HC Deb 20 January 1913 vol 47 cc37-8
67. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the date of the Palm Oil Ordinance conferring on the Governor of the Colony of Sierra Leone power to grant exclusive rights over an area in the Protectorate of Sierra Leone not exceeding a circle with a twenty-mile diameter, in virtue of which exclusive privileges have been granted to Messrs. Lever Brothers, Limited; and whether this ordinance was passed to facilitate the granting of the monopoly to that firm?

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

The Ordinance to which the hon. Member refers has not yet been passed. It will follow closely the lines of the proposed Gold Coast Ordinance, of which a copy has been presented to Parliament, and, like that Ordinance, will be quite general in character and has no reference to the proposals of any particular firm.


Is there any recent precedent in any Colony for passing a law to enable it to grant a monopoly?


I do not admit the assumption in the supplementary question, but I think there is a precedent for this purpose.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that monopolies of this kind are compatible with the principles of Free Trade?


Oh, yes, I do.


That is entirely a matter for argument. It is no good starting a Debate at Question Time.

68. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the essential terms of, and rights to be conferred by, the licence to construct railways in Sierra Leone or the Protectorate promised to Messrs. Lever Brothers, Limited, including the mileage of railway which may be constructed by them, and any restrictions on the construction of tracks within a specific area by the holders of other licences which may be hereafter granted; and what will be the nature and extent of the monetary and other obligations of Messrs. Lever Brothers, Limited, under the licence?


So far as I am aware, Messrs. Lever Brothers have not yet applied to the Governor of Sierra Leone for a licence under the Proprietary Railways Ordinance, 1909, of that Colony. I must refer the hon. Member to the Ordinance which can be consulted in the Library of the House, for the conditions under which licences may be granted.