Group Title: Government of Trinidad & Tobago: law of the constitution
Title: The Government of Trinidad & Tobago law of the constitution
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 Material Information
Title: The Government of Trinidad & Tobago law of the constitution 3 ed., rev. and written, commemorating 150 years of British rule, 1797-1947
Physical Description: xxxii, 336 p. : ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Reis, Charles, of the Middle Temple
Publisher: Trinidad, Yuilleś Printerie
Place of Publication: Port-of-Spain
Publication Date: 1947
Edition: 3d ed., rev. and rewritten
Subject: Politics and government -- Trinidad   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00085549
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000142580
oclc - 24595045
notis - AAQ8745

Full Text





y / 7 /



1797- 1947


3 4. '71 c9?3


2 & 3 CHANCERY LANE, W.C. 2.

145-149 ADELAIDE ST. W.



A History of the Constitution or Government of Trinidad from
the Earliest Times to the Present Day. 2nd edit. 1929.
(Out of print).
Associaqdo Portuguesa: A Story of her Origin and Development
and of her Place in the Portuguese Community of Trinidad.
2nd edit. 1945.


This study is no more than a general
description of the main principles of
constitutional law in relation to the Colony
and aims at supplying the politically
conscious layman with a legal background
to a better understanding of what is the
Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is based on three Royal constitutional
documents, on 92 Acts of the Imperial
Parliament, on 114 reported cases, on over
250 Ordinances, and on a number of
customs, maxims and conventions that
concern the legal position (1) of the King,
the Government of the United Kingdom and
the Imperial Parliament in relation to this
Colony and (2) of the Governor, the local
executive, legislature, judicial and civil
servant in relation to each other and to the
citizen or inhabitant.
The choice of presentation is perforce
a matter of convenience. It is personal and
subjective. Of necessity it has been limited


to laws that directly or indirectly affect the
exercise and distribution of sovereign power.
Even so the field covered is vast. Yet it
is no more than an outline or broad analysis
of the structure and working of the Trinidad


1, Park Avenue,
November 23, 1946.











vi CONTENTS (Contd.)







I Office of Governor 29
II Governor's Powers and Duties 29
III Publication of Governor's Commission 30
IV Custody of the Public Seal of the Colony 32
V Creation of the Executive Council 27
VI Creation of the Legislative Council 27
VII (1) Powers of the Legislative Council to make laws 88
(2) Ordinances assented to by Governor may be
disallowed by Us 122
Our disallowance to be published 122
Effect of disallowance 122
(3) Governor may assent to certain Bills in interest
of public order .89
(4) Power reserved to the King to make laws 91
VIII Governor to assent to Bills or reserve them for
Our signification 122
IX Assent by Governor or by Us necessary to Bills 123
X When Bills become effective after Our assent 123
XI Bills must conform to Our Order in Council 123
XII Governor to make grants of land 32
XIII Appointment of judges, magistrates and justices 57
XIV Governor's powers to dismiss & suspend public officers 57
XV Grant of Pardon and Remission of Fines 33
XVI Appointment of a Deputy Governor 30
XVII Governor's Absence 31
XVIII Colonial Secretary to be Administrator 32
XIX Command of Allegiance to Governor 34
XX 'Governor" defined (Not included)
XXI Power reserved to amend or revoke Letters Patent 34


I Oath of Allegiance 57
II Constitution of the Executive Council 44
III Appointments to the Executive Council 44
IV Governor to communicate Instructions to Executive 46
V Meeting & Quorum of Executive Council .46
VI Presiding Officer on Executive Council 46
VII Minutes 46
VIII Governor to consult Executive Council 47
IX Governor to propose questions to Executive Council 48
X Governor may act in opposition to Executive Council 48
XI Rules under which Ordinances are to be styled 124


XII Certain Bills not to be assented to by Governor 91
XIII Private Bills 93
XIV Ordinances to be sent to London 125
XV Ordinances to be published each year 125
XVI Crown Lands Disposal 34
XVII Appointments to the Civil Service 58
XVIII Procedure for Pardon in Capital Cases 48
XIX Blue Book of the Colony 35
XX Governor not to quit Colony without leave .35

I Title of Order
II Limits of Order
III Definitions
IV Constitution of the Council 76
V Official Members 76
VI Unofficial Members 76
VII Appointments to be Reported 77
VIII Tenure of Office of Nominated Members 77
IX Summoning of Heads of Departments 78
X Provisional Appointments 78
XI Suspension of absentee Nominated Member 81
XII Vacation of seat by Nominated Member 81
XIII Suspension of Nominated Member 82
XIV Precedence of Members 82
XV Oath of Allegiance 84
XVI Election of Elected Members 97
XVII (Repealed by Leg. Co. (Election) Ord., s. 63)
XVIII Qualifications of Elected Members 97
XIX Penalty for unqualified person to vote or sit 100
XX Vacation of seat of Elected Member .100
XXI Questions as to qualifications determined by Court 101
XXII Qualifications of Voters 101
XXIII Disqualifications of Voters 102
XXIV Register of Voters 103
XXV (See XVII above)
XXVI (See XVII above)
XXVII (See XVII above)
XXVIII Petitions against disputed Elections .. 103
XXIX Trial of election petition 104
XXX Powers of judge at trial .104
XXXI Local Law us to elections may be made by Council 105
XXXII Definition of bribery 105
XXXIII Definition of treating 108
XXXIV Definition of undue influence .. 109
XXXV Definition of personation 109


XXXVI Penalty for bribery, treating, and undue influence 110
XXXVII Penalty for personation .. 110
XXXVIII Disqualification foor bribery, etc. 110
XXXIX Penalty for certain illegal practices at elections 111
XL Offences in respect of ballot papers, etc. 112
XLI Infringement of secrecy 113
XLII Clauses 32 to 41 masculine gender includes females 114
XLIII Council may transact business notwithstanding vacanices 84
XLIV Governor, or member appointed by him, to preside 84
XLV Quorum 85
XLVI Voting 85
XLVII Rules to be made for punctuality of attendance 85
XLVIII Conformity with the Royal Instructions 86
XLVIX Questions for debate 87
L Sessions of the Council 87
LI Prorogation or dissolution of the Council 88
LII Time of first Elections, 1924 (Omitted)
LIII Minutes 88
LIV Commencement of the 1924 Order (Omitted)
LV Power reserved to amend or revoke this Order 88

HIS study of the Constitutional Law
of the Colony is based on the fact
that the sovereign State is the
Government of the United Kingdom: for
there we find the supreme executive,
legislative and judicial powers over the
citizen in Trinidad as well as the legal and
political unit representing a single or
composite entity in the person of His Majesty
the King. This Colony became related to
the United Kingdom by a personal and real
form of union flowing from the Common
Law of the sovereign State relating to the
Royal Prerogative of the King and from
the legislative supremacy of the Imperial
Parliament. This Colony forms part of that
Kingdom; and is therefore a component part
of the British Empire. It is for convenience
of administration that that Kingdom has
conferred authority by devolution and
delegation on the local Government.
The form of local government is to be
found in two groups of law. The (present)
first group is contained in three documents
emanating from the King, called Royal
Orders in Council, Royal Letters Patent, and
Royal Instructions, passed exclusively for
this Colony between the years 1924 and
1945. These shall be given in full in the
text that follows (as amended). These royal


documents fix and define the framework of
the local constitution. They embody a
system of government known as the "Crown
Colony" system. By themselves they present
a most imperfect picture of the Constitution.
Another special feature about them 'is that
they contain but one single reference to the
other group of law, which is to be found
in Acts of the Imperial Parliament passed
generally for the Colonial Empire or for
this Colony in particular. Since neither of
these groups of law are intended to include
all the powers required for effective local
government, nor all the rules regulating the
manner in which those powers are to be
exercised, a substantial part of the local
Constitution is therefore contained in
ordinances or local laws, in judicial decisions
and maxims interpreting matters of consti-
tutional law, and in customs and conventions
regulating the working of the machinery
of government.
The first group-the Royal-made laws-
may be described as the discretionary or
sovereign power of the King qua his Royal
Prerogative and the second-Parliamentary
enactments-as the legislative supremacy of
the King in his Parliament. Because the
King is an essential part of the Imperial
Parliament and enacts Acts "by and with
the advice and consent" of Parliament, it
does not derogate from the: dignity of his


Royal Prerogative for him in his Parliament
to pass what legislation he pleases concerning
this Colony which may amend or repeal the
Royal documents.
But all this is theory of law and has
no relation to reality: for the enactment of
both of these groups of law is under the
control of the ministers of the King, more
commonly known as the Cabinet, and
therefore in practice there can also be no
conflict. In other words, the King acts only
on the advice of his ministers. He is a
constitutional monarch. In other words, too,
the Cabinet controls legislation passed in
Parliament. The legislative supremacy of
Parliament is thus subject to an internal
check. These are but two of those divergences
between theory and practice-and there are
many such-in the working of the Constitution
of the United Kingdom. Our local Consti-
tution is also stamped with this characteristic,
but of this later.
Another fundamental characteristic of
the local Constitution is that an ordinance
must not be repugnant to the provisions of
an Act of Parliament extending to the
Colony or to Orders in Council and Letters
Patent made under authority of the same;
nor to prerogative legislation binding in the
Colony. To the extent of such repugnancy
it is void and inoperative, unless authority
to amend or repeal is granted. This gives


rise to a distinction of local constitutional
importance. Acts of Parliament extending
to this Colony, and prerogative legislation
which are not alterable or revocable by the
Legislative Council, become fundamental laws
of the Trinidad Constitution. Conversely
stated, a fundamental law is one whose
changeableness by the Legislative Council is
not legally possible and whose validity
cannot be questioned by the courts.
Devolved and delegated powers are
divided into three main functions traditionally
classified as executive or administrative,
legislative and judicial. The executive or
administrative function is the general and
detailed carrying on of Government according
to law, including the framing of policy and
the choice of the manner in which the; law
may be made to give effect to that policy.
The legislative function is the making of
new law and the alteration or repeal of
existing laws. The judicial function consists
in the interpretation of the law and its
application to facts ascertained by evidence.
It is the scope of these functions, which
are too wide to be exercised by any one
person, that gives rise to the civil service,
including the police and military; but since
a complete separation of governmental
functions whereby each department of
government is assigned a distinct function


is not always practicable, the civil servant
in the performance of his delegated functions
again exercises powers that do not
exclusively fall within his main occupation
or appertain to his sub-division. The police,
for example, issue regulations that are not
far removed from legislation. The Comptroller
of Customs makes decisions that are
sometimes quasi-judicial in character. The
judges exercise all three divisions of
governmental functions.
During the past 150 years political
expediency and constitutional conventions
in England have brought about many changes
in the exercise of sovereign power. It was,
for example, under King William IV
(1830-1837) that the Cabinet became the
definite link between the King and
Parliament and so acquired the whole control
over the direction of public affairs in
England and in the Colonies. The history
of the Royal Prerogative is inseparably
connected with the history of Parliamentary
sovereignty, which finally triumphed when
the view was accepted that there was no
extraordinary prerogative above the law.
So too with the exercise of legislative
power by Parliament in respect of the
Colonies. Today, large discretionary powers
are given to the King in his Privy Council
by Acts of Parliament intended for general


application throughout the colonies instead
of direct legislation by Parliament as in
early days. Legislation for the colonies by
Orders in Council is much less now by
virtue of Royal prerogative and much more
by virtue of statutory power: for the integral
association between King and Colony has
since 1797 shifted and is today invested
with a parliamentary rather than a personal
These changes are reflected locally. Our
early ordinances and proclamations always
referred to the local Government under the
legal fiction of "His Majesty, His Heirs and
Successors," or "Her Majesty in Her
Government of the Colony," or "the Governor
in right of Her Majesty." In 1842 the
term "the Crown" first appeared in an
ordinance as a synonym for the Government
of the Island. It next appeared once in
1845, 1848 and 1859, and as a title to an
Ordinance, in 1865-the Qrown Debts
Ordinance. "The Colonial Government" first
appeared in 1859. Other convenient com-
pendious terms followed: "the King," "His
Majesty," "the Colony," "Public," "Local"
and "the Government." All these eleven
terms, unfortunately, are now currently used
in Ordinances, although the word "Crown"
offers a way out of the nomenclatural choice.
The Crown means the King exercising his
legal powers through his servants. In this


sense it is not inaccurate to use it as a
synonym for the Government of the
Colony. (a)
As this study is only concerned with
the legal aspects of the Constitution as it
is today, the social or economic side of
government is outside its range; but without
a review of the political evolution of the
Constitution this outline of constitutional law
would appear distorted. The creation of the
first Legislative Council in 1831 affected
the exercise of the authority of the King
though it did not impair the legislative
supremacy of the King. Nevertheless, since
the King had no option but to wield power
from a distance, the making of laws after
1831 took on new characteristics-those made
in England for the Colony gradually took
on the characteristic of generality and those'
made locally the characteristic of speciality.
Add to this that though the making of an
Ordinance is the act of the King to which
the Council consents, without that consent
the King cannot make an Ordinance in this
Colony. More important, however, was that
with this formal alliance between King and
Council of Government-as the legislature
was then called-began the development of

