§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ 1. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,073,754 (including a Supplementary sum of £503,000), be granted to His Majesty, to 1672 complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913, for sundry Colonial Services, including certain Grants-in-Aid." [Note.—£290,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I wish to raise a point of Order and to call attention to the way in which these Estimates are presented. There are a number of New Services which have never been heard of before. 1673 You will find them on pages 11 down to 24, and on page 10 there is on Class V. a Supplemental Estimate, so-called, increasing the Vote for British East Africa from £23,500 to £398,500, and the Vote for Uganda from £45,000 to £170,000. It is the first time in the history of Parliament there has been any such attempt to call such a thing a Supplemental Estimate. In addition, it is stated, this enormous sum now put down as a Supplemental Estimate will not be accounted for in detail to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, but that he will be furnished by the Colonial Office with the audited accounts and with any reports of the Director of Colonial Audit thereon. Later on it is stated the Treasury are to be allowed to prescribe without Statute a certain rate of interest. My question is this: Whether these Votes, proposing absolutely new matter, come within the scope of the Standing Order, which at ten o'clock will automatically prevent all discussion? My submission is these are Votes so large, so unparalleled in character, and so absolutely new, that they are not really in the nature of Votes, but are legislation. These Votes are a statement that there is to be taken out of the hands of the Comptroller and Auditor General a sum of money, £500,000 in extent, and in addition to that, as far as I understand it, the Treasury are to prescribe certain rates of interest. I therefore wish to ask you whether there is any precedent for calling these matters Supplementary Votes, and consequently whether there is any authority for saying these will come under the Standing Order at ten o'clock, thus preventing all discussion of what is absolutely unparalleled matter?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Before you rule, Sir, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that, sharing with him the views he has just expressed, we on Friday endeavoured to prevent the Government doing what is illegal?
If the hon. and learned Member will look at his Votes and at page 500, he will find this is not a New Service but an Old Service, and I think therefore it is quite in order to proceed.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
May I submit to you that at all events on page 11 they are endorsed as New Services, and to simply put in "original estimate, £23,000; revised estimate, £398,000," and call that a Supplementary Estimate, is a farce.
§ Sir CLEMENT HILL
I do not rise to criticise the Secretary of State for the Colonies for bringing forward this Grant for Uganda, but I should like to ask a few questions upon this Supplementary Estimate which, for my part, I would most willingly see largely increased. The position of the Secretary of State on this matter is quite different from that of his predecessors when we had debates on the Uganda Railway from 1895 to 1900. In those days statesmen on the Liberal Benches were strongly opposed to the construction of a railway, and men like Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Labouchere were strong in their condemnation of the scheme, declaring that the line could never meet with any success. Even politicians of the present day, like the President of the Board of Trade, expressed a strong opinion that there was no likelihood of the line being made. Incidentally, I should like to point out how extremely difficult it is to talk upon this subject without a map. If it were possible to have a map displayed in the House Members would better understand the-question. Mr. Bryce, our Ambassador at Washington, speaking on this subject, asked if the line went over the main escarpment, and had it begun on the other side to descend to the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The Secretary of State for the Colonies will know there is a slight distance of about 1,000 miles between Victoria Nyanza, which the line purported to have reached, and Lake Tanganyika. A certain amount of criticism from the Liberal Benches has been founded upon an imperfect knowledge of the country. The country was described as a desert. The railway was said to run through territories occupied by savage tribes; it was a line which could not possibly pay. The climate was one in which no European could live, and trade was nonexistent and could not possibly be expected to arise. But the facts are the exact contrary. White children are born and reared there and prove perfectly healthy. Trade has sprung up very largely with natives in the interior; sheep and cattle are developing in large numbers; cotton is growing, and I hope will be largely developed, and the peace of the country has been assured, so that it is perfectly safe for a white man to walk through it armed only with an umbrella, 1675 which is scarcely needed for the sun. In every way we may hope that the country is developing, and will justify the construction of the railway through it. I wish to express my sense of the great loss sustained by the death of Mr. Currie, the general manager in East Africa, to whom so much of the success of the line is due.
I should like to quote a few figures to substantiate what I have said. The railway was begun in 1895 and was finished in 1904. It cost, I believe, excluding the suspense account, £5,500,000. The lake steamers, wharves and docks at Victoria Nyanza cost £188,000; and, in passing, I should like to ask whether these steamers have been insured? The steamers show a working profit of 11 per cent.: if it were not for the cost of the wharves and docks, the working of the steamers would show a profit of 14 per cent. In 1904–5, which was about the time when the administration was handed over to the Colonial Office, the receipts of the railway amounted to £137,000. In 1910–11 they had grown to £254,000, or nearly double. The net profit in 1909–10, was £65,867; and in 1910–11, £98,519; an increase of nearly one-third over the previous year. The import of agricultural implements—another sign of development—amounted in 1906–7 to £19,000, and in 1910–11 to £29,000. The exports show how the country is developing. In British East Africa alone they were in 1909–10, £190,668; and in 1910–11, £276,480; or nearly 45 per cent, extra, of which grain showed an increase of £30,000, hides of £17,000, and wool of £6,000. All these are up-country products, and the railway will encourage the development of these industries. Therefore it is well worth while for the Government and for this House to vote larger supplies for the development of the railway than have hitherto been granted. I want to see more done in Uganda, and I should like to see some such statement for the construction of a main road over the cataracts from Nimile to Gondokoro. I should like to see more done in Uganda. The Government have already made an extension that runs from the outlet of the Nile from Victoria Nyanza, and I want to see the Nile and Victoria Nyanza connected and some steps taken to improve the road over the cataracts. There might be a railway or a motor road to ensure through communication from Mombasa to Khartoum. I hope the Secretary of State 1676 will be able to give the Committee information regarding what is proposed for the improvement of the Uganda communications.
In East Africa itself they have already made a line from Nairobi to Thika. It is called a tram line, but I do not know what the nature of it is, although I believe it is of the same metre gauge as the Uganda Railway. I think that line ought to be extended to Fort Hall and Keina, which I believe would open up a very rich and improving district. Certain improvements are necessary on the line to enable it to carry the soda which it is hoped will be dug out from the great soda lake there. I am not certain whether any of these works are included in this estimate of £380,000, or whether the £380,000 is something quite extra and in addition to it. The progress of the up-country is, as I have shown, very great, as is proved by the agricultural developments which have taken place and the goods imported. But this country can only be thoroughly developed by a further railway, and, without going into the engineering question, I should like to see a railway built to a district now largely occupied by a very energetic colony of Boers from South Africa on the Nasin Gishu plateau. This district cannot really become of use unless opened up by a railway, or, at any rate, by a road of sufficient strength to carry motor traffic. That might be done at less cost, and it would be a great boon to the settlers of that particular district. I do not think, after the way in which we have been booming East Africa, and inviting settlers to go there, the Government would be justified in not doing all it possibly could to give them every facility and every assistance in developments of that kind. I hope the Government will not follow what I am afraid is a Treasury principle of allowing somebody else to make communications which might be made by the Government itself. In these great countries the first thing is to let the public know that money is to be made. The more and more settlers are induced to go into the country, the more and more must be done for its development. It is very difficult for any Government to get money to spend on these new countries which it is so necessary should be spent, and it is growing increasingly difficult to get sufficient money for the purpose. I do not think, if we look at our great Dominions, they would have developed if it had been left to the Government of this country. Take Canada, the 1677 great extension of railways there is the result of private enterprise. Or take the Argentina, the railways there have been constructed by private enterprise. Even in India, a country where one would think we were free to do as we like, where there is little control by anybody except by the officials themselves, there they cannot build railways and put on rolling stock with the speed demanded by the needs of commerce. I believe I am right in saying that this year only thirty miles of new railway construction has taken place in India. That leads me up to what I want to say. I think it is worth considering whether the Government should retain in their hands large schemes for developing this country. I should like to suggest that they should consider the possibility of selling the Uganda Railway to some company. I was talking some time ago to a man who was engaged in a good deal of railway enterprise. He ran up the figures roughly and asked if the railway was beginning to pay. I said about ½ per cent. He said that with £5,000,000 for outlay, and £1,000,000 for capital, he could do it at that figure. I think it is possible that private enterprise might be inclined to take over that railway. If it did, I am certain that it could at once—without the difficulties which the Government must encounter in coming to this House—proceed to develop the country and make feeders and run lines into these subsidiary districts. Then, without constant criticism of the Government, East Africa and Uganda would have a chance of going ahead, and money would be spent on development. I firmly believe that if that were done we should sec developments which would make these countries, which were so much criticised when they were first occupied, most valuable and an ever-increasing adjunct of our great Dominions.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I beg to move: "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."
I do so for the purpose of obtaining a statement from the Treasury as to the financial and legal position of the Vote.
