HC Deb 12 November 1888 vol 330 cc909-11
MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I rise to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies a Question of which I have given him private Notice. I may, perhaps, say that on Friday, without previous Notice, I asked the hon. Gentleman whether the Colonial Office had received a telegram from the Prime Minister of Queensland and the Leader of the Opposition there about the appointment of a successor to Governor Musgrave? The hon. Gentleman at once replied that the telegram, a copy of which appeared in the newspapers, had been received and forwarded to the Secretary of State. I now wish to ask him whether he is yet able to inform the House what answer has been, or will be, sent to this message?

THE UNDER SECRETARY of STATE (Baron HENRY DE WORMS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)

Her Majesty's Government have considered this question, and have decided that the Colonial Ministers should be called upon to state their objections to the appointment of Sir Henry Blake. I cannot do better than read to the House the telegram which has been despatched to the Colony— Inform your Ministers that Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to take any action upon the telegram communicated by the Agent General, and previously made public, respecting the Governor. They prefer that any communication on so serious a subject should be made in the usual formal manner to the officer administering the Government. Request your Ministers to state to you the specific reasons for which they object to the appointment of a gentleman of high character who has administered responsible government with great discretion and success. As the telegram published in the Press referred to the letter addressed to the Agent General in reply to the request that the Colonial Ministers might be consulted as to the new Governor, it seems desirable to read that letter to the House. It was in the following terms:—

"Downing Street, Oct. 19, 1888.

"Sir,—I am directed by Lord Knutsford to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 17th instant, respecting the telegram which you had received from the Government of Queensland, desiring that the name of the proposed Governor should be submitted to them before a definite decision was arrived at. In reply, I am desired to acquaint you that this is a request which, in previous cases, it has been decided that Her Majesty's Government cannot comply with. It is obvious that the officer charged with the duty of conducting the foreign relations of the Crown and of advising the Crown when any question of Imperial, as distinct from Colonial, interests arises, must be selected by the Secretary of State for the Queen's approval, and must owe his appointment, and be responsible, to the Crown alone. It is not possible, therefore, for the responsible Ministers of the Colony to share the responsibility of nominating the Governor, or to have a veto on the selection. Lord Knutsford trusts, nevertheless, that the Colonial Ministers will understand that he has been deeply sensible of the importance of selecting a gentleman of high character and proved capacity for the very important post of Governor of Queensland, and trusts very confidently that when he is in a position to make known the name of the person selected it will be acknowledged that a satisfactory appointment has been made.

"I am, &c.,


"The Agent General for Queensland."


Would the hon. Gentleman give us the exact words of the Prime Minister of Queensland's telegram—whether the demand was that we should "submit" the name of the Governor to them; or whether the suggestion was that it would be expedient to "communicate the name of the new Governor before his actual appointment"?


said, he had read the words of the telegram to the House. Those words were correct; but he did not see that it made any difference in the sense.


asked, if the answer which had been sent to the Colony was by telegraph; and if the reply to it would also be by telegraph, or would be deferred till the despatches?


This is by telegraph. The answer will probably be by despatch.