20 JANUARY 1900, Page 3

A useful abstract of Mr. Austin Lee's report on the

economic condition of the French colonies appears in the Times of Wednesday. The recent growth of "Greater France" is strikingly illustrated in this paper, as well as the development of the policy of centralisation and the comparative absence of autonomy which distinguish the French from the British Colonial Empire. The total cost to France of acquir- ing her new territories cannot be estimated, as much comes under the War and Navy Budgets, but the Colonial Budgets show an average of three and a quarter millions sterling for the last ten years, the credit side showing only two and a half millions for the same period. A saving of 245,000 has been effected by a partial adhesion to the doctrine of autonomy in Senegal, French Guiana, and Reunion, where all civil and police expenditure is borne, in principle, by local Budgets. Want of capital for public works is stated to be one of the main difficulties with which French colonies have to contend, the confidence of the investing public at home being still withheld. In trade a monopoly for France is desired, but in 1897 the trade between France and her colonies amounted to 29,106,000, while that of foreign countries with French colonies amounted to 210.941,000. Actual autonomy, it should be remembered, exists in no French colony, and the number of officials at the Ministry in Paris in 1807 stood at 231, as against 79 in the Colonial Office in London.