MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to a Report by Mr. Seaton, the Station Master at Kildonan, who was appointed Official Receiver of all gold found by the diggers lately experimenting on the Kildonan gold-field, which report appears in the Highland News of the 17th instant, and states that the diggers had to hand over all their gold to the receiver, not obtaining any wages in the meantime, and that they were compelled to confine their operations within a small prescribed limit, and were prevented from working in the bed of the burn where the gold is known to exist, also that the test, so far as it has gone, may be held to have proved that there is gold in paying quantities in the bed of the burn; can he state what are the conditions under which His Grace the Duke of Sutherland holds a lease to mine for gold in Sutherlandshire, what area is contained in such lease, and what royalties are payable to the Crown, and what conditions of working are imposed by the lease; Has the Crown, as lessor, any control over this gold-field; and what course does the Government intend to adopt with a view to its future development?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The Commissioners of Woods have not seen the newspaper report referred to, and can say nothing 674 as to the first part of the question. The Duke of Sutherland does not hold a lease to mine for gold in Sutherlandshire. He has a Crown grant in ordinary feudal form, giving him the right for ever to the gold within all his lands. This grant was made pursuant to a Scotch Act of Parliament passed in 1592. The royalty payable to the Crown is fixed by the Act and in the Grant at 1–10th part of the gold obtained. The Grant contains no working conditions. The Crown has not attempted to exercise any control over the alleged gold-field, and is believed to possess none.