HC Deb 01 April 1887 vol 313 cc226-7
SIR GEOEGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, in Egypt, the Caisse has power to interfere in administrative functions, and to refuse to allow the reduction of the Land Tax proposed by the Earl of North-brook, approved by the Government, and tacitly accepted by the Powers as part of the arrangements on which the Convention of 1885 was founded; and, whether the £250,000, which was devoted to hiring labour in place of the corvée, was assigned in addition to the £5,200,000 already allowed for administrative expenses; and, if not, whether, by the exaction of the full Land Tax, without the contemplated reduction, the gross revenue, out of which the full coupons are being paid, has been increased, while the Egyptian cultivators are deprived of the intended alleviations of the Land Tax?


I beg to be excused from stating a general opinion respecting the extent of the powers possessed by the Caisse of the Public Debt of Egypt. Those powers are conferred by the Law of Liquidation, and by several International stipulations. As a matter of fact, the Commissioners have not refused to allow a reduction of the Land Tax; but have agreed with the Egyptian Government upon a different arrangement. It has been settled that the sum of £250,000 spent last year in hired labour employed in clearing the canals in lieu of forced labour shall be paid out of the Revenue of the year, in addition to the sum of £5,237,000 allowed for administrative expenses. The reduction of the Land Tax contemplated by the Powers originally was £450,000. But the state of the Revenue did not justify so large a reduction; and ultimately it was agreed that, of the money available, £250,000 should be devoted to the abolition of the corvée, which was an addition to the Land Tax, operating with great hardship and inequality on the cultivators, and actually diminishing the public Revenue by injuring the cultivation of the lands held by the impressed labourers. The remissions of Land Tax, in addition to this measure of relief, were to be confined to those cases in which the tax, or the full amount of it, was practically irrecoverable.


asked, whether any further Papers on the question would be laid before the House? Those which they had stopped short of the information he wished for.


Yes, Sir; and on pages 17 and 58 of those recently issued the hon. Member will find a complete description of this matter. There are some further financial Papers in preparation.