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VIEWS OF EARL GREY.
Earl Grey, who was secretary of state for the British colonial department during Lord John Russell's administration, in the introduction to his series of letters to Lord Russell in defense of the colonial system adopted during that administration and since retained, discusses the colonial office and its functions as follows: “I would observe, with reference to the vague declamation on the absurdity of the attempt to govern the colonies from Downing street, of which we have heard so much, that it would undoubtedly be in the highest degree absurd to attempt to govern from Downing street if this is to be understood in the sense of directing from thence all the measures of the local authorities; but I am not aware that such an attempt has at any period of our history been thought of. It is obvious that if the colonies are not to become independent States, some kind of authority must be exercised by the Government at home. It will conduce to a clearer understanding of the subject to consider by what means any control over its dependencies is now practically maintained by the mother country and to what extent that control ought to be carried on. The authority of the home Government over the colonies is exercised mainly in two ways: First, by the appointment of governors, and, second, by sanctioning or disallowing the measures of the local governments of which these officers are at the head. It is also exercised sometimes, but much more rarely, by prescribing measures for their adoption. With regard to the selection of governors, though I am aware that the contrary opinion has sometimes been expressed, it appears to me clear that if we are to have colonies at all the appointment of their governors must necessarily be retained by the Crown, since I do not perceive by what means any real authority or control could be exercised over the executive government of the colonies by the advisers of the Crown. But though the governors of the colonies ought, in my opinion, always to be named by the Crown, the nature and extent of the powers intrusted to them must differ widely in different cases. In the settlements on the west coast of Africa the governors substantially exercise both executive and legislative authority, limited only by an appeal to the home Government. In Canada the legislative assembly has not only the chief power of legislation, but also virtually a large share of executive authority. Between these two extremes there are many intermediate degrees of more or less power being exercised by the governors of different colonies. * In proportion as governors become more independent of any local control it becomes necessary that some should be exercised over them from home, and in those colonies where they are unchecked by any kind of representative institutions it is the duty of the secretary of state to maintain a vigilant superintendence over their proceedings. Although he ought, as I perceive, to abstain from any meddling interference in the details of their administration and to support their authority as long as they appear to deserve his confidence, and rather to advise their recall when they cease to do so than to fetter their discretion by detailed instructions, he is yet bound to attend to complaints which may be made against their measures and prescribe for their guidance the general line of policy to be pursued. These rules as to the degree of interference to be exercised by the secretary of state are equally applicable to the legislative and executive measures of the local authorities in the colonies. But while I am of opinion that the authority of the Crown, of which the secretary of state is the depositary, should be used in all cases with great caution, I can not concur with those who would prohibit all interference on the part of the home Government in the internal affairs of the colonies. It seems to have been overlooked by those who insist that such interference must always be improper that this would in some cases imply leaving a dominant population, perhaps even a dominant minority, to govern the rest of the community without check or control.
“To permit the government of a distant colony to be carried on notwithstanding the operation of corruption which might be known to exist, would not be consistent with any but very low views of the duties belonging to the responsible advisers of the Sovereign. * * * But even where the interference of the home Government is not necessary for the protection of a part of the population too ignorant and weak to protect itself, there is another consideration which may require the exercise of some control over the proceedings of the local governments with regard to the internal affairs of the colonies. Every act of these governments is done in the name and by the authority of the Sovereign; hence the honor of the Crown must be compromised by any injustice or violation of good faith which it has the power to prevent being committed by the local authorities. * * Any interference on the part of the minister with measures of purely internal administration in the colonies is to be deprecated, except in very special circumstances; but I am convinced that it may sometimes be called for, and it is therefore expedient to trust averting the evils and dangers which must arise rather to the discretion with which the powers now vested in the Crown are exercised than to a limitation of those powers by new legal restrictions. * * * I consider it to be the obvious duty and interest of this country to extend representative institutions to every one of its dependencies where this can be done with safety; but I believe that in some cases representative governments could not be safely created and that some form of representative institutions is by no means applicable to colonies in different stages of social progress. The principal bar to the establishment of representative governments in colonies is their being inhabited by