(a) Two further but uncommon synonyms are "property -of
the inhabitants" and "country." See Ch.. 3 No. 4, s. 100 (2)
and Cl. '4 No.' s. 38.


a local political life or way of thinking.
The introduction of a municipal council for
Port-of-Spain in 1840, and for San Fernando
in 1845, based on the principle of elections,
further instilled a sense of public and
political responsibility.
Despite all these measures, political
consciousness in Trinidad has been of slow
growth. As late as 1890 the elective
principle as applied to .the Legislative
Council was considered "a perilous extreme
for this heterogeneous and educationally
backward colony." (From leader in Port-of-
Spain Gazette, Jan. 7, 1890). It was World
War I that forced to the front the question
of reform of the Legislative Council. In
1924, on the ninety-third anniversary of the
Legislative Council the elective principle was
tacked on to it in part. The new Council
consisted of 12 officials, with the Governor
as President, 6 nominated unofficial, and 7
elected members. The Executive Council
consisted of 5 members with the Governor
as President, of whom 4 were officials and
1 only a non-official (who was also a
nominated member of the Legislative Council).
The introduction of the elective principle
in 1924 merely corrected a defect in the
existing political system of government (in
the sense that all laws and government are
"politics"). Its introduction did not affect
the control of the Executive Government,



for it made no fundamental change in the
Constitution; but its importance lay in its
indirect results, for it lacked the note of
finality. It was a forward step in the
direction of democracy.
The reforms made in the Constitution
in 1941 were the inevitable corollary to the
changes made in 1924. They, too, were
stimulated by the political impulse occasioned
by World War II. Of the changes introduced
then, the most distinctive indication of the
new orientation of the Constitution was in
the curtailment of the influence of the Crown
both in the Executive and Legislative Councils.
The Orders in Council and Letters Patent
of 1941 put an end to that overwhelming
preponderance of official management so
characteristic of early Crown Colony
government, and against which political
restlessness could avail nothing. Then (1941)
the Executive Council was altered to consist
of 3 officials only and 5 members of the
Legislative Council, with the Governor as
President-a total of 9; and the Legislative
Council to consist of 3 officials, 6 nominated,
and 9 elected members, with the Governor
as President-a total of 19. The 19 included
the 9. Four out of the five chosen as
Executive Councillors belonged to the elected
side of the Legislative Council, thus allowing
for the first time four elected members to
share responsibility with the King or


Executive in local administration. Conversely
stated, the executive ceased to be in the
main the personal concern of the King; and
by the removal of 9 out of 12 officials on
the Legislative Council, the King also gave
up his own exclusive jurisdiction there. It
is, of course undeniable, in the final analysis,
that the Crown holds the position of ultimate
supremacy both in the Executive and
Legislative Councils. Yet the idea of
limitation is discernible, or else the changes
can have no meaning.
This is worth emphasizing- Prior to
1941, the administration and the shaping of
local policy were entirely matters for the
officials. They held the central position in
the Government. They were a kind of
embryo ministry; but as servants of the
King they had to accept official direction.
They were thus necessarily slow to assert
an initiative or to criticize the conduct of
Government. Nor could it have been
expected of them to air their disagreements
before the Legislative Council. Such affairs
in the Executive Council remained matters
of secrecy. From 1941 the five non-official
Executive Councillors-four of whom owed
allegiance to the electorate-had a second
chance of influencing the action of the
Government or at least of being refractory.
The fact that the conditions prevailing during
World War II made them less independent


or more compromising in their relations with
the Crown does not modify this truth.
Indeed, the four Executive Councillors
who are also elected members of the
Legislative Council now have the opportunity
if they and the other elected members of
the legislature unite as one group for the
purpose of voting, to form one united front
in shaping and sharing political responsibility
with the Crown. The position is accentuated.
of course, if all elected members belong to
one political party and there is any coherence
of political opinion and a sense of personal
loyalty between them. The elected members
may thus exercise virtual control of the
Legislative Council or at least are capable
of imposing their wishes on it: for if the
nine elected members of the Legislative
Council will a measure to pass or not to
pass the legislature, any bill or policy
supported or opposed by them can be carried
or lost if one other member of the Legislative
Council (for the Governor has not an
original vote) is in favour of or against it.
There is one exception to this possibility,
which is also only a possibility in very
exceptional circumstances. (See pp. 89-90).
It must be remembered also that the elected
members are in the majority on the Finance
Committee; they enjoy a similar majority
on the Estimates Committee of the Executive
Council; and they form the largest single
block in both Councils.


Domination as indicated above should
not find the Crown unwilling to exercise
considerations of sympathy even though it
is not likely to abandon the principle of
imperial sovereignty. "My Government,"
said His Majesty the King when opening
Parliament in November 1946, "will give my
peoples all practical guidance in their march
to self-government." By implication, there-
fore, the use of unconscionable means of
pressure by the Crown against freedom of
action by the new embryo ministry is not
likely. Nor is it likely for the Crown to
regard opposition as factious. But if this
shift of power from professional officials to
untrained non-officials is to be regarded as
a disquieting feature, it must also be
regarded as an inevitable consequence inherent
in the introduction of a more advanced form
of democratic government. On the other
hand, the shift of power introduces the
hitherto unknown equality of opportunity
between government and governed, which
might well keep the political atmosphere
wholesome since the former should now
reflect with increasing accuracy the will of
the later.
The constitutional changes introduced
in 1941 place a powerful mechanism at the
disposal of the new electorate. For better
or worse, the executive is now for the first
time subject to the direct pressure of public


opinion. And the public has an opportunity
every five years to change the direction of
public policy by turning down former elected
members whose record does not accord with
popular ideas. Theoretically the allegiance
of an Executive Councillor is not owed to
the electorate but to the King, yet
practically the will of the electorate may
now make itself felt in the device or
convention that links four of the elected
members of the Legislative Council so
closely with the Executive or Crown. The
electoral system has been further democratized
by the creation of County Councils.
Nominated members, it should be
remembered, have been chosen (1946), not
from any known political party but from
representatives of law, oil, agriculture,
mercantile and such like interests, and
include for the first time a woman with
social experience. Their varied knowledge
is complementary to the intended purpose
of adult universal franchise-to elicit the
views of the inhabitants as a whole, by
voicing the opinions of all those interests
that have a right to be consulted.
From its inception in 1831 the political
function of government has been centered
in the Executive Council, for the work of
the Legislative Council has been principally
to criticize the former. The main business
of legislative councillors was, and still is.


criticism and putting questions. The value
of these functions is undeniable. Today the
efficiency of the Legislative Council's political
control over the executive cannot be denied
if it should accommodate itself to the
opinions of the executive's four elected
members; nor exaggerated if mutual rivalries
or political jealousies or honest disagreements
arise among elected members or between
them and the official and nominated members
that lead the two Councils to be unconsciously
engaged in a struggle for supremacy.
In so far as the course of the political
constitution of Trinidad can be summarized
in a phrase, it may be described as progress
towards democracy. It has followed the
principle of consent and co-operation so
fundamentally important in English consti-
tutional history and of convention so typical
in English government. It has now entered
into a new stage-the experimental models
for which apply to Jamaica and Ceylon with
their embryo ministerial systems. (See
Appendix F). Democracy is a system of
government intended to give expression to
the idea of government by consent of the
people. The Crown is an organ common to
the executive and the legislature and the
Crown now is most closely linked with four
of the elected members and one nominated
member of the Legislative Council, who are
now also an integral part of both Councils



of Government. It is only by means of
this device or convention that the political
ascendancy in government of the electorate
is assured and democratization of local
government can be fully developed.
By a "convention" is meant a political
understanding without any legal enactment
to support it. It comes about without any
formal change in the law. The courts
cannot enforce it by legal sanction. Yet
conventions, though not legally binding on
the King, grow into obligatory rules of
political practice. They become the "custom"
or "unwritten maxims" of the Constitution.
"They provide," says Professor 'Jennings
(Law, and the Constitution, 3rd edit., p. 80),
"the flesh which clothes the dry bones of
the law; they make the legal constitution
work; they keep in touch with the growth
of ideas." Indeed, the nature of conventions
are that they supplement the strict letter
of constitutional law. Their cardinal
characteristic is that they serve to support
the sovereignty of the electorate. It is
also by means of conventions that privileges
do not come into conflict with prerogatives.
Profound as are the 1941 constitutional
adjustments, they appear apart from
convention-to preserve the same general
appearance of Crown Colony government.
Yet time will probably show that the
existence of elected members directing public


affairs in the Executive Council-not only
in respect of creative policy, but also in
respect of executive, administrative, legislative
and quasi-judicial powers under nearly 100
ordinances-does in fact create more than
an atmosphere of semi-representative govern-
ment; and will be regarded as marking a
transition from one system of Crown Colony
government to another of a radically
dissimilar nature.
At this early stage this is more easily
felt than analysed. It would, indeed, be
premature to attempt a fuller discussion of
the conventional changes which shall follow
the 1946 elections-the first held since
October 1938-that is, the first since the
present-day working Constitution has really
embarked upon its course. But we do know
that it is axiomatic of the age for the
business of Government to be no longer the
exclusive field of the Crown. "I think I
know something of your aspirations," said
Mr. Creech-Jones, present Secretary of State
for the Colonies, in a B.B.C. broadcast to
the Colonial Empire on October 16, 1946,
"You want to rise to a higher stature of
political responsibility and to higher social
standards, to play your full part in the
administration of your countries."
The nomination to the Executive Council
of four elected members of the Legislative
,Council must now therefore be accepted as


a convention of the local Constitution. In
July 1946, after the first elections on
universal suffrage took place, which made
an immensely larger addition to the
electorate, the Crown again nominated four
elected members and one nominated member
of the Legislative Council to be also members
of the Executive Council. In theory the
King could have nominated persons
unconnected with the Legislative Council,
but in practice to have done so would have
produced a negation of democracy.
Prior to 1941, there were very few
conventions. One came into being at the
beginning of the century when the practice
was adopted of a nominated member of the
Legislative Council being also nominated to
the Executive Council. It is this convention
that has been extended. Another was when
the Secretary of State instructed the Governor
not to sign any measure relating to
government bills and financial resolutions
in opposition to the unanimous combined
adverse vote of the unofficial members of
the Legislative Council. (Council Paper No.
126 of 1922). A third in respect of bills
and a fourth in respect of public money
are referred to at pages 126 and 221. These
conventions continue.
New conventions that seem most likely
to follow the 1941 changes may be postulated.
The first is that the King would not be



expected to resort to his veto in matters
of purely local concern unanimously agreed
upon by the Executive Council. The second
is that if the elected members of the
legislature force an issue to go before the
electorate by all resigning, and being again
re-elected, thus indicating complete support
of their point of view by the electorate,
the King would not be expected to use his
veto power, provided that the dispute does
not concern high policy of Empire-wide
affairs or an emergency. The third is that
the party with the largest number of members
elected will probably have one at least of
its members always nominated to the
Executive Council. A fourth is that the
party in possession of all nine seats on the
Legislative Council will probably be asked
to nominate four of its members to the
Executive Council.
Other local conventions are in process
of establishing themselves. For example,
the Caura Dam and the Tuberculosis
Sanatorium were inspected (Sept. 13, 1946)
by the Legislative Council's Finance Committee
and the members of the Estimates Committee
of the Executive Council paid (or intended
to pay) a visit to Tobago on September
20, 1946. Once the practice is established
by general acceptance it becomes a new
convention-a manner in which the
Constitution works in practice. Another



type of convention or device-information
by Government to the people-has given
rise to a Government Information Officer;
and matters concerning the Civil Service
are, or will be, by conventional practice,
referred to the local Whitley Council for
its views.
The view appears to prevail in some.
quarters that each progressive overhauling
of the political constitution implies a "new
constitution." But this is not really so.
The introduction of semi-representative
government in 1941, strengthened by the
electoral reforms of 1946, was an organic
change which did not destroy the established
legal order. The former Secretary of State,
Mr. George Hall, in his message to the first
Legislative Council meeting held on a basis
of universal suffrage on July 16th, 1946,
offered his congratulations "to those who
have been elected to the responsibility of
initiating this new stage in the Colony's
political development." That is how the
various reforms ought to be regarded. Our
Constitution has developed, not by destruction
and replacement, but by repair and improve-
ment. It is a living organism, absorbing
new facts and transforming itself.
Continuity is the dominant characteristic
in its development. The principles by
which it works can be regarded as constant.


