§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ "Resolved: That it is expedient to authorise the creation of a Colonial Loans Fund for the purpose of granting of loans to Colonies, out of money to be raised—(a) by the issue of Colonial Guaranteed Stock, the dividends on which are to be paid out of the Colonial Loans Fund, and, in default, out of the Consolidated Fund; or (b) by the issue of bonds, the principal and interest of which are to be paid out of the Colonial Loans Fund, and, in case of default, out of the Consolidated Fund.
§ "That it is expedient to make provision for securing the repayment, with interest and expenses, of such loans out of the revenues of the Colonies; and to authorise the payment, out of the Consolidated Fund, of the sums necessary to meet the guarantee in respect of the Colonial Guarantee Stock, or Bonds, such sums, so far as not repaid out of the Colonial Loans Fund, to be repaid out of moneys to be provided by Parliament."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. H. BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The Committee will remember that a few years ago the attention of Parliament was directed to the system under which loans were made by the Public Works Loans Commissioners, under the authority of Parliament, for local purposes in the United Kingdom. It was considered that the system which 174 had prevailed up to that time was a very considerable public evil, and by the Local Loans Act a new system was inaugurated by which a Local Loans Fund was constituted, out of which the Public Works Loan Commissioners were authorised from time to time to lend certain sums of money for such purposes. The funds themselves were raised on the guarantee of the State, and accounts were kept of income and expenditure, so that Parliament should be fully acquainted with the working of the system of local loans, with the loans made to different public bodies, with the rates charged for these loans, and with the whole question of profit and loss to the State through the operation of that system. I think everyone will agree—
§ Committee counted; 40 Members being present,
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (resuming)
I think everyone will agree that the change of system that was inaugurated in regard to local loans has resulted in a great public advantage, and that the matter is now conducted on conditions which are advantageous not only to the State, but to local bodies themselves. Now, Sir, the object of the Resolution which I place in your hands, is that the principle of the Local Loans Fund should be applied in the case of loans to the Crown Colonies; that a Colonial Loans Fund should be constituted precisely in the same way in which the Local Loans Fund is constituted, that it should be administered by the Crown agents under the authority of the Secretary of State and the Treasury, and that that fund should be secured in the first place upon the revenues of the Colonies to which loans might be made, and further, of course, as the Local Loans Fund is secured, by the Consolidated Fund and by moneys provided by Parliament. The object of this Bill is not in any way to make loans to Colonies. It is simply to form the machinery under which loans should be made. Whenever a loan is applied for by a Colony, the process would be this: the application would be made to the Secretary of State 175 and would be considered by him and the Treasury, and if they were prepared to recommend a loan the rate of interest and the terms of the loan would be fixed by them, and the Colony would be required to pass an ordinance imposing a charge upon its revenues for interest, for certain annual sums for management, for repayment of capital by instalments, and so on. There is a provision in the Bill under which a Colony taking the advantage of any such loan would be precluded from interfering in any way with the priority of that loan upon its revenues, or in fact dealing with its revenues in any way which would lessen the security of the loan. Well, Sir, when that process was gone through, the particular loan would then have to be submitted to Parliament by a clause in the ordinary Public Works Loans Bill of the year. Parliament would have before it the purpose for which the loan is required, the term for which the money is to be lent, and the interest to be charged on the loan, and all particulars connected with it, and full Parliamentary sanction would be required in every case just as it is required under the present system. The Committee will perceive that there is a material difference between the proposals I have to make and the scheme of the Local Loans Fund, because, under the latter, it rests with the Public Works Loans Commissioners to sanction loans and fix the terms on which they are to be made, and Parliament has practically no authority whatever in the matter beyond providing the Public Works Loans Commissioners, from year to year with the required sum, out of which the loans shall be made. The fund which I propose to institute by this Bill for this purpose will be, as I have said, first secured on the Colonial revenues—secured by an Act of the Colonies—and principal and interest will be repaid from time to time to the Crown agents, and by them invested in certain limited classes of securities so as to secure the repayment of the loan.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It is not necessary, I under- 176 stand, to place them in that position. They already have the power to take the custody, so to speak, of the repayments which I propose. Then I should say that it is proposed that the rates of interest charged should be in all cases sufficient to cover a charge for management, besides the interest at which the Colonial Loans Fund would have to be borrowed, and also to give a certain margin as a safeguard to the Exchequer against possible losses. All that will be provided in the Bill. This Bill is strictly limited to those Colonies ordinarily called Crown Colonies, over whose finances the Imperial Government has full control. We do not intend in any way to include in this Bill Colonies possessing responsible Government—and for reasons, of course, on which I need not dwell, but which I am quite sure the House will feel—when a colony has taken upon itself the responsibility of its own finances, it is better for the Colony and for us that it should bear that burden without any assistance. With regard to Crown Colonies the case is different. I think that Parliament has always felt that we have a considerable responsibility for those Colonies whose finances are under the control of the Imperial Government at home; and Parliament has borne that responsibility time after time when such Colonies have come into financial difficulties, by voting grants in aid of large amount, or by making loans to aid them to escape from such difficulty. The practice has hitherto been that with every fresh loan to an individual Colony a Bill has been passed through Parliament, either making provision for that loan to be made by the Government, or making provision for the Government's guarantee under which the loan might be raised in the market. I need hardly point out to the Committee that the result of that process is that the credit of this country is not put to as good use, so far as the Colonies are concerned, as if the loans were made out of what I may call a common stock, such as the Colonial Loans Fund, which I propose to establish by this Bill. And, further, although Colonial loans in the past have been rare, and although unless it is possible to consolidate the loans of the Crown Colonies under the provisions 177 of this Measure, which, is a matter entirely for the future, I do not anticipate that Colonial loans under this Measure will be common, yet I think it will be felt that if you establish a system akin, as I have said, to the Local Loans system, under which Parliament will have from time to time a full Report before it of the loans made to the Colonies, of the repayments that have been made, and of the general condition of the fund. Parliament will really be in a better position to control the matter than it is now, when such loans, if made at all, are made by separate individual Bills, and when there is no power to take a general review of the whole matter. I think, Sir, I have now explained the provisions of this Bill. I feel that I need not reiterate what I have already said, that it does not authorise the grant of any loan to any Colony.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
There is no amount, I am afraid the honourable Gentleman entirely misapprehends—I am sure it must be my own fault—what the intention of the Bill is. There was an amount named in the original Local Loans Fund Act. There is no necessity for naming an amount, because the amount of the Colonial Loan Fund would vary according to the demands upon it from the Colonies, and, as I have endeavoured to explain, no loan can be made to a Colony without the authority of Parliament for each individual case.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
No, no; by the Local Loans Act for the year. I have only to add that honourable Members must not exaggerate the importance of my scheme, as I think the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the West Monmouthshire Division is inclined to do; but I propose it to the House, not only as an assistance to the Colonies, but also because I think it will place on a proper and legitimate basis a system which may be of considerable advantage to us financially here. The Committee will remember that, this stork will be 178 guaranteed by the Consolidated Fund, and therefore it will become a stock in which savings bank deposits may be invested at a better rate of interest than can possibly be obtained from Consols, to which the investment of such funds is now mainly limited. Therefore, in endeavouring to help our Colonies, we shall also, I think, help ourselves; at least, we shall help those whom all of us desire to help—namely, the industrial classes, who deposit money in our savings banks. I do not mean that I anticipate, for some time to come at any rate, that this fund is likely to assume any large amount; but, as far as it goes, it will make an opening of the kind, and if it should be possible, as I think it will be, in the future, through this process to consolidate the debts of our Crown Colonies, many of which have been borrowed at interest which in these days seems excessive, then I think we shall really have done a very great advantage to our Crown Colonies, at no loss to ourselves, but to the considerable advantage of those classes of the community which deposit money in savings banks.
