20. Mr. WEST RUSSELL
asked the President of the Board of Trade when he will be able to make a statement about the transit dues charged by the Suez Canal Company so far as they effect British shipping and the export of British goods to the East?
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
A meeting of the directors of the Suez Canal Company was held in Paris on 11th May and I understand that a decision was then reached adverse to any immediate reduction of the dues. The report of the British Government directors has been received and will be considered by the Departments concerned. I will make a statement on the subject as soon as possible.
Has the right hon. Gentleman communicated with the Liverpool Shipowners' Association, who are interested in this matter and are taking it up very exhaustively?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I have not communicated with them, because I have before me their latest letter setting forth their reply to previous communications.
§ 52. Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the Suez Canal Company's accounts provide a sinking fund to amortise share capital at the end of the concession; and how the British Government's holding has been varied by the drawing of shares in the canal company?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, out of 353,504 shares held by the British Government, 51,972 have been drawn for repayment. 300 further shares are held in the names of the British Government Directors of which 48 have been drawn for repayment.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Will the hon. Gentleman notify the Suez Canal Company, through the British Government's representatives on the Board, that canal dues might come down, because there is no need to keep the dividends unduly high, as a sinking fund is already being provided, I understand, from the hon. 1759 Gentleman's reply, for the extinction of the capital when the concession comes to an end.