HL Deb 24 March 1932 vol 83 cc1047-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a short Bill of six clauses; it is really two Bills put into one. The first part of it, consisting of two clauses, is to enable the Treasury to guarantee the capital and interest of a loan which is to be raised on behalf of Tanganyika. What has happened is that up till 1929 Tanganyika was in the very happy position of having a large surplus each year. Therefore the Secretary of State of the day, as I think quite rightly, used part of that surplus in capital expenditure in the way of building bridges, roads, schools and so on. Then, unfortunately, the economic blizzard hit Tanganyika in the same way as it hit other parts of the world. The revenue fell, the exports fell and Tanganyika found itself in a rather difficult position with a somewhat small working capital. It therefore seemed right, and it was agreed to unanimously in another place, that Tanganyika should be allowed to raise a loan to repay itself some of the income which it had used in capital expenditure.

Your Lordships will realise how difficult has been the situation for that Mandated Territory when I tell you that sisal, which is the principal article of export, averaged £32 per ton in 1929 and now the gold price is slightly over £12 per ton. I hope your Lordships will agree that this country is justified in coming to the assistance of this Mandated Territory and that this loan is justified. Further, that we are also justified in giving a guarantee both as regards capital and interest when the loan is raised.

With regard to British Honduras it is a sad story. Belize, the capital, with a population of 15,000, was struck by a hurricane on September 10 last. It was outside the area in which hurricanes are anticipated, with the result that its buildings had not been built with a view to standing up against a misfortune of that kind. The result was that out of 4,000 houses some 3,000 were utterly destroyed and the remainder were seriously damaged. As I say, the population was only 15,000, but it is estimated that 1,000 of that population were killed, although it is quite impossible to say what the number actually was, and 7,000 were injured. A great many buildings had to be burned. The dead were buried under them and in order to prevent an outbreak of disease it was necessary to destroy them by fire. Naturally after a disaster of that kind, the Colony was not in a position to be able to execute the necessary repairs, and in order to put them on their feet again and not delay the return to prosperity, it was absolutely essential to raise a loan. It is proposed that that should be done under the Local Loans Act, by which money is raised in this country and then advanced as necessary to the Colony for its requirements.

If your Lordships turn to the Appendix of the Bill you will see the objects on which it is proposed that the money should be expended. Part of it is for the rebuilding of schools. I think every single school building was destroyed, except those belonging to the Roman Catholic mission, and every building, except public buildings, was destroyed or badly damaged. It is also hoped that the opportunity will be taken to try and move some of the population of Belize, which is really greater than employment can be found for, from the town into the country districts, and to promote once more small agriculture, of which there is considerable hope of success in the country regions. I hope your Lordships will agree that this country is right in coming to the assistance of one of His Majesty's Colonies, and in helping this Colony by allowing the money to be raised in this way and guaranteed. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Stanhope.)


Can the noble Earl let me know what will be the term of years for repayment? I see in both parts the period "not exceeding forty years" is set down, and that the actual number of years is to be at the discretion of the Secretary of State and the Treasury. Can the noble Earl say what the term will be? If he cannot I shall understand.


I am afraid I cannot without notice, although I think I probably could in communication with the noble Lord presently. I imagine that it is not a definite fixed term, but that in each case, if the Colony recovers rapidly, the term could be shortened.

On Question, Bill read 2a.

Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House forthwith: House in Committee accordingly: Bill reported without amendment.

Bill read 3a, and passed.