HC Deb 24 May 1950 vol 475 cc2062-4
54. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Food if he is now able to inform the House of the reports which he has received from the Overseas Food Corporation as to the estimated yields of groundnuts and sunflowers being harvested in Tanganyika; and if, in view of the experience over three seasons at Kongwa, he has approved the cessation of further agricultural operations there.

The Minister of Food (Mr. Maurice Webb)

As only a small proportion of the crop has so far been harvested, the Overseas Food Corporation do not feel that they can yet give any reliable estimate of the yield. There has been no proposal to stop agricultural operations in Kongwa. The Corporation have appointed a working party to consider future agricultural policy for this region and will no doubt let me have their considered recommendations when the working party has reported.

Mr. Hurd

Will the Minister take the earliest possible opportunity of setting out these recommendations and any other relevant facts in a White Paper, so that the House may have accurate information before we have another groundnut Debate?

Mr. Webb

I will consider that.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Does the right hon. Gentleman envisage the likelihood of a still further reduction in the acreage of this scheme, which has been reduced already from 3,100,000 to 600,000?

Mr. Webb

There is another Question on the Order Paper about this matter, and I would rather not answer that point now.

59. Captain Crookshank

asked the Minister of Food whether he has now completed his review of the groundnut scheme and is able to make a statement on the subject.

Mr. Webb

I am afraid that a full statement will have to wait until the Board of the Overseas Food Corporation have given me an assessment of the position in the light of this year's agricultural and clearing work and I have considered this assessment; and as this year's harvest is only just beginning this will take some time. With your permission, Sir, I shall be making a statement about the Board of the Corporation after Questions today.

Captain Crookshank

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that all our anxieties about this groundnut scheme did not cease by the mere transfer of his predecessor to the War Office, and that we shall have to discuss this matter soon? Will he, therefore, even in advance of the full report, secure the information that is necessary?

Major Beamish

Can the Minister confirm that the Government hope soon to be able to grow more monkey nuts without bottlenecks?

Mr. Nicholson

Could the Minister now answer the question he was unwilling to answer a few moments ago—whether he envisages the possibility of a still further reduction of the area proposed to be cleared, which has already been reduced from 3,100,000 acres to 600,000?

Mr. Webb

I should not like to speculate about details of that kind.

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