If these facts be thoroughly recognized,
it will at once be appreciated that the
thing changed is either a part of a law.
or a conventional addition, or a stripping
here, or an overhauling there, devised to
modernize the constitutional edifice in
accordance with social, economic or political
developments. Apart from an out and out
jural breach there is no other way possible
to alter the inherent attributes of a
Constitution whose roots are lodged deep in
the laws of England. This thought leads
to another aspect of the Constitution which
ought to be remembered: apart from conquest
by (or sale to) a foreign country, all changes
in the local Constitution, political and
otherwise, leave the bulk of the law intact.
"The most permanent, as it is also the
most conservative, character of the State
is its body of law." (Maciver, The Modern
State, p. 99).
Today, the Government of Trinidad is
a reality notwithstanding that in English
law it is not explicitly recognized as such
for the reason that in form "the King"
takes its place. It is this and other
divergences between theory and practice
that add to the unreality of many of the
legal terms that must of necessity be
employed; yet they do explain or indicate
the method by which defects in the structure
of the Constitution are remedied. This



duality of the Constitution-theory and
practice, politics and law-gives rise to a
difference between facts or law and
subjective theories. The text that follows
must be so read if it is to be correctly
understood. To exclude "convention" from
the mind would give a false and misleading
impression of the Constitution. To forget
that there are varieties or different types
of "Crown Colony" government would lead
to a misconception of that term.
Lastly, it is worth while noting that
despite progressive changes in the local form
of government the position of the King has
not degenerated. This is because his
constitutional status and the ever increasing
nationalistic trend of Crown Colony
government run parallel to each other. Each
overhauling of the constitutional machinery
represents theoretically the King's spirit of
generous obligation towards the Colony, and
not his inability to check innovations. In
fact, the advance towards self-government
is the consequence of the Colony being a
component part of an Empire that "has
espoused the cause of freedom and
emancipation with all the moral and physical
forces at its disposal." (Field-Marshal
Jan Smuts).
Hence, despite all changes, the King
personifies the constitution; and is necessary
for the performance of a large number of


acts of governmental routine. His discretion-
ary power over policy, that is the
supervision or wardship of the Colonial Office
in London, may be regarded as the
ultimate reserve power in the Constitution.
It is this power that marks the legal
difference today between complete autonomy
and semi-autonomy. But even when exercised
by the colonial peoples themselves, for or
on behalf of His Majesty, in a federation
of the West Indies, the King will still
personify the Constitution. The link of a
common loyalty and patriotism, of imperial
efforts after common purposes (b), with the
common and equity law of England, and
with imperial protection and defence, will
be unbroken.
In the meantime, the twin pillars that
support the facade of the local Constitution-
the Royal Prerogative of the King (c) and
the legislative supremacy of the Imperial
Parliament-are in appearance, unless seen
through the lens of convention, very much
the same today as when Spanish Trinidad
passed under the domain of Britain's
George III.
(b) See p. 71; now supplemented by the Caribbean Commission,
a United Nations advisory body, intended to promote the scientific,
technological and economic development in the caribbean area.
The Commission, whose head-office is situated in Trinidad, came
into being on July 15, 1946, and comprises the Governments of
France, Netherlands, United States of. America, and United
(c) For prerogatives here in mind, see pp. 47, 87, 89, 91,
92, 122, and 12.3.





F ROM the moment that the Island of
Trinidad passed under the dominion
of the King on the 18th of February,
1797, when the Military Treaty of Capitulation
was signed by Sir Ralph Abercromby,
Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces
in the West Indies, Admiral Henry Harvey,
Naval Commander-in-Chief, and Don Jose
Maria Chacon, last Spanish Governor of :;
Trinidad, both international and English law
recognized that the King became possessed
of all executive, legislative and judicial
powers within the Island in virtue of the
Royal Prerogative power inherent in him
from title derived from conquest (a). The
Island was also ceded to the King by the
Treaty of Amiens, 1802, Clause IV of which
reads as follows: "His Catholic Majesty
cedes and guarantees, in full property and
sovereignty, the Island of Trinidad to His
Britannic Majesty."

(a) See Campbell v Hall (177J) 1 Cowp. at p. 211;
Jephson v Riera (1835) 3 Knnpp. p. 152; Abeyesekera
v Jayatilake (1932) 101 L.J.P.C., p. 40; Gout v
Cimitian (1922) 1 A.C., p. 105,


The Royal Prerogative may be defined-
in the words of Blackstone-as being that
pre-eminence that the King enjoys over
and above all other persons by virtue of
the 'Common Law of England, but out of
its ordinary course, in right of his regal
dignity; and is exercisable without the
necessity of consulting Parliament. The
term "the king" is now a technical one
in law. It means "His Majesty," "His
Majesty the King," "the Crown," or "a
Sovereign for the time being of Great
Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions
beyond the Seas, and includes predecessors
and the heirs and successors of such King."
The term "the Queen" has similar attributes
in the feminine gender. (Interpretation
Ord., s. 37; see also s. 2). The duty is
imposed on the King by the Coronation
Oath that he will govern according to
established law and give justice to his

However, during the past 150 years the
limits of these prerogative powers have
been more accurately defined by statutes
of the Imperial Parliamant, as also by
judicial decisions and constitutional con-
ventions; and many of these powers are now
incorporated into local ordinances. Hence
today the prerogative is-in the words of
Dicey (Law of the Constit., 8th Edit..
p. 420)-"as a matter of actual fact nothing

else than the residue of discretionary or
arbitrary authority which at any given time
is legally left in the hands of the Crown.."
The term "the Crown" today represents
the sum total of governmental powers
exercised by the Ministers of the King
upon whose "advice" he acts. In theory
of law, however, the King in Council is
the Executive, the King in Parliament is
the legislature, and the King in his courts
is the judiciary.

Of prerogatives concerning our study
that are not incorporated into Acts of
Parliament or Ordinances of the Legislative
Council, the following may be mentioned:-

The King is the supreme head of the
Government of Trinidad & Tobago. All
executive acts are done legally in his name.
As the fountain of honour, the conferment
of titles and medals is his prerogative; as
parents patriae the King is also the guardian
of infants and lunatics. By the Lunacy
and Mental Treatment Ordinance nothing
in that ordinance "shall prejudice any right
or prerogative of His Majesty" (s. 52).
but actually the care of lunatics is entrusted
to the local Government by that Ordinance,
although regulations made thereunder "may
at any time be disallowed by one of His
Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State'
(s. 54). Another prerogative is the right


to create a corporation by charter which
was actually done by King William IV,
in 1836, in respect of the Colonial Bank
(see Ord. 13 of 1841) by Queen Victoria
in 1841 in respect of the West India Bank
(see Ord. 5 of 1843) and in 1888 in respect
of the Borough of Arima.

As the fountain of justice and general
conservator of the peace, the jurisdiction of
the courts is immediately derived from him,
their procedure runs in his name, and their
judgments are executed by his officers.
Every prosecution by indictment is, in
theory of law, a prosecution by the King.
All appointments in the service of the
Government are made by authority of the
King, and civil servants-military as well
as civil-hold office during the pleasure of
the King. (See Part 2, Chap. IV).

In theory the King is the only absolute
owner of all land in Trinidad. A subject
cannot be more than the tenant of a fee,
but this interest or estate in fee simple
is inheritable, enjoyable and disposable
freely, equivalent to absolute ownership
though not recognized in law as such. This
legal fiction does not prevail in England
since the passing of the Law of Property
Acts, 1922-1925, and the Administration of
Estates Act, 1925.


In the sphere of legislation the King
has full authority to disallow any ordinance,
or upon the advice of his Privy Council
to repeal, alter or amend the same, and
to make such laws for the Colony as may
appear to the King in Council necessary
for the peace, order, and good government
of the Colony. Though this prerogative
power has been preserved to this day, the
creation of a Legislative Council in 1831
has curtailed its exercise to the extent that
the King now does not legislate in respect
of matters of purely local concern within
the competency of the Legislative Council.

Another prerogative right of the King
is that he acts as the representative of
the nation in the conduct of foreign affairs,
and what is done in such matters by the
royal authority is the act of the whole
nation, and binding, in general, upon the
nation without further sanction. Examples
are the declaration of war, the making of
peace and of treaties, and the recognition
of foreign consuls sent to the Colony.
Prerogative acts in the sphere of foreign
affairs are known as Acts of State. Wade
(in British Year Book of International Law,
1934, p. 98) has defined the term as meaning
"an act of the Executive as a matter of
policy performed in the course of its
relations with another State, including its
relations with the subjects of that State,


unless they are temporarily within the
allegiance of the Crown." Acts of State
are not justiciable by the courts (see cases
in Burrows, Words and Phrases Judicially
Defined, 1943, vol. I, p. 96); but it is
their duty to examine the validity of the
plea of Act of State (b).

Today, however, the exercise of the
treaty-making powers of the King requires,
by virtue of constitutional convention, the
sanction of Parliament where existing rights
of British subjects are interferred with.
Treaties between the King and a foreign
State are, therefore, generally speaking,
incorporated into statutes. An illustration
of this is the Anglo-Venezuelan Treaty
(Island of Patos) Act, 1942, which reads
as follows:-
Whereas the treaty set out in the
Schedule to this Act has been signed on
behalf of His Majesty and on behalf of
the President of the United States of
Venezuela: And whereas His Majesty desires
that the said treaty may be approved by
Parliament before being ratified: And
whereas it is expedient to give such
Be it therefore enacted by the King's
most Excellent Majesty, by and with the

(b) Eshugbayi Eleko v Nigerian Government (1931) A.C., p. 662.


advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual
and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority
of the same, as follows:-

1. The approval of Parliament is
hereby given to the said treaty.
Treaty with the United States of Venezuela
Relating to Island of Patos.
Article 1. His Majesty the King
renounces in favour of the United States
of Venezuela all sovereign rights and title
over the Island of Patos and transfers to
the United States of Venezuela all sovereign
rights and title over the said Island which
shall thereafter be considered as part of
the territory of Venezuela..

Article 2. If at any time the Venezuelan
Government think it necessary to install
on the Island of Patos military or naval
defence works, whether temporarily or
permanently, they shall give timely notice
of their intention to his Majesty's
Government in the United Kingdom.

Article 3. All differences between the
High Contracting Parties relating to the
interpretation or execution of this Treaty
shall be settled by such peaceful means as
are recognized in International Law.


Article 4. The present Treaty shall be
ratified in conformity with the laws of
the High Contracting Parties and the
ratifications shall be exchanged in London.
The Treaty shall come into force on the
date upon which ratifications are exchanged.

It lies with the King to recognize the
appointment of a Consul or Vice-Consul for
a foreign State in the Colony. The notice
in the Royal Gazette reads as follows:-
"The Secretary of State for the Colonies
has notified this Government that the King's
Exequatur empowering (Mr. X.) to act as
Vice-Consul for (foreign state) at Port-of-Spain
received His Majesty's signature on
(a date specified)."

