§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
I beg to ask the Secretary of 19 State for the Colonies whether, as required by Article 17 of its Charter, the British South Africa Company has duly furnished to him accounts of its administrative expenditure and sums received as public revenue for the financial years 1896, 1897, and 1898, and an estimate of such revenue and expenditure for 1899, and whether he will lay them upon the Table; whether, at a recent meeting of the Legislative Council of Rhodesia, the administration stated the administrative expenditure for 1898 had been £783,985, and the public revenue £225,000, or, adding sale of lands, £272,955; what is now the accumulated deficit arising from excess of expenditure over income; and what is the date up to which the last balance sheet of this company was made up and presented by its board of directors to the shareholders.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
(1) I have received the accounts for the financial years ended 31st March, 1896, 31st March, 1897, and 31st March, 1898, and an estimate of expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1899, with a statement of the revenue for that year. I have also received the estimate of expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1900. They will be laid on the Table. (2) I understand that the Administrator has made a statement to this effect with respect to the revenue and expenditure for the year ended 31st March, 1899. (3) There is no accumulated deficit. All deficits have been met by the company. (4) The date of the last balance-sheet presented by the directors to the shareholders is 31st March, 1897.
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)
On behalf of the hon Member for the Eifion Division of Carnarvonshire, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, view of the fact that the expenditure of the British South Africa Company last year exceeded the revenue by £511,000, equal to £51 per head of the estimated white population, and the estimated deficit for the current year is £418,700, Her Majesty's Government contemplate taking any action in reference to the serious condition of the financies of Rhodesia disclosed by these figures.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I understand that the white population of Rhodesia was officially estimated on the 20 30th of September, 1898, at 13,346, and therefore the deficit for last year would be at the rate of £38, not £51, per head. Her Majesty's Government do not propose to depart from their policy of declining to assume financial responsibility in regard to the affairs of the company.