a population of which a large proportion is not of European race and has not made such progress in civilization as to be capable of exercising with advantage the privilege of self-government. * * Hence it appears to me that a surrender of the large portion of the powers now exercised by the servants of the Crown would not be calculated to insure the administration of the government on principles of justice and an enlightened regard for the welfare of all classes in those communities. This end may, I believe, be far better attained by maintaining for the present in those colonies the existing system of government. It would be a great mistake to suppose that because the inhabitants are not entitled to elect any of the members of the legislature it provides no securities against abuses. In the first place, the press is perfectly free and the newspapers comment upon all the measures of the government not only with entire liberty, but with the most unbounded license, and the force both of public opinion and also, to a considerable degree, opinion in this country is thus brought to bear upon all measures of the administration. Every inhabitant of the colonies is also entitled to freely address to the secretary of state any complaints or remarks he may think proper on the measures of the local authorities, subject only to the rule that such letters shall be transmitted through the hands of the governor, who is bound to forward them in order that he may at the same time send such explanations on the subject as appear to him to be called for. This privilege was largely exercised and is the means of supplying much information. * * * The publicity given to the estimates of the accounts in colonial expenditure and the rule that the drafts of all proposed ordinances shall be published before being passed have enabled the colonists to bring under the consideration of the governors and legislative councils, and ultimately of the secretary of state, any objections they have entertained to proposed ordinances or financial arrangements. Every encouragement has been given them to make known their opinions freely both to the local and home governments, and the most careful consideration has been given to their views, especially when these have been stated by the chambers of commerce or municipal bodies, the advice and assistance of which in the administration of colonial affairs are in my judgment of the highest value."
LAWMAKING FOR THE COLONIES. Having provided for the creation of a colonial department to give personal supervision to the affairs of the colonies, the appointment of governors to administer laws, and the appointment of part or all of the legislative bodies, the French Government intrusts the remainder of the work to the colonies. The French Government, after a series of experiments, decided to determine through national legislation all matters pertaining to the tariffs of its colonies, but in most other matters the details are left to the local or colonial government. Before the Revolution the French colonies were entirely subordinate to the mother country, and the details of their affairs regulated chiefly by it. In 1825 the experiment of giving a large measure of self-government to the colonies was made, but this power was greatly reduced in 1841; but another change took place in 1854, which gave a greater autonomy to the colonies in matters of lawmaking and administration, and in 1892 the French Government again assumed charge of the tariff laws of the colonies. Tariff regulations are in most cases based upon the French tariff, with concessions and changes suited to local interests. In some cases high rates of duties, or absolute prohibition, are applied to protect or encourage colonial industries, and in the less advanced colonies special tariffs are made through the action of the French Government, modified from time to time upon the recommendations of the government or legislative body of the colony. In more than half of the French colonies the tariff of France now applies in the colony, and there is freedom of interchange between the colony and the mother country. A distinguished officer of the French department of colonies, writing on this subject recently, said that the French Government now considers practically all of its colonies, except those of West Africa, as mere extensions of the mother country, and applies the tariff of France in them (with some slight modifications), giving complete freedom of exchange between the colonies and the home country except in a few articles, notably sugar coming into France from the colonies, on which a duty is placed as a protection to the sugar industry of France.
Prof. Edwin R. A. Seligman, in Essays on Colonial Finance, published by the American Economic Association in August, 1900, says of the French colonies: “Although the home Government is invested with the duty of fixing the tariff for all the colonies, the colonial councils have the right of pointing out to the home office the modifications which are desirable for each special colony. A few such changes have been made, chiefly in the direction of lower duties or complete exemption, but the deviations from the general French tariff are insignificant. There are only two colonies without tariff duties, namely, Obock and the towns of French India. In addition to the general tariff duties, tonnage, navigation, and harbor dues are to be found in almost every colony."
“The purely local and municipal expenses of the colonies,” continues Professor Seligman, “are defrayed to a large extent by the octroi de mer. This is a tax upon all kinds of commodities, especially articles of food coming in by water. It takes the place of the local octroi in the mother country, but can not be fixed independently by the colonies. They have the right of formulating the tentative scheme, but their decision must obtain the approval of the council in state in Paris not only as to the tax itself, but also in respect to the methods of administration."
