HL Deb 30 July 1860 vol 160 cc342-4

moved, that the House go into Committee on this Bill pro formâ, in order that it might be reprinted with Amendments.


said, that as the Bill at present stood it was perfectly unintelligible. He was quite unable to discover what its purpose was.


said, that the object of the measure was to provide for the government of certain places, possessions of the British Crown, but in. which no Government bad been established by Her Majesty's authority. By the 6 & 7 Vict. c. 13, Her Majesty was authorized to provide for the government of the British Settlements on the Coast of Africa and in the Falkland Islands, whether places then occupied or that might be thereafter occupied by British subjects resorting to those coasts; and by the 21 & 22 Vict., c. 106, the "Act for the better Government of India, "India was defined as comprising certain territories, and provision was made for their Government. Since this time certain islands which fell within the definition of the last mentioned Act had been occupied by British subjects—the circumstances of some were certainly rather peculiar, for he believed that one island was settled by a single Englishman. Under the ordinary course of settlement, every Englishman carried with him the English law into the land of his settlement, so far as it was applicable to the circumstances of the country; but in the cases which had given rise to this measure there was this difficulty—that the places had been acquired by the East Indian Government, and being within the definition of India were subjected as to their Government to the provision of the Act. It was proposed by this measure to withdraw settlements such as he had described from the operation of the Government of India Act, and to place them under the provisions of the 6 & 7 Vict., c. 13.


thought that when the third clause of the Bill came to be looked into, it would be found that it required a similar modification to that proposed for the first and second clause.


said, that this short Bill illustrated the manner in which business—perhaps unavoidably—was conducted at this period of the Session. This Bill did not, apparently, originate with any Member of the Government, but, as far as he could understand, with an Under Secretary in the Colonial Department, who thought it expedient to introduce provisions which would enable Her Majesty to place under any law which she might deem best, the whole of the British dominions in India, with the exception of one point, which might be the Andaman Islands. The India Office had repudiated this Bill; but through some "inadvertence"—a convenient term—the Bill had been put into the hands of the noble Earl, without one word of explanation. He had the curiosity to inquire how many white faces there were in the Island of Labuan, and found the number to be thirty one, including the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Treasurer, the Commander-in-Chief, and an army of five white soldiers. But what was the most remarkable thing was that there was a Bishop, whose whole congregation was composed of these officials. It had been said elsewhere that there had been some communication between the Colonial Office and the India Office in reference to Singapore, which it was proposed to hand over to the Colonial Office. He should advise the Government to consider very seriously before they did this. When the East India Company was in existence, some gentlemen at Singapore were not very well satisfied; but there was now an end to the East India Company, and it was just as likely that there would be a capable man for Secretary of State for India as for Colonial Secretary. The colony would thus far, therefore, be in the same position whether under the one or the other. But Singapore was very near to India and very far from Downing Street, and it was most convenient that the place should be governed by the nearest authority. As a commercial question the matter was of no importance, but Singapore was extremely important in a military point of view. If we were compelled to send military forces to China, the greatest portion of the troops must go from India, and Singapore would be their depot. In this respect it was important that Singapore should be in the hands of the authorities sending the troops. When he himself had occasion to send an expedition to China, Sir George Bonham, a most able man, was at Singapore, and not a single ship was delayed; but if Singapore had been under the Colonial Office there would, probably, have been great delay.

House in Committee; Bill reported, without Amendment; Amendments made; Bill re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.