HC Deb 26 February 1920 vol 125 cc1889-90
22. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the late Governor of Ceylon, Sir John Anderson, cancelled the appointments of three Europeans, Mr. Sudlow, Major Bayly and Mr. Baines, as justice of the peace, unofficial police magistrate, or member of the military forces, on the ground of their action in shooting Sinhalese without legal trial: that, in an official dispatch, the Governor stigmatised the conduct of one of them as deserving the loathing and disgust of every decent Englishman: and that Sir John Anderson's successor has recently reinstated these gentlemen in their posts of police magistrate and justice of the peace; and whether, seeing that this action has roused uneasiness and protest among the Sinhalese, he proposes to take any action in regard thereto?

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

In November, 1918, to celebrate the conclusion of hostilities, the Governor proposed to release all those remaining in prison on conviction for offences connected with the riots in 1915, and at the same time to reinstate the four Europeans who had been guilty of illegal actions while engaged in restoring order. The Secretary of State left the matter to the discretion of the Governor, who released the prisoners accordingly and subsequently restored Messrs. Bayly and Sly to their appointments as justices of the peace and unofficial police magistrates. I have received a protest against the Governor's action from certain Sinhalese, but I do not propose to take any steps in the matter.


Was it the same Governor who, having stigmatised their action as "deserving the loathing and disgust of every decent Englishman," reinstated these men in their positions?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at the question I think he will find that the remark was made only in reference to one person.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

as that one person been reinstated?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these gentlemen acted on the instructions of the head of police in Ceylon, and by their plucky and prompt action they saved other members of the community, such as Mahomedans, from murder and rapine, and saved the country in a serious situation?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

I am aware that the gentlemen referred to had to act in a period of very grave crisis and public danger, and in so doing overstepped the law, but I certainly do not consider that the principle of amnesty should apply only to native offenders against the law, and not apply to Englishmen who may, in time of crisis, have overstepped the boundary.


Is it not a fact that there is no question of amnesty? They were not put in prison but only deprived of their offices. Is it not a fact that people who shoot natives with a view of stopping those natives from committing outrages subsequently, are adopting a new departure in British administration? [HON. MEMBERS: "That's argument."]