§ 30. Mr. Driberg
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a further statement on swollen shoot disease in the cocoa areas of Nigeria; what compensation is to be paid to the owners of diseased trees, especially in areas in which it has now been decided to abandon the cutting-out campaign; and what steps have been taken to investigate complaints of the methods used by some inspectors.
The Nigerian Government and Cocoa Marketing Board are now urgently considering plans for the rehabilitation of the endemic areas with particular reference to the encouragement of alternative crops. Compensation at the rate of 2s. 6d. per tree is only paid for trees which are cut out. All cutting out is supervised by an officer who frequently makes close checks to prevent abuses. All complaints are immediately investigated.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
Will the right hon Gentleman remember that the very over-optimistic statement on this subject made by the previous Colonial Secretary has led to grave delay in tackling this question? As there is about £75 million in the kitty, owing to the Government's profit on cocoa, will they use it to make a really big effort to rescue, even at the last minute, the whole of the cocoa-growing trade?
I cannot admit that there has been a serious delay. The problem is being tackled adequately. It is an exceedingly difficult problem, and it will be tackled with the utmost possible despatch.
§ Mr. Baldwin
Is the Minister aware that because of the widespread nature of this disease it is essential that other parts of the Empire should be investigated with a view to starting a cocoa industry in other areas?