HC Deb 16 February 1944 vol 397 c160
20. Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that in the Seychelles a food subsidy is granted to any person whose income is under 25 rupees or 37s. a month, while the wage of a male plantation worker remains at the pre-war rate of 11 rupees, or 16s. 6d. a month; and since the price of copra in the Seychelles is more than double the pre-war price, whether he will fix minimum wages for labourers on coconut plantations at a level related both to the increased cost of living and the increases price of copra, in order to secure to labourers a living wage and to terminate a disguised subsidy to coconut planters.

Mr. Emrys-Evans

A subsidy was granted for rice only in 1942 to persons whose income is under 25 rupees a month. As rice is not now being imported, my right hon. and gallant Friend is inquiring whether this arrangement is still in operation. As regards the second part of the Question, my right hon. and gallant Friend has only as yet received a telegraphic summary of the report of the Commission referred to in his reply to the hon. Member's Question of the 19th of January. This does not include any proposal for further increases in fixed wages or for fixing minimum wages for labourers. It does, however, include recommendations for a stricter enforcement of price control regulations and other measures which the Commission considers the preferable way of meeting the increased cost of living. The Governor has taken steps to give effect to these proposals.

Mr. Riley

Is it not a fact that the price of copra is now about double what it was before the war; and are not the labourers entitled to an increase of wages, in consequence?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

The rate of wages is not the same as it was before the war. The pre-war rate for a male labourer was 6½ rupees per month, and the present wage is 11 rupees per month.