HC Deb 29 July 1907 vol 179 cc480-1

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the amount of the hut tax in East Africa, Central Africa, and Nigeria; whether, if the average family is five persons, it amounts to about six annas per capita; and whether, the present profit on each rupee being more than four annas, he will consider the possibility, by the introduction of these coins on a much larger scale, to substitute for the hut tax the collection of the needed revenue by the seignorage on the rupee currency minted especially for these three districts.


In the East Africa Protectorate the rate of the hut tax is three rupees a year, except in the Kenia and Jubaland provinces, which are not yet fully administered, and in which the rate is two rupees. A rate of three rupees is equivalent to nearly ten annas a head for an average family of five persons. In British Central Africa the rate varies from six to twelve shillings a hut according to district. Indian currency is not in use in the Protectorate, and the hon. Member's Question does not, therefore, appear to be relevant to that country. In Nigeria there is no hut tax and Indian currency is not used. With regard to the latter part of the Question, I informed the hon. Member for Hoxton on the 23rd of July that there is no prospect that it will be possible to appropriate for the purposes of the East Africa Protectorate any part of the seignorage on the Indian rupees in circulation. A special subsidiary coinage is being introduced, but the profit on these coins, especially on the lower denominations, will be less than on the rupee, and it is impossible to say what part of this profit, if any, will be available for purposes of revenue. In any case, the existence of the tax does not impose any harsh or severe burden, it is a stimulus to habits of industry and the use of coin, and as no difficulty is experienced in its collection I see no reason for abolishing it.


was understood to ask who appropriated the revenue arising from the coinage.


If any profit is reaped on the coinage of smaller denominations it would be reaped by the revenue of the different Colonies, but the Indian seignorage is rigidly reaped by the Indian Government.