HC Deb 26 June 1906 vol 159 cc764-5
SIR H. COTTON (Nottingham, E.)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the proposal for the provision of Rs.250,000 per annum to the Ceylon Civil Establishment, in order to provide enhanced salaries on a gold standard for officials ordinarily recruited in Europe, was carried in the Ceylon Legislative Council by the votes of the European members of the council, many of them being officials who would or might benefit under the vote, in face of the unanimous opposition of the Ceylonese unofficial members of the council; and whether, seeing that a representative public meeting, held at Colombo on February 3rd, 1906, unanimously protested against this vote and submitted a memorial to the Secretary of State praying for a consideration of this protest, and in view of the feeling on the subject in the Colony, His Majesty's Government are prepared to give favourable consideration to the subject of this memorial.


With regard to the first Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the Secretary of State's despatch of January 25th, a copy of which, as published in Ceylon, has been placed in the Library. The memorial referred to has been received and considered, but the Secretary of State has not seen any cause to alter his view of I the question, and the memorialists have been so informed.


further asked whether it was established by Lord Ripon in a despatch of October 9, 1894, and confirmed by the right hon. gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in a despatch of February 4, 1896, that all officers in the public service of Ceylon, whether domiciled or not, and of whatever nationality, were to be granted compensation for exchange at a common rate, and I were placed on an equal footing; and whether these orders had not been set aside by the decision of the Legislative Council to which he had already referred.


This matter was far advanced when the transfer of power from the late to the present Government took place. I understand that the object of the new regulations is to secure the salaries of officers who may be domiciled in this country being permanently payable on the sterling basis and without interfering at all with the salaries of officers not domiciled in the United Kingdom. Obviously, it is only those officers bona fide living in the United Kingdom who suffer by the fluctuation in exchange.


Is the hon Gentleman aware that there is grave dissatisfaction in the island?


Yes. Sir, some dissatisfaction has been shown. But it is largely due, I think, to a misunderstanding; and, if the hon. Gentleman would read the despatch to which I have referred, I think he will see there was considerable justification for the late Government in embarking on this course, and for the present Government in not immediately reversing it.