§ 18. Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
asked whether a Bill has, with the authority of the Secretary for the Colonies, been presented to the Legislative Council of the Gold Coast, entitled an Ordinance to make provision as to the grant of exclusive rights for the extraction of oil from palm fruits; whether the Bill enables the Governor to grant to any person exclusive rights to construct the work mills and railways within considerable areas; why such Bill is introduced, whether any protests have been received against it to whom it is proposed to grant such mono polies; and what is the reason for such grants?
An Ordinance of the nature indicated by the right hon. Gentleman has been introduced in the Legisla- 1968 tive Council of the Gold Coast. It is permissive in character. I have received representations from the Chambers of Commerce of London, Liverpool, and Manchester with regard to certain parts of the Ordinance to which they take exception. The amendments they suggest are receiving my careful consideration, and I hope I may be able to remove their objections to the measure. In any case I have decided, in view of the objections they have put forward, not to allow any future commitment to be made which will have the effect of granting an exclusive right to make railways. I have not given, nor do I intend to give, any exclusive right to erect machinery for the crushing of palm kernels. The object of the Ordinance and of any grants which may be made under it is to encourage the first introduction of machinery to deal more effectively with the products of the oil palm, to the general benefit of the Colony and its inhabitants. The only definite application which has been received for a grant of the kind contemplated by the Ordinance is from Messrs. Lever Brothers, but the Ordinance is general in its scope, and the application of other firms will receive consideration.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
Am I to understand that the right hon. Gentleman has, in consequence of the protests which have been received against this legislation which was presented by his authority, withdrawn the monopolist character both from the grants to railways and the grants to mills?
I have altered the proposal as to what the right hon. Gentleman called the monopoly to railways. There was never any proposal as to the monopoly of mills for the extraction of oil from palm fruits. I think there has been some misunderstanding on the subject. I will give the right hon. Gentleman any explanation he wishes to have.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will lay a copy of the proposed Ordinance on the Table, in order to afford this House an opportunity of discussing it before it becomes law?
I shall be very glad to lay a copy on the Table, but, of course, as to facilitating discussion I cannot answer.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
Will any correspondence that has attended the right hon. Gentleman's action in respect of this legislation be laid on the Table also?
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
May I ask whether, by concessions under the Ordinance of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it would have been possible for Messrs. Lover to obtain absolute possession of the land instead of a more monopoly, only for mills within the ten miles area?
I think that was so. My action has been largely taken to prevent anybody from owning this land.
No request has been made for the exclusive ownership of twelve miles of land, and the suggestion of the hon. Member seems to be that this concession has been made to Messrs. Lever, who were the first and only applicants—
The suggestion is that this arose from political considerations. Let me say that I received a deputation from the three chambers of commerce mentioned in my answer, and at the conclusion of the interview I asked whether they had in their mind, or whether there was in the minds of their friends whom they were representing, any thought or suggestion that this concession had been given to Messrs. Lever on account of political considerations. The representatives of the three chambers of commerce at once disavowed, both for themselves and their friends, any suspicion on that ground.