The revenues of the French colonies are chiefly derived from tariff, local taxation, income from colonial property, and subventions from the home Government. The method of creating the tariff laws has been already explained. Local taxation in the colonies is modeled largely upon the French system, but controlled by local legislation. The lawmaking bodies which frame the laws for raising revenue and other local regulations are elected in a few of the old colonies and in others are in part appointed from the home Government and in part elective. A land tax exists in most of the colonies, but in some applies only to land upon which houses are built. In the French Antilles sugar lands are exempt from taxation, but a special export duty is placed on sugar, and a similar rule is followed in regard to salt lands in Cochin China, India, and Caledonia. Poll taxes, business taxes, and taxes upon spirituous liquors and tobacco are common to most of the French colonies, and in cases where the local taxation proves insufficient appeal is made to the home Government, and this is recognized by subventions or annual appropriations, which bring the colonial appropriation of the French budget up to about 100,000,000 francs annually. In the matter of laws and regulations for maintaining order, municipal regulations, etc., the details of lawmaking are intrusted to the local legislative bodies, of which the officers appointed by the home Government always form an important part. The more important of these are submitted to the home Government for approval.
In the Dutch colonies the general regulations have been many years in force and are an adaptation in part of the local customs which existed among the natives, and in part laws framed by the governor and his assistants, who have absolute power in the creation of laws and regulations, the more important of which are submitted to the home office and Government for approval.
In the newer colonies of the German and Belgian Governments regulations are framed largely by the governors and their local aids, assisted in some cases by the military, and are subject to the approval of the home Government.
In the British colonies the details of lawmaking and enforcement are left more largely to the local authorities. In the colonies having “representative institutions and responsible government,” that is, Australasia, Cape Colony, Natal, and Canada, all laws are enacted by legislative bodies similar in general character to the Congress of the United States, each having an upper and lower body, though in Natal the members of the upper body are named by the governor, while in Canada the members of the upper house, or senate, are appointed by the governor for life. All laws so passed are subject to the approval or rejection of the governor-general, who is appointed by the home Government. The more important are submitted to the home Government for approval.
In India, according to the Statesman's Year-Book, “the legislative body consists of the governor-general's council, expanded into a legislative council by the addition of sixteen additional members, who are nominated by the viceroy.” The council of the governorgeneral which is thus "expanded into a legislative council by the addition of sixteen members” consists of five ordinary members appointed by the Crown and the commander in chief of the Government forces in India. The lieutenant-governor is also a member of the legislative council. This council has power, subject to certain restrictions, to make laws for all persons within India, for all British subjects within the native States, and for all native (Indian) subjects of the King in any part of the world. The proceedings in the legislative council are public. The governors of Madras and Bombay are appointed by the Crown, and each of them has an executive council, consisting of two members of the Indian civil service, appointed by the Crown. The lieutenant-governors are appointed by the governor-general, with the approval of the Crown. The governors of Madras and Bombay and the four lieutenant-governors each have legislative councils of their own. Although all the provinces are under the control of the Government of India, they enjoy much administrative independence, varying with their importance. Each province is usually broken up into divisions under commissioners, and then subdivided into districts, which form the units of administration. At the head of each district is an executive officer (collector magistrate or deputy commissioner) who has entire control of the district, and is responsible to the governor of the province. Subordinate to the magistrate there are a joint magistrate and assistant magistrate, and one or more deputy collectors and other officials. In some cases the magistrate collector is also a judge. There are about 247 such districts in British India. In addition to these, the governor exercises control over the native States in various degrees, but they are all governed by native princes, ministers, or councils, with the help and under the advice of a British resident or agent in political charge either of a single State or group of States. The chiefs have no right to make war or peace, or send ambassadors to each other or to external States, and the supreme (British) Government can exercise the right of dethronement in case of misgovernment. By the local self-government acts of 1882 and 1884 the elective principle has been extended in a large or small measure all over India. In the larger towns, and many of the smaller ones, the majority of members of committees are elected by the taxpayers, and everywhere the majority of town committees consists of natives, and in many committees all the members are natives. There are 754 municipal towns in which the municipal bodies have the care of roads, water supply, drains, markets, sanitation, the imposition of taxes, and the making of improvements and general expenditures, but the sanction of the provincial government is necessary before new taxes can be levied. The general laws are subject to approval by the home Government, but are seldom subjected to adverse action, the views of the home Government on the more important measures being determined by correspondence before action is taken.