That Motion cannot be accepted by the Chair. This is one of the allotted days for winding up Supply, and therefore I cannot accept the Motion
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I think it is one of the most serious departures from the rules of the House of Commons that I 1678 have known in my time. To begin with, I submit that the Vote is on its face an absurdity; that it is absolutely unprecedented; and that it cannot ever obtain legal frame. Would anybody suppose it possible that a Vote of £23,000, headed "Original Estimate," could develop into a Vote of £398,000 as a Revised Estimate? Could anybody suppose that a Vote of £45,000, "Original Estimate," could become a Vote of £170,000 as a Revised Estimate? Must not the subject of a Supplemental Estimate be something existing, in rerum natura? If I determine to make a railway in Uganda at the price of £100,000, I may perhaps find my amount is short and may have to put on £150,000 or £200,000. That would be a Supplementary Estimate, but surely this is not a Supplementary Estimate. It is impossible to say that, because you bring down an Estimate of £500,000 in respect of absolutely new works, which come under the head of a Colonial Service, and dovetail it on to some little Service of £20,000 or £30,000, that your £500,000 is money of a Supplementary Service. Take the note to this Estimate. It says:The Grant to Uganda is required to provide for the construction—That is not an addition, but new construction, which shows that it is an absolutely new work.the construction at an estimated cost of £25,000 of a proposed railway—If it is a proposed railway, how can it be a Supplementary Estimate?from Kampala to Port Bell, in the Uganda Protectorate, and also for the improvement, at an estimated cost of £100,000, of communications in the Eastern Province of Uganda.Because in last year's report the Comptroller and Auditor-General was not favourable to this kind of work, the extraordinary course is taken of saying, for the first time in our history, as regards this £500,000, that it is not to be expended under the supervision of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Why is it we have not a full estimate? We have only two items: British East Africa and Uganda. That is all the information that this House is going to get of expenditure of £500,000, which was never mentioned in the Budget, never heard of before, and as to which we have no details of any kind or description, I therefore submit to you, Mr. Maclean, that evidence that it is an absolute innovation in our procedure. Last year the Vote was announced in the Budget and was included in the Finance Act. We first had the statement 1679 in Committee of Ways and Means, next the Resolution, then the Estimate, and then the Statute. Now we are to have the whole thing done by means of what is gaily called a Supplementary Estimate. Look at the position in which we are putting the Treasury as the paying - out office, and the Auditor-General. What is to be said for giving the Treasury powers by means of a Supplementary Estimate which hitherto have only been given by Statute? Let me illustrate what I mean. Take the case of Irish Land Stock. Would it not be an extraordinary thing if you could provide for the rate of interest payable by the Irish farmers without a Statute? That is what you are doing here to the extent of £500,000, because you say this:—These sums will be advanced—that is, the £500,000 which you are getting by taxing our tobacco and our whisky—These sums will be advanced by way of loan to the Governments of the British East Africa Protectorate and Uganda, and will be repaid, with interest at the rate of 3½ per cent, per annum, on terms prescribed by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.Where do they get these powers? Last year you took them by Statute. Where do you get them now? This Estimate must form, later on, a portion of the Appropriation Act. Is there any precedent for putting in the Appropriation Act anything except the Appropriated Votes which have already been voted in Committee of Supply? We have heard of "Lloyd George finance," but I never thought it would come to this, that a revised Estimate of £500,000 should be supplemental to an amount of less than £70,000. I want to know if this is to form portion of the guillotine closure at ten o'clock to-night? This is a mixed form of legislation. It is half finance and half legislation. Is the guillotine to fall upon this absolutely new proposition, which was never heard of before, which was never debated in Committee of Ways and Means, which was not dealt with by Bill, as last year, and is the whole thing to be passed by the House of Commons in this absolutely new way? It is a terrible thing to impose taxes at any time, but when you do so you have the consciousness that the money will be spent in some manner in which you can debate the expenditure of the Government. This is subtracting from the power of the House of Commons to debate how taxes can be spent. The Prime Minister made an extraordinary statement with regard to communications passing which led to this Vote.
1680 I arraign the system whereby one Minister can, by speaking to another, extract from the Chancellor of the Exchequer £500,000. Three weeks ago I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether we should be put in possession of the correspondence between the Treasury and the Colonial Office in regard to this Vote. I was told "No." Therefore the gradual downward progress has been this. Last year £250,000 was dealt with by Statute, now you are giving £500,000 for the same service, and next year, I suppose, it will be £1,500,000. Why could not the House of Commons see upon what basis the Colonial Secretary goes to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? If last year £250,000 was enough, why is it this year to be £500,000? What security have we that next year it will not be enormously increased? As the Comptroller and Auditor-General is to be withdrawn from control by this system of new-fangled legislation and mongrel legislation—it cannot be called by any respectable term—and as the control of the House is withdrawn, I ask at what moment of time did the Colonial Secretary tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this money would be required? How did he explain that last year he only asked for £250,000; what are his promises with regard to the future; are we to proceed upon some whimsy which the Colonial Office takes into its head that last year they wanted £250,000, this year £500,000, and next year £1,500,000?
This House has one officer to overlook expenditure, the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Why are we to have no satisfaction from our own officer? How is it that last year you did not come to the conclusion that £500,000 was wanted? Is the Colonial Office going to take it into its hands and its head to expend all these huge sums in tropical countries without getting any estimates in advance? Are these contracts to be put up to tender? We know that originally £5,000,000 was the expenditure proposed for the Uganda Railway, and we know that it expanded to £12,000,000. How do we know that the same thing is not going to occur in regard to this matter? There have been no papers laid before the House upon it, so far as I know. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway representing a rich country to talk about railways here and railways there. These taxes are paid out of the hard earnings of poor men. It is a poor country which is enmeshed in this rich country which is having to pay these taxes. 1681 You put £1,750,000 extra taxation upon us last year. Where is this going to end? I protest against this form of bastard legislation. Show me any precedent in the history of this country for an estimate like this. None can be found. You are convicted of your sins by what you did last year. If last year a Statute was required for £250,000, how much more is a Statute required today? You do not admit it, but you are sinning against the light, because twice already this year this point has been raised. We did not know until this Estimate was laid on the Table ten days ago that the Comptroller and Auditor-General was going to be dispensed with. Out of whose brain did this mad notion spring? Surely if we require the Auditor-General to control our amounts here where the services are performed under our eyes, in this distant country of Africa, in which your are now going to pour millions, you should give the Auditor-General some element of control. The whole thing seems to me so extraordinary that unless some precedent can be quoted for it, it is certainly a novel thing that you should put down these things in Supply in the extra allotted days, so that the House of Commons is not afforded the poor protection of a Motion to report Progress. That is the procedure. What is the necessity for it? Of coarse Irish Estimates are gone. There are to be no Irish Estimates discussed at all for the remainder of the Session. Our money is here, and the ordinary control that should be exercised has absolutely evaporated and disappeared. I protest against the system. It is riotous, it is wasteful, and it is illegal.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Masterman)
I do not want to interfere in any purely Colonial question that has been raised, and some of the questions which the hon. and learned Gentleman asks will, of course, be more fully dealt with by the Secretary for the Colonies—questions such as the basis of the Estimates, and the dreams we have with regard to the future. But the action of the Treasury has been directly challenged in very strong language, and various statements have been made by him which are entirely incorrect in connection with the action of the Treasury in the matter. He said that this action that has been taken is without precedent. I have a very large number of precedents. It is a perfectly normal course of action, which has been followed by all Governments 1682 which have been responsible for this kind of matter in recent years. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that for the first time we have put down a Motion exempting the Grant-in-Aid from the audit of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. No Grant-in-Aid ever comes under the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Exactly the same course has been adopted in connection with loans, especially those which are similar to this—loans for Colonial purposes.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Let mo take one or two of the most recent to begin with. In July, 1910, on a Supplementary Estimate for Colonial services, the House voted £120,000 for the Uganda Railway extension. That was voted in the manner which is agreeable to the hon. and learned Gentleman. In the Estimates of 1911–12, £60,000 was voted as a loan, and on the face of the Estimates there was the very statement which he now announces is unprecedented.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
No, it was voted on an Estimate.The Grant will be voted for the Government of Uganda, and will be treated as a loan repayable by that Government, as and when the financial situation of the Protectorate may admit of such terms as may be prescribed by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.That is the statement which the hon. and learned Gentleman says has never before appeared in the whole of British history. Let me take another example. In February, 1911, £140,000 was voted as an estimate for a railway in Northern Nigeria as a loan.The Grant will be advanced to the Government of Northern Nigeria, and will be treated as a loan repayable by that Government on the terms prescribed by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.The terms fixed in the case of that loan were 3½ per cent, interest and 1½ per cent, sinking fund. That is what the hon. and learned Gentleman calls making fresh legislation.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
They were normal Estimates. The first, I think, was a 1683 supplementary. I have other cases of supplementaries. In 1898 and 1899 there were Grants-in-Aid of the Gold Coast Northern Territories by Supplementary Estimates, and special provision was made for an advance for telegraphic construction, and the Estimate says:—So much of this expenditure as may be found to be due to the cost of telegraphic construction, which is believed to be from £25,000 to £30,000, is to be treated as a loan repayable by the Colony.It was treated as a loan repayable by the Colony, and the exact amount proved to be £29,400. In July, 1900, and in February, 1901, Supplementary Votes for Colonial services of £200,000 each, or £400,000 in all, were made to meet the expenditure consequent on the disturbances in Ashanti. The Estimates said—It is intended that the advance should he repaid by the Gold Coast in such instalments as, looking to the financial condition of the Colony, the Secretary of State may require.That is an exact precedent for the conditions under which this money is being voted. There are other precedents in connection with loans and Grants-in-Aid to the Colonial services. In 1901–2 a loan of £75,000 was made by Supplementary Estimate to the Viceroy of Gujarat. It was a separate Vote for a loan without an Act voted by this House, and subsequently treated as this loan will be, passed, I suppose, by the Committee as a Supplementary Estimate, approved by the Board, and given statutory sanction.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Does not the Treasury Chest Act by Statute give those powers, whereas here there is no Statute?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The money is not advanced from the Treasury Chest. All that happens is that the money payments into and out of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank are drawn from the Treasury Chest. The Treasury Chest has nothing to do with the loan or the system which creates the loan. It is a matter of a book-keeping transaction.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
