HC Deb 06 May 1913 vol 52 cc1844-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the rules submitted by the Ceylon Government to the Legislative Council of Ceylon for the formation of advisory committees under the Excise Ordinance provide for a preponderance in the proportion of twenty-one officially appointed to nine unofficially appointed members in the six districts or groups of districts into which Ceylon is divided for the purposes of the Excise Ordinance; and whether, as the committees are merely advisory in character and have no executive powers, he will secure that the members of these committees, nominated or selected by bodies outside the Government, shall in each case be at least equal to the members appointed or nominated by the Government?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)

My hon. Friend is verbally accurate in his reference to a preponderance of officially appointed members on the Ceylon Advisory Committees as contemplated by the proposed rules, though I am not aware of the precise ratio. As I have, however, already pointed out to him, the unofficial members nominated by the Governor are as unfettered as those selected by outside bodies, and the unofficial element in the Committees is in no case in a minority, and is in a majority in the more populous and important areas. I may add that the system of appointing unofficial members nominated by the Governor provides the only means of securing the proper expression of native opinion.