THE LAWMAKING BODIES IN THE BRITISH CROWN COLONIES.
The share of the lawmaking and the methods by which legislation is accomplished in the colonies other than those already referred to (namely, those having “representative institutions and responsible governments” and British India) may be best described by the following statements from the British Colonial Office List of 1901, the colonies being arranged in the groups already indicated, viz: (1) Those having a legislative council partly elected; (2) those having a legislative council nominated entirely by the Crown; and (3) those having no legislative council, the legislative power being delegated to the officer administering the government. The descriptions of the methods of local legislation are inserted in this chapter with the purpose of showing the share which the home Government has in the lawmaking of the colonies through governors appointed by the home office and legislative bodies named in part or full by the home Government.
Under the first-mentioned class, colonies having a legislative council partly elected, are the following:
Bahamas.--The executive government is conducted by the governor, who is appointed by the Crown, aided by an executive council of nine members. The legislative authority resides in the governor, the legislative council of nine members nominated by the Crown, and a representative assembly of twenty-nine members elected for fourteen districts by persons owning land to the value of £5 or occupying houses of the rental of £2 8s. in New Providence or half that amount in outlying islands. The qualifications of electors are a village residence of twelve months. The executive council is composed partly of official and partly of unofficial members, who have a seat in one of the branches of the legislature.
Barbados.—The colony possesses free representative institutions, but not a responsible government. The Crown has only a veto on legislation, but the home Government retains the appointment and control of public officers. The local government consists of a governor and legislative council, composed of nine members appointed by the Crown, and a house of assembly having twenty-four members, elected annually on the basis of a moderate franchise.
Bermuda.—The laws of the colony are enacted by a local legislature consisting of the governor, a legislative council, and a house of assembly. The legislative council consists of nine appointed members, three of whom are official and six unofficial. The house of assembly consists of thirty-six members, four of whom are elected by each of the nine parishes.
British Guiana.—The laws and general methods of legislation are based upon those introduced by the Dutch during their control. The law making and enforcing power consists of a governor, a court of policy, and the combined court. The governor is appointed by the home Government, as in all British colonies. The court of policy consists of the governor, seven official and eight elected members. Its duties are purely legislative, the administrative functions being performed by an executive council. It passes all laws and ordinances except the annual tax ordinance, which is passed by the combined court, which also has the power of auditing public accounts and discussing the annual estimates prepared by the Government in executive council.
Cyprus.—The duties of colonial governor are performed by an officer styled “high commissioner," and the laws are enacted by a legislative body consisting of the high commissioner, six appointed and twelve elective members, three of whom are chosen by the Mohammedan and nine by the non-Mohammedan inhabitants of the island.
Jamaica.—The lawmaking body is a council consisting of the governor and five ex officio members, and such other persons, not exceeding ten in number, as the Crown may from time to time appoint, or as the governor may provisionally appoint, and fourteen persons to be elected by the people of the island. There are elected periodically boards in Kingston and certain parishes with jurisdiction over roads, markets, sanitation, poor relief, waterworks, and pounds. The parish is the unit of local government, and each parish has its own parochial institutions, poorhouses, etc., managed by the parochial board of the parish, the members of which are elective. There is a high court of justice and petty sessions of magistrates throughout the island.
Leeward Islands.—Legislation is enacted by a legislative council consisting of eight official and eight elective members. The elected members are chosen by the elective members of the local councils of the more important islands of the group, and must be, and continue to be, members of their respective local councils. The official members of the legislative council are the governor, colonial secretary, attorney-general, auditor-general, and administrators of the more important islands of the group.