§ MR. BUXTON
Sir, the Bill does not go as far as many of us anticipated when it was first announced, but I have one very serious objection to make to it, and that is that it should have been introduced at this period of the Session.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
May I, perhaps, explain? I have been very desirous to introduce this Bill before, because I felt it was a Measure which it would be advisable should be known and discussed in this House and the country; but our singular Rule, under which the youngest private Member in the House may introduce any Bill he likes, prohibits the Chancellor of the Exchequer bringing forward a Money Bill unless he is able to obtain time between the commencement of public business and 12 o'clock at night. That is what has prevented me.
§ MR. BUXTON
I quite admit the validity of this argument, but I do not understand why it was only two or three days ago he found he could introduce the Bill in this shape. The first thing we heard about it was subsequent to the 179 declaration of the Leader of the House that, with the exception of those Bills already introduced, he would not introduce any fresh legislation at the end of the Session which would be likely to lead to any prolonged Debate. I think this Bill is a matter which ought to be fairly considered, but I think it is likely to give rise to a considerable amount of contention, and therefore I think it comes within the definition of the First Lord of the Treasury. Therefore, I do not think it is quite fair to this House at this period of the Session—when a very large number of Members desire that the Session should come to an early close, and have made their arrangements to get away—I do not think it, is fair that this Bill should be introduced. I do hope that the right honourable Gentleman will be able to see his way to allow this Bill—because I think it is an important and far-reaching Bill—to allow this Bill to be introduced, no doubt, this Session, but not to be pressed at this, the fag end of the Session, and so allow us to consider it in the Recess. If I understand the Bill, it is this: up to now any Crown Colony—and I am glad the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has confined it to the Crown Colonies, because that makes a great deal of difference to this Measure—as I understand the Bill, up to now any Crown Colony, which desired to borrow money through the credit of the Imperial Government, had to obtain that credit by the introduction of a Bill which had to go through its ordinary course; but now the right honourable Gentleman proposes to place every Crown Colony on this footing, that by adding a mere clause, to an existing Act, which will be introduced, of course, always at the fag end of the Session—by a mere clause in that Bill, any Crown Colony will be able to obtain any amount of money, subject, of course, to the control of the Colonial Office and the Treasury; and the ultimate, risk in regard to the loan will not, fall upon the Colony as it does at present, but will fall upon the Imperial Government. That aspect of the position, I think, the right honourable Gentleman slid over with very few observations at all. I am rather surprised that he being Chancellor of the Exchequer should not have pointed out to the House that the real result and the 180 whole result of this Bill is that if there is a deficit in regard to any of these loans it will fall on the British taxpayer. Now I do not say in regard to certain Colonies it may not be necessary, as the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary has more than once said—I do not say it may not be necessary on occasion to assist certain Crown Colonies, both in regard to subsidies, and also possibly in regard to their credit in connection with loans, but I think that is a very different matter altogether from that propounded by the right honourable Gentleman opposite, because if he and the Colonial Secretary come to this House in regard to any impoverished Crown Colony, as they did the other day with regard to Dominica and Antigua, those are matters which the House will consider on their merits, and I for one will certainly not be loath to give assistance to those Colonies which are really in need of it; but I am bound to say that I think every case of that sort ought to come before this House specifically, and ought to be discussed on its merits; and the House ought to have a proper chance of considering whether or no it will assist that Colony with Imperial credit. If I understand the Bill proposed by the right honourable Gentleman, it is only necessary for the Colonial Office putting, perhaps, in certain cases, great pressure on the Treasury, as in the past no doubt they have done—putting great pressure on the Treasury to induce the Treasury to assent to a loan to a particular Crown Colony, perhaps not in very grave straits, and that Crown Colony will be able to borrow money, the ultimate liability for which falls on the Imperial Government.
