HC Deb 28 March 1911 vol 23 cc1116-7

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can say at what date the Brussels Sugar Convention will come up again for ratification by or can be denounced by this country; whether the artificial restriction of the export of sugar from Russia and elsewhere to this country under the Convention has raised the price of sugar to consumers in this country; and whether His Majesty's Government intend to take the earliest opportunity of reverting to free trade in sugar so far as the United Kingdom is concerned?


I must refer the hon. Member to Article 10 of the Sugar Convention of 5th March, 1902, and to Article 1 of the Additional Act of 28th August, 1907, which regulate the denunciation and continued operation of the Convention. It will be seen that the next date on which it is open to one of the contracting States to withdraw from the Convention is 1st September, 1913, provided that notice of withdrawal has been given twelve months in advance. There is no reason to believe that the limitation of Russian exports under the Additional Act has given rise to an increase in the price of sugar in this country, seeing that during the year 1909–1910 the amount of sugar exported by Russia to Conventional markets has been much less than that allowed to her under the Additional Act. During the sugar year in question steps have been taken by the Russian Government themselves, quite independently of their obligations under the Convention, to lessen the export of sugar, as a measure of control over the price of sugar in the home market. In regard to the last part of the question, I would point out that, under the Additional Act, the United Kingdom is at liberty to import sugar from any country which desires to export it, and that this country is not a party to the arrangement under which Russia voluntarily limits the exportation of her sugar.


Am I to understand the right hon. Gentleman that the reduction of supply has not caused a rise in price?


No; what I said was this: the Russian Government have lessened the export of sugar on their own account without any reference to the Sugar Convention at all, and, therefore, nothing that has taken place under the Sugar Convention could be responsible for the rise in price.