Malta.-The government is administered by a governor, advised and assisted by an executive council of ten members. Legislation is carried on by means of a partly elected council of government, which consists of six official and thirteen elected members, three of whom are returned by special electors and chosen from the classes of nobles, university graduates, and members of the chambers of commerce, respectively.
Mauritius.—The government consists of a governor and an executive council of five official and two elected members, and a legislative council of twenty-seven members, eight being ex officio, nine nominated by the governor, and ten elected on a modern franchise.
The second class, colonies having a legislative council nominated by the Crown, which reserves the power of legislating by orders in council, includes the following:
British Honduras.—The executive council consists of the governor and five members, three of whom are ex officio and the other two appointed members. The legislative council consists of three official and five unofficial members, all appointed. The English common law extends to the colony as far as local circumstances permit, subject to modifications by colonial ordinances.
British New Guinea. ---Legislation s effected by means of a local legislature named by the Crown, which consists, with one exception, of the officers of the government. The drafts of laws are submitted to the governor of Queensland before they are passed, and any law may be disallowed by the Crown. All government measures are subject to the final direction of the secretary of state for the colonies.
Ceylon.—The government is administered by a governor, aided by an executive council of five members, namely, the lieutenantgovernor and colonial secretary, the officer commanding the troops, the attorney-general, the auditor-general, and the treasurer. The legislative council consists of seventeen members, including the members of the executive council, four other officeholders, and eight nominated unofficial members. The island is divided into nine provinces, presided over by government agents, who, with their assistants and subordinate headmen, are the channels of communication between the Government and the people.
Falkland Islands.—The government is administered by a governor aided by an executive and a legislative council. The legislative council is composed of the governor, the chief justice, the colonial secretary, the treasurer, the colonial surgeon, and two unofficial members appointed by the home Government.
Fiji Islands.—The executive council consists of the governor and four official members. The legislative council consists of the governor, six official and six unofficial nominated members. A share of self-government has been given to the natives, their system of village and district councils recognized and improved and supplemented by an annual meeting of the chiefs and representatives from each province presided over by the governor. The regulations recommended by these bodies are submitted to the legislative council, and, if approved, become law. The colony is divided into seventeen provinces, each under the control of a European commissioner, while each province is subdivided into districts with a native officer in charge. The provincial council, consisting of the natives in charge of the districts, distributes taxes among the different districts, and these are subdivided among the different villages by the district councils.
Gambia.—The executive council consists of an officer appointed by the Crown, designated as administrator, a treasurer, chief magistrate, and collector of revenues. The legislative council consists of the administrator, treasurer, chief magistrate, collector of customs, and two unofficial members. The traveling commissioners travel throughout the protectorate during the eight months of dry weather to enforce order and keep the commissioner and government advised regarding conditions among the natives.
Gold Coast.-The government is conducted by an executive council and a legislative council. The former consists of the governor, colonial secretary, attorney-general, treasurer, and inspector-general of constabulary. The legislative council is composed of the members of the executive council with the addition of the chief justice and three unofficial appointive members.
Hongkong.–The government is administered by a governor, aided by an executive council composed of six official and two unofficial members. The legislative council is presided over by the governor and composed of seven official and six unofficial members, three of whom are nominated by the Crown on the recommendation of the governor (two being usually Chinese), one is nominated by the justices of the peace, and one by the chamber of commerce.
Lagos.-The government is conducted by a governor, assisted by an executive and a legislative council. The latter includes four nominated unofficial members. The law consists entirely of local ordinances, orders in council, and such English acts as are of general application.
Seychelles.—The governing and lawmaking bodies are: The executive council, consisting of an officer appointed by the home Government, entitled administrator, the Crown prosecutor, the treasurer, the collector, and the deputy collector; the legislative council, inluding the administrator, the legal adviser, treasurer, collector, and the auditor.
Sierra Leone.—The government is conducted by a governor and an executive and a legislative council. The executive council consists of the governor, the officer commanding the troops, colonial secretary, colonial treasurer, and collector of customs. The legislative council consists of the governor, the chief justice, the officer commanding the troops, the colonial secretary, the attorneygeneral, and colonial treasurer, in addition to three nominated unofficial members.
