HC Deb 01 May 1906 vol 156 cc399-401
MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give any information as to the progress of cotton growing in British Colonies, and any statistics showing the quantity of cotton grown under the auspices of the British Cotton Growing Association; and whether the House may rely on the Government giving all the assistance in their power to the furtherance of the object of this, association.


I will lay on the Table a Paper containing the complete statistics of cotton growing within the British Empire so soon as the returns for last year are complete. Meanwhile I shall be very glad to send my hon. friend the figures at present available for this year and the last four years. For the sake of brevity in an oral Answer, I will only say now that in 1902 the amount of cotton exported from British Colonies to the United Kingdom comprised only 827 bales, of the value of £4,742. In 1904 the amount had risen to 9,438 bales, of a value of £52,026; while the amount exported to all other countries, which in 1902 was 2,093 bales, of a value of £11,467, rose in 1904 to 12,037 bales, of a value of £61,475. The figures for 1905 are not yet complete. The amount of cotton grown under the auspices of the British Cotton Growing Association was in 1903 approximately estimated at 1,900 bales, of a value of £29,000; in 1904 this had risen to 6,000 bales, of a value of £80,000; and in 1905 to 14,200 bales, of a value of £190,000. The estimate for 1906 far surpasses all previous records, and the total crop is computed at 20,000 bales of a value of £330,000. I think these figures which exceed an arithmetical progression are highly remarkable and encouraging especially considering the brief period during which the experiment has been made. The multiplication of the sources of cotton supply cannot fail in the course of time, by averaging climatic risks, and consequently preventing unusual shortages to exercise a steadying influence upon cotton prices, with a resulting restraint upon cotton gambling. The Secretary of State is warmly interested in the work of the British Cotton Growing Association. The policy initiated under the late Administration will be maintained and I trust pursued. The Government is in cordial co-operation with the Association in the furtherance of its work, both by means of monthly conferences held at the Colonial Office with representatives of its council, and through the assistance which is given to its objects by the Imperial Department of Agriculture in the West Indies, and by the Governments of African Colonies and Dependencies.