§ MR. MENZIES (Lanarkshire, S.)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies seeing that the profits of the Ceylon Government Pearl Fisheries were £150,000 for last year, and that Professor Herdmann believed that the amount of profit would be very large in future years, why the Government accepted £20,666 rental per annum for a lease of twenty years without asking or advertising for tenders.
§ * MR. CHURCHILL
I can only refer the hon. Member to the replies which I have recently given to similar Questions in the House, and in which I have stated what I understand to be the reasons that actuated the late Government in the course which they adopted.
§ MR. J. D. WHITE (Dumbartonshire)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in view of the fact that, after the close of the 1905 season, the Ceylon Government Pearl Fisheries were leased to a private company for twenty years at a rent equivalent to £20,666 a year, how that annual rent compares with the annual revenue derived by the Ceylon Government from these pearl fisheries in the years 1903, 1904, and 1905, respectively; and what was the amount of that revenue for each of those three years.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
It is impossible to state the exact figures from the information available here, but, as nearly as I can estimate them, the net receipts were, in 1408 1903 Rs. 630,000 (£42,000), in 1904 Rs. 915,000 (£61,000), and in 1905 Rs. 2,300,000 (£153,300). I am bound to add that the results of these three years,, in each of which there was a successful, and in the last a record fishery, do not of themselves afford a basis for computing what would be a fair rental, and that the rent payable by the company under their lease is roughly the average net revenue obtained over a period of twenty years including and ending with 1905, during which there were twelve years in which the fishery failed altogether.
§ MR. J. D. WHITE
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Professor Herdmann, the expert, has expressed an opinion that as things stand now—