« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
'not therefore British freehold, and all possessions that 'have been ceded by Treaty and held as possessions 'of the British Crown, there is no question that the * Crown may make a Treaty alienating such possessions 'of the British Crown without the consent of the House 'of Commons.' He then instanced the cases of Senegal, Minorca, Florida, and the Island of Banca, which were 'all 'of them for a greater or less period of time possessions 'of the British Crown; and they were all ceded by treaty 'to some foreign power; therefore there cannot be a ques'tion as to the competency of the Crown to make such 'cessions.'1 Mr. Forsyth,, however, commenting on this statement, observes that all these cases of cession were made by treaty of peace at the close of a war; and they do not touch the question whether the Crown has the power where there has been no war, and consequently Do treaty of peace. Mr. Forsyth cites the case of the abandonment of the Orange River sovereignty in 1854, by the Queen's Letters Patent revoking previous Letters Patent of 1851, and by force of a proclamation whereby Her Majesty ' did declare 'and make known the abandonment and renunciation 'of our dominion and sovereignty over the said terri'tory and the inhabitants thereof.' One main difficulty in cases of .cession relates to the allegiance of the inhabitants of the ceded territory. In the course of the negotiations for the cession of the Orange River Territory in 1854 the Duke of Newcastle, then Colonial Secretary, wrote to the Governor of the Cape as follows: 'With respect to the allegiance of the inhabitants who 'may have been born in British dominions either
1 Hantard, vol. clix. 230, 231.
Responsibilities of Colonial Governors. 415
'within or without the sovereignty, there is, I believe, 'little doubt that no measure resting on the Queen's 'Prerogative only for its authority, could release them 'from the tie of such negative allegiance. An Act of 'Parliament would be required for such a purpose.'1
(iii.) The position of the Governor of a Crown Colony, in reference both to the Colony and to the Crown whose agent he is, can be understood from the following passage in a speech delivered by Sir Arthur Gordon, Governor of Fiji, in Aberdeen on November 15th, 1878. He said: 'The Governor of a Crown Colony not only
* reigns but governs in the strictest sense. All sub
* ordinate officers act in accordance with his directions. 'He is responsible for their shortcomings if he fails to 'correct them. They are liable to suspension at his
* will. The Legislature is so constructed as to enable 'him to secure, should he deem it necessary, the pas'sage of any enactment he may frame. He is in the
* Colony the ultimate referee on almost every con'ceivable subject of administration or legislation. He 'is called on to consider a multiplicity of questions, 'great and small, having no relation to one another, 'and the strain upon the mind of keeping all of which 'before it must be felt to be appreciated. Indepen'dently of the greater objects which daily occupy him, 'he is constantly required to form opinions and give 'decisions upon a hundred topics. He is never free 'from harness, he cannot delegate his functions to 'another, his work is not limited by any office hours. 'It is evident that where such powers are committed 'and such duties imposed great responsibilities are
1 Forsyth's Otues and Opiniont, p. 184.
'incurred, and that to discharge them efficiently is no 'light task. In all Crown Colonies there exist (and it 1 is the reason for the maintenance of so peculiar a form 'of constitution) two or more different races, to neither 'of which can safely be entrusted the charge of govern'ing the other, and the existence of which is the cause 'of the establishment of what is in fact a species of 'despotism, modified by a power of appeal to the 'Imperial Government at home, and by the action of 'public opinion and common sense upon the mere legal 'rights of the post. The first qualification, therefore, 'that the Governor of such a Colony should possess is 'the power of entering alike into the views, modes of 'thought, and objects of interest of other races than 'his own. And next, a judicial impartiality in the 'power of applying that knowledge as between them 'where their interests are or seem to be at variance. 'He should possess a knowledge of the relations under 'which in past times men of one race have held 'sway over those of another, or those of different races 'have lived together under one Government—relations 'the history of which may in almost every case serve as a 'guide, either by way of warning or example. He 'should be imbued with the legislative spirit. 1 do 'not mean to say that he should be the slave of for'malised law in the strict shape in which it is best * known to him at home, or that he should be anxiously 'eager to apply all the technicalities of the English 'law, in an indiscriminate manner, among those un'acquainted with it; but he should be penetrated by 'the spirit of law, and able to clothe that spirit with 'the various shapes which may best suit a rude and 'uncivilised people, or least chafe the sensitiveness of
Temptations of the Colonial Department. 417
peculiar forms of ancient civilisation, and least interfere with such good elements as may be found to exist in such ancient civilisation. I entirely concur in the sentiments expressed by Lord Carnarvon with regard to the ability, industry, and singleness of purpose which is shown by the higher permanent officials of the Colonial Department; but it is no doubt the case that economy of administration, and an avoidance of all questions likely to lead to Parliamentary discussions, are eagerly desired by the Imperial Government. It is natural that it should be so, nay, more, it is right it should be so; but a knowledge of this fact may, in such a case as I have supposed, sometimes deter from making applications for even necessary expenditure, and occasion some reluctance freely to state unsatisfactory truths. Or a man, who has, perhaps, served long and well in other parts of the world, may be inclined to look on the appointment he has received as a reward for past service, and desire indolently to enjoy its fruits. He may do so with little fear of external rebuke, and, perhaps, without selfreproach, but he then cannot help permitting power to pass from his own hands into those of some local potentate. He has to shut his eyes to acts of petty jobbery, and does not care to rouse himself to perceive the need for measures of reform. He not only takes pains to avoid running counter to the passions or prejudices of influential classes—for that every prudent man would do—but fears even to touch abuses profitable to those whose hostility, if roused, could make his life uncomfortable, and destroy the peace and ease he covets.'
The problems before a Secretary of State for the
Colonies are thus, in respect of the Crown Colonies, co-extensive with the whole field of politics. In respect of the Colonies having Constitutions granted them by Parliament he has less despotic functions, indeed, to perform, but those which he has are of the highest importance and involve the loftiest sort of responsibility. He has not only the often arduous task of advising the Crown with respect to assenting to the Acts of Colonial Legislatures, and for that purpose determining which of those Acts relate to the Colony only, and which extend in their effects to the British dominions generally, but also of providing for the defence of the Colonies, and from time to time assisting Governors and Legislatures, or their delegates occasionally sent to this country, with counsel or help in and outside of the British Parliament. Little more need be said in proof of the crowd of delicate questions which press on the attention of a Colonial Secretary, and which call for proportionate attention of Parliament in checking the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, than is implied in merely adverting to some of the pending questions waiting for the intervention of the ColonialSecretary in the early part of the year 1879. Besides the long-standing dispute between the two Houses of the Legislature in Victoria, a question had arisen whether Sir Bryan O'Loghlen, M.P. for County Clare, had or had not vacated his seat, under the statute of Anne, through having accepted the office of Attorney-General of Victoria, which was alleged to be a place of profit under the Crown. The question turned upon the extent to which, for the purposes of the Statute, the Governor of the Colony, who presented to the office, personated the Crown. The matter was finally referred