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a sum not exceeding £2000 currency, which was to be appropriated for lighting and establishing a watch in Bridgetown. This was the first step towards the establishment of a police in Bridgetown, and the civilized custom of lighting its streets1.
The rules and regulations of the establishment were only brought up on the 12th of July 1814. They authorized the Vestry to elect annually a committee, consisting of seven persons of St. Michael's, who were to appoint the watch at night, which was to consist of twenty-four able men: the hours for keeping guard and watch at night were to be from seven o'clock in the evening until six o'clock in the morning. Fifty lamps were to be fixed up in the principal streets of the town; and a superintendent was to be elected, with a salary of £100 currency, to direct the execution of this new arrangement. The bye-laws regulated the proceedings when disorderly persons were taken up, and in what manner they were to be brought before a Justice of the Peace. These bye-laws, rules and regulations were approved of on the 4th of October 1814, and were renewed from time to time in subsequent years.
The changes connected with the emancipation of the negroes, in 1834, rendered the establishment of an effective police throughout the island necessary. The bye-laws, ordinances and regulations for the good government of Bridgetown and the effective establishment of a rural police, passed the Legislature and received the sanction of the Governor respectively on the 16th of November and 10th of December 1835.
The abolition of slavery in the British dominions has produced great changes in the social state and policy of the West Indian colonies; and although such a measure could not affect the framework, it changed the details of the constitution, especially in the judicial establishment and the practice of the law-courts, the qualification of electors, &c. The following pages exhibit the constitution by which the island is governed at present.
The present Constitution.—The local government of Barbados consists of a Governor-in-Chief assisted by a Council, corresponding to the House of Lords, and a House of Assembly analogous to the House of Commons. The Governor has the title of Excellency, and is invested with the chief civil and military authority. He is also Chancellor, Ordinary, and Vice-Admiral. The offices of Chancellor and Ordinary are incident to
1 London streets were first lighted by oil-lamps in 1681, and with gas-lamps in 1814. Some particular streets had been lighted with gas much earlier, as Pall-mall in 1809. The London police grew out of the London watch instituted about 1253. The force was remodelled by Mr. (afterwards Sir Robert) Peel in June 1829, and commenced duty on the 29th of September following.
2 The eighth clause of the bye-laws stipulated that no cart or waggon was to be admitted further than the limits of the town earlier than five o'clock in the morning; a regulation which is still in force to this day.
that of Governor, but as Vice-Admiral he is appointed by the Queen by letters-patent under the seal of the High Court of Admiralty. He is entitled to the rights of jetsam, flotsam, and ligan, and in times of war he issues his warrant to the Judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty to grant commissions to privateers. His annual salary is £4000 sterling, from funds voted by the imperial Parliament. There is a government-house for his residence, partly furnished by the colony and kept in repair, and £80 currency1 are annually allowed for a gardener. The Governor of Barbados is Governor-in-Chief and Vice-Admiral of the islands of St. Vincent, Grenada, Tobago, and St. Lucia, with their dependencies. As Governor-in-Chief of St. Lucia he receives from the revenue of that island £500 sterling a year, in addition to his salary of £4000 as Governor-in-Chief of the four other islands.
In his executive capacity the Governor is entitled to nominate and the officers of militia, and to appoint under certain restrictions persons to offices pro tempore whenever a vacancy occurs by death or removal; these appointments are however subjected to the approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He suspends at will all officers of the civil government who have incurred his displeasure, until the will of the Crown be known.
In the case of the death or absence of the Governor, the President of the Council is directed by the Sovereign's instructions to administer the government: his power is however more circumscribed than that of the Governor. He cannot dissolve the Assembly existing at the time he assumes the government, neither can he remove or suspend any civil or military officer, except it be with the consent of at least seven members of the Council; nor is he allowed to issue a new commission of the peace.
In case of the death, removal, or resignation of the President, he is succeeded by the oldest member of the Council, who, if he should decline the dignity, retrocedes and becomes in consequence the junior member of the Board2.
The Council have by courtesy, while in the colony, the title of Honourable, and consist of twelve members, who (generally upon the recommendation of the Governor) are appointed by mandamus of the Sove
1 Equal to £54 19s. sterling.
2 There has recently been an exception to this case: on the resignation of Mr. Best as President, the Rev. John Gittens would have succeeded him in rotation as senior member, and in the case of the Governor's absence or death, the administration would have devolved upon him. Lord Goderich having directed as early as 1833 that the Lord Bishop of the Diocese should always be excluded from the command of the colony, this was likewise considered to refer to any other clergyman. The arrangement which has been proposed to the Governor by her Majesty's government is therefore this,-that in the event of the devolution of the government on Mr. Gittens as senior member of the Council, he was to resign his seat, but that he would be re-appointed to it, not in the ordinary form, but next in rank to the Bishop.
reign. King Charles the Second appointed the persons who were to compose the Council in 1672, and styled them for the first time his Majesty's Council. They hold their office during the royal pleasure; but the Governor has the right of suspending any member of the Council, if he have the concurrence of five members; or, if the service of government should demand it, he may do so at his own pleasure, but he must signify the reason which induced him to take such a step to the Sovereign, before whom the suspended member is permitted to make his defence. If there be a less number than seven members of Council resident in the island, the Governor may fill up the number to twelve pro tempore, until the vacancies are supplied by the Crown, or the Governor's appointment has been confirmed. During late years there have seldom been more than eight members, one of whom is the Lord Bishop, who holds his seat ex officio.
