HC Deb 02 July 1906 vol 159 cc1407-8
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.


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.


Does the hon. Gentleman consider an adequate consideration is given in rental?


The hon. Member is now asking as to a matter of opinion.

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.


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 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.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Professor Herdmann, the expert, has expressed an opinion that as things stand now—


Notice should be-given of that Question.