§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, If his attention has been directed to a Circular recently issued by Mr. W. L. Rees, entitled, "A Plan for the Settlement of Two Thousand Crofter and other Scotch Families upon the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand," in which it was stated that an Association would be formed under the Joint Stock Acts, and that the necessary capital would be "partly provided by loan, guaranteed by the Government at 3 per cent;" and, further (pages 8 and 9), that "Mr. Rees had already seen Lord Knutsford and the Marquess of Lothian, both of whom expressed themselves in favour of the proposed plan so far as explained to them;" whether Mr. Rees has since issued a provisional prospectus for the formation of a Company with a capital of £1,000,000, which prospectus also refers to an expected loan "guaranteed by the Government at 3 per cent;" whether Mr. Rees had any authority to use Lord Knutsford's and the Marquess of Lothian's names in his Circular; whether his scheme has received the approval of the Colonial Office, of the Scotch Secretary, or of the New Zealand Government; and, whether there is any foundation for the statement that the Government were likely to guarantee a loan at 3 per cent for the purposes of Mr. Rees' Company?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE (Baron HENRY DE WORMS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
The Secretary of State's attention has been called 298 to the two prints in question. Mr. Rees had an interview with Lord Knutsford, at which the latter expressed no approval of the scheme beyond a general wish for the success of any plan calculated to deal satisfactorily with the colonization of crofters; and it was subsequently pointed out to Mr. Rees officially that he was under a misapprehension in interpreting what was said as an approval of his scheme. Neither has approval been expressed by the Secretary for Scotland, who informed Mr. Rees by letter that he "must guard himself against any expression of approval or otherwise" of the scheme; and, as regards the Government of New Zealand, their Agent General states that he has received a telegram from his Government saying that they had seen Mr. Rees' prospectus, but that the figures therein were entirely misleading, and they could give no countenance to it. There is no foundation for the statement referred to in the last paragraph of the Question.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
asked whether this was one of the schemes proposed to be submitted for the consideration of the proposed Committee on Crofter Emigration?
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
asked whether the hon. Gentleman could give any information as to the number of crofters who had been sent away?