§ 72. Mr. LYNCH
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, when the question arises of the appointment of a Governor to the Commonwealth of Australia, or to one of the component States, it is customary to consult the Australian authorities so as to ascertain whether the choice may be acceptable; and whether, if the choice should cease to be acceptable, any means exists of rescinding the appointment?
The answer to the first part of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. The post of Governor is held at the pleasure of the Crown, and his tenure of office can be terminated at any time by the Crown.
§ 73. Mr. LYNCH
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, when he comes to deal with the documents in connection with the case of the Governor of Tasmania, he will consider that, apart from the correctness or otherwise of the altitude and acts of the Governor, there is another question to be dealt with, namely, whether he will at any time insist on the retention of a Governor of the Commonwealth or of any of the component Stales when that Governor has suffered a vote of censure of either of the legislative Chambers or has become persona non grata to the Executive?
The hon. Member may rest assured that all relevant circumstances will be taken into consideration when I have received the documents in connection with the Governor of Tasmania. It is impossible to give any general answer to the inquiry in the second part of the question.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
Have any telegrams been exchanged between the Colonial Office and the Governor of Tasmania on this question?
Yes, Sir. I have exchanged many private and personal telegrams, but I am awaiting an official dispatch.
§ 74. Mr. LYNCH
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he is in telegraphic communication with Tasmania and with Australia at large in order to keep informed of the state of feeling with regard to the question of the action of the Governor of Tasmania; whether, since the sending by mail of the documents of the case, he has had any communication either with the Governor or the Prime Minister; and, if so, whether any of these communications are of such a nature that they might be advantageously laid upon the Table of the House?
I have been in telegraphic communication with the Governor of Tasmania on this subject, but not with the State Premier or with any other preson in Australia. The documents sent by mail have not yet reached me, and there are no Papers which can at present be published.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
Did the Governor consult the Colonial Office by telegram before he took the action in question?
I am not prepared to say that without notice, and I am not sure whether I should be able to do it with notice.
I have to refer the hon. Member to House of Commons Return, No. 160, of 1912. Since the date of that Return a few Australian Bills have, for technical reasons, been reserved by the Governor-General or Governor for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure, but in all these cases the Bills have subsequently received Mis Majesty's assent.
I could not within the limits of an answer make any statement on the subject which might not be misleading.
§ 78. Mr. LYNCH
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he has assured himself that when the documents relative to the case of the Governor of Tasmania arrive he will then be in possession of all the material facts; whether he has heard that an important communication has been withheld; and, if it be so, whether he will have the contents communicated to him by cable?
I have no reason to suppose that the documents now on their way home will not put me in possession of all the material facts.
§ 79. Mr. LYNCH
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it is permissible for a. Governor, of the Commonwealth of Australia or of any of the States to mark confidential an official communication to the respective Prime Ministers, even when the communication may have a decisive influence on the action of the Government 31 and hence on the fortunes of the country; whether the Governor of Tasmania has so dealt with an official communication; whether the Governor is within his right in withholding, actively or passively, such a communication from the knowledge of the Secretary of State when his judgment in respect of the case is asked for; and, if not, whether the communication of all such documents will be demanded by him?
I am not prepared to answer a hypothetical question of this character. I have no information as to the alleged action of the Governor of Tasmania.