HC Deb 11 July 1923 vol 166 cc1356-7
101. Sir E. STOCKTON

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the extent to which the various Crown Colonies indulge in State trading apart from railway construction; whether he will inform the House of the losses sustained by the attempt of the Singapore legislative council to carry on trading in sheep; and whether there are any local complaints that the concern is not run on business lines?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)

Apart from transport services, model stock farms, and experimental plantations, State trading is not carried on in Colonies to any great extent. The only definite instances which I have been able to find are the Government colliery in Nigeria, a saltern in Ceylon, a Government flax mill in St. Helena, and a few cotton ginneries in various West Indian islands. The importation of sheep was undertaken by the Government of the Straits Settlements in accordance with the recommendation of a local commission on profiteering, with a view to breaking a monopoly and lowering the price of mutton. I have not yet received any official information as to the loss incurred, nor have any recommendations been made on the subject, but my attention has been drawn to a Press article, stating the loss for 1921 and 1922 as 25,504 Straits dollars (under £3,000). The same article states that as a result of the Government operations the retail price of mutton was approximately halved.


In view of the fact that it is possible to take steps to break a monopoly in the Crown Colonies, cannot the Government adopt similar action to break monopolies in this country?


I do not think it would be quite so easy to do.