§ MAJOR E. R. JONES (Carmarthen District)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, can he state what number of tons of gold ore were treated during the month of May at the Gwyn-fynydd mine, and what was the average yield per ton of such ore; how many tons of gold ore have been treated by the present lessees at the Clogan mine, situate in Merionethshire, and what has been the average yield per ton of such ore, and what is the total value of such gold; are royalties charged at the same rate on this mine as at the Gwynfynydd mine, and why is there not uniformity of royalties with regard to this industry; what is the total tonnage of gold ore treated on the Welsh goldfields since the hon. Member for Merthyr commenced operations; what has been the average yield of gold per ton on such fields, and what is the total value of such gold; what is the total amount of money paid to the Woods and Forests Office for royalties and fees for licences and leases during that period; and is he aware that there is a similar auriferous belt of country in the county of Carmarthen which is now being opened up, and what royalties do the Government propose to charge in Carmarthenshire?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, Derby)
These accounts have not yet come in and cannot be given. Since 1887 2,270 tons of ore have been treated. The average yield of gold has been 1oz. 18dwt. per ton, and the total value of the gold £15,871. The royalties charged on private lands are less than those on lands where the Crown owns all the minerals and not merely mines royal. The total tonnage of gold ore treated 1669 since 1887 is 46,795 tons; the average yield has been 11dwt.; total value, £88,566. The royalties received by the Crown have been £2,928. The sum of £2,948 has been received as dead rents where there has been no working, and £1,525 in fees. I cannot express any opinion as to the gold in Carmarthen, but the same facilities would be given there as in Merioneth.
§ MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the date of a gold mining lease granted by the Crown to Mr. R. H. Wood, of Rugby; what is the area of land so leased, the dead rent reserved by the Crown, the term of such lease, and whether any working conditions are imposed by such lease; what other gold mining leases have been granted by the Crown to other landowners in Wales, what area do such leases in the aggregate embrace, for what periods are they granted, and what working conditions do they contain; have applications been made by various persons during the last six months for licences to work Royal mines in private lands not under lease in Merionethshire, and what is the reason the applicants have received as yet on effective replies to their applications; does the Woods and Forests Office intend to lease further areas of land to the landowners of Merionethshire without imposing working conditions whilst miners are prepared to work them, and will the Government take steps to compel all holders of existing leases to work the mines leased to them for mining purposes; and, will the Government now consider the advisability of granting small areas of land to mining prospectors for a nominal fee, so as to encourage men without capital to prospect for gold in that county, and for such purpose to appoint a resident officer in Merionethshire to lay out claims or small holdings to such prospectors?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The lease in question was granted in 1889. The dead rent is £2; the term is 31 years; there are no working covenants. There are other leases, 13 in number, to landowners, covering an area of about 25,000 acres. Some have working clauses and some have not. There are applications for licences before the Office of Woods. My hon. Friend is 1670 quite aware of the great difficulties which attend decisions on these questions. I have no hesitation in saying that, in my opinion, no mining leases ought to be granted without effectual conditions to secure the working of the minerals, so that the mining industry may be properly developed and employment found for the people in Wales. The system of granting take-notes for a year at a cost of £5, including surveyor's fee and maps, has worked well and given general satisfaction. It is not thought well to grant leases for very small areas, as the character of the gold-bearing vein is very uncertain. A special resident officer is unnecessary, as the Crown receiver is available at Harlech and the resident mine agent at Carnarvon.
§ MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would adopt the suggestion which had been made to have a practical man down there.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
That is the very thing I desire. I have to-day seen the Commissioner of Woods on this subject, and told him that I should be very willing to assist in securing the engagement of some experienced man to investigate the whole of this subject of gold production in Wales. It is obviously of considerable importance. ("Hear, hear!")