HC Deb 04 July 1906 vol 160 cc27-8
MR. J. D. WHITE (Dumbartonshire)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of of State for the Colonies if he can say how it came about that, in determining what annual rent should be paid for the next twenty years by the private firm leasing the Ceylon Government pearl fisheries, the amount was based on the average net revenue for the previous twenty years, in twelve of which the fishery had failed altogether, although the Governor of Ceylon, in conformity with the opinion of experts, had stated in the dispatch of Juno 14th, 1905, that with improved and systematic culture there seemed no reason to apprehend a failure of an annual fishery in future years.


I presume that the explanation is that improved prospects will depend on the scientific culture on which the company are by the terms of the lease bound to expend from one million to three million rupees in the course of the next twenty years, and which it might be urged since the whole problem of the cultivation and conservation of the pearl oyster on these banks involves a number of any doubtful factors, may or may not prove successful.

MR. MENZIES (Lanarkshire, S.)

I beg to ask the Under-secretary of state for the Colonies, seeing that the contract with the syndicate who have obtained the concession for the next twenty years of the pearl fisheries in Ceylon was so nearly concluded when the present Government took office that it was not considered possible to reconsider its terms and thus obviate the loss which it entails, will the Government now make such arrangements as will enable them to know with absolute certainty the net yearly profits made by the new limited company, and in that way ensure a more businesslike and adequate return to the Colonial revenue for these fisheries in future.


I am of opinion that the published accounts of the Company ought annually to supply the particulars referred to by the hon. Member; and we are addressing them upon this point.