HC Deb 29 January 1941 vol 368 c542
21. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied that the producers of groundnuts in Gambia will receive an economic price for their crops in view of the price fixed by the recent Government decision; what steps are being taken to eliminate middlemen's profits and facilitate transport to the buying stations; and whether the unemployment and social conditions of the people in the Colony are receiving the particular attention of the Government?

Mr. George Hall

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's Question is in the affirmative. I cannot agree that the entire elimination of middlemen's profits is desirable. The fixation of a uniform buying price for the whole season, and the steps taken to make this price known to all the farmers, will make it difficult for middlemen to obtain possession of groundnuts at a price out of relation to the real market price. I have no reason to believe that the marketing of all the nuts available is being prevented by lack of transport to buying stations. In one case, where the closing of a station caused hardship to growers, it was at once reopened. The answer to the last part of the Question is in the affirmative, except that I have received no reports of serious unemployment in the Gambia.

Mr. Creech Jones

In view of the agitation in the Colony about the price that is being offered, and the fact that profits will be made by those who are contributing very little or nothing to the Colony, and also in view of the difficulties with regard to transport, will the hon. Gentleman give this matter special consideration?

Mr. Hall

We have received no complaints at all with regard to this matter. The difficulty about the complete elimination of the middlemen is, of course, that they are part of a machine and you really cannot interfere with that at once. The price which is paid, I think, has given satisfaction to the producers.

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