HC Deb 10 December 1906 vol 166 c1556

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is proposed by his Department, or the Government of the Straits Settlements to impose an export tax on the coal raised from the Brooketon mine in the Sultanate of Brunei; whether he is aware that this mine is being opened out by His Highness the Rajah of Sarawak under a lease which has still about sixty years to run; that it has hitherto been developed at a financial loss to Rajah Brooke; and whether, seeing that on this new industry the loss entailed by this development is estimated at $80,000 for the incoming year, he will say on what principle such a tax would be imposed on a nascent industry which is being created at a sacrifice in an impoverished country, with the risk of causing the mine to be shut down, while on the other hand His Majesty's Government has recently withdrawn the duty levied on all coal exported from Great Britain.


His Highness the Rajah of Sarawak has communicated direct to the Secretary of State his objections to the proposed export duty on coal referred to in the hon. Member's Question, and Lord Elgin has been glad to refer the matter to the High Commissioner for further consideration. Pending the latter's reply I am not in a position to make any statement on the subject.