§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether the Colombo and Kandy Railway in Ceylon was constructed on funds provided by a tax levied on the agricultural produce of the Uva Province;whether a considerable revenue is at the present moment enjoyed by Government from the 371 profits of that railway;whether the Nanu-oya extension of that railway was constructed on the understanding that the line should ultimately be carried on into the Uva Province, and can only become a profitable line when the Uva extension has been carried out;and, whether Her Majesty's Government, considering the unanimous wish of the Governor, the Council, and the planters of Ceylon to be permitted to carry out that extension, will re-consider its recent veto?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Sir HENRY HOLLAND) (Hampstead)
The Colombo and Kandy Railway was constructed by funds provided by a loan secured on the general revenue and assets of the Colony. In addition to this, between 1856 and 1870, an export duty was levied on the produce and manufactures of the whole Island, not of Uva only. No separate profit and loss account of that particular section of the Ceylon Government Railway is kept. But while the profit earned by it is, no doubt, considerable, it is largely diminished by the less profitable extensions of the original main line. The Nanu-oya extension was sanctioned exclusively on its own merits. The anticipation of profit has not been realized;and the question of the further extension of the line, and whether such extension would render it remunerative, has engaged the careful consideration of my Predecessors. My right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) declined to give his sanction to the Uva extension, because the estimates of net earnings proved an examination to be untrustworthy. Public opinion in Ceylon is divided on the matter;and the Legislative Council were not unanimous, as the gentleman representing the Native community protested against the measure, and divided against it, on the ground that, should the line be unre-munerative, the country would be burdened with a very large increase of debt. The amount required for the immediate extension of 25 miles to Haputella is nearly 7,000,000 rupees;and no settlement will be accepted by the Uva planters as satisfactory which does not provide for a further extension of about 30 miles beyond Badulla. My Predecessor, however, expressed his readiness to permit the extension, to be con- 372 structed by a Company, should capitalists take a different view of the figures placed before him.