§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercrombie)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now state the arrangements made by his Department for the conveyance of fruit from the West Indies, or any of them, to the United Kingdom or to the United States and Canada; and whether the Returns re the local rates on rum manufacture will be ready for presentation before the House rises.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
A contract has been signed with the Jamaica Fruit arid Produce Association for a direct fruit and passenger service between Jamaica and the United Kingdom, to continence in May, 1900. The contract is for a period of five years, and the steamers will run fortnightly at an average speed of fifteen knots between Kingston and Port Antonio and Southampton. The steamers will be fitted for the conveyance of fruit, and will have storage for at least 20,000 bunches of bananas. They will also possess accommodation for twenty-five 18 first-class and twelve second-class passengers. The contractors bind themselves inter alia to employ at least six agents in Jamaica in developing the fruit industry, to improve the wharf accommodation at Kingston and other ports, and to build one or more hotels in the island. The subsidy payable is £10,000 per annum, of which half will be contributed by the Imperial Government, to be increased to £12,000 if more passenger accommodation is required. A contract will, it is hoped, shortly be concluded with the aid of an Imperial subsidy between the Dominion Government and Messrs. Pickford and Black. The contract is for a period of five years, the service is to begin in July 1900, and the contractors will bind themselves to maintain a fortnightly service from Halifax and St. John's alternately to Trinidad and British Guiana at an average rate of ten knots per hour. The steamer will proceed alternately (1) by way of Bermuda, St. Kitts, Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Saint Vincent, Grenada, Tobago, to Trinidad and (2) by way of Bermuda, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad, to British Guiana. No arrangements have at present been made for the remaining service recommended by the West India Royal Commission, viz., a special fruit service between Dominica and Saint Vincent and the United States of America or Canada. I fear that there is no probability of the information being received from all the Colonies in time for the Return to be presented during the present Session. I may remind the hon. Member that the Return is not limited to the manufacture of rum, but extends to the production of spirits of every kind.