HC Deb 15 October 1941 vol 374 cc1352-3
28. Dr. Morgan

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has considered the desirability and advisability of preparing, for the benefit of Parliament, a brief account of the finance and financial methods adopted in the formation and readjustment of the St. Kitts sugar factory according to the evidence given before the Moyne Commission in 1938; what dividend has been paid in the last three years on the real, not nominal, capital; whether steps are being taken to prevent action on similar lines in the West Indian colonies; what are the present rate of wages to the factory workers; and when was the last claim made by the workers for a wage increase?

Mr. George Hall

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Dr. Morgan

Does the answer include the present rate of wages?

Mr. Hall

Yes, Sir.

Following is the answer:

Evidence given before the Royal Commission was not sufficiently detailed to form the basis of a complete statement of the financial structure of the St. Kitts (Basseterre) Sugar Factory, Limited. The unique capital structure of the company and its very complicated history make it impossible accurately to define the real as distinct from the nominal capital. The actual profits for the last three years have been—

1937–38 34470
1938–39 104,646
1939–40 71,882

One half of these profits, is distributed to the "B" shareholders, that is, the planters who supply the sugar cane to the factory, and the other half, after deduction of a bonus to the staff, is distributed to the "A" shareholders, that is, the subscribers to the company's original capital of £130,000. The financial structure of the company is the outcome of special circumstances peculiar to its history, and the question of action elsewhere in the West Indies as my hon. Friend suggests does not arise.

Present rates of wages for the factory workers are as follow:—

Average weekly wages with overtime (including 15 per cent. war bonus) are 22s. 5d. Average weekly rates without overtime vary from 14s. 46. for switchmen to 32s. for milldrivers. The war bonus is on a sliding scale and another 5 per cent. is now due. The last occasion on which the factory workers claimed wage increases was in March, 1940.