It is supplementary to the Grant-in-Aid in the original Estimates: in one case for British East Africa, and in the other for Uganda. We should be perfectly illegal and wrong if we put it down as a new service. It is a Grant-in-Aid supplementary to the Grants-in-Aid which have been or which will be voted in the original Estimates. There is ample 1684 precedent for it, and there is no new attempt to take anything out of the control of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. There was no possibility of presenting the Estimate in any other way than as a Supplementary Estimate to the Grants-in-Aid which are in the original Estimate.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I cannot say offhand, but it would not make the slightest difference. The Estimate is a Grant-in-Aid for the benefit of British East Africa, and this is a Supplementary Grant-in-Aid for the benefit of British East Africa, and I do not think there has ever been a splitting up under heads or sub-heads of all the various forms in which money in British East Africa is spent. I understand from the Treasury that that has never been done and the money is voted as a Grant-in-Aid to any particular British Colony.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
I am not going for a moment into the precedents which the right hon. Gentleman has very rapidly read, but the merits of the case are entirely in favour of the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend. Consider the full extent of the position taken up by the Treasury on this occasion. If the hon. Gentleman is correct it would be competent for the Treasury to put down an original Estimate of £10 for certain purposes and increase it by £1,000,000 in a Supplementary Estimate, although there should be withdrawn from that expenditure the criticism of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, to which this House is of course accustomed. That surely is a very extraordinary position. The right hon. Gentleman read out several precedents, so far as I was able to follow him, of very small sums, and it may be that on those occasions they passed notice. But supposing, as I suggest, the original Estimate was even more disproportionate than the present, would it be really competent to add to it to such an enormous extent by a Supplementary Estimate by merely calling it a Grant-in-Aid when it is in fact a loan, and prescribe the rate of interest without any effective power in this House at all. The other day the Colonial Secretary twitted me in regard to certain observations I made with regard to the cost of construction of railways. He showed that a railway was constructed, I think, in Nigeria, at a cost of £2,000 per 1685 mile. Of course, it may be a very proper and politic thing to do, to put down a railway in a very light form, but a railway laid down at such a cost as that will probably have to be renewed in three or four years. Therefore, such an estimate as that ought surely to be before the House. The Chairman has refused to accept, a Motion to report Progress under Standing Order 15, but that Standing Order evidently contemplates that there should be full material before the House, and an opportunity of criticism afterwards by the Auditor and Comptroller-General of any expenditure which is sought to be made, and for which the authority of the House is taken. The whole power of criticism goes from the House if there is an extra expenditure on something entirely new, say, £1,000,000 or £2,000,000—
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The right hon. Gentleman is making the point that this Supplementary Estimate is removed from the control of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, but the words used are exactly the same as in the ordinary case. There is nothing new.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
If that observation is sound, why did the Colonial Office and the Treasury proceed by way of Bill last year for an expenditure of £250,000, and this year add a much larger sum by the farce of declaring it to be supplementary to something which never existed. That question was put by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) and no answer was given.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I thought that was very fully explained by the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the last debate on the subject in which he went through all the details.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
If this is capable of explanation I am sure the hon. Gentleman need not shelter himself behind the Home Secretary. If this is a regular proceeding justified by precedent, it is a proceeding which does enable the Treasury to treat the amount as a Supplementary Estimate. Why treat the money as a Supplementary Estimate this year, when a much less sum was previously dealt with by Bill?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Either proceeding is perfectly regular. There are precedents for both. One precedent occurred during the right hon. Gentleman's own 1686 administration, when a sum nearly as large as this was taken in exactly the same way as is done by this Supplementary Estimate. It makes no difference.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
It makes all the difference in the world. On any other day a Motion to report Progress would be in order.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
It was complained that the Colonial Secretary had given no details. My right hon. Friend is fully prepared to give any information on the matter, or to answer any question. The Home Secretary explained at great length the whole course by which this was suspended money. He explained, in the first place, for what reasons the money was suspended; and, secondly, why a change in policy had become desirable, owing to the fact that these reasons had not materialised, especially in connection with the strike, but partly in connection with the Navy. I understand this Vote is not objected to. Therefore it could not have been included in the original Estimates, because it was only after the crisis for which the money of the Old Sinking Fund was taken that we could apply it in this way.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I have already pointed out that there are precedents for treating this in a Bill and precedents for treating it as a Supplementary Estimate. There are precedents for all these Estimates being outside of the control of the Auditor and Comptroller-General, and there is no precedent for their being Within his control.
§ Sir J. D. REES
The discussion, so far, has related to the technical question as to the propriety with which this Estimate has been brought forward, and the propriety of bringing it forward on a day when the guillotine falls on the Estimates at ten o'clock. It seems to me that the House should have the completest control of all accounts for such services, but, apart from that, if we come to the merits, I am so pleased that this sum is to be allotted in this way, that I shall not join in the criticism to which hon. Members have already given such full expression. So far as the merits of the Estimate goes, it seems to me extremely satisfactory that this Grant should be made by Supplementary Estimate, be it within the rules of order or 1687 not. The fact that the money is to be allotted for this purpose must be regarded as extremely satisfactory. My hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury (Sir Clement Hill) referred to the possibility of ultimately selling this Uganda Railway, or getting it in some way into private hands. As one of those interested in the spread of communication by railway by private enterprise in Central Africa, I shall only say how glad I am that the Colonial Office—on all other occasions I have invariably adversely criticised the finance of the Government—is making such an extremely good use of the money at its disposal. I am bound to say as the result of the communications I have had with financiers and others in business, that they have nothing but satisfaction to express as to the impartiality, courtesy, and energy, of the right hon. Gentleman in endeavouring to promote what is necessary in the way of development. This is not a party matter at all, except as regards the question of the propriety of the manner in which the money is being dealt with. It is a matter of opening up regions which supply the best cotton for England, tobacco, and many other most valuable products. The Colonial Office is simply continuing action which has already had most beneficial effects in East Africa.
I remember when I sat on the other side of the House I tried to get at the total cost of the Uganda Railway. I totalled up the figures I obtained from the Treasury and found the whole amount with interest, was something like £13,000,000. I believe it was money extremely well spent. I do not believe the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) would contest that from the point of view of the Irish taxpayer, because the prosperity of the Empire must affect the interests of Ireland, so long as that country remains, as I hope it will do, part of the United Kingdom. For my part, I congratulate the Government on having done this good thing, at any rate, by providing money for Uganda. Anybody concerned in any degree in the development of the British Empire knows what these regions can do in the way of supplying cotton of precisely the kind suited to the wants of Manchester. It is a matter of extreme importance that these territories should be developed, and I can only congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on what he has done on this behalf, and on the impression created in the City among those occupied in this business. 1688 My hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury gave various figures regarding the great improvement that has resulted in the condition of Uganda from the railway already constructed. The same arguments apply to the work to be done under this Supplementary Estimate. It is not so long ago that a missionary occupied in Uganda was informed by one of his converts that the native word he used for the translation of "repentance" was not exactly what the missionary intended to describe. He pictured the case of an armed man who, having met two men both carrying goods, only killed and robbed one. He said that repentance meant the regret of the robber that he did not also kill the other man. That story merely illustrates the condition of this population. It was sunk in every kind of ignorance, violence, and anarchy, and solely owing to the construction of the railway a condition of comparative prosperity has been brought about in the country. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman is determined to advance in this behalf during the time he occupies his present office.
There are 600 miles of railway already constructed, and, I believe, the trains run more than twice a week right up to Victoria Nyanza. The place is full of churches and worshippers, and the condition of the country has been completely changed. A point has been made as to the method by which these railways are constructed. I do not think the manner in which the construction of the original line was carried out is open to the criticism to which it has been often exposed. It was not a line made by the Crown Agents. It was made by a committee on which the Foreign Office, the Crown Agents, and the Treasury were represented. I believe that an equal regard for the pockets of the taxpayers will inspire the Colonial Office in making the improvements to which this Grant is to be devoted. I do think there is a question how far sums of money which could be placed at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman should be allocated. The allocation in regard to this line is good, and I highly approve of it. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman pressed the Treasury very' hard in order to get such a comparatively large sum, and I must say it is to his credit that he succeeded. It is only proper to mention that while doing what he has done he has not been solely concerned with Uganda, but has given proper attention to the wants of other Colonies for which Grants are urgently needed. So far from 1689 the method of making this Grant to Uganda by way of loan being an aggravation, I should call it an alleviation of anything savouring of irregularity which might apply to the Treasury in the matter. Does the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy) think that the money should be given in the form of a Grant once for all, or that it should be a loan under which plan the money will come back? I think the Secretary to the Treasury fairly met the hon, and learned Member as regards precedents.
