5. Mr. Creech Jones (for Dr. Haden Guest)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will reconsider his decision to destroy a large quantity of cocoa in Nigeria and the Gold Coast amounting in value to about £300,000 and paid for by the British Government; and instead either provide additional storage for 12 months to create a food reserve, in view of possible emergencies, or transfer it to the United States, by gift, for the manufacture of cocoa butter, or give it to the Red Cross for refugees, or civil populations impoverished by war?
§ Mr. George Hall
I can assure my hon. Friend that all the possibilities which he mentions were fully considered before the decision was taken. No figure of cost can be given, as the position is being reviewed from month to month. I would remind my hon. Friend that markets to the extent of nearly 300,000 tons annually, which is equivalent to the whole Gold Coast crop, have now been lost for the duration of the war. In addition, there are difficulties in providing shipping space for cocoa. Consequently, the existing large storage capacity in West Africa is full to overflowing, and there is an ample reserve of cocoa on which the world markets can draw whenever shipping and other considerations permit. Additional stores in West Africa would take time to build and would not solve immediate difficulties. Further, even the 452 best quality of cocoa will not keep indefinitely without serious deterioration. The question is, however, continuing to receive attention, together with a number of other suggestions which my Noble Friend has received.
§ Mr. Lipson
Has the hon. Gentleman considered the recommendation which was put before the Select Committee on National Expenditure?