§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether the Crown Agents for the Colonies act not only for Colonies but also for Protectorates under the Foreign Office, such as the Niger Coast Protectorate, British Central Africa, British East Africa, and Uganda, many of which receive annual grants of money from Parliament; (2) whether they are supplying the rails for the Uganda Railway, now in course of construction, out of a Parliamentary grant; (3) whether their office is receiving a percentage on the public money thus expended on the Uganda Railway; and (4) whether he will again consider the expediency of presenting an annual report from the Crown Agents to Parliament?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
The answer to the first question is: Yes, at the request of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. With regard to the second question, as indicated, in the Memorandum presented to Parliament in April, 1896 (c. 8,041), and in the Report laid in July, 1897 (c. 8,435), they are employed as agents to purchase all stores required for the Uganda Railway, which is being constructed out of funds raised under the authority of the Act 59 and 60 Vic., cap. 38. I, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, approved their transacting this business for their usual commission of 1 per cent. on their shipments, which, as in the case of all similar commissions on stores purchased for Colonial Governments, accrues to their office funds. I do not see the necessity for such a report, which would add greatly to the labours of an already heavily worked Department.