HC Deb 21 April 1887 vol 313 cc1405-6
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, "Whether the Regulations under which the labour traffic in the Pacific is now carried on are to be found in any Papers already presented to Parliament; or, if not, whether he will present them; whether breaches of those Regulations by vessels belonging to the various Australian Colonies, and other offences committed by the crews of those vessels, when committed beyond the territorial limits of the Colony, are now exclusively triable by Her Majesty's High Commissioners for the Western Pacific, or are dealt with by the Colonial Judicatures; and, whether Her Majesty's Government have departed from the intention that offences committed by Natives against British subjects should always be dealt with by that Commission, and have approved a reversion to the system of dealing with them by act of war against tribes and peoples, as in some recent cases?


Two Colonies employ Polynesian labourers—Fiji and Queensland. The Fiji Ordinances and Regulations were given to Parliament in 1878 (Parliamentary Paper, 111). Those relating to Queensland have not been given; but could be given if the hon. Member thinks it desirable to move for them. Speaking generally, Regulations made under Colonial Acts have no effect beyond Colonial waters, except as being conditions under which licenses are granted and enforceable by forfeiture of the licensee's bonds; but any acts amounting to criminal offences committed on the high seas, or elsewhere, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty by the crews of vessels belonging to the various Australasian Colonies are, by the Act 12 & 13 Viet. c. 96, triable in the Courts of any British Colony, or in the High Commissioners' Court, and some cases have been dealt with in the Supreme Court of Queensland. There has been no departure from any intention such as that described in the Question. The hon. Member will find the object of the High Commission accurately described in extracts from a Memorandum written by Sir Arthur Gordon in 1881, which were given to Parliament in 1883, C3,641 pp. 28 to 31. He will there see that the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner extends only to British subjects; and that the High Commissioner has no authority whatever to deal, whether judicially or in his executive capacity, with the offences of natives not under the dominion of the Crown; and that the Law Officers have invariably advised that insuperable obstacles exist to any assumption of jurisdiction by Her Majesty over other than British subjects.