HC Deb 09 June 1904 vol 135 cc1219-20

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will lay upon the Table a letter, dated 11th July, 1902, addressed by Mr. Goldring, Secretary of the Transvaal Chamber of Mines, to the Colonial Secretary, praying that a duty of 5s. to 7s. 6d. per case should be imposed to assist the De Beers Company and the local factory in the manufacture of dynamite; also all letters before the war from the same association protesting against any dynamite monopoly being permitted by his Majesty's Government; and whether he proposes to adopt the free-trade recommendations of the Transvaal Concessions Commission of which he was Chairman.


I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the statement made by the Chairman of the National Explosives Company at the ordinary general meeting, on 31st May, that this British company, as also other British manufacturers, had been excluded from the Transvaal market owing to the import duty of 6s. 3d. per case levied at the coast in the interest of the De Beers and Modderfontein factories; whether he will now cancel this monopoly provisionally sanctioned in 1902 by the Member for West Birmingham, seeing the effect of the duty has lost the largest dynamite market in the world to British manufacturers.


I will answer the two Questions of the hon. Member on this subject together. I have seen the statement made by the Chairman of the National Explosives Company, but I am not prepared to admit that British manufacturers have been excluded from the Transvaal markets by the import duty, inasmuch as a certain proportion of the dynamite used in the Transvaal comes from sources outside South Africa. The recommendations of the Concessions Commission, of which I was Chairman, were in general terms and did not imply absolute free trade in dynamite, which, indeed would be inconsistent with the general fiscal policy of the Transvaal. The matter is an extremely complicated one, and there are many contradictory statements as regards the comparative advantages or disadvantages of the different sources of supply. I have, not yet been able to satisfy myself as to the true conditions. I have had interviews with representatives of both sides, and I have recently received further statistics, which are now under my consideration. Until I can announce a final decision, which I hope will be in a short time, there would be no advantage in my laying any Papers on the subject.