HC Deb 02 July 1923 vol 166 cc15-7
17. Mr. PENNY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Secretary of State for the Colonies is setting up a committee to examine the possibilities of the provision of railways and other forms of transport in Africa by private enterprise; and, if so, who have been invited to become members of the committee?


Yes, Sir. My Noble Friend is setting up such a committee forthwith, but I am not at present in a position to state the composition of the committee, but I hope to be able to do so shortly.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether schemes of railway construction which may be planned as a charge on the funds of the Crown Colonies concerned are invariably first submitted to Parliament for its approval; and whether, in view of the difference of opinion as to the methods of railway construction in the Crown Colonies, he will arrange that in future this step will always be taken before any definite action is commenced?


No, Sir, but the schemes in question are submitted to the local legislatures which provide the funds to carry them out, and are the proper bodies to deal with them.


In view of the enormous cost of these railways, would it not be well to have an inquiry into the question of building them by private enterprise?


As I stated in answer to another question just now, my Noble Friend is setting up a committee forthwith, including, I think, some Members of this House, to go fully into this question.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Report by Colonel Hammond regarding the future construction of railways in East Africa on the departmental system deals with the State management of the Uganda line; and if he can indicate the terms of Colonel Hammond's recommendations?


I regret that in the time at my disposal I have not found in Colonel Hammond's exhaustive reports on railway working in East Africa any expression of his view as between departmental or other construction of new railways, nor do his reports touch on the question of State versus private working of the Uganda Railway. Colonel Hammond's reports have been placed in the Library of the House.

47. Major - General SIR ROBERT HUTCHISON

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the excessive cost and unsatisfactory results demonstrated during the last 30 years of carrying out railway and other construction in the British Protectorates and Crown Colonies departmentally, His Majesty's Government will consider the advisability of putting out all future construction work to public tender?


I have been asked to reply. I do not know on what facts the hon. and gallant Member bases the statement in the first part of his question, but I am unable to accept it. As regards the last part of it, future railways and other public works will be constructed either departmentally or by contract, as would appear to be the most economical or satisfactory course in any particular case. In the event of the decision being in favour of construction by contract, the question of putting out the work to public tender would be considered in each case on its merits.