HC Deb 09 July 1919 vol 117 cc1800-3
37. Brigadier - General Sir OWEN THOMAS

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in regard to the Memorandum of conditions of the East African land settlement scheme issued by the Colonial Office, under which applications for farms by ex-soldiers are being invited, he can explain the foot note in such Memorandum that the catalogues giving full details and prices of the farms will not be available for some time, in view of the official notification in the East African Press on 26th April that these catalogues had already been sent to London; and why ex-soldiers should be invited to apply for land of which no details as to price and locality are available for them?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Lieut.-Colonel Amery)

Only one copy of the catalogue was sent to this country, and the work of reprinting has taken time and has been much interrupted by frequent alterations in the catalogue reported by telegram from East Africa. The final printing is now awaiting a telegram on certain points of detail, but the catalogue should soon be in the hands of approved applicants.

38. Sir O. THOMAS

asked the Under secretary of State for the Colonies, in regard to the warnings contained in the Memorandum on the East African land settlement scheme, as to the absence of road and railway communications to the majority of the farms offered, whether the Governor of the Protectorate has applied for a grant of £3,000,000 for rail way construction; if so, whether sanction has been, or will be, given to such expenditure; and, if such sanction has not yet been given, how the Government pro pose to fix the prices of the farms offered without a concurrent decision upon a definite policy for extending internal communications?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

The general question of the provision of loan funds for Eastern Africa is under consideration. Until it is known what sums will be available, and at what dates and what services can be undertaken at an early date, it is obviously undesirable to hold out to intending settlers expectations which might prove misleading.

The values assigned to the various farms were determined by a local committee. I presume that regard was had to the prices at which similar land in the same neighbourhoods is now changing hands, and I understand that the values fixed are regarded by those well qualified to judge as constituting a generous offer on the part of the Government.

39. Sir O. THOMAS

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies, in regard to the Memorandum on the East African land settlement scheme, and in view of the number of soldiers still serving in Egypt and the East, and the impossibility of their applications arriving in London by 14th July, whether the date which has been fixed for the closing of applications can be extended; and, further, if allotments are made to London applicants on 1st August, how under Clause 22 of the terms can the Governor be notified by 25th August of any interchange of farms between the allottees in view of the delays and infrequency of mail communications, and the unsatisfactory conditions of the cable services

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

Public notice has already been given of the extension of the dates by one month, but it is desirable in the interests of intending settlers that the work of the scheme should be completed as soon as possible, and soldiers serving in very remote places may in any case be too late for inclusion in the present scheme.

The question of further extending the period for arranging exchange of farms is under consideration with the Governor, but new arrangements are being made by which a choice of farms will be possible in this country. In any case, if applicants are content to leave their interests in the hands of the local firms who have offered their services for the purpose, there should be no difficulty in bringing the work of exchange to an early conclusion.

40. Sir O. THOMAS

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies, in regard to the warning contained in the Memorandum on the East African land settlement scheme, whether, in view of the present exchange value of the rupee (1s. 8d. against the par value of 1s. 4d.), the Government intends to take any steps, by an alteration in the currency or otherwise, to ameliorate a state of affairs which will result in great financial hardship to ex-soldier settlers and is in general producing financial chaos in the protectorate and is acting as a deterrent to the introduction of capital and the economic requirements of the Protectorate; and whether, in regard to the statement in paragraph six of the note which accompanies the Memorandum that no information as to the agricultural work in the Protectorate or as to the suitability of certain areas for particular purposes other than that contained in the handbook, etc., he will consider the establishment in London of a competent agency, such as every other Colony possesses, to give accurate technical and topographical information to intending settlers?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

The position in East Africa arising out of the appreciation of the rupee is engaging the earnest consideration of the Secretary of State.

While it has not been possible with the limited staff available to undertake to give detailed information on agricultural matters in connection with the settlement scheme, a considerable amount of information is accessible from official and unofficial sources. The Oversea Settlement Office has given much assistance in this matter and as it develops and the information at its disposal increases it should fulfil all the requirements of an office such as the hon. and gallant Member suggests. I might add that the Oversea Settlement Office arranged for a lecture and discussion on the subject by Major Grogan, which took place yesterday, and the report of which will be available on application at the Oversea Settlement Office.