It would, I think, be a most regrettable matter if allotments of this character were too severely scrutinised so as to put such fear into the hearts of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench as would prevent them from doing a good thing when they feel so inclined. I do beg the hon. and learned Gentleman to mitigate the severity of his criticism. We all know how keen and stinging his criticisms are, but I would beg him on this occasion to take into account, not so much the manner in which this is done, but the exceedingly good character of the thing which is done. It is a good thing for the British Empire, British trade, the cotton trade, and the tobacco trade. Why does he condemn a proceeding which is so likely to result from every point of view in adding to the prosperity of the British Empire? I would ask the Colonial Secretary as regards the expenditure of this money, whether he will take duly into account the lessons learned on previous occasions from the strong criticisms which have been made as to the cost per mile for railway construction in Uganda as compared with that in Sierra Leone and other parts of the Empire. That, I know, depends upon physical features which are not within the power of the Colonial Office to deal with. I think any Member of this House who has been occupied in endeavouring after his degree to develop these distant regions in Africa, would be absolutely wanting in his duty if he did not get up, and without any regard whatever to party considerations, deal with the actual merits of the Vote before the Committee, and express his very strong approval of it upon the merits.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)
The right hon. Gentleman opposite has asked me for information on this Vote which I shall be very happy to afford him. I will not enter upon the discussion which has taken place between the hon. and learned 1690 Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Masterman), as to the method by which this money was provided. He will agree at once that my object was to secure the money from the Treasury.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Last year only a quarter of a million pounds was asked, and this year it has grown to half a million.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Last year a loan was made of a quarter of a million pounds, and of course that was all that was desired at the time. I wish to thank the hon. Member who spoke last for his appreciation of the provision which is being made for these two Protectorates. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir C. Hill) asked whether any provision was being made for insurance for the steamers on Lake Victoria. A fund is being added to now to deal with the question of the insurance of those steamers. He suggested that while we have provided a considerable sum of money for the expansion of the Uganda Railway, we should also proceed to sell it immediately to some private speculator. I am not sure, if he would consult the settlers and traders in East Africa and Uganda, that they would feel that such a proceeding would tend to an immediate lowering of their rates or to the advantage of traders in those particular districts. Therefore, I am providing another half-million pounds for the purposes of this railway and the development of the products of the country. The hon. Member, like Oliver asking for more, comes down this afternoon and demands two or three more railways, without really expressing any appreciation of what has been done. He suggests a new railway from Nimile to Gondokoro, and an extension of the Thika Railway to Fort Hall. All the railways which he suggests might be useful and profitable extensions which could be made, and I should be glad to consider them whenever I am happy enough to have means at my disposal for that purpose. The half-million provided under this Vote is divided into two portions. £375,000 is for the British East Africa and Uganda Railway. Of that £375,000: £300,000 is allotted to stations, buildings, equipments, staff quarters, and passing places on the lines, and engines and rolling stock.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Not only on the existing lines, but on the extensions projected. In reference to the financial success of the 1691 Uganda Railway, the figures may be interesting. The gross receipts in 1903–4 were £132,000. They are estimated to be in the year 1912–13 £424,000. The loss on the working of the Uganda Railway in 1903–4 was £60,000. The profit estimated for the current year is £135,000. In passing from these figures, may I express my deep regret at the recent death of Mr. Currie, who has been manager to the Uganda Railway practically since its commencement, and take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the great services which he has rendered to the railway and to those two Protectorates. The reason why I ask for this money this year is that is has been discovered—those discoveries are made from day to day, and cannot be foreseen—that the railway was no longer equal to the immense mass of work placed upon it. There has been a great and sudden and unexpected development of production in both these Protectorates. Produce is delayed and damaged by this delay on wharves, platforms, and sidings without protection, and the complete absence of sheds and stores to deal with such an immense mass of material as is now being brought up. Further equipment is therefore necessary both for goods and passenger stock, engines, sidings, quarters, and crossing stations on the railway. Some improvements are also necessary in the Ports on Lake Victoria, and £35,000 is devoted out of this Estimate for that purpose and for the provision of another large cargo steamer on the lake. The £325,000 is completed by a sum of £40,000 for the improvement of the Kilindini deep-water pier, not so much the length of the pier itself, though work will be done in that direction, as the greater facility for handling traffic with cranes, sidings, and wharves. The remaining £125,000 is devoted to the Uganda Protectorate. Of that £25,000 goes to the railway from Kampala to Port Bell. The present transport facilities in those places are wholly inadequate to meet the trade which has sprung up, and an outlet is required for the merchandise, which is hopelessly congested. The lake service and the Uganda are all the time losing traffic owing to the fact that a great quantity of material is waiting its turn on the line. It is possible that this railway to Port Bell may form the beginning of a trunk line, which will eventually cross Uganda and tap the boundaries of the Congo State and the districts south and west of Lake Albert.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I will refer the hon. Gentleman to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is only a short line as far as Port Bell, and it is estimated to cost £3,000 per mile, which is the same cost as that of the Buroga Railway, recently completed, as this line will pass through a country almost exactly similar. The remainder of the sum of £100,000 will be devoted to improving communication on the eastern side of the Uganda. There is a rich cotton district around Lake Kioga. The fleet on that lake has recently been increased, and the cotton brought down by steamer to the railway at Namasagali. That serves well enough the cotton districts, which are within easy reach of the shores of the lake, but beyond that and out of reach of ordinary porters are great regions, which are well fitted for cotton growing—there was a great growth of cotton developed there within the last year or two—but the cotton must be brought down to Lake Kioga, or direct to Lake Victoria, in order to get on the railway, and so on to Mombasa. The British Cotton Growers' Association made representations to me this spring of a very serious danger that the natives who were being encouraged to grow cotton might not be able to dispose of it, and that that fact would do incalculable damage, not only at the moment, but as long as the memory of the failure remained, as the, natives would not be inclined to grow a crop which they could not market, and they could not be induced to grow it again until this loss had been provided against. The fact is that Lancashire wants much more cheap cotton. It wants cotton of just the sort and quality which this country has produced and is producing, and it is by these facilities that we hope to help to obtain that cotton in the near future. In the East of Uganda we propose to open up communications, both by lake and railway, by making metalled roads which are suitable for motor traffic, and on that £100,000 will be spent, because it has been found that porterage on the head by bush tracks is much too costly for the materials we have now to bring down to the lake and the railway. I only hope, after the general approval which has been given to the1 policy of developing these countries, that the way in which the money is being obtained will not cause hon. Members to oppose it.
§ Mr. GEORGE LLOYD
On the technical question as to how this money is being obtained we are all so accustomed to the Government's dodges in methods of procedure in this House that, without any special knowledge on this subject, I should feel inclined to agree with all that was said by the hon. Member (Mr. T. M. Healy) behind me; but my argument only goes so far, and I am very anxious to support, in every way I can, any expenditure which goes to develop railways in East Africa. The real trouble is, I think, that we do not like to spend these large sums of money quite suddenly and unexpectedly; and if the Government had pursued a policy of steady development of this railway for several years, instead of coming to a sudden recognition of its necessity, it would have been better. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, he has only just realised that there was a great block of traffic and a great need of development.
§ Mr. LLOYD
The general statement was that new developments had taken place which he had not understood or appreciated before. All I can say is that the people of East Africa have been clamouring for more railway facilities and more rolling stock, and have been able to demonstrate to the Government for months and years past that they could not get their stuff away from port, and, as everybody in this House knows, cotton has recently been burned in Uganda because the Government have not been able to produce a few hundred thousand pounds for railways. I think on an occasion like this that what we want in East Africa and other countries where railways are needed is not a panic policy of sudden development of railways, but an annual amount spent on these railways and a proportionate amount spent on the development of the resources of the country. There is very good reason why we should go ahead with the East African railway development. So far as I understand, a great deal of the produce of German East Africa is being carried by the Uganda Railway over that line, and the more rapidly we extend the operation of the Uganda Railway and its branches, the more we shall be carrying British produce and encouraging British industry in British East Africa, and not so much that of German East Africa. I do not think 1694 that anyone who has listened to the figures just given with regard to the profits made by the Uganda Railway recently can doubt that the whole country is ready for a further extension of railway. The right, hon. Gentleman suggests that we ought to be very grateful to him for what he is doing. I, for one, am very grateful. It is very late in coming; we wanted it very much earlier, just as we had to press for years to get a line of British steamships down to East Africa, and that was recognised far too late, yet it is now a tremendous success. So little has been done that I think the right hon. Gentleman has not made out a case why he should not go further in regard to the development of that country. The more-that is done the more rapidly will we get returns from it, and the more rapidly will we get an increase of cotton, which is vitally necessary to Lancashire. I do hope that there will be no opposition to this Supplementary Estimate, and that the right hon. Gentleman will pay some real attention to the demands which are made from every quarter of this House, for it is necessary that more money should be devoted to East Africa for the purpose of its continued and increasing development.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I rise for the purpose of supporting the hon. and learned Member below the Gangway (Mr. T. M. Healy) in his very excellent criticism of the financial methods of the Government. As I understand what has arisen is this: We have been asked to pass a Supplementary Estimate of £500,000. Supplementary to what? Supplementary to £23,000. That is an extremely bad method of finance. Even at the beginning of the year the Colonial Secretary considered that £68,000 was all that was necessary to spend, and I fail to see from his speech how it was that he did not realise five months ago that all these various things would be required. Steamers on Lake Victoria, if necessary, in July, surely were necessary in January or February, and if the right hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to make a correct estimate we should have been spared all this bad method of finance, and' probably his proposal would have gone through quickly. But as the hon. and learned Gentleman below the Gangway says, to talk of a sum of £375,000 as supplementary to £23,000 is a misuse of the English language. The right hon. Gentleman was asked whether the £23,000 was for particular objects, and he said he did not know. If he did not know, how can 1695 he say that this is a Supplementary Vote? I think this is a new Service and not a Supplementary Vote at all. We all know that last Friday, unfortunately, by a very small majority those of us who endeavoured to protect the ancient privileges of the House with regard to financial measures were defeated, and consequently Standing Order 15 which did not allow of Supplementary Estimates for new Services was done away with, and an opportunity was given for this particular Vote for this new Service on the last day—the guillotine day—of Supply. The hon. and learned Gentleman, if I may say so, is absolutely right when he says that it is a scandal to come down to the House and ask for £375,000 as supplementary to a sum of £23,000. It cannot for a moment be admitted to be supplementary to that £23,000; I do not believe it for a moment. Yet the Government come on the last day, the guillotine day, when a Motion to report Progress cannot be submitted, to ask us to vote this immense sum. What is the result? It is that we cannot have a proper discussion of either this or the other Vote. One of these Votes must be sacrificed, and the hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely correct when he says that the Committee is losing control over financial matters. It may be quite right that this large sum of money should be spent in Uganda, but it cannot be right that it should be spent in an unauthorised manner. If the object is a good one, then there is all the more reason for coming to the Committee and affording an opportunity for discussion. If the Government have something to their credit, it is right that the public should know for once that they are doing something which is right. But it cannot be right to attempt to smuggle this thing through in this kind of manner, and I am rather sorry that my hon. Friend, the Member for Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) thinks that this is a very excellent method of spending the money. Apparently, if he considers the object is good, it does not matter how the money is obtained. I protest against that, and I do hope that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will see the reason why we are losing all financial control over the Estimates. I do not doubt for a moment that they think all their proposals are good.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
What about your view?
