HC Deb 01 August 1890 vol 347 cc1541-2
MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to a Despatch from Lord Knutsford to Viscount Gormanston, then Governor of British Guiana, dated 4th September, 1889, which contained the following-statements— I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch, No. 282, of the 29th July, enclosing a letter from Sir B. Chalmers on the subject of the Appeal of the late Mr. Be Souza to the Queen in Council. I consider that the payment of the fine of 500 dols, imposed on Mr. Be Souza ought not to he enforced against his estate, and that notice of the decision not to enforce it should be given to his executors, whether the Sir D. Chalmers therein referred to is the Chief Justice of the Colony who sentenced Mr. De Souza to fine and imprisonment, and against whose sentence the appeal above' referred to was pending; whether the letter alleged to have been written by the said Sir D. Chalmers on the subject of the appeal in question was written while the appeal was still before the Privy Council, and while, therefore, the conduct of the said Sir D. Chalmers was under judicial investigation; what was the purport of such letter, and whether the Government will lay it upon the Table of the House; whether any representation was made on the part of Mr. De Souza's executors to have the fine remitted; on what ground did the Government interfere with the action of the Privy Council on the subject of such appeal; and whether, in view of the Constitutional importance of the questions involved in the case as bearing on the liberty of the subject and the freedom of the press, and the fact that the Judges still claim to exercise a power the legality of which is denied, lie will cause a full inquiry to be made into the conduct of the Judges and the facts of the case?


Sir D. Chalmers, the writer of the letter quoted, is the Chief Justice who sentenced Mr. De Souza. His letter was written after Mr. De Souza's death, and at a time when it was open to his executors to apply for leave to proceed with his appeal. The letter conveyed a request that if an order for revival of the appeal were granted, appearance might be entered for the Attorney General, as representing' the interest of the Crown in the appeal, as well as for the Judges, and gave reasons for this recommendation. No application was made, so far as the Secretary of State is aware, by Mr. De Souzt's executors to have the fine remitted. The Government have not interfered with the action of the Privy Council on the subject of the appeal. The Secretary of State is not prepared to make the inquiry suggested by the hon. Member.