HC Deb 18 July 1922 vol 156 cc1885-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government ceased to provide further subsidies towards cotton growing in Uganda and East Africa in 1914; at what date His Majesty's Government decided to impose an export duty on cotton produced; and whether the effect of this export duty has been to encourage production?


The grant of £10,000 a year to the British Cotton Growing Association from 1910–11 to 1915–16 did not concern Uganda or East Africa, and apart from the special grant of £1,000 to the association in 1916–17, partly in respect of its work in Uganda, no subsidy towards cotton growing in those countries has been given.

The Uganda tax on exported cotton was proposed by the Governor in 1918 and brought into force from the beginning of 1919. The exports of cotton in hundredweights were

in 1918 91,000
in 1919 128,000
in 1920 186,000
in 1921 290,000
But I cannot trace any connection between this increase and the imposition of the tax.

The tax has certainly not prevented this increase.

13. Mr. J. WILSON

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the duty on the export of hides from Northern Nigeria has rendered impossible the export of all but the finest skins, and that thousands of hides have had to be destroyed owing to the heavy cost of marketing; and will he consult the Governor of Nigeria as to the advisability of abolishing the export duty without delay?


It would, I think, be more accurate to say that the fact that recently it had not paid to export ordinary hides from Nigeria has been due to the great fall in the value here of such hides, rather than to the cost of marketing them. The price obtainable for them was, I understand, about 1s. 3d. a pound when the export duty of 2d. a pound was imposed, and the price has now fallen to 5d. or 6d. a pound. As the House was informed on 4th July, large reductions in the export duties on Nigerian hides and skins have been approved. The reduction in the case of raw hides will be from 2d. to ½d. a pound, and it is hoped that this will enable exporters to pay prices to the natives which will revive the trade. It is not proposed to remove the export duty altogether.


Why should not this duty be removed altogether if it is the wish of the people of Nigeria that it should be removed and if the money could be raised in other ways to which they are already accustomed in the Colony?


It is the wish of a great many people in a great many countries that a great many duties should be removed. Unhappily, it is not possible to balance the Budget under those conditions.


Why not leave the selection of the alternative tax to them, as was done in the case of settlers in Kenya and elsewhere, where the Colony itself is prepared to suggest an alternative tax?


I think that, while we have the responsibility for the administration, we must be the judges of the best method of balancing the Budget.

14. Mr. WILSON

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the French Administration of Dahomey imposes an export duty upon palm products, and how this compares with the export duties imposed by Great Britain upon the exports of the palm products of the native producers in the neighbouring territories of Sierra Leone and Nigeria?


I am not certain what the exact rates of the export duties in Dahomey on palm oil and palm kernels are at present. My latest information was that they were 49 francs 50 centimes and 24 francs 75 centimes per 1,000 kilos respectively. The Nigerian rates are £3 and £2 a ton respectively, and the Sierra Leone rates, £1 0s. 10d. and £1 a ton.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the policy of imposing heavy duties upon the export of raw material of the African Dependencies was adopted by the local Governors upon their own responsibility, or whether this departure in British Colonial policy was first considered and sanctioned by the Cabinet?


I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray). I am not aware that such revenue export duties in the Colonies have been submitted to the Cabinet of this country by past Secretaries of State. Export duties, of course, exist in a large number of Colonies.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it would be a good thing to submit duties of this kind to the responsible authorities here?


I was under the impression that I was one of the responsible authorities here, and that this was a sphere particularly confided to me upon which to exercise my responsibility.


Would it not be advisable to have some sort of coordination of taxes? Why should there be export duties on the West Coast and import duties on the East Coast? Why this difference? Would it not be possible to have some sort of Committee appointed in order to co-ordinate these systems of indirect taxation?


What a pity my hon. and gallant Friend did not raise this question when the matter was before the House.


I did raise it.

Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY

In the case of Crown Colonies—


This is a matter that should be debated on the Estimates.