I would remind the hon. Baronet that the subject for discussion is the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I think I am in order in saying that I do not consider that this Vote should have been brought forward in this way, and that is all I wish to say. I wish to support the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork in his criticism that this is not the proper way in which to bring forward the Vote. As to the expenditure of the money I have nothing whatever to say. The precedents quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Master-man) have nothing whatever to do with the case before us. They have no bearing at all, and they do not in any way mitigate the great offence which is being committed at the present moment—this bringing forward of a Supplementary Estimate for a practically new service on an original estimate some fifteen times smaller than the Supplementary Estimate. Whoever heard of a Supplementary Estimate of £400,000 on a sum of £20,000? Really, it is finance gone wrong. I do hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will in future exercise a little more care over the way in which these things are brought forward. He is the guardian of the public purse, and there should be more care exercised in regard to these large sums which are asked for.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
There is no doubt whatever that the financial procedure by which the Government propose to get this money is no new instance of the vicious practice of removing matters from the control of the House, and leaving the expenditure of money in the unfettered discretion of Ministers of the Crown. Of course, we have been told this afternoon that there are small precedents where Grants-in-Aid, and even small loans, have been obtained by this method; but there has been no case whatever of so large a sum as half a million being voted in this way. Fifty thousand pounds is the largest case of a loan.
§ Mr. W. GUINNESS
My point is that there may have been Supplementary Estimates, but there has been no cases of loan.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
There were two sums of £200,000 each voted in this way as an advance to the Colony of the Gold Coast.
§ Mr. W. GUINNESS
I think it is a most regrettable form of procedure. Where you have so little money to spend, you should spend it in the best possible way; and the Colonial Office have made various mistakes in the past allocation of funds. I do not want to say a word as to what is proposed at the present time. The mono-railway from Port Bell to Kampala is not able to cope with the traffic, and why was not a railway constructed at first? We have no control in the House of Commons, and where money is wastefully expended we know that the matter has not been properly considered at first. We have no information as to the £100,000 Grant which is to go to the improvement of the communications with the Eastern Provinces of Uganda. What kind of motor roads are we to have? At the present time, according to the interesting report on Uganda, the motor service consists of two new motor vans which, owing to the breakdown or lack of drivers through ill-health and other causes, are not very much used. What is the use of spending £100,000 on roads if you have no motor traction to go on them? Really, before asking for a sum of this size, we ought to know what the road is going to cost, what proportion is going to be spent on rolling stock, and other details which are necessary to enable this House to form an accurate judgment as to the necessity of the expenditure. I come to the expenditure on British East Africa. I have travelled over the railway there, and I think it one of the most remarkable instances of what communicacation can do for a country. You have there got a single line of railway 584 miles long, which in a very few years has absolutely revolutionised the conditions of Central Africa. It has abolished the slave traffic; it has brought within two days' 1698 journey Lake Victoria and Nyanza, which formerly only could be reached after a long and tedious journey of at least two months.
This railway has absolutely made British East Africa, and it has made the country, since the year 1895, when the Protectorate was first proclaimed. It is certain that if you can only increase your communicacations you will obtain from the country an amount of wealth which few people who have not been out there can realise. In this very great area on the Equator you find it possible to produce, crops which can only be produced in temperate climates. First of all cotton is grown, and, besides other produce, there is good pasture all the year round, which affords a very promising opening for raising sheep. You have now, also, the promise of a very good yield of wheat, up to twelve bushels an acre. The exports have doubled in the last five years, and the imports have increased by one-third. The tonnage on the railway since the last report has shown in one year an increase of a quarter, while the not profit has increased by a half. The night hon. Gentleman gave a further figure which shows that in two years the net profit has absolutely doubled. In 1925 this railway will be free of debt, and all this profit will be going to the British taxpayer. In view of that fact I think it is not advisable to carry out the suggestion of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir Clement Hill) that this railway should be sold to private enterprise. There is so much necessity for improved communication in Central Africa that it is much better to let private enterprise tackle new lines and keep this railway, so that when the debt is paid off the full benefit of the increased profits may be fairly shared between the British taxpayer and the Colonists who are clamouring for lower rates. I hope that the Government will obtain this Grant, and will not only spend money in the development of the main line in East Africa, as they now suggest, but that they will bring forward further proposals for making the spur lines which are absolutely necessary to tap the cotton-growing districts.
I do not wish to disagree with the policy of the right hon. Gentleman in granting money to the British East Africa Protectorate, but I should like, when he is asking the House for this considerable sum, to inquire why he has not allocated any of it to improving the communications and the facilities 1699 in the Juba province of the British East Africa Protectorate? I served there some ten years ago, and reading through the report issued by the Colonial Office I see it stated that it is the same to-day as it was then. It is a province entirely cut off from the remaining part of British East Africa, but at the same time is full of the greatest promise from the cotton-growing point of view. I see that the report says that if only facilities were given in the way of communication and otherwise, half a million acres could be drawn upon for cotton growing for the benefit of this country. I think that is an opportunity which the right hon. Gentleman ought to have grasped when he had this very considerable sum placed at his disposal by the Treasury. I should like to draw his attention to the fact that the Italian Government, who have the governing of the country just across the border, have been far kinder to their colonists than he has been. Two years ago, when I was in Rome, I made some inquiries as to what they were doing, and I found that they are sending out men and machinery and cattle and cotton seed, and generally developing their side of the river at some considerable expense. Nothing, however, has been done by the Colonial Office, and even at the present time the people settled in that part of the Protectorate have to depend on the Italian Government to get their telegrams through by the Italian system of wireless telegraphy. I think it would be of considerable importance to that Protectorate to advance some portion of this money, if possible, to develop that district. I should like also to ask whether anything further has been done to improve the steamship service to Mombasa. There is no doubt that the small beginning which has been made has been a conspicuous success. Although one cannot say that the steamship service should be actually connected with Uganda Railway, at the same time it is a common practice for railways to own their own steamship lines so that they run in connection. It is rather disappointing to see that so much of the traffic in passengers and cargoes which goes out of the British Protectorate is carried by foreign steamers. I should very much like to see further assistance given to the Uganda Railway and to the steamship service, to enable the development of British lines more exclusively than at present.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I certainly admit that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, cleared up a great many points about which I had some doubt before listening to his remarks. There are, however, one or two criticisms of perhaps a somewhat minor character, but which nevertheless raise questions with a certain amount of importance, which I should like to put to him, because he did not deal with them altogether adequately in the course of his remarks. Any criticisms that I may make with reference to this railway and the money which is being devoted to this purpose, will not in any way be directed against the general policy of expending national money for the purpose of railway development in our Colonial possessions, because I certainly believe, and I think it is generally admitted now, that the development of railway communication in all parts of the Empire as necessary both for commercial and political progress in time of peace, and is absolutely essential for military security in time of war. There is no doubt that this undertaking, the Uganda Railway, in its earlier days met with an extraordinary amount of opposition. I happened to be reading the debates which took place in this House in 1902, not in connection with the original construction of the line, but when an additional sum amounting, I think, to about £600,000 was under consideration. At that time several prominent Members belonging to the Liberal party took a very keen interest in the Uganda Railway, and did not hesitate to give utterance to the most Cassandra like prophecies as to the future of the line. One of those who was most interested in the subject and made very frequent contributions to the debate, was the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. One of his remarks was so typical of some of his other observations, that I should like to trouble the Committee with his forecast as to the future of the line:—Unless the Foreign Office was seriously impressed by the criticisms which had been delivered in the light of sound information, this expenditure of the six millions would double, and, finally, the only asset would be two long rusty steel ribbons, stretching from Mombasa to Victoria Nyanza, abandoned in despair because our policy of universal grab had landed us in trouble nearer home.Those prophecies have been completely falsified. The country was told at the time that this railway, from a commercial point of view, was not required, and that from a financial point of view it was doomed to failure from the first. Everybody now admits that the remarkable 1701 development which has taken place, both in Uganda and in British East Africa, is entirely due to the construction of this line, and, so far as the financial situation is concerned, whereas the line was run at a loss of about £50,000 for the first twelve months, six years ago that loss was converted into a profit of £56,000, and we now have it on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman himself that the last year's working will show a profit of £134,000. The Prime Minister in a speech which he made here a few days ago, when he was advocating this advance of money, summed up the situation in these words:—A good rate of interest will be paid, the loan will be redeemed, and then the money will come back to the Sinking Fund.There are one or two points about which I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the allocation of this money. First of all, he referred to the enormous increase in cotton production in Uganda: I believe that in 1906–7 there were 858 cwts. exported from Uganda, with a value of about £1,000. That had gone up in the year 1910–11 to 83,000 cwts. of a value of £168,000, and I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for the forecast that for this year the amount of cotton exported will probably amount to over 100,000 cwts. All that has entailed a very heavy strain on the locomotives and other rolling stock generally of the line, which was built in the expectation of much lighter traffic and much less frequent service. The right hon. Gentleman has given us some indication as to how much is going to be spent on locomotives and rolling stock, so that I will not press that point. The point I want to deal with is with regard to the allocation of the money as between those new lines which are going to be constructed. I understand that there is a private line to run to Lake Kioga, which is under course of construction, and the money for which is being found by a private company, though the Uganda Railway are ultimately going to take over the running of that line. There is also a light railway, to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded in a previous speech, called the Fort Hall Railway, and which is to an extent a feeder of the Uganda Railway, and upon the construction of which considerable progress has already been made. As I understood from the right hon. Gentleman's previous speech, the expenses of those constructions are going to be defrayed out of the £250,000 which was 1702 allocated to Uganda out of the realised surplus of the Budget of 1910–11. Another portion of this same sum is going to be devoted to the provision of a new water supply for Mombasa, and also for improvements in the deep water dock at Kilindini, which is close to Mombasa, and which is the ocean port for British East Africa and the ocean terminus of the Uganda Railway.
