HC Deb 11 June 1941 vol 372 cc179-80
31. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Under secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the surplus revenue in Trinidad and the substantial direct gifts by that colony to the British war effort as well as the large contribution to the British Exchequer from taxation on the profits of the Trinidad oil companies, he will consult the local government and the West Indian development controller on the inauguration of a comprehensive social and economic development programme to remedy social conditions, poverty and disease revealed in recent commissions; and whether big reserve funds will be created to further this purpose and substantial sums earmarked by the British Treasury?

Mr. George Hall

The satisfactory financial position of Trinidad has made it possible to proceed, within the limits imposed by war conditions, with the comprehensive programme of social and economic betterment inaugurated before the war. Housing and hospital improvement are in particular receiving attention. It will be open to the Trinidad Government to apply for assistance under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. and no doubt the Government is in consultation in the matter with the Comptroller for Development and Welfare, who is at present in Trinidad. In the circum- stances, my Noble Friend does not consider it necessary that special sums should be put to reserve for these purposes.

Mr. Creech Jones

In view of the very great generosity of the Government of Trinidad towards the war effort, would it not be desirable, in view of the very squalid and miserable social conditions revealed in the report on Trinidad, to earmark certain of those sums of money for special social development work either now or when the war is over, and would it be possible for certain large sums of money coming from the taxation on the profits of the oil companies to be earmarked for return to the colony for social development when the war is over?

Mr. Hall

There again my hon. Friend will see that the Comptroller has power to make recommendations for dealing with the difficulties to which he refers. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act will provide the necessary funds for any recommendations made by the Comptroller.