HC Deb 28 March 1898 vol 55 cc1048-9
SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Newfoundland Legislature has passed a Bill selling the railway system of the Colony to a contractor, handing over to him important coal areas and valuable lands, and committing the Colony for 30 years to come as regards its coastal mail service; whether the Bill contains in its Schedule, in paragraph 45, a provision binding the Government of Newfoundland to agree to procure the imposition of a duty upon coal imported into the Colony; whether, by paragraph 82, it is agreed that the contractor shall take over the telegraph lines belonging to the Government, and receive in future the earnings and profits of the lines, receiving in addition an annual subsidy up to 1904, and, after that, receiving the earnings and profits of the telegraphs until the expiration of a term of 50 years; whether, by several paragraphs of the Schedule, the Government undertake to enact legislation to give effect to the spirit of the contract, as for example in paragraph 102; and whether by such a paragraph the freedom of the Legislature of the Colony to accept or reject such legislation is compromised?


The Legislature of Newfoundland has passed a Bill confirming a contract made by the Colonial Government, and set out in a schedule to the Bill, which is to the effect stated in the four paragraphs of the hon. Member's Question. I have not yet received a copy of the contract, but a copy of the draft of it which has been furnished to me by the Governor contains paragraphs differently numbered, but substantially agreeing with the description in the Question. The Legislature having ratified the contract will, no doubt, be prepared to give effect to any promise of legislation which it contains.