HC Deb 21 March 1907 vol 171 cc845-6
MR. SMEATON (Stirlingshire)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the recent disclosures in Ceylon, Fiji, and West Africa, where the governors after retirement had acquired commercial monopolies of various kinds adverse to the interests of these Colonies, detrimental to good and honest government, and † See Cols. 474–5. contrary to the principles of free trade, the Secretary of State for the Colonies intends to take any steps to put a stop to these abuses; and, if so, will he say what these steps are.


Some weeks ago the Secretary of State addressed a communication to the governors on the subject of ex-governors engaging in commercial enterprises in the Colonies with which they have been connected. The Secretary of State desires that it should not be assumed that he accepts the wording of this Question as making a true presentment of the facts of the particular cases to which it refers.

MR. MENZIES (Lanarkshire, S.)

In view of what was done in connection with the Ceylon Pearl Fisheries, would it not be possible in the future to make it a condition of the appointment of any governor that he should not, during his period of office or after, use the knowledge he acquired in the Colony for the purposes of personal gain?


Obviously it is quite impossible to make any regulation controlling the actions of governors after they have left His Majesty's service. The Secretary of State has issued a circular discouraging the practices complained of.


But what is the use of the circular in view of what has happened in Ceylon and West Africa, where the ex-governor purchased concessions from outsiders? Would it not be better to bring in legislation prohibiting the practice?


I do not think that that would be the most convenient course.