immediate dismissal of Mr. Freeman from the office of Government agent; and, whether he can state how these Government agents are appointed, what are the qualifications required, and what class of persons generally hold the position?


I did not state that all abuses in connection with the labour trade were prevented in Queensland vessels by the presence of a Government agent, but that such abuses as were described in the Question relating to the ship Eileen, to which I was at the moment referring, would be impossible under the system of Government agency. As to the case of the Alfred Vittery, which represents quite a different class of cases, the Colonial Office wrote to the Governor of Queensland to the effect that the conduct of the Government agent on the occasion referred to appeared to indicate the necessity for the choice of superior men to fill situations of this nature, from which it is impossible to dissociate a large share of responsibility. These agents are appointed and removed at the discretion of the local Government; but naturally it is not a service for which it is very easy to find the men that it would be desirable to obtain. I do not doubt, however, that the Queensland Government will do their best to get good men.