HC Deb 19 February 1947 vol 433 cc1154-5
43 and 44. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether he is aware that considerable quantities of groundnuts are rotting in African ports because of the refusal of export licences by the controller of oil seeds in Uganda; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter;

(2) whether he is aware that there is a reluctance among African producers to sell groundnuts to the Tripartite Produce Agency, which holds a monopoly in the purchase of groundnuts, because of the low price offered; that the price offered by the Tripartite Produce Agency is £19 10s. a ton as compared with £27 5s. a ton offered by the Ministry of Food in the same area to which Ministry African producers are refused a licence to sell; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy the situation.

Mr. Creech Jones

The Tripartite Produce Agency buys cotton seed in Uganda on behalf of the Ministry of Food. It buys at railway stations up-country and sells to the Ministry of Food free on board at Mombasa. The difference between the two prices is made up of transport, storage arid other charges, plus a profit to the Agency of 5s. per ton. The Agency does not purchase any groundnuts as there is no surplus of groundnuts in East Africa over local needs, and export is not at present allowed. My hon. Friend's statement as regards Uganda groundnuts rotting in African ports is, therefore, incorrect. The Ministry of Food is purchasing groundnuts in Nyasaland at a price of £27 7s. per ton free on board. These purchases are made direct from Government and not through the intermediary of the Tripartite Agency.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is the Minister aware that this is a typical instance of the failure of bulk buying, and will he also explain what proportion of the £7 difference between f.o.b. Uganda and c.i.f. Mombasa, is made up of these mysterious 'other charges"?

Mr. Creech Jones

In the first place, this is not a failure but a success of bulk purchasing In regard to the difference Between the two prices, that is a matter which I am looking into at the present time.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage five shillings a ton represents?

Mr. Creech Jones

No, Sir, I cannot give that information without notice.

Mr. Erroll

Can the Minister say how much below world prices are those which have been paid by the Ministry of Food, and, if the difference is considerable, why the native is not getting the full price for his products?

Mr. Creech Jones

I believe that in this particular case the prices paid were in line with the standard prices.