HC Deb 19 July 1898 vol 62 cc295-6
SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any, and, if so, what Colonies of Australasia give bounties, subsidies to vessels, or other aid from public funds to enable Australasian agricultural produce to compete with home-grown produce in the markets of the mother country; and, if so, whether he will grant the Returns in the form appearing on the Notice Paper this day, or in some such similar form?


The answer to the first Question will be contained, as far as possible, in Return No. 1, which will be given, but in the case of subsidies it is almost impossible to distinguish whether they are given in the shape of bounties to any particular produce or for any other purposes. It would not be possible to give the Return No. 2. The actual expenditure on direct bounties might be given, although it is believed to be very small, but it is not possible to say how far subsidies to steam lines are in the nature of bounties on agricultural produce. The annual expenditure of the Colonies appropriated to the naval protection of Australian trade in Australasian waters cannot be distinguished from the expenditure, which also serves for the protection of the trade of the United Kingdom in the same waters. The naval expenditure of the United Kingdom cannot be divided into expenditure for the protection of trade and for all the other purposes for which a Navy exists.


Will the right honourable Gentleman give a return stating the particulars of those Colonies which expend public money in conveying free over their railways agricultural produce to the port of despatch, and in providing freezing stores and depôts at port of delivery out of public funds?


I have no doubt that if my honourable Friend wishes the information, I can furnish him with it privately; but it is an extremely difficult matter to give a return. Returns are chiefly granted as to facts, and every fact in the Return he has demanded is a contested fact.