HC Deb 09 June 1910 vol 17 cc892-3

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether it is proposed to renew the contract with Messrs. Elder, Dempster, Limited, by which the British Government and the Colony of Jamaica each pay to that firm an annual subsidy of £20,000, chiefly with the object of promoting the shipment of bananas to this country; and whether he is aware that practically all Jamaica bananas go to the United States and are sold there, and that the British demand is met by bananas from Costa Rica and Columbia carried to British ports in unsubsidised ships?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely)

No decision has as yet been taken with regard to the renewal of the contract of 19th April, 1900, for a direct service between the United Kingdom and Jamaica. As regards the suggestion made in the latter part of the question I would observe that the contract contains a provision binding the contractors to purchase not less than 20,000 bunches of bananas for each voyage from Jamaica to the English port, and to convey all bananas so purchased to the English port. According to the traffic returns furnished to the Secretary of State for the year 1908–9, 780,721 bunches of bananas were carried in accordance with the contract during the year. According to the Returns furnished by the Government of Jamaica for the year ended 31st March, 1909, 954,196 bunches of bananas, the produce of the Colony, were exported to the United Kingdom during the year.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that there were 16,000,000 bunches exported altogether from Jamaica in the year 1909, and does he think out of that number the figures he gave us would justify this Government in continuing the subsidy?

Colonel SEELY

As I have said, the renewal of the contract has not yet been decided upon, but it appears that all subsidised bananas were Jamaica bananas.


When will the contract question come up? And before it is renewed will the House have an opportunity of discussing it?

Colonel SEELY

I certainly think it very proper, as far as I am concerned, that the House should have such opportunity I House should have such opportunity. I found upon the Colonial Office Vote.


On what date?

Colonel SEELY

I cannot say exactly, but I will find out and let the House know.