§ MR. SMOLLETT
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether interest has been paid upon the debenture debt due to Government by the Madras Irrigation Company for the years 1874 and 1875, a period during which repayments of the principal sums due have been postponed as a matter of grace and favour by the Secretary of State, or whether any interest on this debenture debt has ever been paid since 1866;whether it be true that the sums needed for the working of the navigation and irrigation canals of this Company have been defrayed for some years by the Government of India, less the receipts from the works; and, if so, why this charge is met by the Indian Exchequer while the undertaking is in the possession of private parties; whether there is any present intention on the part of the Secretary of State for India to receive a transfer of these works from the existing shareholders, and to guarantee payment of the private debenture debts, understood to be very considerable; and, whether he will undertake, before the works are acquired,, to place upon the Table of the House a Return showing distinctly the actual indebtedness of this undertaking?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Sir, no interest has been paid by the Madras Irrigation Company upon the debenture debt due to the Government, which debt was contracted upon an Act of Parliament. The receipts from the irrigation do not equal the working expenses, and the sum necessary to meet the deficiency has been advanced out of the revenues of India; but the Company has been informed that no further advances will be made on this account. In any negotiations which may be entered into, the main object of the Government will be 421 to reduce the annual burden which has been imposed upon the Indian Treasury by the agreements which have been entered into with the Company. If the hon. Gentleman wishes for further information as to the income and indebtedness of the Company, and will move for such a Return, we shall be glad to give him any information which it may be in our power to grant.