§ MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether protests have been made by representatives of the people of Malta against the decree in letters patent from the Queen proposing to abolish the use of the Italian language in the law courts of the island after a number of years shall elapse; whether, in view of the native feeling which prevails against this decree, it can be modified so as to substitute a bilingual remedy for the grievances which have induced the Colonial Office to cause the issue of the letters patent referred to; and if the bilingual custom which has worked so well in the courts in Lower Canada will be extended to Malta as an alternative to the proposed abolition of the native language in the courts of the island.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The elected members of the Council of Government of Malta have protested against an Order in Council which provides for the use of the English language in certain cases in the law courts of the island, and against a notification of the intention to substitute English for Italian as the language of the courts after the lapse of fifteen years. The native language of the Maltese is not Italian but Maltese, and only a small proportion of the population understand Italian. The English language is now being taught in the schools, and it is anticipated that in a few years it will be more acceptable than Italian to the Maltese. I have no reason to think that there is any widespread feeling against the proposal.
§ MR. DAVITT
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the change in the representative character of the Executive Council of Malta, by which the three members of the Council formerly selected from the elected members of the Legislative Council are now the nominees of the Governor, is accepted as satisfactory to the Maltese; and can he state for what reasons this change has been sanctioned.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The change in the constitution of the Executive Council of Malta was made in 1891—before that the Executive Council included three elected members of the Council of Government nominated by the 1277 Governor; but it was frequently found impossible to induce three elected members to accept seats in the Executive Council, and in order to prevent the work of the Council from being thus brought to a standstill the provision requiring three elected members of the Council of Government to be members of the Executive Council was repealed. In practice elected members of the Council of Government have continued to be appointed to the Executive Council when they were willing to accept seats. I have no reason to believe that there is any general objection to the change which has now been operative for eight years.