HC Deb 06 August 1889 vol 339 cc545-6
MR. WILLIAM M'ARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid St. Austell)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is true that in 1887 certain British pearlers, employing 87 vessels off the North-west Australian coast, petitioned the Secretary of State for the Colonies against the grant of responsible government to Western Australia without the recognition of their right to fish beyond the three-mile limit untaxed; whether protests have been lodged by the North-west Pearling Fleet, by the London Chamber of Commerce, and by the Chamber of Shipping against the Western Australia Pearl Fisheries Act passed by the Federal Council of Australia in February, 1889; whether representations have reached him that the principles introduced in this Act will infringe the main principles recognised by the Chamberlain Commission, and may tend to the transfer of the pearling fleet to a foreign flag; and whether the Secretary of State is willing to advise the Crown on this Act on its merits, and what action has been taken in the matter?


A petition to the effect stated by the hon. Member was received by the Secretary of State in October, 1887, and was referred for the consideration of the Government of Western Australia, and extracts from the Governor's reply were communicated to the parties interested in the Petition. Protests such as are described in the question were also received at the Colonial Office, in more than one of which attention was drawn to the injury which it was alleged must occur to Colonial pearl fishing vessels. The subject of this Reserved Bill has been carefully considered by Her Majesty's Government, who have been advised that it is within the powers conferred upon the Federal Council by the Federal Council of Australasia Act, 1885, and they have decided that they would not be justified in recommending Her Majesty to disallow the Bill.