HC Deb 06 March 1940 vol 358 cc370-1
36. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the present conditions and economic outlook of the people of the Falkland Islands; when the last report was received from the local administration; and whether facilities have been provided to enable local eligible young men to be enrolled for war service?

Mr. M. MacDonald

As the answer is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Sir P. Hannon

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any men have been called up by His Majesty's Government for service from these islands?

Mr. MacDonald

Yes, Sir, a number of them have been recruited for local service.

Following is the reply:—

The last annual report on the Falkland Islands—that for 1938—reached me in June of last year and has since been published. Since the outbreak of war I have been in close consultation with the Governor on the matters referred to in the first part of the Question. His Majesty's Government is assuring a market for the staple export of the Colony by an agreement with the sheep farmers to purchase the whole of the wool clip for the duration of the war and for one year after. Arrangements have also been made for the sale of sheep to Chilian freezers for shipment to the United Kingdom.

In the Falkland Islands as in all Colonies the financial position of the Government has been materially affected by war conditions, and the Estimates for 1940 show a deficit of some £8,000, which will be met from reserves. But the Colony is finding this year a sum of nearly £21,000 for defence purposes which is equivalent to about 30 per cent. of the pre-war revenue. Towards this expenditure fresh taxation which is estimated to provide some £14,000 additional revenue has been imposed. I feel sure that hon. Members will agree that these figures reflect credit on this small Colony whose total population is less than 3,000 persons.

As regards the last part of the Question, opportunities for military service have been provided for local volunteers in the Falkland Islands Defence Force.