HC Deb 03 November 1902 vol 113 cc1392-4
MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, whether the Madras Railway Company is a Company guaranteed by the Indian Government; whether it has on its board an official of the India Office acting as Government director; whether all tenders for materials and goods consigned to India and for freight are submitted to the approval of the India Office through him; whether payments by the Company for the same are sanctioned by the India Office before payment; whether the India Office takes one-half of the surplus profits of the railway; and whether the Government has the right to take over the railway on 1st April, 1907; and is he aware that about 660 tons of railway material for the Madras railways were shipped from Middles-borough by the German steamship "Rudesheimer" on 4th July, and about 1,280 tons by the German steamship "Goldenfels" on 25th June; can he state whether all the locomotives shipped from Middlesborough for the Madras railways since 1886 have been carried by German steamships, and whether tenders for this freight have been asked from British shipowners, as in the case of other guaranteed Indian railways; if not, can he state why this preference has been given by an Indian Government railway to German firms; and will he take steps to give British steamship owners the opportunity of tendering for such freight in future.


I am afraid that in my recent answer to the hon. Member on this subject, I failed to convey to him the difference between a Government railway on the one hand, and a Company's railway on the other. Both classes of railways exist in India, and the Madras Railway belongs to the latter class. It is therefore managed by a Board of Directors, and all tenders for stores and freight are dealt with by them, and are not submitted for the approval of the India Office. It is true that the payment of interest is guaranteed by the Government of India, and that the Government Director of Railways has a seat at the Board; and his influence has been, and will be, used in favour of British industries, so far as may be consistent with a due regard for the interests of the Indian taxpayer. Beyond this, and except for the purpose of safeguarding Indian interests, I cannot undertake to interfere in the management of the Company in these matters unless I have specific evidence to show that partiality or undue preference has been shown either to those tendering, or in the manner of inviting tenders. In the present case, I am informed that tenders were invited in the usual way.

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