HC Deb 14 May 1874 vol 219 cc301-3

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 3 (Interest on advance, and time of repayment).

Amendment again proposed, in page 2, line 8, to leave out the words "three and a half," and insert the word "four"—(Mr. Whitwell)—instead thereof.


called attention to the fact that a large sum of money was advanced to build a harbour in Colombo at a very low rate of interest, and he wished to know if any alteration had been made in it?


said, no alteration was contemplated. The hon. Gentleman was under the impression that this harbour was a colonial work, but he was mistaken; it was by no means a colonial work. The loan was guaranteed at 3½ per cent. and he thought the Committee would agree with him that it would be hardly dignified in the Government to withdraw now from that guarantee.


thought the Vote ought not to be pressed.


said, this Bill came before the House somewhat with suspicion. What was proposed to be done on the present occasion was entirely without precedent, and they were now asked to consent to a Vote for a totally different purpose, which was also without precedent. It appeared that the late Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, came home, and had doubtless confidential communications with the Government, and tried to induce them to obtain the advance of money for carrying on works which were entirely for the benefit of the colony. It was certainly a colonial and not an Imperial question. The colonists came this country and asked for a loan of £500,000 at a very low rate of interest. The facility with which loans of public money had been granted for some time past was most objectionable, and a stop ought to be put to it. For his part, he was most decidedly opposed to such a course of proceeding in dealing with the public money.


said, the Executive Government felt themselves bound to ask the House of Commons to fulfil the engagement into which the late Government entered with the Government of Ceylon, and which they saw no reason to dispute. But it rested entirely with the House of Commons, who were totally unpledged in the matter, to say whether or not they would confirm the engagement; and he would suggest that they should pass the Bill through Committee, and that, before the Report was taken, the Correspondence on the subject should be laid on the Table, so that the House might be in a position to say whether or not they would confirm the decision of the Committee.


thought the offer of the Government a reasonable one, but still hoped the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell) would persevere with his Amendment.


explained how it was that the harbour at Galle had been abandoned. The Government of Ceylon was quite willing to pay the cost of constructing the harbour at Colombo, so far as the requirements of the colony were concerned; but inasmuch as the extension of the breakwater would render the harbour available for Imperial purposes, it was but fair the House should grant a loan for that purpose.


called the attention of the Committee to the fact that all the way round from Calcutta to Bombay there was no safe harbour. This was a serious matter for all interested in shipping, and he sincerely hoped the Committee, by passing this Bill, would make provision for at least one safe harbour. He trusted that the change of Government would not lead to what was tantamount to a breach of faith with the people of Colombo.

Question put, "That the words 'three and a half' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 88; Noes 15: Majority 73.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday, 4th June.