HC Deb 01 March 1944 vol 397 cc1402-3
21. Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940, £16,000,000 was provided for this work down to 31st March, 1944; that only £1,300,000 had been actually spent up to 23rd February; and will he give consideration to the possibility of utilising some of the unspent balance on acquiring land in the West Indies, British Honduras, the Seychelles and Kenya, in order to satisfy the land hunger of the people in those Colonies.

Mr. Ermys-Evans

Provision for expenditure under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act is made in annual estimates, and balances unspent in any one year are not available for subsequent expenditure. My right hon. and gallant Friend is well aware that expenditure so far has been much less than the limits Laid down in the Act, and is doing what is possible in the face of war-time obstacles such as shortage of man-power and of materials, to increase the rate of progress with schemes, including schemes of the character referred to by the hon. Member, of which several have already been approved and others are in contemplation.

Mr. Riley

Does not the hon. Gentleman think it very extraordinary that of the £16,000,000 voted under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940, for the work up to March of this year, only £1,300,000 has been spent, and nearly £14,000,000 is unspent? Could not something be done to conserve that money for the purpose for which it was intended?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

No, Sir. We are doing everything possible in the conditions existing at the present time, but wartime conditions make it impossible to spend that money.

Sir Alfred Beit

When my hon. Friend said that the balances which are unspent are no longer carried forward to another year, does he mean that when it is impossible to carry out a plan owing to the shortage of labour, that plan lapses?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I should like notice of that question. I do not think that is the case. I imagine that the plan would come up again in the following year.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the hon. Gentleman realise that this matter has caused grave concern?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I did point out that war-time conditions alone are the difficulty.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

Do war-time conditions prevent the purchase of land for land settlement schemes, even if the schemes have to be left over until later?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

If the hon. Member will read my reply, he will see that this is being done in a number of cases.

Mr. Riley

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Motion for Adjournment.

Dr. Morgan

The whole thing is an organised hyprocrisy.