In time of war, the King enjoys
generally a somewhat wider latitude in the
exercise of the prerogative than in time
of peace. A declaration of war is an act
of the Prerogative. By the Emergency
Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, Parliament
conferred power on the King to make
defence regulations by Order in Council for
securing the public safety, the defence of
the realm, the maintenance of public order
and the efficient prosecution of the War.
The Act was extended to this Colony by
Order in Council (see R.G. 1939, pp. 969-78)
dated August 25th, 1939, and by section 4
"the Governor" was substituted for "His


Majesty in Council." It was by virtue of
this and the Trading with the Enemy Act,
1939, also extended to the Colony, that over
650 Defence Regulations were made by the
Governor between September 3rd 1939 and
December 31st 1945, without the sanction
or even knowledge of the Legislative Council.
(No more, however, will be said about
war-time legislation, as this study is
concerned with the peace-time Constitution
of the Colony).
Of prerogatives concerning our study
that have been incorporated into Acts of
Parliament or local Ordinances, the following
may be mentioned:-
The King is the first in the armed
forces of the Colony. His authority is
exercised through an Army Council, at the
head of which is the Secretary of State
for War. The Army can only be maintained
by virtue of the Army Act, 1881, which is
applicable to the Royal Air Force since 1917,
and is passed annually. The local Volunteer
Force in subject, so far as they can be
applied, to the regulations for the Volimteer
Force in Great Britain issued by the
Secretary of State for War. (Local Forces
Ord., s. 4). The administration of matters
relating to the Air Force, or with air
navigation is vested in the Air Council; and
applies to this Colony (See Revised Ords.
1940 edit., vol. II, p. 800).


Coins are made and issued by the King
by virtue of his Royal Prerogative. But
his powers in this respect are for the most
part regulated by statutes of the Imperial
Parliament, and by local ordinances. What
constitutes "legal tender" (gold coins, any
amount, silver coins, 40 shillings, and bronze
coins, 1 shilling) is decided by the Coinage
Acts, 1870, 1891, 192'0. Government Currency
Notes are legal tender without limit by
virtue of an Ordinance of that name.
(See also Bankers Licences and Bank Notes
Ord.; Customs Ord., ss. 38-9, sub-s. (g) ).
The King also has power to declare coins
of a foreign power to be legal tender in
the Colony.

The King enjoyed the right of regulating
the standards of weights and measures, but
these have from early times been fixed
by statute. Since 1889 (July 1) the
standards, together with the means by which
their correctness and uniform use are ensured,
are entirely regulated in this Colony by the
Weights and Measures Ordinance. The
'local standards are true and accurate copies
of the Imperial standards. They are the
avoirdupois, troy, and metric 'weights, the
Imperial and metric measures of capacity,
of length, and of surface.

Blackstone says that 'shipwrecks' are
declared to be the King's property by the


Prerogative Stat. 17 Ed. II, c. 13, and
were so long before at the common law."
By the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act,
1890, nothing in that Act shall alter the
application of any droits of Admiralty or
droits of or forfeitures to the King in a
British possession. All such droits and
forfeitures found or collected in this
Colony are to be notified to, accounted
for, and dealt with as the Imperial Treasury
shall direct. By the Merchant Shipping
Act, 1894, "Her Majesty and Her Royal
Successors are entitled to all unclaimed
wreck found in any part of Her Majesty's
dominions." (s. 523). By the Merchant
Shipping Ordinance (s. 73), these droits
are "for the use of His Majesty," which
phrase, by virtue of the Casual Revenue
Ordinance (s. 2) means that they are
specifically excluded from passing into the
general revenue of the Colony. These droits
are wrecks, treasure-trove, forfeitures of
prize and booty of war. (For the distinction
between droits of Admiralty and of the
King, see English and Empire Digest,
vol. 37, pp. 685, 686).

Wrecks, by the Merchant Shipping
Ordinance (section 2), includes jetsam (goods
cast into the sea that sink and remain
underwater), flotsam (like goods, which
float), lagan or ligan (goods sunk in the
sea, but tied to a buoy or cork), and


derelict found on the shores of the sea or
any tidal water. The principal forfeitures
are prize and booty of war under the
Naval Prize Act, 1864, pirates' ships and
goods under the Piracy Act, 1850, ships
and equipment despatched contrary to the
provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act,
1870, the Slave Trade Acts of 1824, 1843
and 1873, the Customs Consolidated Act,
1853, and the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.
All goods derelict, jetsam, flotsam and wreck
brought or coming into the Colony, and all
droits of Admiralty sold in the Colony, shall
at all times be subject to the same duty
as goods of the like kind on importation
into the Colony are subject unless it shall
be shown to the satisfaction of the Comptroller
of Customs that such goods are damaged.
(Customs Ord. s. 25).
In the case of treasure-trove, i.e. money
or coin, gold, silver, plate or bullion, found
hidden in the earth or other private place
the owner of which is not known, the
Coroners Ordinance (s. 18) provides that
"His Majesty shall enjoy the same rights
and prerogatives" in this Colony as he
possesses "by the laws of England." Droits
other than those named pass into the general
revenue of the Colony. (Interpretation
Ord., s. 31; Casual Revenue Ord., s. 2).
Formerly the death of the King involved
the termination of the tenure of all offices


under the Crown, but the Demise of the
Crown Act, 1901 provides that the holding
of any office under the Crown shall not be
affected nor shall any fresh appointment
be necessary, by the demise of the King.
The Act applies to all Colonies. The
Promissory Oaths Ordinance provides.
therefore, that "the name of the Sovereign
of the United Kingdom for the time being"
shall be substituted for the name of the
King in any oath therein expressed. The
Ordinance is based on the Promissory Oaths
Act, 1868.

Crimes against the person of the King
are called treason, but the Treason Ordinance
covers offences against the Government
(or State) as well. The first statutory
definition of treason is contained in the
Statute of Treason, 1351, which still remains
the basis of the law of treason, although
amended on several occasions. The first
Treason Ordinance (No. 16 of 1842).
proclaimed on July 22nd, 1844, is still in
force except for its preamble which declared
that it was "expedient to assimilate the
Law of this Colony relative to Treason
and Misprison of Treason to the Law of
England. The offence is "the compassing
imagining, inventing, devising, or intending
whereof is Treason by the Law of England,'"
and "every person who shall know of any
Treason, and shall not forthwith reveal the


same to some Judge or Justice of the
Peace, shall be guilty of Misprison of
'Treason, and being convicted thereof, shall
suffer such punishment by way of
imprisonment and fine, as the Court shall

The King and the Royal Family are
also protected by the Merchandise Marks
Ordinance (s. 17) which provides a fine of
$96.00 for falsely representing that goods
are made by a person holding a Royal
warrant, or for the service of the King.
or any of the Royal Family. By the
Companies Ordinance (s.. 19 (2) ) no company
may be registered, except with the consent
of the Governor, by a name which contains
the words "Royal" or "Imperial" or is
calculated to suggest the patronage of the
King or of any member of the Royal Family.
The Port-of-Spain Corporation Ordinance
(s. 121 (2) ) provides for the Council to
pay out of its funds such sum not exceeding
$960.00 "in the reception and entertainment
of any member of the Royal Family."


The Imperial Parliament is the supreme
legislative authority in the British Empire.
except as it has relinquished this authority.
By Parliament is meant the King, the
House of Lords, and the House of Commons.
Since 1911, however, by virtue of the
Parliament Act of that year, provision is
made in certain cases for a bill to become
a statute without the consent of the House
of Lords; and since 1926, by convention
which five years later was converted into
the Statute of Westminster, Parliament does
not legislate for the self-governing dominions.
except by consent. The preamble to the
Statute of Westminster, 1931, further declares
that any alteration in the law touching the
succession to the Throne or the Royal Style
and Titles requires the assent of the
Parliaments of all the Dominions as well
as the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

.The sovereignty of Parliament means-
apart from the self-imposed restrictions in
respect of the self-governing dominions-that
it can make or unmake any law and that
there is no power in the Trinidad
Constitution that can override, curtail, or
reject its legislative authority. "Acts of


Parliament are omnipotent, and are not to
be got rid of by declarations of Courts
of law or equity." (a) Acts of Parliament
are not subject to the ultra vires rule:
for the legislative supremacy of Parliament
is a fundamental law of the Constitution.
But Parliament distinguishes between statutes
manifestly of universal policy and intended
to affect British territory in general or a
Colony in particular, and those of municipal
or internal application in the United
Kingdom. It is only the former kind that
apply here irrespective of local legislation.

This class of statute overrides any
repugnant or inconsistent provision relating
to them in a local ordinance, and any
ordinance that is repugnant to an order
in council, regulation, letters patent, or
proclamation made under any such statute
is also void to the extent of the repugnancy
but not otherwise. (Colonial Law Validity
Act, 1865, s. 2). Such statutes are to be
read in this colony with such formal
alterations as to names, localities, courts,
officers, persons, moneys, penalties, and
otherwise as may be necessary to make
them applicable to local circumstances
(Interpretation Ord., s. 14).

(a) Per Holker, L.J. in Gibbs v Guild, (1882) 9 Q.B.D. p. 59.
(at pp. 74-75).

Today, statutes of the Imperial
Parliament made applicable to this Colony
may be classified as follows:-

1. Those of universal application. For
the purpose of this study these may be
sub-divided thus:-

(i) those that apply in the Colony
irrespective of local legislation. Examples:
The Act of Settlement, 1701; the Abolition
of Slavery Act, 1833; the Demise of the
Crown Act, 1901, and those that regulate
the exercise of the royal prerogative
especially on matters of trade, extradition.
,postal service and like matters of
international comity. This principle need
not be incorporated in an ordinance, but
section 252 of the Customs Ordinance does
so: "Where in any order in council made
applicable to the Colony in accordance with
the provisions of the Air Navigation Acts,
1920 and 1936, or any amending Act, or
in any regulations made under any such
order in council, any provision shall be made
contrary to the customs laws such provision
shall have effect to the exclusion of the
corresponding provision contained in the said

(ii) those that apply in the Colony only
if there is no corresponding law to the
same effect. Examples: section 3 of the


Documentary Evidence Act, 1868, reads:
"Subject to any law that may be from
time to time made by the legislature of any
British Colony or possession, this Act shall
be in force in every such Colony or
possession." The Coinage (Colonial Offences)
Act, 1853, provides "that where by the
law in any colony provision is
made for the punishment of offences relating
to the coin, the said Act shall
not extend to such Colony."
(iii) those that apply in the Colony only
after being so proclaimed by Order in Council
by the King. This is the procedure now
generally employed. Sometimes discretionary
powers are given the King by the Acts.
not to apply them if satisfactory corresponding
local laws obtain, or to apply them where
reciprocal provisions have been made locally.
Example: Administration of Justice Act.
1920, in respect of reciprocal enforcement
of court judgments. The Judgments Extension
and the Maintenance Orders (Enforcement)
Ordinances, ss. 9 and 12 respectively,
incorporate the Act and the Governor in
Executive Council now exercises the power
of extending judgments or orders to other
parts of the Empire by virtue of the Act.
(iv) those that apply in the Colony,
whether ipso facto or after proclamation.
but grant certain powers for their execution
to the Governor. or Governor in Executive


Council, or the Legislative Council, or the
Supreme Court, &c. (for which see under
these heads).
(v) those that are made to apply in the
Colony only if there exist reciprocal
arrangements with a foreign State in respect
of their subject-matter, when they are
extended to the Colony by Order in Council.
Examples: The Evidence by Commission Act.
1859 and the Domicile Act, 1861. It is
by virtue of statutes in this group that
certain aliens are exempt from the provisions
of the Aliens (Land Holding) Ordinance. (b)
2. Those of exclusive application to a
Colony. There are only two such statutes
in respect of this Colony.
3. Those of general application in
England on March 1st, 1848, as contrasted
with those of general application in the
Colonial Empire. This class of statute, it
should be noted, has been made applicable
to the Colony, not by virtue of the
omnipotence of Parliament, but by virtue of
an enactment passed by the Legislative
Council deliberately declaring their application
to the Colony, as at the 'date mentioned.
subject to ordinances passed since 1848.
Of this more will be said later.
(See Pt. 5, Chap. II).

