HC Deb 24 April 1899 vol 70 cc383-4
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to a fully reported speech delivered by Mr. Cecil Rhodes in South Africa, on the 17th of August last, in which he said that he wished to earn dividends on the Mafe-king-Bulawayo line, so as to get a guarantee from Her Majesty to go on to Tanganyika, and whether this line forms any part of the security which Mr. Rhodes proposes for the Imperial guarantee which he is trying to persuade Her Majesty's Government to grant; whether the Government, before pledging the Imperial credit, will have an independent investigation made to ascertain whether the dividend has been actually earned and is likely to be maintained; and whether, in view of the facts that assertions have been freely made that the line was badly built, and that part of it was actually washed away shortly after its construction, the Government will also have a careful survey of the railway made by competent engineers, totally unconnected with Mr. Cecil Rhodes and the British South Africa Company, before coming to any final decision?


The earnings of the Mafeking-Bulawayo line form part of the security proposed. The Government, before pledging Imperial credit, would, of course, satisfy themselves on the points mentioned in the second and third para graphs, and as the line is worked by the Cape Government, they could provide evidence of receipts and expenses. Portions of the line were very rapidly built to meet the exigencies of the Matabele rebellion; but the defects had to be made good before the Government engineer would grant his certificate for the line as far as Palapye, to which the contract of 1894 applied. The line from Palapye to Bulawayo would require independent inspection.