HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc901-2
64 Mr. Roland Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether, in view of the anxiety felt by existing interests in the interior of British Guiana, he will give an undertaking that the exclusive permissions and other rights and concessions already granted to them will be continued;

(2) whether the granting of agricultural rights in the interior of British Guiana to the Jewish Refugee Committee precludes the granting of further mineral rights to British subjects prepared to undertake prospecting and development;

(3) whether the granting of rights to the Jewish Refugee Committee over the area south of a line five degrees north latitude in British Guiana definitely precludes any further settlement and development of that area by British people and British capital?

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

As regards minerals, there is no question whatever of the cancellation of existing rights. The continuation of those rights on the expiry of the periods for which they were granted and the grant of new rights will be considered on the receipt of applications, but in considering such applications regard will be had to the offer which has been made to the refugee organisations of full facilities for the settlement of refugees in that area of the Colony, and to the response which they make to that offer. As regards Question No. 66, I have nothing to add at present to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 7th June.

Mr. Robinson

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Jewish Refugee Committee have accepted or rejected the Government's offer, and if they have not done either, can he say whether he will urge them to expedite their decision?

Mr. MacDonald

The appropriate refugee organisations are now consulting about the matter, and we have not received their comments on the proposals of His Majesty's Government, but I am quite certain that they are losing no time in giving them active consideration, though I cannot say when we expect their reply to come in.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is not the case that the interior of British Guiana is virgin jungle, and, if that is so, whose are the interests which are referred to in this question?

Mr. MacDonald

I should require notice before giving a list of rights of this nature which have been alienated, but certain rights do exist, and the interior of the Colony is by no means answerable to the kind of description in all places which the hon. and gallant Gentleman gives.

Mr. Hannah

Does not the report of the commission itself mention certain Brazilian settlements?

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