(b) It must be borne in mind that the sub-divisions above
referred to are in respect of form and not of substance,


It is now legally requisite for the King
to have a Privy Council. It is the only
statutory means he has of exercising the
vast powers that have been conferred upon
him by a large number of statutes. It is
the only constitutional way for the King to
exercise his common law prerogatives. Acts
of the Privy Council are formally expressed
by orders in council, or writs, proclamations.
letters patent, charters, and grants under
the Great Seal, or warrants, commissions.
instructions, and orders under the sign
manual and signet. Although the orders
issued by the Council are still expressed to
be made by the King with the advice of
the Privy Council, the Council itself has
ceased to exercise its former deliberative
and consultative functions, and meets
principally to confer formal approval upon
documents, the purport and tenor of which
have been previously considered and decided
upon by the Cabinet, or by the Imperial

The Privy Council is therefore merely
a formal executive body: for its former
consultative and advisory functions are now
performed by the heads of the political


departments of the Government, that is.
that group of members known as the
Cabinet, at the head of which is the Prime
Minister. It is the Cabinet that advises
the King in the exercise of his prerogative
and statutory powers and controls both the
executive and legislative functions of
government in England. Cabinet Ministers
are invariably Privy Councillors. Hence it
has become a constitutional convention that
the Royal Prerogative has been transferred
to the Cabinet, though given expression to
in the Privy Council, for it is in that
manner that "the residue of discretionary
or arbitrary authority which is legally
left in the hands of the Crown" is exercised.
The Cabinet, it might be added, is dependent
for its existence upon the goodwill of the
party that commands a majority in the
House of Commons. Moreover, its members
are politically responsible, both individually
and collectively to Parliament. The King
does not attend Cabinet meetings.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies:-
The King acts on the advice of his ministers:
and the affairs of this Colony are entrusted
to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
who is a member of the Cabinet. Matters
of state concerning the Colony are decided
by the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
and only by the Cabinet if of very great
importance. These are given formal


expression by the Privy Council. Matters
of less importance are given expression
by Instructions and Despatches by the
Secretary of State himself.

Mere instructions by the Secretary of
State for the Colonies to the Governor
directing him not to concur in passing or
assenting to an ordinance would not make
it void once he has assented to it, even
if it is repugnant to such instructions and
even though such instructions may be
referred to in a letters patent, provided that
such ordinance is not repugnant to an Act
of Parliament extending to the Colony or
to an order or regulations made under
authority of such Act. (Colonial Laws
Validity Act, 1865, ss. 2-4).

The importance of the Secretary of
State for the Colonies is that he exercises
the powers of the King, prerogative and
statutory, concerning this Colony. Thus, he
appoints the Governor, the heads of
departments, the judges, and approves of
the minor appointments to the civil service,
and exercises the King's power of veto.
He also exercises statutory powers conferred
upon him by Acts of Parliament and local
ordinances. By virtue of the Bankers
Licences and Bank Notes Ordinance he may
dispense with the requirements of that
Ordinance in regard to the deposit of


security against the issue of bank notes, with
power to revoke such dispensation (s. 18).
Any document stating that the sanction of
the Secretary of State has been given for
the purpose of the Trading with the Enemy
Ordinance and purporting to be signed by
him shall be evidence of the facts stated
in the document (s. 13). By the Lunacy
and Mental Treatment Ordinance he is given
authority to disallow any regulation made
under that Ordinance (s. 54). A copy of
any book printed in the Colony shall be
transmitted to him by the Government.
(Copyright Ord., s. 4).

Other local statutory powers conferred
on him are that his approval is necessary
in respect of fixing the irate of interest on
money deposited in the Post Office Savings
Bank (Post Office Savings Bank Ord., s. 9);
depositing bank notes with the Crown Agents
or trustees appointed by the Governor
(Bankers Licences and Bank Notes Ord...
s. 10); charging the Note Security Fund
and not the Currency Note Income Account
and expenditure of an exceptional nature
(Government Currency Notes Ord., s. 10)
or making regulations concerning that
Ordinance; declaring pensionable any office
on the Board created by the Central
Waterworks Ordinance (s. 11); making
regulations under the School Teachers'
Pensions Ordinance (s. 20); or making a


deportation order against a British subject
under the Deportation (British Subject)
Ordinance (s. 19). There are certain matters
he must sanction under the Pensions
Ordinance and the Widows' & Orphans'
Pensions Ordinance.

Commission appointing a Governor:-
The authority of the King in the Colony
is represented by the Governor or the person
who for the time being administers the
Government. The following is the Commission
appointing the (present) Governor signed
by the Secretary of- State for the Colonies
on behalf of the King. (See R.G. 1942,
p. 702).

Dated 14th April, 1942.

George the sixth, by the Grace of God
of Great Britain, Ireland and the British
Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender
of the Faith, Emperor of India: To Our
Trusty and Well-beloved Sir Bede Edmund
Hugh Clifford, commonly called the Honourable
Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford, Knight
Commander of Our Most Distinguished Order
of Saint Michael and St. George, Companion
of Our Most Honourable Order of the Bath,
Member of Our Royal Victorian Order,
Captain in the Reserve of Officers of Our
Army (The Royal Fusiliers), Greeting.


We do, by this Our Commission under
Our Sign Manual and Signet, appoint you,
the said Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford.
to be, during Our pleasure, Our Governor
and Commander-in-Chief in and over our
colony of Trinidad and Tobago, with all
the powers, rights, privileges, and advantages
to the said Office belonging or appertaining.

]I. And We do hereby authorise, empower,
and command you to exercise and perform
all and singular the powers and directions
contained in certain Letters Patent bearing
date at Westminster, the Sixth day of
June, 1924, constituting the Office of Governor
and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of
Trinidad and Tobago, or in any other Letters
Patent adding to, amending or substituting
for the same, and in the Order of Her
Majesty Queen Victoria in Council bearing
date the Seventeenth day of November 1888,
uniting the Colonies of Trinidad and Tobago
and in the further Order of Her said
Majesty in Council bearing date the Twentieth
day of October, 1898, amending the same.
,and in the Order of His Majesty King
George the Fifth in Council bearing date the
Sixteenth day of April, 1924, entitled the
'Trinidad and Tobago (Legislative Council)
Order in Council, 1924, and in any other
Order in Council affecting Our said Colony
of Trinidad and Tobago, according to such
Orders and Instructions as Our Governor


for the time being hath already received, and
to such further Orders and Instructions as
you may hereafter receive from Us.

III. And further We do hereby appoint
that, so soon as you shall have taken the
prescribed Oaths and have entered upon the
duties of your Office, this Our present
Commission shall supersede Our Commission
under Our Sign Manual and Signet, bearing
date the Twenty-first day of March, 1938.
appointing our Trusty and Well-beloved Sir
Hubert Winthrop Young, Knight Commander
of Our Most Distinguished Order of Saint
Michael and Saint George, Companion of
Our Distinguished Service Order, Major in
Our Indian Army (Retired), to be Governor
and Commander-in-Chief of Our Colony of
Trinidad and Tobago.

IV. And We do hereby command all
and singular Our Officers and loving subjects
in Our said Colony, and all others whom
it may concern to take due notice hereof.
and to give their ready obedience accordingly.

Given at Our Court at St. James's, this
Fourteenth day of April, 1942, in the Sixth
year of Our Reign.

By His Majesty's Command.


Creation of the Executive and Legislative
Councils:-The first Executive Council was
created in Trinidad in 1831 by Royal Letters
Patent dated April 25th, 1831, and its first
sitting took place on January 5th, 1832. The
first Legislative Council was created in
Trinidad by the same Royal Letters Patent
and sat for the first time on December 27th.
1831. (See Reis, Hist. of the Constit.).
'Clauses V and VI of the Royal Letters
Patent, 1924-1941, which are quoted hereunder,
merely express a change in the personnel
of the Councils, for the procedure adopted
is to repeal the former Order in Council
and Letters Patent and extinguish the former
Councils, and then to re-create new Councils.
Now know ye that We do by these
presents declare Our Will and Pleasure
to be as follows:-
V. There shall be an Executive Council
for the Colony, and the said Council shall
consist of such persons as We shall direct
by Instructions under Our Sign Manual and
Signet, and all such persons shall hold
their places in the Executive Council during
Our Pleasure.
VI. On and after a date to be fixed by
the Governor by Proclamation in the
Trinidad Royal Gazette the Legislative
Council of the Colony of Trinidad 'and
Tobago shall cease to exist and in place


thereof there shall be a Legislative Council
constituted in such manner and consisting
of the Governor and such persons as are
directed by our Order in Our. Privy Council
dated the 25th day of April, 1941, and
known as the Trinidad and Tobago
(Legislative Council) Order in Council, 1941,
or by any Order in Our Privy Council
amending or substituted for the same, or
by any Instructions under Our Sign Manual
and Signet. (a)

(a) For Royal Letters Patent, see R.G. 1924, p. 656;
1941, p. 653: for Order in Council, ibid. 1924, p. 638;
1928, p. 647; 1941, pp. 647, 1658; 1942, p. 1409; and
S1945, p. 262; for Royal Instructions, ibid. 1924, p. 662;
1941, p. 1659. The clauses in these three documents
are quoted in full in this study, but under heads to
suit the scheme of presentation. For the Trinidad
and Tobago (Legislative Council) Orders in Council,
see Part 3.

To All to whom these Presents shall
come, Greeting: We do declare Our
Will and Pleasure to be as follows:-

I. There shall be a Governor and
Commander-in-Chief in and over Our Colony
of Trinidad and Tobago (hereinafter referred
to as the Colony), and appointments to the
said office shall be by Commission under
Our Sign Manual and Signet.

II. We do hereby authorise, empower,
and command the said Governor and
Commander-in-Chief (hereinafter called the
Governor) to do and execute all things
that belong' to his said office, according to
the tenour of these Our Letters Patent and
of any Order or Orders in Our Privy Council
relating to the Colony and of such Commission
as may be issued to him under Our Sign
Manual and Signet, and according to such
Instructions as may from time to time be
given to him under Our Sign Manual and
Signet, or by Our Order in Our Privy


Council, or by Us through one of Our
Principal Secretaries of State, and to such
Laws as are or shall hereafter be in force
in the Colony.

III. Every person appointed to fill the
Office of Governor shall, with all due
solemnity, before entering on any of the
duties of his Office, cause the Commission
appointing him to be Governor to be read
and published at the seat of Government,
in the presence of the Chief Justice, or
some other Judge of the Supreme Court
of the Colony, and of such Members of the
Executive Council thereof as can conveniently
attend, which being done, he shall then and
there take before them the Oath of
Allegiance, in the form provided by an
Act intituled an Act to amend the
Law relating to Promissory Oaths; and
likewise the usual Oath for the due execution
of the Office of Governor and for the due
and impartial administration of justice;
which Oaths the said Chief Justice or Judge
is hereby required to administer.

XVI. (1) Whenever the Governor has
occasion to be absent from the seat of
Government but not from the Colony, or
to be absent from the Colony for a period
which he has reason to believe will be of
short duration, he may, Iby an Instrument
under the Public Seal of the Colony, appoint


any person resident in the island of Trinidad
to be his deputy during such absence, and
in that capacity to exercise, perform and
execute for and on behalf of the Governor
during such absence all such powers and
authorities vested in the Governor as shall
in and by such Instrument be specified but
no others.

(2) By the appointment of a deputy as
aforesaid the power and authority of the
Governor shall not be abridged, altered, or
in any way affected otherwise than as We
may at any time hereafter think proper to
direct, and every such deputy shall conform
to and observe all such instructions as the
Governor shall from time to time address
to him for his guidance.
(3) Any appointment under this section
may at any time be revoked by the Governor
or by one of Our Principal Secretaries of
State, and shall cease and determine upon
the return of the Governor to the seat of
Government or the Colony, as the case may
XVII. The Governor shall not be considered
absent from the Colony for the purpose
of these Letters Patent during his passage
from any part of the Colony to any other
part thereof or when there is a subsisting
appointment of a deputy under Article XVI
of these Letters Patent.


XVIII. Whenever the office of Governor
is vacant, or if the Governor become
incapable or be absent from the Colony,
such person or persons as We may appoint
under Our Sign Manual and Signet, and in
default of such appointment, or in the
absence of all persons so appointed, then
the person for the time being lawfully
discharging' the functions of Colonial Secretary
for the Colony shall, during our pleasure.
administer the Government of the Colony.
first taking the Oaths hereinbefore directed
to be taken by the Governor and in the
manner herein prescribed, which being done.
We do hereby authorise, empower, and
command such Administrator as aforesaid.
to do and execute during Our pleasure, all
things that belong to the office of Governor
and Commander-in-Chief, according to the
tenor of these Our Letters Patent, and of
any Order by TJs in Our Privy Council.
and according to Our Instructions as
aforesaid, and the Laws of the Colony.

