HC Deb 20 February 1908 vol 184 cc977-9

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Motion made, and Question proposed "That it is expedient to authorise the creation of Annuities to be charged on and payable out of the Revenues of India in lieu of the sum of money amounting to twelve million eight hundred and nineteen thousand five hundred and fifty-eight pounds, six shillings, and three pence, agreed upon for the purchase by the Secretary of State in Council of India of the undertaking of the Madras Railway Company and the payment of any costs and expenses incurred by the said Secretary of State under any Act of the present session for vesting the said undertaking in the said Secretary of State in Council of India, and also any costs, charges, and expenses of obtaining and passing the said Act not provided by the surplus profits arising from the said undertaking for the half-year ending the 31st day of December, 1907."—(Sir Henry Fowler.)

MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)

asked for an explanation of the circumstances under which this transfer had taken place and the provision made for the future working of the line.


It is merely a formal Resolution. The details could be discussed in Committee on the Bill.


thought the policy of the Government with regard to Indian Railways was one which the House ought to consider, although that perhaps was hardly the occasion to enter into a long argument with reference to the facilities with which capital was invested on railways in India.


explained that this was the last purchase of what were known as the guaranteed Indian railways. Originally, the old railways were started by separate companies under guarantee by the Secretary of State to whom was reserved the option to exercise the right of purchase at the end of certain periods by cash payments-down or by way of annuities. That policy had been regularly pursued by every Secretary of State, and all the great Indian Railways originally guaranteed have been purchased with the exception of this one. Whether this policy was to the financial advantage of the Government of India might be a matter for discussion, but the Secretary of State was advised by the most competent authorities that the arrangement made in this instance would result in a saving to the Government of India of about one and a quarter millions. The revenues of India were perfectly well protected, the shareholders were satisfied, the Indian Office was satisfied that it was a very good bargain for the Government, while no burden was thrown on the British taxpayer. The Resolution was merely formal, the Standing Order providing that no charge should be imposed on the revenues of India without the matter being submitted to the House.


was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that this was in the interest of India. No doubt this was merely a formal Resolution and his hon. friend would find a full explanation in the Bill itself. This was, however, the constitutional method by which the House was called upon to confirm the financial arrangement.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

said that not only was no charge imposed on Indian revenues, but they were saved a payment of 5 per cent. on a very large sum of money. The objection raised could only proceed from a misunderstanding.

MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)

thought the Committee was in some difficulty in dealing with this matter which was one of great importance. As he understood it the House was practically asked to vote—["No"]—well, not to vote directly, but to sanction the borrowing under Government guarantee of £12,000,000. They were told it would result in a great saving to India, but he would like to know how the money was to be borrowed. He understood the usual practice was to borrow half in India and half in this country. It was surely a fair question to ask was that practice to be followed in this case.

And, it being Three of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee Report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

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