Straits Settlements. --The government of the Straits Settlements proper consists of the governor, aided by an executive and a legislative council, the latter body consisting of nine official and seven unofficial members, of whom two are nominated by the chambers of commerce of Singapore and Penang. The law in force is contained in local ordinances and such English and Indian acts and orders in council as have been made applicable to the colony. The Indian penal code has been adopted with slight modifications and there is a civil procedure code based on the English judicature act. The supreme court holds assizes at Singapore and Penang every two months, and quarterly at Malacca, and also holds civil sittings monthly at Singapore and Penang, and once a quarter at Malacca. The government of the Straits Settlements has in recent years been extended to several states on the Malayan Peninsula which are now termed the Federated States of the Malayan Peninsula. The necessity for a permanent form of government came to be recognized both by the officials of those states and by those of adjacent territory, by reason of the constant unsettled conditions, and through agreement with their chiefs the British Government extended its protection over them, appointing British resident officials to reside at their capitals, consult with their chief officers, and aid in framing and carrying out laws and regulations. The supreme authority in each state is vested in a state council, consisting of the highest native chiefs, presided over by the Sultan, or ruler of the state, who is assisted by the British resident. These British residents are appointed by the home Government and are subordinate to a residentgeneral and to the high commissioner for the Federated Malay States, who is also the governor of the Straits Settlements. The administration of each state is carried on, as far as possible, on the model of the Crown colonies.
The third class, colonies in which no legislative council exists, the legislative power being delegated to the officer administering the government, includes:
Basutoland. The territory is governed by a resident commissioner under the direction of the high commissioner for South Africa, the latter possessing legislative authority for Basutoland, which is exercised by proclamations. For fiscal and other
purposes the country is divided into seven districts, each of which is presided over by an assistant commissioner. Each of these districts is subdivided into wards, presided over by hereditary chiefs.
Gibraltar.—There is no executive or any legislative body. The governor, who is also the governor commanding the garrison, exercises all the functions of government and legislation.
St. Helena.--The government is administered by a governor, aided by an executive council. The other members of the council are the lieutenant-colonel commanding the British troops and two appointed members. The governor alone makes ordinances, there being no legislative council.
Niger Territories.—The Niger Territories were secured to Great Britain by nearly five hundred treaties made by the Royal Niger Company with native chiefs and recognized by the Anglo-German agreement of 1885 and the Anglo-French agreement of 1890. The company retained control of the territory until the year 1900, when it was transferred to the British Government and divided into Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. The government of the Royal Niger Company had been conducted chiefly from England by the governor and council who initiated all legislation and from whom emanated all orders regarding the employment of the troops on punitive expeditions. The same body revised the sentences of the supreme court, which was established at the capital of the Niger territory, and which consisted of two judges who alternately served in Africa. Three senior officers had the general administration of the divisions of the country, and subdivisions of districts were under control of district officers who held small cause courts. In the administration adopted since the transfer of the territory to the British Government in 1900 a high commissioner has been appointed as the chief officer representing the Government, and two residents provided for two provinces of Northern Nigeria, with seven assistant residents. A supreme court serves as a court of appeal for both southern and northern Nigeria, the residents, who are intrusted with large powers, holding provincial courts. The attorney-general acts as legal adviser to the government. There is no legislative or executive council, and the high commissioner has the power to make laws under the name of proclamations. A high commissioner is also appointed for Southern Nigeria, and the general method of government is similar to that described for Northern Nigeria.
Rhodesia.-Rhodesia, in South Africa, is governed by the British South Africa Company, subject, however, to the general supervision of the high commissioner for South Africa, who is appointed by the Crown. The Rhodesia country was granted to the British South Africa Company in 1889, with large powers of administration, to extend railway and telegraph systems, encourage immigration, promote trade and commerce, and work mineral and other concessions, the grant to continue twenty-five years. A A constitution has been adopted which creates a legislative council composed of the senior administrator, the resident commissioner, the administrator of Matabeleland, and five nominated and four elected members. The senior administrator is advised by an executive council consisting of seven members. The laws of Cape Colony are in force in Rhodesia as far as circumstances will permit, but these are subject to specific provisions, which give certain powers to resident commissioners and magistrates, and under certain circumstances to native chiefs. The judicial establishment consists of a high court, with two judges, the attorney-general, jhe solicitor-general, local magistrates, and assistant magistrates at various towns and settlements throughout the territory. The high commissioner has general control over legislation, important appointments, and native affairs, and the authority to appoint an imperial resident commissioner and an imperial commandant of the armed forces.
