§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total cost to the taxpayers of the United Kingdom of the various grants made to the West Indies since the Report of the Royal Commission of 1897; and what is the present annual charge, whether for subsidies to any of the governments of the Islands, or for any steam packet service, or repayment of interest.
§ THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,for Mr. J. Chamberlain) Worcestershire, E.,
Since the report of the Royal Commission and up to the end of the last financial year Parliament has voted in grants or for annual services a total of £306,180. In addition to this £82,000 has been voted in relief of the distress caused by hurricanes, and £250,000 as a grant in aid of the sugar industry pending the coming into force of the Brussels Convention. A yearly contribution of £13,500 is also paid towards the subsidy granted by the Canadian Government for the Canadian and West Indian Steamship Service, and 1393 £20,000 a year is paid as the Imperial share of the subsidy for the Direct West India Fruit and Mail Service between England and Jamaica. In reply to the second part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the Estimates for Colonial Services, Class V., Vote 3. These grants, excluding the hurricane grants have been mainly necessitated by the depression of the sugar industry in the West Indies, due, in the words of the Royal Commission, "to the competition of other sugar-producing countries and in a special degree to the competition of beet sugar produced under a system of bounties."