Colonial Office Petitions, 1933-1950

Scope and Content

Three petitions submitted to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, containing text of petition and names and details of signatories: Petition by members of the Legislative Council in Kenya Colony, and colonists of Kenya representing trade, commerce and agriculture, objecting to a Bill to impose Income Tax in the Colony, 1933; petition of individuals, companies and associations of the Straits Settlements, objecting to proposals to introduce Income Tax in the Colony, 1940; petition by members of the South Indian Community in Fiji for the freedom of teaching Tamil, Telegu and Malayam languages in schools instead of Hindustani only, and for the provision of training in the teaching of those languages. The signatories (numbering over 5000) give name, language, occupation, village, district, and signature or thumb mark.

Administrative / Biographical History

Proposals to introduce income tax to Kenya Colony and to the Straits Settlements were made in 1933 and 1940 respectively. In the case of Kenya there was strong opposition from colonists working in trade and commerce, who viewed the proposed legislation as detrimental to their economic viability and a removal of one of the material benefits of living and working in the colony. The petition was spearheaded by Lord Francis Scott, a son of the Duke of Buccleuch, and a Member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council.
In the Straits Settlements, while an increase in taxation was accepted in principle because of the outbreak of war, the petitioners viewed income tax as a method impossible to implement efectively and fairly, because of widespread corruption in the colony. They suggested (but did not specify) an alternative method of taxation which would be self-assessing.
In Fiji, schools for the large Indian community provided (in accordance with legislation) teaching of and in the Indian language of Hindustani only, despite there being significant numbers speaking the languages of South India, namely Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. There had been moves to widen the teaching to include these languages in the 1930s, instigated by the then Governor, Sir Arthur Richards. Following Sir Arthur's transfer from the Colony, the matter remained in abeyance, and the petitioners sought to reactify this by appealing directly to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.



Access Information

Open although advance notice should be given.

Acquisition Information

Presented to ICS by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued to file level (see link to repository catalogue).

Archivist's Note

Compiled 2000, revised by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project Aug 2001.

Separated Material

Colonial Office material at the Public Record Office includes correspondence files relating to the Kenya Income Tax petition [CO 822/51/5-6].

Conditions Governing Use

A photocopying service is available at the discretion of the ICS Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research or private study. Requests to publish, or quote from original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager.

Corporate Names