§ MR. BUXTON
So it would now, under the Bill. That is perfectly true; but what I venture to point out to the right honourable Gentleman is this: that, in the first place, it seems to me that it will encourage the Crown Colonies to endeavour to place themselves in the position of obtaining an Imperial grant, much more than they did before, because this is a distinct encouragement to apply to the Treasury to obtain their sanction to the loans; and, as I have endeavoured to point out, where they did obtain that 181 credit, it was necessary for the Colonial Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come before this House to induce them to pass a Bill; but all that is necessary now, as I understand it, will be that in the annual Bill, under the Public Loans Act, the only Bill which is never introduced till really practically the fag end of the Session, when Members have left this House, under that Act, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Colonial Secretary agree, any Crown Colony may be able by importunity to obtain the assistance of the Imperial credit in a way that at the present moment is quite impossible. I think the right honourable Gentleman will admit I am not exaggerating the effects of his proposal, because I think he will admit he said, two or three minutes ago, that very likely, under this Bill, all present and existing loans of the Crown Colonies may, in a sense, be consolidated, and they might be able under this Bill to obtain the assistance of the credit of the Imperial Government. Therefore, I think it is quite clear this is not a matter affecting one or two Crown Colonies, but that, if it is passed now, it is likely to effect a very much greater object than is at the present done under separate Bills. I, for one, should be very glad if by some process some of our Crown Colonies might be able to utilise their credit to greater purpose than they do at present; but I do not think it is quite the way in which that credit should, be used, that all knowledge of the transaction should be practically, as it would be under this Act, taken out of the purview of the House of Commons. If we are to improve their credit by the help of the Imperial credit, if we are to consolidate their debt, and give them the advantage of the low rate of interest at which we can borrow, those are matters which ought to be introduced by separate Bills or by a Government Bill, and ought not to appear by a mere clause in a Bill having other objects in view. The right honourable Gentleman said there would be complete Treasury control in regard to these matters, but I am bound to say this, that, as I understand it, there will be no control of the Public Loan Commissioners themselves. As far as they are concerned, there will be no control on their part over the question whether there shall be loans at all. It really 182 comes back to this, that if you have a powerful Secretary of State for the Colonies, who is determined that these Crown Colonies shall receive what are practically doles from the Imperial purse, and if you have a somewhat lax Chancellor of the Exchequer, as I am glad to say we have not now, it will entirely depend on the Secretary for the Colonies, and on the pressure he brings, whether or not the particular Crown Colony can obtain the credit of the taxpayer in this country without the control of the House of Commons, and without any such control as there is at present. I was rather alarmed when I heard what fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the savings bank deposits. He said, and I think we shall all agree, that it will be an advantage if there were further facilities given to our savings bank depositors to invest their money; but, after all, unless he is going to make a very big thing of this new process of lending our credit to the Colonies for loans, the amount that will be available for savings bank depositors, who deposit millions annually in the savings banks, will be very small indeed, and if it is going to be a real source of advantage to savings bank depositors, it is evident that this single clause, which is to appear in an annual Act of Parliament, will be far-reaching, and will involve many millions of money annually. Well, Mr. Lowther, my chief objection to this Bill at the present moment is as I said, that I do not think it ought to be introduced at the present moment; and I think it is obvious from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, it is a far more far-reaching Bill than he—no doubt, not having given any particular attention to Colonial questions—than he himself was aware. We have had warnings from the Secretary of State for the Colonies that he is going to inaugurate a system for the development of our Colonies. I think I am not averse to that proposal, but I do think it ought to be done under the greatest possible care and the greatest possible precaution, and it ought certainly to be done with the full knowledge and check of the House of Commons on every proposal that is made. I, for one, cannot consent to a proposal which seems to me to give a free hand to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in regard to this matter. The Chancellor 183 of the Exchequer said that it is only advancing money to Crown Colonies over whose finances we have full control, but that only shows that he himself has not studied the question of the Crown Colonies. He must be aware that the bulk of our Crown Colonies, while unquestionably they have not got the full measure of self-government that our greater Colonies possess, have in a very large number of cases very considerable, control—in some cases almost all the whole control of the finances of the Colony.
§ MR. BUXTON
DO I understand the Bill would only apply to those Colonies like Dominica and Antigua, which, the other day, to obtain advances from the Government, consented practically to the abrogation of their Constitution? If the right honourable Gentleman means that, I take much less objection to the Bill than he has raised. But what he surely said in his speech was that this would affect all the Crown Colonies.
§ MR. BUXTON
Well, a very considerable number of the Crown Colonies. At all events, he gave us to understand that it would affect a very considerable sum of money. If he will look through the constitution of our Crown Colonies, he will see that a very large number of them practically have a fair amount of control over their finances. It is only one or two, like Malta and Gibraltar, which are practically fortifications, and a few like Dominica and Antigua, which the other day were willing to give up their Constitutions, to which the Bill would apply. It would really apply hardly to any Colonies at all. I trust the right honourable Gentleman will explain to the House exactly what he does mean in regard to the matter, because it does seem to me it may make a very great difference in regard to this Bill—whether it will pass or not. My objection to it also goes to whether it applies to the Crown Colonies which have control of their finances, or not, because in each case in which we have to give Imperial credit and assistance to a Crown Colony 184 I think the House of Commons ought to have full control.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Sir, I rise to speak only on the ground that, for good or ill, I have been a Public Works Loan Commissioner. What the functions of those Commissioners may be in regard to the matters affected I do not know.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, may I explain? These loans will be subject to the sanction of Parliament in each individual case, and will not come before the Public Works Loan Commissioners at all.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
Sir, I was unfortunately absent from the House when the right honourable Gentleman read the terms, as I understood he did read the terms of the Resolution. Might I ask if he would be good enough to read the terms of the Resolution to the House again?
