HC Deb 29 March 1889 vol 334 cc1153-5
MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is correctly reported to have stated that the bounties given by France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Holland, amount to nearly £9,000,000 a year, and that these bounties are mainly given for the purpose of enabling their sugar producers to supply the English market; does the Convention propose not only that this bounty shall be abolished, but that we shall also exclude from our market all sugar coming from countries which do not adhere to the rules prescribed by the Convention; and has any calcula- tion been made as to the effect the abolition of this subsidy, coupled with the exclusion of a largo number of large sugar-producing countries from our market, will have upon the price of sugar?


In answer to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question, I stated at Greenock the amount of the bounties given by France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Holland. I did not say, as suggested by the hon. Member, that these bounties were mainly given for the purpose of enabling the sugar producers to supply the English market: I expressed the opinion that the effect of such bounties was most injurious, and might prove absolutely destructive to our Home and Colonial sugar industry. With regard to paragraph 2, I must refer the hon. Member to the Convention itself, which he will find in the Blue Book, C. 5577, recently presented to Parliament. As regards paragraph 3, any calculation attempted to be made on the basis suggested by the hon. Member would be entirely misleading, inasmuch as it must be founded upon two incorrect assumptions. First, that the bounties go to the consumer in this country; and, second, that a "large number of large sugar-producing countries" would be excluded from our market. Moreover, it is impossible now to estimate accurately the great increase of our Colonial production and Home trade which must result from the abolition of foreign bounties.


Arising out of that answer, I wish to know whether the Board of Trade was consulted on the question referred to in the concluding part of the question?


The whole question is one which relates entirely to the Foreign Office, with whom International Conventions rest.


I wish to know if the Foreign Office is the authority to which the House should look for information as to the effect of bounties on an article of consumption; and whether it is not the published opinion of the Board of Trade that the effect of such a Convention would materially raise the price of sugar?


There was a Report published some years ago by the Board of Trade containing an opinion on this subject with which I do not agree. My opinion is that this Convention will not materially raise the price of sugar.

MR. GLADSTONE: (Mid Lothian)

I should like to ask, if the Convention is not to raise the price of sugar, why the Colonies are, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, to send us largely increased quantities of sugar in consequence of the Convention?


It appears to me to be a matter for argument and debate.