HC Deb 14 July 1887 vol 317 cc774-6
MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, If a decision has been arrived at in the case of Sir John Pope Hennessy with reference to his proceedings as Governor of Mauritius; whether he can now state it to the House; and, if it is intended to lay the Papers on the matter upon the Table?


After careful and anxious study of the Report of Sir Hercules Robinson—to whose ability and impartiality in conducting this painful inquiry I desire to bear testimony—after reading all the voluminous evidence given before him, after hearing Sir John Pope Hennessy's explanations for seven days, and reading the papers which he prepared in his defence, I have decided, though not without hesitation, that sufficient cause has not been shown to justify my advising Her Majesty to remove Sir John Pope Hennessy from the office of Governor of Mauritius. With the permission of the House I will read the two concluding paragraphs of my despatch, which will be published in the Colony, and which I propose to lay on the Table of the House to-morrow— I do not conceal from myself that much will depend upon the attitude and line of conduct which Sir John Pope Hennessy adopts on his return to the Colony; but I trust that this investigation will show him the absolute necessity of maintaining a strict impartiality, and of giving a careful consideration to the claims and interests of all persons, whether opposed to his policy or advocating it. I shall enforce upon him the necessity of working cordially with those who hold office under him, and of subordinating his own personal views, religious or political, to the general good of the Colony; and, on the other hand, I confidently expect that, notwithstanding all that has passed, those who hold office under him will in future give him a loyal and generous support. If all parties meet in this spirit it may be hoped that the unfortunate differences which have so materially affected the welfare of the Colony may cease, and that general confidence in the Administration may he again restored. I have, &c. I am quite aware of the difficulty that must be felt in appreciating the full bearing of certain parts of this despatch, as reference is necessarily made in it to the Report of Sir Hercules Robinson; and I have carefully considered the question of laying other Papers before the House; but I have arrived at the conclusion, in which I trust the House will concur, that in the best interests of the Colony, and of all parties concerned, it is inexpedient to present more than my public despatch. In the course of this lengthened investigation charges were brought against officials and other persons which have not weighed with me in the consideration of the case, as to a great degree they were collateral to the main issues; but which it would be unfair to those persons to publish until they had had an opportunity of meeting them with denials or explanations. This fact in itself would render present publication undesirable; but I may add that I strongly deprecate publication, even at a later date, as it would tend to keep alive those differences and that bitterness of spirit which have unfortunately prevailed in the Colony, and which everyone must earnestly desire to remove who wishes for the peace and welfare of the Colony, and for a re- turn of confidence in the Administration.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

What about Mr. Clifford Lloyd?

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that full justice will be done by the mere announcement of his decision; and is there any precedent for a decision of this kind being arrived at in camerâ by a Minister without full details being laid before the country?


I can only repeat the arguments I have already stated against the publication of Papers. I am not aware of any precedent upon this point. The case is a peculiar one; and my desire is to preserve, as far as possible, the peace of the Colony.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

To whom is the despatch addressed?


It is addressed to the officer administering the government of the Mauritius.

SIR. GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

Do the allusions in the right hon. Gentleman's answer referring to the official cover Mr. Clifford Lloyd?


I would respectfully suggest that hon. Gentlemen should read my despatch, which will be presented, I hope, to-morrow, before they ask any further Questions. I may add, however, as mention has been made of Mr. Clifford Lloyd, that he will not return to the Mauritius.


Have the salutary admonitions contained in the right hon. Gentleman's despatch received the assent of the Cabinet, and will they also be addressed nearer home?

[No reply.]