I have read them once, but I will read them again if the honourable Member desires it.Resolved: That it is expedient to authorise the creation of a Colonial Loans Fund for the purpose of granting to Colonies, out of money to be raised (a) by the issue of Colonial Guaranteed Stock, the dividends on which are to be paid out of the Colonial Loans Fund, and, in default, out of the Consolidated Fund; or (b) by the issue of bonds, the principal and interest of which are to be paid out of the Colonial Loans Fund, and, in case of default, out of the Consolidated Fund.That it is expedient to make provision for securing the repayment, with interest and expenses, of such loans out of the revenues of the Colonies; and to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund, and the sums necessary to meet the guarantee in respect of the Colonial Guarantee Stock, or Bonds, such sums so far as not repaid out of the Colonial Loans Fund, to be repaid out of moneys to be provided by Parliament.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
That is to say, Sir, in any conceivable case of failure of repayment, the Consolidated Fund or money voted by Parliament is to make good the deficiency. It appears to be a matter material to this, that we should know what has been the history of the financial relations of the Colonies sought to be assisted by the Exchequer in times past, because, if you are first of all to make advantageous terms with some of these Colonies, and afterwards have 185 to vote a large sum of money Parliament to meet your necessities, your loan becomes a grant and in many cases grants have necessarily been given to some of these Colonies by reason of their financial straits. Now, during a number of months past, at meetings of Public Works Loan Commissioners, we have been advancing very large sums of money, sometimes a quarter of a million in a fortnight, at 2¾ per cent, interest, repayable in 30 years, and we have been, given to understand, I do not say with authority, but at any rate it has been conveyed to us, that there is practically no limit to the amount which may be so advanced, because the Treasury are anxious to find an investment for the moneys which are placed in the savings banks. How much that money is I do not know, but a certain percentage is being paid on the savings bank money, and the Government being responsible for the capital, are anxious to invest the capital so as to recoup themselves from their liability to the depositors. And large sums of money, I am afraid to say how much in the gross, are now being advanced to enable the Government to cover their liabilities to the depositors in the savings bank. Well, with regard to the works within the ken of the Public Works Loan Commissioners, I do not think there is very much risk. We, are able to judge of the soundness of the security, and we can proceed with a considerable amount of discretion and caution, and if any applications are not sound they are not entertained, though a large number have been entertained in the last three or four months. But when it comes to a question of advancing large sums of money on nominal security in order that the accounts of the Treasury may be kept perfectly sound in regard to their liability in respect of savings bank depositors—and the advances are to be made to Colonies which are not necessarily, not in all cases, in the soundest possible conditions—then the question arises whether it may not be found that these moneys are advanced to borrowers who, in that event will be found unequal to meeting their obligations, and in that case application will be made to Parliament to make good out of the Consolidated Fund, or out of voted moneys, the amounts which are deficient. Before this House there- 186 fore is asked to sanction this proposal, which I am not myself prepared to oppose, I think it ought to be informed as to the amount of money which the Government are anxious to invest—as to the amount of money that they have on hand in respect of the savings bank deposits, as to the amount of interest payable on those deposits, as to the amount which they are able to invest out of those deposits, and the amount they are obtaining from them, and consequently—and this perhaps is more important in regard to the immediate proposal before us—what is the financial history, or, what is the history of the financial relations of the particular Colonies, seriatim, to which it is proposed to make advances, because there are Colonies which have not been particularly prosperous in the past, which may become borrowers, and then find it exceedingly difficult to meet their obligations, and in respect of which it is almost certain that some application will be made to Parliament, or some grant made by Parliament. I do not propose to go into more detail, but I do think that the points I have mentioned are material to the matter, and deserving of the consideration of the House.
§ *MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
I listened very carefully to my honourable Friend opposite, but I was quite unable to follow his argument. He spoke of the Public Works Loans Commissioners, with whom, as such, I do not understand this Resolution in any way interferes. My right honourable Friend in his very concise, and I thought most perspicuous, statement on this Resolution told the Committee not to exaggerate its importance. I think it is quite impossible to exaggerate its importance. In my opinion this is a most important Resolution, not because of the amount which immediately would be involved, but because I think it is laying the foundation for a new system, the importance of which it is impossible to exaggerate both in its beneficent effects on the Colonies and in its applying the security, too long delayed, of the Imperial guarantee to the finances of our Dependencies—I use the word advisedly, because I do not wish it to be confined to the Colonies over which the Executive Cabinet in this country has direct and constant control. 187 My right honourable Friend opposite, the Member for Wolverhampton, perhaps may do me the honour to remember that two or three times in this House I have argued that our greatest of all Dependencies, the Indian Dependency, should have the advantage of the Imperial guarantee for the loans it wants to contract, and while I rejoice that my right honourable Friend's proposal does not touch in any way the self-governing Colonies, with whose financial affairs the Imperial Parliament does not interfere—while I rejoice that my right honourable Friend has excluded these Colonies from the operation of this new Colonial Loans Fund—I am pleased that he has made what I venture to predict will be the beginning of a system which will give the Imperial guarantee to those Dependencies, although, in the present instance, it is only to apply to Crown Colonies, in whose finances the Government of the day institutes a very searching, and, as I believe, beneficent investigation and control. And, Mr. Lowther, I do not share the regret which my honourable Friend the Member for Poplar expressed, that my right honourable Friend has introduced this Motion this year, instead of leaving it over for next year. If any fault is to be found it is not with my right honourable Friend, but with his predecessors. My right honourable Friend is to be congratulated that at last he has introduced a Bill to found a fund which would have been of enormously greater advantage if introduced in the year 1888, or in the year 1878, or, better still, in 1868 or 1858, and this without the least possible charge to the Imperial Exchequer. I believe that all these Dependencies are perfectly capable of meeting their engagements. I hope and I believe that this Colonial Loans Fund will not relieve them of the least bit of the weight of their responsibility for their engagements, which they are perfectly capable of satisfying. All we do is to come to their aid and to offer the advantage of the Imperial guarantee, which will enable them to borrow at a much lower rate, and not entail one farthing's expenditure on the Imperial Exchequer. I do not think that at the present stage I should be justified in detaining the Committee any longer. 188 I welcome this project because I believe it is laying the foundation of an exceedingly useful assistance to our Colonies. I do not believe it will in the least induce them to be extravagant. I believe, on the contrary, it will be a stimulant to economy, because it will make more certain the control—certainly the investigation—of the Imperial authorities over their finance; and although I share very willingly in the tribute which has been paid to the vigilance—if he will let me say so, to the strength—of my right honourable Friend, whom I hope long to see adorning the position he now occupies as Chancellor of the Exchequer, my loyalty to my Party does not go to the length of believing that his successor, if he happened to be from the opposite side, would be in the least degree less rigid in giving the Imperial guarantee to the aid of the Crown Colonies for whom alone this proposal is at the present moment introduced.