TV. The Governor shall keep and use
the Public Seal of the Colony for sealing
all .things whatsoever that shall pass the
said Public Seal.

XII. The Governor in Our name and on
Our behalf may make and execute, under
the Public Seal of the Colony grants and
dispositions of any lands which may lawfully


be granted or disposed of by Us, within
the Colony: Provided that every such grant
or disposition be made in conformity either
with some law in force in the Colony, or
with some Instructions addressed to the
Governor under Our Sign Manual and
Signet, or through one of our Principal
Secretaries of State, or with some regulation
in force in the Colony.

XV. When any crime or offence has been
committed within the Colony, or for which
the offender may be tried therein, the
Governor may, as he shall see occasion,
in Our name and on Our behalf, grant a
pardon to any accomplice in such crime
or offence who shall give such information
and evidence as shall lead to the conviction
of the principal offender, or of any one
of such offenders, if more than one, and
further, may grant to any offender convicted
of any crime or offence in any Court, or
before any Judge, Justice, or Magistrate.
within the Colony, a pardon, either free
or subject to lawful conditions, or any
remission of the sentence passed on such
offender, or any respite of the execution of
such sentence, for such period as the
Governor thinks lit, and may remit any
fines, penalties, or forfeitures, due or accrued
to Us. Provided always, that the Governor
shall in no case, except where the offence
has been of a political nature unaccompanied


by any other grave crime, make it a condition
of any pardon or remission of sentence that
the offender shall be banished from or shall
absent himself or be removed from the
Colony. (See Appendix A).
XIX. And we do hereby require and
command all Our Officers, Civil and Military.
and all other the Inhabitants of the Colony,
to be obedient, aiding and assisting unto the
Governor, or to such person or persons as
may, from time to time, under the provisions
of these Our Letters Patent, administer the
Government of the Colony.
XXI. And We do hereby (reserve to
Ourselves, Our Heirs and Successors, full
power and authority from time to time
to revoke, alter, or amend these Our Letters
Patent as to Us or them shall seem fit.
Royal Instructions, June 6th, 1924 and
May 5th, 1941:-We do hereby direct and
enjoin and declare Our Will and Pleasure.
as follows:-
XVI. Before disposing of any vacant or
waste lands to Us belonging, the Governor
shall cause the same to be surveyed, and
such reservations to be made thereout as
he may think necessary for roads or other
public purposes.. The Governor shall not.
directly or indirectly, purchase for himself
any of such lands without Our special


permission given through one of Our
Principal Secretaries of State.

XX. The Governor shall punctually forward
to Us, from year to year, through one of
Our Principal Secretaries of State, the
annual book of returns commonly called
the Blue Book, relating to the Revenue
and Expenditure, Defence, Public Works.
Legislation, Civil Establishments, Pensions,
Population, Schools, Course of Exchange,
Imports and Exports, Agricultural Produce.
Manufacturers, and other matters in the said
Blue Book more particularly specified, with
reference to the state and condition of the

XXI. Except in the cases provided for by
Our above-recited Letters Patent the Governor
shall not upon any pretence whatever quit
the Colony without having first obtained
leave from Us for so doing under Our Sign
Manual and Signet, or through one of Our
Principal Secretaries of State.

Ordinances relating to Sovereign Power:-
By the Criminal Appeal Ordinance (s. 22)
the Governor may, when considering any
petition for the exercise of His Majesty's
mercy, having reference to the conviction
of a person on indictment or to the sentence
(other than sentence of death) passed on
a person so convicted, (1) refer the whole


case to the Court of Criminal Appeal.
which shall then be heard and determined
as in the case of an appeal; or (2) if he
desires the assistance of the Court on any
point arising in the case, refer that point
to the Court for their opinion thereon.
(Note: In the case of sentence of death.
the matter is to be dealt with in accordance
with Clause XVIII of the Royal Instructions
of June 6, 1924, for which see next Chapter).

By the Summary Courts Ordinance
(s. 126) the Governor may remit, in whole
or in part, any sum of money which may
be imposed as a penalty and as costs,
charges, and expenses in connection with
such penalty, on any person convicted of
a summary offence, or of an offence
summarily dealt with under that Ordinance.
although such money may be, in whole or
in part, payable into the Treasury for the
use of the Colony, or to some party other
than the Crown; and to extend the Royal
Mercy (a) to any person who may be
imprisoned for non-payment of any sum
of money so imposed, although the same
may be, in whole or in part, payable into
the Treasury for the use of the Colony.
or to some party other than the Crown; or

(a) Compare the language of 100 years ago (Ord. 10 of
1842): "That it shall be lawful for the Queen's
Majesty to extend Her Royal Mercy "


order the restoration of anything seized or
detained in connection with a summary
offence, subject to such terms and conditions
as he may see fit to direct. Every person
who accepts or acquiesces in any such
remission or restoration shall be thereby
debarred from maintaining or continuing
any action or suit in respect of any matter
to which such remission or restoration may
relate, and no further proceedings shall be
taken against any such person in relation
to any such matter. This is a repetition
of the present Remission of Penalties
Ordinance, first passed in 1886.

By virtue of the maxim that the King
cannot confer a favour on one subject to
the injury and damage of others, remission
of penalties by the Governor can in no way
affect the acquired right in his part of the
penalty by an informant who has given
information that leads to a conviction against
a penal ordinance. (See Broom, Legal
Maxims, 10th edit. p. 32). Nor can the
Governor pardon an offender before or after
a conviction for a public nuisance that still
remains unabated. (Odgers, Common Law.
Vol. I, p. 141, 2nd edit). Nor release a
recognisance to keep the peace. (b)

(b) See Todd v Robinson (1884) 12 Q.B.D. p. 530.


By virtue of the Promissory Oaths
Ordinance, the forms of official oaths to be
taken by the Governor are as follows:-

Oath of Allegiance:-I, do swear
that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance
to His Majesty King George, his heirs and
successors according to law. So help me God.
Official Oath:-I, do swear that I
will well and truly serve His Majesty King
George in the office . So help me God.
Judicial Oath:-I, do swear that I
will well and truly serve Our Sovereign
Lord King George in the office of. and
I will do right to all manner of people
after the laws and usages of this Colony,
without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.
So help me God.

Acts of Parliament delegating powers
to the Governor.
The Foreign Enlistment Act, 1870, the
Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, the British
Nationality & Status of Aliens Act, 1914,
and the Extradition Act, 1870, empower
the Governor to exercise the powers or
jurisdiction given to the Secretary of State
by those Acts.

The Colonial Fortifications Act, 1877,
gives power to the Crown to transfer by


Order in Council colonial fortifications to
the Governor.

The Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act,
1878, directs that no proceedings for the trial
of a person be instituted for offences as
declared by the Act without the consent
of the Governor (s. 3).

The Customs Consolidation Act, 1876.
consolidated a number of Acts relating to
Customs laws and the powers vested in
the Commissioners of Customs shall, by
section 149, continue to be vested in the
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, gives
power to the Governor of the Commissioners
of Customs, and, with the approval of the
Secretary of State, he may make regulations
in respect of ships not exceeding 60 tons
burden (s. 90); may modify Part III of Act
in its application to the Colony (s. 366);
appoint medical inspectors of British seamen
(s. 205); and make rules as to steerage
passengers (s. 367). By the Merchant
Shipping Act, 1906, powers as to relief and
repatriation of distressed British seamen are
given to the Governor. (Compare Distressed
Seamen Repatriation Ord.).

The Pensions (Governors of Dominions.
&c.) Act, 1911. The Act consolidates and
amends the law relating to the payment of


pensions to governors of any part of the
King's Dominions. It has been amended by
an Act of the same name passed in 1929.
The Naval Establishments in British
Possessions Act, 1909, empowers the Crown
to vest in the Governor any store, yard,
magazine, building or other property in
Trinidad held in trust for naval purposes.
The Supplies & Services (Transitional
Powers) Act, 1945, gives power to the
Governor to make regulations relating to
the control of commodities and their price
for sale.
By the Colonial Courts of Admiralty
Act, 1890, "whenever there is not a formally
appointed vice-admiral in a British
possession, ..the Governor of the possession
shall be ex-officio vice-admiral thereof."
(s. 10).

Ordinances delegating Powers to the Governor.
Though the more detailed administration
of the Government is largely in the hands
of Departments of Government, and other
minor authorities and bodies nearly all the
creatures of ordinances, there are very few
ordinances that do not confer some enabling
power on the Governor (and sometimes on
the Governor in Executive Council) for the
purpose of carrying out their aims. These


powers may be divided as being executive.
administrative, legislative, judicial, and quasi-
judicial; but to assume that the Governor
performs these functions is almost as much
a fiction as the language of the "written"
Constitution that assumes that the King
governs the Colony. The details of
administration are performed by the heads
of departments and minor administrative
officers. Only certain decisions on matters
of importance are left to be taken by the
Governor, or Governor in Executive Council:
and even these are taken after consultation
with the senior official of the department

"All powers and authorities vested in
,or exercised by the Court of Intendant in
respect of the administration and disposal
of the Crown lands shall be exclusively
vested in and exercised by the Governor
as Intendant of Crown Lands." (Crown
Lands Ord., s. 3). The Spanish Court of
Intendant was presided over by the Governor.
It exercised jurisdiction in respect of debts
due to the Crown, escheat, and matter
relating to Crown lands. A practice
gradually grew up by which a judge of
the Supreme Court, as assessor, sat in place
of the Governor and a sub-intendant attended
to the administration and disposal of Crown
lands. Ordinance 8 of 1869 confirmed this


practice and is now section 3 of the Crown
Lands Ordinance.

The Governor may assent to an ordinance
in which he is personally interested, e.g..
an ordinance raising his salary, provided
he first obtains the consent of the Secretary
of State for the Colonies. The emoluments
attached to his office are now regulated by
the Governor's Emoluments Ordinance.

Colonial Secretary:-Unless expressly
prohibited from so doing, the Governor
may delegate his authority to the Colonial
Secretary to exercise his statutory powers
and duties. He may also signify under the
hand of the Colonial Secretary the ordinary
routine orders and directions. The duty of
making regulations may not be delegated;
and the Governor must sign proclamations.
warrants or other instruments issued under
the Public Seal of the Colony. (Interpretation
Ord., ss. 18, 19).

The Colonial Secretary is a member of
the Executive and Legislative Councils. He
is a Commissioner of Currency (Government
Currency Notes Ord., s. 12); a Commissioner
of Affidavits (Commissioners of Affidavits
Ord., s. 3; see R.G. 1943, p. 1357); he
is vested with the attribute of a corporation,
the object of which is to hold property
that cannot be conveniently held in the

name of the King or the Government.
(Colonial Secretary Incorporation Ord.); he
may take declarations (Statutory Declarations
Ord., s. 2); he may order the discharge
of a leper patient (Leprosy Ord., s. 9); or
his removal to another leprosarium (Ibid,
s. 13); or the removal of a criminal lunatic
who is a leper from a hospital to leprosarium
or vice-versa (Ibid, s. 15); he may grant
jurisdiction to a justice to hear and determine
cases after the justice has been appointed
by the Governor (Summary Courts Ord.,
ss. 4, 6). By the Trinidad Consolidated
Telephones Ltd. Ordinance he has power to
demand the immediate transmission of any
message urgently required for the purpose
of the public service (s. 12). By the
Montreal Trust Co. Ordinance he must be
supplied by that Company with its annual
report (s. 10).
The Financial Secretary:-He is a member
of both the Executive and Legislative
Councils. His duty is to advise the
Executive on financial matters, consider how
money is to be raised to meet public
expenditure, prepare the estimates for each
year, and submit the same to the Legislative
Council. He is chairman of a number of


Royal Instructions, June 6th, 1924:-

II. The Executive Council of the Colony
shall consist of the persons for the time
being lawfully discharging the functions of
the respective offices of Colonial Secretary,
of Attorney-General, and of Financial
Secretary of the Colony, and of such other
persons as at the date of the coming into
operation of these Our Instructions are
Members of the said Council, or as the
Governor, in pursuance of Instructions from
Us through one of Our Principal Secretaries
of State, may from time to time appoint.
The said members, shall have seniority and
precedence as We may specially assign, and.
in default thereof, first the above-mentioned
Officers in the order in which their offices
are mentioned herein, and then other persons
according to the priority of their respective
appointments, or if appointed by the same
Instrument, according to) the order in which
they are named therein.
III. Whenever any person appointed by
the Governor, in pursuance of Instructions
from Us, through one of our Principal
Secretaries of State, shall, by writing under
his hand, resign his seat in the Executive


Council, or shall die, or be suspended from
the exercise of his functions as a member
of the Executive Council, or be declared
by the Governor by an Instrument under
the Public Seal to be incapable of exercising
his functions as a Member of the Council.
or be absent from the Colony, or shall
either permanently or temporarily become
an ex-officio Member of the Council, the
Governor may, by an Instrument under
the Public Seal, appoint some person to be
provisionally a Member of the Council in
the place of the Member so resigning or
dying, or being suspended or declared
incapable, or being absent, or becoming
either permanently or temporarily an
ex-officio Member.

