HC Deb 26 June 1884 vol 289 cc1409-11

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, as a result of the Conference, Her Majesty's Government will be hampered in any degree in carrying out their reforms in Egypt, including equalization of the land tax; abolition of such petty taxes as are opposed to the principles of political economy, and the protection of the fellaheen from the arbitrary and capricious cruelties to which they have hitherto been subject; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will render it clear at the Conference that they regard the establishment of a humane, just, and stable system of administration as an essential condition, without which they cannot withdraw from Egypt either with safety or with honour?


Her Majesty's Government do not anti- cipate that they will be hampered by the result of the Conference in regard to the material and moral progress of Egypt. The conditions of the withdrawal of the British troops from Egypt are stated in the Papers recently laid before Parliament.


Would the noble Lord state when Her Majesty's Government began to carry out any reforms in Egypt?


asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What measures Her Majesty's Government intend adopting for promoting and completing those reforms in Egypt suggested by Lord Dufferin in his Despatches of the 18th November, 1882; what practical steps are being taken in order to bring about an equitable adjustment of the Land Tax; and, if it is intended to recommend the Egyptian authorities to modify or abolish the octroi, bridge, and river tolls, as recently recommended by Colonel Moncrieff?


I am not able to make any general statement, such as I am invited to make by the hon. Member, until some decision has been, taken in regard to Egyptian finance, upon which the internal administration of Egypt depends.


asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he can inform the House what is the acreage of land in Egypt rented directly from the State by the wealthy Foreign landholders and by the Egyptian people respectively; also the amount of land sub-let by the large landholders to the fellaheen; whether it is true that, whilst the landholders only pay from eleven to fourteen shillings per acre, they sub-let a large portion of their holdings to the fellaheen at from three to five pounds on acre, with the further right to claim their labour free of cost; further, what progress is being made with the Cadastral Survey; and, whether it is a fact that it has already been ascertained in the districts surveyed that the registered acreage is considerably below the real amount of cultivated land?


The ochuri lands, estates held by the rich landowners, amount to about 1,308,000 feddans, a feddan being about an acre. The lands held by the fellahs, or Kharadji lands, comprise 3,406,480 feddans. I have not been able to ascertain how much of the ochuri lands are sub-let. The tax on these lands is, on an average, 52 piastres (10s. 8d.) a feddan, and on the ordinary lands 128 piastres (26s. 3d) I may point out that there is much valuable information on all these subjects in the Papers laid before Parliament last year—''Egypt," Nos. 6 and 7. Progress has been made with the Cadastral Survey; but, owing to the want of funds, it has not been so rapid as might be desired. There is reason to supposed that the old register of acreage is not correct.