HC Deb 24 February 1937 vol 320 cc1981-3
36. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what invitations to the Coronation ceremonies have been or will be sent to representatives of Nyasaland?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

As in the case of other Colonial dependencies, the Government of Nyasaland has been invited to select two gentlemen to represent the general community at the Coronation of His Majesty. One, Mr. J. Marshall, the Mayor of Blantyre, has been invited and has accepted. I am not yet in a position to say who the second may be.

Mr. Thorne

Do the replies from the Colonies come to the right hon. Gentleman, and, if so, has he received a reply from Abyssinia?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Abyssinia is not a British Colony.

40 and 41. Mr. McEntee

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether, with regard to the command sent to the Governor of the Seychelles that the island should send a representative to the Coronation, he is aware that the gentleman selected by the Governor fails to meet with the approval of the large majority of the people of the Colony; why the Legislative Council was not informed in advance of this decision since the Colony has to provide the funds for the visit; and whether he is satisfied that in all such cases the delegates chosen really are representatives of the Colonies which send them?

(2) whether, in connection with the representation of the Colonies at the coming Coronation, he can state the terms of the circular sent to Governors as to the appointment of delegates, and whether this circular was identical in all cases?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Following the precedent adopted at the Coronation of His late Majesty King George V, the Governors and High Commissioners of the Colonial dependencies were invited to nominate gentlemen to represent the general community of the territories under their administration. In the despatch addressed by me to all of them on the subject, which was in terms similar to those employed in 1911, I suggested that they should select representatives from persons who had identified themselves with local interests over a considerable period of years and had deserved the good will of their fellow citizens. I added that I assumed that it should be possible for them to make a choice from among the unofficial members or ex-members of councils, members of local public bodies, etc., which should meet with general approval throughout the territory. This same phraseology was used in all cases.

With regard to the representative nominated by the Governor of Seychelles, who is a member of both the Executive and Legislative Councils and widely respected in the Colony, I am aware that the Governor's choice has created some jealousy, which is, however, by no means so universal as the hon. Member appears to suggest. I am fully satisfied that the gentleman selected is the best qualified in accordance with the terms of my despatch, and this observation applies to the representatives which have been selected by the Officers Administering the Governments of all other Colonial dependencies. I understand that the Seychelles Legislative Council was not consulted by the Governor before he made his choice, as he rightly considered that the matter was one for which he should assume personal responsibility.

Mr. McEntee

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the word "jealous" is one that he ought not to use in this connection, considering that he must be aware of the protest made in the House against the selection made by the Governor? Does he not also think the Government's action was somewhat high-handed, and one which is not likely to lead to continued good relations between him and the Legislative Council and between himself and the population generally, who pay for the journey to this country?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

According to my information, though Mr. Bradley and his followers do not like the gentleman selected, the Governor has ample evidence that the bulk of the Colonists entirely support his decision. I regret that in a small place of this kind the feeling between Mr. Bradley and the gentleman chosen should be what it is.