Such person shall forthwith cease to
be a Member of the Council if his appointment
is disallowed by Us, or if the Member in
whose place he was appointed shall be
released from suspension, or as the case may
be, shall be declared by the Governor
capable of again discharging his functions
in the Council, or shall return to the Colony,
or shall cease to sit in the Council as
an ex-officio Member.

The Governor shall forthwith report
every such provisional appointment to Us
through one of Our Principal Secretaries of
State, and every such appointment may be


disallowed by Us through one of Our
Principal Secretaries of State, or may be
revoked by the Governor by any such
Instrument as aforesaid.
IV. The Governor shall forthwith
communicate these Our Instructions to the
said Executive Council, and likewise all such
others from time to time, as he shall find
convenient for Our service to impart to
V. The said Executive Council shall not
proceed to the dispatch of business unless
duly summoned by authority of the Governor.
nor unless two members at least (exclusive
of himself or of the member presiding) be
present and assisting throughout the whole
of the meetings at which any such business
shall be despatched.
VI. The Governor, unless prevented by
illness or other grave cause, shall attend
and preside at the meetings of the Executive
Council, and in his absence such Member as
the Governor may appoint, or in default
thereof, or in the absence of such Member
the senior Member of the said Council
actually present shall preside.
VII. Full and exact journals or minutes
shall be kept of all the proceedings of the
Executive Council: and at each meeting of
the said Council the minutes of the last


preceding meeting shall be confirmed or
amended, as the case may require, before
proceeding to the despatch of any other
business. Twice in each year a full transcript
of all the said minutes for the preceding
half year shall be transmitted to Us through
one of Our Principal Secretaries of State.
VIII. In the execution of the powers
and authorities granted to the Governor by
the said recited Letters Patent, or by any
other Letters Patent adding to, amending,
or substituted for the same, or by any
Order or Orders in Our Privy Council
relating to the Colony, he shall in all
cases consult with the Executive Council,
excepting only in cases which may be of
such a nature that, in his judgment, Our
service would sustain material prejudice by
consulting the said Council thereupon, or
when the matters to be decided shall be
too unimportant to require their advice, or
too urgent to admit of their advice being
given by the time within which it may
he necessary for him to act in respect of
any such matters. In all such urgent cases
he shall, at the earliest practical period,
communicate to the Executive Council the
measures which he may so have adopted,
with the reasons thereof.

IX. The Governor shall alone be entitled
to submit questions to the Executive Council


for their advice or decision; but if the
Governor decline to submit any question to
the said Council when requested in writing
by any Member so to do, it shall be
competent to such Member to require that
there be recorded upon the Minutes his
written application, together with the answer
returned by the Governor to the same.
X. In the exercise of the powers and
authorities granted to the Governor by the
said recited Letters Patent, or any other
Letters Patent adding to, amending, or
substituted for the same or by any Order
or Orders in Our Privy Council relating to
the Colony, he may act in opposition to the
advice given to him by the Members of
the Executive Council if he shall in any
case deem it right to do so; but in any
such case he shall fully report the matter
to Us, by the first convenient opportunity,
with the grounds and reasons for his action.
In every such case it shall be competent
to any Member of the Council to require
that there be recorded at length on the
Minutes the grounds of any advice or
opinion he may give upon the question.
XVIII. Whenever any offender shall
have been condemned by the sentence of
any Court in the Colony to suffer death.
the Governor shall call upon the Judge who
presided at the trial to make to him a


written Report of the case of such offender.
and shall cause such Report to be taken
into consideration at the first meeting of
the Executive Council which may be
conveniently held thereafter, and he may
cause the said Judge to be specially summoned
to attend at such meeting and to produce
his notes threat. The Governor shall not
pardon nor reprieve any such offender unless
it shall appear to him expedient so to
do, upon receiving the advice of the said
Executive Council thereon; but in all such
cases he is to decide either to extend or
to withhold a pardon or reprieve, according
to his own deliberate judgment, whether the
members of the Executive Council concur
therein or otherwise; entering, nevertheless.
on the Minutes of the said Executive Council
a Minute of his reasons at length, in case
he should decide any such question in
opposition to the judgment of the majority
of the Members thereof.

Executive Councillor Oath:-I, .., being
chosen and admitted of His Majesty's
Executive Council in the Colony of Trinidad
and Tobago, do swear that I will, to the
best of my judgment at all times when
thereto required, freely give my counsel and
advice to the Governor or officer administering
the Government for the time being, for the
good management of the public affairs of
the Colony; that I will not directly nor


indirectly reveal such matters as shall be
debated in Council and committed to my
secrecy, but that I will in all things be
a true and faithful councillor. So help me
God. (Promissory Oaths Ord.).

Powers delegated by Ordinances:-A
large number of ordinances delegate
executive, administrative, legislative, judicial
and quasi-judicial powers to the Governor
in Executive Council.

Powers delegated by Acts of Parliament:-
West Indian Prisons Act, 1838, to make
rules for the government of prisons in the
Colony, with power reserved the Crown to
amend or annul them. Rules so made must
be laid before Parliament. (ss. 1, 2).

Colonial Leave of Absence Act, 1782, to
remove any person holding office by Patent
for reasonable cause or neglect of duty
(s. 2); to grant any such person leave of
absence, and in case of removal or death.
to provide for the discharge of the duties
of any such officer until the King's pleasure
shall be known (s. 3).

This Act applies to judges of the
Supreme Court. (a) The person removed
must have an opportunity of answering the

(a) See Montagu v Lieut.-Gov. of Van Diemen's Land
(1849) 6 Moo. P. C. C., p. 489.


charges brought against him. (b) Section 2
gives a right of appeal as in other cases
of appeal to the Privy Council. The Act
has lost much of its force by virtue of
the Judicature Ordinance, section 7, which
reads as follows: "Whenever the office of
any judge of the Supreme Court is vacant,
or. .any judge is absent from the Colony,
or is, by reason of illness, interest in any
cause or matter, or for any other reason,
incapable of acting, or in the opinion
of the Governor the due administration of
justice so requires, the Governor may, in
the' name of His Majesty, by Letters Patent
under the Public Seal of the Colony, appoint
some person possessing the qualification
required by sub-section (2) of section 5"
of the said Ordinance.

(b) Willis v Gipps (1846) 5 Moo. P. C. C., p. 379.


The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-
General are the legal advisers of the
Government and represent the Government
(and the public) in litigation. They are
therefore referred to as the Law Officers of
the Crown. The Attorney-General is a
member of both the Executive and Legislative
Councils. He also acts as the King's Proctor
in the Colony. If he suspects the parties
to a petition for divorce or for nullity of
marriage to have acted in collusion he may
intervene in the petition. Rules of the
High Court of Justice in England with
respect to the office of King's Proctor apply
here, subject to the Rules of the Supreme
Court.. (Judicature Ord., s. 36). The Attorney-
General is also head of the local Bar.

Claims under the Crown Suits Ordinance
and under a number of other ordinances
are taken in the name of the Attorney-General,
but the practice is not uniform. Certain
ordinances empower the Governor to name
some other officer, while others do so for
themselves. Even the Attorney-General is
empowered to authorize someone to appear
for him, despite this power being contained
in the Law Officers Ordinance. He is also


made the respondent under several ordinances.
His fiat or sanction, on behalf of the King,
for the purpose of commencing or instituting
a prosecution or complaint is necessary
under a number of ordinances. Appointments
of notaries public in Tobago must be
approved either by a judge of the Supreme
Court or the Attorney-General or Solicitor-
General. (Notaries Public (Tobago) Ord.).
There is no provision for a grand jury
by law in this Colony, although certain
functions performed by magistrates under
the Indictable Offences (Preliminary Enquiry)
Ordinance are incidentally similar to those
formerly performed by the grand jury in
England (now practically abolished by the
Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Act, 1933; but they are also the
same as those performed by magistrates
in England where the right of examination
before a magistrate and the preferment of
a bill of indictment before a grand jury
formerly co-existed. (See the Vexatious
Indictments Act, 1859).
The Attorney-General exercises the
functions nearest resembling those formerly
of a grand jury in England. He may order
the liberation of a person committed to
prison for further examination or trial, or
admitted to bail, for an alleged offence
triable on indictment. The Supreme Court
may review such decision on the complaint


of the party injured.. Or he may enter a
nolle prosequi (unwillingness to prosecute)
which is the equivalent of "not a true bill"
of the grand jury, if the accused is already
charged. When exercised, it is no bar to
any subsequent proceedings on the same
facts. (Criminal Procedure Ord., ss. 9-11).
Before the indictment is filed the Attorney-
General may refer back the case to the
magistrate with directions to re-open the
enquiry for the purpose of taking further
evidence. If, now, he is of the opinion
that the accused should not be committed
for trial, he may refer the case back with
directions that it be dealt with summarily,
(Indict. Offen. (Pre. Enq.) Ord., s. 25).
What may be regarded as the equivalent
of. a "true bill" of the grand jury is the
power of the Attorney-General to add to an
indictment any other offence disclosed by
the depositions; as also his power to
require a magistrate who is disposing
summarily of an indictable offence, to deal
with it as one for trial on indictment.
(Summary Courts Ord., s.. 92; Criminal
Jurisdiction (Increase of Jurisdiction and
Sentence) Ord. 1946). And where a person
is discharged by a magistrate at a preliminary
enquiry, the Attorney-General may apply to
the Supreme Court for a warrant for his
arrest and committal for trial. (Indict.
Offen. (Pre. Enq.) Ord., s. 25 (5) ).


Other statutory powers connected with
the administration of the criminal law given
to the Attorney-General are that he may
require a magistrate to state a case on
any point of law (Summary Courts Ord.,
s. 155 (6. ); he may move the Supreme
Court to have any proceedings before an
inferior court sent to it for review.
(Judicature Ord., s. 34); and he must sign
all indictments, except those where an
injured person is admitted to prosecute
privately (Criminal Procedure Ord., 1st Sch.
r. 12). If he considers that the ends of
justice require a case triable at San
Fernando to be moved to Port-of-Spain, or
vice versa, he may so order it. (Ibid, s. 3).
Magistrates are entitled to consult him if
in doubt as to any matter arising during
a preliminary enquiry. (Indict. Offen.
(Pre. Enq.) Ord., s. 22). If an inquest
by a coroner appears to the Attorney-General
to be inadequate, he may apply to the
Supreme Court for the writ ad melius
inquirendum (Judicature Ord., s. 35); or he
may, instead, request the coroner to reopen
the inquest and take further evidence.
(Coroners Ord., s. 31).

Power to put an end to vexations legal
proceedings in any court in the Colony is
given to the Attorney-General by the
Judicature Ordinance (s. 37) authorizing him
to apply to the Supreme Court for such


an order. If successful the person in
question may not institute any legal
proceedings without leave of the Court.
An order was so made in 1942. (See R.G.,
p. 76).

In respect of work relating to criminal
and civil proceedings that devolve on the
Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General may
discharge the same. (Law Officers Ord.,
s. 4). It is a duty for either one of
them, or counsel appointed for the Crown.
"to appear for the Crown on every appeal
to the Court of Criminal Appeal." (Criminal
Appeal Ord., s. 14). The Law Officers
Ordinance contains a fiction of law (a).
Any person, says section 2, holding the
office of Attorney-General, Solicitor-General,
First and Second Crown Counsel, "shall .
have and enjoy all the rights and privileges
of a barrister entitled to practice in the
Colony." "Any person" may be a layman,
who then enjoys "all the rights" of a
definite professional body, upon whom it
is the exclusive privilege of the Inns of
Court to confer the rank of Barrister-at-Law.
(Compare Judicature Ord., s. 5).

