Hong Kong Letters Patent 1917

George the Fifth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India: To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting.

WHEREAS by certain Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, bearing date at Westminster the Nineteenth day of January 1888, Her Majesty Queen Victoria did constitute the office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Colony of Hongkong and its Dependencies, as therein described, and did provide for the Government thereof:

And whereas by Orders of Her said Majesty in Her Privy Council bearing date respectively Twentieth day of October 1898, and the Twenty-seventh day of December 1899, certain territories adjacent to the said Colony were, for the term therein referred to, declared to be part and parcel of the Colony in like manner and for all intents and purposes as if they had originally formed part of the Colony:

And whereas We are minded to make other provision in lieu of the above recited Letters Patent of the Nineteenth day of January 1888:

Now, know ye that We do by these presents revoke the above recited Letters Patent of the Nineteenth day of January 1888, but without prejudice to anything lawfully done thereunder; and We do by these Our Letters Patent declare Our Will and Pleasure as follows:-

I. There shall be a Governor and Commander-Chief in and over Our Colony of Hongkong and its Dependencies (hereinafter called the Colony), and appointments to the said Office shall be made by Commission under Our Sign Manual and Signet.

II. We do hereby authorise, empower, and command Our 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 Commission 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 Order in Our Privy Council, or by Us through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, and to such laws as are now 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 upon any of the duties of his office, cause the Commission appointing him to be Governor to be read and published in the presence of the Chief Justice or other Judge of the Supreme Court, and of such Members of the Executive Council of the Colony 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 passed in the Session holden in the Thirty-first and Thirty-second years of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria 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, or if they be unavoidably absent, the senior Member of the Executive Council then present, is hereby required to administer.

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

V. There shall be an Executive Council in and 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 said Council during Our pleasure. The Governor may upon sufficient cause to him appearing suspend from the exercise of his functions in the Council any Member thereof pending the signification of Our pleasure, giving immediate notice to Us through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State. If the suspension is confirmed by Us through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State the Governor shall forthwith by an instrument under the Public Seal of the Colony revoke the appointment of such Member, and thereupon his seat in the Council shall become vacant.

VI. There shall be a Legislative Council in and for the Colony, and the said Council shall consist of the Governor and such persons as We shall direct by and Instructions under Our Sign Manual and Signet, and all such persons shall hold their places in the said Council during Our pleasure. The Governor may upon sufficient cause to him appearing suspend from the exercise of his functions in the Council any Member thereof pending the signification of Our pleasure, giving immediate notice to Us through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State the Governor shall forthwith by an instrument under the Public Seal of the Colony revoke the appointment of such Member, and thereupon his seat in the Council shall become vacant.

VII. The Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council, may make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Colony.

VIII. We do hereby reserve to Ourselves, Our heirs and successors, full power and authority to disallow, through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, any such law as aforesaid. Every such disallowance shall take effect from the time when the same shall be promulgated by the Governor in the Colony.

IX. We do also reserve to Ourselves, Our heirs and successors, Our and their undoubted right, with the advice of Our or their Privy Council, to make all such laws as may appear necessary for the peace, order, and good government of the Colony.

X. When a Bill passed by the Legislative Council is presented to the Governor for his assent he shall, according to his discretion, but subject to any Instructions addressed to him under Our Sign Manual and Signet or through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, declare that he assents thereto, or refuses his assent to the same, or that he reserves the same for the signification of Our pleasure.

XI. A Bill reserved for the signification of Our pleasure shall take effect so soon as We shall have given Our assent to the same by Order in Council, or through one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, and the Governor shall have signified such assent by message to the Legislative Council or by proclamation: Provided that no such message shall be issued after two years from the day on which the Bill was presented to the Governor for his assent.

XII. In the making of any laws the Governor and the Legislative Council shall conform to and observe all rules, regulations, and directions in that behalf contained in any Instructions under Our Sign Manual and Signet.

XIII. 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 be lawfully granted or disposed of by Us. 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 regulations in force in the Colony.

XIV. The Governor may constitute and appoint all such Judges, Commissioners, Justices of the Peace and other necessary Officers and Ministers in the Colony, as may lawfully be constituted or appointed by Us, all of whom, unless otherwise provided by law, shall hold their offices during Our pleasure.

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 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 crimes or offence in any Court, or before any Judge or other Magistrate within the Colony, a pardon, either free or subject o 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 fit, and may remit any fines, penalties, or forfeitures due or accepted to Us. Provided always that the Governor shall in no case, except where the offence has been of a political nature unaccompanied by ant other grave crime, make it a conditions of any pardon or remission of sentence that the offender shall be banished from or shall absent himself or be removed form the Colony.

XVI. The Governor may, upon sufficient cause to him appearing, dismiss any public officer not appointed by virtue of a Warrant from Us, whose pensionable emoluments do not exceed one thousand dollars or one hundred pounds sterling a year, according as the said emoluments are fixed with reference to dollars or to pounds sterling as the case may be, provided that in every such case the grounds of intended dismissal are definitely stated in writing and communicated to the officer in order that he may have full opportunity of exculpating himself, and that the matter is investigated by the Governor with the aid of the head for time being of the department in which the officer is serving. The Governor may, upon sufficient cause to him appearing, also suspend from the exercise of his office any person holding any office in the Colony whether appointed by virtue of any Commission or Warrant from Us, or in Our name, or by any other mode of appointment. Such suspension shall continue and have effect only until Our pleasure therein shall be signified to the Governor. If the suspension is confirmed by one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, the Governor shall forthwith cause the officer to be so informed, and thereupon his office shall become vacant. In proceeding to any such suspension, the Governor is strictly to observe the directions in that behalf given to him by Our Instructions as aforesaid.

XVII. Whenever the office of Governor is vacant, or if the Governor become incapable, or be absent from the Colony, Our Lieutenant Governor of the Colony, or if there shall be no such Officer therein, then such person or persons as may be appointed under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet, and in default of an such appointment, the person lawfully discharging the functions of Colonial Secretary 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 Our Lieutenant Governor, or any other 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 tenour of these Our Letters Patent, and according to Our Instructions as aforesaid, and the laws of the Colony.

XVIII. And We do hereby require and command all Our officers and ministers, civil and military, and all other the inhabitants of the Colony, to be obedient, aiding and assisting unto the Governor and to any person for the time being administering the Government of the Colony.

XIX. In these Our Letters Patent the term "the Governor", shall include every person for the time being administering the Government of the Colony.

XX. 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 meet.

XXI. And We do further direct and enjoin that these Our Letters Patent shall be read and proclaimed at such place or places within the Colony as the Governor shall think fit, and shall come into operation on a day to be fixed by the Governor by Proclamation.

In witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent. Witness Ourself at Westminster, the Fourteenth day of February, in the Seventh year of Our Reign.

By Warrant under the King’s Sign Manual,

Schuster.

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