HC Deb 31 May 1933 vol 278 cc1863-4
14. Major PROCTER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in the interests of Lancashire trade with the Colonies, he will consider the lowering of the export duties on West African palm kernels and palm oil, in view of the proposed reduction of duty on foreign imported whale oil?


The export duties on palm kernels and palm oil constitute a substantial proportion of the revenues of Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In present circumstances I could not recommend to the Colonial Governments that the export duties should be lowered, Since the money would in any case have to be found from some other source.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the export tax of £3 on palm kernel oil is affecting purchasing power in West Africa, destroying the West African trade of Liverpool, and injuring the cotton trade of Lancashire, and will he not do something to prohibit the dumping of Norwegian whale oil or prevent whale oil coming into England at all?


My hon. Friend is inaccurate in the rate of duty on palm kernel oil. It is not £3 but £2 in respect of Nigeria, and there is no duty in the case of Sierra Leone, but the duty on palm kernels is £l 10s. Nor is there, I think, reason to believe that this is a serious handicap. The position is, on the contrary, quite different from what it was, in that the duty used to be operative while there was no preference in this country. Now there is a preference granted in this country on both palm kernels and palm oil.


Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the fact that the competition of whale oil is going to destroy the export trade owing to the amount of whale oil that is being sold?


I certainly do not think so. As a matter of fact, the whale oil coming in in British ships always came in free of duty.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the import of palm oil and kernels has decreased to a half during the last 10 years, whereas whale oil is nine times what it was 10 years ago?


Yes, but unless we are to say that whale oil must never be used anywhere by anyone, there must inevitably be some measure of competition between the two.