HC Deb 13 February 1946 vol 419 c361
21. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to increase the production of ground nuts in West Africa so as to provide for the restoration of the butter, margarine and cooking fat ration in this country.

Mr. George Hall

The latest report I have received from Nigeria indicates that the current season's crop will be highly satisfactory, and represents an increase of nearly 100,000 tons over the 1943–44 crop. Owing to the fact that during the war years maintenance of railway rolling stock fell behind-hand, considerable transport difficulties exist in evacuating this and other forms of essential foodstuffs in Nigeria, but additional locomotives are being diverted from neighbouring territories and the authorities have been instructed to give first priority to the groundnut crop. In the Gambia, the target for this season's crop has been set at last year's figure of 40,000 tons. This was slightly exceeded last year, but any excess means a loss in food production in the Colony, which it is practically impossible to replace from outside.

Mr. Turton

Will the right hon. Gentleman make an appeal to the Colonial territories to help the British housewife to get the fat ration increased, by assisting in the delivery of ground nuts to this country?

Mr. Hall

They have been informed of the situation, and they are doing what they possibly can to meet our requirements.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that ground nuts are not grown in these Colonies to the exclusion of the natural food of the natives, as has been done in the past?

Mr. Hall

If the hon. and gallant Member will look at the exports from these Colonies in the last three or four years, he will find an indication of what they have grown for other purposes.