§ MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
I beg to ask the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government have come to a decision as to the construction of the railway in Northern Nigeria, as urged by the British Cotton Growing Association and a deputation which waited on the Prime Minister on the 17th May, 1906; and will he say what is the distance from the River Niger to Kano, and the estimated cost of the first section of the line from Baro to Zungeru, and also the extension from Zungeru to Zaria and to Kano.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. CHURCHILL, Manchester, N. W.)
His Majesty's Government have not yet come to a decision in the matter. The distance from the Niger at Baro to Kano is about 395 miles, viz., Baro to Zungeru, 125 miles; Zungeru to Zaria, 183 miles; Zaria to Kano, 87 miles. The estimated cost varies from £3,000 a mile for a pioneer line to about £5,000 a mile for a line completely equipped to deal with a large traffic.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
When will it be possible for the hon. Gentleman to make the statement on this subject which he promised me nine and a half months ago?
§ MR. CHURCHILL
admitted that he was open to reproach for having led the House to believe he would make an early statement. He could only say that they were pressing the matter forward and hoped that when they received the report of Sir P. Girouard, who had been sent out to Nigeria, a definite decision would quickly be arrived at.
§ MR. WEDGWOOD (Newcastle-under-Lyme) asked whether, as the route of the railway was practically known, steps would be taken to prevent land speculators reaping the benefit of the increased land values.975
§ MR. CHURCHILL
The question of the land laws in Nigeria is being carefully considered with a view to securing for the Colony the advantage of any betterment resulting from the making of the railway.