HC Deb 09 June 1887 vol 315 cc1420-1

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether Her Majesty's Government, in considering the question of dock accommodation in Indian waters, have received any Reports on the capabilities of the Colombo Harbour for the construction of docks suitable for the largest ironclads; whether the central position of Colombo for vessels from all parts of the Indian seas, together with the completion of the Colombo Breakwater, and the recent vote by the Ceylon Legislature of a sum of money for the defences of the port, have been considered in reference to this question; and, whether Her Majesty's Government would be disposed to grant a subsidy, or afford any other encouragement to a Company providing the funds for such a purpose?


A Report has been received by Her Majesty's Government from Sir James Coode, who designed the Colombo Breakwater, as to the special suitability of constructing a graving dock fit to receive Her Majesty's ships at Colombo. For this purpose it is considered highly desirable that the harbour should be completed by the construction of a northern arm, which has for the present been postponed. The now defences about to be constructed at Colombo have not been decided on with reference to the proposed graving dock; but will, of course, be of advantage to that project. An offer, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, to aid in the construction of the graving dock was referred to the Governor of Ceylon last November, and was communicated by the Governor at the end of December to the Colombo Chamber of Commerce, but nothing further has been done in the matter at present; and my Predecessor, writing in January last, told the Governor that, while still awaiting a reply to the despatch of November, he considered that the question of the completion of harbour works and the construction of a graving dock must be postponed till the Colonial Revenue could better afford this and other public works. Pending the receipt of a reply from the Governor, I can express no opinion as to whether the proposed scheme can be entrusted to a private Company; but, in such case, no guarantee could be given by the Colonial Government.