HC Deb 20 July 1925 vol 186 cc1800-1

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Jamaica is suffering from an unprecedented depression in the banana export trade; is he aware that the whole of this trade is in American hands owing to the absence of direct British shipping; and whether he will consider the grant of a subsidy to semi-British steamship lines in order to establish direct aid between this country and Jamaica?

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

Under the new trade agreement between Canada and the West Indies signed on the 7th instant, a large amount of British refrigerated tonnage will be provided for the conveyance of bananas from Jamaica to Canada. As regards the specific suggestion made in the last part of the question, I would refer to the reply returned to my hon. Friend by the Prime Minister on the 6th of July.

Sir W. de FRECE

Will the Department investigate the best means of promoting direct shipping between this country and the West Indies?


Yes; that matter is continually under review, and is under consideration more or less at this moment. Of course between Jamaica and this country there is already direct communication by the Elders and Fyffes line.

Lieut.-Colonel JAMES

Can the Undersecretary say whether active negotiations are being undertaken on behalf of Newfoundland?


Not at the present moment, but we have had some suggestions that Newfoundland and Trinidad desire to enter into shipping arrangements, and that matter is under consideration.


What is a, semi-British steamship company, and ought it not to be wholly British?


That question is under consideration. The point is that the vessels of the Elders and Fyffes line fly the British flag, but the controlling interest in it is the United Fruit Company of America.


May I ask whether the specific question of steamship communication between this country and Jamaica is coming before the Imperial Economic Committee?


I do not think it would be right to answer as to what is actually being discussed before the Imperial Economic Committee, but the whole question of the future development of the fruit industry of the West Indies and other parts of the Empire is within the terms of reference and under the cognisance of that committee.


In view of what was stated in another place on behalf of the Government the other day, will the Undersecretary say whether this specific question is not to come before the Imperial Economic Committee?


I have just answered that question. These questions are before the committee, and you cannot consider the question of the extension of the production of Empire fruit without considering questions such as marketing and conveyance.