§ 124. Mr. MOLTENO
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has official information showing that merchant pools are now in existence in West Africa with the object of controlling prices paid to the natives for the products of the palm tree?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am aware that certain of the West African merchants 1541 have come to an agreement among themselves which, in the districts where it is applicable, would have the effect of controlling the prices paid to the natives. As regards the object of the agreement, I have no official information other than is contained in a letter recently received from a representative body of merchants, in which they maintain that, owing to the uncertainty of markets at the outbreak of war, the probable lack of tonnage, and the limited storage accommodation in West Africa, an arrangement for steady purchase at a fair average price was preferable to an unregulated competition which would soon have resulted in a congestion of produce locally and would have been disastrous to both the natives and the Colony.
§ 125. Mr. MOLTENO
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his official information shows that immediately preceding the outbreak of the War the prices of palm kernels in Lagos ranged up to £19 per ton, and that to-day the price is only £8 per ton?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The price of palm kernels in Lagos in June and July 1914 was £14 18s. 4d. and £14 13s. 4d. per ton respectively. The latest available information as to present local prices is for the latter half of August, when the price was £9 10s. per ton.