HC Deb 25 February 1904 vol 130 cc971-2

To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonics whether he will state, in view of the operation of the Sugar Convention, whether the exports of sugar from the British West Indies to the United Kingdom have increased; and whether he has any official information showing that the position of the West Indian sugar growers is improved.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Lyttelton.) The imports into the United Kingdom of sugar from the British West Indies, † See page 19. including British Guiana and British Honduras, during the five months (September to January) since the Brussels Convention came into force have been 11,261 tons, as compared with 7,953 tons in the corresponding period a year earlier. As a matter of fact, therefore, there has been an increase in the exports of sugar to this country since the commencement of the Convention. A comparison of this nature can, however, be of no practical value until after the close of the crop season, which commenced at the beginning of this year; and even then it will be misleading unless allowance is made for the difference in the size of the crops of the years compared, for the effect of the treaty between the United States and Cuba, and also for the conditions affecting the Canadian market. As regards the second part of the Question, I have not, and am not likely, for some time to come, to have any official information showing any definite improvement in the position of the West Indian sugar planter resulting from the Convention. The existence of large surplus stocks of sugar in the home market necessarily retards the natural operation of the abolition of bounties, while the Cuban treaty has placed the British West Indian planter at a great disadvantage in the United States market.