MR. SCOTT (Ashton-under Lyne)
To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the late Colonial Secretary wrote that Mendelssohn and Bruce's claim for rent, &c, amounting to £9,525, could not in any way be entertained, but that they were entitled to receive all the profits made, and that it was only after the discovery of profit made (July, 1905) that he subsequently wrote (October, 1905) that a proper course was to pay a reasonable rental for the premises; and will he state why, after writing that the claim for rent, &c, could not in any way be entertained he afterwards came to a contrary conclusion.
(Answered by Mr. Churchill.) Mr. Lyttelton informed Sir J. Puleston, in March, 1905, that he considered that the claim of Messrs. Mendelssohn and Bruce for rent should not be admitted, but that they were entitled to receive a refund of profits, and in December, 1905, he informed the same gentleman that Lord Selborne had very carefully gone into the matter and had come to the conclusion that the proper course was to pay Messrs. Mendelssohn and Bruce a reasonable rental for their premises, as had been done in other cases. Mr. Lyttelton pointed out that Messrs. Mendelssohn 1599 and Bruce's original claim was for rent, and stated that Lord Selborne was convinced that the legislature of the Colony would unhesitatingly reject any proposal to pay on the basis of profits; the reasons for this conviction being that the profits appeared to be far in excess of what the firm, which has never been able to declare a dividend, could have earned had they had the free use of their premises, and that those profits appeared to exceed greatly the rental they could reasonably have expected to receive during the period that their premises were occupied by the administration.