British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

executive authority, and that the nation is entrusted with a voice in the councils by which it is governed. All pretence for the clamour which has been raised for the institution of a deliberative assembly will be at once annihilated. A regular channel of complaint will be open to every class of the inhabitants, and with so powerful a representation in the council, it will be impossible that they should petition in vain. . . .


30
MALTA: LORD BATHURST TO GOVERNOR SIR THOMAS MAITLAND, 28 July 18131

War Department.

. . . The chief authority is vested in the person of the Governor. This officer will hold the King's commission as such, and also as Vice-Admiral of Malta and its dependencies. It is the opinion of His Majesty's Government that it is highly advantageous to unite the civil and military authorities in the same person, and you will hold the chief command of His Majesty's land forces upon the Island.

The authority of the Governor is limited only by the orders of the King. He is responsible to His Majesty and to his country for his conduct; but his discretion is not to be shackled by any person or by any body of persons resident in Malta. If, however, you shall see fit (either for the better transaction of public business or for other sufficient reasons) to form a Council for the investigation and discussion of such matters relating to the civil interests of the Island as you may think proper to lay before it, you are authorized to do so; observing that the number of members shall not exceed six, exclusive of the Governor, and that the Bishop of Malta, the President of the High Court of Appeal, the Public Secretary, and the Treasurer of the Island shall sit in this Council, the other members to be named at your discretion.

No business shall be discussed in this Council but what shall have been brought before them by the Governor himself. The members shall not vote, but merely deliver their opinions and advice, and in case any member shall, after the discussion, disapprove of the course which the Governor may pursue, he shall be at liberty to transmit in writing within twenty-four hours a statement of his reasons for dissenting, and if the member requires it the Governor shall be obliged to send home this protest to the Secretary of State. Having thus

____________________
1
W. Hardman, op. cit., pp. 527-8. . Lieut.-GeneralSir Thomas Maitland had served in India and the West Indies. He was appointed Governor of Ceylon in 1806 and of Malta in 1813. In December 1815 he was made Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. He was a very able, if somewhat arbitrary and opinionated, administrator. See C. W. Dixon, The Colonial Administration of Sir Thomas Maithand, Lond. 1939.

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