§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I desire to move for a Return of the cost of the several Colonies of the British Empire at the expense of the British Exchequer for each of the years from 1853 to 1903 in the same form, as nearly as may be, as the information supplied in the House of Commons Paper, No. 417, of Session 1881; and also their population, and the annual value of their trade with the United Kingdom, so far as it can be given, for the latest year for which the figures are available. I regret that I have to trespass again on the indulgence of your Lordships, but I think your Lordships will agree that it is a very important question that I am raising. 206 My objects in moving for this Return are both general and special. I think it is desirable that we should have authoritative data supplied which will enable us to form some approximate idea as to the pecuniary sacrifice which has been made by the people of the United Kingdom during the last fifty years, for the purpose of strengthening the British position in the Greater Britain across the seas. I am aware that the data asked for will not supply us with all the material required to enable us to make a complete statement on this subject, but the impartial historian will be able to make his own independent research and supplement the information which it is in the power of the Treasury officials to supply. They can add to the cost shown by this Return what additional charges have been thrown upon the people of the United Kingdom by the wars in the early part of last century, and what proportion of that cost can be fairly debited to Canada, India, and other possessions of the Crown.
But I have a special reason in asking for this Return. I wish to be able to compare the present value of Rhodesia as an Imperial asset with that of the other African Protectorates under our control, and their respective costs to the British taxpayer. I claim that it is only fair to the British South Africa Company and to the memory of Cecil Rhodes that it should be placed on record that Rhodesia is honourably distinguished in this as well as in other respects, that it is the only part of the British Empire which has not cost the British taxpayer a sixpence beyond the salary of the Deputy-Commissioner, for whose office the people in Rhodesia think there is no necessity.
I desire a Return which will show that while Uganda, British Central Africa, Nigeria, and other protectorates and dependencies, with their comparatively small trade and population, are all costing the British taxpayer large annual grants-in-aid, which I do not for one moment grudge, Rhodesia alone is an asset which has been won for the Empire not by the enterprise of the British taxpayer, but simply through the action of Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company. It should further be remembered that it was only because the late Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, refused 207 to ask the House of Commons for the money that was required to enable the healthy plateau north of the Limpopo to be brought under the Union Jack, that the Chartered Company was formed at the request of the Imperial Government to do the work which the Imperial Government refused to do.
It is not too much to say that if it had not been for the action of Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company, the British position in South Africa would have been lost. That country, which is now admittedly the richest agricultural section in South Africa, and highly mineralised throughout, with a great future before it, would now be under the German or Dutch flag. The march of the Australians across Rhodesia to the relief of Mafeking could never have been undertaken, and the war against the Boers, with the high plateau behind the Transvaal under the German and Dutch flag, might still have been exhausting the resources of the Empire.
I desire this Return in order that I may have, and the people of England may have, the material which will enable us, at a time when the services of the Chartered Company are called in question, sometimes by interested and sometimes by ignorant people, to show what has been the cost to the British taxpayer of a country which has been able, owing to the foresight of Mr. Rhodes, the generosity of the Chartered Company, and the courage of its settlers, to contribute no mean service to the Empire. I desire, if I may do so, to add the words "protectorates and dependencies" after the word "colonies," in line 2, in order to make it quite clear that the Return will include the protectorates as well as the self-governing Colonies of the Crown. beg to move.
Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for a Return of the cost of the several Colonies, Protectorates, and Dependencies of the British Empire at the expense of the British Exchequer for each of the years from 1853 to 1903, in the same form, as nearly as may be, as the information supplied in the House of Commons Paper, No. 417, of Session 1881; and also their population, and the annual value of their trade with the United Kingdom, so far 208 as it can be given, for the latest year for which the figures are available."—(Earl Grey.)
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
My Lords, in reply to the noble Earl's Question, I am informed that the Return which he is anxious to have will be granted. I think he will realise that the Return will be made up by officials of a Department other than that which I have the honour to represent, so I cannot pledge myself that the words he wants inserted, "protectorates and dependencies," will be agreed to.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
I should say there would be no objection to that, but I will certainly promise the noble Earl the Return which is on the Paper, and I will take note of the word s he wishes to add. I should think that in all probability the noble Earl's request will be willingly acceded to.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to; and ordered accordingly.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, till Tomorrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.