§ 48. Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, in consequence of the 2192 unwillingness of His Majesty's Government to maintain the effective preference upon Empire sugar at the figure previously existing, the elected members of the Legislative Council of Jamaica have in conference unanimously resolved to propose in council that the preference given by Jamaica to British cotton goods be halved, and that Jamaica be permitted to negotiate reciprocity agreements with countries outside the Empire; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to give instructions to the official members of the Legislative Council as to the attitude to be assumed by them towards such proposals of the elected members?
The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Thomas)
The Prime Minister has asked me to reply, but I can only refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) on the 19th May.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman realises—as no doubt he does—that the answer to which he has been good enough to refer me does not deal with the last part of the question, which is the crux of the whole matter, namely, whether His Majesty's Government propose to give any instructions and, if so, what instructions, to the official members of the Legislative Council of Jamaica?
My hon. Friend is aware that there is a day to be allocated to the general discussion of the Preference question.
§ Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON-HICKS
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that, until that Debate has taken place, he will not send any instructions to the official members of the Legislative Council?
That is contrary to what I said. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend appreciates what he is asking for. I have already intimated that a Debate will take place, and that it would be unwise to anticipate that Debate.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
Then may I ask this—If before any instructions are sent to the official members of the Legislative Council in Jamaica the right hon. Gentleman will acquaint this House with the facts?
That hardly arises. If my hon. Friend wants to put a question at any time asking what instructions have been given, certainly he will get an answer.
§ Captain BERKELEY
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a similar attitude has been taken by the Colonists in British Guiana, and it is very necessary for the Government to make up their minds and, above all, notify the public what their attitude towards these Colonies is to be?
I am amazed to hear that question, because the complaint is that the Government have made up their minds.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Does not the right hon. Gentleman see the propriety of abstaining from giving any direct instructions in regard to this matter until the House has decided one way or the other? The House may not decide in accordance with the right hon. Gentleman's views.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
If the Government have made up their minds can the right hon. Gentleman say what instructions he has given, or intends to give?
Any question put on the Paper will be answered. This was not on the Paper. When it is, I will answer it.