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I really have never understood why a Money Bill should not be introduced and explained at First Reading, and why it should be necessary to have a Resolution in Committee before. But, Sir, if that is to be so, surely common sense ought to tell us that the Resolution which is proposed ought to be in the hands of Members before it is submitted from the Chair. You, Sir, have read the Resolution, the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has very lucidly explained the matter; but still there is a difference between your reading and the explanation of the Minister in charge, and having the Resolution before us, I do hope that on the first occasion a change is made in the Rules we shall at least put an end to this absurd Rule, or whatever it may be, that precludes the Resolution being put on the Orders of the day. What is this Bill? Well, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us what the Bill is. It is a Bill to make loans to Colonies more easy than they are at present. That, I think, is a fair explanation of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to do; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer urges that, as there is an easy and automatic system of granting home loans, therefore there ought to be the same automatic system 189 for granting Colonial loans. I disagree entirely with that. I think there ought to be difficulties in the way of any Minister and any Treasury granting loans without the direct control of Parliament and the fullest opportunity for Parliament to consider them when moneys are advanced to the Colonies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly says that it would be necessary to have a clause in the Public Loans Bill that is presented each year. The Public Loans Bill is practically a renewal Bill. The Public Loans Bill is always presented at the end of the Session, at some time when it is not discussed, and we know very well what a difference there is between a Bill which is submitted to Parliament, which has a day fixed for it, and. over which there are long discussions on Second Reading and in Committee, and a renewal Bill with one special clause giving the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Colonial Minister power to make these advances. I confess I should have thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been rather indisposed to agree to this scheme, because we know perfectly well that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is always being bullied by his colleagues—so I have always heard—who want to get money from him. He likes to be able to say, "I would like to do it, but you know there is no time; in the House those wretched Radicals would oppose it, and we cannot waste day after day"—and so he puts off his pressing colleague; whereas now he would hardly be able to do so, because the Colonial Secretary would reply, "Well, you have got to bring in a Bill; put in this little clause, and the whole thing will be carried." Now, what is our present position with regard to the Colonies? We have, as the Member for Poplar says, a very useful and energetic Colonial Secretary at the present moment. He has told us that his mission in life is to develop our estates that were going to the bad in the Colonies. We know perfectly well—the right honourable Gentleman is an agriculturist, and he knows perfectly well—that it is impossible to develop rotten estates without risking the capital upon which you develop them, and I very much fear if this Bill was passed a large number of Colonies would apply for 190 money through the Secretary for the Colonies, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although a firm man, would not be able to resist the applications. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer took some credit to himself because the money was only to be advanced to Crown Colonies and not to other Colonies. That makes the Bill all the more serious. Crown Colonies are generally rotten Colonies. I will tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer why. Naturally, everybody desires self-government—a Colony like anything else—and yet these Crown Colonies are such poor creatures that, having been connected with this country for a long time, they allow themselves to be ruled over by us, instead of asking independence from us. A Crown Colony is a Colony which is thoroughly rotten.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Yes. We have heard a great deal about the West Indies. Are those promising possessions? They may promise, but they do not fulfil. I will take the case of Dominica. The other day the Dominican people were told that they were to have a loan on condition that they gave up their independence. They had got certain powers. They were deprived of those powers as a condition of obtaining this loan. They sold their birthrights for a mess of pottage. But who sold them? Every elected member of the Assembly of Dominica, or whatever the Legislature is called, voted against this proposal, stating that they preferred their liberties to this money which was to be offered to them, and the resolution reducing their liberties was carried by the official members. If that be so, it is very evident that Crown Colonies have no voice in the matter. Honourable Gentlemen said that these Crown Colonies are all most excellent possessions. Take Dominica. Why do we advance money to Dominica? Because Dominica has got into debt; because Dominica could not pay its own way. Now, suppose Dominica came for one of these new loans. It would be said, "Oh, this is a poor country; let us advance it." Why should we suppose Dominica would 191 be able to pay interest and sinking fund on the loan any more than she is able to pay the grants that we have temporarily made to her, on condition that she will return them? She cannot do it, and yet we say, "Let us adopt a new system, making easy the advance of money to Dominica, or other such Crown Colonies that are in the same position." The right honourable Gentleman says that one of the advantages of his Bill is that money can be invested by poor persons in this country in savings banks and post offices at a higher interest—that we must find some security which will give a higher interest than Consols. Then, I say, find a security in England; spend the money of the taxpayers in England amongst the taxpayers them selves. Do not go about lending money to Colonies, giving, for a bad security, this guarantee which will make the loan a good security, and doing this because you get a little higher interest for savings bank investors. I was surprised at the Chancellor of the Exchequer descending to an argument which was one of the most astounding I have ever heard. If you back a bill for a poor relation, it is everybody's experience—at any rate, it has been my experience—that you have to pay it; and if we go backing the bills of all these poor Colonies, you may be perfectly satisfied that when the bills become due they will pay for a year or two, in order to get more, but when they cannot pay any more we shall be told that there is a famine, or disaster, or something, and it would be monstrous for this rich, wealthy nation to cause these poor people to give back this money; that it must be a gift. That is what is called a union of hearts. A union of hearts between the Colonies and this country seems to me to be a sort of financial union, in which the taxpayers of this country have to pay for the Colonies. As long as you are ready to pay they will have a very great affection for you; but I want an affection which is based upon something more than getting a little money out of us. Now, Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he wanted to carry this Bill before, and he explained that he was not able to do so because he could not bring it in before Twelve o'clock. But no sooner was 192 a Resolution passed to abrogate the Twelve o'clock Rule for the rest of the Session than the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought it in. His colleagues all wanted to brine in their Bills. Now they can be civil and friendly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They can let him bring in his Bill at half-past nine o'clock, and they will bring in their Bills later on; they will be likely to do it in the dark hours of the night. For my part, I shall oppose this Bill. I shall oppose it from the first day, and this is the first day. I do not know how other gentlemen will vote. For my part, I shall give them an opportunity to vote against the Bill. The honourable Gentleman behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that he delighted in this Bill, because it inaugurated a great principle. It was one of the most important Bills he knew that had ever been brought into this House. A great principle! Why? Because he looks forward to a glorious period when all sorts of securities are to be accorded the guarantee of the Consolidated Fund, while our own security shall simply be these more or less rotten Colonies. After all, there are business men. They know what the security of a Colony is worth. Many gentlemen make a living by issuing loans. They might advance money to these Colonies; but they do not do it, as everybody knows. As no sensible, practical business man will advance the money at the interest which is offered, the Colonies will come immediately to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say, "You come and help us." That means practically backing the bill of these Colonies. I shall divide the Committee upon this Resolution, because, as we have been told, this Resolution binds us to a certain extent, and restricts our efforts in other stages of the Bill. It is as well from the very beginning to register our protest by means of a vote against any Bill of which we disapprove. It is late in the Session, and we have a good deal to do. It appears that everybody is anxious to get away. I do not suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in any great hurry to lend this money; and, after having explained this Bill, having brought in the Bill, and laid it on the Table of the House, let 193 him give us an opportunity during the Recess, of considering the matter; let him give the country an opportunity of considering this important principle, and at the beginning of next Session I am sure that his colleagues will agree that he is justified—and we will support him if necessary—in asking for a little time to be given, in order that the Bill may be brought in, and we may have a fair, and perhaps a somewhat lengthy, discussion upon it.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.E., Holderness)
