HC Deb 09 July 1941 vol 373 cc156-9
24. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether similar arrangements are being made in the Crown Colonies to those which have been carried out in collaboration with His Majesty's Governments in Australia and New Zealand, for the purchase and storage of surplus storable foodstuffs for use after the war; and whether he can give any particulars as to these arrangements, with special reference to palm produce, cocoa and bananas?

Mr. George Hall

Arrangements have already been made to help the Colonial Dependencies in the disposal of export surpluses arising from loss of markets and shipping difficulties. These have not been exactly in the same form as the arrangements agreed with His Majesty's Governments in Australia and New Zealand, as conditions in the several Dependencies have varied substantially, but have been framed in the light of the same general principles, that is, the desirability of avoiding distress among producers and of accumulating stocks of storable goods against post-war needs. I will circulate a detailed statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but I would mention, as regards the particular products dealt with, that there is no surplus of palm products in the Colonies, that such part of the West African cocoa crop as cannot be marketed is being stored, but that bananas are not suitable for long-term storage and the surplus in Jamaica is being utilised locally.

Following is the statement:


N.B.—This statement does not cover purchases of Colonial products made by His Majesty's Government for their own supply needs, where no necessity of making purchases for relief purposes has arisen, e.g., rubber, tea and West African groundnuts.

  1. 1.Bananas.
    1. (a) On the suspension of imports into the United Kingdom arrangements were made for the marketing of the whole Jamaican crop through a common pool, and His Majesty's Government guaranteed, through the Government of Jamaica, a return of 3s. per count bunch to the grower up to a quantity of 12,000,000 stems in the year 1940–41. The potential liability so assumed was about £1,500,000; but thanks to vigorous local efforts to increase local utilisation and exports to the United States and Canada, the cost is not expected to be much more than £500,000. All bananas purchased are being either exported or used locally, e.g.. as banana flour.
    2. (b) The difficulties of the banana plantations in the Cameroons under British Mandate (almost all of former German ownership) have been met by temporary grants by His Majesty's Government for the relief of unemployment pending the absorption of labourers in other activities.
  2. 2. Citrus Fruit.
    1. (a) Palestine.—It was impossible to ship any of the citrus crop in 1940–41 to its normal markets in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, and although every effort was made to increase the local and neighbouring markets, the bulk of it was unsaleable. In order to enable growers to carry on, therefore, the Palestine Government, with the approval of His Majesty's Government, has guaranteed advances to be made through the banks 158 against the 1941–42 crop up to an amount not exceeding £510,000. Other advances totalling £100,000 have been authorised to assist the development of other forms of agricultural production. The utilisation of part of the crop in the manufacture of ascorbic acid is planned. Oranges cannot, of course, be stored.
    2. (b) Cyprus.—The much smaller Cyprus orange crop has been dealt with on similar lines, advances having been made to the growers by the Cyprus Government to the estimated amount of £16,500.
  3. 3. Cocoa.
    • The whole of the West African cocoa crop for 1939–40 and 1940–41 has been bought by His Majesty's Government at fixed prices. The marketing of the crop is now in the hands of a specially constituted West African Cocoa Control Board, and the Board has already been able to sell the greater part of the 1940–41 crop to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other markets still remaining open. No difficulty is expected in storing in West Africa such part of the crop as remains unshipped at the end of the current season and no good quality cocoa will have to be destroyed. In 1939–40 these operations resulted in a deficit of about £250,000. It is not yet possible to give any reliable estimate of the financial results of the 1940–41 operations.
  4. 4. Cotton.
    • No considerable difficulty has yet been experienced in disposing of Colonial cotton production, but certain small purchases by or on behalf of His Majesty's Government are contemplated, e.g., in Tanganyika; and in other Dependencies, e.g., Nyasaland, the local Governments have been authorised to guarantee the purchase of any balance of the crop which is not sold through commercial channels.
  5. 5. Sisal.
    • His Majesty's Government have undertaken to purchase the whole British East African output (on a restricted basis) of 100,000 tons of sisal, in the year commencing 1st November, 1940, at an average price of £19 for. East African port. The greater part of this is expected to be needed for the United Kingdom's own supply requirements and the remainder will be sold, as may be convenient, in the United States of America, or elsewhere, or stored in East Africa for post-war use.
  6. 6. Sugar.
    • The whole exportable crops of the West Indies, Mauritius and East Africa have been bought for shipment to the United Kingdom or Canada. It is not expected to be possible, however, to ship any substantial part of the Fiji crop to this country and special arrangements have had to be made to deal with the surplus over what can be shipped to Western Canada. These arrangements contemplate the purchase for storage of some 30,000 to 40,000 tons, being the maximum for which storage can be provided in Fiji, and the making of additional payments to the sugar factories to enable them to purchase at the standard price 159 the whole of the sugar canes grown by present farmers irrespective of whether all those canes can be converted into sugar. The gross cost of these arrangements is expected to be between £600,000 and £700,000.