HC Deb 03 March 1921 vol 138 c2031W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many shares are held by the British, Australian, and New Zealand Governments in the phosphate deposits in Nauru and neighbouring Pacific islands; what has been the total net cost to the British Exchequer of the purchase of the rights formerly belonging to the British Phosphate Company; whether the Government is now working the phosphates; and what dividend the British taxpayer has received, or will receive, this year on the investment?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

The phosphates are now being worked by the Commissioners appointed under Article 3 of the Nauru Island Agreement. The purchase money for the undertakings of the Pacific Phosphate Company in Nauru and Ocean Islands was paid by the British, Australian and New Zealand Governments in the proportion of 42 per cent., 42 per cent. and 16 per cent. respectively. The advances made from United Kingdom funds amount to £1,483,230 which it is proposed at present should be repaid in 30 years with interest at six per cent. The sum thus repayable half-yearly is computed to be £53,588 3s., but, owing to the need for working capital and difficulties in the way of fixing the price under Article 11 of the Agreement, I am unable as yet to say whether the whole of this sum can be paid in this financial year.