HC Deb 09 March 1949 vol 462 cc1186-7
52. Mr. Gammans

asked the Minister of Food what progress has been made with the negotiations with the British West Indies Sugar Association for the purchase of the exportable surplus of sugar from the British West Indies for a guaranteed period of 10 years at prices agreed periodically.

Mr. Strachey

We have already undertaken to purchase the whole exportable surplus of sugar both from the West Indies and from all other parts of the Commonwealth up to the end of 1952. The proposal that this commitment should be extended for a further period of years beyond 1952 is being studied by the Departments concerned.

Mr. Gammans

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that any uncertainty in regard to a crop which takes as long to produce as sugar is bound to hold up production, or at any rate, affect production in the West Indies?

Mr. Strachey

I have some sympathy with that thought, but I think the hon. Member should restrain his unbounded enthusiasm for bulk purchases and longterm contracts because of the consideration advanced by an hon. Friend of his just now that in this period we must have some caution in the matter of the length of time for which we enter these arrangements.

Mrs. Castle

Can my right hon. Friend inform the House whether this Question by the hon. Member indicates a total change of policy by hon. Members opposite on the question of bulk purchases?

Mr. Stanley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we were giving this kind of contract to the Colonial territories at the time when I was at the Colonial Office, a long time before it was thought that the right hon. Gentleman would hold the office, and a long time before the last General Election?

Mr. Strachey

That is quite possibly the case, and I shall look forward now to the co-operation of the right hon. Gentleman in the process of some necessary education in some parts of this House in the matter of bulk purchase.