§ MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that some time ago a petition, signed by practically the whole of the ratepayers of the Port of Spain, was presented, asking for the restoration of its elected borough council (which it enjoyed for a period of fifty years); that the prayer of the petitioners has not been acceded to, but that instead a wholly nominated town board has been set up for a period of three years, with a commissioner at a salary of £800 a year; whether, in view of Lord Elgin's statement in a despatch of 21st June last, that his decision was therefore that there shall be for two years a board, he will state why it has been made three years instead of two; and whether, at the end of the three years, the elective principle will be restored.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
The petition was duly received and carefully considered. The Secretary of State's decision was intimated in the despatch to which the hon. Member's Question refers, and with 1563 the purport of which he is no doubt acquainted. The Governor reported that an Ordinance to give effect to the Secretary of State's decision would be introduced at the session of the Legislative Council, which opened on the 4th of February. It is not known whether the Ordinance has yet been passed by the Council, and no intimation has been received from the Governor as to whether or not it is proposed to appoint the new board for three years instead of for two years, as originally contemplated. With regard to the last paragraph of the hon. Member's Question, the decision in the Secretary of State's despatch of the 21st; of June, 1906, was that at the end of two years "the question whether the existing board shall be continued or shall be replaced either at once or gradually by an elected board shall be again submitted to the Legislative Council," and it is impossible at present to add anything to that decision.