I agree with much that has been said as to the good reasons that exist for having such Resolutions as this put on the Paper, and I hope that, although the system of bringing in money Bills after a Resolution passed in Committee is founded upon very ancient precedent, at any rate the Government, when opportunity offers, will not mind altering the system hitherto in use, and putting these Resolutions on the Paper, as has been urged by the honourable Member. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in his speech that under existing conditions, when Colonies wanted to borrow under the guarantee of the Imperial Government, that had to be done by a Bill. I believe that is the case, and my honourable Friend opposite argued from that that the House has better control over these loans than they would have under the proposal of my right honourable Friend. Under his proposal, the loans are to be put in a clause in a Bill which comes on at the end of the Session. Am I not right in saying that the Government may, if they choose—and do sometimes—make loans in Supply? Only last year a loan of £750,000 was voted in Supply, and, of course, the Bill to appropriate that sum was put in the Appropriation Bill at the end of the Session. I infer that if the Government choose—I do not exactly know—the Chancellor of the Exchequer can, in Supply, make a loan to a Colony, as grants are made to a Colony—by bringing it in in Supply, passing it in the ordinary way, and finally appropriating it in the ordinary Appropriation Bill at the end of the Session. As I understand, there is an opportunity to discuss these proposals—
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
There is an opportunity in this House on the introduction of the Public Works Loans Bill, on the Second Reading of the Public Works Loans Bill, in Committee on the Public Works Loans Bill, and on the Third Reading of the Public Works Loans Bill.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
What I was going to say is that I could quite understand objection being taken to this proposal, if it is to be confined to a clause in the Public Works Loans Bill at the end of the Session. My right honourable Friend possibly may see his way, if there is any strong objection to that, to introduce these loans in a separate Bill somewhat earlier in the Session. That, I think, would very likely remove some objections which honourable Gentlemen may feel. But I think my honourable Friend opposite was rather exaggerating the dangers of this proposal, seeing, as I have pointed out, that the Government can, if they like, apart from any Bill, make a loan or grant in Supply, and finally appropriate it in the Appropriation Bill. So, as far as I am concerned, it seems to me, without passing any very definite opinion on the subject, to be a convenience to the House to have some system by which loans of this sort may be consolidated in the same sense in which the local loans 10 years ago were consolidated. If there are no greater objections than those which have already been made in the short discussion we have had to-night, I certainly should not object to the proposal that has been introduced. I admit that I think my right honourable Friend might possibly be well advised if he were to make such an alteration as would permit him to place the proposals in a Bill by themselves, which might be brought in earlier than the Loans Bill, and give Parliament, perhaps, a more complete and fuller opportunity of expressing its opinion upon them than can be done at a time in the Session when a great many honourable Members have gone, and the House is not in a very good position for such discussions.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I do not rise for the purpose of discussing this proposal on its merits, but rather 195 of joining in the protest which has been made, and made too late, against a system of procedure into which we have drifted in matters of this sort. I will explain what I mean by drifting into the present system. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it has always been so. In my belief, the system is much worse now than it was when I entered the House. We are now discussing a most important Resolution, the terms of which, I venture to say, are not exactly known to more than two or three Members of this House. It has been read, but it is an elaborate Resolution; I have read it twice myself, and even now I do not carry in my mind the exact effect of the proposal before the House. The honourable and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down says he does not know for what reason money Bills are begun in Committee of the House.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
I beg my honourable Friend's pardon. The reason why money Bills begin in Committee is, I suppose, that the House of Commons should have a certain control over these proposals, but the result is not effective, because the Committee has not the Resolution before it. But the point I was coming to is this: I venture to think it is rather new law, or new practice, that has now become the recognised doctrine in this House, that the terms of a Resolution which we pass in the dark bind all subsequent stages of the Bill, that every word that we authorise to-night binds our hands during all subsequent proceedings. If I had any special interest in this Bill, I should have recommended the Committee to take the course which was taken the other night, on the last occasion when such a Bill was before Committee of the whole House—that is, to report progress as soon as the Resolution was read from the Chair. That took place but 10 days ago, when a money Bill relating to Scotland came before the Committee. It was a grant to Scotland, and instead of discussing a proposal, the terms of which Members could not possibly know, but which were necessarily binding on all subsequent stages of the Bill, it was decided that 196 the proceedings should be suspended, and progress reported. That seems to be a good course. I think it ought to be done on all occasions, and unless you change the procedure altogether, and print the Resolution before proceeding with the Bill, I venture to recommend to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should deal with these Colonial proposals as the Government dealt with the Scotch proposal. I do not know why not. We put before the Government exactly the case I am urging now. We cannot pretend to discuss these things now. We know that if progress is reported, and the discussion is resumed to-morrow, we shall have the Resolution in print before us, and know what we are talking about, and not bind our hands in the dark for the rest of the proceedings on the Bill. If that was a good reason 10 days ago on a Scotch Bill, it is an equally good reason on this Bill. I do not profess to have a sufficient connection myself to propose that course now, but if that is not done, it is too late. That, I think, is the course which the House ought to take on all occasions when a Resolution is proposed in the dark, every word of which will bind us in subsequent proceedings. I think we ought always to report progress until we have the Resolution before us. But hints have been thrown out which would seem to make it quite unnecessary to have recourse to that expedient on this occasion. It has been suggested, and I am not sure that it was not almost openly stated by my honourable Friend who sits opposite, that there is no keen desire on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to proceed effectively with the Bill this Session. If that course is taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I shall have nothing more to say. If that course is not taken, I once more protest against this practice. I say it is a recent practice, by which the terms of Resolutions quite unknown to us art passed, which terms are binding on the House in every subsequent proceeding of the Bill.
