39. Mr. POINTER
asked the right hon. Gentleman what dividends have been declared by the Pacific Phosphates Company for each year from 1901 to 1911; and whether he will state the capital of the company, and show the actual cash capital as distinguished from the watered capital upon which dividend is now paid?
I have no official information on this subject, but I understand that information can be found in the "Stock Exchange Official Intelligence."
Ought it not to be the duty of the Colonial Office to make itself acquainted with these facts in order to judge whether or not the amount of royalty they are asking from the Pacific Phosphates Company is a fair thing, or whether it is hopelessly undervalued?
When a royalty has been settled under a contract subsequent dividends which may be paid by the company would not enable the Government to vary the terms of the original contract.
Is it not the fact that the contract was obtained under false pretences by the company, who represented that the value of the phosphates was 10s. per ton, when, as a matter of fact, it was over £2 a ton, and the 6d. was fixed on the understanding that the market price of phosphates was 10s. per ton.
I should certainly not be prepared to say without notice, and probably not with notice that the contract was obtained under false pretences.