(a) For meaning of "fiction" in law, see Broom's Legal
Maxims, p. 78, 10th edit.


Royal Letters Patent, June 6, 1924 and
May 5, 1941:-
XIII. The Governor may constitute and
appoint all such Judges, Magistrates.
Justices of the Peace, and other necessary
Officers and Ministers, in the Colony, as
may be lawfully constituted or appointed
by Us, all of whom shall hold their offices
during Our pleasure.
XIV. The Governor may, subject to the
provisions of any law for the time being
in force in the Colony and to such in-
structiops as may from time to time be
given to him by Us through one of Our
principal Secretaries of State, upon sufficient
cause to him appearing, dismiss or sus-
pend from the exercise of his office any
person holding any public office within the
Colony, or, subject as aforesaid, may take
such other disciplinary action as may seem
to him desirable.
Royal Instructions, June 6, 1924:-
I. The Governor may, whenever he
thinks fit, require any person in the public
service of the Colony to take the Oath of
Allegiance, in the form prescribed by the


Act mentioned in the said recited Letters
Patent, together with such other Oath or
Oaths as may from time to time be
prescribed by any Laws in force in the
Colony. The Governor is to administer
such Oaths or cause them to be adminis-
tered by some Public Officer of the Colony.

XVII. All commissions to be granted
by the Governor to any person or persons
for exercising any office or employment
shall be granted during pleasure only:
and whenever the Governor shall appoint
to any vacant office or employment, of
which the initial emoluments exceed one
hundred and fifty pounds a year, any
person not by us specially directed to be
appointed thereto, he shall, at the same
time, expressly apprise such person that
such appointment is to be considered only
as temporary and provisional until Our
allowance or disallowance thereof has been

Oath:-An oath of office required to
be taken by a civil servant shall be taken
before the Governor or such other person
as he may direct. Provision is made
for a solemn affirmation or declaration
instead of an oath. A public officer de-
clining or neglecting to take such oath
or make a solemn affirmation shall, if he
has already entered on his office, vacate


the same, and, if he has not, be dis-
qualified from so entering. No person,
however, shall be compelled, in respect of
the same appointment to the same office.
to take such oath more than once (Pro-
missory Oaths Ord. For form of Oath
see p. 38).

Colonial Office Regulations:-By the
Colonial Officers (Leave of Absence) Act,
1894, civil servants in this Colony "shall
not be entitled to be absent from the
Colony except in accordance with rules
relating to leave of absence framed by a
Secretary of State". This statutory
power of the Secretary of State is em-
bodied in the Colonial Office Regulations.
These regulations are directions given by
the Crown to the Governor for general
guidance, as well as for the information
of all the Crown's servants subordinate to
him, and do not constitute a contract
between the Crown and its servants. They
are, moreover, alterable from time to time
without any assent on the part of public
servants, which could not be done by the
Crown if they were part of a contract
with those servants. These Regulations
(see also local Civil Service Regulations.
1927), are too lengthy to be reproduced
here. They concern salaries, leave of
absence, travelling and subsistence allow-
ances, classes of public offices, vacancies,


selection of candidates, dismissal, removal
for inefficiency, and suspension. It will
be sufficient for our purpose to draw
attention to the more unusual clauses con-
cerning the terms of employment which,
shortly, are as follows:-

Trade and other Restrictions:-Whole
time civil servants are prohibited from
engaging in trade, or employing themselves
in any commercial or agricultural under-
taking; or contribute anonymously to any
newspaper in the Colony or elsewhere;
nor may they write on questions that
can properly be called political or
administrative, though they may furnish
signed articles upon subjects of general
interest. No public officer is to allow
himself to be interviewed on questions of
public policy.

Indebtedness of Public Officers:--Every
civil servant against whom a judgment
shall be given for debt shall at once
report the fact to the Head of his Depart-
ment. If unsatisfied judgment debts
amount in all to a sum equal to one-
fourth of his annual salary, he will be
liable to be charged before the Executive
Council with a view to his removal from
the public service. Extenuating circum-
stances may, however, cause the Governor


in Council to meet the case by depart-
mental measures.
Assignment of Salary:-All transfers.
assignments or delegations of salary by
civil servants are prohibited; and the
offending officer will be liable to suspen-
sion. But a court may order a civil
servant to maintain his wife or child
(Children's Ord., s. 13), and the Governor
may deduct pension money to satisfy any
such order (Pensions Ord.., s. 20).
Bankruptcy:--A civil servant on being
adjudicated a bankrupt, or entering into
a composition with his creditors under the
Bankruptcy Ordinance, is immediately sus-
pended from duty and salary, and will
not be reinstated unless his difficulties
have been occasioned by unavoidable mis-
fortune, and not by extravagance or
culpable improvidence. (If in receipt of
a pension it may be stopped. Pensions
Ord., s. 21).
Foreign Orders and Medals:-No member
in the Service shall accept and wear the
Insignia of any foreign Order without
having previously obtained the' King's per-
mission to do so, signified either by
Warrant under the Royal Sign Manual,
or by restricted permission conveyed through
the Keeper of the King's Privy Purse.
(For regulations, see R.G. 1928, pp. 451-53).


The Foreign Order Regulations apply-since
the recognition of the temporal sovereignty
of the Pope by the Italian Government-to
Papal decorations. (R.G. 1930, p. 260).

Appointments:-Where by any law the
Governor is empowered to appoint a person
to exercise any powers or perform any
duties, he may either appoint a person
by name or direct the person holding the
office designated to exercise such powers
or perform such duties. This power of
the Governor includes the power of re-
moving or suspending any such person
appointed and to appoint a person tem-
porarily to fill any vacancy (Interpretation
Ord., ss. 15-17).

Appointments of judges of the Supreme
Court and the Registrar and deputy Reg-
istrar of that Court are by Letters Patent
under the Public Seal of the, Colony. They
hold office subject to the conditions con-
tained in the Colonial Service Regulations
made by the Secretary of State for the
Colonies. (Judicature Ord., s. 5). Magis-
trates and justices are appointed by
warrant under the hand of the Governor
and the Public Seal of the Colony (Sum-
mary Courts Ord., s. 3). All heads of
Departments and immediate heads are ap-
pointed by the Secretary of State. Other
appointments are made by the Goveri or.


The Governor in Executive Council
may require a civil servant to retire after
he attains the age of sixty years, or, in
special cases, with the approval of the
Secretary of State, at any time after he
attains the age of fifty years (Pensions
Ord., s. 10).

Privileges:-Not all civilian employees
of the Government are entitled to pensions.
Only service in a pensionable office in the
Colony or elsewhere shall be taken into
account as pensionable service. No officer
has the right in law to pension, gratuity
or other allowance under the Pensions
Ordinance. Nor is the right of the
Government to dismiss any officer without
compensation affected by the Ordinance
(s. 8). But when pension is granted it
is on condition that until he attains the
age of fifty-five years he may, if physically
fit for service,, be called upon to accept
office in lieu of pension (s. 12). The
Ordinance provides for a reduced pension
plus gratuity to be paid to an officer or
in case of his death one year's pensionable
emolument if in Grade I or not exceeding
nine months if in Grade II may be paid
to his personal representatives (ss. 15, 17).
Pensions to widows and children of de-
ceased civil servants are provided for by
the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Ordi-
nance. There is also a Provident Fund


for certain employees in the Government
Service who do not hold pensionable offices.
The offices that fall within the provisions
of the Provident Fund Ordinance are
given in the first schedule to that Ordi-
nance. Compulsory deposits and interest
are returnable to a depositor on his retire-
ment from the service whether through
dismissal or otherwise. Like pensions, the
right is not absolute. Travelling allow-
ance for civil servants temporarily or
permanently employed is provided for by
the Travelling Allowances Ordinance. By
the Deceased Officers' Salary Ordinance
the Governor may order a month's salary
to be paid to the widow, children, or
next of kin of a deceased officer.

The Pensions (Colonial Service) Act, 1887,
extends in certain cases the provisions of
the Superannuation Act, 1859, and amends
the Colonial Governors (Pensions) Act.
1865 and 1872. Section 1 applies the
Superannuation Act to colonial civil service.
Sections 6 and 8 define "civil servants".
Section 7 provides against double pension.
This Act has been amended by the Pensions
(Governors &c) Act, 1929.

Whitley Council:-In 1943, a system
of consultation in regard to the conditions
of service was provided by means of a
Whitley Council. Members of the Service


discuss matters at a Council meeting with
the Colonial Secretary and other senior
officials and decisions which are recom-
mended are put into effect by reason of
the system being accepted by the Secretary
of State.

Total Number of Civil Servants:-Figures
released by H.E. the Acting Governor
(Trinidad Guardian, Aug. 9, 1946) revealed
that there were 4,222 civil servants in the
Colony, of whom 2,560 were holders of
pensionable offices and 1,622 contributors to
the Provident Fund. In addition, there
were 2,488 primary school teachers and
1,096 officers and men in the Police Force.
Of officers engaged on contract for specific
periods there were about 26 posts, of
which 11 were vacant in August 1946. The
number employed who do not contribute
to the Provident Fund was not mentioned.



Departments of Government:-
Secretariat:-The offices of the Colonial
Secretary and Financial Secretary have been
dealt with. (see pp. 42-43).

Accountant-General:-This Department is
responsible for exercising a supervision over
receipts and payments of public moneys
and for reconciliation of departmental with
corresponding balances in its books.

Agriculture:-The Department is in
charge of Government botanic gardens,
parks, pastures, cocoa estates, stock farms,
propagating and nursery stations, marketing,
land settlement, plant protection, soil survey,
abattoir (Tobago), and district service con-
nected with sugarcane, cocoa subsidy in-
spection and food and rubber production.
The Department is advised both by the
Board of Agriculture and the Imperial
College of Tropical Agriculture. The Agri-
cultural Society, to whose funds the Govern-
ment contributes and whose accounts it
audits, disseminates agricultural knowledge.
Under the Fertilizers and Feeding Stuffs
Ordinance the Government appoints agri-


cultural analysts and official samplers. The
Ground Provision Board develops trade in
ground provisions, livestock, and other
marketable commodities of a similar nature.
The Agricultural Credit Bank assists with
public funds the Agricultural Co-operative
Societies, the Agricultural Credit Societies,
and the Cocoa Relief Board. The Banana
Board controls the export of Gros Michel
bananas. There is also a Plant Quarantine
Station and a cocoa fermentary under this
Audit:-The Auditor and his staff ex-
amine the accounts of all Departments.
including those of statutory and semi-official
bodies, to ensure that public monies are
spent for the purpose for which voted and
that accounts are kept in accordance with
the regulations made by the Secretary of
State for the Colonies.
Civil Aviation:-(see 1940 Revised Edition
of Ordinances, Vol. II, p. 800).

Commissioners of Currency:-They deal
with notes in circulation and the Note
Security Fund. It is their duty to detect
broached notes. The Note Security Fund
at December 31, 1943, was $593,076.03; and
notes in circulation were $22,864,084.50.

Crown Law Officers:-(see pp. 52-56).


Crown Solicitor, Administrator-General,
Official Receiver, and Public Trustee:-This
office is held by one officer. As Adminis-
trator-General, the Crown Solicitor accepts
and applies for administration of estates of
deceased persons, files actions in respect
thereof, and prosecutes persons for inter-
meddling. As Official Receiver, he deals
with bankruptcies. As Public Trustee,
he administers estates of those who appoint
him as such.

Customs and Excise:-Besides collecting
customs and excise duties, this Department
controls warehoused goods, imports and
exports of all kinds and transhipment trade.
grants licences under Spirits and Spirit
Compounds and Liquor Licences Ordinances,
as well as radio set licences. It also
administers the Copra Products Control

Education:-The Department is con-
cerned with education generally in the
Colony and with Government Assisted Inter-
mediate and Primary and Secondary Schools.
Queen's Royal College, and Government
Training College (for teachers). It super-
vises education in orphanages and industrial
schools and fosters the work of 4-H Clubs
in schools. The Department also supplies

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