HC Deb 12 December 1949 vol 470 cc2351-2
59. Mr. De la Bére

asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to encourage the Empire sugar producers to increase production, with special regard to the small sugar ration at present in force in this country, the impracticability of increasing supplies from dollar sources and the talks being held in London during December, 1949, between this country and sugar producers throughout the world.

Dr. Summerskill

The greatest incentive for Commonwealth sugar producers to expand their production was provided in 1948, when for a period of five years we undertook to find a market within the Commonwealth for all the sugar which they could produce for export. The main object of the discussions now being held in London is to make arrangements for a term of years beginning in 1953.

Mr. De la Bére

May I ask whether the West Indian delegates have really had a square deal? Cannot we have an assurance that we shall have not only the sugar they produce today but their increased production, so as to make sure that people in this country get their proper ration? Why not do something for the Empire? I want something done for the Empire.

Mr. Driberg

Quite seriously, can my right hon. Friend say whether the keen apprehensions expressed by the Jamaican representatives were justified? Is it the case that we are drastically cutting down our guarantee to the West Indies in order to take half a million tons of sugar from the dollar area, and if so, why?

Dr. Summerskill

I think my hon. Friend knows that negotiations are still proceeding, and it would not be proper for me to make any comment on them at this stage.

Mr. Oliver Stanley

During the course of those negotiations, which at the present moment appear to be in danger, will the right hon. Lady have particular regard to what was said by the Secretary of State for the Colonies during the Colonial Debate in July; a statement which was taken as representing the view of the Government and which gave great satisfaction to the West Indies?

Dr. Summerskill

Yes, Sir. We always consider the view of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Can my right hon. Friend say what steps she is taking to ensure that when this sugar reaches the consumer in this country he gets sugar for his money and not political propaganda?

Mr. Driberg

Since the Jamaican representatives thought that the conference had reached such a crisis that they almost had to walk out of it and had to issue these statements, cannot my right hon. Friend say anything in reply to the very full statements which they have made?

Dr. Summerskill

No, Sir. not at this stage.