HC Deb 09 April 1883 vol 277 cc1833-5

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to the statements of the native Prime Minister of the Maharajah of Mysore, in the recently-published papers relating to gold mines in Mysore, that tracts of land in Mysore which had been granted to British officials and others by the British administrators of Mysore without any advantage to the Mysore State, were being disposed of by the concessionaires at an immense profit to gold mining Companies in England; whether, in particular, his attention has been called to the statement of the Dewan that— The Colar concessionaires have in soma instances sold the lands which they ohtained from Government for nothing for almost fabulous prices, the benefits of which are neither derived by Government nor by the Companies who will eventually work the enterprise; and whether the Indian Government took any steps to bring these warnings to the notice of the English public; and, whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into the manner in which British officials promoted the said mining speculations in England?


Sir, if the hon. Member refers to previous passages in the letter from which he quotes, he will see that the land in question was not disposed of without advantage to the Mysore State. A sum of 55,000 rupees, representing the capitalized value of the unusually high assessment of 5 rupees per acre, was paid to that State for a square mile of land, previously waste and unproductive. The same letter specifies this same rate of 5 rupees per acre as the basis of the terms on which the Mysore Government is prepared in future to lease land for mining purposes—terms which they consider "the best calculated to assure the permanent interests" of the State. Government has no knowledge of the arrangements made between the Gold Mining Companies and the concessionaires In 187 9 the Government of India caused a careful Survey and Report on the auriferous lands in the neighbouring South-East Wynaad, in British territory, to be prepared by Mr. Brough Smyth, an eminent mining engineer. This Report was published in 1850, by order of the Secretary of State, at a low price, and several hundred copies were sold. It contained distinct warning of the risks of gold mining in these districts. The Government of India will be directed to furnish a Report upon the whole question of the concessions granted in Mysore during' the minority of the Maharajah, and of the connection of British officials therewith. Under these circumstances, I do not see how any inquiry in this country would be attended with practical results.


asked if the hon. Gentleman was aware that the concessions for which the Mysore Government received 55,000 rupees were disposed of by the official promoters of Companies for the sum of £250,000, and that these Companies subsequently disposed of their interests to British investors on the Stock Exchange for £500,000; whether he was aware that the Native Ruler of Mysore warned the Government that it was impossible for investors in London to obtain any profit, in face of the sums for which the original promoters obtained the concessions; and whether, under these circumstances, it was not considered necessary to open inquiries in London as to the relations between the original promoters and the promoters on the Stock Exchange, who obtained £500,000 sterling for the trifling outlay of 55,000 rupees?


I must remind the hon. Member that assertions are not facts. As far as we know about the case, 55,000 rupees were paid for this one square mile of land; and the other statements which the hon. Member has made are, as far as we know, only reported in the newspapers.