HC Deb 07 July 1943 vol 390 cc2070-1
14. Squadron-Leader Donner

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies by whom the West Indian Colonies were represented at the International Food Conference recently held in the United States of America; and whether he will give an assurance that the interests of West Indian sugar producers are not neglected or subordinated to foreign interests inasmuch as Cuba was represented at the conference?

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)

It is not constitutionally possible for Colonial territories, whether British or foreign, to be separately represented at international conferences, but the United Kingdom delegation included a senior officer of the Colonial Office, who was responsible for watching Colonial interests. His Majesty's Government will certainly not neglect the interests of British Colonial sugar producers or allow them to be subordinated to foreign interests.

15. Squadron-Leader Donner

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the grave situation facing the sugar industry of Trinidad on account of shortage of labour; whether he contemplates the importation of labour from other West Indian islands now suffering from unemployment; and, if so, what practical measures are being considered to meet the consequential housing problem?

Colonel Stanley

My hon. and gallant Friend will have seen from my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) on 1st July that neither I nor the Colonial Government regard the present position of agriculture as a whole in Trinidad as satisfactory; also that we are aware of the serious difficulties facing the sugar industry. In reply to the last two parts of the Question, I would refer to the last part of my reply on 1st July. I am at the moment in telegraphic communication with the Governor on this matter.

Squadron-Leader Donner

Would my right hon. Friend consider approaching the appropriate American authorities and requesting them to import labour for their own purposes and so release numbers of natives to return to their normal employment?

Colonel Stanley

I am seeing what can be done, but my hon. and gallant Friend will realise that it is largely a question of transport.

Mr. Sorensen

May not one of the difficulties be that higher wages are attracting natives away from their ordinary jobs?

Colonel Stanley

There is an all-round shortage of labour in Trinidad at the moment.

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