HC Deb 16 April 1947 vol 436 cc179-80
36. Mr. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in view of the fact that the majority of the coconut trees on the Cocos-Keeling Islands have been cut down to make new runways for the R.A.F., what steps have been taken to develop alternative industries which, by export, may ensure the subsistence of the inhabitants of the islands.

Mr. Creech Jones

The Governor of Singapore informs me that 250 acres on one of the Cocos-Keeling Islands, about one-sixth of the total productive area of the group were cleared of coconut trees for an airstrip. He adds, however, that this has not materially affected total exports of copra, since export from the island in question has never been found very economical. The possibility of establishing subsidiary industries in the Cocos-Keeling Islands is being explored.

Mr. Gammans

Has this reduction in area meant the removal of any of the inhabitants to the mainland?

Mr. Creech Jones

That is a point that is under consideration now, and I believe it is possible that very shortly some hundreds will move away to the mainland.