HC Deb 09 July 1923 vol 166 cc902-4
14. Brigadier-General SPEARS

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what Department is responsible for advising the Secretary of State for the Colonies as to whether Colonial railways should be constructed departmentally or by private enterprise?


In arriving at a decision on a question of policy of this kind the Secretary of State, would consider the opinions of the Colonial Government concerned and the advice given by the officers of his own Department, including the Commercial Adviser to the Secretary of State. He would probably also consult the Crown Agents for the Colonies.

15. Brigadier-General SPEARS

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the terms of reference of the Committee which he has announced will be set up to consider the question of the construction, by private enterprise or otherwise, of the African railways will include consideration as to the method of building the projected railways in Kenya, or is the decision of the Secretary of State that these railways shall be constructed departmentally to be looked upon as final.


The answer to the first part of the hon. and gallant Member's question is in the negative, and to the second part in the affirmative.

The terms of reference of the Committee are as fellow: To consider whether, and, if so, what, measures could be taken to encourage private enterprise in the development of the British Dependencies in East and West tropical Africa, with special reference to existing and projected schemes of transportation; and to report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

23. Captain ARTHUR EVANS

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the official statement that the supervising railway staff in Kenya available locally is well able to carry through the work of railway construction now planned, he will state what the normal work of such staff is and how it comes about that they have sufficient time to devote to extra very comprehensive duties which in no way come into the sphere of activity for which they were engaged?


The circumstances were fully explained in my written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne on the 3rd July. For the senior staff of an important railway it is essential that the best possible men should be obtained. When really good men have been obtained it is not unreasonable to find that their energies are equal to a wider activity than that afforded by the ordinary duties of their posts. Apart from that, while I cannot say that the terms of appointment of either of the officers immediately concerned expressly covered duties in connection with construction, I am not prepared to admit that such duties are in any way foreign to the scope of their employment.

Captain EVANS

Is it not correct that Mr. Hammond in his Report stated that they never made the slightest attempt to train their own technical staff, and that they imported the necessary additions from overseas, mainly from India? In view of that fact, is there any reason for believing that the present staff have any technical qualifications for carrying out the work of local railway construction?


I am afraid that would lead to a debate.