HC Deb 24 June 1941 vol 372 cc955-6
58. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any long-term policy has been adopted for the speedy and effective resumption of cocoa production in, and export from, West Africa at the end of the war and for the planning of a progressive economy in West Africa that will enable West African natives to secure a permanently higher standard of living; and whether steps will betaken to secure the cooperation of representative West African natives to this end?

Mr. George Hall

There has been no interruption in the production of cocoa in West Africa, and consequently the question of resumption after the war does not arise. As my hon. Friend is aware, special arrangements have had to be made for marketing the crop owing to the interruption of trade with Continental Europe. My Noble Friend is anxious to do everything possible to raise the standard of living for natives of West Africa; but it is impossible to frame a long-term economic policy until it is clear under what conditions international trade is to be conducted in the post-war world. The question of securing the co-operation of the local communities in whatever way may be thought most effective in each case is not being overlooked.

Mr. Sorensen

Has cocoa been burnt in recent months?

Mr. Hall

No cocoa has been burned during any month during the present year.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

Has the price to the growers been reduced recently, the British Government being the sole purchaser while the price of cocoa in this country has been increased? Would the hon. Gentleman see that some of the increase goes to the growers?

Mr. Hall

The price was reduced, but we hope that negotiations will take place for an increase in the price paid to producers.