What I want to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman is how much of that original sum of £250,000 is going to be expended on this deep water dock. I understand from what he said that a sum of £40,000 is going to be expended out of the present sum which is under consideration. I should like to know what is the total amount which he is prepared to devote to this very necessary purpose, because in my view it is just as important that there should be better provision made for ocean-going steamers at Kilindini for the discharge and loading of cargoes there as the development in the line itself, and it is, I understand, in some people's view even more urgent, because the state of trade from the shipping point of view at Mombasa is in some respects rather unsatisfactory. As the right hon. Gentleman of course is aware, some years ago the old Union Steamship Company had a regular service to British East Africa, which, unfortunately, they were obliged to give up owing to its proving unremunerative, but the British India Company has for thirty years maintained a regular service to Mombasa or Kilindini. This British service has been maintained under circumstances of considerable difficulty, largely owing to the competition of the German East Africa line. As is generally known, the German Government are doing everything in their power to foster German interests along the East African coast, and, in furtherance of that policy, they pay an annual subsidy of no less, I believe, than £67,000 to the British East Africa line. That line also gets the advantage, which is shared by the German trader or the German manufacturer of the inland towns in Germany, of a through railway rate which enables the German manufacturer to send his goods to the German ports and have them shipped from there to East Africa at the same, or in some cases at a lower rate than the ordinary port to port rate. It is this State-aided competition under which British shipping lines have worked at such considerable disadvantage. As has 1703 been pointed out, the Union-Castle Line, I think in 1910, started a service down the West Coast of Africa, calling at Cape Town, and then proceeding up the East African Coast as far north as Mombasa. The same or the next year the same company started another line running direct from Southampton, through the Suez Canal, to Mombasa by the northern route. When that new service was under consideration the British Government were approached and asked whether, in view of the fact that the German Government gave such a handsome subsidy to their line, the British Government could see their way to afford some pecuniary support to the British line. The Government expressed their sympathetic interest, but were not able to find the money. I believe, however, they entered into a contract that all passengers and goods controlled by the Government should be carried by that line. Since that service through the Suez Canal was started it has been maintained by regular monthly sailings, and I understand that it is proposed to build larger and finer vessels for this traffic.
This is the point about which I should like to get some information. One of the real hindrances to British trade with East Africa is, not only the German competition, but also the totally inadequate facilities for loading and unloading cargo at Kilindini. There are no deep water berths for large steamers enabling them to come alongside to load or discharge their cargoes. The consequence is that all these operations have to be done into lighters, and that is a slow process, involving considerable delay, and entailing serious cost to the company. I have been given to understand that Sir Percy Girouard, who, unfortunately, recently resigned the Governorship of the Protectorate, had a scheme, which, I believe was submitted to the Government, though we have never had any official statement with regard to it, for the general improvement of the shipping facilities at Kilindini. It was a large scheme, which, in his opinion, was absolutely essential to the future development of East Africa, and for enabling the country to get the full advantage of the transport over the Uganda Railway. Is it intended, generally speaking, to carry out a scheme of this comprehensive character, and how much money are the Government going to spend on the improvement of the port? Personally, I welcome the 1704 fact that the Government are ready to spend money on the development of the port, of the railway, and of our East African possessions generally. I hope they are prepared to approach the question in an even more generous spirit, and that if it is found necessary further sums may be available in the future for the same purpose. I believe that in these Protectorates we have a vast area of immense possibilities, and that if money is expended now on well-considered plans we shall in the future be repaid many times over by the development of a country which is certainly destined to become one of the great sources of wealth and strength to the British Empire as a whole.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I do not propose to criticise at any length the procedure with regard to this Supplementary Estimate. Other Members have done so very fully, and I endorse what they have said. It is certainly an unusual procedure to have an original Estimate one-sixteenth of the Supplementary Estimate, and one feels inclined to ask to what limit Supplementary Estimates are likely to go in the future. The fact that the Estimate is brought on on a day when it is impossible to report Progress, it being a day on which the Votes are taken en bloc at ten o'clock adds to the gravity of the situation. But it is a much pleasanter task to praise than to blame, and as regards the general objects to which the Vote is to be applied I have in the main only praise to give the right hon. Gentleman. I have taken a general interest in East Africa ever since I came up the coast in 1899 and observed how largely the German East Africa Steamship Company was dominating the situation and introducing German trade as against British trade. It was seeing that that induced me to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the whole question of steamship subsidies and direct British steamship communication with East Africa. That Committee, of which I had the honour of being chairman, sat for two years, and one of its recommendations was directed towards inducing the Government to assist direct British steamship communication with that coast. The Government was somewhat dilatory on the matter. I am not speaking particularly of one party or the other. In general, I suppose, the Colonial Office and the Treasury were not disposed to take a specially favourable view of that particular recommendation. It is only recently that a successful steamship line has been 1705 started by the Union-Castle Company. It is true that they are guaranteed any Government passengers or goods that may be sent, but beyond that they have had no special encouragement from the Government. That they afford an important means of communication, there is no doubt, and I believe they have done much and that any direct steamship communication will do much to develop our great Imperial interests in that part of the world. I hail with satisfaction any measure which goes to increase the prosperity of the country either by assisting steamship communication to a new country such as this or by improving the railway and its general prosperity, as is now proposed.
I am a great believer in the future of East Africa, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will expend much of this money in the directions he has indicated. In the first place, I would urge the importance of what he has said with regard to making roads throughout Uganda, and more particularly in the new cotton-growing areas. These areas are extending very rapidly inland from the Lake Victoria Nyanza, and unless lines of communication are provided in the way of roads it will be impossible to get the cotton to market. This will involve enormous loss to the native growers whom we have encouraged to grow cottonseed, and will consequently be a great setback to the industry in the country. There is also a large soda area in East Africa, which I believe it is the aïm of companies to develop. I suppose there is a certain amount of speculation in the adventure, but it would be worth while bearing in mind that any lines of communication and any roads in the direction of Lake Magadi are likely to benefit both the development of cotton and the possible development of soda. The Colonial Secretary referred to the necessity of increasing the rolling stock and the general facilities of the Uganda Railway. That, also, is a matter of importance which I am glad has come to his notice. Almost my only criticism of his speech would be that when dealing with this particular matter he said that a development of this character cannot be foreseen. If he asked anyone cognisant with the circumstances of East Africa he would be told that this great congestion of traffic on the Uganda Railway has been foreseen for a considerable time by those resident in the district, and that it is by no means a matter which has suddenly arisen. The congestion has been growing. 1706 I was informed the other day, by a gentleman who knows the country well, that there were only some fifty-five trucks available, when there ought to have been a very much larger number, to bring the produce to market, and that to those who look round the country and note the large increases in the growth of maize, rubber, coffee, cotton, and other products that grow very well in that soil, it seems a pity that this development of the railway was not sooner taken in hand.
Another point to which I wish to direct attention concerns the considerable taxes on machinery brought into the country. The question is of most importance concerning the machinery expressly needed for development purposes. I fancy that the taxes are imposed by the Uganda Government. I submit that they ought to be reduced or abated, and it is because I believe they are practically regulated by the Colonial Office that I am calling the right hon. Gentleman's attention to them. In other countries not so advanced as our own there seems to be no question as to how these development matters should be regulated. In Mexico and in Peru, I am told, taxes are taken off the machinery that is imported for the development of the country. It certainly is unfortunate if we are hindering development by unduly taxing machinery, which would so much assist us when imported. My information in this respect is strengthened by one or two sentences which I see here in the last Report from Uganda. On page 6 there is a statement:—That the quantity of rice imported is still very considerable, notwithstanding the efforts to encourage local cultivation of the grain. Large quantities are obtained from German East Africa, where special machinery for cleaning the grain has lately been imported, with the result that the quality has much improved, and it is now more generally used by all classes.That seems to show that the Germans—always very acute in these colonising matters—have introduced at an early stage machinery into German East Africa, thus advancing their exportation of rice from that country, while it seems to be handicapping our own industry in British East Africa. I think that is a point which the right hon. Gentleman would do well to bear in mind. If he can see his way to remit some of these taxes on machinery used for the development of the country it would be a desirable course. While I am referring to this Uganda Report I should like also to call attention to one 1707 other sentence which strikes me as worthy of some notice. On page 8 I read:—In most cases the better class of all goods come from the United Kingdom, and the cheaper qualities from foreign countries.That is not necessarily so much a matter for the Government, perhaps, although they can do something towards calling the attention of our manufacturers to it. But it does show that our manufacturers are still too much inclined to manufacture the very best article for exportation to our Colonies when our Colonies do not ask for it, and that they will not manufacture the kind of article which is asked for, and which therefore our Colonists get from some foreign country. That has been the complaint for many years. I have expressed it more than once, certainly outside, if not inside, this House. I think it is a very important point to which the attention of our manufacturers ought to be specially directed. However good may be the particular article which they manufacture, it is practically useless if it is not the thing asked for in the Colonies. If the Colonies need large supplies of special articles, and they cannot get them, even after persistent inquiries from this country, the only thing for them to do is to get them from foreign countries. I remember perfectly well, when I was in Natal some ten years ago or more, being told about the case of a pruning knife. My manufacturer friend had over and over again tried to get what he wanted from this country. He had been sent a selection of pruning knives which cost about twice as much as he desired to pay. It was intimated that it was not the habit of the manufacturers to make the form of pruning knife that he required. The result was that he got the whole of his supplies from the United States, and the British manufacturer was left out in the cold. This particular sentence in the Uganda Report seems to me to suggest that much the same kind of thing is still going on. I hope by calling attention to it in the Debate that it may be a hint to the British manufacturers to look after their own interests.
