HL Deb 11 May 1876 vol 229 cc362-4

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether any correspondence has passed through the Colonial Office in reference to certain grievances complained of by the Nobility of Malta on the occasion of the recent visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to that island? They complained that the Governor had prevented their presenting an Address to His Royal Highness as a separate body, and that therefore they had to go with the rest of the inhabitants of the island. The Nobility of Malta was a very ancient class. Although they had no legislative powers they had certain rights and privileges of which they were naturally jealous, and this of addressing the Throne separately they considered as one of their rights. They had always been a separate body, and were members of some of the best Neapolitan and Sicilian families. He had the honour of being personally acquainted with many of its members, and he thought it would be a great pity if any Government should pass a slight on so cultivated a body of men, and a body who were so thoroughly attached to the English rule. He hoped, therefore, his noble Friend would be enabled to inform the House whether it was true that they had been refused permission to present an Address to the Prince, as was stated, or what grounds there were for the slight which they seemed to think had been put upon them?


said, his answer to the Question of his noble Friend must necessarily be very brief, because he had no information, official or private, on the subject to which it related. He had seen a copy of a newspaper in which complaint was made that the Nobles of Malta on the occasion of His Royal Highness's visit to that island had not received that attention which they considered to be their due—that was a paragraph in the newspaper to the end of which was attached the signature of the Secretary of the Association of Noblemen of Malta. Whether the facts were as there stated he had no official means of knowing. He might, however, mention, which he did officially, that whereas in other Colonies which His Royal Highness had visited his reception was provided for out of the public exchequer and under the sanction and arrangement of the public authorities, in Malta it had been very much matter of private management—which might possibly afford some clue to the complaint now made. Nowhere had any difficulty or hitch occurred in the arrangements connected with the Prince's tour, and certainly Malta was no exception, and it was to be regretted that a single place or class should consider themselves aggrieved by any arrangements made by the local authorities. He could not believe that any slight was designed by the Governor or local authorities, who had every desire to respect the feelings of the population of Malta; and he trusted that when the matter came to be further looked into it would be seen that really there was no cause to complain, and certainly no desire to inflict the smallest slight on any particular body.