HC Deb 28 June 1889 vol 337 cc1013-4

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the following passage, in a despatch from the Secretary of State for the 'Colonies, dated 3rd April, 1889, with reference to the sale of the Jamaica Government Railway:— It should, however, be distinctly understood that I do not accept any responsibility for the scheme, nor do I press its acceptance upon the Council. The experience of other Colonies points to the conclusion that it is generally more advantageous for a Government to construct railways than to grant concessions to Companies for that purpose, even where the concession does not, as in this case, include the parting with a flourishing railway in exchange for a security which must be more or less of a speculative character. The scheme of constructing a railway entirely with borrowed money, without any subscribed share capital, is a novel experiment in a British Colony, &c. Under these circumstances, will the Government take steps to submit this experiment to experts in this country before sanctioning its commencement; and, will the Government lay upon the 'Table of the House the despatch referred to, and a copy of the agreement between the Government of Jamaica and the American Syndicate?


The question practically before the Secretary of State was whether there was any- thing in this scheme which rendered it incumbent upon him to interfere with the decision in regard to it of the Legislative Council, which, under the new constitution has, with few exceptions, the control of all financial measures; and after very full examination of the scheme and making considerable modifications in it, he considered that it was one which might be submitted to the Legislative Council for their decision; Her Majesty's Government, therefore, do not intend to submit the scheme to any further examination in this country. Papers will be presented to Parliament when they are more complete than at present.