There is another point which has been referred to by several hon. Members and also by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary: that is the fact that he proposes to give £40,000 to the Kilindini Harbour deep-water pier at the end of the Uganda Railway. That work, I believe, has not yet even been begun. I would urge that that particular matter be pressed 1708 on with the greatest speed in the power of His Majesty's Government. It is hardly realised by those who are not more or less familiar with what goes on in the country what the condition of that particular harbour is. At the present moment ships lie out in Kilindini Harbour and are unloaded by lighters. The congestion on the single wharf which at present exists, and which is a very small one, is little short of appalling. There is no electric light on this wharf, and the result is that no work can go on after six o'clock at night; though no doubt ships' lights can be employed for putting the cargoes from the ships on to the lighters. The result is that twice in every twenty-four hours every lighter is full and waiting its turn to discharge at the wharf. Only this year large oceangoing steamers have taken an enormous time to discharge their cargoes because of the absence of a deep-water pier. In March last the Union-Castle steamer "Gascon" took thirteen to fourteen days to discharge 4,160 tons. In May last the "Gaika" took six days to discharge 2,200 tons. If that is not sufficient evidence to get the deep-water pier pressed on rapidly, I really do not know what is. I hope, therefore, that His Majesty's Government and the Uganda Government will devote their attention, perhaps more particularly to the three or four points I have mentioned: increase of roads throughout Uganda, especially in the new cotton-growing area; that they will do all they can to improve the rolling stock; the general administration and the facilities of the Uganda Railway; and that they will, if possible, remove or reduce the taxes which now exist on machinery which is really for the development of the country; and that they will press on., perhaps more than all the others, the deep-water pier in Kilindini Harbour.
§ Sir JOSEPH WALTON
I question whether any Supplementary Estimate that has ever been brought under the consideration of this Committee was received with greater approval from all parts of the House than the one now under consideration. My hon. Friend opposite spoke of having been up the East African coast ten or twelve years ago. I happened to have been up that coast to British East Africa and Uganda within the last two months. His geography, if I may venture to say so, is somewhat at fault. He spoke of the railway or roads in Uganda not only giving greater facilities for the transit of cotton, but also as possibly 1709 opening up the great deposit of soda in Lake Magadi. Lake Magadi happens to be in the centre of British East Africa a hundred miles away from Uganda. There is at the present moment in course of construction a railway built by private enterprise from the Uganda Railway to the Kioga Lake, and before long it is hoped that the administration of British East Africa will be deriving considerable revenue as a result of the development of that undertaking. There can be no question that the Government have recognised and do recognise the need for the development of the railway system in British East Africa and also in Uganda. The Kilindini Harbour, to which reference has been made, is one of the finest land-locked, natural deep-water harbours, I imagine, on the East Coast of Africa or anywhere else. So far as I have ascertained, no delay has taken place in the building or extension of the present pier so as to make it a deep-water pier. The development of trade along that coast, and especially in British East Africa, is going on apace.
I rejoice to know of the enterprise of the Union-Castle Company in starting a line of British steamers from a great British territory to British East Africa to further and develop British trade. So far as my information goes, I believe that that undertaking has been already a profitable one, and that it will justify the building of large steamers, and that in its future development to those who conduct it will accrue a substantial profit as a result of their enterprise. The question of railway extension in several parts of British East Africa is a question of the highest moment. We know that already the Uganda Railway has earned a net profit of 2 per cent, per annum. Given the extra traffic which will come from the branch lines that will be feeders to the main trunk line, the Uganda Railway—and especially if there is a permanent extension of the railway system in Uganda—that great undertaking, which belongs to the British taxpayer—which is being paid for by the British taxpayer—that magnificent railway system across British East Africa will, in 1925, be the property of the British taxpayer. Within a few years, too, if, as we are told, the Government are disposed to make feeder lines to the main line, and if the development of Uganda is continued in the same way, I believe that the Uganda Railway will be earning a much higher dividend than 2 per cent., and that 1710 its construction from every standpoint will have been abundantly justified.
I wish that all Members of this Committee had the opportunity I had a few months ago of crossing over that great country by that railway, 600 miles from Mombasa to the Lake Victoria Nyanza. From a scenery point of view there is no railway that I have ever travelled on in the world which has the same variety. Starting in tropical regions on the coast it rises up at times to an elevation of 8,000 and 9,000 feet above the sea-level. It crosses right under the Equator, that magnificently huge tableland producing in some parts corn and cereals of every description, and in other parts coffee, rubber, and sisal, the raw material for the manufacture of hemp. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about lions?"] My hon. Friend behind me asks what about lions? I had not the privilege of seeing a lion. But I was told at the Government House at Nairobi that one came under my bedroom window. It would appear that on that occasion the people about, instead of having their rifles loaded, had them unloaded, and therefore took refuge in their own quarters. But joking apart, it is not every traveller who gets off so lightly. I was within twenty miles of the place where the brother of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs unfortunately lost his life through being mauled by a lion. I apologise for this digression, but I was led into it by an observation from my hon. Friend behind me.
British East Africa is a huge tableland which has been worked largely by white settlers. At one place I met a gathering of thirty or forty British settlers who met to make their final arrangements for their agricultural show, and a better type of British settler could not be found in any part of the world. They spoke with enthusiasm of the country, of the hopefulness as to dairy farming, of stock raising, wheat growing in the land that they were cultivating; and the Committee will hardly be surprised when I say I came home with high hopes as to the future of British East Africa, and I am only too glad to have this opportunity of stating what my views of this great country are and of the enormous development which awaits British East Africa. I wish to say how strongly I approve of the position His Majesty's Government have taken up and the extra facilities which they are giving in the deep-water pier and in the making of such extensions in the construction of 1711 branch railways and, above all, the purchase of increased quantities of rolling stock. I confirm what has been already said as to the shortage of rolling stock, and all I can urge upon the Government is that they should not confine their advance to half a million, as the resources of the country will justify further loans for the rapid construction of railways and for the development of the country, with its most interesting population and delightful scenery. Therefore I hope that this is but the beginning of a further loan, the security for which could not be better than that afforded by the future of the country, which is absolutely assured under British rule.
Reference was made to the German methods. If there is one thing in the world that I flatter myself as an Englishman upon it is that we are the best colonisers in the world, and that in the matter of colonisation our German friends are not equal to us in the success of their methods. They are far beyond us in putting up magnificent buildings for their officials. Perhaps we err upon the other side in that respect, and some of our representatives in countries like Uganda and British East Africa are afforded far less facilities in comforts of that kind and in opportunities for getting about than could be desired. I was surprised that out of the abundance of our wealth the Governor of Uganda was not allowed to have a reasonably decent motor-car. The Governor was most kind to me and took me out on the official motor-car. I think he is a most able Governor, and I think it is a pity that he should be left so long with the old ramshackle motor-car that I had the pleasure of driving with him in. I hope that the Colonial Office will bear these hints in mind, for there is no question as to the importance of the development of British East Africa and also Uganda, and I rejoice to know it has been recognised, and I trust it will be more recognised in the future and that great developments and great prosperity to the country will ensue.
§ Mr. BAIRD
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be very much more moved by speeches from his own supporters than by anything we could say on this side of the House, and I hope he will continue his policy of development in Uganda. I hope he will not think me captious if I invite him to tell us how 1712 this money is to be spent, and to hope he will give us some farther explanation than the remarks he made at the beginning. He seems to have nearly committed to memory the rather inadequate description that appears on the face of the Vote as to what is to be done with the money. I should like to know more about this question of rolling stock and general development of the Uganda Railway. I see on page 26 of the last Report that the Government has undertaken to spend the sum of £350,000 in equipping the line for the purchase of rolling stock and so forth. That is with a view of dealing with the traffic which is anticipated upon the opening up of the line. I do not quite understand this question. The right hon. Gentleman has already said that there is considerable congestion, and I understand the lake is being developed with a view to bringing down an enormous quantity of soda to the coast, and that if there is congestion it would become a good deal less, and that a great deal of money will be devoted to the purposes foreshadowed in the last Report, but that only applies to 282 miles of line. The impression left upon my mind by the speech of the right hon. Gentlemon was that this extension and increase of rolling stock and other facilities was going to apply to the whole of the line, which is 585 miles. There will be a considerable difference if this sum was to be applied to the whole of the line or only to the portion affected by the soda concession. There is a statement as to what the money is to be used for—the removal of gradients, purchase of new rolling stock, the laying in of a new water supply, and so on. It is not possible to spend the money twice over, and although everybody would welcome the objects mentioned, I do not think they are as remunerative as the hon. Gentleman opposite indicated, because I do not think the return can be so great.
