HC Deb 25 April 1904 vol 133 cc1044-5
* MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state whether he has sent instructions to the Transvaal Government that departmental supplies for the Transvaal must be purchased through the Crown Agents for the Colonies; if so, whether such instructions will prevent local tendering for supplies; whether the Chambers of Commerce throughout the colony have protested against this measure; and what is the reason for this change in the practice hitherto prevailing in the Transvaal.


I have instructed the Government of the Transvaal that all materials and articles which are not the produce of South Africa should be purchased through the Crown Agents for the Colonies. Such instructions will prevent local tendering by agents and middlemen for supplies not of local production. I have no information as yet from Lord Milner as to the action of the Chambers of Commerce reported in last week's newspaper telegrams. My predecessor decided that the system of indent on the Crown Agents should be preserved in the Transvaal, and my instructions have been given to ensure observance of the practice which has been departed from in certain instances. The considerations which have weighed with my predecessor and myself are, shortly stated, that this system is on the whole best calculated to secure the interests of the colonial taxpayers, that it enables due attention to be given to the claim of the British manufacturer, and that it obviates the risk of pressure being brought to bear on officials by local agents and middlemen.

SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

Will the right hon. Gentleman lay upon the Table a Return of the amount paid in commission to the Crown Agents for goods purchased for South Africa during the last four years.


I think we shall be able to obtain that.


Is it the fact that the unofficial members of the Intercolonial and Legislative Councils have protested against this change?


I have no; heard of any such protest.