§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Secretary of State has received a Petition from the proprietors, merchants, and planters of the Presidency of St. Kitts-Nevis, praying him to disallow the grant of ?2,000 for the purchase of a steam launch, which it is alleged is not required; whether he is aware that a grant of ?7,000 has been voted by the Council of the Presidency to build hotels; that these two grants were carried the Council by the votes of the paid official nominees of the Crown, and against the wishes of the inhabitants of the island; that the taxation has lately greatly increased; and that it is money raised by heavy Import Duties on food and on the necessaries of life; and whether, in view of the above circumstances, he will disallow the said grants?
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
The answer to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. The Petition was sent to the Secretary of State direct, and has been returned for transmission through the Governor in accordance with the Colonial Regulations, as the Secretary of State cannot deal with it without that officer's Report. The Secretary of State is aware that ?1,000 a year for seven years has been voted as a subsidy to encourage the erection of hotels. He has no knowledge of these two grants being passed by the official votes against the wishes of the inhabitants, not having yet received a Report from the Governor, which will doubtless arrive in due course when he deals with the Memorial. If not, a Report will be called for. There has been no recent increase of Import Duties, or of any form of taxation of food or other necessaries of life. The Secretary of State cannot, in these circumstances, pledge himself as to any particular course of action.