§ Mr. BAIRD
If the hon. Member will consult the last Report he will find it was 1½ per cent. Of course, that is better than land in this country. No doubt hon. Members opposite cannot be expected to know what land pays; but, as a matter of fact, that is so. It is necessary to know what is the amount that is expended upon this railway. I see in the Report that it is over £5,580,000. I am under the impression that very much 1713 more has been paid. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman could say whether the total amount is more than five and a half millions. I was certainly under the impression that it was a much larger sum. The other point upon which I wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman was this—Whether the money is going to be spent for improving the facilities of their own line for carrying on the soda trade and if the people who got the concession have carried out their part? And whether the money is wanted for this purpose or whether it is for improvement over the whole railway? Because in the latter case you would have to spread the butter very thin, and you will not meet the requirements of the splendid development that is taking place in the country. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman need have any hesitation in spending money there, because it is well spent and remunerative. There is another point which requires some explanation, and that is with regard to the Boundary Commission. The right hon. Gentleman did not allude to that, or to how far that expenditure is furnished by the delimitation which ought to be carried out with Germany. There is another boundary, but I do not know how that stands at the present moment, and that is the southern boundary of Uganda. I think it would be desirable if the right hon. Gentleman would give us some explanation. I should be also glad if the right hon. Gentleman would say to what extent he is co-operating with the Soda Company. I see on page 26, in addition to the lines with mileage 282 running up to the lake, they have granted a Government loan for the erection of a pier and facilities for shipping, and I should be glad to know if the Government are co-operating with the Soda Company, not only in regard to the Kilidini Harbour, but also in regard to the whole line. I should like to know whether this is carried out subject to the understanding between the Government and the Soda Company, which was a very proper and legitimate part of the bargain, or because it was initiated to cover the development of the whole of the country, for although the enterprise is a very important one, it is obviously desirable to develop other interests in the country as well, and I was not clear from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman whether in the steps he is taking the whole country is being improved, or whether the primary effect is to meet obligations to the company?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I think the Committee may perhaps be prepared to hear me now upon the several points raised.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I desire to answer several of the points now, before I lose my recollection of them. The hon. Gentleman asked about the roads in the eastern part of Uganda. As the hon. Member knows, there is already a road there on the Magadi Soda Railway. The total length will be about 100 miles, and it will serve a large part of that territory.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
No, that sum is devoted to roads in Eastern Uganda, apart from the rolling stock, and it is a separate amount.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I am blamed if I put down railways at £3,000 a mile, and I am equally blamed if I put a metal motor road through a rather difficult country at £1,000 a mile. Of course, if this road is constructed more cheaply I shall make more miles of it. The hon. Member for Winchester asked for the diversion of some of these funds for roads in the direction of Udat, but the time has not yet come for that point, and the money for that purpose is not here. I cannot divert to those districts money which has been provided for other purposes more urgently required. Experiments are being made on the Juba River under my direction. Our expectations in regard to the expenditure upon cotton growing under the circumstances have been thoroughly justified. A complaint has been made with regard to a want of telephonic communication in these districts. I am glad to say that a local system of wireless telegraphy is now being set up, and it is pretty certain that Nairobi will become one of the steps of our wirer less chain round the Empire. It will practically be a step between Aden and Pretoria, and so on to Australia viâ India. An allusion has been made to the East Coast steamship service, and I am glad to be able to say that that service is likely to be considerably improved in character in the very near future. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury, earlier in the Debate, inquired whether any of this money which is being 1715 voted now was going to be used for the development of the Uganda Railway to increase the traffic on the Magadi Soda Railway. The railway which the hon. Member refers to was made by private enterprise, and the £360,000 alluded to by the hon. Member was provided in a previous year for this purpose, and it is all going to be spent upon the development of the Uganda Railway. With regard to the £100,000 provided last year for the deep-water pier at Kilindini Harbour, the hon. Member is in error in thinking it is not being spent. It is true that at the time the report was being written it was not being spent, but the work is now in progress, and £40,000 is to be devoted out of this loan partly to the enlargement of that pier, and mainly to the provision of larger staging to deal more rapidly with the traffic.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
Yes, it is entirely separate from the £100,000 provided for the deep-water pier last year and £40,000 provided for the development at Kilindini Harbour this year.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
I am not quite sure, but the railway will run in the most convenient way. I am not quite sure whether the question of the fiscal duties in Uganda is very germane to this Vote. But the hon. Member for Aston Manor (Mr. Evelyn Cecil) protested against the hardship inflicted on the agricultural and the trading community by the heavy duties imposed upon agricultural and industrial machinery. It is, of course, quite true that heavy duties on machinery, whether agricultural or industrial, are always a draw-tack to an undeveloped or even to a highly developed country like our own. The hon. Member, I am sure, will be pleased to know that in Uganda all agricultural implements and machinery and all industrial machinery to which he has so piteously alluded are wholly exempt from Import Duty.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
When you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, put a Question from the Chair, you put it in the form of a Grant of so much money to His Majesty. Now a Grant and a loan are two absolutely different things. In the past you have always dealt with a loan by Statute, and last year, 1716 when you wanted £250,000 for this country, you put it into an Act of Parliament founded upon a Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, and then you gave this House all the regular opportunities it gets thereby for discussing certain proposals. If that had been done in this case I should have had nothing to say in regard to this matter. I object to the new procedure which has been adopted, and I maintain that if this procedure continues to be adopted all the power of the House of Commons over its Supply is at an end. Let the House think for a moment. As we know, it is illegal to raise money without having an object to which you intend to apply it. When these Estimates were presented to the House for all those interested in places where the Governors want motor cars so badly you intended to spend £80,000 and no more upon this Vote. When you threw down these Estimates upon the Table four or five months ago all you asked for was £80,000. Supposing at the beginning of the season His Majesty had asked for £80,000 and then suddenly asked for £580,000, what would be said of the monarch who came forward with a proposition of that sort? You would ask, "How have your Majesty's necessities speeded up so enormously?" The Government are in exactly the same position as the monarch would be in that case. You came down here three months ago and you asked £80,000 for this service and no more, and therefore I am entitled, coming from a poor country, to ask where the necessity is for this expenditure, and for your suddenly coming down to this House for a larger amount. How has this occasion arisen? It has arisen because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has impounded £6,500,000. I can see this just as if I had been present at the Cabinet meeting which discussed how this money should go. This £6,500,000 could not be hung up, and so you gave the Navy an extra £1,000,000. I do not think the Army got much, but the Colonial Secretary said, "Oh, give me £500,000 for East Africa." Evidently the right hon. Gentleman got the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a soft mood, and the right hon. Gentleman replied, "Yes, here is £500,000 for you." Let us see the effect of that procedure on this House. At that time the Estimates had been introduced, and the Ways and Means Committee Resolution had been passed, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer melted to the demands of the Colonial Secretary. Observe the evil that has 1717 occurred. You had your Estimates presented. If the right hon. Gentleman had distributed his £6,500,000 on Budget night, these temptations would not have arisen. The Estimates would have remained in regular order, and you would not have been driven to do what you are now doing. As one who has considered this question for a good many years I say this method is abhorrent as compared with the older method of dealing with the finance of this House. What have you done? There may be exceptions which I will not go into at this moment, but in this case, instead of giving a Grant-in-Aid which has been hitherto provided only by Statute, you have on this occasion provided a loan, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in effect to the Colonial Secretary, "It is very hard to vote away half a million and there will sure to be some grumbling about it, and therefore we shall have to go through the farce of calling it a loan." There will probably be a Public Works Loan Bill, and then the £500,000 for Uganda will be written off. I want to know this. It is an important point. Does the Government regard it as part of the normal procedure of this House that an Appropriation Bill, which has hitherto been the constitutional method by which we have given Grants to the Crown, and Grants only, shall in future be made the medium by which we shall give loans to the Colonies? I say with great deference and respect that the precedent the right hon. Gentleman gave me is no precedent at all. Of course, one does not like in a case of this kind contradicting the head of a great Department, with a number of officials to assist him. We have to run and get the book from the Library, and very often the Treasury has already got it. So I cannot lay hands on the very Estimates to which the right hon. Gentleman referred me; but I take the Statute, which, after all, is the thing every man should go to, and, instead of it being a loan such as this, it is the case of an absolute Grant. Let me read it. Unless this House keeps its financial procedure regular, taxes will grow and grow. This is the time to check wasteful expenditure. The way to lead to wasteful expenditure is irregularity; is having surpluses, and then Cabinet Ministers cadging from one another as to where the surplus shall go. Here it is: First Edward VII., chap. 21, p 23:—
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
"For sundry Colonial services, including certain Grants-in-Aid."
Is that your precedent? Is that the way the House of Commons was deceived? The next is for a Grant-in-Aid of the revenues of Cyprus. I really do not think, when you are dealing with half a million of money, it ought to be a case of blind man's buff or hide and seek. When you are giving money away the public should know it is being given away. You should give it in the way of a Statute, as you did last year. It is not merely that your £80,000 has become £580,000, or that you withdraw the amount from the control of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. This is what you state:—These sums will be advanced by way of loan to the Governments of the British East Africa Protectorate and Uganda, and will be repaid with interest at the rate of 3½ per cent, per annum.After all, a precedent should be a precedent. You refer me to the year 1891 for a precedent equivalent to that. I say, there is no precedent. The right hon. Gentleman, if he likes I presume, could, while I am on my legs, refer me to the part of the Statute which he says contains a corresponding proposal. I maintain the only chance this House has when these moneys are being given away in this lavish fashion is to insist on regular procedure. We are refused by the Colonial Office any single scrap of paper to show when the right hon. Gentleman made his estimate or when the amount was withdrawn from the Comptroller and Auditor-General's office. I know in these cases one's voice is only "a voice crying in the wilderness." The general body of the House is only too delighted to get money voted for these Colonies. They always forget their constituents have to pay for them. I suppose we shall have a single tax to pay for this. It is only by calling the attention of the public to the way moneys are voted, that anything like adequate public opinion can be stirred. The right hon. Gentleman said the Home Secretary the other night dealt with the point as to why this was done by estimate. The Home Secretary, I respectfully say, gave no answer on the point. The answer which the right hon. Gentleman suggests is the very reason against this being done. He says the Home Secretary said they were unable 1719 to proceed by the Finance Bill, because at that time the Government had not made up its mind. That is the very reason why Parliament should not give the Government money. They should not give the Government money until the Government has made up its mind. You have no business to come to the House for money until you have made up your mind.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I did not say the Government had not made up its mind. I said there were unforeseen contingencies, which made it impossible at that time to arrive at the actual figures.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I do not know what is the unforeseen contingency; the contingency ought to have been foreseen. Undoubtedly, when you began, you only intended to demand £80,000. I maintain the entire course of procedure with regard to this thing is wrong. The right hon. Gentleman thinks, if you have in mind a stump on which you can graft a proposal, that regularises it. In other words, he thinks if you have a proposal of £80,000 for Colonial services you can make it £8,000,000 in a Supplemental Estimate. I deny that altogether. Could you, if you had a Vote of say £1,000,000 for England, Scotland, or Ireland, add £999,000,000 on to it, and say you have got the stump on which to make the Grant? That is the position of the right hon. Gentleman. Because there was in the Estimates an item of £80,000 he thinks you can by a jump make it £580,000. We are going, said the right hon. Gentleman, to provide a new steamer on Victoria Lake. How can that come under the head of a Supplemental Estimated? That is a new charge. Let me give the Government a shorter plan. Instead of having all these Estimates, let them put down some day "British Empire 5s.," and then have a Supplemental Estimate £150,000,000, and put that down on the night of the guillotine.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I did expect the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would answer the hon. and learned Gentleman. He thinks discretion is the better part of valour, and that is the reason he remains silent.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Every word the hon. and learned Gentleman has said he said in his first speech, and every word I answered in the reply I made to the best of my ability. I could go at great length 1720 into the precedent he has challenged, and show him how entirely wrong he is on that point, but I do not think it worth while taking up the time of the Committee.