§ MR. S. HOARE
I think the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is one which will have the sympathy of both sides of the House, for, if any scheme can be brought forward by which 197 well approved loans to our Crown Colonies can be granted, on the best terms, with, the guarantee of the Imperial Government, it is an advantage to our Colonies, and an advantage to the Imperial Government. At the same time, there are one or two points which are somewhat difficult to understand in the short discussion which we have had this evening. If I understood my right honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly, he stated that when a loan to a Crown Colony was approved of, it would come before the House as a clause in the Public Works Loans Bill. I think I am right. Now, I would venture to suggest to my right honourable Friend, and the Committee too, that some difficulty will arise if this is the course of procedure, in order that a Crown Colony may borrow, with the approval of this House. We should remember, as the honourable and learned Member for Donegal reminded us this evening, that the Public Works Loan Commissioners are a body of gentlemen, 18 in number, selected for their special qualifications, not only from the City, but from other great interests, whose duty it is to pass loans for public works, and the Act, as it is passed year by year, has this description—An Act to lend moneys for purposes of certain local loans and for other purposes relating to local loans.Now, it is true that this Bill is often passed without much discussion—I fancy sometimes without any discussion at all; but the Committee should remember that the reason of this is that these loans have been sanctioned by this experienced body of experts, who have satisfied themselves, as the honourable Member for Donegal has said, that the loans were well secured, and that the security might be looked upon by the House as satisfactory. I am somewhat afraid that if these loans to Crown Colonies are dealt with in the same way, we shall be somewhat misled when we come to consider them. They will not be loans of the description which have been contained in the Public Works Loans Act in past years. This Act comes to us with the responsibility—I may say, with the authority—of the Public Works Loan 198 Commissioners, and we take it as such. But this Act, which really recounts what they have done during the past year, will now have another clause, which they have nothing, as I understand it, to do with. I should have been myself glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed that this same trustworthy authority that now presides over the other loans might have also come before them for consideration the loans which are now proposed to be introduced by another clause in future Public Works Loans Acts.
§ MR. S. HOARE
It seems to me that it would have been well, if it had been possible, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have intimated to the Committee that we should have a short Bill for any loans to the Colonies, rather than a clause added to a Bill which is intended solely for loans for public works in the United Kingdom. Each year the amount that is lent in England, in Wales, and in Scotland is put down, and the amount that is lent in Ireland, and it will require a Bill on somewhat different lines in the future if it is to embrace loans to our Colonies as well. I would say, before sitting down, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal has my warm sympathy, as far as the scheme suggests that there should be a Colonial Fund, from which the Crown Colonies should, when there are satisfactory reasons, be able to receive advances, but I am sure he will allow me to criticise the point as to whether it is possible to graft these loans upon our Public Works loans system; and if he thinks that is the only course, then I should myself, and I daresay others would, express the hope that there might be some equally critical body of Commissioners for these loans to come before, as is the case with our loans to public bodies at home. It seems to me, if I may venture to suggest it, that it would be a simpler and more satisfactory scheme that advances to our Crown Colonies should form the subject of a Bill to themselves, which could be considered from the point of view of Colonial and Imperial interest rather than 199 mixed up with loans for good objects at home, be they lighthouses or other local matters, so that then such a Bill could get that consideration which I believe the grant of loans which have the Imperial guarantee to our Crown Colonies should have from this House whenever they may be necessary.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not accepted the suggestion which has been made to-night, because we require to consider very carefully this new Resolution. I have only heard it read.
§ DR. CLARK
I have only heard it read, and it is assumed that it is limited to Crown Colonies. But that is not what you are passing. You are passing a Resolution for all Colonies. It is not limited, as far as the Resolution is concerned, and by and by, in the Committee stage, you may make it applicable to self-governing Colonies, because you are taking powers which equally apply to them. I think it is very desirable that we should not have two Debates; that we should do all that is necessary on this stage, and not have a renewed Debate on the Report stage, with the Speaker in the Chair. I think, Sir, we know clearly, from the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the Government intend to do, and what their policy is. Well, now, I want to get at the motive behind it. No Bill is introduced in this House unless some interest is affected, and perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer may tell us that this Bill is brought in for the purpose of aiding the Crown Colonies. Some of their public loans will shortly become due. They are mostly four per cent, loans now. Probably the Chancellor of the Exchequer will lend at three, or two and three-quarters, or two and seven-eighths, or something of that kind, and then they will be able to get their money, not at four per cent., but at, say, two and seven-eighths, and so save one per cent, or more to the Colonies. Has pressure been brought to bear on the Treasury by the Colonial Office for the purpose of doing this, or is it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself 200 desires to find another investment for moneys of savings bank investors? You cannot get investments on home securities; you cannot get the Public Loans Commissioners to lend sufficient money; and you want another source of investment for yourself. I think the House ought to know. Is the origin of this Bill pressure brought to bear by the Crown Colonies to get money cheaper, or has it arisen spontaneously from the Treasury for the purpose of finding outlets for their money? If we can read between the lines of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's public statement, in order to get up the rate of interest he requires a further method of investment. If that is the case, let us understand it. We are not conferring any boon on the Colonies; we merely, for our own purposes, wish to invest our money there. At the present time you are competing with insurance companies, and with a large number of business firms, and you have brought down the rate of interest, while, by the Bill passed last year, you have seriously affected the stability of several insurance companies, because these offices have based their business on a three per cent, valuation, and now they require to change their premiums in order that their premiums may be equal to the liabilities they have incurred. By the Bill of last year you have brought about considerable changes. I am not in favour of the Bill, nor am I against it, because until we see the clauses we do not understand it. We merely have the principle laid down, and we are asked to-night that the principle applied to public works loans, for purposes of building harbours and improvements, shall be extended to the Colonies, only in that case the Commissioners, who are a body of responsible gentlemen, look at proposal put before them as rigorously as would a banker lending money to clients. In that Bill every year—I think almost without exception, as far as my memory goes—you have to weed out some loans, incurred even under those