MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN, (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the approximate area of Crown lands in Wales known to be more or less auriferous and metalliferous. Has the Crown ever spent any, and, if so, what amount of money in Wales in ascertaining the mining capabilities of these Crown lands. Is he aware that each of the Governments of the Australian Colonies has prospecting parties continually at work conducting boring operations with a view of giving the public information; and will he favourably consider the advisability of expending a small proportion of the surplus at his command (the Crown having already received some thousands of pounds in royalties and licence fees) in boring operations and practical prospecting of these Crown lands, so that capitalists and others may know the value and possibilities of these areas of metalliferous country?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The chief gold district in Wales extends to about 30,000 acres. Within this district the area of the Crown lands and lands in which the Crown has all the minerals is about 13,000 acres. The area which contains metallic ores other than gold cannot be stated with any degree of certainty. Leases or take-notes for gold over nearly the whole of the 13,000 acres are at present in existence. There is, therefore, every inducement for private 546 persons to explore for gold. The Crown has obtained reports from time to time from experts and surveyors on these Crown lands, of course at some expense, but there has been no expenditure on ascertaining the mining capabilities of these Crown lands. I am advised that, owing to the geological formation of the ground and the distribution of the gold, gold mining is more speculative in Wales than in the Australian colonies. I do not think it advisable to expend money in boring operations, as suggested by the hon. Member.
MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will consult the advisers of the Crown on this matter?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I hardly think I should act on their advice if they advised me in the direction the hon. Member suggests. I do not think it is the business of the Crown or my business to spend money in prospecting for gold.