LAWS FRAMED IN THE COLONIES SELDOM REJECTED BY THE HOME GOVERNMENT. It is proper to add that the laws framed by the local legislative bodies of the various colonies above described are seldom disapproved or rejected by the home Government. Important measures are usually submitted to the colonial office through correspondence before final action is taken upon them, and in the most important cases before they are considered in detail by the local legislature. By this process the joint opinion of the governor, the executive council, and the legislative council is combined in the law finally enacted; and since the colonial office and home Government have confidence in these officials in the colonies, most of whom are named by the home office and Government, their judgment in regard to the laws framed and enacted is generally accepted. The fact that the administration of the laws is in many cases carried on through cooperation with the native headmen and officials of the colonies, which are divided into districts for that purpose, gives to the executive officers and lawmakers of such colony the benefit of the views of the native headmen, as well as an enlarged view for the officials themselves, who operate through them, and to this extent local autonomy in the making and administration of laws.
A MODERN FRENCH VIEW OF ENGLISH METHODS. On the question of the lawmaking power granted to the British colonies, M. Maurice Ordinaire, a writer in the French colonial periodical, “Questions Diplomatiques et Coloniales," of June 15, 1900, says:
“The principal feature of the British colonial régime is the autonomy of the colonies. This autonomy, pushed to the utmost limits in the case of the self-governing colonies, exists, however, in a large degree, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, in the Crown colonies as well. In theory, the latter are regarded as possessions of the mother country and directly governed by it. In practice the régime is more liberal, the colonies enjoying quite a large amount of autonomy, thanks to the discreet use the Government makes of its large prerogatives, reserved to the Crown, as well as the initiative which it leaves to the functionaries, who are carefully selected and vested with considerable powers. By acting in such a manner the central Government not only follows the precepts of common sensewhich condemns the administration of colonies from a distance by means of more or less well-informed bureaus (as a matter of fact, the British colonial administration commits most of its blunders whenever it interferes directly with the affairs of colonies)—but it also follows in this national tradition.
“The Englishman, indeed, unless he be blinded by the mania of conquest, which makes him lose all sense of justice, respects the freedom of collective bodies and communities, as well as the freedom of the individual, to a degree unknown on the Continent. He does not show the solicitude, full of generous intentions but as a matter of fact tyrannical, which causes other nations to tighten beyond any reasonable measure the bonds which attach them to the colonies, to impose on them laws which are unfit for them and merely impede each of their movements—and this for the reason that the laws are those of the mother country and as such regarded the very best in the world.
“The Briton admits that individuals of another race, living under other climes, may have different wants and ideas from those held by himself. He does not pretend to assimilate' brethren of all colors, whose brains, for the present at least, are not quite as well developed as his own. Neither does he think that he has fulfilled his whole duty toward them and assured their happiness forever when he grants them political rights which they do not know how to make use of. He thinks, quite the contrary, that for primitive societies such as colonies are there are more urgent liberties than a mere formal and ostentatious franchise (franchise d'apparat), and that the primary benefit (le premier des biens) to be conferred upon them is a régime which develops their initiative, teaches them responsibility, and favors their economic ascendancy.
“To be sure it is not alone the interests of the colonies which is his motive of action. If he desires to make of them as soon as possible strong and prosperous colonies, fitted with a complete governmental system and provided with all the means necessary for independent existence, his chief motive is to relieve the mother country as speedily as possible from its responsibilities and financial burdens.
“His dream, it seems, is an England placed amidst an immense confederation of colonies, the latter grouped in such a manner as to be independent financially and administratively, as well as in other ways, so that the mother country, instead of care, worry, expense, and danger, should enjoy only the magnificent advantages of prestige, security, and a good commercial clientèle.”