HC Deb 14 December 1908 vol 198 cc1246-7
SIR H. COTTON (Nottingham, E.)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Governor of British Guiana did, by his casting vote against the almost unanimous objection of the elected members of the combined Court of the Colony, decide, on 3rd November last, on the abolition of the office of medical inspector of estates' hospitals; whether the salary of that office, which was instituted for the protection of Indian immigrants indentured for service on sugar plantations, is secured by the law of the Colony; whether the Government of India has been consulted and has agreed to the abolition of this office; and whether the Secretary of State proposes to take any action in the matter.


The facts stated in the first part of my hon. friend's Question are generally correct, and the action of the Governor was in accordance with the law, which expressly provides that he shall have both an original and a casting vote, but I may explain that if, as is proposed, the separate office of medical inspector is abolished, arrangements will be made for the efficient discharge of the duties hitherto attached to it, experience having shown that they are not sufficient to occupy the whole time of one officer. It has not in the circumstances been considered necessary to consult the Government of India. The law of the Colony imposes no obligation to appoint a separate officer for the sole purpose of medical inspection, although it empowers the Governor to appoint such an officer at a salary not exceeding £1,000 per annum. At the Governor's instance, the whole matter has been deferred for the present, pending further discussion in the combined Court.


Was not the sole object of this appointment the protection of British Indians at Demerara, and does the right hon. Gentleman realise the supreme importance than that protection should be adequately maintained?


We are fully cognisant of that, and it has not been lost sight of in the Colony; indeed, it is stated that the change will not reduce the amount of supervision.