§ 51. Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the freight rates upon raw produce carried on the West African railways are inflated with a view to providing a surplus; whether such surplus is so provided and, if so, to what extent; whether these freight balances are being used to meet Government expenditure; and whether the freights in almost every case greatly exceed those of any other West African territory and thereby prejudice the sale of native produce?
The answer to the first question is in the negative; the second does not, therefore, arise. As regards the third question, in Nigeria and Gold Coast the excess of gross receipts over working expenses which represents a small percentage return on capital expenditure, is carried to general revenue, in Sierra Leone there was no such excess in the last year for which figures are 1193 available, but a deficit which was met from general revenue; as regards the last part of the question, sufficient data are not available for comparisons with the freight rates on the different French West African railways, but is worth remembering that in the British colonies native produce can now be bought many miles from the coast which was impossible before the Government built the railways.