HC Deb 30 July 1919 vol 118 cc2141-2

Order for Second Reading read.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Lieut.-Colonel Amery)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill provides for the constitution of a West Indian Court of Appeal for the Colonies of Trinidad and Tobago, British Guiana, Barbados, the Leeward Islands, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. The more distant islands of Jamaica, British Honduras and the Bahamas are so many hundreds of miles away that they have not, up to the present at any rate, evinced a desire for co-operation in this particular purpose. Power is, however, taken in this Bill to bring other Colonies within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal by Order in Council if the Legislature of the Colony so provides, and similarly there is a provision that if the Legislature of any Colony included wish to be no longer under the Court of Appeal it can make provision to that effect. The existing Windward Islands Appeal Court, set up by an Act of 1889, is superseded and replaced by this new Court of Appeal. The proposed Court is normally to be presided over by the Chief Justice of Trinidad with the Chief Justices of the Islands and Colonies to which the Act applies. If any of them are unable to attend their places are to be taken by duly qualified substitutes, and there is power also under the Bill by which His Majesty may appoint an additional judge of the Court of Appeal.

The Court itself will be an itinerant one, and will visit the various Colonies in succession to take their appeals. There is no interference contemplated with the right of appeal to the Privy Council, except in so far as local Legislatures may provide that appeals from their Courts should in the first instance go to the West Indian Court of Appeal. This proposal to set up a single Court of Appeal for the West Indies, or for a great part of the West Indies, has been discussed for a great many years, and, as the outcome of these discussions, an Intercolonial Conference met at Trinidad in 1916, and formulated proposals which are the basis of the present Bill. It is thus an agreed measure as far as those who are affected by it are concerned, and the only reason why it has come before this House is that the proposed legislation affects a number of Colonies simultaneously and in combination, and that for that reason an Imperial Statute is required. The House of Commons is, in fact, being asked to do what it has so often done before when different Legislatures in the Empire have wished to combine for some common purpose. It is the residual power of legislating for the whole Empire in order to enable them to achieve their objects in the most convenient and most expeditious fashion. I have no doubt that this Court of Appeal which the West Indian Colonies ask this House to set up will be a useful institution from the legal point of view, and I think we in this House should also welcome it as an indication of the growing tendency of the British West Indies towards closer co-operation in every way. Their danger has always lain in isolation, not only from the Mother Country, but from each other, and the inevitable tendency of that isolation towards parochialism. I believe the prospects before the West Indies in the future are brighter than they have ever been in the past, and the more effectually the various Colonies work together and tend to regard themselves as a single unit for their common purposes, the more assured their future success will be.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.


Is it not possible to say anything on the Bill?


The hon. Member did not rise in time. The House has passed the Second Reading.