HC Deb 28 March 1912 vol 36 cc599-600
Captain FABER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that a United States of America Company lately made an offer to the Government of Jamaica to build and control a dock at Kingston, Jamaica, on the condition that the port dues were abolished and that Jamaica should be made a free port; and that the reply was that it would be seriously considered; and, if so, whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)

If by the United States of America the hon. Member means the United States Government the answer is in the negative. I may add that I have recently been informed by the Governor of Jamaica that no American or other syndicate has made any definite proposal to the Colonial Government to provide a new dock and harbours in the Colony, and that he is not aware what better facilities for trade or shipping may be deemed to be required. Sir Sydney Olivier has, however, informed the Legislative Council that, in his opinion, it may be well to arrange that Kingston shall be made a free port by the remission of harbour and light dues before the canal is opened.

Captain FABER

As there was no definite offer made, can the right hon. Gentleman say if there was any indefinite offer?


I am certainly not aware of any indefinite one.


Before any steps are taken will the matter be brought before the House?


I do not know whether it will be brought before the House, but I expect that it will be brought before me.

Captain FABER

asked whether Jamaica would be the first harbour at which ships in ballast would call for coal on their way home from the Panama Canal; and whether any estimate has been made to-ascertain whether the port dues would more than cover any money spent on a dock at Jamaica; and what the size of the harbour at that place is?


Kingston, Jamaica, is the nearest coaling port on the eastern side of the Panama Canal, but it does not follow that because a ship is in ballast that she will require coal there. Kingston Harbour, which is well protected from the sea, is about five miles long by one wide. The average depth in the harbour is about eight fathoms, but the depth in the channel leading to it is slightly less. The part of the hon. Member's question relating to receipts from port dues and the expense of constructing a dock—I presume for commercial use—should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary.