HC Deb 21 February 1940 vol 357 cc1324-6
30. Mr. Barr asked

the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make on the Proclamation of 29th December, 1939, by His Excellency the Governor of the Gold Coast Colony, bringing into operation the Geneva and Gin (Restriction of Importation) (Amendment) Ordinance, 1939; is he aware that the Gold Coast Liquor Ordinance of 1st January, 1931, decreed that an annual percentage reduction, based on the importations of 1929, should take place until at the end of 10 years, namely, in 1940, the importation of gin would be entirely prohibited; that the new Ordinance allows the total quantity of Geneva and gin which may be imported into the Gold Coast during the year ending 31st December, 1940, to be 150,000 imperial gallons, and is in direct conflict with the declared objects of the Ordinance of 1931; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

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

As the answer is rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Barr

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the main reason for this change?

Mr. MacDonald

Definite reasons are given in my lengthy answer, and perhaps the hon. Member will read it and then decide whether it is necessary to put another Question.

Following is the answer:

I am aware that under the Gold Coast Liquor Legislation of 1931, the importation of gin into the Gold Coast was to cease at the end of 1939. After full consideration of the position and in accordance with the recommendations made by the Governor after consultation with the members of the Legislative Council, I decided to bring about a modification of the former policy, which had been adopted to meet the apparent demand of the people of the Gold Coast. The Governor has informed me that, apart from other considerations, the prohibition of the importation of gin would be likely to result in a further growth of illicit distillation and a disregard of the law even by the law-abiding classes of the population. With one exception, the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council, both African and European, including all the Provincial Representatives, were in favour of the amending legislation.

In these circumstances I have approved the recommendation made by the Governor that an import quota for gin should be fixed for 1940 approximating to the importations permitted for 1937. This quota will be subject to review annually, and I have asked the Governor to furnish a full report on the working of the new system at the end of three years, when the whole question will be the subject of further review. I would take this opportunity to assure the hon. Member that the complete prohibition of the importation of "trade" spirits into all West African Dependencies, including the Gold Coast, will remain in force.