HC Deb 16 July 1923 vol 166 cc1846-8

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether in maintaining a railway staff in any of the African Crown Colonies, it is the custom only to employ men who have specified duties to discharge for which they are specifically engaged, or whether there are also employed men whose duties depend on the creation of a regular amount of railway extension and development; and whether, in the latter case, he will consider the desirability of utilising private enterprise, under which all liability for the staff ceases when the work is complete?


The railway staffs in the African dependencies are the minimum necessary for efficient running and maintenance of the open lines, but for railway extension and development it is often desirable to lend some experienced officers from the open lines staff who have a knowledge of local conditions. When that is done the open lines establishment is kept up to the necessary strength by temporary promotions and temporary engagements of additional subordinate officers. In the circumstances, the last part of the question does not arise.

Sir W. de FRECE

Did not Colonel Hammond in his Report urge the complete re-modelling of the staff?


Yes; I have read Colonel Hammond's Report. He is making another Report on another Colonial railway now, and is then proceeding to make a further Report on the Nigerian railways, and then we shall be in a position to consider railway policy together with the Report of the Committee now being set up. Until that is done I cannot undertake to make any immediate change.


Is it the policy of the Colonial Office to construct railways by Departmental enterprise?


As I said the other day, in some cases that has been done and is done. The work is done sometimes by contract. We have no doctrinaire views in favour of the one or the other. It is entirely a question which is the cheapest and the most efficient in the circumstances.