The Governor sits in Council even when the latter are acting in their legislative capacity. This would be considered in Jamaica, and in some other chartered colonies, improper and unconstitutional; and although the freedom of discussion is expressly granted to them, the presence of the Commander-in-Chief must frequently act as a hindrance to an exercise of that liberty. Poyer considers it an absurd custom, which seems to have originated in the infancy of the colony before the representative body was called into existence; it is indisputably a radical defect in the colonial constitution. In their capacity as a Privy Council they are bound by an oath to secrecy, and are directed conscientiously to assist the Governor with their advice; their proceedings in a legislative capacity are however public. As a Privy Council they are intended to be a check upon the actions of the Governor, if he should attempt to exceed his commission and instructions: their power in this respect is however problematical; as the Governor is only answerable to his Sovereign, his proceedings are legal and efficient without the concurrence of the Council.
The Governor, with the advice and consent of the Council, may from time to time, as occasion requires, summon the General Assembly and issue writs for a new election. He may however of his own authority adjourn, prorogue or dissolve the Assembly. In his legislative capacity, he has merely a negative voice, and can only recommend subjects for consideration to the Assembly, which is generally done when addressing that body viva voce, or by special messages in writing. His concurrence is required before any Bill can become law; such concurrence however has been considered to be only valid for the term of three years, except the Act should have received the royal assent.
The consent of the Council is necessary to the passing of all laws, and any Bill unconnected with raising of supplies or the disposal of the public money may originate with them. Financial measures can only originate with the House of Assembly, although they cannot come into
operation until they have received the concurrence of the Council and the sanction of the Governor.
The House of Assembly is composed of twenty-four1 delegates or deputies, elected annually2, two for each parish and two for the city of Bridgetown, by the body of the people. The qualifications of candidates and electors for the General Assembly are regulated by the franchise Act passed in the third year of the reign of her present Majesty. By this Act it is declared that the qualification for a representative shall be, the possession of thirty or more acres of land in the island in fee simple, or fee tail, with a dwelling-house thereon of not less than the value of £500 currency; or being interested for self or wife in an estate of freehold for his or her life, or some greater estate in lands or tenements in the island of not less than the annual value of £200 currency, or having a clear income of £300 currency per annum derivable from profession, office, ade, dividends in the funds, &c., or being the interest of money secured on mortgage in the island.
The qualifications for voters are,-1st, a freehold for life, or in right of marriage, or as dower, or for some greater estate in lands, or tenements in the island of not less than £20 currency annual value. 2ndly. Being for self or wife entitled for life to rents of lands, &c. in the island of the amount of £20 currency per annum and upwards. 3rdly. Being entitled as lessee or assignee to lands, &c. for the unexpired residue of any term originally created for not less than five years, and the yearly rent being not less than £100 currency. 4thly. Being the occupier of any house, &c. in any town of the island, which shall be rated parochially at not less than £50 currency annual rent. 5thly. Having paid taxes assessed by the Vestry of the parish for which the vote is claimed, to the amount of not less than £5 currency3.
1 Formerly only twenty-two, two for each parish; but the new franchise Act, 3 Vic. c. 29, gives two members to the city of Bridgetown.
2 By the 48th clause of the Act, 3 Vic. c. 29, it is enacted "That neither the present nor any future General Assembly of this island shall be, or continue for more than one year at any one time, to be computed from their first meeting as an Assembly." See likewise p. 200.
3 Return of Persons liable to serve as Jurors, as also Registered Voters.
St. Joseph.... 29
By a colonial Act to amend the "Representation of the People," the 16th clause enacts that "no person shall be entitled to vote " who shall not be " duly registered ;” and a subsequent Act relative to jurors, exempts all persons over sixty years of age, as well as some official exemptions, which may explain in some degree the difference in the two returns.
On the expiration or dissolution of the Assembly, the Governor immediately issues writs, directed to the senior Councillor in each parish, or, in the absence of a member of Council, to any substantial freeholder, requiring him to summon the freeholders to meet, to make choice of two able and discreet persons of their own body to represent them in the General Assembly. The writs are to be delivered to the Provost Marshal of the island within two days after they are issued, who is forthwith to convey them to the persons to whom they may be directed, which persons are required to cause notices to be affixed on or near the doors of each of the parochial churches, stating the day on which, and the place where, the election for such parish shall commence. The elections take place on the Monday following the third Sunday after the date of the writs, and commence between 8 and 9 o'clock A.M., and conclude at 4 o'clock P.M. of the same day: an exception is made in favour of Bridgetown, where the polling may continue for two successive days. The person authorized to convene the freeholders is the sheriff for the occasion, and he makes a return of the writ with a certificate of the election to the Governor, in council, on the day on which the same is made returnable, when the representatives also meet, and make a statement and declaration of the nature of their respective qualifications, and take the usual oaths required to be taken by members of the imperial Parliament, in the presence of the Governor and Council. Having performed this ceremony, which is repeated on the accession of every new Commander-in-Chief, the Assembly proceed to the choice of a Speaker, whom they present for his Excellency's approbation. If the choice is confirmed, the Speaker in due parliamentary form demands from the representative of the Crown the usual privileges of the House. This done, they possess, within the colony, the same legislative authority which belongs to the House of Commons. All money-bills must originate with them; though they have often suffered this invaluable privilege to be encroached upon, by admitting the Council to amend their bills of that description. They exercise the right of expelling any of their members who have been guilty of any heinous crime. In the case of the death or expulsion of a member, the House addresses the Governor to issue a writ for the election of a person to supply the vacancy.
The Council and General Assembly, with the concurrence of the Crown, or its representative the Governor, may make laws, statutes and ordinances for the public peace, welfare, and good government of the colony, so that they be not repugnant, but as near as may be agreeable, to the laws and statutes of Great Britain.
The proceedings of the colonial Legislatures are conducted, and their journals kept, in a manner very conformable to those of the imperial Parliament. After a bill or act has passed the Assembly and Council it is sent to the Governor, who may, provided his commission or instruc