HL Deb 24 October 1961 vol 234 cc657-9

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make regarding the recent agreement for the construction of a railway in Swaziland, with special reference to the contribution of the Colonial Development Corporation to this pro- ject and the composition of the Railway Board.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have decided that work on the building of the first railway in Swaziland shall begin as soon as possible. It is hoped that it will be open for through traffic by the end of 1964. The railway will run a distance of about 140 miles from the west of Swaziland to the Mozambique border, where it will link with the Portuguese railway to Lourenço Marques. Construction of this rail link will make it possible to develop for export large iron ore deposits at Ngwenya. The estimated cost of building the Swaziland section will be about £8 million. The Colonial Development Corporation and the Anglo-American Corporation have agreed to provide the major proportion of the capital required. The Colonial Development Corporation will provide £1¼ million from Exchequer sources and will also on-lend a further substantial sum which they will obtain from other sources.

I take this opportunity of thanking these two concerns for their co-operation in this venture, which, I am sure, will do much to foster the development of this Territory. The High Commissioner has issued a proclamation providing for the establishment of a Swaziland Railway Board, which will be responsible for the Swaziland section of the new railway. The Chairman of the Board and the chief executive officer will be Mr. L. A. W. Hawkins, whom Rhodesia Railways have been good enough to second for this post. There will be two ex officio members of the Board—the Secretary for Finance and Development and the Director of Public Works, both Swaziland Government officers. There will be four unofficial members, appointed by the High Commissioner. Of these, one will be a person representing the Swazi nation, appointed after consultation with the Paramount Chief in Council. The principal users of the railway will be represented among the other three.


My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will be glad to hear this statement, and to know that Her Majesty's Government are proposing to go ahead as soon as possible with the construction of this railway, which will make so much difference to the development of Swaziland. Would the noble Duke say a little more about the three unofficial members of the Board; whether any of the members of the Board are to be provided from the Colonial Development Corporation, and so on?


My Lords, the finalising of the construction of the Board has not yet been settled, but I understand that the remaining three members will come from the users of the railway, as opposed to those who are constructing it.