conditions. What functions will the Bill perform in regard to the Colonies? We shall see when the Bill comes before us; but before I give a vote I want to know, and the House ought to know, why this Bill is brought in. Is it for an individual purpose, or for joint purposes? I would 201 cordially support the suggestion made by two honourable Members on that side of the House—that you really ought not to link together the Colonies with our own municipal institutions. At the present time they can borrow at 2½ per cent., which is evidence of their business capacity, and shows that they are generally fully qualified to inquire into and negotiate the terms upon which the loan should be secured. You will have no body of the character which generally comes in in these matters, acting as a buffer between you and the Colonies. They all get 2¾ per cent., plus what goes to the Sinking Fund. Now, there are Colonies and Colonies, and if you put some of these securities in the market you would not be able to borrow at less than 4½ or 5 per cent. I want information at the present stage, why the Government brought in this Bill—whether it is for their own purposes, or whether the Colonies require it, or whether it is a joint concern. Of course, when the Bill is before us we will see its machinery set up. If you are setting up machinery distinct from that of the Public Works Loan Commissioners, you ought to have people who can test its practicability, and who can advise the Treasury whether it should be accepted or not, and whether the terms proposed are proper.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not think the complaint of the honourable Member for Dundee is in any respect a fair one, because the difficulty he anticipates does not arise in this case. The Resolution moved by my right honourable Friend the Lord Advocate limited the purposes to which the Scotch local taxation grant could be applied, whereas this is purely an enabling Resolution. It is a Resolution enabling the House, if it should deem fit to do so, by Bill to impose certain liabilities upon the Consolidated Fund, for a Colonial Stock to be raised under the provisions of the Bill. I really do not see why I should be called upon to explain all the provisions of the Bill on this Resolution any more than any honourable Member who brings in a Bill during the course of the Session. This is purely a preliminary stage, and has always been considered to be so. Honourable Members, 202 when the Bill is brought before them, will see how its provisions are to be worked out, and can then decide how and in what manner they may be dealt with. Now, Sir, the honourable Member for Poplar was good enough to read me a little lecture upon the different characteristics of the Crown Colonies, and appeared to attribute to me ignorance of the subject. With all deference to the honourable Member, I think I have forgotten more than he ever knew. I was Secretary of State for the Colonies three years before the honourable Member came into this House; and it does seem a little strange that he should lecture me in the way he did. I am perfectly well aware that some of the Crown Colonies are almost as free in the control of their finance as Colonies possessing responsible Government; and I have informed the Committee already that this Bill is limited in its application to those Colonies over whose finances the Imperial Government, through the Colonial Office, has complete control.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not know how many times I am to be called upon to repeat that this is purely an enabling Resolution. The honourable Member for Poplar says that under the provisions of the Bill, if there were a deficit on any of these loans there would be a call upon the British taxpayer. Well, so there would be, and so it is now; and one of the objects in introducing this is really to give the British taxpayer a better safeguard through a general stock than he has now. If one of these Colonies requires aid, it comes to us for it, whether it be for a grant in aid, as Dominica did, or for a loan. Under the present system the only Colonies that apply to us for loans are the Colonies who cannot raise loans for themselves at a good price in the market. Now, I confess, I want to make this Colonial Loan Fund apply to Colonies whose credit is good, as well as those whose credit is of an inferior character. I know that some honourable Members have the Colonial Secretary on the brain—so to speak—in this matter; and they think that the House will be 203 asked by this proposal to make all sorts of loans to every bankrupt, or semi-bankrupt colony throughout the world. That is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government at all. I have not contemplated in this Bill a loan at the present moment to a single West Indian Colony; therefore the Committee will see that I look upon this as a purely financial transaction. I believe it will prove an advantage, to the Colonies as well as to the Mother Country. We shall be able to utilise our credit to the best advantage in making loans to them, and be able to make advances to those who are in straitened circumstances as well as to those whose credit stands higher. My honourable Friend the Member for Norwich pointed out that there might be an objection to the sanction required from time to time for individual loans to the Colonies being included in the Public Works Loans Bill, as such loans would have nothing whatever to do with the Public Works Loan Commissioners at all. If the House desires it, I shall be quite willing to consider the suggestion of bringing in a separate annual Bill, which will include all the Colonial loans which may be made under this Bill during the course of the year. I do not at all wish, as my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury said, to press this Measure on an unwilling House this Session; but I trust, after the discussion which has taken place, that I may be allowed to obtain the Resolution on which the Bill can be brought in; and I am sanguine, after honourable Members have seen the provisions of the Bill, and disabused their minds of the erroneous impressions they have conceived in regard to them, they will look upon the Bill with much greater favour, and that even in the present Session we may be able to make what I believe will be a very valuable reform.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
I would like, Sir, to ask the right honourable Gentleman for information on two material points—the first in regard to the provision relating to the Colonial savings bank balances; and the other as to the 204 past financial relations of the particular Colonies to whom it is contemplated grants may be made. If information is given to us on these points it will enable the House to come to a definitive judgment.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
In answer to the first question of the honourable Member the annual Returns show the amount of deposits and the manner in which those deposits have been dealt with; but if the honourable Member would put the question on the Paper I shall possibly be able to give him greater satisfaction with a fuller reply. With regard to the second question, I think it is hardly possible to answer; because one cannot tell which Colonies might apply for loans, or to which Colonies loans might be granted. I could, however, give the honourable Member a list of the Colonies to which the Bill would apply.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Yes, I have no doubt that could be given in the shape of a Parliamentary Return.
§ MR. S. BUXTON
I had no intention, Sir, of giving offence to the right honourable Gentleman in what I said before, and, so far as I am concerned, I may say that my objections to the Bill are considerably removed. I understood, in the first place, that the right honourable Gentleman intended to limit it to those Colonies over whose finances the Colonial Office had full control: and that, secondly, instead of including it in the Public Loans Bill, it could be introduced in the form of a separate Bill each Session. My objection was founded on the fear that there might be no opportunity of discussing it. But by introducing it in the form of a separate Bill each Session, there will be an opportunity of discussing it, and my objection is largely removed.
§ The Resolution was then agreed to, and reported to the House.