HC Deb 06 February 1902 vol 102 cc510-1

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether it has been found necessary by His Majesty's Government during the war to employ the services of any local bank or banks in South Africa; if so, what is the nature of the operations for which such banks were employed, what is the rate of the commission paid to them, and what is the aggregate amount expended under this head; what are the names of the banks which have been employed for Government purposes; and were they selected by private arrangement, or selected after tenders open to all the banks in the South African Colonies.


The banking operations connected with the war in South Africa have been almost entirely entrusted to the Standard Bank of South Africa. This bank has for many years conducted the business of the Treasury Chests in Cape Colony and Natal under agreements which were concluded after full consideration of the position of other banks, and have been renewed from time to time. The principle service rendered to His Majesty's Government by the bank has been the supply of funds. The requisite funds have been provided in exchange for ten days sight bills drawn on London at a discount which was formerly 1 per cent., but was reduced on the 1st October, 1900, to ¾per cent. The discount includes the expenses of the Bank in shipping specie to South Africa, in maintaining adequate reserves for the purposes of the Army, and in meeting the loss of interest during the currency of the Bills. It also provides remuneration to the bank for this service. No commission is payable to the bank for keeping the accounts or for cashing cheques at its branches within certain limits; but transactions, involving the movement of specie up country, and the consequent heavy insurances in time of war, are the subject of special arrangements varying for different places according to distance. Similar transactions have been to some extent performed by the Bank of Africa, and probably other banks. The total charge for such transactions up to the end of November last was £87,000. The bulk of this was presumably paid to the Standard Bank, but the exact amount paid to that bank could only be ascertained after an examination of a large number of detailed accounts.


Was most of the £87,000 for the movement of specie up country?


I understand a considerable portion was.