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Egypt—Ministry Of Finance—The Decree—Question

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1876

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asked the right honourable Member for Shoreham, Whether he can explain the discrepancies of the items of Revenue assigned in the Khedive's Decree of May 7, for the service of the new "unified debt" (amounting to a Revenue of £6,495,257 per annum), and the corresponding one at page 13 of his Report; whether it be not the fact that the whole Revenue (excluding the item of Moukabala, which is to be "arrested in its operation,") is £8,892,392; while the expenditure (excluding £5,036,675 for interest on the old debts and annuities, but adding the interest on the new "unified debt,") is £9,704,366; and, if so, from what sources the interest on the Suez Canal shares, and on the "anticipatory payments" of Moukabala (viz. £6,124,472) are to be paid; whether the new "unified debt" is still £91,000,000, or has been increased during the last few days; and, whether the item of £990,806 (given in the Decree as the annual income from the railways) is not liable to large deductions by greater expenditure for maintenance and renewal?

It is quite impossible to compare page 13 of my Report with the figures in the Decree, because they are arranged on a totally different principle. My Report gives a total of revenue; but the items in the Decree are fractions of that total set aside for a particular purpose. And I may say that, though I am quite willing to explain anything in my Report, I cannot undertake to reconcile it with schemes for which I am not in the least responsible, and which I have never even seen in extenso, but which are contained in telegrams which have been more than once altered and amended by telegraph. With regard to the second Question, I have, in page 11 of my Report, computed the whole revenue, exclusive of the Moukabala, at £9,158,000, to which, of course, considerable addition must be made by the revival of the land tax on the arrest of the Moukabala. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: Deduction, not addition.] No! addition. The noble Lord says that the figures in his Question are exclusive of the Moukabala, and if the operation of the Moukabala be arrested, the land tax revives, and the receipts of revenue I have computed must be increased to a considerable extent. The interest on the Suez Canal shares is included in the sum set apart for the expenses of the administration of Government. Upon the rest of the Question I can give no information. The scheme for the arrest of the Moukabala has not been clearly explained, and seems somewhat obscure. In answer to the third Question, I am not in a position to give any certain information about the present total of the debt. But no doubt all debts bearing interest have a tendency to grow from day to day. With regard to the last Question, I will, with the permission of the House, read the passage which refers to the railways in page 5 of my Report—

"The net revenues of the railways have increased from £750,000 a-year in 1873 to £990,800 in 1875; but this rate of increase cannot be entirely relied upon, as more of the gross receipts will necessarily be required for maintenance and renewal as the permanent way becomes worn, and deficient crops would cause diminished traffic. Still, even after making these allowances, an honest and intelligent administration of the railways would probably produce a larger revenue,"
I have nothing to alter in or add to that statement.